Thursday, September 30, 2004

Landstuhl: planeloads: "Prior to the Iraq war, the hospital received no more than 10 injured U.S. soldiers a year from conflicts. Now, it usually handles between 30 and 55 a day from Iraq and Afghanistan alone."

David Marr: Howard's 'dark victory': "Both sides of politics - Labor and Coalition - claim whatever galvanised Australia in the Tampa crisis can’t be called racism because it was so pervasive, so popular. Manipulating race for
electoral advantage is a hallmark of Howard’s government but he insists on the right to cut down Native Title and turn back boats filled with Moslem refugees without this being named for what it is, “without being accused of prejudice or bigotry, without being knocked off course by ... phoney charges of racism”."

Howard with his remarks on Asian immigration way back in the 80s indicated his support for racism. It has just taken this long for the opportunity to arise that he can exploit. Hanson opened the way. World War 11 was a shock and helped create something of a bi-partisan taboo - racism was too horrible to contemplate. But with the passage of time and the rise of Hanson/Howard, the taboo has worn off and the issue is being exploited by a skilled operator. In other words, business as usual.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

The Dangerous Game: ordinary people's support for authoritarian/militarist/corporatist leadership: "ordinary voters whose jobs have been shipped abroad by Bush-promoted economic 'values' and whose kids are being sacrificed on the killing sands of Iraq, but who are nevertheless quite enthusiastic about the Republican ticket. The phenomenon of workaday folks who are getting royally screwed by the Right facilitating their own shafting is undeniably disturbing.

"History shows that fascism lethally consolidates itself when the people it will inevitably destroy become its staunchest, massively deceived backers. But we shouldn't succumb to hopelessness. For every woefully misled person who alternates between listening to Rush Limbaugh and Toby Keith, thereby tightening the piano wire around his or her own neck, there's someone with sufficient social consciousness and political savvy to recognize the ominous, pre-Hitlerian parallels in America today."

Father mourns son killed in Iraq: "Saddest of all was hearing the father of Sgt Ben Isenberg of Oregon talk about his son’s death in Iraq. Sgt Isenberg was killed when his Humvee ran over a home-made mine. His father quietly explains how the war in Iraq is a “spiritual war” and that people “need to just dig into their Bible and read about it — it’s predicted, it’s predestined.” He says his son understood he had to go to Iraq because “our current President is a very devout Christian … [who] had the knowledge, and understood what was going on, and it’s far deeper than we as a people will every really know, because we don’t get the information that the President gets.” What can one say in the face of such belief? The President is simply unworthy of the trust these people have placed in him.... [Shelby:] Any president is unworthy of the level of trust you describe. The scary thing about Isenberg’s comments is their utter incomprehension of political structure, their cession of all critical thought."

Omar Barghouti: Americans, You've Lost Your Alibi!: "Barring an unforeseeable turn of events, Bush seems to be comfortably heading towards a second term, this time he will not need a mediocre court ruling to instate him; he will democratically win a valid majority of American votes. After four years of having the almost perfect, nearly credible alibi, 'we did not really elect him,' come November, you shall have to finally look the entire world in the eye and defend why you've chosen as your leader a time-tested racist, ruthless, semi-intelligent, religious fanatic who has committed enough war crimes to warrant being locked up for life at the Hague."

"In all likelihood, you shall stand guilty of renewing the mandate of Bush and his militant regime, effectively allowing them to continue battering, pillaging, ruining, dividing and hating the world, while erasing whatever is left of your civil and economic rights on their way. You've chosen that path, no question about it.... Isn't it utterly pathetic that a major subject of competition between the two is military service in Vietnam? Vietnam was without doubt a solid case of genocide. Your leaders ought to be ashamed of, not to mention put on trial at the International Criminal Court for, having anything to do with it. That is probably Bush's only moral bright spot: that he was too much of a coward to actually take part in your savagery against the Vietnamese, another sub-human species from your perspective at the time. Imagine German candidates for Chancellor competing on who participated more actively in the Holocaust!"

Father threatens suicide in protest at soldier's death: "Reginald Keys climbed a pylon at the front of the pier with a noose tied around his neck and told police he would jump. Reginald Keys threatened to hang himself from a pylon. He called the Prime Minister a war criminal and demanded an apology for the death of his son, Lance-Corporal Thomas Richard Keys, 20 ... Mr Keys, 52, from Bala, north Wales, was persuaded to climb down after an hour and, clearly distraught, was comforted by police officers."

Peak Oil & Gas - is nuclear energy the answer?: "Physicist David Goodstein writes in Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil -- 'Is there enough uranium around for that to be a long-term solution? Just like oil reserves, as at an earlier time, uranium reserves will surely increase, as a result of both further exploration and advancing technology. However, known reserves are estimated to be enough to supply all of Earth's energy needs - at the current rate of energy consumption - for a period of only five to twenty-five years. That ignores the growing world demand for power, as well as the Hubbert's peak effect, which just as valid for uranium as for oil.'

"Planet earth has been scoured and raped of its mineral resources. The large, 'easy to extract' finds have been made. Here too, depletion is the watchword. There is no equivalent energy replacement - this is not a debatable issue, this is an unpleasant fact.... Clearly, the issue at hand is how to best manage the decline of our society to one that is simpler and less complex."

Monday, September 27, 2004

Orcinus on proto-fascism in the USA: "My longtime analysis of the state of fascism in the past always presumed that mainstream, ordinary conservatives, whose decency I've never doubted, would act in concert with liberals in preventing any such thing from occurring here. But liberals, or at least their political leadership, have been simply too spineless to effectively counter such aggression; and conservatives, it has grown increasingly apparent, are now content to sit back and watch.
I came to this conclusion some time back, but it has been deeply reinforced by the mainstream conservative response to the rising tide of rhetoric that appears aimed at fomenting violence against liberals."

No one can predict the future. The error is not to perceive the tendencies that are clearly apparent, or not to have the courage to oppose them.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Downer invites attack on Australian soil by foreign forces: "Indonesia would be entitled to launch a pre-emptive strike against terrorists in Australia threatening the country, if Canberra refused to take action against them, Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said yesterday."

I wonder whether there is any other example in recorded history of a government leader permitting an attack on his own country. Surely Downer could not be the biggest idiot in world history?

The last country to bomb northern Australia was Imperial Japan during World War 11. No one bombs or attacks Australia, ever, for any reason, on any pretext whatsoever. That is an act of war which is totally unacceptable. For a senior Australia Government official to suggest, permit or encourage such an act is nothing less than treason. Such a person should be immediately dismissed from office and charged.

Of course, Downer (like Howard) is nothing but a fool and hardly anybody would take him seriously, including our northern neigbours (luckily). Still it is remarkable that the folly and nonsense of the doctrine of 'pre-emptive strikes' could be articulated and its sponsors not be immediately shouted down and removed from office.

PM's wife Janette Howard: my husband is not a a liar: She needn't be so insecure. I don't think he is accused of lying about that.

The Plan: Baghdad Year Zero: "The most common explanation for what has gone wrong in Iraq, a complaint echoed by everyone from John Kerry to Pat Buchanan: Iraq is mired in blood and deprivation because George W. Bush didn’t have “a postwar plan.” The only problem with this theory is that it isn’t true. The Bush Administration did have a plan for what it would do after the war."

"Before the fires from the “shock and awe” military onslaught were even extinguished, Bremer unleashed his shock therapy, pushing through more wrenching changes in one sweltering summer than the International Monetary Fund has managed to enact over three decades in Latin America. Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate and former chief economist at the World Bank, describes Bremer’s reforms as “an even more radical form of shock therapy than pursued in the former Soviet world.”

"The tone of Bremer’s tenure was set with his first major act on the job: he fired 500,000 state workers, most of them soldiers, but also doctors, nurses, teachers, publishers, and printers. Next, he flung open the country’s borders to absolutely unrestricted imports: no tariffs, no duties, no inspections, no taxes. Iraq, Bremer declared two weeks after he arrived, was “open for business.” One month later, Bremer unveiled the centerpiece of his reforms. Before the invasion, Iraq’s non-oil-related economy had been dominated by 200 state-owned companies, which produced everything from cement to paper to washing machines. In June, Bremer flew to an economic summit in Jordan and announced that these firms would be privatized immediately. “Getting inefficient state enterprises into private hands,” he said, “is essential for Iraq’s economic recovery.” It would be the largest state liquidation sale since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

"But Bremer’s economic engineering had only just begun. In September, to entice foreign investors to come to Iraq, he enacted a radical set of laws unprecedented in their generosity to multinational corporations. There was Order 37, which lowered Iraq’s corporate tax rate from roughly 40 percent to a flat 15 percent. There was Order 39, which allowed foreign companies to own 100 percent of Iraqi assets outside of the natural-resource sector. Even better, investors could take 100 percent of the profits they made in Iraq out of the country; they would not be required to reinvest and they would not be taxed. Under Order 39, they could sign leases and contracts that would last for forty years. Order 40 welcomed foreign banks to Iraq under the same favorable terms. All that remained of Saddam Hussein’s economic policies was a law restricting trade unions and collective bargaining. If these policies sound familiar, it’s because they are the same ones multinationals around the world lobby for from national governments and in international trade agreements. But while these reforms are only ever enacted in part, or in fits and starts, Bremer delivered them all, all at once. Overnight, Iraq went from being the most isolated country in the world to being, on paper, its widest-open market."

"The pragmatists were men like Secretary of State Colin Powell and General Jay Garner, the first U.S. envoy to postwar Iraq. General Garner’s plan was straightforward enough: fix the infrastructure, hold quick and dirty elections, leave the shock therapy to the International Monetary Fund, and concentrate on securing U.S. military bases on the model of the Philippines. “I think we should look right now at Iraq as our coaling station in the Middle East,” he told the BBC. He also paraphrased T. E. Lawrence, saying, “It’s better for them to do it imperfectly than for us to do it for them perfectly.” On the other side was the usual cast of neoconservatives.... The Iraqi Year Zeroists made natural allies for the White House neoconservatives: Chalabi’s seething hatred of the Baathist state fit nicely with the neocons’ hatred of the state in general, and the two agendas effortlessly merged. Together, they came to imagine the invasion of Iraq as a kind of Rapture: where the rest of the world saw death, they saw birth—a country redeemed through violence, cleansed by fire. Iraq wasn’t being destroyed by cruise missiles, cluster bombs, chaos, and looting; it was being born again. April 9, 2003, the day Baghdad fell, was Day One of Year Zero.

"While the war was being waged, it still wasn’t clear whether the pragmatists or the Year Zeroists would be handed control over occupied Iraq. But the speed with which the nation was conquered dramatically increased the neocons’ political capital, since they had been predicting a “cakewalk” all along. Eight days after George Bush landed on that aircraft carrier under a banner that said MISSION ACCOMPLISHED, the President publicly signed on to the neocons’ vision for Iraq to become a model corporate state that would open up the entire region. On May 9, Bush proposed the “establishment of a U.S.-Middle East free trade area within a decade”; three days later, Bush sent Paul Bremer to Baghdad to replace Jay Garner, who had been on the job for only three weeks. The message was unequivocal: the pragmatists had lost; Iraq would belong to the believers. "

... and more excellent stuff from Naomi Klein in a lengthy article. She's nailed it in terms of the highwater mark of 'neoliberalism' and US imperialism. The internal contradictions and detachment from reality of the dogma has inexorably led to the strategic defeat that is Iraq. Iraq is not a blunder or a mistake, it is the plan - a plan defeated only by the escalating gap between ideology and reality.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Weapons expert's fight to warn PM: "Australia's leading expert on weapons of mass destruction defied political and bureaucratic barriers to warn the Prime Minister that his case for war against Iraq was based on falsehoods and would make Australia a bigger terrorist target.

"Bob Mathews, a 35-year veteran of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, wrote to John Howard as a private citizen three days before he committed Australia to the war - a last, desperate act after the expert's superiors repeatedly blocked him from expressing his views."

"The Herald has obtained a copy of Dr Mathews's letter and been appraised of what one colleague described as his "disgraceful" treatment both before and after it was sent to Mr Howard. His actions were investigated, his travel was curtailed and charges were contemplated. Dr Mathews's lengthy critique called on Mr Howard to reconsider his position and take action to dissuade the US from its path. In the letter, he said:

"There was not even circumstantial evidence to back the view that Saddam Hussein had substantial stockpiles of usable WMD. If he did have WMD, and if Iraq were invaded, there was a "high probability" they would be passed on to terrorists. He said there was no chance of their falling into al-Qaeda's hands while Saddam remained in power. Australia would "face an increased risk of terrorist acts" if it joined the invasion, which was a "serious distraction to the fight against terrorism".

"Australia would have greater difficulties dealing with South-East Asian nations in combating terrorism due to the Iraq war. The United Nations must be given more time for inspections, and was an important curb on Saddam's WMD ambitions. "There are no reasons at the present time to justify supporting a US-led invasion of Iraq," Dr Mathews told Mr Howard, urging him to make a last-ditch effort to persuade the Americans to abandon their war plans. Dr Mathews sent his letter to Mr Howard on March 17 last year, three days before the Prime Minister formally announced Australia was at war."

Yet another high level leak, which further devastates the already shattered case for the war, and the credibility of the leadership. But does it matter? Or are we in an era when official lying and warcrimes are to be accepted as the norm?

Iraq is Hell: "Three years after the attacks on the World Trade Center, attacks in which they played no part, the people of Iraq have been liberated from one tyranny only to be remanded to another: continuous urban warfare, religious extremism and a contagion of fear.... Successful countermoves by the Sunni insurgents have prevented the United States and new Iraqi government from gaining any real political support.... There are so many new fighter cells that they are at a loss to distinguish themselves ... We are seeing the beginning of a larger conflict that is busily giving birth to monsters.... Here is something everyone in Iraq knows: The U.S. is now fighting a holding action against a growing uprising, and the more it fights the worse it gets.... The war, illegal and founded on a vast lie, has produced two tragedies of equal magnitude: an embryonic civil war in the world's oldest country, and a triumph for those in the Bush administration who, without a trace of shame, act as if the truth does not matter. Lying until the lie became true, the administration pursued a course of action that guaranteed large sections of Iraq would become havens for jihadis and radical Islamists."

"All we need to know, according to the administration, is that America is a good country, full of good people and therefore cannot make bloody mistakes when it comes to its own security. The bitter consequence of succumbing to such happy talk is that the government of the most powerful nation in the world now operates unchecked and unmoored from reality; leaving us teetering on the brink of another presidential term where abuse of authority has been recast as virtue.

"The logic the administration uses to promote its actions -- preemptive war, indefinite detention, torture of prisoners, the abandonment of the Geneva Convention abroad and the Bill of Rights at home -- is simple, faith-based and therefore empty of reason. The worsening war is the creation of the Bush administration, which is simultaneously holding Americans and Iraqis hostage to a bloody conflict that cannot be won, only stalemated.

"Over the last three years, practicing a philosophy of deliberate deception, fear-mongering and abuse of authority, the Bush administration has done more to undermine the republic of Lincoln and Jefferson than the cells of al-Qaida. It has willfully ignored our fundamental laws and squandered the nation's wealth in bloody, open-ended pursuits. Corporations like Halliburton, with close ties to government officials, are profiting greatly from the war while thousands of American soldiers undertake the dangerous work of patrolling the streets of Iraqi cities. We have arrived at a moment of national crisis."

Friday, September 24, 2004

Zunes: Bush’s UN Speech: Idealistic Rhetoric Hides Sinister Policies: "This idea that if the United States withdrew, these terrorists would suddenly leave Iraq and start attacking the United States and other countries is specious. This is simply a retread of the rationalization used during the Vietnam War that “If we don't fight them over there, we'll have to fight them here.” Despite the U.S. withdrawal and the Communist victory nearly thirty years ago, the Vietnamese are yet to attack the United States. The Vietnamese stopped killing Americans when American forces got out of Vietnam. One can similarly assume that the Iraqis will stop killing Americans when American forces get out of Iraq."

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Wallerstein: Iraq fiasco backfires for neocons/Likudniks: "The problem for Israel today is the Bush invasion of Iraq. It is a fiasco. And the American public is turning against it, each day more. The latest poll shows that for the first time a majority of the American public believe that the invasion was a mistake. And members of the Establishment like Sen. Fritz Hollings are now ready to write op-ed pieces saying that 'the United States has lost its moral authority.' As the U.S. reconsiders fundamentally what it has done in Iraq, it will not be too long after that the public will start to reconsider the unconditional support of Israel. And when that collapses, as it has in the last decade in western Europe, Israel will be in real trouble."

Middle East oil is expected to run out in about 30-40 years time. That is the outer limit of US support for Israel. Support could be withdrawn much earlier. The ongoing Zionist enterprise is insane: 3 million jews seeking to attain hegemony over 300 million Arabs. Failure (and possibly disaster) is inevitable. It is not too late, of course, to implement the two-state solution (as in the recent Geneva initiative) but the oddity and tragedy of modern 'democracies' is that sensible solutions are not attainable given the domination of the state by extremist/militarist/corporatist elements.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Global Warming May Spawn More Super-Storms: "Sharp reductions of emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide on the order of 70 percent are urgently needed to minimize the impacts, Gelbspan said. But despite the recent destructive series of hurricanes and tornadoes, global warming is off the radar screen of the U.S. presidential election campaign, he said. Gelbspan is not surprised at this, given the power and influence of the fossil fuel lobby in Washington, which he outlines in great detail in his book. 'America's oil and coal industries receive more than 20 billion dollars a year in subsidies,' he said. 'Imagine what could be done if that money was invested in green energy.'"

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Pseudo Fascism: "Without these facets, the current phenomenon cannot properly be labeled 'fascism.' But what is so deeply disturbing about the current state of the conservative movement is that it has otherwise plainly adopted not only many of the cosmetic traits of fascism, its larger architecture -- derived from its core impulses -- now almost exactly replicates that by which fascists came to power in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and '30s."

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Leaked documents show Blair committed to war by March 2002, also committed to lie over 'WMDs' as the pretext: "Taken with the Joint Intelligence Committee's warning at the same time that intelligence on Iraqi WMD was 'sporadic and patchy', the account appears to prove the charge that Mr Blair's use of the issue was purely tactical."

Saturday, September 18, 2004

John & Belle Have A Blog: Why I Was So Totally Wrong About Iraq: Blogger and commenters discuss why they were wrong on Iraq. It all seems to me to display a greater or lesser degree of naivete. It has been said by someone 'Chomsky has been proven correct', although one might respond, when was he ever wrong? From his 1967 essay What is the responsibility of intellectuals? (the responsibility of intellectuals is to tell the truth and expose lies) until today he has told the story as plainly as can be. Humankind learns lessons the hard way, and then go to the grave with their wisdom, leaving the next generation to learn it all over again. But the Iraq war has demonstrated in stunning fashion to the whole globe the basic lessons: Power corrupts, Leaders cannot be trusted, Governments lie, War is a crime, States act for 'national interest', not humanitarian motives, the corporate media is a propaganda system, the military is a menace, etc etc.

Hegemony or Survival? - new Afterword by by Noam Chomsky: "In the desperate flailing to contrive justifications as one pretext after another collapsed, the obvious reason for the invasion was conspicuously evaded by the administration and commentators: to establish the first secure military bases in a client state right at the heart of the world's major energy resources, understood since World War II to be a "stupendous source of strategic power" and expected to become even more important in the future."

Friday, September 17, 2004

The Power of Protest: Wittner reviews the anti-nuclear movement and makes the important point that it is only grassroots popular protest that can dismantle nuclear devices and the military/political/industrial complex generally. It has been said that one of the causes of war is 'preparation for war', ie if you have a military apparatus, it is practically inevitable that it will be used. The Iraq war is a case in point. The vast budget and US military has to justify itself. And its immense power and superiority provides a virtually irresistable temptation to utilise it for various state/political/economic purposes. Thus a prerequisite for lasting peace is general disarmament.

Pilger: The Most Important Terrorism Is 'Ours': "Heretics who look behind the one-way mirror and see the utter dishonesty of all this, who identify Blair and his collaborators as war criminals in the literal and legal sense and present evidence of his cynicism and immorality, are few; but they have wide support among the public, whose awareness has never been higher, in my experience."

"Last May, the US Marines used battle tanks and helicopter gunships to attack the slums of Fallujah. They admitted killing 600 people, a figure far greater than the total number of civilians killed by the "insurgents" during the past year. The generals were candid; this futile slaughter was an act of revenge for the killing of three American mercenaries. Sixty years earlier, the SS Das Reich division killed 600 French civilians at Oradour-sur-Glane as revenge for the kidnapping of a German officer by the resistance. Is there a difference?"

"Only by recognising the terrorism of states is it possible to understand, and deal with, acts of terrorism by groups and individuals which, however horrific, are tiny by comparison.... On 4 February 2000, Russian aircraft attacked the Chechen village of Katyr Yurt. They used "vacuum bombs", which release petrol vapour and suck people's lungs out, and are banned under the Geneva Convention. The Russians bombed a convoy of survivors under a white flag. They murdered 363 men, women and children. It was one of countless, little known acts of terrorism in Chechnya perpetrated by the Russian state, whose leader, Vladimir Putin, has the "complete solidarity" of Tony Blair."

Far Graver Than Vietnam: Most Senior US Military Officers now Believe the War on Iraq has turned into a Disaster on an Unprecedented Scale: "Andrew Terrill, professor at the Army War College's strategic studies institute - and the top expert on Iraq there - said: 'I don't think that you can kill the insurgency'. According to Terrill, the anti-US insurgency, centred in the Sunni triangle, and holding several cities and towns - including Fallujah - is expanding and becoming more capable as a consequence of US policy. 'We have a growing, maturing insurgency group,' he told me. 'We see larger and more coordinated military attacks. They are getting better and they can self-regenerate. The idea there are x number of insurgents, and that when they're all dead we can get out is wrong. The insurgency has shown an ability to regenerate itself because there are people willing to fill the ranks of those who are killed. The political culture is more hostile to the US presence. The longer we stay, the more they are confirmed in that view.'"

"General Odom remarked that the tension between the Bush administration and the senior military officers over Iraqi was worse than any he has ever seen with any previous government, including Vietnam. "I've never seen it so bad between the office of the secretary of defence and the military. There's a significant majority believing this is a disaster. The two parties whose interests have been advanced have been the Iranians and al-Qaida. Bin Laden could argue with some cogency that our going into Iraq was the equivalent of the Germans in Stalingrad. They defeated themselves by pouring more in there. Tragic.""

Eclipsed: Bush, Kerry, Vietnam & Iraq: "The United States is 'losing' in Iraq, literally losing territory and population to the other side. Careful readers of the leading newspapers may know this, but I doubt most voters do. How could they, given the martial self-congratulations of the President and relative restraint from his opponent? ... Falluja, Samarra, Ramadi, Karbala, the Sadr City slums of Baghdad-these and other population centers are now controlled by various insurgencies and essentially ceded by US forces.... Meanwhile, Bush's war is destroying the US Army, just as LBJ's war did. After Vietnam, military leaders and Richard Nixon wisely abolished the draft and opted for an all-volunteer force.... After Iraq, men and women will get out of uniform in large numbers, especially as they grasp the futility of their sacrifices."

"Iraq is Vietnam standing in the mirror.... Kerry could describe in plain English what's unfolding now in Iraq and what must be done to find a way out with honor. In other words, be a truth-teller while holding Bush accountable. Kerry won't go there ... Bush can't go near the truth for obvious reasons. If elected, he faces only bad choices-bomb the bejeezus out of Iraq, as Nixon bombed Vietnam and Cambodia, or bug out under the cover of artful lies. The one thing Bush's famous "resolve" cannot achieve is success at war. Never mind, he aims to win the election instead. So this presidential contest resembles a grotesque, media-focused war in which two sides skirmish for the attention of ill-informed voters. Bush won big back when he got Iraq off the front pages and evening news with his phony hand-off of sovereignty and his chest-thumping convention."

US debates military strikes on 'nuclear Iran' : "The Bush administration's warnings that it will not 'tolerate' a nuclear-armed Iran have opened up a lively policy debate in Washington over the merits of military strikes against the Islamic republic's nuclear programme. Analysts close to the administration say military options are under consideration, but have not reached a level of seriousness that indicate the US is preparing actual action.... Asked whether Israel would take military action if the US dithered, [neo-conservative Gary] Schmitt replied: "Absolutely. No government in Israel will let this pass ultimately.""

Prime Minister Howard needs to publicly state that Australia will not participate in a military attack on Iran, except under the aegis of the UN, and even then not necessarily. Australian foreign policy needs to be governed by the Charter of the UN; the problem of nuclear proliferation needs to be dealt with via the Nuclear Non-proliferation treaty. Both of these have been severely damaged by the rogue Bush Administration.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Nine-Eleven Retrospective: "The fetters imposed on liberty at home have ever been forged out of the weapons provided for defense against real, pretended, or imaginary dangers abroad.

- James Madison, 1799

The process of transformation is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event - like a new Pearl Harbor.

- Project for a New American Century, Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century (September 2000)

Today's terror attacks were major atrocities...that this was a horrendous crime is not in doubt.The primary victims, as usual, were working people: janitors, secretaries, firemen, etc.It is likely to be a crushing blow to Palestinians and other poor and oppressed people.It is also likely to lead to harsh security controls, with many ramifications for undermining civil liberties and internal freedom...In short, the crime is a gift to the hard jingoist right, those who hope to use force to control their domains...The prospects ahead are even more ominous than they appeared to be before the latest atrocities.

- Noam Chomsky, September 11th, 2001

Think about "how do you capitalize on these opportunities?"

- Condaleeza Rice, White House National Security Adviser, to the United States National Security Council, September 12, 2001.

Through the tears of sadness, I see an opportunity.

- George W. Bush, September 14, 2001"

Team leaves for Iraq in hunt for hostages: "The Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, insisted last night: 'Make no mistake of it, we are not going to negotiate with terrorists, but if Australians are taken hostage we will try to get them released.... Asked whether the logistics team was a special forces contingent or a negotiating team, Mr Downer would not confirm its exact nature. "This is a team of people whose job is to provide logistical assistance in the event we have to try to release Australians." Earlier, the Federal Police commissioner, Mick Keelty, said: "We've got experts on hostage negotiation and counter-terrorism ready to deploy should the Government require it.""

Both Government and Opposition are currently impaling themselves on the contradictions, illogic and nonsensicality of their 'tough guy' postures on terrorism. Someone needs to just come out and say it: of course you negotiate with terrorists, that's about the first thing you do (even before you have confirmed the hostage taking has actually taken place!), and you use a professional team of negotiators to do it.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Speeches ignore impending U.S. debt disaster / No mention of fiscal gap estimated as high as $72 trillion: "'The country's absolutely broke, and both Bush and Kerry are being irresponsible in not addressing this problem,' Kotlikoff said. 'This administration and previous administrations have set us up for a major financial crisis on the order of what Argentina experienced a couple of years ago.'"

Gabriel Kolko: Elections, Alliances and the American Empire: "Alliances have been a major cause of wars throughout modern history, removing inhibitions that might otherwise have caused Germany, France and countless nations to reflect much more cautiously before embarking on death and destruction. The dissolution of all alliances is a crucial precondition of a world without wars.... the United States will be more prudent, and the world will be far safer, only if it is constrained by a lack of allies and isolated. And that is happening."

Avnery: Shocking manifestos in Israel: "Two shocking manifestos were published this week. Both call for comment. One of them declares that dismantling the settlements in the Gaza Strip is a 'crime against humanity'. It does not mention that they were set up on the land reserves of a million Palestinians crowded in the tiny strip, and rob them of their scarce water. Their removal, it says, is an 'expression of tyranny, evil and arbitrariness'. Officers and soldiers are called upon not to take part in this 'ethnic cleansing'.

"This manifesto is signed by the father and brother of Binyamin Netanyahu, as well as Meir Har-Zion, the favorite pupil of Ariel Sharon, who became famous in the 1950s for slitting the throats of several innocent Beduins with his own hands in revenge for the killing of his sister. Two former Directors General of the Prime Minister's office also signed. Most of the signatories are not religious."

"People of this kind can be found all over the world. In other countries they are called fascists (but, because of the Holocaust, we do not like to use this term in our country). What unites them is a primitive, atavistic morality that says that "we" are a superior race, God's chosen people, a master race etc., while "they" are inferior races, untermenschen. We may do to them whatever we please, with a clear conscience; they are not allowed to do to us anything at all."

"The second manifesto declares that the Halakha (Jewish religious law) commands the killing of innocent Palestinian civilians if this helps to save Jews. It is signed by the heads of the 'Arrangement Yeshivot', the West Bank settlement rabbis and other religious leaders. They were later joined by one of the two Chief Rabbis (the Sephardic one)."

"The chiefs of the religious-nationalistic wing, and especially the settlers, have for years now been engaged in a systematic effort to capture the army from the inside. In the first decades of the IDF, kibbutz members had a decisive influence on the army command, but nowadays the settlers and other religious-nationalist people are taking over. They fill the lower and middle ranks of the officer corps. This development, together with the deepening occupation, has completely changed the face of the IDF. It's a different army now.

"The manifesto of the Yeshivot chiefs, calling for the killing of Palestinian civilians, exposes this situation. Since not one single head of an Arrangement Yeshiva has spoken out against it, we have to assume that they are unanimous on this."

"Many of the most heinous crimes in human history were committed in the name of religion. The Book of Joshua says that God commanded the Children of Israel to commit a general ethnic cleansing in the land of Canaan. The crusaders carried out horrible massacres in this country (and against the Jews on the way here) while shouting "Deus le volt!" (God wills it). Three years ago today, Osama Bin-Laden sent his people to kill thousands in the New York Twin Towers in the name of Allah. May God protect us from those who would speak in His name."

Monday, September 13, 2004

US losing war in Iraq: "Gen Trainor was the first to offer a summary judgment on the present situation in Iraq: "Well, I think, Margaret (Warner), that anybody that tries to put a good face on this situation-- that they're desperate-- I think that they're just whistling in the dark. This insurgency is going on, it's growing, it certainly has no indications of being an act of desperation at all."

"Colonel Sam Gardiner’s comments were more explicit: "Ray mentioned some of the numbers in terms of attacks per month. But if you look at, for example, the number of attacks per day, last October it was around 20. At the hand-off, it was 35. This month it was 87 -- numbers of attacks on the oil pipeline -- January and February, less than five; June, 16; August, 20; September, high already. The numbers aren't good. The numbers show that the insurgency is getting worse. We seem to have turned the corner, and it's getting worse."

"Both Trainor and Gardiner agreed that many of the cities in Sunni Iraq were now entirely under the control of insurgents.... Col. Gardiner went on to make this extraordinary admission: "I must say that the people I talk to who know about what's going on inside, the diplomats, the spies and the military people, say we're never going to have stability there until the Americans get out. We are causing much of this.""

"The fix the administration has picked, which is to get it off of the newspapers. The strategic communications objectives right now, as I read them, are to take this off of the radar screen of the American people. In July, you can... we were seeing roughly 250,000 articles in the world press per day about this. It's now down to 150.

"MARGARET WARNER: "What about the fix on the ground?"

"COL. SAM GARDINER: "There is no fix on the ground…When you get down to the point we are now, you're into tactical defense….Let's hope this thing somehow finds a solution. I don't hear anybody with a solution.""

Iraq invasion: Worst strategic error in US history?: "Most are Republicans, he says, many supported the decision to invade Iraq in March 2003. Next he writes: 'I have sat through arguments among soldiers and scholars about whether the invasion of Iraq should be considered the worst strategic error in American history -- or only the worst since Vietnam ... Many say things in Iraq will eventually look much better than they do now. But about the conduct and effect of the war in Iraq one view prevails: it has increased the threats America faces, and has reduced the military, financial and diplomatic tools with which we can respond.'

"Among the many people quoted in the Atlantic is Jeffrey Record, a professor of strategy at the Air War College, who summed up a good deal of the thinking in Washington now: 'Are we better off in basic security than before we invaded Iraq? The answer is no. An unnecesary war has consumed American Army and outher ground resources, to the point where we have nothing left in the cupboard for another contingency"

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Lisa Viscidi: Land Reform and Conflict in Guatemala: "Guatemala has one of the most skewed land distribution patterns in the world and the second most inequitable in Latin America--roughly 2 percent of the population owns 70 percent of all productive farmland. This has led to fierce and often violent land conflicts between poor campesinos (farmers) and a powerful landed elite that maintains dominance vis-a-vis close ties to the government. Guatemala's inequitable land distribution system is rooted in the Spanish conquest, when land seized from the indigenous populations was granted to colonizers.... The Agrarian Platform proposes to reform the market-based land distribution system to make land accessible to poor farmers. Its members advocate the redistribution of land by expropriating estates taken illegally during the armed conflict and taxing idle land to obligate landowners to create jobs or give the property to landless agricultural workers."

Again, no explicit emention of the land value taxation strategy, which is or should be a crucial plank in dealing with the issue of land monopoly, an issue that is obviously central to the whole history of Latin America (and many other places).

Alexander Cockburn dumps on the Kerry campaign: Kerry has been campaigning for President for over a year now but I cant recall him saying a single interesting thing. One of the features of modern democracy is that while the head of the government and the leader of the opposition have all the media time, they both have nothing to say.

Iraq role could make us a target, but we must not debate that: Deputy PM Anderson: "The deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, said today that Australia could have been targeted by terrorists because of its involvement in the Iraq war. But Mr Anderson said Australia had already been a target before the war and intelligence agencies had not advised the national security committee that the Iraq war involvement had made the nation a greater target."

Who could trust the 'intelligence' agencies...

"Mr Anderson said it was important that the election campaign avoided a debate on the merits of withdrawing troops from Iraq. "It's very important that no political commentary be attached to debates about our involvement and who would be best to handle it," he said. "I just make the point that there can be no politicisation of that."

Will Latham fall for this nonsense? Or rather, will he be able to say a single thing about the biggest issue of the campaign and in the world today?

Three Years After 9/11: More than 40% of Americans Still Think Saddam Did It: A remarkable statistic, which demonstrates several things: the power of propaganda and government lying; the (wholly undeserved) trust the public places in Power and in their leaders; the complicity of the corporate media, which acts as a 'megaphone for power' rather than a 'democratic resource'; the inattentiveness of the public to the crucial facts of the world; and the failure of opposition leaders such as Kerry, Latham and the British one (if they have one) to challenge and rebut the narrative constructed by government power. As an example of the latter, when a terrorist bombing occurs in Jakarta, Mark Latham, instead of debunking the 'war on terror' and the invasion of Iraq, calls for a 'campaigning truce.'

Three Years On, War on Terrorism Looks Like a Loser: Jim Lobe summarises expert opinion, in the words of one expert ”It is hard to find a counterterrorism specialist who thinks that the Iraq War has reduced rather than increased the threat to the United States.”

In spite of the geo-strategic disaster that is Iraq, Bush and Howard continue to position themselves as 'strong leaders' in the 'war on terror.'

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Origins of the phrase "War on Terrorism": "The phrase 'War on Terrorism' was first widely used by the western press to refer to the efforts by the British colonial government to end a spate of Jewish terrorist attacks in the British Mandate of Palestine in the late 1940s. The British proclaimed a 'war on terrorism' and attempted to crack down on Irgun, Lehi, and anyone perceived to be cooperating with them. The Jewish attacks, Arab reprisals, and the subsequent British crackdown hastened the British evacuation from Palestine.

"A representative article from the period in (New York Times, August 5th, 1947, p. 16) reads: 'The Palestine Government today arrested the Mayors of several Jewish cities and townships along Palestine's coast, including Tel Aviv, Nathanya, and Ramat Gan. No reason for the arrests was immediately given, but it was believed that they indicated a new attack in the British war on terrorism. The bodies of the two British sergeants executed by the Irgun Zvai Leumi last week were found hanged near Nathanya.'

"After the withdrawal of the British, the newly formed Israeli government began using the term 'war on terrorism' to refer to its efforts to crack down on Palestinian and Lebanese terrorist groups operating in Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East.

"The phrase 'war on terrorism' was used frequently by U.S. President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. In his 1986 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Reagan said: '...the United States believes that the understandings reached by the seven industrial democracies at the Tokyo summit last May made a good start toward international accord in the war on terrorism.'"

The 'War on Terra' however is the determination of the US Corporate/Political/Military elite to rape and plunder the planet at will in the interests of elite profit and privilege; and to harass, detain or kill anyone who disagrees with this agenda. The primary target of this war at the present time is the Arabs, simply because they sit atop the world's energy reserves.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Kitty Kelley's Bio of Bush to Shocking Revelations!: "Everybody is talking about Kitty Kelley's new book 'The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty'. The scandal-hungry press is already salivating over rumors that the book will reveal George W. Bush's use of cocaine through the 1980's, the true story of his time in the National Guard, and the shocking details of the illegal abortion he procured for an ex-girlfriend. But the press doesn't know the half of it! I have obtained an advance copy of the book, and will now share the even more shocking revelations contained within!

"1. Iraq didn't have any WMD, or any significant ties to al Qaeda! The war has cost over $200 billion dollars, and Iraq's oil wealth has not paid for reconstruction! Also, Iraqis have not welcomed coalition troops with flowers and candy, and over 1,000 American troops have died, the country's falling apart in ethnic and nationalist violence, and the best excuse for this clusterfuck anyone can offer is some happy talk about painting schools and turning metaphorical corners!" etc etc LOL.

Iran's Bid for Regional Power: Assets and Liabilities: "The best-case scenario for Iran is that the U.S. military is forced to withdraw from Iraq, leaving Iran with a dominant sphere of influence over a Shi'a-dominated Iraq or a breakaway Shi'a mini-state in the south, and that Iran is able to achieve nuclear weapons capability. Were this outcome to occur, Iran would be the dominant power in the Persian Gulf, displacing the United States. The worst-case scenario is that the United States or Israel launches a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear complex, possibly associated with American military efforts at regime change."

"Iran's polycentric decision-making system is, in fact, a source of strength in its current situation, since it leads structurally, rather than by design, to a multi-pronged strategy that hits all possible vulnerabilities of its adversaries, confuses them and allows for flexibility. If one policy fails, it will be deemphasized in favor of another. If one faction is discredited, another is ready to take its place. If all possible proxies in Iraq and Afghanistan are backed by one Iranian faction or another, downside risk is minimized and opportunity is enhanced. If reformists pursue commercialization of foreign relations and hard line traditionalists pursue militarization, Iran potentially gets the benefit of both tracks. It is impossible to predict whether Iran will succeed or fail in its bid for security and regional power, but its regime has impressive and surprising assets that work in its favor."

Chechnya: Russia's Second Afghanistan: "Just as was the case in its intervention in Afghanistan, Russia faces the additional problem that the opposition to its policies is aided by the United States. Chechen businessman Malik Saydullayev, who would have been the only credible candidate contesting Alkhanov in the presidential election had he not been barred from running because of a technical problem with his passport, has said that 'Russia has geopolitical and geostrategic interests in the Caucasus, the heart of which is Chechnya, and developed N.A.T.O. countries also have interests in the Caucasus. This war is over these interests.'

"The interest of the United States in the Caucasus is control over oil supplies from the Caspian Sea, which involves securing compliant regimes in the southern Caucasus, including Azerbaijan, where the oil is extracted, and Georgia, through which the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline will pass. As a consequence of this dominant interest, the United States is also committed to thwarting any attempt by Russia to expand its influence in the Caucasus. From the American viewpoint, Russian failure in Chechnya is welcome, as long as it does not get to the point that Chechnya becomes a base for Islamic revolution worldwide."

"The Putin regime has complained of an American "double standard" in the "war on terror," but has been powerless to stop the American support of the opposition.... France and Germany have played both sides of the table, distancing themselves from the United States by endorsing the August 29 election, but also urging negotiation. Their ambivalence is based on their desire for stronger relations with Russia to counter American influence in Eastern Europe and to build economic relations, particularly in the oil sector. At the same time, they also want Caspian Sea oil free from Russian control.... Putin's regime is in a bind from which it will be difficult, if not impossible, to extricate itself. Over time, Moscow will be tempted either to withdraw or to apply massive force. In the short term, it will probably continue its failed policies, possibly with additional shows of force that will not change the basic situation."

Putin's War: If Putin Refuses to Change Course Russia's Future is Grim: "Since the first war began in 1994, More than one hundred thousand Chechens, many also civilians, have been killed since 1994.) A generation of young Chechens has grown up knowing nothing but war, brutality and the killing of family members. The once vibrant capital city of Grozny has been bombed into rubble. A decade of fighting has decimated the country's labor force, devastated its agricultural base, destroyed its infrastructure and left many people with deplorable living standards.

"Russian troops have used harsh occupation tactics, destroying villages, rounding up and 'disappearing' young men. Rape, according to human rights reports, is a routine feature of this merciless war. The decades-long conflict has strengthened the hand of the most murderous and extremist elements among the Chechen insurgency--such as those led by Shamil Basayev, who allegedly planned the school siege. It has also fueled even greater excesses of dehumanizing violence.

"As one of the surviving hostages in Beslan told a Russian newspaper: 'The terrorists say they are Chechens. They say they're demanding the withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya. They also told us that their own children have been killed by Russians and they have nothing to lose. I asked one of them how they could put the lives of our children in danger like this. He answered that no one asked his opinion about anything when his children were being killed.'"

"The federal security forces quickly claimed that 10 "Arabs" were among the hostage-takers, but a Kremlin spokesman now says that, despite earlier assertions, no Arabs have yet been found among the terrorists."

Al-Zawahri: US facing defeat in both Afghanistan and Iraq: "'The American defeat in Iraq and Afghanistan has become just a question of time, God willing' [Al-Qaeda no.2 Zawahiri] said in the tape telecast on Thursday. 'In the two countries, the Americans are between two fires: if they remain there they will bleed to death, and if they withdraw they will have lost everything.'"

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Putin rules out dialogue - and public inquiry: "President Vladimir Putin rejected any dialogue with Chechen separatists, blamed for at least 335 deaths in the school hostage siege in Beslan, as thousands prepared to rally against terrorism in Moscow. 'Why don't you meet Osama bin Laden, invite him to Brussels or to the White House and engage in talks, ask him what he wants and give it to him so he leaves you in peace?' Mr Putin was quoted as saying."

Putin's rhetorical question is in fact a very good question indeed. If the authorities are genuinely puzzled as to 'why they hate us' then an interview with Mr Bin Laden may provide crucial illumination. And insofar as Bin Laden's (or the Chechens) demands are just and legitimate, they must be rapidly acceded to. Let us hope sanity prevails before the terrorists get or detonate a nuclear device.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Salvadoran officer found liable in Romero assasination case: "Mr Saravia, who has not been seen since the charges were filed against him last September, was not in court. “To be liable for the killing of a human being, you don’t have to pull the trigger,” Judge Oliver Wanger told about 100 spectators at the courtroom in Fresno, California, many of them Salvadoran. The visitors erupted in applause, and many in attendance began weeping.

"After the case concluded, San Francisco State University Professor Felix Kury, who is Salvadoran, made reference to the estimated $6 billion in U.S. support for the Salvadoran government during the war. “The elephant in the room—that we could not talk about because we wanted to find this man responsible—is the role of the United States,” he said. “The war would not have happened without it.”

"Then, in a traditional Latin American remembrance of the dead, Kury called out three times, “Monsignor Romero,” and three times the crowd in the courtroom responded, “Presente!” “He has been resurrected,” said Kury, with tears streaming down his cheeks. “This is the beginning. It will give courage to people to continue fighting against death.”"

Amstaff dog attacks and kills 4 year old girl in Tel Aviv: "Magen David Adom emergency medical services personnel who reported to the distress call on Bar-Lev Street, in Tel Aviv's Kfar Shalem neighborhood, reported that the girl was bitten in the neck. The MDA team tried unsuccessfully to revive the girl, and declared her dead several minutes after it arrived on the scene. A neighbor of the girl's family, said the tragedy occurred around 6:30 P.M. 'I heard horrible screams. The mother was saying: `My girl is dead. The dog ate her. Help us!''"

"In response to this horrifying attack, MK Gideon Sa'ar (Likud) submitted a proposal to the Knesset to ban ownership of Amstaffs, Rottweilers and Pitbulls throughout Israel.... But the Israeli authorities have decided to follow a different course with this particular Amstaff. He has actually been adopted by the Israeli General Security Service (Shin Bet), which is the service that interrogates Palestinian prisoners, and which intends to use him as a guard dog against Palestinian detainees.

"Israeli member of parliament, Yossi Sarid, on Friday criticized the General Security Service (Shin Bet) decision to adopt an Amstaff dog which killed a 4-year-old girl in Tel Aviv Thursday evening in order to use it as a guard dog agianst Palestinian detainees. The security system wants to take advantage of a canine that can be trusted to devour children, Sarid said, according to Haaretz."

Lawrence of Cyberia: Enough For Qalqilya: "You don`t simply bundle people onto trucks and drive them away... I prefer to advocate a more positive create, in effect, a condition that in a positive way will induce people to leave.'" - Ariel Sharon

"In case you're not sure what you're looking at in the first photograph, the white ribbon around the residential center of Qalqilya is Israel's Wall. The brown areas to the north and south of the town, and outside the wall, are where Qalqilya's water resources and farmland lie, now abandoned, their crops rotting. There is a gate that opens onto the farmland at the northern side of the Wall, but it has never been opened since the Wall was built. The gate on the south side may or may not be opened (at the whim of the soldiers on duty) three times a day for fifteen minutes each time, to allow children to travel to and from school and for farmers to access their fields. Though for most farmers, it really doesn't matter if the gate remains locked: they are not allowed to pass through without a permit, and 60% of Qalqilya's farmers have been arbitrarily refused the permits they need to pass through to their fields on the days when the gate is actually opened.

"The end result here will be that as the farmers can't reach the fields, Israel will declare them "abandoned". Under Israeli law, Israel then has the right to seize the "abandoned" land for itself."

CSIRO: NSW temperatures could rise by up to 6.4 degrees: "By 2030, their modelling suggests, annual rainfall could fall by 20 per cent in some areas and up to 40 per cent by 2070, placing further pressure on water storage systems. This is likely to result in more calls for large engineering solutions to the water shortage, such as desalination, and weaken the case for a new Sydney dam. It also means that another crippling drought could arrive with even greater intensity.

"The scientific modelling returned increases of between 0.2 and 2.1 degrees by 2030, and 0.7 to 6.4 degrees by 2070. The research is in keeping with average global temperature predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - a group of 2500 scientists advising the United Nations and World Metereological Organisation - which says the world will be 1.5 to 5.8 degrees warmer by 2100. But the report, commissioned by the NSW Greenhouse Office and to be released today, contains the first comprehensive predictions about what lies ahead for the state."

In response to the global warming crisis The Greens have policy to "phase in a carbon levy to reach $30 per tonne of CO2 with resulting revenue used to finance improved energy efficiency of energy use, renewable energy, public transport, social equity aspects and reduction in payroll taxes."

Monday, September 06, 2004

Liberal MP: Asylum seekers should be quarantined like animals: "A Liberal MP fighting to keep her marginal seat has sparked outrage for appearing to suggest asylum seekers require the same quarantine checks as cats and dogs. Trish Worth, who holds the seat of Adelaide by a wafer thin margin of just 0.6 per cent, drew gasps and jeers from the audience when she made the comments at a public forum on asylum seekers.

"Called on to justify the government's policy of mandatory detention, the parliamentary secretary told the crowd that she hated the thought of anyone being held in detention. But she said there were 'some very practical reasons' for that.

"'I mean, if you bring a dog into this country or a cat from some countries ....' she said, before being drowned out by a rumble of interjections from the audience. 'Look, can you just hear me out please. Can you just hear me out. 'There are certain tests to be carried out. There are health checks.'"

No Mea Culpa From The British Media: "News of the ongoing slaughter in Iraq has been buried beneath patriotic headlines of ecstatic and crestfallen Olympians. The 'terrible distress' of one exhausted British marathon runner was deemed worthy of far more extensive and emotive coverage than armoured superpower thrusts into Najaf and Falluja. Noam Chomsky explains the emphasis:

"'This is an oversimplification, but for the eighty percent [of the public] or whatever they are, the main thing is to divert them. To get them to watch the National Football League. And to worry about 'Mother With Child With Six Heads,' or whatever you pick up on the supermarket stands and so on. Or look at astrology. Or get involved in fundamentalist stuff or something or other. Just get them away. Get them away from things that matter. And for that it's important to reduce their capacity to think.'"

"According to a two-month survey carried out by an Iraqi non-governmental organisation, the People's Kifah, comprising hundreds of activists and academics, more than 37,000 Iraqi civilians were killed between the start of the US-led invasion in March 2003 and October 2003. (Ahmed Janabi, 'Iraqi group: Civilian toll now 37,000', 31 July, 2004,

"We searched in vain for coverage of this important survey in news reports by ITN, the BBC, The Guardian, The Independent, Financial Times and others. On 30 August, 2004, we conducted an online news search, using the extensive Lexis-Nexis database, and were able to find only two mentions in the UK press: one, a brief account in the Western Mail, a Cardiff-based newspaper, on 26 August. The only other mention was a passing reference in a Guardian comment piece by activist Tariq Ali."

Russian woman forced to make Sophie's choice in Beslan hostage drama: "When Alan began to cry from hunger, Dzandarova was allowed to join several other mothers in an adjacent room, which had its own water and was several degrees cooler.

"After a former local political leader visited the school Thursday, the women in the adjacent room were told there was "good news": They would be released. "They said, 'Pack your things quickly, and take your babies with you,' " Dzandarova said.

"Shortly after, she learned that she would have to choose between taking her son or her daughter. Dzandarova had both Alan and Alana with her and made a snap decision to pass Alana to her 16-year-old sister-in-law. But the guerrillas saw through the ruse and refused to allow her to take the older child.

""Alana was clinging to me and holding my hand firmly. But they separated us, and said: 'You go with the boy. Your sister can stay here with her.' I cried. I begged them. Alana cried. The women around us wept. One of the Chechens said: 'If you don't go now, you don't go at all. You stay here with your children … and we will shoot all of you.' "

"She couldn't save both of them. She could only die with both of them — or save one of them and herself. "I didn't have time to think what I was doing," she said. "I pressed Alan even stronger to myself, and I went out, and I heard all the time how my daughter was crying and calling for me behind my back. I thought my heart would break into pieces there and then.""

Commenting on this story, bellatrys says: "I think that sochkiyi suin Putin may be afraid, at last, to exploit any more. The stories that he had his old KGB buddies help start the war with the initial Moscow bombings that were supposed to be by Chechen rebels are pretty well entrenched, true or not they're at least believed and told even by Muscovite officers, and everyone knows (in Europe at least) that he has prolonged and used the war to keep himself popular as the strong protector, and attention off his bad policies and increasing old-style tyranny.

"For the first two years it worked pretty well, but I hear it's been wearing gradually thin, his Forever War popularity, and the increasing blowback for the decades of slaughter (over 70,000 Chechen dead) may undo him. This is our future, you realize, if PNAC gets their way."

Daily Show Bush Campaign Film: Funnier than Michael Moore.

Manne: Howard's lies: "During the 8 years of the Howard Government, the most morally serious accusation of lying concerned the arguments used to justify Australia's participation in the invasion of Iraq. Although I share the view that Australia was involved in the invasion on the basis of a lie, in my opinion opponents of the war have misunderstood the nature of the mendacity that was involved.

"In justifying the invasion, the fundamental lie was the claim about the supposed deadly danger that the economically ruined and militarily crippled tinpot dictatorship of Saddam Hussein presented to its neighbours and to the West through its possession of weapons of mass destruction and links with Islamic terrorists such as al-Qaeda. This lie was conjured from the void by neo-conservative intellectuals in the United States. As we now know every aspect of their case was false.

"In the US and Britain the political leaders, George Bush and Tony Blair, were enthusiastic believers in the nonsensical arguments supplied by the neo-con intellectuals and the intelligence disinformation supplied by the exiles linked to the Iraqi National Congress. In Australia the self-deception proceeded along a somewhat different route.

"On September 11, 2001 Howard pledged an oath of fealty to the US. From that moment, in the prosecution of the war on terrorism, he was willing to believe whatever it was the Americans happened to believe. He had willingly suspended his capacity for disbelief."

The 'case' for the Iraq war was adequately exposed as a lie and a fraud even before the war started, although the torrent of leaks and revelations since the war has demolished the case as comprehensively as could posssibly be done. All the more remarkable and alarming therefore that Bush, Blair and Howard could still win their respective elections.

However, I believe Manne is correct in his assessment of Howard's motives. Howard is an empty headed politician who has never demonstrated any understanding of history or geopolitics. For example, Howard maintains the Vietnam war was right. A vast and senseless slaughter of 2-3 million Asians for no gain or benefit whatever. Howard's core foreign policy beliefs appear to be Imperialism, Colonialism, and (white supremacist) Racism. The role he envisions for Australia is blind loyalty to the (UKUSA) Empire. So when Bush tapped him on the shoulder after 911 he immediately and blindly fell in to the neocon agenda - as easy a tool to manipulate as Bush himself.

"This week the Howard Government - through the work of Senator George Brandis, who represents the Government on the relevant Senate Committee - sought to discredit Scrafton's evidence. In my opinion the Government's efforts almost entirely failed. The nation is now confronted by the near-complete certainty that on the eve of the last election, in order to ensure his Government's return, Howard told the people of Australia what can only be considered an outright lie.

"The response to this knowledge has been extremely interesting. Since the Scrafton claims, the Howard Government's popularity, as measured by Newspoll, has marginally improved. Even more significantly, in his column in The Weekend Australian, Paul Kelly - the most authoritative political journalist in this country - argued that even if Howard did tell a blatant lie in order to secure his re-election, there was no reason for the moral absolutists among us to kick up such a fuss. Who really believes, Kelly asked, that Howard on November 8 should have come clean?"

The problem with Howard's lies over 'children overboard' is that the price is paid by innocent people who have been thereby slandered and dehumanised for purely political purposes. Hundreds have been drowned in suspicious circumstances and thousands (including children) have been dumped in desert and desert island concentration camps amid complete callousness on the part of the government and a frightening level of indifference among the wider public.

The ugliness and evil of racism did not die with the suicide of Hitler or the release of Mandela. It always exists and there is always the opportunity to exploit racist sentiment for political advantage. This is why every person in a leadership position has a solemn responsibility to condemn racism and expose the government's lies and policies and thereby force a change. Otherwise every ambitious politician (from whatever party) will learn that political success can be gained through racism, and there is no end to this slippery slope, except the discipline imposed by people of principle and integrity. Such people include Andrew Wilkie and Mike Scrafton - but not Paul Kelly. Kelly is no 'authoritative journalist' - rather more like a shill for the US corporate media and the neoconservatives.

Prime Minister Howard - 'known liar', 'lying rodent': "In a superb piece of irony, the Government's designated chief defender of Howard's truthfulness was outed on the Nine Network the night before the Senate hearing as having boasted 15 months ago to a group of Queensland Liberal colleagues that Howard was a 'lying rodent' whom he and others would have to 'cover his arse again' on children overboard. Brandis denies the accusation unequivocally, a denial Labor's John Faulkner dismissed with contempt at the Scrafton hearing.

"When Brandis produced what he said were Telstra records of all telephone calls - including mobile calls - to and from the Lodge on the night of November 7, 2001, he refused to make the records public for 'security' reasons.

"Ray: 'So they can be given to you but not tabled in this committee? We have offered for people from the Prime Minister's office to come and give evidence if they wish, not to take second-hand evidence from you in some closest.'

"Labor Senate leader John Faulkner: 'I do not believe anything the Prime Minister's office says about anything. And I do not believe anything the Prime Minister has ever said about anything. He is a known liar. Senator Brandis knows that, and says it.'"

For a long period Howard maintained a defence (harldy less discreditable) that 'no one told me about that' in relation to false statements of his. By this stage however most observors would have to conclude he simply lied.

Military Coup d'etat in the United States: "The authors include in the book's Appendixes the full text of several documents that are critically important for understanding why and how Guantanamo occurred. The most important is Military Order No. 1. This is not a widely disseminated document, for very good reasons. Signed by Bush on 13 November 2001, it confirms that he used 9/11 as a pretext to proclaim a national emergency, which in turn enabled him to confer upon himself extraordinary war powers, without the consent of Congress or the Judiciary. Through Military Order No. 1, and other powers vested in him as commander-in-chief, Bush, in effect, has staged a military coup d'etat. He has taken America back to a time prior to the Constitution, when the military ruled the country.

"Through Military Order No. 1, Bush has given himself the authority 1) to identify terrorists and 'those who support them' and 2) to detain 'individuals subject to this order' in horrid places like Guantanamo. People subject to this order need only have harbored people who threaten to harm our 'citizens, national security, foreign policy, or economy.' This applies to anyone Bush has a personal grudge against, like Saddam Hussein. Bush has only to write a note telling his deputies to get someone in order to condemn that someone to a life of endless persecution and/or death.

"Military Order No. 1 also allows Bush to form 'tribunals' or 'commissions' to try alleged terrorists under military, not civilian law, despite the fact that terrorism is 'not a violation of military law or the laws of war,' as Ratner explains. The military tribunals have 'exclusive jurisdiction,' and individuals subject to Military Order No. 1 are denied due process not only in the US, but also in any foreign court or international tribunal. Apart from any document or law, and in violation of treaties and the supreme law of the land, Bush has exempted himself and his deputies from any existing international laws of war, such as the Geneva Conventions."

Kosovo: Another Case of Mass Deception?: "In alleged ethnic cleansing exercises by Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, as many as 100,000 to 200,000 civilians were said to have gone missing or been killed in Kosovo, many of them buried in mass graves. Members of a Canadian forensic team to the Serbian province have come forward to label the numbers nonsense."

"The latest person to debunk the genocide numbers is retired Vancouver homicide detective Brian Honeybourn, a member of the forensic team. He told The Ottawa Citizen this week that his nine-member group found mainly single graves, with a couple of exceptions being one of 20 bodies and another 11. He wonders how genocide charges against Mr. Milosevic can stand up. "It seems as though The Hague is beginning to panic."

"Garth Pritchard, a Canadian filmmaker, accompanied the forensic team to Kosovo. "This was a massacre that never happened." He joined mission leader Brian Strongman in lambasting Canadian Louise Arbour, the special prosecutor for the tribunal that brought the charges against Mr. Milosevic. Ms. Arbour, now the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, was used as a pawn by war-hungry Washington and London, they said. "I was standing there when the forensic teams were telling Louise Arbour there were no 200,000 bodies and she didn't want to know," Mr. Pritchard told the Citizen. Ms. Arbour's career path lit up after her war-crimes work. She was appointed to the Supreme Court of Canada, then to her UN post.... If the forensic teams' stories are correct, the missing dead in Kosovo is indeed a scandal comparable to the absence of WMD in Iraq. In a five-year period, political leaders twice duped their populations into going to war."

Chomsky published a book about Kosovo a few years ago - "The New Military Humanism". You would have to have been asleep not to have noticed the fraudulent case for war, even at the time. Nevertheless it is true that the Iraq war has exposed to a massive worldside audience the operations of the system.

Zunes: Democrat drift to the right does not make them immune from Republican attack"Despite nominating a decorated combat veteran who takes positions on human rights, international law, and presidential war-making authority far to the right of the vast majority of Democrats and independents, the Republicans will still question the Democratic nominee’s willingness to defend the country.

"There is an important lesson here: those who argue that the Democrats cannot take more moderate positions on foreign and military policy without being subjected to Republican attacks are simply wrong. For despite Kerry’s enthusiastic embrace of the Bush Doctrine and his militaristic world view, he is being attacked anyway."

One has to wonder how far the 'first past the post' electoral system facilitates this relentless drift to the right.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Interview with Chomsky: "On May 27, the New York Times published one of the most incredible sentences I’ve ever seen. They ran an article about the Nixon-Kissinger interchanges. Kissinger fought very hard through the courts to try to prevent it, but the courts permitted it. You read through it, and you see the following statement embedded in it. Nixon at one point informs Kissinger, his right-hand Eichmann, that he wanted bombing of Cambodia. And Kissinger loyally transmits the order to the Pentagon to carry out "a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. Anything that flies on anything that moves." That is the most explicit call for what we call genocide when other people do it that I’ve ever seen in the historical record.

"Right at this moment there is a prosecution of Milosevic going on in the international tribunal, and the prosecutors are kind of hampered because they can’t find direct orders, or a direct connection even, linking Milosevic to any atrocities on the ground. Suppose they found a statement like this. Suppose a document came out from Milosevic saying, "Reduce Kosovo to rubble. Anything that flies on anything that moves." They would be overjoyed. The trial would be over. He would be sent away for multiple life sentences–if it was a U.S. trial, immediately the electric chair. But they can’t find any such document. In fact, nobody has even found a document like that connecting Hitler to the Holocaust. Scholars have been working on it for years. I can’t remember an example of such a direct order to carry out what amounted to a huge massacre, way beyond the level of anything we call genocide when other people do it.

"Was there any reaction to the Nixon-Kissinger transcript? Did anybody notice it? Did anybody comment on it? Actually, I’ve brought it up in talks a number of times, and I’ve noticed that people don’t understand it. They understand it the minute I say it, but not five minutes later, because it’s just too unacceptable. We cannot be people who openly and publicly call for genocide and then carry it out. That can’t be. So therefore, it didn’t happen. And therefore, it doesn’t even have to be wiped out of history, because it will never enter history, any more than the World Court hearing did."

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Kolko: Alliances and the American election: "Alliances have been a major cause of wars throughout modern history, removing inhibitions that might otherwise have caused Germany, France, and countless nations to reflect much more cautiously before embarking on death and destruction. The dissolution of all alliances is a crucial precondition of a world without wars. The United States' strength, to an important extent, has rested on its ability to convince other nations that it was to their vital interests to see America prevail in its global role. With the loss of that ability there will be a fundamental change in the international system whose implications and consequences may ultimately be as far-reaching as the dissolution of the Soviet bloc. The scope of America's world mission is now far more dangerous and ambitious than when Communism existed, but it was fear of the USSR that alone gave NATO its raison d'etre and provided Washington with the justification for its global pretensions."

"America's traditional allies, of which Australia is one of the closest, have to decide if they are willing to give a carte blanche to what is - and will remain regardless of who wins next November's election - an increasingly dangerous adventurism. We know a great deal of how American foreign and military policies are formulated, and they are less and less predictable and increasingly likely to alienate an ever-larger part of the world. Cynicism, unrealizable ambition, deliberate but also self-inflicted illusions are crucial to the byzantine way crucial decisions for war or peace are reached. (4) But to proclaim that the alliance with the U. S. is sacrosanct is to encourage an increasingly irresponsible American foreign policy. That, too, is an issue the Australian people must consider."

Kolko makes an argument for Australia to follow the leadership of New Zealand and withdraw from the Anzus treaty. Security does not consist in armies, weapons, colonialism, exploitation, alliances and wars but rather the opposite: disarmament, peace, justice and understanding between nations and peoples, particularly those in our region.