Saturday, December 31, 2005

Craig Murray Torture memos leaked: Former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray is in the news again (or at least, all over the blogosphere. I dont know whether corporate 'news' reports these things or not.) The UK Foreign Office attempted to censor memos written by Murray and directed he return all copies. He has responded by posting them on the web and urging all and sundry to make copies.

There are a number of interesting aspects of the Murray/Uzbekistan story, not least the light it shows on the brutal reality of the phony 'war on terror'; or the fact that in the new Great Game the US has lost and Uzbekistan is now realigned with Russia. Another interesting aspect is what might be called the 'naivete' of Murray. He appears to have been shocked (admittedly, its pretty bad) by the torture regime of Uzbekistan; to have objected to repressive policies which would increase the risk of Islamic terrorism, not reduce it; and to have held a suspicion that US policy was more about oil, gas and hegemony than about freedom and democracy. From the point of view of Whitehall and Downing st, however, Murray would be viewed with considerable irritation as a lapse of discipline and professionalism. The question would be, how can we get officials who follow directions without question, and who either cynically repress doubts and uncertainties, or are truly brainwashed? A state or empire would collapse if its officers in any number took at face value the statements of ideals and principles and began to compare them to the reality.

Clowntime is Over: The Last Stand of the American Republic: the challenge to the American establishment: "So now, at last, the crisis is upon us. Now the cards are finally on the table, laid out so starkly that even the Big Media sycophants and Beltway bootlickers can no longer ignore them. Now the choice for the American Establishment is clear, and inescapable: do you hold for the Republic, or for autocracy?

"There is no third way here, no other option, no wiggle room, no ambiguity. The much-belated exposure of George W. Bush's warrantless spy program has forced the Bush-Cheney Regime to openly declare what they have long implied -- and enacted -- in secret: that the president is above the law, a military autocrat with unlimited powers, beyond the restraint or supervision of any other institution or branch of government. Outed as rank deceivers, perverters of the law and rapists of the Constitution, the Bush gang has decided that their best defense -- their only defense, really -- is a belligerent offense. 'Yeah, we broke the law,' they now say; 'so what? We'll break it again whenever we want to, because law don't stick to our Big Boss Man. What are you going to do about it, chump?'"

More from Chris Floyd on Bush who publicly claimed that Jesus was his 'favourite philosopher':

"Countless words of condemnation have been heaped upon George W. Bush and his hard-Right regime – a crescendo growing louder by the day, with voices from across the political spectrum. But the most devastating repudiation of the Regime's foul ethos was actually delivered almost 2,000 years ago by the man whose birth is celebrated at this season of the year.

"We speak, of course, of Jesus of Nazareth, whose Sermon on the Mount, as reported in the Gospels, called for a revolutionary transformation of human nature – a complete overthrow of our natural instincts for greed, aggression, and self-aggrandizement. This radical vision – erupting in the turbulent backwater of a brutal world empire – is the true miracle of Jesus' life, not the clusmy fables about virgin births, magic tricks and corpses rising from the dead. The vision's living force sears through dogma, casts down the pomp of church and state, and gives the lie to every hypocrite who evokes the name of Jesus in pursuit of earthly power.

"Bush professes to believe that Jesus is the son of God, whose words are literally divine commands. Yet anyone who compares what Jesus really said to Bush's actions in power – the abandonment of the poor, the exaltation of the rich; the dirty insider deals, the culture of corruption, the politics of smear and slander; the perversion of law to countenance murder, torture and predatory war – can readily see that this profession of faith is a monstrous deceit. Bush – and his politicized, pseudo-religious "base" – may well believe that some divine being approves of their unbridled greed, aggression and self-aggrandizement; but this mythical godling in their heads has nothing to do with the man from Nazareth who, as Matthew and Luke tell it, went up into a mountain one day and began to preach."

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Uri Avnery on Israel's political groupings ahead of the election: "For decades now all Israeli governments have been repeating the mantra: 'United Jerusalem, capital of Israel for all eternity.' ... Two weeks ago, Amir Peretz gave in to his advisors and repeated the sacred mantra: he, too, is for the United Jerusalem, Capital of Israel for all Eternity. Amen. This is a mendacious statement. Every child knows that there will be no peace without East Jerusalem becoming the capital of the Palestinian state."

"Israel's largest mass-circulation daily, Yediot Ahronoth, published a poll that shocked the politicians: 49% of the Israeli public is ready to accept the division of Jerusalem, with another 49% opposed. Since an ordinary person is reluctant to give an answer that runs counter to the perceived consensus, it appears that a majority is now ready for the partition of the city."

"Voters are becoming more and more suspicious. This time, more than ever, they expect straight talking. And, indeed, after all the upheavals of the last few weeks, the picture that emerges presents the voter with a clear choice between three different options:

"- On the right, the Likud, under the leadership of Netanyahu, has clearly shifted to the radical fringe. Netanyahu will now try to don a "moderate" mask, but to no avail. Not only does the party include openly fascist groups, but it is apparent that the entire Likud opposes "giving up" any part of Eretz Yisrael, thus striking peace from the agenda.

"- In the middle, the new Kadima party, under the leadership of Sharon, has given up the idea of a Greater Israel in the whole of the historical country, but opposes a real compromise with the Palestinians, arrived at by negotiation and agreement. Sharon wants to impose by force new permanent borders for Israel, by annexing most of the West Bank and all of East Jerusalem.

"- On the left, Labor, under the leadership of Peretz, proposes negotiations with the Palestinians with the aim of achieving peace by compromise."

Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Christmas Truce: "So extraordinary was the Christmas truce of 1914 that some no longer believe it could have happened. But as a new film recreates those days, Stanley Weintraub says it was no myth."

Perhaps more than any other incident in the last terrible century of war, the Christmas truce represents its folly and insanity.

Alan Gill has more on the Christmas truce: "The Christmas truce of 1914 is one of the most remarkable incidents of World War I and perhaps of military history. It lasted as long as a week, and took place despite orders that those who fraternised with the enemy would be shot.... For decades the general view has been that the Christmas truce lasted three days (from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day) and that fighting resumed following demands from headquarters. It is now known that in isolated sections, notably that held by the 1st Leicester Regiment, the truce continued until middle or late January.... the Illustrated London News published a stylised picture of the event, calling it "The Light of Peace on Christmas Eve". It showed a German soldier standing at the British lines holding aloft a small Christmas tree. Just looking at it brings tears to the eyes."

However as it is the festive season, I invite my (numberless) readers to beer up, read this, and celebrate.

Iran hails victory in Iraq; defeat of United States: "Of the 275 seats in Iraq's new parliament, 140 will belong to pious Islamists, 60 will be occupied by Kurds with excellent ties with Iran, and 40 will belong to Sunni Arabs, most of whom want a sovereign, Islamist state, the daily Kayhan's Saturday editorial noted. The new government, including the President, the Prime Minister, the cabinet, the armed forces and the judiciary, will emerge from this new assembly. Kayhan said the election outcome will increase pressures, both inside and outside the U.S., on [President George W.] Bush to withdraw American troops from Iraq. Bush will have to give in and withdraw the bulk of his forces from Iraq in the next few months, the daily, which reflects the views of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wrote."

"The paper listed the consequences of American withdrawal from Iraq, describing the current situation in Iraq as ?the biggest crisis America has faced in recent decades. The American defeat and withdrawal from Iraq will forever bury the Neoconservative current in the U.S.A, while the formation of an Islamist state in Iraq, which will be a natural ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran and will form a contiguous link between Iran and Palestine through Syria and Lebanon, will bring about a sea change in the geo-strategic balance in the region in favour of Iran and to America's detriment. This new alliance with its huge size will directly influence all developments in the Arab and Muslim Middle East."

Any chance of getting a comment from Mr Bush, Mr Blair or Mr Howard on this observation in Iran's leading hardline newspaper? Perhaps it was the plan from the beginning to install an Islamic republic aligned with Iran.

Meanwhile the remarkable success of the US/Bush propaganda system continues unabated: "The Bush administration has just provided a textbook demonstration of the successful manipulation of public opinion. By repeating the theme that the United States is winning the war in Iraq for weeks, George W. Bush has now convinced 60 percent of Americans that the United States will win, and nearly as many that it is already winning, according to the latest ABC/Washington Post poll."

Friday, December 23, 2005

Short interview with Uri Avnery 2002:
The current Foreign Minister, Shimon Peres, he refers to as a ‘completely worthless person’. The former Prime Minister, Benyamin Netanyahu, he dismisses as a crook: ‘I am not afraid of crooks. I am afraid of men like Sharon.’

He has more respect for Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon, whom he refers to as ‘serious men’. The latter he feels is deeply amoral in the pursuit of his goals and has no interest in making any settlement at all with the Palestinians. On the contrary, Avnery believes that he wants war with them. He sees Sharon as the last leader of a movement for Jewish liberation, the élan of which is dying out.

Surprisingly Avnery is optimistic about the chances for peace: ‘A product of my age and my temperament.’ He sees the Israelis as basically having no choice but to make a deal with the Palestinians, even though he thinks 90 per cent of the population would like a country without any Arab population at all. But he also feels it will take a strong break with the past to accomplish it. He is fond of quoting Lloyd George’s famous phrase that ‘one cannot cross an abyss in two jumps’.

In a new article, Avnery discusses Sharon and his wrecking action on Likud:

YESTERDAY, WHEN I was walking in the street, someone shouted after me: "Hey, when are you joining Sharon?"

"Why would I do that?" I asked him.

"Because he is implementing your plan!" he answered triumphantly.

This illusion is gaining ground. Many Leftists, who have spent the last few years luxuriating in a warm and comfortable despair that releases them from any duty to stand up and fight, have now found an even more agreeable solution: Sharon, the man of the Right, will realize the dream of the Left. One has only to vote for Sharon, and then the longed-for peace will come. No need to make any effort, to struggle, even to lift a finger.

Thus, miraculously, we come back to Sharon's original formula: to annex unilaterally 58% of the West Bank, not to conduct any peace negotiations with the Palestinians and to keep the whole of Jerusalem.

In the meantime, Sharon (through his Minister of Defense, who has now followed him out of the Likud) is distributing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of building permits in the settlements, continuing the construction of the wall, destroying Palestinian homes in Jerusalem and maintaining the blockade of the Gaza Strip. His continuous silent effort to undermine the position of Mahmoud Abbas is already bearing fruit. But who cares, when the intoxicating music of the flute is befuddling the senses and the brain of so many peace-loving Leftists?

It's an extraordinary feature of politics, the capacity of people to believe in illusions.

The real danger lies in the set-up of Sharon's party itself. It has no ideology but Sharon. No program but Sharon. No plan but Sharon. This is a party of one leader, committed to nothing. His word is its command. He alone will compose its list of candidates. He alone will draft the party program - which will be irrelevant anyhow, since Sharon alone will decide what to do at any time.

Sharon has never been much of a democrat. Right from the beginning, he has had a profound contempt for parties and politicians. He was and has remained a foreign body in the Knesset. From his early youth he has been firmly convinced that he must become the leader of the people and the state, since he, and he alone, is the one who can save them from perdition. He did not see himself as a leader bound by all kinds of democratic nonsense, like Gulliver bound by the Lilliputians, but as a free agent, released from all bonds, able to fulfill his historic mission: to fix the borders of the Jewish State with the maximum possible area.

He does not hide his intention to change the political system of Israel and to establish a presidential regime. In Israel, a country with neither a constitution nor a strong parliament like the US Congress, such a system means one-man rule. If he succeeds in winning a decisive enough victory in the coming elections, he may be able, with the help of a few bribed lawmakers, to change the laws of the country and turn himself into an all-powerful president - for four years, for seven, for a lifetime.

This danger would not have been so real, if the Israeli democracy had not lost its inner strength. The politicians are detested by the public, the big parties evoke loathing, political corruption has become proverbial. In such a crisis, the public tends to long for a strongman. The man from the Sycamore Ranch is only too happy to oblige.

Only one thing is certain for anyone who knows the man: he will never abandon his historic aim: to annex as much territory as possible, with as few Arabs as possible. He has executed the Disengagement Plan with utmost vigor not in order to bring peace, but to realize this principle.

Antony Loewenstein on the bi-national state solution for Palestine: I disagree with one point in this article: "There are small signs that the Arab world is starting to accept the Jewish State." They would be rather big signs by now. 'Small signs' would have started with Sadat in 1971, and by the late 70s even the PLO was prepared to recognise Israel on the 67 borders.

Israel could have made peace anytime on those borders, but instead has been determined to pursue a 'facts on the ground' land grab policy. I think AL is right is suggesting that if Israel doesnt make peace on the two state model soon, then they will face the demand for a binational state, which would of course ironically spell the end of the 'Jewish state.'

In regard to the Iranian President's remarks, one would think the Iranian government should be aware of the evidence for the Holocaust. Denial is hardly a credible position to adopt. But as for his suggestion that if the Europeans felt guilty about the Holocaust, then why didn't they create a province for the Jews in Austria or Germany: look at it from the point of view of the Palestinians. It's a good question to which a sensible answer can hardly be given.

Former Defence Chief Cosgrove's AWOL son discharged: t's an intriguing story, isn't it? Makes you wonder what is really going on in the Army and in Iraq. Has David Cosgrove been in Iraq? How many Aussie troops are in Iraq? Where are they and what are they doing? How is morale? What do they think about the war and their deployment? With one US expert after another saying the US has lost the war in Iraq, what do the Aussie brass think?

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bush admits illegal spying on Americans, declares he'll do it again: [Scene, Oval Office. The President addresses the American people]: F*ck you. I spied on ya. I'm gonna spy on ya again. You cant stop me! I'm not the President, I'm the f*cking King! [grabs Crown and slams it on his head. Grabs double shot of hard liquor and slams it down. Lights fade...]

UPDATE: Bush's action in breaking the law, admitting he broke the law, and declaring he will do it again, seems to have crossed some sort of line in the commentariat.

Jonathon Schell says:

There is a name for a system of government that wages aggressive war, deceives its citizens, violates their rights, abuses power and breaks the law, rejects judicial and legislative checks on itself, claims power without limit, tortures prisoners and acts in secret. It is dictatorship. The Administration of George W. Bush is not a dictatorship, but it does manifest the characteristics of one in embryonic form.... He is now in effect saying, "Yes, I am above the law--I am the law, which is nothing more than what I and my hired lawyers say it is--and if you don't like it, I dare you to do something about it." Members of Congress have no choice but to accept the challenge. They did so once before, when Richard Nixon, who said, "When the President does it, that means it's not illegal," posed a similar threat to the Constitution. The only possible answer is to inform Bush forthwith that if he continues in his defiance, he will be impeached.

Jay Bookman says:

In asserting his right to ignore the law, President Bush has slapped Congress right across the face and told them they better like it. Congress can now mutter "Yes, sir" and cower in its corner like a whipped dog, as it has for most of the past five years, or it can fight back to defend its institutional authority. Either choice will mark a turning point in U.S. history.

Doug Ireland says:

President Bush may find himself in deep trouble after ordering and defending illegal wiretaps of U.S. citizens -- a crime for which Richard Nixon was nearly impeached.

However, as Chomsky has frequently pointed out, the mere illegality of Nixon's Watergate actions were not the reason he was ousted. He had committed with impunity much worse illegalites, such as COINTELPRO. Nixon's fatal mistake lay in targetting rich and powerful people, such as the Chairman of IBM and the like. If the Bush Administration avoids making this mistake, it is an entirely open question as to whether Congress or the corporate media could move against them in any way. In any discussion of impeachment, a question should be asked that is not being asked, what do the corporations, their CEOs and the corporate media owners think? Do they believe he needs to be impeached? Or are they content with the slide into pseudo-fascism? Numerous grounds for impeachment exist, but will the weapons be taken up?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

REPUBLIC DOGS: Thrasymachus: So you'd like to hear my theory?

Socrates: I'd be honored.

Thrasymachus: My humble little idea goes something like this. [He is suddenly extremely loud and violent. Roars:] Justice is only the will of the stronger. What do you think about that, asshole? [Slaps Socrates across the face with his gun]

Socrates: Uh, uh, uh ...

Thrasymachus: Come on ... come on, you wanna try and disprove my theory, you weak little shit? Yeah? Yeah? Shit, I think I feel a proof coming on. [Shoots him.] Why, thank you Socrates, you've certainly opened my eyes.

Narrator: Thrasymachus. Alcibiades. Aristotle. Socrates -- are Quentin Tarantino's Republic Dogs.

Iran wins big in Iraq's elections: "'We knew ever since the beginning [of the Iraq war] that the Americans would become trapped in a quagmire ... Iraq has become a turning point in the history of the Middle East. If the Americans had succeeded in subjugating Iraq, our region would have suffered once again from colonialism, but if Iraq becomes a democratic country that can stand on its own feet, the Americans will face the greatest loss. In such an eventuality, Iran and other regional states will be able to play an important role in world issues since they provide a huge share of the world's energy needs. We see now that the United States has been defeated.'" - former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

"The Shi'ite religious coalition, the United Iraqi Alliance (UIA), not only held together, but also can be expected to dominate the new 275-member National Assembly for the next four years. More importantly, the "secular" candidates who were believed to enjoy links with the US security agencies would seem to have been routed. Former premier Iyad Allawi's prospects of leading the new government seem virtually nil. And Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Accord suffered a shattering defeat.... With the ascendancy of Muqtada and Mutlak in the fragmented political spectrum, the calls for American troops to leave Iraq can be expected to become more strident."

"Tehran sees that Iraq is now irreversibly on the verge of profound change, and transition is already in the air. The US is increasingly finding that it must come up with a clear plan to withdraw its troops from Iraq. As prominent Lebanese political observer Rami Khouri wrote on Saturday, "Starting the American military retreat from Iraq is important because American troops will continue to be a divisive and destabilizing force, just as the American military presence in Saudi Arabia after the 1991 war was a major provocation leading to Osama bin Laden-type resistance and terror.""

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Gabriel Kolko: the Decline of the American Empire: The essential problem is the sheer size of the Pentagon and the US military/industrial complex. It comprises more spending on arms and 'defence' than the rest of the world combined, a monstrous situation which spells nothing but danger. It all dates from the First World War. It has been a century of horror, folly, tragedy and irrationality. WW1 led to the Second World War which left us with the Soviet and US military empires. The Soviets collapsed and the Pentagon must also be dismantled without stimulating the existence of another great military establishment, ie without another major war.

US military spending at about $500b p.a. needs to be slashed by 90%, bringing it down to about $50b and on a par with Russia and China. The political system is incapable of achieving this result, or even discussing it, and so military failure and fiscal bankruptcy are virtually the only practical hope. And yet somehow this must occur in the US without some horror of major war or fascistic statism evolving. Looking back at the collapse of the Soviet Union, it is remarkable how little blood (apart from the ongoing Chechnyan tragedy) was spent in the course of the dissolution of the Red Army. It might be too much to hope for that the same relatively 'orderly' collapse also occurs in the USA.

Could we dare hope that by Armistice Day 2018 humanity has finally put aside war as a method of policy?

"The American priorities [after WW2] were specific, focused on individual nations, but they also set the United States the task of guiding or controlling the entire world--which is a very big place and has proven time and again to be far beyond American resources and imperial power. In most of those places in the Third World where the US massively employed its power directly it has lost, and its military might has been ineffective. The US's local proxies have been corrupt and venal in most nations where it has relied upon them. The cost, both in financial terms and in the eventual alienation of the American public, has been monumental."

"The US dilemma, and it is a fundamental contradiction, is that its expensive military power is largely useless as an instrument of foreign policy.... The basic problem the world today confronts is American ambition, an ambition based on the illusion that its great military power allows it to define political and social trends everywhere it chooses to do so.... The world is more dangerous now, in large part because the US refuses to recognize the limits of its power and retains the ambitions it had 50 years ago."

"The US military is falling apart: its weapons have been ineffective, politically Iraq is likely to break up into regional fiefdoms (as Afghanistan has), and perhaps civil war--no one knows. From the Iraqi viewpoint the war was a disaster, but it also repeated the failures the Americans confronted in Korea, Vietnam, and elsewhere. That the Iraq resistance is divided will not save the US from defeat.... But it is crucial to remember that the US is only a reflection of the militarism and irrationality that has blinded many leaders of mankind for over a century. The task is not only to prevent the US from inflicting more damage on the hapless world--Iraq at this moment--but to root out the historic, global illusions that led to its aggression."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Seymour Hersh interview re the Iraq election: Hersh's opinion is that the US wants to get Allawi installed as Prime Minister, just as they tried before. Allawi is a ruthless ex-Saddamite and experienced torturer and killer, who would do whatever the US wanted. But he will not win, according to Hersh. The Shiite leader Mahdi is more likely to win. The big winner will be Iran and the big losers the US and, of course, the Iraqi people.

"Well, you know, think about those guys Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Bush, this is the trio that really run things. I think Condi's not the first cut here. What is scary is how much they really believe what they are doing. They really believe… They really do believe [laughing]. I can tell you that when Mahdi was here – the vice president of Iraq, the SCIRI guy – was here in Washington about three weeks ago, at that time some very serious people, not in the Bush administration but very close to the family, very close to the Republican Party, very close to the power elite that runs this country, visited Mahdi, and basically said to him, "Look, you're probably going to make it, but we have to tell you something: It's our belief that it's over. Maybe everybody in Washington, in the White House doesn't know it, but it's over. You guys have to start planning. You in Iraq have to plan and anticipate a shutdown of American support and perhaps even a shutdown of American funds by the Congress. The American people have given up on this.""

Sunday, December 11, 2005

'Never Before!' Our Amnesiac Torture Debate: Naomi Klein adds some perspective to the torture debate. "The Bush Administration's open embrace of torture is indeed unprecedented--but let's be clear about what is unprecedented about it: not the torture but the openness. Past administrations tactfully kept their "black ops" secret; the crimes were sanctioned but they were practiced in the shadows, officially denied and condemned. The Bush Administration has broken this deal: Post-9/11, it demanded the right to torture without shame, legitimized by new definitions and new laws.... For those nervously wondering if it is time to start using alarmist words like totalitarianism, this shift is of huge significance. When torture is covertly practiced but officially and legally repudiated, there is still the hope that if atrocities are exposed, justice could prevail."

Friday, December 09, 2005

Webdiary on the Howard/Costello/Gerard RBA affair: "Why did the Treasurer still appoint this man to the Reserve Bank board? It is crystal clear—Mr Gerard had bought it, and the going price was more than a million dollars. Mr Gerard had bought it. This government is so arrogant, so conceited and so disregarding of the ordinary standards of public life that, if you front up to the Liberal Party with $1 million-odd, you can get yourself anything. Despite a track record of dishonesty, you can get yourself anything. What this man got himself was a position on the Reserve Bank board. That is the allegation the Treasurer should have answered in the 10 minutes he had to speak on this matter in this parliament. That is the allegation he refused to answer, and he will not answer it because it is true."

"Mellish quotes a 'senior government minister' as saying: 'I think most people in Cabinet thought it was an appropriate appointment. There was certainly no mention of tax issues... Like we all do, he would have raised it with the Prime Minister's Office before taking it to Cabinet.'"

"While I hold no truck for the Coalition I was incensed to read in the Australian that Howard has distanced himself from Costello by saying that Costello had suggested Gerard to him. I have never believed a word that came out of the mouth of that man and I can't believe that he could be so vindictive - yes I can! I can imagine the hatred that Costello has for Howard now and to me it is quite justified."

Howard has just mocked Costello in public and kicked him in the face. Mocked him and kicked him in the face like Saruman did his sidekick Wormtongue at the end of Lord of the Rings. But unlike Wormtongue, Costello - an impossibly smug politician without a political identity of his own - didn't and doesn't have the guts to pull a knife.

Pinter Nobel acceptance speech on US foreign policy since WW11: "The United States Congress was about to decide whether to give more money to the Contras in their campaign against the state of Nicaragua. I was a member of a delegation speaking on behalf of Nicaragua but the most important member of this delegation was a Father John Metcalf. The leader of the US body was Raymond Seitz (then number two to the ambassador, later ambassador himself). Father Metcalf said: 'Sir, I am in charge of a parish in the north of Nicaragua. My parishioners built a school, a health centre, a cultural centre. We have lived in peace. A few months ago a Contra force attacked the parish. They destroyed everything: the school, the health centre, the cultural centre. They raped nurses and teachers, slaughtered doctors, in the most brutal manner. They behaved like savages. Please demand that the US government withdraw its support from this shocking terrorist activity.'

"Raymond Seitz had a very good reputation as a rational, responsible and highly sophisticated man. He was greatly respected in diplomatic circles. He listened, paused and then spoke with some gravity. 'Father,' he said, 'let me tell you something. In war, innocent people always suffer.' There was a frozen silence. We stared at him. He did not flinch."

"Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn't know it.

"It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn't happening. It didn't matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis."

"The invasion of Iraq was a bandit act, an act of blatant state terrorism, demonstrating absolute contempt for the concept of international law. The invasion was an arbitrary military action inspired by a series of lies upon lies and gross manipulation of the media and therefore of the public; an act intended to consolidate American military and economic control of the Middle East masquerading - as a last resort - all other justifications having failed to justify themselves - as liberation. A formidable assertion of military force responsible for the death and mutilation of thousands and thousands of innocent people.

"We have brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random murder, misery, degradation and death to the Iraqi people and call it 'bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East'."

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

New electric scooters: As electric scooters and microcars come onto the market at competitive prices, one can see a big future for them in the urban environment. The key to meeting the energy crisis is the production of clean, renewable energy for supply to the grid: solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, wave etc. We cannot get this up quickly enough, but dysfunctional politics and societal processes will continually tend to drive us down the false roads of coal and nuclear energy, not to mention military aggression to secure finite remaining supplies of gas and oil.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

The Mahablog posts on the abortion issue

Alexander Cockburn: the Revolt of the Generals: "The immense significance of Rep John Murtha's November 17 speech calling for immediate withdrawal from Iraq is that it signals mutiny in the US senior officer corps... A CounterPuncher with nearly 40 years experience working in and around the Pentagon told me this week that "The Four Star Generals picked Murtha to make this speech because he has maximum credibility".... So the Four-Star Generals briefed Murtha and gave him the state-of-the-art data which made his speech so deadly... It cannot have taken vice president Cheney, a former US Defense Secretary, more than a moment to scan Murtha's speech and realize the import of Murtha's speech as an announcement that the generals have had enough.""

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Murdoch in 2003 advocated war claiming it would produce cheap oil: "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.'"

With oil nearly $60 a barrel and likely to never again drop below $50, the war's a disaster, isnt it Rupert? As well as being an epic crime - the supreme crime of aggressive war with over 100,000 people slaughtered in a failed attempt to acquire cheap oil.

Murdoch's News Ltd organisation is one of the principal entities that made the war possible and continues to support it. That organisation should be dismantled as an accessory to warcrimes and crimes against humanity.

Murdoch's statement is also remarkable as one of the few occasions in this whole process where a major establishment figure actually mentioned or discussed oil as an or the objective of the invasion.

Two and a half years after invading Iraq, Bush announces Plan for Victory: Better late than never, I suppose. And what does the plan consist of? 'Staying the course'; refusing to 'cut and run'; and 'as the Iraqis stand up, we'll step down' and other such hideous cliches. Staying the course presumably meaning the course into the quicksand, refusing to cut and run means leaving US military cannon fodder as sitting ducks to be picked off on a daily basis, and as for Iraqis stepping up, the whole world can see the tremendous determination and courage with which the Iraqis have stepped up to take on the 'greatest military in the history of the world.'

Meantime in the real world, Democrat Hawk John Murtha says "Most U.S. troops will be leaving Iraq within a year because the Army is "broken, worn out" and "living hand to mouth.""

As a satirist has it:

One day after making a speech on Iraq at the United States Naval Academy in front of a giant placard reading "Plan For Victory," President George W. Bush pronounced the "Plan For Victory" slogan an unqualified success. "Much time, thought and effort went into creating the ‘Plan For Victory' slogan," Mr. Bush said today at a White House press conference. "I think we can all agree that the hard work that went into that slogan has really paid off."

The president said that not only were the words "Plan For Victory" catchy and memorable, but the choice of yellow letters against a blue background was perfect: "The yellow against the blue really made the letters stand out in a victory-like way."

Mr. Bush told reporters that he believed that "time and patience" were the ultimate keys to success in Iraq, adding, "It took time and patience for us to come up with a really effective slogan like ‘Plan For Victory.'" But even as he praised his administration's latest slogan, Mr. Bush said he would not rest on his laurels, vowing to create additional slogans to defeat the insurgents in Iraq.

"The insurgents may have many weapons at their disposal, but they are not as good as we are at coming up with slogans," Mr. Bush said. "So far the only one they've come up with is ‘Jihad' – not catchy at all, if you ask me."

Picking up on Murtha's earlier remarks calling for the inevitable US withdrawal and the outcome of the Cairo Arab League conference, Greens Senator Kerry Nettle attempted to move a motion in the Senate calling for the withdrawal of Australian troops from Iraq. However, Labor and the Government combined to block the motion. Australia should never have been involved in a Middle East war on dubious pretexts in the first place, but now that it has been described as 'the worst strategic disaster in the history of the United States' incompetently conducted by the 'worst President in the history of the United States' it would not be possible to imagine a more spineless attitude from both major parties.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Costly Withdrawal Is the Price To Be Paid for a Foolish War: "For misleading the American people, and launching the most foolish war since Emperor Augustus in 9 B.C sent his legions into Germany and lost them, Bush deserves to be impeached and, once he has been removed from office, put on trial along with the rest of the president's men. If convicted, they'll have plenty of time to mull over their sins."

This article by Martin van Crevald is another in the increasingly popular genre of really ferocious criticism of Bush and his disastrous war by 'establishment' figures. It's being quoted all over the place but it contains an error that should have been corrected by now. Namely, that Augustus' General Varus and his legions were annihilated in the Teutoburg Forest in the year 9 AD, not 9 BC.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Chile's Bachelet says greens back her energy plan: "Leading presidential contender Michelle Bachelet ... pledged to make 15 percent of the country's energy come from renewable resources by 2010."

What, apart from useless mainstream political parties, is to stop Australia from reaching such a target also?

""But clearly we also need to develop the traditional energy forms," she said at a breakfast with foreign correspondents two weeks before elections on Dec. 11. "Chile has an enormous number of river basins, but we have to define which ones we will flood to produce the energy we need, and which ones we will preserve.""

""What I'm proposing is a an environment minister and a superintendency for environmental monitoring, with a budget to do it with," she said.... Bachelet said her government would work with environmentalists to develop small wind and solar energy projects in different parts of the country. "During my government I'm not going to develop nuclear energy," she said."

Another example of furious media criticism of Bush or Cheney or Blair that seems to becoming more common: "It is the stupidity of this war that is most offensive. The stupidity especially of its author, Tony Blair, who is increasingly becoming regarded as the greatest dupe ever to occupy Number 10. Sir Christopher Meyer’s self-regarding and patronising memoirs, DC Confidential, confirmed that Blair was cynically cultivated by his American NeoCon friends.

"They coldly identified and exploited his weaknesses: Blair’s vanity, his intellectual shallowness and his susceptibility to being easily led by powerful figures. They ferried him around in Rolls Royces, introduced him to stars, awarded him medals, held him aloft as a true American champion, worthy of ovations in Congress. It was like a Mafia sting.... The Republicans used Blair first as a human shield, second as a kind of moral hedge fund, and third as a Trojan horse within the United Nations.... He’s essentially a political salesman, not a policy analyst. The Americans knew that too."

"Iraq is an extraordinary scandal. It is like Watergate, Suez and Northern Ireland rolled into one. Indeed, the sheer scale of the deception has blinded us to it. It is almost too much to comprehend.... We can’t allow boredom to dull our moral sensibilities to what is beginning to look like the crime of the century."

Madison Capital Times has a shot at Dick Cheney: "If this keeps up, President Bush might yet come to recognize what most Americans already well understand: Dick Cheney is too crooked, too cruel and too crazy to be allowed to continue warping this country's policies. And if Bush doesn't recognize the need to get rid of Cheney, Congress should."

Bush in Babylon: Seymour Hersh's latest article portrays Bush as determined to 'stay the course' but out of touch and unreachable by fact and reason as the Iraq debacle steadily unfolds. Athens in Sicily? Crassus in Mesopotamia? Hitler in Stalingrad?

"Murtha reported that the number of attacks in Iraq has increased from a hundred and fifty a week to more than seven hundred a week in the past year."

"“The President is more determined than ever to stay the course,” the former defense official said. “He doesn’t feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage ‘People may suffer and die, but the Church advances.’ ”"

Why would Bush feel any pain? Its not his money that's being squandered or his blood being spilt.

"Bush’s public appearances, for example, are generally scheduled in front of friendly audiences, most often at military bases. Four decades ago, President Lyndon Johnson, who was also confronted with an increasingly unpopular war, was limited to similar public forums. “Johnson knew he was a prisoner in the White House,” the former official said, “but Bush has no idea.”"

Hersh expands on his article in an interview. And in another interview, Hersh gives the impression of a real disaster in Iraq and an equally disastrous Bush administration incapable of handling it: a situation verging on collapse.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Another useful entry in the literature on Ayn Rand: You have to like passages such as this:

"‘Who is John Galt?’ the novel [Atlas Shrugged] begins: the question is rhetorical, an expression of despair. The setting is, loosely, America in the 1940s – Washington, Wisconsin, Mexico are mentioned, as are diners, bums, hamburgers, negligees – but film-set-thin and vague and flat. Everything is running down: typewriters break and no one can fix them, mines and smelters lie idle, and out West, in an image experienced as the ultimate horror, a farmer is spotted using a plough. Men of talent, composers, industrialists, financiers, one by one destroy their businesses and disappear. Faceless governments pass progressively more anti-business legislation: the Equalisation of Opportunity Bill; the Anti-Dog Eat Dog Rule.

"Across this blasted landscape strides the beautiful Dagny Taggart, her body ‘slim and nervous’, her planes ‘angular’, her instep ‘arched’ – her only desire to get the trains of Taggart Transcontinental to run on time. In this, Dagny believes John Galt to be her enemy, and she goes on believing this for many hundreds of pages. But Galt is in fact a great scientist and inventor, the greatest the world has ever known: disgusted by its values, he has retreated into a perfect society, deep in the Rocky Mountains, from where he and his collaborators plan a global strike of all great minds. The story ends with Dagny and Galt standing on a mountain-top, their hair blowing and blending together; Galt traces the holy sign of the dollar over the desolate earth."

What is wrong with sedition law: "SEDITION laws are at best silly and at worst a catch-all clause for governments who want to bury dissent.... The silliness of sedition laws cannot be overstated: unlike murder legislation, on which there is wide and ancestral unity, all attempts to define and prosecute sedition become absurd with time.... To bring the sovereign into contempt or hatred is also listed as a crime, and on that basis the royal children should all be doing time. The impossibility of defining sedition in a liberal democratic society is shown up by Ruddock's defence of the proposals. Ruddock says they are 'designed to protect the community from those who would abuse our democratic values and threaten our harmonious and tolerant society'.

"Does that include people who threaten our harmonious society by whipping up ethnic, sectional hysteria for political benefit? Does that include those who lie about the behaviour of unfortunate minorities to sow a sense of fear? If I were attorney-general, and these provisions were law, I'd certainly have my eye on you, Phil, and your proven, recidivist tendencies 'to abuse our democratic values and threaten our harmonious and tolerant society'."

"Minister, if you do not intend further repression, may I ask you this? Why did agents claiming to be from the Attorney-General's Department visit the filmmaker Carmel Travers, who had on her computer a manuscript from whistle-blower Andrew Wilkie, and smash the hard drives of her two computers with hammers, a process they referred to as "cleansing"? Four other Australians, including Robert Manne, were similarly dealt with.

"The victims were warned it was an offence to tell anyone what had happened, even their partners, a form of bullying which, being accustomed to the traditions of free speech, they ultimately ignored. Most absurdly of all, Wilkie's manuscript, Axis of Deceit, had already been published."

That was Thomas Kenneally writing, and other artists in this Herald article also make effective points against the sedition laws.

Report on Iraqi Oil: The Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth: "The UK and US have long had their eyes on the massive energy resources of Iraq and the Gulf. In 1918 Sir Maurice Hankey, Britain’s First Secretary of the War Cabinet wrote:

“Oil in the next war will occupy the place of coal in the present war, or at least a parallel place to coal. The only big potential supply that we can get under British control is the Persian [now Iran] and Mesopotamian [now Iraq] supply… Control over these oil supplies becomes a first class British war aim.”(1)

"After World War II both the US and UK identified the importance of Middle Eastern oil. British officials believed that the area was “a vital prize for any power interested in world influence or domination”(2), while their US counterparts saw the oil resources of Saudi Arabia as a “stupendous source of strategic power and one of the greatest material prizes in world history”(3).

"With over 60% of the world’s oil reserves,(4) their interest in the Gulf region is unsurprising. Iraq alone has the third largest oil reserves on the planet – accounting for 10% of the world total. Iraq is also reckoned to have the world’s largest unexplored potential, primarily in the Western Desert. On top of its 115 billion barrels of proven reserves, Iraq is estimated to have between 100 and 200 billion barrels of further possible (as yet undiscovered) reserves. Furthermore, not only are Iraqi and Gulf reserves huge, they are mostly onshore, in favourable reservoir structures, and extractable at extremely low cost.

"Since the nationalisation of the major oil industries of the Middle East in the 1970s, Gulf reserves have been out of the direct control of the West and off the balance sheets of its companies."

"In February 2005, Interim Oil Minister Thamer al-Ghadban stated that "As for the extraction sector, that is, dealing with the oil and gas reserves, which are 'assets', privatisation is completely out of the question at the moment."(20) But if the non-privatisation of oil was a surprise, this was largely based on a misconception of what “privatisation” means in the Iraqi context. In the minds of some neo-conservatives, writing on Iraqi oil before the war, privatisation meant the transfer of legal ownership of Iraq's oil reserves into private hands. However, in all countries of the world except the USA (a), reserves (prior to their extraction) are legally the property of the state. This is the case in Iraq, and remains so under the new Constitution. There has never been a realistic prospect of US-style privatisation of Iraq’s oil reserves. But this does not mean that private companies would not develop Iraq’s oil.

"In some ways, the debate on “privatisation” has obscured the important practical issues of who gets the revenue from the oil, and who controls the way in which oil is developed."

"While these disputes were raging in the Middle East, a different model was emerging in Indonesia. There, a new form of contract was introduced in the late 1960s: the production sharing agreement (PSA).

"An ingenious arrangement, PSAs shift the ownership of oil from companies to state, and invert the flow of payments between state and company. Whereas in a concession system, foreign companies have rights to the oil in the ground, and compensate host states for taking their resources (via royalties and taxes), a PSA leaves the oil legally in the hands of the state, while the foreign companies are compensated for their investment in oil production infrastructure and for the risks they have taken in doing so.

"Although many in the oil industry were initially suspicious of Indonesia’s move, they soon realised that by setting the terms the right way, a PSA could deliver the same practical outcomes as a concession, with the advantage of relieving nationalist pressures within the country. In one of the standard textbooks on petroleum fiscal systems, industry consultant Daniel Johnston comments:

“At first [PSAs] and concessionary systems appear to be quite different. They have major symbolic and philosophical differences, but these serve more of a political function than anything else. The terminology is certainly distinct, but these systems are really not that different from a financial point of view.”(22) "

" Our analysis shows that production sharing agreements have two major disadvantages for the Iraqi people:

1. The loss of hundreds of billions of dollars in potential revenue;

2. The loss of democratic control of Iraq's oil industry to international companies"

"We have seen in the preceding chapters that, under the influence of the US and the UK, powerful politicians and technocrats in the Iraqi Oil Ministry are pushing to hand all of Iraq’s undeveloped fields to multinational oil companies, to be developed under production sharing agreements. They aim to do this in the early part of 2006.

"The results for Iraq would be devastating:

# Iraq would lose an enormous amount of revenue (making it conversely highly profitable for the foreign companies);

# The terms of the contracts would be agreed while the Iraqi state is very weak and still under occupation, but be fixed for 25-40 years;

# PSAs would deny Iraq the ability to regulate or plan its oil industry, leaving foreign companies’ operations immune from future legislation;

# PSAs would shift decisions on any disputes out of Iraq into international arbitration courts, where the Iraqi constitution, body of law and national interest are simply not relevant."

Naturally it remains to be seen whether the course of the insurgency and withdrawal of US forces will interfere with the implementation of this Imperialist plot.

Uri Avnery comments on the political earthquake in Israel: "THE LIKUD has reverted to what it was before coming to power in 1977: a radical right-wing party. This is the classic Herut party, which believes in the Greater Israel (called in Hebrew "The Whole of Eretz YIsrael"), from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River (at least). It opposes any peace agreement with the Palestinian people and wants to maintain the occupation, until circumstances allow for the annexation of all the occupied territories. Since it also wants a homogeneous Jewish state, this contains a hidden message: the Arabs must be induced to leave the country. In right-wing parlance, this is called "voluntary transfer". However, the party takes care not spell this out openly."

"THE SHARON PARTY (called Kadima, "Forward") is built on a lie.... Sharon does not make a secret of his real intentions: to annex to Israel 58% of the West Bank, including the ever-expanding "settlement blocs", as well as various "security zones" (the extended Jordan valley and the roads between the settlements) and Great-Great- Jerusalem, up to the Ma'aleh Adumim settlement. Since there can be no Palestinian partner for such a "solution", he plans to implement this by a unilateral diktat, backed by force, without any dialogue with the Palestinians."

"[Labour's new leader] Amir Peretz supports a serious peace program: negotiations with the Palestinians and the establishment of a Palestinian state, on the basis of the borders of 1967. He will represent this in a social context: the money wasted on war, occupation and the settlements is stolen from the poor and increases the gap between rich and poor."

"Strangely enough, many commentators ignore the most manifest and most decisive fact: The whole system has undergone a shift to the left. The Likud nucleus is stuck on the right, where it always was. But all the others have moved. The Sharon-party, which has split from the Likud, has given up its main article of faith: the Whole of Eretz Yisrael."

"For years now an abnormal situation has prevailed in Israel and driven social scientists crazy: according to all public opinion polls, most of the public wants peace and is prepared to make almost all the necessary concessions, but in the Knesset this position has hardly been represented at all.. During all these years, my optimism has irritated many people. I told everyone: this will not go on. Some day, in a way that we cannot yet foresee, this abnormal state will right itself. One way or another, the political scene will attune itself to public opinion."

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Gypsies in the Holocaust: "It is extremely difficult to locate the sorts of sources about Gypsies in the Holocaust of the type widely available about Jewish victims of the Nazi terror. This may reflect difference between an extremely literate culture and a largely illiterate one. It is known that perhaps 250,000 Gypsies were killed, and that proportionately they suffered losses greater than any other group of victims except Jews. The accounts here were collected, and made available on the net, from various sources.

"'Gypsies,' or the 'Roma' as they prefer to be called, are an ethnic group which originated in India (their language-Romany-is directly descended from Sanskrit) which for unknown reasons took to a wandering lifestyle in the late middle ages. Eventually they reached Europe and became part of the ethnic mix of many countries, contributing not a little in areas such a music and the arts.

"Because they were strangers to many of the people they moved among, strong prejudices grew up, and indeed continue to this day. Although they were indisputably 'Aryan' according to the Nazi racial typology, they were pursued relentlessly."

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thatcher 'threatened to nuke Argentina': "'Excuse me. I had a difference to settle with the Iron Lady. That Thatcher, what an impossible woman!' [French President Mitterand] said as he arrived, more than 45 minutes late, on May 7 1982. 'With her four nuclear submarines in the south Atlantic, she's threatening to unleash an atomic weapon against Argentina if I don't provide her with the secret codes that will make the missiles we sold the Argentinians deaf and blind.' He reminded Mr Magoudi that on May 4 an Exocet missile had struck HMS Sheffield. 'To make matters worse, it was fired from a Super-Etendard jet,' he said. 'All the materiel was French!'

"In words that the psychoanalyst has sworn to the publisher, Meren Sell, are genuine, the president continued: 'She's livid. She blames me personally for this new Trafalgar ... I was obliged to give in. She's got them now, the codes.'

"Mr Mitterrand - who once described Mrs Thatcher as "the eyes of Caligula and the mouth of Marilyn Monroe" - went on: "One cannot win against the insular syndrome of an unbridled Englishwoman. Provoke a nuclear war for a few islands inhabited by three sheep as hairy as they are freezing! But it's a good job I gave way. Otherwise, I assure you, the Lady's metallic finger would have hit the button.

"France, he insisted, would have the last word. "I'll build a tunnel under the Channel. I'll succeed where Napoleon III failed. And do you know why she'll accept my tunnel? I'll flatter her shopkeeper's spirit. I'll tell her it won't cost the Crown a penny."

Set this down as another close call.... The arms trade, nuclear weapons. One of these days, with the hubris and madness of politicians, especially at war....

Desalination more expensive than recycling: "Sydney Water papers show desalination on the scale now planned by the State Government would cost almost double that of a similar sized recycling scheme and consume more than three times as much energy, Sydney Water papers reveal. A recycling scheme that produced 100 million litres of water a day would cost $285 million to build or $1.15 for every 1000 litres of water, according to a Sydney Water report dated August 17, 2005.... the recycling scheme is far less energy intensive, consuming 1.5 megawatts of power for every million litres of water, compared with 5.3 megawatts per million litres for a desalination plant."

Why on earth is the government supporting the desalination option? Because of connections between the government and the plant builders?

Thursday, November 24, 2005

True Tyranny Defined: Bush Admin. v. Jose Padilla: Glenn Greenwald gives an eloquent exposition of habeas corpus and how fundamental it is to human rights and human freedom, and how much it is threatened by the Bush Administration and its enablers, which must include its servile admirers and imitators, the Howard government.

Peace Talks in Cairo don't include US: "The United States has so far been hostile at worst and lukewarm at best in regard to a critical peace initiative by the League of Arab States. A major conference held in Cairo this weekend provided the spectrum of Iraq’s political class with an opportunity to engage in a give-and-take about a negotiated end to the war in Iraq. During the three-day conference, which ended Monday, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani made an offer to start talks with the armed Iraqi fighters. 'If those who call themselves the Iraqi resistance desired to contact me, I would welcome them,” said Talabani."

"The fact that the United States is not trumpeting the importance of the Cairo peace talks, and the fact that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other top-level officials did not attend it, are failures of diplomacy. Not only did scores of Iraqi political leaders travel to Cairo to talk face to face in a manner that could not have happened in Baghdad, but the meeting was also attended by heads of state, including Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and Algeria’s President Abdelaziz Bouteflika and by the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran. After three days of talks, the attendees decided to convene a full-fledged peace conference in Cairo in late February or early March.

"The significance of the meeting is that it brought together Shiite and Kurdish officials with leaders of various Sunni factions, including some of those with close ties to the Iraqi resistance. Waiting in the wings were people representing a spectrum of groups currently battling the U.S. occupation. According to Aiham al-Sammarae, who served in Iraq’s 2003-2004 interim government, several leaders of insurgent groups went to Cairo to participate on the fringes of the meeting. Opposition from Iraq’s main Shiite parties made it impossible for them to attend the conference itself, but that may be the next step. In a surprising statement after the conference, the attendees condemned terrorism but added that “resistance is a legitimate right of all peoples.” "

"The conference drew strong support from Russia, from the European Union, whose chief foreign affairs official, Javier Solana, helped organize it, and from the United Nations. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan also helped organize the meeting and sent Ashraf Qazi, his special representative, to the conference itself. The broad support from virtually all of the international community made the cool reception from the United States even more glaring."

The future of Iraq is being decided in Cairo and the US is not even present. We havent seen a superpower looking this helpless since the future of Easten Europe was being decided while hundreds of Red Army tanks were parked uselessly and impotently in Warsaw pact bases. In fact it is worse: American force are being shot up on a daily basis with the consent of the parties to the peace talks to which the US is not even a partner. If the US doesnt stitch together in short order some sort of 'declare victory and come home' policy it is facing the mother of all humiliations - defeat and expulsion from the Middle East with scorn and contempt. In fact that outcome and perception might already be impossible to avoid.

Interview with Finkelstein: Beyond Chutzpah: "I think [readers are] going to be very surprised by the fact that this whole claim of the new anti-Semitism is a complete fraud and they are going to be very surprised that Israel’s human rights record is quite abysmal.... Everybody who has read it has made the comment that it’s quite shocking to see the magnitude of Israel’s human rights crimes in the Occupied Territories."

"American Jewish organizations didn’t give a fig about Israel before the June 1967 War. After 1967, Israel became their cause because it was safe.... The biggest mistake anyone can make about people in power is to ascribe to them ideological convictions. Ben-Gurion was a Zionist. Abba Eban was a Zionist. The early founders of the state of Israel were Zionist for sure because they were committed to ideas. Just like the Bolsheviks were clearly Communist. But once you get into power, people are interested in one thing – more power. And then they adjust their beliefs and their ideology to serve that goal."

"I don’t think Alan Dershowitz cares about Israel. He never wrote about Israel before June 67. The Holocaust – he’s said: Growing up, we never discussed the Holocaust. I don’t remember one single conversation with anyone about the Holocaust. They don’t care about the Holocaust or Israel, they care about their careers. So, I’ve always found it perplexing as to why these people are elevated by giving them an ideology and acting as if they are acting out of conviction.... Harvard can’t acknowledge that its senior most professor of law [Dershowitz] is a hoaxer and a plagiarist. It says something about the institution – it’s so devastating that they just can’t do it. It shines a light on them that is quite shocking. There’s the element of Israel and there’s the element of institutional protection."

"[Ariel Sharon and the like are] not proponents of the two-state solution, this is nonsense. There’s an international consensus on what the two-state settlement means. It’s a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. Anything else is garbage. There are people like Sharon who don’t support a two-state settlement. They support a one state solution for Israel and a phone booth for the Palestinians."

"Every state has that right [to build a wall and defend itself]. You build a wall on your own property. When I was growing up, my parents didn’t get along with their neighbors, and so they decided to build a wrought-iron fence around their property. So the first thing you have to do, at least in New York, you have to hire a surveyor and the surveyor demarcates the border. If you’re one inch into your neighbor’s property, under the law, you have to tear down the fence. Very uncomplicated.

"The West Bank and Gaza, under international law, are occupied territories. Israel doesn’t have title to one half of one inch of the West Bank or Gaza or East Jerusalem. Want to build a fence? Build it on your border and protect your people. This has nothing to do with terrorism. This has nothing to do with protecting the settlements. If you want to protect the settlements, you do what Israel has done. You build electronic fences around the settlements. Kiryat Arba is very well-protected and there are no terrorist attacks. It has to do with creating a new border.... There’s nothing Israel can do without US support. It can’t breathe without US support. The US bankrolls everything, and it’s just silly to think that Israel can do anything without the support."

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Government of Iran publishes statement on nuclear program in New York Times - excerpts:
In a region already suffering from upheaval and uncertainty, a crisis is being manufactured in which there will be no winners. Worse yet, the hysteria about the dangers of an alleged Iran nuclear weapons program rest solely and intentionally on misperceptions and outright lies. In the avalanche of anti-Iran media commentaries, conspicuously absent is any reference to important facts, coupled with a twisted representation of the developments over the past 25 years. Before the international community is led to another 'crisis of choice', it is imperative that the public knows all the facts and is empowered to make an informed and sober decision about an impending catastrophe....

Since early 1980s, Iran's peaceful nuclear program and its inalienable right to nuclear technology have been the subject of the most extensive and intensive campaign of denial, obstruction, intervention and misinformation....

Although it is true that Iran is rich in oil and gas, these resources are finite and, given the pace of Iran's economic development, they will be depleted within two to five decades. ... Iran can't rely exclusively on fossil energy. Since Iranian national economy is still dependent on oil revenue, it can't allow the ever increasing domestic demand affect the oil revenues from the oil export.

The assumption that nuclear energy is needed to counter fossil fuel depletion is widespread throughout the corporate neoliberal West, so this is a difficult argument for them to counter, unless they throw their lot in with renewable energy (as they ought). Nuclear energy has always been a cover for nuclear bombs, which is one of the reasons we must reject nuclear energy in the first place. Also, although Iran makes a notable mention of fossil fuel depletion, they do not, as is so often the case in discussing the nuclear industry, mention the depletion of uranium stocks.

Iran aims at reaching [20,000 megawatts] by 2020, which may save Iran 190 million barrels of crude oil or $10 billion per year in today's prices. Therefore, Iran's nuclear program is neither ambitious nor economically unjustifiable. Diversification - including the development of nuclear energy - is the only sound and responsible energy strategy for Iran....

Having been a victim of a pattern of deprivation from peaceful nuclear material and technology, Iran cannot solely rely on procurement of fuel from outside sources. Such dependence would in effect hold Iran's multi-billion dollar investment in power plants hostage to the political whims of suppliers in a tightly controlled market....

The second false assumption is that because Iran is surrounded by nuclear weapons in all directions - the U.S., Russia, Pakistan and Israel - any sound Iranian strategists must be seeking to develop a nuclear deterrent capability for Iran as well. It is true that Iran has neighbors with abundant nuclear weapons, but this does not mean that Iran must follow suit. In fact, the predominant view among
Iranian decision-makers is that development, acquisition or possession of nuclear weapons would only undermine Iranian security. Viable security for Iran can be attained only through inclusion and regional and global engagement. Iran's history is the perfect illustration of its geo-strategic outlook. Over the past 250 years, Iran has not waged a single war of aggression against its neighbors, nor has it initiated any hostilities....

There is also a fundamental ideological objection to weapons of mass destruction, including a religious decree issued by the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran prohibiting the development, stockpiling or use of nuclear weapons.

I dont think this argument will convince many people. Once a fully developed nuclear industry infrastructure has been established, such as in Germany or Japan, it would take just 6 months to manufacture bombs. And the conventional wisdom is that nuclear weapons is about the only thing that would deter either Israel or the US from attacking. The clout or regional hegemonic authority that nuclear weapons would provide Iran is such that one feels the temptation would be almost too great to resist. And whilst undoubtedly all true religions would prohibit the production much less use of these monstrous weapons surely it would be a first if that sentiment were to overcome the demands of state and military power. But let them prove me wrong.

There follows a lengthier section on the EU3 negotiations and the latest developments (or manipulations) in the IAEA. On the whole I think the Imperialist powers would struggle to come up with reply as credible as this official statement from Iran. A presentation from Colin Powell, perhaps? A dossier from Tony Blair?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Campaign to shut down SOA draws large numbers of protestors: "Outside the gates into Fort Benning, GA this morning (Sunday, November 20) there are 15,000 plus demonstrators. Each is holding a small cross or other religious symbol bearing the name of a man, a woman, or a child killed in Latin America by a graduate of the US Army’s School of the Americas at Fort Benning. Each name will be read aloud during a solemn procession. It is a moving and powerful event. During the day, some demonstrators will commit civil disobedience. The likely outcome is not a “photo opportunity” arrest but rather a six month or one year term in a federal penitentiary."

Digby rightly objects to the US torture regime, and it is especially bad that torture is publicly supported by such senior officials as the President, Vice President, Attorney General etc; however as Digby's commenters point out (and as can be seen from the above item about SOA) torture and objection to torture by the US is not new. Here is some more information about the US torture regime. It is well documented in many books, by Chomsky and others. The crucial point is made, that "Torture does not assist in the solving of crimes.... Torture exists for one reason only, to terrorize a population that opposes a dictatorship."

Territory nuclear waste dump precursor to nuclear industry?: "Argued the NSW independent Peter Andren: 'I acknowledge the need for safe repositories for the byproducts and the waste of [nuclear] medical technology. But I do believe, within the Government's planning process, there may be preparation for much broader waste deposits that may lead us towards preparing ourselves for the slide down the slippery slope towards nuclear power in this country. [This debate] only underlines the degree to which we have very little handle on just what we do with the waste of the nuclear power cycle. There is a need for safe storage. But that safe storage should not be preparing sites six, seven, eight or 15 years down the track, which have perhaps a primary agenda of preparing us for the day when we are looking at the storage of the byproducts of nuclear power.'

"Argued the Queensland Liberals' Peter Lindsay: 'Nuclear is not bad. Nuclear is the fuel of the future. It is going to come to Australia. People ought to get used to the reality that it is a very safe source of energy. One day we will see Australia go nuclear.'

"And there's the rub. Does the Howard Government have an eye on the future when it starts building federal nuclear waste 'facilities' in the Northern Territory? ... Can Australians trust their Government when it so often says one thing and then slithers 180 degrees into something else? Like Howard's "never, ever" pledge on a GST nine months before he became Prime Minister and three years before he introduced one? Or all that duplicitous twaddle about why our Government was taking Australia into Iraq?"

"Bob Hawke, after all, is only one who thinks it's a good idea. As Hawke told the ABC TV's Maxine McKew on September 29: "We have a real issue in the world of nuclear waste being stored in unsafe places. The bonus for Australia is that we would revolutionise the economics of [this country]. Forget the current account deficit problem. As far as you could see in the future, Australia would be earning billions of dollars making the world safer and doing the world a great turn. We are talking about billions and billions of dollars a year … "Progress is about facing up to challenges, facing up to prejudice, facing up to emotion, and putting national interest on the table. That's what good policymaking and leadership is about."

This raises the question of how and why Hawke and Labor got into the pro-nuclear camp. Most likely it is nothing but a corporate push. And as I argued in a previous post, nuclear power is expensive, poisonous, non-renewable and not the answer.

Pinochet victim likely to be next President of Chile: "Current polls on the Dec. 11 election show Michelle Bachelet ... with a staggering 24-percentage-point lead on her closest rival."

"In January 1975 Bachelet was arrested by a Chilean military squad. As a member of the outlawed Socialist Party, Bachelet was part of an underground resistance and one of thousands accused of being an enemy of the military government led by Army General Augusto Pinochet. Bachelet found herself under surveillance and then the military sought to eliminate her."

""Our room had bars on the window," said Bachelet. "We had four or five bunks, and we were eight women. The beds were full, sometimes two women slept together, we didn't all fit . . . We were blindfolded all day, we took them off, but obviously when the guards arrived we lowered the blindfolds. If not, they beat us."

"The 1973-1990 Pinochet government killed approximately 3,000 Chileans. Many of them, including Bachelet's boyfriend, simply "disappeared" and their bodies have never been located. Bachelet's father Alberto, a general in the Chilean Air Force, was accused of working with the socialist Allende government. He was tortured by his colleagues until his heart collapsed. He died in a public prison cell.

"Bachelet's mother, Angela Jeria, was kidnapped together with her daughter and locked in a cage for five days without food. Their cellmates were raped by guards."

"Thanks to their family connections to top military officials, Bachelet and her mother were spared death. Instead they were beaten, then exiled to Australia with orders not to re-enter Chile. Bachelet, ever the rebel, quickly helped organize Socialist Party resistance groups and secretly planned her return to Chile."

Expansionist Zionism finally coming to an end?: "A quarter of West Bank settlers living east of the security fence are willing to leave their homes immediately if they are compensated, according to a poll conducted by the TNS Teleseker company for the One Home (Bait Ehad) movement published Saturday.

"According to the poll, 74 percent of the general public supports a new 'evacuation-compensation' bill that would enable settlers to leave their settlements and move within the Green Line border in return for alternative housing, and 35 percent of the settlers living east of the fence support this bill. The poll also shows that 70 percent of the general public believes that additional West Bank settlements will be evacuated."

"According to Vilan, following the disengagement from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements this summer, "settlers are aware that they are next in line to be evacuated. The separation fence, which has left tens of thousands of families outside of Israel's future area, who are exposed to Palestinian terror and are unable to sell their homes for a price that will enable them to buy another home, has deepened their misery."

"Alon Pinkas, one of the movement's leaders, said that "it is clear that there will be a second disengagement in Judea and Samaria, it is clear that it will take place before a permanent agreement, and it is clear that it will include the 80,000 settlers living outside of the fence. Therefore, the government must stop using settlers as bargaining chips and hostages and enable them to voluntary leave right now.""

Meanwhile Ariel Sharon, the Likud Prime Minister, has announced he is resigning from Likud to form a new 'centrist' party with Shimon Peres to contest the next elections. Sharon's move suggests that aggressive, expansionist, colonialist, lebensraum, not-one-step-backwards Zionism, for so long the bi-partisan mainstream policy of Israel, has finally been relegated to the right, and is about to be abandoned in the face of reality.

Its possible also that Sharon can see the writing on the wall: the huge strategic failure of the Iraq invasion; the inevitability of Iranian regional hegemony; the futility of endless fighting against the Palestinians, who will neither die nor abandon their remaining lands. Perhaps Sharon can visualise the end state of the Zionist project, the final borders, and it is somewhat less than the 'Nile to Euphrates' delusions of extremists.

These events can also be interpreted to mean that Palestinian resistance, with virtually no aid from the rest of the world and facing the combined might of the US/Israel, has ground the expansionist Zionist project to a standstill. The 'apartheid wall', not the Green line, is looking more and more like the final boundaries of the Jewish state.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

"Cheney is Vice President for Torture": "The American Senate says torture should be banned - whatever the justification. But President Bush has threatened to veto their ruling. [Admiral Stansfield Turner] claims President Bush is not telling the truth when he says that torture is not a method used by the US.

"Speaking of Bush's claims that the US does not use torture, Admiral Turner, who ran the CIA from 1977 to 1981, said: 'I do not believe him'. On Dick Cheney he said 'I'm embarrassed the United States has a vice president for torture. 'He condones torture, what else is he?'.

"Admiral Turner claims the secret CIA prisons used for torture are known as 'black sites', terror suspects are picked up in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan. They are flown by CIA-controlled private aircraft to countries where there are secret interrogation centres, operating outside any country's jurisdiction.

"No one will confirm their locations, but there are several possibilities: The Mihail-Kogalniceanu military airbase in Romania is believed by many to be one such facility."

Perhaps Australian Defence Minister Robert Hill would like to revise his statement that Australia's policy is identical with the US. Perhaps the Australian government would like to revise their policy on the 'war on terror'. Or perhaps not. Is there any difference between them and Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Top terrorist explains why Australia is a target, Government does not listen: "Asia's most wanted terrorist has warned Australia will be the prime target of new 'intimidation and terror' attacks while its troops remain in Iraq. In a video message found by Indonesian police, Jemaah Islamiah's mastermind Noordin Top urges strikes against Australia and denounces the Prime Minister, John Howard, for leading Australia into tragedy."

"[Noordin] repeatedly stabs his finger in the air while angrily denouncing the West. "America, Australia, England and Italy are all our enemies," he says. "We especially remind Australia that you, Downer and Howard, are killing Australia, leading it into darkness and tragedy and into mujahideen terror. "Know that as long as you continue to colonise the land of Iraq and Afghanistan and intimidate Muslims then you too will feel our intimidation and terror."

"Noordin says: "We remind you our enemies are also allies of Bush and Blair. Infidel governments, traitors who rule over Muslims and who chase clerics and mujahideen, they are our enemies too, the ones we target in our attacks.""

"Asked about the comments linking Australia's presence in Iraq to the terrorist threat, [Foreign Minister] Downer said terrorists "use whatever argument suits them", which seques smoothly into Prime Minister John 'Dumya' Howard's position that they 'hate us for our freedoms'.

Defence Minister Robert Hill says "Australian troops in Iraq due to return home next year may now need to stay on ... the Australian government could decide to maintain the present level of about 1500 troops in Iraq.... The US is keen to have a strong Australian presence in the country over the next year. Senator Hill described Australia and America's views on Iraq as identical."

Hopefully, however, we dont get an identical result, ie thousands of civilian and/or military casualties through insurgency or terrorist attacks. If we do, the government and its policies have a major responsibility.

Will the Anglo-Saxon powers reap what they sow? Naturally everyone is responsible for their actions and the likely consequences of them. Why should this be such a muddle?

In a broad sense the Anglo-Saxon powers are responsible. This is what Chalmers Johnson calls 'blowback'. Basically the Western, Imperialist powers have been meddling in the Middle East (ie, killing Arabs and cheating them of their resources) since the First World War and now the chickens have finally come home to roost.

The contemporary situation needs to be contrasted with Vietnam and even the First Gulf War. During the Vietnam war the US unleashed vast military violence, killing millions of Indo-Chinese, and making Kissinger the world's biggest living war criminal. However amazing the Vietnamese resistance to this onslaught was, it apparently did not occur to them (or to anyone) that they could or should strike back in the US homeland.

This is the significance of September 11 and why it was such a big shock, both in the US and Europe. For the first time in 500 years the guns have been turned the other way. There is a reasonable prospect over time that a WMD will be detonated in a Western city.

Of course the regimes of Bush/Blair/Howard have terrorism as a low priority compared to imperialism and corporatism. Rather terrorism can be exploited via the politics of fear to increase the strength of their grip on power. Through their policies they have quite deliberately increased the risk of terrorist attack in the homeland. It is worth noting that prior to the invasion of Iraq, Iraq did not have a single suicide bomber in the whole of its (violent) history; since the aggression, there have been hundreds, something like one a day.

The Anglo-saxon imperialist policy in Iraq is criminal folly. And somewhat to the surprise of many of us, it is a near total failure, in its own military and strategic terms.

A senior house Democrat has recently expressed this by labelling the invasion a 'flawed policy wrapped in illusion' and calling for the early withdrawal of US troops as the only available option. It remains to be seen whether the crazed and incompetent Bush administration is capable of making this necessary adjustment.

NB. Airpower is the great, unpunished warcrime. It is true the Nazis started it, in Guernica, but the Allies, especially the US, have the blood of millions of victims on their hands. There can hardly be peace and non-violence in the world until an airforce general is hauled before a court and charged with warcrimes and crimes against humanity.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Belated Armistice Day posting: "The sculpture of Northumberland Fusilier Private Herbert Burden fronts a semi-circle of 306 wooden posts, each bearing the name of an executed British or Commonwealth soldier. At 16, Private Burden lied about his age in order to 'join up' and was executed for desertion, having lost his nerve during heavy fighting at Ypres. He was 17 years old."

Digby and his excellent commenters lament the attempt by the US Senate to overthrow habeus corpus: As an example of a commenter superior to most posters, witness the following from 'Antifa':

"The American Senate has merrily voted to overturn the nation's Constitution. Yes, the very same Constitution that is the envy of the world. The Constitution that enshrines the inalienable right of every human being to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And to prompt judicial review of any incarceration. Forty-nine Senators have voted to separate these inalienable rights from hundreds of human beings, permanently denying them any hope of trial, explanation, or release.

"As if it was within the power of these Senators to stand above the law and cast such a criminal vote. They make a mockery of themselves and the nation to even consider the gesture, much less carry it out. It cannot stand except in the full breach of every fundamental law of the land. Yet it does great harm that they have done so. Their foppish action is a blow to civilization as well as international law. They know not what they toy with here.

"From the medieval days of the Magna Carta uncounted generations have fought and bled for this very principle that no man is above the law, that the law must apply promptly and equally to every person. Our civilization stands upon that rock. This is what is enshrined in the Latin legal phrase habeas corpus, commonly translated as "produce the person here in court."

"Actually, there are several versions of the phrase, which is simply lifted from the opening sentence of the common legal writ issued routinely since medieval times: habeas corpus ad subjiciendum, "You will produce the person here in court for examination." Just as common was habeas corpus ad testificandum, "You will produce the person here in court to testify."

"No legal or private authority may refuse the order. To allow refusal is to shatter the rule of law throughout the nation.

"Prior to this liberating standard, and perennially in opposition to it, is the doctrine of the divine right of kings and other rulers to stand above the law: Rex solutus est a legibus, "The King is free from the laws."

"Throughout history, whether they be Popes, Presidents, dictators, or cult leaders like David Koresh, the man at the top of any political organization can hardly help but find such an arrangement exceedingly convenient and pleasant, and so very easily rationalized. From Roman times to our own sorry situation, the assumption of divine rights above the law has proved to be the most corrosive and corrupting influence on empires and nations that has ever been brought to bear, for it rots everything instantly from within. If one man is above the law, then all may be. Then there is no law.

"George Bush believes in the divine right of kings. He believes, as he has stated, that God told him to run for President. He believes, as he has stated, that God told him to smite Iraq. He believes, as he has stated, that his job would be a lot easier if he was a dictator. George Bush believes, as he has stated, that he does not need to explain himself to anyone. It is for others to explain themselves; he says he is above even self-examination. What he says and does is right because he feels it is right. He doesn't do nuance, and he has surrounded himself only with people who don't feel the need to relate to reality -- they simply make a new reality every morning, and let the rest of us sort it out afterwards.

"Well, the rule of law that generations of Americans have fought, bled and died for says we don't operate that way around here, no matter what King George and his advisors may say. That all went out the window in 1776, and no matter how many different people have tried in so many different ways to bring it back, we won't have it in America.

"George is trying again, and so these are parlous times for our Republic. Right now, we have our American government openly pursuing, and defending, two gross violations of the common law tradition of the rule of law. Two flagrant violations of the letter and very spirit of our Constitution.

"One is George Bush's claim that he, personally, can order the incarceration of anyone he "deems" to be an enemy combatant. Imprison them without charges, without review, without trial, without end, without recourse. It is in support of this divine right of King George that the American Senate has lately thrown the Constitution overboard in pursuit of petty political theater, heedless of the fact they have no right or standing to even vote on such a decree, much less give it the force of law. That's how hollow the institution has become under Republican piracy.

"The other gross violation is the new tool in Federal law enforcement's toolkit, the National Security Letter. This is a private and secret permit to investigate anyone, citizen or not, to the utmost degree, in the utmost secrecy. All sorts of data mining is available to modern investigators, from credit and bank card usage, security tapes, mortgages, tax filings, school records, emails, letters, photos, bills paid, web surfing, and even the contents of your home, your computer, your safe deposit box, and your work records. None of this information is discarded, ever, and it is illegal for anyone aware of even a bit of it to tell you that such an investigation has gone on.

"Your private home, your bed, your property and your opinions are no longer private under the auspices of a National Security Letter. You may be freely burgled at any time, wiretapped, bugged, recorded and photographed, and your most private musings, writings, conversations, photos, habits and opinions may be used against you for purposes of deeming you an enemy combatant.

"It is easy to see that any of a thousand offhand remarks will suffice to "deem" you an enemy of the State simply because you neither approve of nor cooperate with the State's latest crimes or international wars. This is, indeed, King George's mantra: "You are either with us, or against us."

"This is a full blown return to the two centuries of royal abuses prior to the French Revolution, when the French government, with the absentee blessings of the King, issued many thousands of lettres de cachet, or 'letters bearing the King's Seal.' Like today's National Security Letters, in most instances the French King never saw or heard of the lettres de cachet issued in his name. They could be had for the asking by government officials; they could be purchased in blank sets by wealthy persons desiring to rid themselves of troublesome individuals as the occasion arose -- simply by filling in their name on the blank spot provided, and handing the paper to the local police. The person who had troubled their composure or plans soon disappeared, permanently.

"Printed up in the thousands by Gutenberg's new invention, and sold to those wealthy enough to buy them, the letters all said the same thing. Take such and such person to the Bastille or some other local jail, convent, nunnery, hospital or workhouse and remand them there to the permanent care of the proper authorities. No trial, no further news, no recourse.

"Like Guantanamo today, it was simply understood that there were no restraints or restrictions on the treatment of the inmate once they arrived. After all, to never hear from them again was the ideal.

"King George Bush now freely exercises his divine right to bypass centuries of established common law, upon which our nation and culture and civilization rests, and bless the issue of many thousands of such lettres de cachet, upon American citizens and citizens of nations he has ordered invaded. Some get the full "enemy combatant" treatment, most are simply watched until the time to seize them arrives. They are on the short list permanently, until action on their status is called for.

"Because of this, the bulwark against injustice and servitude that was provided by the American Constitution is now wholly breached. The hole may appear small now, but there is nothing to prevent ever widening use of this pernicious right of King George to seize and disappear anyone who troubles his plans and aims. He doesn't even need to see the letters that send thousands to secret prisons around the globe. They are simply issued in his name. Like the Sun King in Versailles, George does not wish to be disturbed with the sordid details of his empire.

"King George will receive soon enough the hard lessons that the English and French Kings were forced to receive. That no man is divine; that no man stands above the law. Not for long. Not in America.

"The principle has nothing to do with being American or not. The American Declaration of Independence and Constitution refer to mankind itself when it enumerates the rights of mankind. Our founding documents do not distinguish between enemy combatants, citizens, POW's or rebels or pirates or loyalists or horse thieves or troublesome peasants and farmers complaining about British taxes. They refer to mankind in the broadest and most universal sense of the word, and they state without reservations that every human being has inalienable rights. Among them is the right to prompt and full judicial review when they stand accused by anyone, of anything.

"That is the law of this land, bought with patriot's blood over and over again.

"What does that make these National Security Letters?

"Crimes against the Constitution.

"What does that make of every Federal, State or local law enforcement official who participates in carrying out or hiding or storing information gathered under one of these National Security Letters?

"A traitor to their oath of office and to the Constitution.

"What does that make King George Bush as he pursues his divine right to "deem" people enemy combatants?

"A traitor to his office and a traitor to the Constitution.

"What does that make the forty-nine Senators who voted to deny the inalienable rights of human beings enumerated in the American Constitution to human beings held incognito in Guantanamo?

"Traitors to their office and to the Constitution.

"These are all high crimes and misdemeanors. These are all hanging offenses.

"These Senators, these agents, this President have cast their lot with pirates and traitors, and will receive the due of pirates and traitors, at the hands of Americans. They are living in their last days even now. They have taken all the rope they need to hang themselves, and are busy tying their own knots.

"What King George and his sycophants and agents have done is awaken yet again a sleeping giant, and when we come for each and every one of these people they will do well to tremble.

"For the first oath of the free American has always been: Don't Tread On Me."

See also NorCalJim: "No writ. No Geneva. Nothing. A new category of human. Not entitled to the rights of a citizen. Not entitled to the Geneva rights of POWs or civilians. A new category, a new class, a new status entirely. Well, not entirely. It is the same status as that of the slave. Chattel. Brought forth appropriately enough, by southern white men."

It is interesting to note that Australian David Hicks was sold into this system (sold into slavery?) for a reported US$1000.