December 30, 2006 § Leave a comment
uplifting in a dark day.
A DICTATOR CREATED THEN DESTROYED BY AMERICA
By Robert Fisk
December 30, 2006
But history will record that the Arabs and other Muslims and, indeed, many millions in the West, will ask another question this weekend, a questionthat will not be posed in other Western newspapers because it is not the narrative laid down for us by our presidents and prime ministers — whatabout the other guilty men?
No, Tony Blair is not Saddam. We don’t gas our enemies. George W Bush is not Saddam. He didn’t invade Iran or Kuwait. He only invaded Iraq. But hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians are dead — and thousands of Western troops are dead — because Messrs Bush and Blair and the Spanish Prime Minister and the Italian Prime Minister and the Australian Prime Minister went to war in 2003 on a potage of lies and mendacity and, given the weapons we used, with great brutality.
Who encouraged Saddam to invade Iran in 1980, which was the greatest war crime he has committed for it led to the deaths of a million and a half
souls? And who sold him the components for the chemical weapons with which he drenched Iran and the Kurds? We did. No wonder the Americans, who controlled Saddam’s weird trial, forbad any mention of this, his most obscene atrocity, in the charges against him. Could he not have been handed over to the Iranians for sentencing for this massive war crime? Of course not. Because that would also expose our culpability.
Peer Review: Fighting the Terrorist Virus
If terrorism is cultivated by modern media, how do we fight it?
By Douglas Rushkoff
Before terrorism, war was conducted mostly through the principle of “command and control.” Generals issued orders for troop movements just as artillery sergeants specified target coordinates to gunners. Military intelligence meant intercepting the enemy chain of command. That’s why so much energy was expended in World War II on breaking the Germans’ secret codes. The allies needed to know where the Nazis intended to strike.
Norbert Wiener, a mathematician who worked for the U.S. Army in WWII, realized that war—and society itself—was growing too complex to be analyzed purely under these rules. Back in 1948 he invented the term “cybernetics” to describe a much more complex range of communication. Biologists had already observed this interaction in living systems—a coral reef whose millions of tightly networked members could communicate data about weather over hundreds of miles and a slime mold whose millions of member cells, spread out over acres, could coalesce and take organized action for survival at a moment’s notice.
…we must stop asking who is giving the orders and how can we intercept them. Between bloggers, consumer researchers, YouTube, and MySpace, it’s hard to tell who is broadcasting what to whom. And it doesn’t matter.
We must instead explore what makes certain individuals—our own citizens in most cases—so vulnerable to infection in the first place. I suggest we begin by promoting healthier forms of feedback through the very same media that are now transmitting such destructive behavioral codes. We can’t counter the bottom-up terrorism bug with top-down public relations. We must spend less effort constructing false, politically motivated images of America, its leaders, and their intentions. These only feed the cognitive dissonance—the confusion—of those whose real experience tells them a very different story, making them more likely to imitate the violent forms of feedback they are already witnessing on the news or over the Internet.
Rather, we must begin the hard journey toward honest conversation and a long-delayed reconciliation with the facts of history. Ironically, intelligence in a cybernetic age will be conducted not by intercepting or blocking messages, but by fostering them.
Yes, the ‘hard journey”. Repair is not to e a slogan, but education 3experiment, moves towards justice and equity, a lowerigof the rich poor divide.
I checke out more on Doug’s writings. His website at
and, among others, this wisdom on a difficult topic.
As a Jew who cares deeply about his religion, I have come to the conclusion that our great mistake has been to forget that we are the descendants of a loose amalgamation of peoples united around a new idea, and to replace this history with the view, advanced by our enemies, that we are a race. Zionism, perhaps unintentionally, gave this race a nation to defend; Israel’s hostile neighbors kept alive real and pressing questions of survival…..
The Jewish people are not a race, to be preserved. Judaism is a set of ideas to be shared. Its universal tenets should not be surrendered to the seemingly more pressing threat of tribal dissolution ó particularly not right now. Judaism is founded in iconoclasm, a principle especially relevant to a world so hypnotized by its many false idols. Judaism finds its expression in radical pluralism, an assertion that there is no name for God ó at least none that any human being could conceive. And because it puts human needs above anyone’s notion of deity, Judaism is ultimately enacted through the very real work of social justice.
As our nation and the world struggle to balance the conflicting priorities of religion, freedom and human rights, Judaism’s core strengths are greatly needed. It would be a terrible shame if the religion’s biggest concern continued to be itself.
We need to larn to look at each religion from inside, what it offers to those who will listen. This will helpf create the condtions for everyone to be less defnsive.
From the Washingtn Monthly
The tribunal…had a unique sense of timing when choosing the day for Saddam’s hanging. It was a slap in the face to Sunni Arabs. This weekend marks Eid al-Adha, the Holy Day of Sacrifice, on which Muslims commemorate the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son for God. Shiites celebrate it Sunday. Sunnis celebrate it Saturday — and Iraqi law forbids executing the condemned on a major holiday. Hanging Saddam on Saturday was perceived by Sunni Arabs as the act of a Shiite government that had accepted the Shiite ritual calendar.
The timing also allowed Saddam, in his farewell address to Iraq, to pose as a “sacrifice” for his nation, an explicit reference to Eid al-Adha. The tribunal had given the old secular nationalist the chance to use religious language to play on the sympathies of the whole Iraqi public.
Convention dictates that we precede any discussion of this execution with the obligatory nod to Saddam’s treachery, bloodthirsty rule and tyranny. But enough of the cowardly chatter. This thing is a sham, of a piece with the whole corrupt, disastrous sham that the war and occupation have been. Bush administration officials are the ones who leak the news about the time of the execution. … This whole endeavor, from the very start, has been about taking tawdry, cheap acts and dressing them up in a papier-mache grandeur—phony victory celebrations, ersatz democratization, reconstruction headed up by toadies, con artists and grifters. … for its prime promoters and cheerleaders and now-dwindling body of defenders, the war and all its ideological and literary trappings have always been an exercise in moral-historical dress-up for a crew of folks whose times aren’t grand enough to live up to their own self-regard and whose imaginations are great enough to make up the difference. This is just more play-acting. … This is what we’re reduced to, what the president has reduced us to. This is the best we can do. Hang Saddam Hussein because there’s nothing else this president can get right. What do you figure this farce will look like 10, 30 or 50 years down the road? A signal of American power or weakness?
December 29, 2006 § Leave a comment
The killing of Saddham is a terrible mark against the US. It will cost us for generations. It is a violation of international law (invading a country), and of our own principles of fairness.
Roy would be adored by the Indian male if she had been content to sit prettily on a pedestal. Instead, she has repeatedly asked for trouble challenging the big boys when they are playing with their favourite toys: the Big Bomb, the Big Dam, the Big War and now the Big Terrorist.
Let’s look at
Moves Toward War with Iran: Part 1
By William R. Polk
Twelve years before he ran for the presidency, George W. Bush sought to rally the American religious fundamentalists to his father’s election. He realized that about one in five Americans considered themselves part of this movement and so could be formed into a massive voting bloc. From this time also, Mr. Bush underwent a personal “rebirth” and emerged from what he described as a life-long alcoholic haze into the belief that he had a God-given role to fight off the forces of evil and prepare a new world order.
What that was to be, he only vaguely perceived, but in the following years he was guided by some of his father’s old retainers including Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to an already-formed group that came to be called the Neoconservatives. These men and women already had a plan and an objective. Young Bush eagerly adopted both and, when he was elected, appointed Cheney, Rumsfeld and Neoconservatives to key positions in his administration. These men have consistently favored military action against Middle Eastern regimes for the past seventeen years. They are still doing so.
So far seems about right, and not needing more or less. But the hint is that the personal move was opportunistic. And who helped GW make the argument, see the connections? That the religious right was a potential movement? Rove was already there in Texas. Is that important?
As the heart of their doctrine, Neoconservatives took Leon Trotsky’s concept of “permanent revolution” and adapted it to their own radical ideology in the guise of “permanent war.” Just as Trotsky (and later Mao) saw permanent revolution, so the Neoconservatives saw what the US Defense Department now calls “the long war” as the means to destroy foreign opponents and silence domestic critics who would fear to be charged as unpatriotic. Their doctrine has been incorporated in the March 6, 2006 “National Security Strategy of the United States.” Mr. Bush summarized its imperatives on March 16, 2006 thus: “We choose to deal with challenges now rather than leaving them for future generations. We fight our enemies abroad instead of waiting for them to arrive in our country. We seek to shape the world, not be merely be shaped by it; to influence events for the better instead of being at their mercy.” Having identified Iran as part of “the Axis of Evil,” he specified that “we may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran” because, he charged, it threatens Israel, sponsors terrorism, oppresses its people and, above all, is embarked on acquisition of nuclear weapons.
He seems to be moving too fast to carry the weight of the conclusions, but the territory is well traveled and rehearsed, and maybe not controversial. The direct Trotsky connection as presented is too clear-cut. There was some influence, some membership even, but the neoconservative ideology is much more than Trotsky. If we take the Strauss connection, which I know more about (read the Voegelin Strauss correspondence), the dialectic is much more complex.
In the same way there were other influences on Bush, so I can’t accept that the March 6 speech was a “summary”.
He discusses the nuclear issue and gets it about right and adds
Mr. Bush also charged Iran with sponsoring terrorism. Yet, Iran helped the US to bring down the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and has consistently opposed al-Qaida. True, it has given money and weapons to the Lebanese Hizbullah against which Israel has been fighting. Moreover, it has, itself, been the target of terrorism for which it blames America.
This seems to get at the requisite complexity. But then, a quick final paragraph.
So why do I predict an American attack on Iran?
The answer is composed of the same elements I have described: Mr. Bush’s belief that he has a God-given task which he must accomplish before he leaves office – and perhaps even before the forthcoming Congressional elections might cripple his means of action. His belief that what his own intelligence experts tell him is wrong, that Iran actually is about to acquire the bomb, is stirring the pot of Middle Eastern terrorism and is a threat to the existence of Israel. Finally, he believes he has the authority, given by the American people in his two elections and through Congressional approval of his war with Afghanistan, to act. In the next article, I will discuss what he is doing to effect his policy.
Without discussing oil, Russia, china, Brezhinski’s The Great Game, seems to me to move towards too easy rhetoric. What will happen is a sum of very complex forces. They need to be at least considered. ur task is not just to get it right, but to undersand why we are right.
What would aerial bombardment entail? What it involved in Iraq gives at least a starting point: in some 37,000 sorties the US Air Force dropped 13,000 “cluster munitions” that exploded into 2 million bombs, wiping out whole areas, and fired 23,000 missiles. Naval ships launched 750 Cruise missiles with another 1.5 million pounds of explosives. More powerful weapons are now available. Air Force General Thomas McInerney gave the Neoconservative Weekly Standard in April an inventory of “improved” weapons. They include vastly larger “bunker buster” bombs and greater targeting ability. McInerney pointed out that a B-2 bomber can drop 80 500 pound bombs independently targeted on 80 different aim points. In effect, this aerial bombardment would eclipse the “shock and awe” of 2003 and be far more destructive than the 1991 campaign or the devastating air war on Vietnam. But would it work?
This is worth quoting just to see the size of the Iraq bombing.
As Bush’s former Deputy of State Richard Armitage said, “If the most dominant military force in the region – the Israel Defense Forces – can’t pacify a country like Lebanon, with a population of four million, you should think carefully about taking that template to Iran, with strategic depth and a population of seventy million…The only thing that the bombing has achieved so far is to unite the [Lebanese] population against the Israelis.”
Which seems reasonable. then, back to the argument.
Despite the misgivings of the military professionals, Joseph Cirincione wrote in the March issue of Foreign Policy that conversations with senior officials in the Pentagon and the White House had convinced him that the decision for war had already been made.
If this is his strongest agument, it just borrows.
The Washington Post has reported that at least since March, large teams have been working on invasion plans in the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies, while the Iran “desk” at the State Department has been augmented to task force size. It reports to Elizabeth Cheney, daughter of the vice president, who is assistant secretary of state for the Near East. In the Pentagon, a similar organization has been established under Neoconservative Abram Shulsky. In addition a new outpost has been set up in Dubai to coordinate plans. On October 2, a powerful naval battle group around the giant aircraft carrier Eisenhower sailed for the Persian Gulf and is due to arrive a week before the November Congressional elections to join a similar battle group led by the aircraft carrier Enterprise. Meanwhile aircraft of the U.S. Air Force are being readied in bases surrounding Iran and in distant locations. These forces could deliver destructive power that would dwarf the aerial assaults on Iraq.
He proposes more diplomacy, dealing with Israel and Palestine, reinforcing a culture of nuclear restraint, and its absence in the ME. War polarizes. Try peace. the article is not as pwerful as it postures as being. Reaonable, but too incomplete. I’ll take a look at the Foreign Affairs article.
But first, from the more reent issue
Summary: The world today faces not only a clash of civilizations but a clash of emotions as well. The West displays — and is divided by — a culture of fear, while the Arab and Muslim worlds are trapped in a culture of humiliation and much of Asia displays a culture of hope.
Got side tracked by nail Fergusen, video ineriew on War of the World, just coming out
He seems to miss the idea that religious identification leading to civil war is based on economic identity and aligning with who can protect you in stressful times. His view is that the west has been declining throughout the 20th century.1904 japan defeated Russia. US is bad as an empire but a successful state.
December 28, 2006 § Leave a comment
December 28, 2006 § Leave a comment
Matt Yglesias has a good post here about what’s really behind the ‘surge’. This is also a good example of how paradoxical or even bizarre ‘answers’ often emerge from political problems. No actual policy or strategic imperative is driving the move to escalate the conflict in Iraq. The real causes are political and psychological.
To put it simply, the presidential is neither psychologically nor politically capable of leaving Iraq. The 2006 election made it clear the current course can’t be sustained politically. Even his own party won’t back it. That leaves escalation as the only alternative. All that’s left is a rationale for doing so. And that’s what the president is now working on.
That doesn’t mean that in theory there couldn’t be a good argument for escalation, only that whatever it is, it has nothing to do with why the president is in favor of escalation. Because if it did he would have called for it at some point over the last three years. And he didn’t. All that’s changed is that option two of three — stasis — was removed from the list of options. End of story.
— Josh Marshall
December 27, 2006 § Leave a comment
Victor’s justice will deepen rifts that threaten Iraqi unity
Bronwen Maddox: World Briefing
The rapid confirmation of the death sentence against Saddam Hussein is a long step backwards for Iraq. It is a brutal, if inevitable, display of victor’s justice that offends the principles that the US said it sought to uphold in toppling Iraq’s dictator. It will deepen the rifts between Shias and Sunnis, perhaps already fatal to Iraq’s unity.
The loud welcome that the US gave yesterday to the Iraqi court’s ruling was ugly. It sounded like an attempt to extract some proof of success, for want of any other. But if Iraq achieves stability, it may well now be under a Shia “strongman”, not quite the contrast to Saddam that the US intended.
Amir Peretz, Israel’s defense minister, has undercut the encouraging steps taken by Ehud Olmert over the weekend by approving the first new West Bank settlement in more than a decade.
saw the movies Mrs. with its all too subtle hints of class t understand the origins of the war. i wondred, did it do more to reinforce stereotypes, or dismantle them?
And The Good Shepard, subtle, strong, ambiguous. Criical of war and “intelligence”, but for what? Need to see it.
December 25, 2006 § Leave a comment
And Britain’s poverty rate, if measured American-style — that is, in terms of a fixed poverty line, not a moving target that rises as the nation grows richer — has been cut in half since Labor came to power in 1997.
Britain’s war on poverty has been led by Gordon Brown, the chancellor of the exchequer and Mr. Blair’s heir apparent. There’s nothing exotic about his policies, many of which are inspired by American models. But in Britain, these policies are carried out with much more determination.
For example, Britain didn’t have a minimum wage until 1999 — but at current exchange rates Britain’s minimum wage rate is now about twice as high as ours. Britain’s child benefit is more generous than America’s child tax credit, and it’s available to everyone, even those too poor to pay income taxes. Britain’s tax credit for low-wage workers is similar to the U.S. earned-income tax credit, but substantially larger.
And don’t forget that Britain’s universal health care system ensures that no one has to fear going without medical care or being bankrupted by doctors’ bills.
December 23, 2006 § Leave a comment
Great Game slows down
The Great Game in Central Asia itself may appear to have considerably slowed down in 2006. But nothing could be more deceptive an impression. True, we’ve witnessed nothing like the cataclysmic events of the previous year – “Tulip Revolution” or the Andizhan uprising in Uzbekistan. Yet great-power rivalries most certainly continued – passions that were largely driven underground, where they simmered without taking a confrontational character.
Partly this was because the bickering over geopolitical influence became somewhat manifestly lopsided, with Russia and China not only retaining their gains of yesteryear but also consolidating them, and the US painstakingly attempting to recoup its lost influence in the region.