All the crying from the left about how Obama “the peace candidate” has now become “a war president” … Whatever are they talking about? Here’s what I wrote in this report in August 2008, during the election campaign:
We find Obama threatening, several times, to attack Iran if they don’t do what the United States wants them to do nuclear-wise; threatening more than once to attack Pakistan if their anti-terrorist policies are not tough enough or if there would be a regime change in the nuclear-armed country not to his liking; calling for a large increase in US troops and tougher policies for Afghanistan; wholly and unequivocally embracing Israel as if it were the 51st state.
Why should anyone be surprised at Obama’s foreign policy in the White House? He has not even banned torture, contrary to what his supporters would fervently have us believe. If further evidence were needed, we have the November 28 report in the Washington Post: “Two Afghan teenagers held in U.S. detention north of Kabul this year said they were beaten by American guards, photographed naked, deprived of sleep and held in solitary confinement in concrete cells for at least two weeks while undergoing daily interrogation about their alleged links to the Taliban.” This is but the latest example of the continuance of torture under the new administration.
But the shortcomings of Barack Obama and the naiveté of his fans is not the important issue. The important issue is the continuation and escalation of the American war in Afghanistan, based on the myth that the individuals we label “Taliban” are indistinguishable from those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001, whom we usually label “al Qaeda”. “I am convinced,” the president said in his speech at the United States Military Academy (West Point) on December 1, “that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak.”
Obama used one form or another of the word “extremist” eleven times in his half-hour talk. Young, impressionable minds must be carefully taught; a future generation of military leaders who will command America’s never-ending wars must have no doubts that the bad guys are “extremists”, that “extremists” are by definition bad guys, that “extremists” are beyond the pale and do not act from human, rational motivation like we do, that we — quintessential non-extremists, peace-loving moderates — are the good guys, forced into one war after another against our will. Sending robotic death machines flying over Afghanistan and Pakistan to drop powerful bombs on the top of wedding parties, funerals, and homes is of course not extremist behavior for human beings.
And the bad guys attacked the US “from here”, Afghanistan. That’s why the United States is “there”, Afghanistan. But in fact the 9-11 attack was planned in Germany, Spain and the United States as much as in Afghanistan. It could have been planned in a single small room in Panama City, Taiwan, or Bucharest. What is needed to plot to buy airline tickets and take flying lessons in the United States? And the attack was carried out entirely in the United States. But Barack Obama has to maintain the fiction that Afghanistan was, and is, vital and indispensable to any attack on the United States, past or future. That gives him the right to occupy the country and kill the citizens as he sees fit. Robert Baer, former CIA officer with long involvement in that part of the world has noted: “The people that want their country liberated from the West have nothing to do with Al Qaeda. They simply want us gone because we’re foreigners, and they’re rallying behind the Taliban because the Taliban are experienced, effective fighters.” 1
The pretenses extend further. US leaders have fed the public a certain image of the insurgents (all labeled together under the name “Taliban”) and of the conflict to cover the true imperialistic motivation behind the war. The predominant image at the headlines/TV news level and beyond is that of the Taliban as an implacable and monolithic “enemy” which must be militarily defeated at all costs for America’s security, with a negotiated settlement or compromise not being an option. However, consider the following which have been reported at various times during the past two years about the actual behavior of the United States and its allies in Afghanistan vis-à-vis the Taliban, which can raise questions about Obama’s latest escalation: 2
The US military in Afghanistan has long been considering paying Taliban fighters who renounce violence against the government in Kabul, as the United States has done with Iraqi insurgents.
President Obama has floated the idea of negotiating with moderate elements of the Taliban. 3
US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, said last month that the United States would support any role Saudi Arabia chose to pursue in trying to engage Taliban officials. 4
Canadian troops are reaching out to the Taliban in various ways.
A top European Union official and a United Nations staff member were ordered by the Kabul government to leave the country after allegations that they had met Taliban insurgents without the administration’s knowledge. And two senior diplomats for the United Nations were expelled from the country, accused by the Afghan government of unauthorized dealings with insurgents. However, the Afghanistan government itself has had a series of secret talks with “moderate Taliban” since 2003 and President Hamid Karzai has called for peace talks with Taliban leader Mohammed Omar.
Organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross as well as the United Nations have become increasingly open about their contacts with the Taliban leadership and other insurgent groups.
Gestures of openness are common practice among some of Washington’s allies in Afghanistan, notably the Dutch, who make negotiating with the Taliban an explicit part of their military policy.
The German government is officially against negotiations, but some members of the governing coalition have suggested Berlin host talks with the Taliban.
MI-6, Britain’s external security service, has held secret talks with the Taliban up to half a dozen times. At the local level, the British cut a deal, appointing a former Taliban leader as a district chief in Helmand province in exchange for security guarantees.
Senior British officers involved with the Afghan mission have confirmed that direct contact with the Taliban has led to insurgents changing sides as well as rivals in the Taliban movement providing intelligence which has led to leaders being killed or captured.
British authorities hold that there are distinct differences between different “tiers” of the Taliban and that it is essential to try to separate the doctrinaire extremists from others who are fighting for money or because they resent the presence of foreign forces in their country.
British contacts with the Taliban have occurred despite British Prime Minister Gordon Brown publicly ruling out such talks; on one occasion he told the House of Commons: “We will not enter into any negotiations with these people.”
For months there have been repeated reports of “good Taliban” forces being airlifted by Western helicopters from one part of Afghanistan to another to protect them from Afghan or Pakistani military forces. At an October 11 news conference in Kabul, President Hamid Karzai himself claimed that “some unidentified helicopters dropped armed men in the northern provinces at night.” 5
On November 2, IslamOnline.net (Qatar) reported: “The emboldened Taliban movement in Afghanistan turned down an American offer of power-sharing in exchange for accepting the presence of foreign troops, Afghan government sources confirmed. ‘US negotiators had offered the Taliban leadership through Mullah Wakil Ahmed Mutawakkil (former Taliban foreign minister) that if they accept the presence of NATO troops in Afghanistan, they would be given the governorship of six provinces in the south and northeast … America wants eight army and air force bases in different parts of Afghanistan in order to tackle the possible regrouping of [the] Al-Qaeda network,’ a senior Afghan Foreign Ministry official told IslamOnline.net.” 6
There has been no confirmation of this from American officials, but the New York Times on October 28 listed six provinces that were being considered to receive priority protection from the US military, five which are amongst the eight mentioned in the IslamOnline report as being planned for US military bases, although no mention is made in the Times of the above-mentioned offer. The next day, Asia Times reported: “The United States has withdrawn its troops from its four key bases in Nuristan [or Nooristan], on the border with Pakistan, leaving the northeastern province as a safe haven for the Taliban-led insurgency to orchestrate its regional battles.” Nuristan, where earlier in the month eight US soldiers were killed and three Apache helicopters hit by hostile fire, is one of the six provinces offered to the Taliban as reported in the IslamOnline.net story.
The part about al-Qaeda is ambiguous and questionable, not only because the term has long been loosely used as a catch-all for any group or individual in opposition to US foreign policy in this part of the world, but also because the president’s own national security adviser, former Marine Gen. James Jones, stated in early October: “I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban. Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling. The al-Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies.” 7
Shortly after Jones’s remarks, we could read in the Wall Street Journal: “Hunted by U.S. drones, beset by money problems and finding it tougher to lure young Arabs to the bleak mountains of Pakistan, al-Qaida is seeing its role shrink there and in Afghanistan, according to intelligence reports and Pakistan and U.S. officials. … For Arab youths who are al-Qaida’s primary recruits, ‘it’s not romantic to be cold and hungry and hiding,’ said a senior U.S. official in South Asia.” 8
From all of the above is it not reasonable to conclude that the United States is willing and able to live with the Taliban, as repulsive as their social philosophy is? Perhaps even a Taliban state which would go across the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has been talked about in some quarters. What then is Washington fighting for? What moves the president of the United States to sacrifice so much American blood and treasure? In past years, US leaders have spoken of bringing democracy to Afghanistan, liberating Afghan women, or modernizing a backward country. President Obama made no mention of any of these previous supposed vital goals in his December 1 speech. He spoke only of the attacks of September 11, al Qaeda, the Taliban, terrorists, extremists, and such, symbols guaranteed to fire up an American audience. Yet, the president himself declared at one point: “Al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same numbers as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border.” Ah yes, the terrorist danger … always, everywhere, forever, particularly when it seems the weakest.
How many of the West Point cadets, how many Americans, give thought to the fact that Afghanistan is surrounded by the immense oil reserves of the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea regions? Or that Afghanistan is ideally situated for oil and gas pipelines to serve much of Europe and south Asia, lines that can deliberately bypass non-allies of the empire, Iran and Russia? If only the Taliban will not attack the lines. “One of our goals is to stabilize Afghanistan, so it can become a conduit and a hub between South and Central Asia so that energy can flow to the south …”, said Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs in 2007. 9
Afghanistan would also serve as the home of American military bases, the better to watch and pressure next-door Iran and the rest of Eurasia. And NATO … struggling to find a raison d’être since the end of the Cold War. If the alliance is forced to pull out of Afghanistan without clear accomplishments after eight years will its future be even more in doubt?
So, for the present at least, the American War on Terror in Afghanistan continues and regularly and routinely creates new anti-American terrorists, as it has done in Iraq. This is not in dispute even at the Pentagon or the CIA. God Bless America.
Although the “surge” failed as policy, it succeeded as propaganda.
They don’t always use the word “surge”, but that’s what they mean. Our admirable leaders and our mainstream media that love to interview them would like us to believe that escalation of the war in Afghanistan is in effect a “surge”, like the one in Iraq which, they believe, has proven so successful. But the reality of the surge in Iraq was nothing like its promotional campaign. To the extent that there has been a reduction in violence in Iraq (now down to a level that virtually any other society in the world would find horrible and intolerable, including Iraqi society before the US invasion and occupation), we must keep in mind the following summary of how and why it “succeeded”:
- Thanks to America’s lovely little war, there are many millions Iraqis either dead, wounded, crippled, homebound or otherwise physically limited, internally displaced, in foreign exile, or in bursting American and Iraqi prisons. Many others have been so traumatized that they are concerned simply for their own survival. Thus, a huge number of potential victims and killers has been markedly reduced.
- Extensive ethnic cleansing has taken place: Sunnis and Shiites are now living much more than before in their own special enclaves, with entire neighborhoods surrounded by high concrete walls and strict security checkpoints; violence of the sectarian type has accordingly gone down.
- In the face of numerous “improvised explosive devices” on the roads, US soldiers venture out a lot less, so the violence against them has been sharply down. It should be kept in mind that insurgent attacks on American forces following the invasion of 2003 is how the Iraqi violence all began in the first place.
- For a long period, the US military was paying insurgents (or “former insurgents”) to not attack occupation forces.
- The powerful Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr declared a unilateral cease-fire for his militia, including attacks against US troops, that was in effect for an extended period; this was totally unconnected to the surge.
We should never forget that Iraqi society has been destroyed. The people of that unhappy land have lost everything — their homes, their schools, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their health care, their legal system, their women’s rights, their religious tolerance, their security, their friends, their families, their past, their present, their future, their lives. But they do have their surge.
The War against Everything and Everyone, Endlessly
Nidal Malik Hasan, the US Army psychiatrist who killed 13 and wounded some 30 at Fort Hood, Texas in November reportedly regards the US War on Terror as a war aimed at Muslims. He told colleagues that “the US was battling not against security threats in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Islam itself.” 10 Hasan had long been in close contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric and al Qaeda sympathizer now living in Yemen, who also called the US War on Terror a “war against Muslims”. Many, probably most, Muslims all over the world hold a similar view about American foreign policy.
I believe they’re mistaken. For many years, going back to at least the Korean war, it’s been fairly common for accusations to be made by activists opposed to US policies, in the United States and abroad, as well as by Muslims, that the United States chooses as its bombing targets only people of color, those of the Third World, or Muslims. But it must be remembered that in 1999 one of the most sustained and ferocious American bombing campaigns ever — 78 days in a row — was carried out against the Serbs of the former Yugoslavia: white, European, Christians. Indeed, we were told that the bombing was to rescue the people of Kosovo, who are largely Muslim. Earlier, the United States had come to the aid of the Muslims of Bosnia in their struggle against the Serbs. The United States is in fact an equal-opportunity bomber. The only qualifications for a country to become an American bombing target appear to be: (a) It poses a sufficient obstacle — real, imagined, or, as with Serbia, ideological — to the desires of the empire; (b) It is virtually defenseless against aerial attack.
- Video on Information Clearinghouse ↩
- For the news items which follow if not otherwise sourced, see:
- The Independent (London), December 14, 2007
- Daily Telegraph (UK) December 26, 2007
- The Globe and Mail (Toronto) May 1, 2008
- BBC News, October 28, 2009 ↩
- New York Times, March 11, 2009 ↩
- Kuwait News Agency, November 24, 2009 ↩
- Pakistan Observer (Islamabad daily), October 19, 2009; The Jamestown Foundation (conservative Washington, DC think tank), “Karzai claims mystery helicopters ferrying Taliban to north Afghanistan”, November 6, 2009; Institute for War and Peace Reporting (London), “Helicopter rumour refuses to die”, October 26, 2009 ↩
- IslamOnline, “US Offers Taliban 6 Provinces for 8 Bases“, November 2, 2009↩
- Washington Times, October 5, 2009, from a CNN interview ↩
- Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2009 ↩
- Talk at the Paul H. Nitze School for Advanced International Studies, Washington, DC, September 20, 2007. ↩
- Christian Science Monitor, November 17, 2009 ↩
Is it time to disband the Republican Party?
Surely, the events of the past week suggest that the G.O.P. has outlived its shelf-life and needs to be conveyed pell-mell to the nearest dumpster. First, there was the Joe Wilson flap, where the indignant representative from South Carolina barked “You Lie” to President Barack Obama during his prepared remarks to Congress on health care. This is the very same Wilson who applauded all the bogus allegations about imaginary weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaida made in countless speeches by ex-president George W Bush. Now we are expected to believe that Joe is acting in “good conscience” in opposing minimal health care to a larger swath of uninsured Americans?
Typical of Bush-era Republicans, Wilson issued a groveling apology to the White House, and then–just hours later–made an about-face in an appearance on the Sean Hannity program. Wilson defended all the canards which Obama effectively disproved in Wednesday night’s speech. Here’s a clip from the FOX News transcript:
WILSON: And we had the Congressional Research Office. Just last month, in August, they did a study and indicated that there were no restrictions against providing or not enforceable restrictions for illegal aliens to fully participate in the programs.
HANNITY: All right. Here’s the question because I read the bill, every page of it. And.
WILSON: I did, too.
HANNITY: And I — your interpretation, I agree with Congressional Research Office on immigration. I also believe that they’ve come up with a sneaky way to fund abortions, although they’re denying it. Do you agree with me on abortions and on Medicare cuts?
WILSON: I do. Because — and when you read the bill, it really doesn’t take long, because you can see that you have the health choice administration commissioner. And this commissioner will have czar-like powers and could do virtually anything they wanted to do, including abortion coverage.”
Hmmmm? So immigrants will be able to get free health care because they are not explicitly restricted from the program? Now that’s a bit of a stretch.
Wilson applies the same back-asswards logic to abortion–which is NOT provided for under the provisions of the bill–but will be allowed (Wilson speculates) because the program will have a “czar-like” commissioner who oversees operations.
Question: What large government program does NOT have a commissioner? Do they all have “czar-like” powers or just the ones that Wilson and his insurance-lobby friends oppose?
So, if Wilson believes so strongly that he’s right, why did he apologize to Obama? Either he caved in to the pressure or he’s being insincere? He’s either a coward or a hypocrite. Which is it?
Regrettably, the ongoing Republican meltdown doesn’t end with Wilson’s outburst. It has since spread virus-like to the torrid escapades of California congressman Mike Duvall, the randy graybeard who was caught on tape boasting about his steamy encounters with industry lobbyists.
“She is so hot!”, Duvall moaned as he recounted the story of his spanking sessions with shapely lobbyists in “eye-patch” underwear (whose only interest was to use the arthritic Yorba Linda dinosaur to nuzzle closer to the public trough) Duvall has since stepped down as congressman (while denying all wrongdoing) and has been stripped of his role on the House Ethics Committee, a stinging blow to the family values-espousing conservative.
So far, there’s no proof that the powerful lobbies in Sacramento knew that sexual favors were being traded for votes.
The Los Angeles Times summed it up best saying, “Money is at least as powerful a motivator as sex. Someone frequently gets screwed as a result; all too often, it’s the people of California.”
So, Duvall will now join the long caravan of ex-Republican leaders whose wick-dipping shenanigans and duplicity brought their careers to a swift close.
How much longer will the public put up with this nonsense before the party is banned altogether and its leaders are released on a street in Falluja with a sidearm and a week’s worth of C-rations?
Remember when people used to take the Republicans seriously?
Think back to Eisenhower or Goldwater or Reagan. Yes, even the waxy-coiffed “Gipper” was far superior to the present crop of clownshoes conservatives who fill-out the Republican congressional roster. Where do they get these guys? And, how does a legitimate political party deteriorate into a frat-boy rabble of clueless misfits and crackpots so fast?
The truth is, the Republicans are simply a party adrift, lacking both purpose and vision. The main problem is that it is extremely hard to rally support for a platform which includes just two planks; war and tax cuts. That’s just not a winning message. That’s why Republicans are always trying to attach themselves to anti-choice, pro-gun conservatives–to create the impression that they feel passionately about something besides killing and money. But it’s a tough-sell, especially given Bush’s record of doubling the national debt and initiating bloody conflicts from the southern coast of Somalia to the northern tip of Afghanistan–a 12 thousand arc of instability compliments of the GOP.
Republicans have also demonstrated their utter lack of sincerity about their signature moral issue, abortion. Does anyone remember George W. Bush–who controlled both houses of congress– pushing legislation to make abortion illegal?
Of course not. It was all phony posturing. Just like the flap over Obama’s fiscal stimulus is just phony posturing. The Republicans know what happens when businesses and consumers stop spending and the government doesn’t take up the slack; stock markets crash, businesses can’t roll over their debt, bank failures spike, and unemployment skyrockets. They weren’t going to let that happen. The only choice was to pump money into the system via tax cuts, public works programs, state aid and extended unemployment insurance and wait for a rebound. George Bush would have done the same thing, in fact, he did. Bush initiated the first stimulus package, a fact that the Republican “deficit hawks” always fail to mention.
Without stimulus, a recession can turn into a Depression. Hard times can get even harder.
The Republicans have morphed into the party of “No” –not because of their strong convictions and commitment to principle–but because they think it will improve their chances in the mid-term elections. That’s all there is to it. The only thing that matters is regaining power, and that means, making sure that Obama fails. Every shrieking protester at a Town Hall meeting is another triumph for the Republicans; another step-stone back to the White House. This is political opportunism at its worst—pushing the country towards anarchy for political advantage. The Republicans have become a party of thugs.
It would be better for everyone if they rolled up their tent and called it quits. Good riddance.
In a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outlined the Obama administration’s foreign policy, which has been widely touted as a sharp break from that of his predecessor’s. Judging from commentary in the media, Obama has ushered in a new age of diplomacy and international engagement. Clinton herself suggested as much.
But setting aside the platitudes that comprised most of Clinton’s speech and looking closely at her remarks that actually spoke meaningfully towards U.S. policy under the Obama, a different picture emerges, one not of a change of course from Bush but rather of near perfect continuity between the two administrations.
Obama’s foreign policy parallels Bush’s. The train may have switched tracks, but it’s still headed in the same direction.
Take, for starters, the framework Clinton established early on in her speech. “Liberty, democracy, justice and opportunity underlie our priorities”, she said. “Some accuse us of using these ideals to justify actions that contradict their very meaning. Others say we are too often condescending and imperialistic, seeking only to expand our power at the expense of others. And yes, these perceptions have fed anti-Americanism, but they do not reflect who we are.”
See, U.S. foreign policy doesn’t really contradict enlightened rhetoric and declarations of benevolent intent from policy makers. The U.S. isn’t really condescending or imperialistic. It doesn’t really seek only to expand its power at the expense of others. No, these are merely “perceptions”, and false ones. The obvious corollary is that we musn’t change our policies, only work to correct these warped perceptions that cause people to unjustly oppose U.S. actions.
It hardly needs to be said that there’s nothing new about that formula.
The multilateralism touted by Obama is different from Bush’s unilateralism, but only slightly. The difference is that Bush openly declared that if you aren’t with us, you’re against us. Obama’s team is being more nuanced and diplomatic in talking about building the “architecture of global cooperation”.
But in the end, it’s still about furthering U.S. interests as perceived by Washington and the corporate oligarchy. Cooperation and multilateralism, as it was under Bush, is fine, so long as it serves our “interests” as defined by that minority segment of the population. Obama’s strategy is quite different in terms of rhetoric about diplomacy, but the actual policy goal goals are indistinguishable from previous administrations.
One means by which policy goals are accomplished is through NATO, a matter that Clinton addressed. She observed that NATO was designed for the Cold War. But rather than becoming obsolete with the end of the Cold War, even now, two decades later, NATO must instead be restructured “to update its strategic concept so that it is as effective in this century as it was in the last.”
This is precisely the same policy as previous administrations.
Or take Clinton’s remarks about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She says the Obama administration “wasted no time in starting an intensive effort on day one to realize the rights of Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace and security in two states”.
President Bush said exactly the same thing in not dissimilar language, only to implement an actual policy that fully supported Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians, including it’s 23-day full-scale military assault on Gaza beginning December 27.
U.S. policy under Obama hasn’t altered that framework one iota. The House of Representatives, for example, just approved Obama’s foreign aid budget that rewards Israel for it’s massacre of Palestinians in Gaza and other violations of international law with an additional $2.2 billion, on top of $555 million already allocated earlier this year.
Still, we are supposed to believe that the Obama administration is doing something “to ease the living conditions of Palestinians, and create circumstances that can lead to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.” Clinton offers no evidence that the U.S. has done anything more than spout rhetoric about this, rendered meaningless by the U.S.’s actual actions.
Bush and Obama alike have paid lip service to the rights and aspirations of the Palestinians, but the actual facts about U.S. foreign policy point to an opposite conclusion from the one Clinton would have the public believe.
Clinton’s remarks on Iran similarly reflect perfect continuity from the Bush administration framework, asserting “the Iranian march toward a nuclear weapon” as fact, despite the complete lack of evidence to support the claim, and even the conclusion of the U.S.’s own intelligence community to the contrary.
The Obama administration has made it’s position clear. It is willing to engage in “diplomacy” with Iran. The proposed “dialogue” and offer “to engage Iran” would entail “giving its leaders a clear choice: whether to join the international community as a responsible member” by acquiescing to U.S. demands to halt uranium enrichment, “or to continue down a path to further isolation” by refusing to accept the U.S. ultimatum.
This policy doesn’t differ from Bush’s one jot or one tittle, except inasmuch as it is an escalation of the Bush policy. “We remain ready to engage with Iran,” Clinton reminds us, “but the time for action is now. The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely.”
As Clinton has explained earlier, sanctions even more stringent than those imposed under Bush, “crippling sanctions” in her words, will follow. Iran must be punished for refusing to bow to the will of Washington, and if there’s a change, it’s that Obama is even more eager than Bush to inflict it.
The policy formula for Afghanistan and Pakistan is familiar enough: “In Afghanistan and Pakistan, our goal is to disrupt, dismantle, and ultimately defeat al-Qaida and its extremist allies, and to prevent their return to either country.” This warrants little comment, other than the observation that Obama hasn’t only continued Bush’s policy here, but escalated it by “sending an additional 17,000 troops and 4,000 military trainers to Afghanistan.”
Or take Iraq, where the Obama administration is “developing a long-term economic and political relationship … as outlined by the US-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement” that was implemented under the Bush administration. No comment is required here.
And what about U.S. policy towards “enemy combatants”? Clinton asserted, “We renewed our own values by prohibiting torture” — but torture has always been prohibited under U.S. law. Obama’s Executive Order didn’t do anything new, it merely reiterated already existing prohibitions.
Clinton said the administration is “beginning to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility.” What she meant is that they’ve begun the process of beginning the process to close “Gitmo”. It’s a long ways from actually closing, and there’s plenty of opposition and other obstacles to overcome before this can happen, assuming the administration is sincere in its stated desire to shut Gitmo down.
There’s little reason to doubt their sincerity; shutting down Gitmo would be a useful way to do away with what has become a symbol for the unjustness of U.S. detention policy while doing little or nothing to actually alter that policy.
Obama, for instance, has not challenged, but accepted and reinforced the assumption of Executive power employed under the Bush administration under which detainees were captured and imprisoned in Gitmo in the first place.
On policy issue after policy issue, the continual torrent of media commentary to the contrary aside, the Obama administration represents a continuation of the existing power establishment and goals and means of furthering U.S. strategic interests as defined by that very narrow and entirely self-interested segment of American society.
The CFR itself is among the prominent means by which these narrow interests perpetuate themselves. Clinton, herself a member, made some telling offhand remarks before beginning her scripted speech. Remarking on the CFR’s new headquarters in Washington, D.C., she said, “I am delighted to be here in these new headquarters. I have been often to I guess the mother ship in New York City, but it’s good to have an outpost of the Council right here down the street from the State Department. We get a lot of advice from the Council, so this will mean I won’t have as far to go to be told what we should be doing and how we should think about the future.”
And so it goes, business as usual.
No secretary of state will come to that office with stronger pro-Israel credentials or closer ties to the Jewish community than Sen. Hillary Clinton, Douglas Bloomfield assures his readers in The Jerusalem Post. Good for them; but for the rest of us, Mrs. Clinton’s appointment as the third woman U.S. Secretary of State is hugely problematic. It heralds “the end of the world as we know it,” in many ways, although neither she nor her coterie necessarily know what they are doing. That dumb bliss may be their sole saving grace.
At the technical level, Hillary Clinton is likely to deepen the chronic crisis of the once-venerable institution at Washington’s Foggy Bottom, to which her two female predecessors have contributed in two different ways.
Madeleine Albright was an activist who will be remembered for her hubris (“If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.”), coupled with studied callousness. Asked on “60 Minutes” about the death of a half-million Iraqi children due to sanctions, she promptly responded, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price is worth it.” Her crowning glory was her premeditated 1999 war in the Balkans, prior to which she said that “the Serbs need a little bombing.” Her State Department contributed to the formulation, as well as execution, of Bill Clinton’s doctrine of “humanitarian intervention.”
Condoleezza Rice, less evil and more obtuse, will be remembered for nothing. She was an auxilliary tool of the Bush-Cheney team, with all key decisions made elsewhere.
Mrs. Clinton will try to rebuild the relative importance of the Department of State, which will become her personal fiefdom, but her labors will not be for the better. Her appointment, the most significant among several major figures from the Clinton era, belies Obama’s rhetoric of “change” when it comes to foreign affairs. There will be tectonic shifts, cultural and moral, at home. The established premises of an imperial presidency – which in world affairs inevitably translates into the quest for dominance and justification for global interventionism – will not be challenged, however.
Once it is accepted that Obama’s primary interest lies in an irreversible redistribution of power and money at home, it ceases to be surprising that he chose Hillary Clinton as his chief diplomat. Allowing her to indulge in some global grandstanding is acceptable to him, if that means the Clintons will not stand in the way of his domestic agenda. They are both revolutionaries, after all: that Mrs. Clinton is instinctively opposed to any traditional understanding of diplomacy became obvious during the primary campaign, when she accused Obama of “naivete” for saying he was willing to meet leaders of Iran, Syria and North Korea.
With Robert Gates staying at the Pentagon and Jim Jones as Obama’s national security adviser, there will be a lot of continuity in the U.S. foreign policy, not only with the 1990s but also with recent years. In Mrs. Clinton’s case there will be more lies, the hallmark of the family. During the primaries she listed a number of foreign policy accomplishments based on her husband’s legacy. She claimed that in 1999 she “negotiated open borders” in Macedonia to Albanian refugees from Kosovo, although the crossings were opened days before her arrival. She had repeatedly invoked her “dangerous” trip to Bosnia in 1996, including alleged snipers at Tuzla airport, whereas the Bosnian war had ended six months earlier and video footage shows smiling schoolchildren greeting her in Tuzla. (She later admitted “misspeaking” over sniper claims.)
In the same spirit Mrs. Clinton declared, in late 2002,
“Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members. I want to insure that Saddam Hussein makes no mistake about our national unity and for our support for the president’s efforts to wage America’s war against terrorists and weapons of mass destruction.”
Hillary Clinton says that she has had second thoughts since that time, and a year ago she declared in Foreign Affairs magazine that “US troops should be brought home.” During the primary campaign, however, she was markedly less willing than Obama to commit to a withdrawal timetable. The woman who voted to authorize the Iraq war, and who parroted lies used to justify it, cannot be expected to clean up the mess created by that war. It is more likely that she will advocate a downsized, rebranded, and effectively open-ended U.S. occupation of Iraq for which the military has been preparing ever since the “Surge.”
In Afghanistan, far from disengaging, Mrs. Clinton will advocate greater troop deployments and an escalation of military activity. On Iran, during the primaries she sounded like John McCain: “I want the Iranians to know that if I’m the president, we will attack Iran” if it attacks Israel, she declared last April: “In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.” She will negotiate with the mullahs, however, if Tehran’s tacit support is considered necessary for the achievement of her major ambition: a breakthrough in the Middle East.
Bill Clinton came closer than any U.S. president to brokering Arab-Israeli peace in the final year of his presidency, and insiders say that Hillary will place this issue at the top of her agenda. She is a favourite of the pro-Israel lobby, however, and it is unclear what she can offer, or do, in 2009-2010 that was not offered or tried at Camp David a decade earlier.
A Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank in return for recognition of Israel’s right to exist, security guarantees, and diplomatic recognition, is all fine but distinctly déjà vu. She will need to present a fresh formula, but to make it viable she will have to start by rephrasing her stated support for “undivided” Jerusalem. Considering the realities of American politics, she may find it harder to do so than Ehud Olmert, the city’s former mayor and – until recently – Israel’s prime minister.
The misnamed war on terrorism is the weakest spot in Barack Hussein Obama’s global agenda, and Hillary Clinton will do nothing to rectify the problem. Alone among leading contenders of either party, she has no section devoted to fighting terrorism on her website and had very little to say on it during the campaign. “We know we need global coalitions to tackle global problems like climate change, poverty, AIDS, and terrorism,” she declared, hinting at her priorities.
To confuse natural phenomena, human condition, and a lifestyle-inflicted disease with the most tangible real and present threat to Western civilization would be remarkable in any prominent public figure. In view of Mrs. Clinton’s appointment it is alarming.
That she does not understand the phenomenon of Jihad was evident during her U.S. Senate campaign, in the course of which on at least two occasions she hosted receptions organized by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), a group that has promoted the activities of Hamas, Turkey’s fundamentalist Welfare Party, and the Muslim Brotherhood. Mrs. Clinton had to return $50,000 received from MPAC—the Jewish vote in New York was at risk!—but she justified her contacts by claiming that she was trying “to promote a framework for peace,” that included “lines of communication to many different groups and many different individuals.”
Her “framework for peace” in the Balkans is the same as her husband’s: unqualified support for Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo against their Christian neighbors. In her book Hillary’s Choice, Gail Sheehy recalls that she pressed Bill to start the Kosovo war in 1999. When he expressed concern that bombing could have undesirable effects, including the prospect of rising civilian casualties, Hillary persisted: “I urged him to bomb. You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?”
There had never been a “holocaust” in Kosovo, of course, but to this day she sees the U.S.-led NATO aggression against Serbia as a good war. In her Senate speech before the Iraq war vote she pointed approvingly to her husband’s decision and drew parallels to the Bush administration’s rationale for removing Saddam from power.
On the slender plus side, Hillary Clinton appears to be less Russophobic than some of Obama’s advisors, notably Zbigniew and Mark Brzezinski. She has criticized the Bush administration’s “obsessive” focus on “expensive and unproven missile defense technology,” the deployment of which in Poland and the Czech Republic is a key point of contention between Washington and Moscow. She favors further reducing both sides’ nuclear arsenals, and also supports U.S. Senate approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. On the key issue of further NATO enlargement, however, both she and Obama will continue the Bush administration’s flawed policy of seeking membership for Ukraine and Georgia.
That Obama’s foreign policy may follow the neoliberal-hawkish Democratic tradition became apparent with the selection of Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate, and soon after the election with the appointment of Rep. Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. It is not incidental that both were enthusiastic supporters of Clinton’s war against Yugoslavia in 1999, which marked a significant turning point not only for America and NATO but also for the West as a whole. It was the first time in American history that the principle of state sovereignty, and of the rule of law itself, were subverted in the name of an allegedly humanitarian ideology of velvet-totalitarianism.
The Clintons’ disregard for old international norms and mechanisms for the protection of national liberties, or their misuse as tools of their destruction, was as revolutionary on the global scene as Obama’s presidency will be domestically. In that sense Hillary Clinton’s appointment may reflect Obama’s understanding that they are partners in the same project of transforming reality to fit their ideological preferences. At a less lofty level this decision may nevertheless prove to be his first major blunder. It is difficult to imagine Obama – or anyone else – keeping the Clintons under control for an extended period of time. He has made himself hostage not only to Hillary’s inevitable games and whims, but also to the future conduct of her husband.
Bill Clinton made his comeback in September 2005, when he assembled 800 prime ministers, kings and other worthies to launch the Clinton Global Initiative to address „poverty, global warming, religious conflict and better governance.” He has gone far since. There are 208,000 donors to the William J. Clinton Foundation, which covers the Global Initiative as well as his presidential library. The list includes controversial associates like Frank Giustra, the Canadian billionaire who went with Bill Clinton to Kazakhstan and subsequently obtained a $425m mining contract there. Even as his wife was negotiating the Cabinet deal with Obama in late November, Clinton was in Kuwait giving a half-million-dollar speech on the global financial crisis, compliments of the host country’s National Bank. The potential for scandal is considerable.
Hillary’s ambition is another ticking bomb. She is presenting a smiling face now, but she detests the man who stole the nomination she regarded as rightfully hers. There will never be a relationship of trust and confidence between them.
“Two of the nation’s greatest secretaries of state in the modern period, Dean Acheson and Henry Kissinger, were not personally close but were intellectually bonded to their presidents,” notes Walter Isaacson, the co-author of “The Wise Men,” a book about America’s postwar foreign policy establishment. The comparison is not apt. Neither Acheson nor Kissinger were presidential hopefuls. Hillary Clinton, by contrast, sees herself as destined to be the first woman president. If the attainment of that goal demands contradicting, undermining, or otherwise betraying the first black president, she will do it.
With Obama at the Oval Office and Hillary Clinton at State, America is less likely than ever to rediscover a world in which she will be secure and free, and will not threaten security and freedom of others. Those goals are inseparable from the preservation of our identity and our liberty at home. They are unattainable because this country’s domestic liberty and identity are at greater peril than ever.
This government cannot articulate foreign policy strategies founded upon the notion of America as a real, completed nation, because the chief executive wants to turn it into a very different nation.
The United States could have and should have rediscovered the definable American Interest, and proclaimed it to be the foundation of its diplomacy, as befits a coherent and harmonious polity.
It was not to be, alas. May God help us all: Kyrie eleison.
Dr. Srdja Trifkovic is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
Dr. Trifkovic is Foreign Affairs Editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, published by The Rockford Institute, and Director of the Institute’s Center for International Affairs. He has a BA (Hon) in international relations from the University of Sussex (UK), a BA in political science from the University of Zagreb (Croatia), and a PhD in history from the University of Southampton (UK).
The American people were led to believe that America’s fine men and women in uniform were sent halfway around the world to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight a “war on terror.” Of course, everyone now knows that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the attacks on September 11, 2001. I am sure that most everyone also remembers that the vast majority of the terrorists who participated in those attacks were from Saudi Arabia, not Iraq. Yet, Saudi leaders continue to enjoy the coziest of relationships–and, dare I say, friendships–with President George W. Bush.
Does anyone besides me remember when Bush said that countries had to decide whether they would be friends with either terrorists or the United States, but that they could not be friends with both? Well, Saudi Arabia has probably financed, supported, and befriended more terrorists in the Middle East than any other nation in the world (except perhaps Red China), yet they continue to be “friends” with the United States.
Another glaring inconsistency regarding the “war on terror” is the fact that for some seven years since the 9/11 attacks, our nation’s borders and ports are as open and porous as ever. These open borders make the argument that “we are fighting them over there, so we won’t have to fight them over here” look absolutely disingenuous–even laughable.
If foreign terrorists want to bring the fight to America’s streets again, they still have plenty of opportunity to do so. In fact, we have no idea how many potential terrorists have already slipped across our borders and are right now living among us. Furthermore, we have no idea how many potential terrorists continue to pour through these wide open sieves that we call borders.
How can this administration look the American people in the eye with a straight face and claim that it is fighting a “war on terror,” while it does almost nothing to secure our borders and ports? As Marcellus said in Shakespeare’s Act 1 of Hamlet, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Amen. Something is also rotten in Washington, D.C.
Besides, why should al Qaeda attack us now? The U.S. occupation of Iraq is the best recruiting tool they ever had. Do the American people not realize (I think most of them actually do) that, thanks to our protracted occupation of Iraq, al Qaeda might actually be stronger now than it was when we invaded that country in 2003.
If the Bush administration was serious about fighting a war on terror, it would absolutely, resolutely, and immediately seal our borders and ports. It is nothing short of lunacy to send our National Guard forces to Iraq for the purpose of protecting that country’s borders, while leaving America’s borders wide open!
Not only does the Bush administration not secure our borders and ports, it wants to provide a “path to citizenship” for illegal aliens. It allows tax dollars to be used to pay for illegal aliens’ education, social services, and medical care. It offers birthright citizenship for illegal aliens. And it prosecutes and imprisons Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean for shooting (but not seriously enough to prevent his escape back into Mexico) a known illegal alien and drug trafficker.
No wonder the flood of illegal aliens has skyrocketed since George W. Bush became President of the United States.
And is there anyone who does not understand that a John McCain Presidency will be more of the McSame? A McCain White House promises a 100-year occupation of Iraq along with continued open borders and ports. Plus, McCain will also push forward with his plans to grant amnesty to illegal aliens.
In addition, when it comes to illegal immigration, amnesty, etc., there will be no relief from an Obama White House. Both Barack Obama and John McCain are pro-open borders, pro-amnesty twins.
Instead of fighting a “war on terror,” the Bush administration (and numerous administrations before it) is allowing our troops to be used as the personal militia of the United Nations and for the commercial benefit of international corporations.
Remember, soon after our troops invaded Iraq, President Bush explicitly reported that the reason for the invasion was to defend “the credibility of the United Nations.” But this has been the pattern of White House behavior ever since the U.N. was created back in 1945. Presidents from both parties have repeatedly injected U.S. troops into copious conflicts and wars, all for the purpose of enforcing and augmenting the policies of the United Nations.
In fact, the last constitutional conflict that the U.S. military fought was World War II. Virtually every war since has been a U.N. manufactured and manipulated conflict. The war in Iraq is no different.
I ask the reader, If you were President, and you sincerely believed that you were fighting a war on terror, and that you had to take the drastic action of sending other men’s sons and daughters to fight and die in order to wage this war (not to mention the prospect of potentially bankrupting the country to fight it), would you be so careless or indifferent as to not close the borders to the threat of terrorists who might actually decide to attack us? I doubt that there is a reader who would not agree that anyone who took such a task seriously would–at the very minimum–do this.
So, I repeat: the fact that George W. Bush refuses to seal our borders and ports proves that whatever else he thinks he is accomplishing in Iraq, he is disingenuous when he proclaims that he is fighting a “war on terror.” (Again, the country that had the closest connections to the 9/11 terrorists was Saudi Arabia, not Iraq. If fighting the terrorists was the focus, why did Bush not attack Saudi Arabia?)
And that means John McCain is disingenuous when he says he wants U.S. troops to stay in Iraq for 100 years so “we won’t have to fight the terrorists over here” while, at the same time, promoting amnesty for illegal aliens (which does nothing but promote even more illegal immigration).
No, my friends. The real war is not a “war on terror.” The real war is a war against constitutional government, personal liberty, and national sovereignty. It is a war against the fundamental principles of America’s Founding Fathers, that America should be a friend and trader with all, but engaged in entangling alliances with none. It is a war against the Bill of Rights. It is a war against the Spirit of ’76, the spirit that says America is a free and independent country, subservient to no international entity or interest. It is a war against the principle that would put America first. It is a war against the very heart and soul of everything this country has stood for ever since our patriot forebears stood on Lexington Green and Concord Bridge. And this war is not being waged from Baghdad or Tehran. It is being waged from Washington, D.C.
Chuck Baldwin is a guest columnist for Novakeo.com
You can reach him at: email@example.com
Please visit Chuck’s web site at http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com
You know, the patience that you are asking the American people to provide while you continue to slog around in the quagmire called Iraq; while the “surge” creates conditions that will unite the Iraqi people. May I be so bold as to remind you that one of your campaign promises was to unite the American people? Seven years later, the United States is more divided than at any time since the infamous Civil War. And that is only problem one.
How many more of our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands. wives, fathers and mothers do you intend to be slaughtered or totally broken in mind and body before they are allowed to come home to salvage their homes, marriages, and family relationships as they work to restore the long-neglected framework of American life? You have stated that your goal is to establish democracy in the Middle East, a laudable goal on its deceptive face, but the problem is much deeper than that.
You say that the Iraqi people want peace and perhaps they do, on a temporary basis. However, even there, your premise is fatally flawed. First, there are no “Iraqi people”! Never were and probably never will be. Their religious, cultural, and historical differences are too deep and any reconciliation will take thousands of years because they have been just as they are for that long already. You see, history tells us that the whole area of the former Mesopotamia was populated by bands of nomadic warriors, loyal to nobody except their tribal leaders and willing and able at any time to shed the blood of anybody from any other tribe. They were eventually placed under a British “protectorate” but the Englishmen found nothing but a perpetual war on their hands and never did create anything resembling a peaceful state among them.
When England proposed to end their protectorate, the world leaders met in conference to decide what could be done with Mesopotamia as a whole. They recognized Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Syria as independent nations and turned Kuwait over to the governance of the sheiks. Other small nations were carved out, which left them with a large area containing the tribes which either did not fit anywhere else or whom they did not trust with independence. Turkey did not and does not want the Kurds because they might unite with the Turkish Kurds and start a revolution in that country. They would not allow Iran to include the area because it would make Iran too large and powerful, and culture of the remaining tribes was so worrisome that they would cause trouble in any nation that might accept them.
And so, in an agreement of inspired practicality, they bundled them all together, gave them limited access to the sea, and placed them under the rule of a brutal despot under the theory that only by force could they be controlled. And it worked! While the Kurds did cause trouble for Turkey from time to time, or the Ba’athists did start a row with Iran occasionally, they were largely kept under control by their ruling tyrants. Even your father, President George H. W. Bush, put them back within their borders after they invaded Kuwait and sanctions were imposed upon them by the United Nations. This caused them great suffering but it kept them inside their assigned space and they were no threat to anybody.
Now, back to the subject of patience which, by the way, has never seemed to be your own long suit. When the conglomeration of Egyptians and Saudis flew those planes into the World Trade Center, the patient and prudent thing to do would be to allow the criminal justice system of the world to work, to track down their instigators, and to bring them to justice in the same way we did with the first group who thought they could bomb our most prominent landmark with impunity. But you were not amenable to patience and prudence and, instead, launched an aggressive war against the nation of Afghanistan.
You had none when you, for your own reasons, decided that it was necessary to invade Iraq and those reasons changed as often as they were proven wrong. Now you tell us that our goal is to provide “peace. freedom, and democracy”. You could have left the problem, (whatever it was), in the hands of the UN and let that body have all the patience in the world, taking all the time that was necessary to assure that the Iraqi penchant for violence was once again under control. However, then, it was yourself who had no patience. You could not wait to invade an already weakened nation of ill and half-starved people because, you said, they were a threat to us. With a hastily-assembled “coalition of the willing”, the bribed, and the coerced as cover, American soldiers were diverted from Afghanistan and Al Qaida to this never-ending war in Iraq
No, Mr. President, you have exhausted our patience. This is a one-of-a-kind war, unlike any that our nation has ever seen, and we view it as a failure and a wild goose chase. You have destroyed our nation’s economy and caused enormous suffering among the populace of this nation as well as that of others with your blind devotion to an endeavor which can only be compared to the folly of the numerous Crusades of the Middle Ages. This nation is tired of your incessant war, of having our men taken from us and asked to fight on to the death against a number of enemies who are simultaneously fighting each other. After six years of your ineptitude, profligate spending, and destruction of our national resources, when you ask for even more patience, you may find that we are already fresh out
Mary Pitt is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
Mary Pitt is a septuagenarian Kansan, a free-thinker, and a warrior for truth and justice. Huzzahs and whiny complaints may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Dispatches exposes a new phase in America’s dirty war on al Qaida: the rendition and detention of women and children. Last year, President Bush confirmed the existence of a CIA secret detention program but he refused to give details and said it was over.
Dispatches reveals new evidence confirming fiercely-denied reports that many of the CIA captives were held and interrogated in Europe. Those prisons may now be closed but the programme is by no means over, it’s just changed. A new front has opened up in the Horn of Africa and America has outsourced its renditions to its allies.
These words spoken by Senator Harry Reid have raised the Republican hackles and created headlines. While, actually, these words were predicated by a phrase which was widely overlooked, “Unless the President changes his plan.” However, even if we “win” the war in Iraq, what will we have won? How does that compare with what we have lost?
First and foremost, we have lost the lives of well over 3,000 of our most precious treasure, the young men and women who might have been our future leaders and certainly would have been mother and fathers, factory workers, professional people, and generally productive and responsible citizens. Add to that the many thousands of lives that have been blighted by permanent disabilities, both mental and physical, due to the wounds and horrors which they have needlessly suffered. And the question will endure as to how much more they will suffer at the tender mercies of the VA health care system.
We have, as a nation, lost our moral compass. With the torture and indefinite detention policies which were established by this administration, we have lost our reputation as a compassionate nation. Not since the Civil War have we offered such miserable treatment to prisoners of war. We have unilaterallty repealed the Geneva Convention which once guaranteed the humane treatment of prisoners in time of war and substituted policies of brutality.
We have lost the war in Aghanistan, out only possible legitimate target as we have pulled out the bulk of our troops for the ill-advised attack on Iraq and we have spread the interest in Al Qaida all over the Middle East while the warlords have assumed their accustomed control and the Taliban thrives due to our neglect. Furthermore, Afghanistan poppies fill the coffers of AlQaida throughout the world.
We have lost almost all of the nations which once were our allies as they become disgusted with our rampant militaristic imperialism. Where once we were a vital and effective participant in the world’s search for peace, we are now feared and loathed throughout the world. The word “respect”, is no longer used in reference to the United States and our influence for peace and prosperity has simply disappeared.
We have lost our sense of purpose as we became obsessed with “winning” without knowing what winning is supposed to look like. Few of us could answer the question as to why we invaded Iraq in the first place as more of the reasons which we were given at the beginning are disproved and revealed as merely manipulation in order to accomplish whatever undisclosed goal the administration hoped to achieve. Meanwhile, we have abandoned, one by one, the principles upon which our very society was built. As the national budget is plunged into unimaginable debt as the war expenses eat up our resources, it is necessary to cut social programs and virtually dismantle our society as we know it.
We have lost our sense of “nation” as our borders are left unprotected and millions of immigrants pour in to tax our schools, welfare system, and hospitals while flooding our plants, factories, and construction crews with workers who are willing to accept smaller wages, often “under the table” with no tax or unemployment liability for the companies that employ them. As a result, our standard of living is falling as citizens lose their jobs, their homes, and their hope.
So, if and when we actually should “win” this war or the planned invasion of Iran, what will we have left? I forsee about three generations of Dickensian drudgery for the common man with exhorbitant taxes as we struggle to repay all the indebtedness assumed by this administration. And we will have to do it without our once-teeming factories, our productive farmland, and our state-of-the-art research and development firms. The entire structure of our once-great nation will take many years to rebuild and the restoration of our reputation as a land of hope, opportunity, and compassion will take even longer. We may look forward to the year 2009 with hope but it will take many years and many good governments to heal the wounds of this war, win or lose.
It took two centuries to build this nation and, after eight years of ill-chosen leadership, it will take another century to restore it. Perhaps than we can say that we have “won”.
Mary Pitt is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
Mary Pitt is a septuagenarian Kansan, a free-thinker, and a warrior for truth and justice. Huzzahs and whiney complaints may be sent to email@example.com
As Congressmen and Senators, having felt the outrage of the American public at the conduct of the War of Choice, are pursuing the opportunity to keep their well-paying jobs in the upcoming election, more and more of them are announcing that they regret having voted to go to war. Their alibi is that they were the victims of faulty intelligence which caused them to misunderstand the situation. However, upon examination, it would appear that the pertinent intelligence which was faulty just may have been their own!
If little old ladies out here in the Great Fly-Over, without advanced degrees and with scant access to news sources were aware that all the “intelligence” which was spoon-fed to the public by this administration was nothing more than selective propaganda, then why was it so difficult for Congressmen and Senators to see through it? It did not take a rocket scientist to connect the September 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Center with the one which was perpetrated in 1993. Those bad guys were tried and securely locked away, but had threatened, to paraphrase Arnold Schwarzenegger, “We’ll be back!” Any body who was in public school from the thirties to the fifties would have been able tell them the difference between an act of war and an international crime.
Instead of using a police force or our vaunted “Special Operatives” to bring the miscreants to justice, there was a great rush to invade the nation where they had taken up residence. There was no reflection on the fact that the people responsible for this reprehensible act had been literally created by our own government, who had armed and trained them and sent them to Afghanistan to help repel the Soviet forces. We did not want the Soviets to conquer Afghanistan but we dared not send our own forces on pain of open warfare with the Soviets ourselves, so we sent proxies. However, once the Soviets had been put in their place, we simply left the soldiers of Al Qaida where they were rather than having them withdraw to their own native soil. And so, as could have been expected, they took over that small nation as their own and converted the people to their own radical faith.
As soon as it was thought that we had “saved” Afghanistan from Al-Qaida, the drum beat began that we should also “save” Iraq. We were told of Weapons of Mass Destruction, though the inspectors on the ground argued long and loudly that there were none to be found. We were reminded that Iraq “had” biological weapons that we had sold them while they were our allies in the war with Iraq and that Saddam had used them to put down a revolt among his own people. Meanwhile, the scientists were telling us that those biological specimens would have degraded into worthlessness in the ensuing time. In retrospect, it would seem that there was no lack of real intelligence. Anyone who was sentient and awake during the previous thirty years would have been sufficiently aware of these facts. and would have been able to filter the “faulty intelligence” in the light of them, much less those persons who had been in public service for much of that time.
Those same little old ladies out in the Great Middle were also cognizant of the fact that, according to our Constitution, only Congress is allowed to declare war and, having done so, to oversee the conduct of that war. Passing a measure that would allow the executive to do whatever he thought best is a poor cop-out, and the oversight was limited to briefing certain members of certain committees regarding what the administration wanted them to know and the bulk of Congress was left in the dark about what was really going on. Only when something like the Abu Ghraib photos leaked out did they realize that all was not going so well as they were being told. However, the same legislators who decry the “faulty intelligence” were willing to re-enact the hated Patriot Act and to allow the continuation of torture of “terror suspects” at the discretion of the President. Now they have added insult to injury by giving the president the power to declare any American citizen whose objections to his policies might rankle him the accusation of “fostering terrorism”, to suspend their Constitutional rights and to lock them up forever without family contact, attorney’s counsel, or the right to a fair and speedy trial.
Now we find ourselves bogged down in a foreign war which we cannot win and we cannot back out of and we are being hyped to enter into another against Iran, which the administration also views as a threat. The same type of “intelligence” is being given to the members of Congress and the same war drums are being pounded as many more nations are beefing up their defenses, not knowing who may be next. We have tried to get NATO to take over our “Afghanistan problem” but they agreed to accept the job of “peace keeping” only to find their forces falling in a real, live war. We can’t expect them to stay long and we will have to increase our presence there. Meanwhile, our sons, brothers, and fathers are being treated as virtual prisoners to the military, having their service extended and being recalled time after time, literally fighting until death or debilitating injury.
Our national treasury has been depleted many times over while our citizens are suffering privations due to the inflation of health and medications costs and stagnant income. People are losing their homes and their cars while the medical, insurance, and oil companies are making record profits as taxes are cut for the rich and the burden of paying for everything falls on the middle class. It is small wonder that the American people are finding “faulty intelligence” to be an inadequate excuse for our representatives in Congress to have allowed this to happen. What happened to all the smart people for whom we voted to represent us in Congress? Did they have an attack of total amnesia or is it something in the air conditioning in the congressional office buildings that prevents normal brain activity? For what reason did they suddenly find their memory gone and lose their common sense which should have told them that the “intelligence” which they were so carefully spoon-fed was simply improbable and highly unbelievable?
Perhaps it is time for us to assure that anybody who supported the beginning of this horrible war will spend an extended time working at a real job in their home territory and to learning the things that are important to the common people.. Perhaps we should withhold our vote for anybody who voted to support the President in his war aspirations and choose to send some other people to Congress who know and consider the problems and welfare of their electorate, with the mandate to restore the Constitution and the rule of law to our beleaguered nation. We must not excuse their misfeasance and malfeasance of office with the lame excuse of “faulty intelligence” but let them pay the price for their own faulty memory and lack of discrimination in differentiating between intelligence and propaganda.
Mary Pitt is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
Mary Pitt is a septuagenarian Kansan, a free-thinker, and a warrior for truth and justice. Huzzahs and whiny complaints may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
So Many Volunteering For Suicide…For What?
When someone is willing to give up his or her life to strike back at a perceived enemy for vengeance, we might write them off as just a loose nut who went over the edge. When either an organized group, or cells of radical believers in some religion or cause, begin recruiting numbers of individuals who allegedly are willing to blow themselves up the media labels them “terrorists” and that seems to explain their behavior, but in fact, it confuses the issue. We first have to define a terrorist, then we need to know what common bond these people have that enables them to willingly make the supreme sacrifice for their beliefs. For the general media, the answer is simple: label them “Islamic radicals” and that is all the explanation that is needed — the boys are headed for a grand afterlife with Allah.
Then there is a peculiar non sequitur about these “radical Islamists” in that none of them have been identified as coming from the countries which the US and its ally, the UK, have militarily or verbally attacked to spread democracy and freedom — e.g., Iraq, Iran or Syria. They come from Egypt, or they are British subjects, Arabians, and now presumably Pakistanis. If you think this is beginning to foul up the matrix of this “terrorism” game, you’re right. Even the world’s finest computers freeze at this strange code, and the human mind has to sound the TILT button.
Of further interest is that neither the US nor the UK have launched any counterstrikes against the native lands of these “terrorists” … whether it be Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt or Morocco. Or Libya .. remember Lockerbee!
Are there such radical Islamic bonds between individuals of the Arab world that folks are standing in line to become suicide bombers, willing to blow up the very airliners in which they are flying, to make a statement in behalf of their Arab or Islamic national friends, while the natives of those lands aren’t involved in the plots? There is something a bit abnormal about that line of thinking. Al-Qaida? Does it have a roster of suicide-prone radical Islamists who are waiting to find a way to blow up themselves and a few hundred assorted airline passengers on behalf of Palestinians, Lebanese and Iraqis?
Is the president of Iran being encouraged to step up his nuclear program by a few handfuls of Islamic extremists who pay the supreme price to let him know they’re with him, as they go on their way to join Allah?
Or does this whole outbreak of seemingly scheduled terror attacks simply point the finger, and the world’s eyes, at nations who are different from us and hence, need to be liberated and reindoctrinated? Just as folks are beginning to feel safe flying in aluminum tubes with heavy engines through unpredictable weather while they breathe recycled but not disinfected air where one can exhale tuberculosis but not smoke, we get yet another bomb scare. Maximum coverage is given to the stringent prohibitions, precautions, arrests, inconveniences, and military presence by “our side” while little to nearly nothing is said about the less than illustrious “terrorists” who allegedly would have done the deed had our side not caught them.
Of course, all these terrorists are really jealous of our “freedom” in the US and UK, and the American public hands more of their former freedoms over to the government for safekeeping … as in handing over the chickens to the fox to protect. Furthermore, they’re folks who are so zealous for their enslaved condition, they’re willing to die for it, while we “free” people cower at the very thought of death. (Keep the computer running, it’s beginning to make strange sounds from the score of an old Hitchcock movie.)
Now airline passengers to and from Heathrow Airport (which is being avoided by the airlines with greater intensity than it would if bubonic had been discovered there) are tossing their shampoo and hair mousse into the airport trash cans under the watchful eye of the police. So what has been accomplished?
1. Americans and perhaps Brits are being acclimated to the environment of police surveillance and presence in formerly quiet public places where people once took their children for an afternoon of watching the planes take off and land. It used to be advertised on Phoenix radio that parents could spend little to nothing for an entire afternoon with their children by taking them to the airport, that is, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. That ceased on September 11, 2001.
2. The US has invoked “Code Red” for the first time, after a lot of orange alerts.
3. Our leadership, if besieged by enough code red situations, will be “justified” in invoking martial law and suspending habeas corpus and all remaining particles of the Bill of Rights, so that we Americans can feel safe.
4. We’re always reminded that these foiled terrorists are Islamics while being informed that Islam is a religion of peace … which besmacks of doublespeak at the highest levels of leadership.
5. The obvious cure for all this terrorism will eventually be unveiled and it will be to unite the planet under one world government, with one world elite leadership under one great leader, and one amalgamated race of humans who have one world religion of spirituality. Thus, all being one, we will have unity, and we will not have dissent. (Dissenters will disappear as quickly as a bullet can travel or cyanide can kill.)
It isn’t amusing to me to visualize just how amused the Arab leaders must be at our panic in the streets and the failure of Americans in particular to defend their nation by throwing out the leaders under whose guidance all the events since Nine-Eleven have taken place. Oh yes, the documents were ready to be signed, the police were ready to be placed at their posts, the media were drooling for the next non-event with which to terrify the public, and otherwise normal folks are eager to surrender more freedoms for a safety no government can give. A real terrorist strikes without warning, and has a reason. Faux terrorists are caught so that what was prevented can never be proved, but is assumed as fact by government pronouncements and media coverage, particularly of events of the past.
I have observed that when all eyes are drawn to the concourses of airports, it is well to look down the halls of leadership’s house and find out which are the war rooms. What is going on while we’re distracted? If, IF the media would focus on some of those things about to come to pass, we might find out more about why we’re having our attention riveted on a non-event.
But, even if you are drawn to suspect that all is not well, you will be very, very careful to whom you say such things, perhaps only to your spouse or your parent, because they may be listening. They may have your computer tapped, also your phones and faxes. You put on your American flag lapel pin just as some others put on their mark of allegiance in 1933 Germany. It symbolizes your patriotism, your loyalty to this country, whatever it is and is becoming.
You still need your American flag on Memorial Day, however, to remember those who died and the freedom that is also among the dead.
Those who “hate us for our freedom” should in fact love us, or at least pity us, for the brainless fools we have become under a leadership of tyrants equal to the world’s worst. It isn’t that the American people are evil as a whole, at least no more so than other sin-infected humans, but we’re more deceived than most people about ourselves, our nation, and our leadership.
Some folks are indeed radicals, but it is doubtful that those religious fanatics make up an organized or even loosely affiliated cache of suicide bombers. Most of them are occupied fighting one another. We need to learn over again how to think, and figure out what makes sense even if we are afraid we will hate the answer.
And, we need to figure out what sign is referred to when we read “in hoc signo vinces.”
Dorothy Anne Seese is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
Dorothy Anne Seese is retired and lives in Sun City, Arizona. She majored in political science at UCLA in the mid-1950s. Visit her website at: The Flagship. She can be reached at: email@example.com
Battle of the Terrorists
Terrorism seems to be a growing industry, the United States and Israel call Hezbollah and Hamas terrorist organizations supported by evil countries like Iran and Syria. Hezbollah and its allies call Israel and the United States high-tech terrorists. The world watches as these terrorists get bloody in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, and the innocence become the victims of this mad bloodletting.
Terrorists are bullies, they like to hurt people for one reason or another, and they usually pick victims that cannot defend themselves, which fundamentally makes them cowards. There is very little difference between the bully in the sandbox, and the bullies that lead nations and terrorist organizations. They are utterly infantile who live in a perpetual state of fear, and have much innocent blood on their hands.
Terrorists create terrorists; Israel created Hamas to rival the PLO, Israel also inadvertently created Hezbollah which quickly became a violent counterbalance to Israel’s invasion and occupation of Lebanon in the 1980s. The United States helped create al-Qaida in Afghanistan; both regard each other as terrorists and evil doers. The Taliban was a direct result of American state sponsored terrorism. The United States has created terrorists in Iraq of one stripe or another when, like a true terrorist, the U.S. illegally invaded Iraq after erroneously accusing Iraq of having links to al-Qaida which the CIA once upon a time had real connections too.
What is the difference between a low-tech suicide bomber and a smart bomb? A few million dollars and a lot more collateral damage is the difference between the two, everything else is just a matter of semantics.
Hate and vengeance is what fuels the terrorist, especially in the Middle East, where a blood libel between the houses of Isaac and Ishmael has been broiling for thousands of years. Makes me wonder why Americans continue to allow themselves to be manipulated into interfering in this insane conflict.
Terrorists by their very nature ferment strife, and bloodshed, one atrocity after another in an endless circle of violence and counter-violence. They use religion, ideology, politics, and human emotions like envy, avarice, and hate, to manufacture more killers for their heroic struggle against evil, no matter how impossible that undertaking can be. Evil feeds on evil, which is how it continues to augment itself into humanity.
The United States was attacked on September 11th because in the field of foreign policy it acts and functions like a terrorist organization. Blowback is the inevitable result when a nation behaves like a terrorist; blowback is then used as another lubricant for the perpetual cauldron that the terrorist live in. Nations like individuals reap what it sows, take a good look at Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Palestine, and the United States, you will see the inevitable harvest in terror.
The United States and Canada have no real strategic interest to be involved in the insanity called the Middle East. The only reason the North Americans are involved to their own detriment is that a powerful and influential element has taken control of the body politic of each nation.
Prime Minister Harper’s government in Canada seems to think that a good conservative government means that you unconditionally support the state of Israel. Canadians need to dump this neocon as soon as possible, before Harper does considerable damage to Canada’s reputation as an honest broker in international relations.
Israeli interests have hijacked American foreign policy; a foreign power controls both political parties in the United States relegating the United States to the status of a banana republic. The world sees this as a matter of fact, by the time the American public realizes how far the handlers of the neoconservatives and their Christian fundamentalist lackeys have subverted American politics it will be to late.
Only a terrorist consistently allows violence to dictate behavior and delay attempts by the peacemakers to establish a ceasefire in Lebanon. Murderers and war criminals operate in the Middle East with impunity, they have done so for generations, and they want to maintain the madness until there is no one left to kill.
The blood lust in the land of Israel, Palestine, Mesopotamia, Persia is none of our business; anyone that tells you different has ulterior motives which undoubtedly are not in America’s best interest. Americans should not feel obliged to respond to the blood cry of terrorists, be it from Washington DC, or from any part of the disgusting Middle East.
It is somewhat satisfying to see the Bush crime syndicate face the hand of justice, although the probability of any of the pale-faced characters serving real hard time for high-crimes is not very good. Presidential pardons for the blood-soaked clowns that are indicted by federal prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald in the Valerie Plame case is most definitely in the making, for that is what crooked politicians in a fixed system do in the United States.
This perverse political culture in America is disappointing because despite any upcoming indictments, nothing will change, the damage has already been done, and the senseless unnecessary war that the War Party manufactured with cooked intelligence by the Vice President’s office and the Office of Special Plans will continue unabated.
The neocons were not alone in creating an atmosphere of deception and intrigue before the invasion of Iraq. The War Party had allies in the Democratic Party and in the MSM, they still do. The United States Congress proved to be nothing more that an elitist plaything when they gave the Bush administration “carte blanche” in invading a sovereign nation under false pretenses. Congress did not do their job; they are just as culpable in illegally sending American soldiers to war as the Bush administration is. Every member of Congress that voted for the Iraq war should be held accountable, and if there still was a sense of true justice in the United States, they should all be impeached for crimes against the American and Iraqi people. This of course will never happen.
Fear and a pack of lies is what the power elite sold to the American people with the complicit help from the “fourth branch of government” – the mainstream media. From the New York Times’ “WMD Bitch” Judith Miller, Fox “Fear Factor” leprechaun Bill O’Reilly, too “neocon demagogue” Michael Ledeen and the “embedded” journalists at the front, the MSM has once again proved to be nothing more than a propaganda machine for politicians and the government.
Iraq never presented a legitimate danger to the United States, how could they, after their military was decimated in the First Gulf War and the subsequent twelve year embargo, Iraq was effectively contained, and pre-invasion Iraq was a serious adversary too al-Qaida. There was no love lost between Saddam Hussein’s regime and Osama bin Laden.
The case for war as presented to the American public by the Bush administration, the United States Congress, and the mainstream media was fraudulent. It was a fraud from the outset, where a handful of neocon ideologues hijacked foreign policy and implemented a strategy to reshape the Middle East according to their utopian vision hatched-up in their “think tanks” long before September 11th.
It is a policy in geo-strategic preponderance which is immersed in sleaze, mendacity, and mass murder. That is the real reason for invading Iraq, not WMDs, not al-Qaida, not the proliferation of nuclear weapons to terror groups, if that was the case then the outing of Valerie Plame who’s job in the U.S. intelligence community was to track the proliferation of nuclear weapons to terror groups would not have made any sense if the struggle against terror networks and WMD was a real one. The investigation into who outed Valerie Plame is more vital to United States security than the Iraq war can ever be. United States security was compromised by the Bush administration in their illicit attempt to cover-up the use of illegitimate intelligence for the case for war against Iraq.
The power elite in Washington D.C. are part of a corrupt culture in triumphalism between perceived factions that ultimately is controlled by one ruling plutocracy. The fix is in, it has been since the civil war, there is presently one War Party controlling both political parties making a mockery of so-called democratic institutions within the United States.
So even if the gang of deceit is brought to temporary justice, even if I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Stephen Hadley, John Hannah, David Wurmser, Ari Fleischer are indicted for criminal conduct, very little will change in the field of domestic and foreign policy. As their mug shots are taken, like Tom Delay’s, they will have the smiles of contemptuous men who in the end believe they are greater than the “rule of law.” As they are fingerprinted, they are contemplating on how to subvert the country in the future, to get the flow of blood money back to their favorite coffers, and obtain their next fix in the aphrodisiac of corruptive power. After all, for the War Party it is the patriotic thing to do.
This news does not bode well for Tony Blair and the elites in not so Great Britain. It seems that homegrown terrorists are to blame for the London bombings; British subjects committed mass murder suicide against their own citizens.
Bush and Blair cannot pin this on evil doers from Iraq or Iran or Syria; it was British citizens that decided they hate the British government to the point of mass murdering their fellow citizens. The illegal foreign policy in aggressive war by the Bush and Blair governments has now created enemies from within.
The illegitimate “war on terror” has come full circle where the fellow next door might be the next terrorist. The oligarchy in Britain and the United States will use this new threat to further erode the basic freedoms that we once enjoyed, by increasing the capabilities of the State to monitor the daily movements of all citizens. The increased security will be of course for everyone’s safety and freedom, never mind that the policies by the bloodthirsty clowns in Washington and London are directly responsible for this new threat.
The illegal war by the Bush and Blair clans has now manufactured evil doers in their own countries, the future for the United States and Britain will be a violent one, where the endless circle of violence and counter violence drains the resources of each respective nation.
It is a shame, because the war on terror is really a blood libel between murderers and thieves, they feed off each other. This is a family feud between former friends, between former business partners and allies. The Bush clan and al-Qaida give each other their Raison d’ Etre, and they will reap what they sow, unfortunately it will be the simpletons that do all the dieing.
Russian Central Bank Switches to Euro-Dollar Basket in Targeting Ruble.
A couple of years ago I wrote a widely distributed article for Ether Zone titled: Currency Wars: Euro Vs Dollar. It was about the declining power of the greenback, and one of the important underlying reasons for the conquest of Iraq was in the defense of the once mighty dollar.
The power behind the American dollar is in its ability to buy and sell oil, it is also the worlds “Reserve Currency” which enables central banks of nations to defend its currencies against speculative trading by holding large reserves in American dollars. Iraq was the first oil-producing nation to convert to the Euro for the monetary exchange in the sale of its oil.
The EU was very much involved in this Iraqi switch, as I wrote in the article:
“so called old Europe has a devious hand in the Middle East where they used Iraq as a test case to undermine the dollar of its power to purchase oil. Indeed, this was one incredulous economic shot against the United States by the European Union which did not escape the attention of the Bush administration. It is seen by American elites as an attack on the dollars worldwide monetary hegemony which the United States has had for decades that could not go unchallenged.”
The American dollar is in decline, and it will never again be the world’s only reserve currency. Russia has signaled that it will gradually switch too the Euro, and China has also hinted that it will soon begin the conversion process. OPEC nations have also signaled that any more violent liberation of oil producing states by the United States will mark the beginning of their conversion to the Euro for the purchase and sale of their oil which would put the American dollar into a tailspin and rapid devaluation.
Make no mistake; Middle Eastern nations that are dumping the American dollar are doing so in retaliation to American military preponderance in the Middle East.
Iran is a target by the American plutocracy because it is switching to the Euro, the neoconservatives also see Iran as the main threat to Israel now that Iraq has been destroyed and liberated. Nuclear power in Iran is a secondary issue with the neocons, it is a comfortable smokescreen for them to use to shape public opinion. Fear is a good tool and the Bush clan know how to use it to their political advantage.
The erroneous “war on terror” will bankrupt the United States; it will mark the beginning in the decline of the last remaining superpower. What Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida did in Afghanistan in imersing the Soviets in a no-win quagmire which eventually bankrupted the Soviet empire, it is now also doing to the United States in Iraq and elsewhere. The Bush clan played right into bin Laden’s little trap.
Lecture given at the International Citizen’s Inquiry in Toronto 2004. Chossudovsky (professor of economics, University of Ottawa) reasserts the ‘facts’ surrounding 911, exposes the fabricated terror alerts issued by the US govt and shows how Al-Qaida are an important US intelligence asset and have been since 1979
In the past our politicians offered us dreams of a better world. Now they promise to protect us from nightmares.
The most frightening of these is the threat of an international terror network. But just as the dreams were not true, neither are these nightmares.Loading...
Broadcast BBC 2 10/20/04
Since September 11 Britain has been warned of the ‘inevitability’ of catastrophic terrorist attack. But has the danger been exaggerated? A major new TV documentary claims that the perceived threat is a politically driven fantasy – and al-Qaida a dark illusion. Andy Beckett reports