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ACTION ALERT: Emergency Protests on the day Bush Vetoes Supplemental Appropriations Bill!

April 30th, 2007 - by admin

The World Can’t Wait.org – 2007-04-30 00:44:26

http://www.worldcantwait.org

Congress’ Supplemental Appropriations Bill gives Bush $124 billion more for the Iraq war, with a timetable to begin withdrawing troops Oct. 1st. Bush is expected to veto this bill this Tuesday May 1st. MAKE YOUR PROTEST PLANS NOW!

The bill did not condemn the unjust war on Iraq. It took no real steps to end the occupation and bring the troops home from the region. Yet Bush plans to veto it, or any bill suggesting any pull-out date.

If the people do not act in protest, Bush’s veto will stand and Congress will go back to its business as usual, continuing the war, torture, detention without due process, more troops in Afghanistan and giving Bush a green light to attack Iran.

As long as Bush’s malicious hubris and Congress’ enabling complicity in endless war and Orwellian repression goes on – it goes on – in your name. It is time to bring all this to a halt! We call on all people of conscience to drop the convenience and cynicism of daily life in America — drop the complacency of waiting for change to fall from on high and take meaningful action to stop this war and to remove the regime that started it.

WHO WILL BE THE DECIDERS? YOU OR BUSH?

On the Day of Bush’s veto: At every college and high school campus, RALLY AT NOON and then MARCH to converge — downtown, at town centers. or at military recruiting stations for 5:00 pm RALLIES.

5:00 PM RALLY IN SAN FRANCISCO:
* If Bush’s veto is announced on TUESDAY MAY FIRST, rally at the San Francisco Federal Building.

* If the veto is announced any other day before or after May First, rally at Fifth & Market (Powell Street BART).

Bring pots and pans to bang on, noisemakers, everyone you know, and your sense of outrage and urgent responsibility for all the lives hanging in the balance.

Enough! The World Can’t Wait!
Drive Out the Bush Regime!
Impeach Bush for War Crimes!

IMPEACH THE WAR CRIMINALS °X NOW!
The Bush administration is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Bush and Cheney have lied their way into two wars of aggression, are spying in open violation of the law, and have sanctioned the use of torture. These are high crimes and misdemeanors that demand accountability.

It’s time to say NO to impunity for lying, spying, torture, and unending war!

• Next meeting: Impeachment Committee, World Can’t Wait (SF Bay Chapter)
Saturday, May 5th, 11 AM to 1 PM At Spuds Pizza in Berkeley, on Alcatraz and Adeline (at MLK) Everyone welcome °X for more info: 415-864-5153, or Email us: sf@worldcantwait.org

Washington DC: Voices of Conscience Call for Impeachment of Bush & Cheney

Last Wednesday in D.C., a distinguished group of elected officials, voices of conscience, actors and artists, and military families gathered outside the U.S. Capitol to call for the impeachment of Bush and Cheney. Speakers included Dennis Kucinich, Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Cindy Sheehan, World Can’t Wait Director Debra Sweet, John Nichols of The Nation, AfterDowningStreet.org co-founder David Swanson, and Washington state legislator Eric Oemig.

With debate sharpening between Congress and the administration over inclusion of withdrawal dates from Iraq in the Supplemental Spending Bill, this press conference continued the growing momentum against the Bush Administration.

Dennis Kucinich, who the day before filed an impeachment resolution against Vice President Cheney, declared that although the press claimed he is °ßalone in calling for impeachment,°® standing with the 100 gathered there at the Capitol, he was not alone — he is standing with the people for impeachment.

Speakers denounced the full array of crimes of the Bush Administration. As Chris Hedges said: “The President is guilty, in short, of what in legal circles is known as the ‘crime of aggression’. And, if we as citizens do not hold him accountable for these crimes, if we do not begin the process of impeachment, we will be complicit in the codification of a new world order, one that will have terrifying consequences.”

Statements in Support of the Impeachment of George Bush
(delivered at 4/25/07 Press Conference)

Debra Sweet: ” The whole disastrous direction of the Bush Regime must be repudiated, and Bush and Cheney must be removed from office. The political will of the people to bring the war and the Bush agenda to a stop must not be derailed by prattle about the °ßpolitical reality°® that all that is possible is what is already going on. That is nothing other than capitulation and accommodation to this politics of war, torture and theocracy.

At this moment, the rest of the world is looking at people in this country who are passive and waiting while people are being tortured and detained without due process; while Iraq under occupation is being torn apart, destroyed, and over a half million Iraqis lie dead; while the prescription for the military and political Iraq debacle is to feed the war machine more money and more troops; while the Bush administration seems to be moving towards attacking Iran, and every major presidential candidate has insisted that all military options are on the table against Iran; while bigotry becomes °ßentertainment°®; while a woman°¶s right over her own reproduction is in great peril; and while intolerance determines who can marry and who can not . . .

To those who say it is premature to raise the demand for impeachment now, we ask: how tolerable is the situation in Iraq to you — to allow it to continue for 2 more years? How tolerable is the build-up towards war with Iran? How long will you live with Guantanamo and torture carried out in your name? If now is not the time, then when will it be? If we do not demand impeachment and act to bring the Bush program to a halt, who will?”

Michael Berg: “George Bush is responsible for destabilizing a sovereign nation and allowing those in who killed my son, according to the FBI°¶s report of his death . . . I have forgiven George Bush, the other American politicians, and the actual murderer of my precious son, Nick. But forgiveness, I have learned, does not mean I must condone the acts, the sins, of these people. And, it does not mean that I let them off the hook . . . George Bush is responsible and deserves to be impeached, forced out of office, to pay (personal) reparations, and to spend the rest of his life in restorative justice service.”

Noam Chomsky: “The list of George W. Bush’s crimes is long and grim. Impeachment would be at least one small step towards paying the debt we owe to the victims of his years in power, and to those yet to suffer from what he has done. The April 25 call on the steps of the Capitol is an honorable and courageous effort to overcome the shame and disgrace he has brought to our country.”

Ramsey Clark: “Our focus must be on Congress, and the priorities of full troop withdrawal and the impeachment of President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other culpable officials within the Administration . . . President Bush and Vice President Cheney should be held accountable as it is proscribed in the Constitution, Article II, Section 4: The President, Vice President, and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office or impeachment for and conviction of.”

For more statements by Ariel Dorfman, Cindy Sheehan, Howard Zinn, Gore Vidal, Mark Ruffalo, and others, go to www.worldcantwait.org

Join the DRIVE OUT THE BUSH REGIME contingent in the
MAY DAY IMMIGRANT RIGHTS MARCH!

Other Protests
• Davis
Tuesday, May 1
UC Davis Campus, Memorial Union Patio
11-12:00 – Rally at MU patio with musicians and performers
11:30 am – Solidarity Walk Out. Congregate at MU patio
12:00 pm – March Davis Students Against War Resource
dsawresource@gmail.com
http://daviswiki.org/UCD_May_1

• Los Angeles
Tuesday, May 1
12:00 pm – March at the beginning of Olympic & Broadway
National May 1st Movement for Worker & Immigrant Rights
5274 West Pico Blvd. #203
Los Angeles CA 90019
(213) 995-0694 (voicemail)


High Crimes and Atrocities
HIGH CRIMES AND ATROCITIES is a 28 minute video which graphically depicts the illegal and immoral actions of the Bush administration. It is an excellent tool for house parties and public events, as we educate and organize for impeachment.

Lies and illegal war on Iraq, torture, warrantless wiretapping and shameless disregard of the Constitution- every day the list of crimes and atrocities committed by the Bush administration grows longer. But even as our Representatives in congress acquiesce, the grassroots movement toward impeachment is constantly gaining strength. This new video documents that movement and details specific offenses.

The story is told with footage and images from a wide variety of sources: exclusive scenes of rallies and protests, powerful shots from Iraq and Guantanamo, public testimony from government officials, interviews with soldiers and citizens. Honest and hard-hitting, °•High Crimes’ contrasts the cold and depressing reality of the criminals in the White House with the inspirational and vibrant spirit of the opposition.

The trailer can be viewed at

The full video is available for $15, and can be ordered at www.impeachBush-Cheney.com

Donations are solicited, as our next video, CARNIVAL OF HORRORS, is about finished, and we are continuing to document both the impeachable offenses of Bush and Cheney, and the growing impeachment movement. Buying footage from the networks is expensive, but necessary in order to get shots of public speeches, so please give generously.

Checks should be made out to: Paradise Cove Productions
406 41st St., Oakland CA 94609

This Wall Is their Grave

April 30th, 2007 - by admin

Statement by The BRussells Tribunal Committee – 2007-04-30 00:36:45

http://www.brusselstribunal.org/Wall.htm

(25 April 2007) — Plans for Al-Adhamiyah confirm that the US occupation and its puppets in Iraq can build nothing but open-air prisons. It will fail

No military strategy can impose on the Iraqi people an occupation it overwhelmingly refuses. Its resistance is national and continues

What kind of government walls-in its own people? One desperate and illegitimate, tied to the fate of a defeated occupation

The latest US ploy to subjugate Baghdad — exemplified in plans to wall-in the district of Al-Adhamiyah — reveals in clarity the Great Lie of the US-led occupation of Iraq. This is nothing more than the implementation of apartheid and sectarianism by a foreign military police state, aimed to break the will of Iraqis who refuse to cede their country, its resources and future to foreign powers and their local lackeys.

Neither this tactic nor others will defeat the heroic resistance of the Iraqi people, which is borne both of situation and history, culture and progress. Sectarianism and apartheid cannot break the geopolitical unity of Iraq, which is a historical, social, economic and cultural reality.

The writing is already on the wall: the US-led occupation is bankrupt, morally, politically, economically and militarily; Maliki’s puppet government exposed as the desperate, mercenary, sectarian, seditious, incompetent, corrupt and backward cabal that it is.

Apartheid, Not Protection
While US troops and contractors work in haste by night, and under military cover, to wall-in “selected” neighbourhoods in Baghdad, Maliki says one thing and his advisors another. Confronted by the ignominy of the similarity between the barricades his government shunts the Iraqi people behind and the vast Zionist offensive fortification splitting occupied Palestine, Maliki backtracked, saying there are “other ways to protect” Baghdad.

But these walls — vast concrete blocks that the US occupation is manufacturing at a rate of 2000 per week — continue to be constructed and have nothing to do with protection and everything to do with instituting a sectarian division of Baghdad ahead of plans to divide the whole of Iraq along sectarian lines.

By plain logic, when the occupation builds barriers in Iraq it imposes the existence of sectarian or ethnic differences. This sectarianism was brought with the US occupation and is a keystone of its strategy. That Baghdad and Iraq continue to be united in the heart of the population is a defeat for the occupation. Walls are imposed to break this unity, while at the same time they are proof of the failure and despair of the occupation and its puppets.

Not only Immoral,
But Illegal under International Law

The option of general imprisonment is not a new strategy, nor limited to Al-Adhamiyah. Al-Dawra, Al-Ghazaliyah, Al-Amiriya, Al-Amel and Al- Adl — all in Baghdad — are among 10-30 other Baghdad neighbourhoods slated to be sealed to the outside world, joining Tel Afar, Fallujah, Al-Qaim, Haditha, Samarra, Hit, Al-Khalidiyah, Yathreb and Al-Ratba as besieged “gated communities”, leaving hundreds of thousands of people under de facto house arrest and whole cities, towns and districts in de facto solitary confinement.

“Public order” and the exigencies of “security” cannot be used as justification for ghettoising whole neighbourhoods, towns and cities when the US-led invasion of Iraq was illegal, the subsequent occupation illegal, the puppet government but a furtherance of those illegalities, and current US military tactics but an attempt to quash the legal resistance of Iraqis to colonialism, occupation and aggression in violation of their right to self-determination.[i]

International humanitarian and human rights law prohibits collective punishment, mass civilian imprisonment, and grave violations of rights to freedom of movement.[ii] Occupying powers are also prohibited from engineering demographic changes in occupied countries under the laws of war. Forcible division of the population of Iraq — whether nationally or locally — is a war crime.[iii]

Plans for Al-Adhamiyah reveal other more nefarious aims common to plans to wall-in other Baghdad communities: Al-Adhamiyah is a historic bastion of culture, science, progress, and resistance to colonialism and imperialism. It is a centre of the national sentiment from which has emerged a sustained popular resistance to occupation. Walling-in Al-Adhamiyah is prelude to a wave of assassinations, mass violations of human rights, and political ethnic cleansing.

Stop the Walls; Stop the Occupation!
Despite four years of brutal military aggression, the United States refuses to understand that by definition the Iraqi resistance is the entire Iraqi population resisting occupation. This desperate bid to create ghettos that can be cleansed of that legal resistance is assured to fail, short of complete annihilation of the entire resisting national population.

With polls reporting that over 80 per cent of Iraqis refuse the occupation, the US and its sectarian puppets will have to pacify, imprison or kill over 18 million Iraqis to succeed. America’s destiny in Iraq is thus a destiny of being rejected. The US occupation should accept its defeat and get out.

Every past attempt to ghettoise, wall-in or collectively imprison a population — from Warsaw to Vietnam and Algeria, through South Africa and occupied Palestine — has failed morally and militarily. US plans for Al-Adhamiyah, and indeed the entirety of Iraq, will likewise end up in the rubbish bin of history.

We call on people of integrity and conscience — workers, lawyers, parliamentarians, syndicates, activists, militants and practitioners — to raise their voices in protest, disgust and action:

Stop the military funding. Stop the walls. Stop the torture. Stop the rapes. Stop the assassinations. Stop the plunder. Stop the lies. Stop the impunity. Stop the illegalities. Stop the occupation. Recognise the resistance!


Walls of Occupation Are Violations of International Law

[i] The principle of self-determination of peoples is enshrined in the United Nations Charter and reaffirmed by UN General Assembly Resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970, pursuant to which “Every State has the duty to refrain from any forcible action which deprives peoples referred to [in that resolution] … of their right to self- determination.”

Article 1 common to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights reaffirms the right of all peoples to self-determination, and lays upon state parties the obligation to promote the realization of that right and to respect it, in conformity with the provisions of the UN Charter.

The Commission on Human Rights has routinely reaffirmed the legitimacy of struggling against occupation by all available means, including armed struggle (CHR Resolution No. 3 XXXV, 21 February 1979 and CHR Resolution No. 1989/19, 6 March 1989). Explicitly, UN General Assembly Resolution 37/43, adopted 3 December 1982:
“Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, including armed struggle.”
(See also UN General Assembly Resolutions 1514, 3070, 3103, 3246, 3328, 3382, 3421, 3481, 31/91, 32/42 and 32/154).

Article 1, paragraph 4 of the 1st Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, 1977, considers self-determination struggles as international armed conflict situations. The Geneva Declaration on Terrorism states:

“As repeatedly recognized by the United Nations General Assembly, peoples who are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination have the right to use force to accomplish their objectives within the framework of international humanitarian law. Such lawful uses of force must not be confused with acts of international terrorism.”

In the exercise of their right to self-determination, peoples under colonial and alien domination have the right “to struggle … and to seek and receive support, in accordance with the principles of the Charter” and in conformity with the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States.

It is in these terms that Article 7 of the Definition of Aggression (General Assembly Resolution 3314 (XXIX) of 14 December 1974) recognizes the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples under colonial or alien domination. See also Only Resistance is Legal, by Hana Al Bayaty, Abdul Ilah Albayaty and Ian Douglas (05 October 2006).

[ii] On the prohibition of collective punishment, see Article 50 of The Hague IV Regulations, 1907: “No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly and severally responsible”; Article 33, The Fourth Geneva Convention, 1949: “Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited”; and Article 51, the 1st Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, 1977.

On freedom of movement, Article 12, paragraph 1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides that: “Everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence.”

US plans to construct “gated communities” would also impede the exercise by Iraqis of the right to work, to health, to education and to an adequate standard of living as proclaimed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

[iii] The construction of walled-in districts and their associated regimes, by contributing to demographic changes in Iraq and potentially entrapping protected persons in dangerous locations, contravene Article 49, paragraphs 1 and 5 of The Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in the Time of War, 1949, and as such — as violations of the laws of war — constitute war crimes.

• For information contact: info@brusselstribunal.org
The BRussells Tribunal Committee http://brusselstribunal.org

Political Loyalties Being Rebuilt in Lebanon

April 30th, 2007 - by admin

Dahr Jamail / Inter Press Service – 2007-04-30 00:35:41

http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=37498

AITA ECH CHAAB (April 26, 2007S) — People in this southern Lebanese village are rebuilding their destroyed houses with renewed vigour. And, with renewed loyalties to a combination of Hezbollah, Qatar and Iran.

This village of about 3,000 less than a kilometre from the heavily guarded border with Israel was one of the first places bombed by Israeli warplanes during the war last summer. Residents here grow tobacco and work on their small farms.

The Hezbollah raid in which two Israeli soldiers were detained took place nearby. The village was hammered by incessant bombings by Israeli warplanes throughout the conflict.

But rather than turn people away from Hezbollah, the attacks seem to have made residents fierce supporters of the political group, now providing some of the only reconstruction assistance.

“The sound of the bombs, the warplanes, the drones was relentless for us,” Fatima Ridda, a mother of 11 whose husband was killed in an Israeli rocket attack told IPS, as UN helicopters buzzed overhead. “Now Hezbollah, Iran, and Qatar are the only people helping us try to rebuild our lives. Our own government will do nothing.”

Hezbollah members distributed 12,000 dollars to each family whose houses suffered damage during the war, to help them with reconstruction.

Further undercutting the Israeli-U.S. hopes that the war would turn Lebanese people against Hezbollah, the political gridlock between Hezbollah and the U.S.-backed Lebanese government led by Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has motivated people to support those helping them — which means Hezbollah, Iran and Qatar.

To that extent people are also turning against the government. And this further strengthens Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and the others seen as helping people.

“I love Iran for helping us so much. Our own state has done nothing for us,” Abed Ridda, a businessman who works in Saudi Arabia but lives in the town told IPS. “Qatar is also helping us rebuild, so of course we love the people who are helping us.”

Qatar, a Sunni Gulf state that maintains trade relations with Israel, and Iran, have both been financing reconstruction projects across much of southern Lebanon.

Immediately after the war last July, Qatar took responsibility for rebuilding four largely Hezbollah-supporting towns in southern Lebanon — Khiam, Ait Ech Chaab, Bint Jbail and Ainata.

By the end of January the Qataris had handed out more than 5,000 compensation cheques averaging about 6,000 dollars each in the four towns. That is as much as the total U.S. aid offer of 30 million dollars. At least two further instalments from Qatar are planned.

Qatar has also repaired hospitals, schools and nearly 400 religious buildings and mosques.

Iranian money and expertise has overseen the repair or reconstruction of 60 schools across Lebanon, with work planned on another 100. Iran has pledged more than 112 million dollars to help the south rebuild.

Hussam Khoshnevis, head of the Iranian mission to aid reconstruction of Lebanon, told reporters recently that four hospitals in a list of 22, and 30 places of worship including 10 churches and some Sunni mosques have been repaired.

Electricity has been restored to 60 villages in the south with Iranian aid, and ten major bridges have been rebuilt. Iranian engineers are also overseeing the repair of all of Lebanon’s damaged roads.

The relief work has strengthened allegiances to these opponents of Israel and the U.S.

“Was it reasonable to see (Prime Minister Fouad) Siniora sitting with Condoleeza Rice when Israel is bombing us with U.S. bombs,” Abed Ridda said to IPS, referring to the visit the U.S. Secretary of State made to Beirut during the war. The move infuriated most Lebanese across the south.

“We rely on Hezbollah and these other countries who are helping us now because it’s all we have,” Said Abu Khalil, an unemployed construction worker injured by bomb sharpnel during the war told IPS. “And we rely on Hezbollah to protect us again from the next Israeli aggression, because our own government can’t and won’t do that job.”

© Dahr_Jamail. 2007. www.dahrjamail.com

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Reporter Apologizes to Israel’s PM for Quote about Attacking Iran

April 30th, 2007 - by admin

Gil Yaron & Focus – 2007-04-30 00:31:36

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3393010,00.html

Olmert: Missile Raid Would Hit Iran Nuclear Plans
Gil Yaron / Focus

(April 28, 2007) – Isreal’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tells Germany’s Focus magazine that the Islamic Republic’s disputed nuclear program could be severely damaged by firing 1,000 cruise missiles in 10-day attack. ‘Nobody is ruling military action out,’ he says.
Note: The Prime Mininster’s Office now says the interview never took place [See story below.]
Full Story

Focus Reporter Apologizes to Israel’s PM

(April 28, 2007) — Reporter Amir Taheri apologizes to Olmert’s spokeswoman for publication of interview on German magazine’s website that attributed to PM threatening statements against Iran. Journalist says he did not write interview, asks editors to remove story from site.

Reporter Amir Taheri told the prime minister’s spokeswoman that an interview with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert published under his name on German magazine Focus‘ website Saturday had not been written by him.

Taheri said that the material published was not what he had passed to the magazine, and that he had asked the editors to remove the story from the site. “I apologize to you,” he told the spokeswoman, Miri Eisin.

Earlier, the magazine quoted Olmert as saying that Iran’s disputed nuclear program could be severely hit by firing 1,000 cruise missiles in a 10-day attack. The magazine later changed the story’s aggressive headline, “Israel threaten Iran,” to “Israel toughens its tone against Iran.”

Focus officials have also admitted that “the impression that was created as if Olmert said that there was an operative plan to strike was exaggerated, and it is now clear that Olmert’s statements were not aimed as a threat on Iran.”

However, in a conversation with Ynet the editors stood by their initial reports and insisted that the text of the interview circulated in the media was correct and will be published tomorrow.

Taken Out of Context
An examination of the transcript of Olmert’s conversation with the reporter revealed that the PM’s perceived aggressiveness in the interview resulted from the fact that fine nuances of his English statements were “lost in translation.”

In the original version of the interview in English, Olmert did mention – albeit in passing – the option of striking Iran, claiming that “no one has ever ruled it out.” However, he stressed that the international community should focus on sanctions and diplomatic pressure on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The prime minister also referred to the dangers of an attack on Iran, and stated that he would not want to turn the whole Iranian people into Israel’s enemy.

“Such an operation would turn other Muslim countries against us and cause even bigger problems,” Olmert added and explained that Israel had no plans to attack.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Saturday that the interview with Focus never took place. “The statements published are an utter lie and were never said… This cynical abuse of an invitation for a background conversation, which led to the publication of a false report,” the office stated.

However, sources at the magazine insisted that their reporter had met with Olmert for an hour and-a-half last Wednesday.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Turkey’s Democracy Faces Military Crisis

April 29th, 2007 - by admin

Helena Smith and Ned Temko / The Observer – 2007-04-29 00:48:15

ttp://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,2067955,00.html

ANKARA (April 29, 2007) — Turkey came under mounting pressure from the European Union last night to rein in the influence of its generals, after the country’s powerful pro-secular military threatened to intervene in the Islamic-oriented government amid growing turmoil over the election of a new President.

Olli Rehn, the European Union enlargement commissioner, who has been a keen supporter of Ankara’s eventual accession to the bloc, warned the military to stay out of politics, saying the election was a ‘test case’ for the Turkish military’s respect for democracy.

Rehn issued the salvo after Turkey’s general staff weighed in on the dispute, saying they would not flinch at intervention if it meant upholding the Muslim state’s cherished secular values.

The country’s secular elite has voiced grave concerns over the government’s choice of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as a presidential candidate, given the politician’s Islamist beliefs — his wife and daughter wear the headscarf.

‘The Chief of the General Staff is answerable to the Prime Minister,’ declared Cemil Cicek, justice Minister in the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is a former Islamist but has pledged his commitment to Turkey’s secular political system. Military intervention would be ‘inconceivable in a democratic state,’ Cicek said.

Within hours of Gul’s failure to win enough votes in a first round of balloting on Friday, the military, which has staged four coups in the past 50 years, posted a statement on its website invoking its role as defender of the country’s secular traditions as laid out by Turkey’s modern soldier-statesman founder, Mustafa Ataturk.

‘In recent days, the problem during the presidential election has focused on secularism discussions,’ the statement said. ‘This situation has been anxiously followed by the Turkish armed forces. The Turkish armed forces maintains its firm determination to carry out its clearly specified duties to protect these principles and has absolute loyalty and belief in this determination.’

The statement then went on to list the ruling AK party’s perceived violations of secularism, including the fact that some headmasters had been allowed to order the celebration of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.

The military made the announcement after the secular opposition appealed to the state’s constitutional court to cancel the election.

Many fear that if elected, Gul would be in a position to do away with the checks and balances built into system by eroding the secular nature of the courts and other autonomous bodies and appointing Islamic-oriented candidates to powerful civil service positions.

Recently, hundreds of thousands demonstrated against the prospect of the Prime Minister running in the election, whose second round takes place this week.

According to Professor Ahmet Evin, who teaches political science at Istanbul’s Sabanci University: ‘People fear that if someone who is suspected of having Islamist leanings takes control of the post, it will allow the AK party to move ahead on its Islamist agenda.’

A former firebrand, Erdogan has fiercely denied that he has a hidden agenda, but critics say his actions often speak louder than words.

Since assuming office nearly five years ago, he has publicly endorsed the lifting of restrictions on women wearing Islamic-style headscarves in government offices and schools, attempted to outlaw adultery and approved of alcohol bans by AK party-run municipalities.

In the first round of the election last week, Gul failed to reach the two-thirds vote he needed to win. A second vote is scheduled for Wednesday, when he will need a simple majority.

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2007

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Fill Up the B-52 with Synthetic Fuel

April 29th, 2007 - by admin

Sohbet Karbuz / karbuz.blogspot.com – 2007-04-29 00:43:23

http://karbuz.blogspot.com/2007/02/fill-up-b-52-with-synthetic-fuel.html

(February 6, 2007) — The YB-52 (serial No. 49-0231) took off for the first time on April 15, 1952 from the Boeing Company Field in Seattle. [1]

Designed in 1948, this long-range heavy bomber was originally intended as an atomic-bomb carrier capable of reaching the Soviet Union. But it has proved highly adaptable and has remained in service as a conventional bomber, cruise-missile carrier, and maritime reconnaissance platform. Its adaptability to different mission capabilities, ability to accommodate different bomb loads made it a legend, even though its pilots called it BUFF (Big Ugly Fat Fellow).

Over the years, the B-52 Stratofortress has been modified to incorporate ever more advanced weaponry with immense weight as well as global positioning and electro-optical viewing systems.

B-52 Runs on Synthetic Fuel Blend
The first B-52 flight using a synthetic fuel-blend fuel occurred September 19, 2006 at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The fuel being tested was a 50/50 blend of traditional crude-oil based jet fuel (JP-8) and a synthetic liquid [2] made from natural gas (which eventually will be refined from coal mined in the US. At least it is told so, and the proposed CTL bill promotes that).

For safety reasons only two of the eight engines were allowed to use the synfuel-blend. By the way, the B-52 is reported to have no need for any adaptations to its engines or fuel system to accommodate the test fuel. [3]

On December 15, 2006 a B-52 has flown [4] using that synfuel blend as the only fuel on board, again in Edwards Air Force Base. No discernible difference between flying with JP-8 and synfuel is reported after the six-hour flight.

The next test phase (ongoing) will be cold-weather testing to determine how well the synfuel-blend performs in extreme weather conditions. [5] [at cold temperatures].

It’s Getting Serious
The synthetic fuel tested is produced by Syntroleum which operates a small plant that can produce 70 barrels a day. Gary Gamino of Syntroleum said the company would not know the actual cost of the fuel until a full-scale production plant was built. But he added that the business could achieve acceptable returns if crude oil prices were higher than $50 a barrel. Note that the Air Force paid about $20 a gallon for the prototype fuel. [6]

Syntroleum, a leader in Fischer-Tropsch (FT) technology, announced on 27 June 2006 that it has signed a contract to deliver 100,000 gallons of FT synthetic fuel to DoD. The fuel will be used for research and development and performance testing of military turbine applications, highlighted by a B-52 flight demo. The DoD seeks up to 200 million gallons of alternative synthetic aviation fuel [7] by 2008 and wants to help create a commercial market for the fuel.

The Air Force has already requested the assistance of the Defense Energy Support Center, in surveying industry to identify market conditions needed to produce that amount beginning in 2008. In facts, Air Force intends to have half of its aviation fuel come from domestically supplied alternative fuel sources by 2016 (through synthetic fuels).

Money, Money, Money
Even though fuel cost is a serious concern than fuel availability, the military will always get whatever oil it needs. That is why I guess for the military cost comes first. At least I thought so…

The B-52 guzzles about 46,000 gallons in a single mission, if it consumes all its fuel. Today, that’s $106,000 a fill-up (based on 30 January 2007 DESC standard price). If you fill up the tanks with 50% JP8 and 50% synthetic fuel, then you it costs $300,000. Also note that B-52 would fly less hours with synfuel blend than conventional JP-8.

This whole story reminds me of poetic phrase of Muhammad Ali: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Notes:
[1] Development of the B-52: The Wright Field Story by Lori S. Tagg. History Office, Aeronautical Systems Center, Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio 45433, 2004. See also Walter J. Boyne, The B-52 Story, Air University Review, November-December 1982.

[2] Synthetic fuel or synfuel.

[3] Laura M. Colarusso, Alternative fuels in jets’ future:
Officials say move may reduce costs, limit reliance on foreign oil sources, Times, 22 May 2006.

[4] Piloted by a two-star general.

[5] B-52 flight uses synthetic fuel in all eight engines, Air Force Link news. 15 December 2006.

[6] Peter Pae, Air Force to Try Out a New Kind of Jet Fuel, Los Angeles Times, September 15, 2006.

[7] The Air Force envisions purchasing up to 100 million gallons and the Navy another 100 million gallons.

Posted in accordance with title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

US Military Oil Pains

April 29th, 2007 - by admin

Sohbet Karbuz / Energy Bulletin – 2007-04-29 00:39:28

http://www.energybulletin.net/26194.html

(February 17, 2007) — As of September 30, 2005 the US Air Force had 5,986 aircraft in service. (1)

At the beginning of 2006 the US Navy had 285 combat and support ships, and around 4,000 operational aircraft (planes and helicopters). (2)

At the end of 2005, the US Army had a combat vehicle fleet of approximately 28,000 armored vehicles (tracked vehicles such as Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles)(3). Besides those the Army and the Marine corps have tactical wheeled vehicles such as 140,000 High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles. The US Army has also over 4,000 combat helicopters and several hundred fixed wing aircraft.

Add all those also 187,493 fleet vehicles (4) (passenger cars, busses, light trucks etc) the US Department of Defense (DOD) uses.

The issue is that except for 80 nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers, almost all military fleet (including the ones that will be joining in the next decade) run on oil.

Yes, the US military is completely addicted to oil. Unsurprisingly, its oil consumption for aircraft, ships, ground vehicles and facilities makes the Pentagon the single largest oil consumer in the world. By the way, according to the 2006 CIA World Factbook rankings there are only 35 countries (out of 210) in the world that consume more oil per day than the Pentagon.

An interesting point is that even though there are only a few data sources, how much oil the Pentagon really consumes is still kind of puzzle, at least to me.(5)

According to recently released “Annual Energy Management Report”, in Fiscal Year 2006 the Pentagon consumed 320,000 barrels per day of site delivered oil, compared to about 360,000 barrels per day in 2005. Note that these and all other official figures do not include fuel obtained at no cost overseas(6), fuel consumed by contractors(7), fuel consumed in some leased and privatized facilities, and not last but least oil consumed by certain leased and rented fleet vehicles.

While the official figures for military oil consumption went down in 2006, the costs went to the sky. In 2005 DoD had spent slightly over $8.5 billion for oil but this figure reached $17 billion in 2006. Note that oil accounts for 85% of the DoD’s $20 billion energy consumption costs in 2006.

Fortunately at least the cost part of US military oil consumption has recently been getting attention. For example, Senator Dick Lugar’s website contains a section on “Oil and the Military.”(8) In there it is stated that “Some of the energy related costs to the military include protecting shipping lanes, ports, and fuel delivery convoys, as well as transporting the fuel that provides power at military bases. In total, the Department of Defense estimates that each $10 per barrel increase in oil prices costs the U.S. military an additional $1.3 billion dollars.”

I don’t know what that $1.3 billion really contains but certainly not the items listed. Because a) “every 10 dollar increase in the price of a barrel of oil costs the United States Air Force $600 million” (9) only, b) the US military [in 2003] “allocated $49.1 billion annually to maintaining the capability to assure the flow of oil from the Persian Gulf,” (10), & c) DESC alone spends $1 million per day just for transporting the fuel to delivery point (11), among others.

Since oil is a vital strategic commodity and since “DOD’s consumption of oil represents the highest priority of all uses, there will be no fundamental limits to DOD’s fuel supply for many, many decades.”(12) However, once the global peak is reached things will get a bit complicated. In best case oil costs will bite the military budget harder.

The good news is that the Pentagon is getting aware of its energy problem and working towards finding solutions. For instance, the Department of Defense is committed to achieving the energy reduction goals set forth in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Executive Order 13123 “Greening the Government through Efficient Energy Management,” and the new (January 2007) Executive Order 13423 “Strengthening Federal Environmental, Energy, and Transportation Management.” To that end several efforts are underway in an increasing pace and aggressiveness.

The bad news is that most of those efforts concentrate mostly on reducing energy use in buildings and facilities, whose share in total DOD energy consumption is 25%, whereas mobility energy use accounts for 75%.

In buildings and facilities it is electricity that accounts for almost half of the total energy use. Oil accounts for only 12%. Overall, however, with its 77% share oil is the major fuel consumed by DOD in 2006. Amongst the oil types, jet fuel followed by distillate and heavy fuel oil make up the majority.

Searching for solutions, developing alternative fuels, working towards mitigation, reducing energy costs, increasing renewable power supplies, researching new power transmission, advanced battery as well as propulsion technologies, decreasing energy dependency, and increasing energy security etc are surely nice objectives that should be pursued and promoted. But with moderation and by not forgetting the most effective tools such as efficiency, conservation and change in habits.

More importantly, DoD should get its priorities right for its energy strategy (if there exists any) and should concentrate its efforts more on where the biggest pain is. That pain is oil. The time has come to wake up because Peak Oil is around the corner and now time is oil.

Footnotes

1 2006 US Air Force Almanac.

2 2006 US Navy Almanac.

3 The Army’s Future Combat Systems Program and Alternatives. Congressional Budget Office, the United States Congress. August 2006.

4 Including commercially and GSA leased vehicles, but excluding vehicles leased less than 60 days. General Services Administration, Federal Fleet Report – Fiscal Year 2006.

5 The core official data sources are: Department of Defense’s annual energy management report; Federal Energy Management Program’s annual report to Congress; EIA/DOE’s Annual Energy Review; and DoD Defense Energy Support Center’s Factbook. The former three publications are more or less consistent with each other (after some modifications such as adding fleet vehicle oil consumption to non-fleet vehicles etc). But the latter publication is the most important one, not an easy read though.

6 For example Kuwait supplied US military in Iraq with “fuel at no cost. Later, the Kuwaitis sought nominal payment for fuel supplied to US forces remaining in Iraq after Saddam’s ouster.” Agence France Presse, “Kuwait and U.S. Locked in Dispute Over Fuel Payment,” Arab News, March 17, 2005.

7 Note that there are 100,000 contractors working for the Pentagon in Iraq.

8 The charts on Senator’s site need an update.

9 Major Gen Frank R. Faykes, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force, for Financial Management, Comptroller, “Inside the Air Force Budget”, Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition, Washington, D.C., September 26, 2006.

10 Testimony of Milton R. Copulos, President of National Defense Council Foundation, before the Senate Foreign relations Committee, March 30, 2006.

11 Defense Energy Support Center, Fact Book FY2005.

12 More Capable Warfighting Through Reduced Fuel Burden, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, The Defense Science Board Task Force on Improving Fuel Efficiency of Weapons Platforms, January 2001.

See also the 6 February post of Sohbet’s blog Fill up the B-52 with Synthetic Fuel, about the progress of US Air Force trials with synthetic aviation fuel – and no, its not cheaper. -LJ

Dry Run’ Attack Forces Prince Harry Retreat

April 29th, 2007 - by admin

Defence Editor Michael Evans, and James Hider / The Times Online – 2007-04-29 00:25:39

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1712049.ece

LONDON & BAGHDAD (April 27, 2007) — Army chiefs fear that a fatal attack on two British soldiers in Iraq last week was a dry run for an attempt on Prince Harry’s life, The Times has learnt.

The attack was made on a type of vehicle that the Prince will use, and took place in a part of the country where he is due to be deployed as early as next month. The two died when their Scimitar reconnaissance vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb – the first time that British soldiers had been killed in a Scimitar as a result of enemy action.
The Army fears that extremists deliberately chose the vehicle knowing that the Prince is a troop leader for a Scimitar-equipped unit.

Prince Harry faces a kidnap threat from insurgents, who have become active this month even within bases used by the British Army in southern Iraq. Security has been tightened at Camp Sparrowhawk, a base in Maysan Province used by reconnaissance units such as Prince Harry’s.

British soldiers are under orders not to walk around the Iraqi-run base for fear of kidnapping, either by insurgents who have infiltrated Iraqi ranks, or by Iraqi soldiers who are tempted by the possibility of ransom.

A British commanding officer at the base also said that insurgents were “trying out new devices” against his troops. He added that his men were often being tracked by militias using mobile phones and by observers on motorbikes.

The eleventh-hour review about sending Prince Harry to the area follows an alarming rise in attacks this year. Of the 17 British personnel to be killed in 2007, 11 died in the last month. Prince Harry, 22, has been trained to take command of four Scimitars when his unit, A Squadron The Blues and Royals, part of the Household Cavalry, is sent to Iraq.

The two soldiers who died in last week’s attack were Corporal Ben Leaning, 24, and Trooper Kristen Turton, 28, both from The Queen’s Royal Lancers. Their bodies were repatriated to Britain yesterday. Another soldier was very seriously wounded.
The attack has also raised further concerns that the presence of Prince Harry might increase the risk of casualties during his six-month deployment.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the Army who made the decision to send Prince Harry to Iraq after consultation with Buckingham Palace and Clarence House, will make the final judgment. He has about a week to decide whether to stick to his original decision or to keep him at home.

The Ministry of Defence and royal sources said that at present Prince Harry was still bound for Iraq, unless General Dannatt changed his mind.

Defence sources said that every aspect of Prince Harry’s deployment was being reassessed, and that the military and intelligence services in Iraq had been asked urgently to give their views.

They added that General Dannatt wanted to know if the insurgents had acquired a greater capability to attack British troops, if there would be a higher risk of casualties with the Prince serving as an officer, and if security conditions had significantly deteriorated since the earlier decision in February.

One of the key judgments is whether Prince Harry can do the job for which he is trained without putting himself and his men at an unacceptable risk. Defence sources said that the Prince – known in the Army as 2nd Lieutenant (Cornet) Wales – would not be spending all his time in a Scimitar vehicle carrying out operations.

“Like any other officer of his rank, he will also be required to do desk work, either as a watch-keeper or planning missions, so he will spend some of his time back at base anyway,” one source said.

However, the judgment is that there is no point in sending Prince Harry to do a permanent desk job for six months when he has trained to command 11 men as a troop leader in a reconnaissance role.

Even sitting in a base has become risky as every location where British soldiers are serving comes under fire almost daily. “Nowhere is perfectly safe in Iraq,” one defence source admitted.

But the current intelligence judgment is that the insurgents have not acquired a new capability that made it easier for them to target British units, or to close in on Prince Harry’s squadron.

Royal sources made it clear that the final decision was in the hands of the Army. They said that he was still eager to go and that he would be “extremely disappointed” if the decision was reversed.

They dismissed claims from inside the Household Cavalry that he would quit the Army if he was barred from going to Iraq. “Prince Harry is a grown-up and he’ll take whatever the decision is, but he wants to go to Iraq, and to say he would quit the Army if he didn’t is way too strong,” one said.

Friends of the Prince confirmed that he had no intention of resigning his commission.

Defence sources said that the review of the decision would continue “right up until Prince Harry is due to leave for Iraq”.

Poated in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Military Families Say: Fund Our Troops and De-fund the War

April 27th, 2007 - by admin

Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson / After Downing Street.org – 2007-04-27 23:26:09

http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/?q=node/21308

(April 15, 2007) — Both the House and the Senate have passed Supplemental Funding bills. The House version has a “deadline” of August 31, 2008 for withdrawing US troops from Iraq. This is completely unacceptable and would mean the deaths of over 1,000 more US troops and tens of thousands of Iraqi children, women and men.

To make matters worse, the bill has a provision that would allow the President to keep tens of thousands of troops in Iraq even beyond that unacceptable deadline. The Senate version has a suggested withdrawal date of March, 2008. Both versions provide President Bush with the funding he has asked for to continue the war.

The next step is for a Conference Committee to reconcile the two different bills (which will mean a compromise between the House and the Senate bills), after which the new version will be submitted to both the House and the Senate for a vote. The President has said that he will veto any funding bill that in any way limits his ability to continue the war.

• The supplemental appropriations bills passed by the House and Senate last month, as well as the compromise version expected in late April, will not end the war in Iraq. The most important thing Congress can now do is to vote against any version of a Supplemental Appropriations bill that provides President Bush with funding to continue the war in Iraq.

• The administration and other supporters of the war have tried to use “funding for the troops” as a cover for continuing the war. Congress needs to understand that by providing funding to continue the war, they are abandoning our troops. The most supportive thing that can be done for our troops is to end the war, bring them home now and take care of them when they get here.

• Many in Congress who have spoken against the war actually voted for the Supplemental Bill, saying that it is a step in the right direction. To these Members of Congress who compromised their principles because the bill has a so-called “deadline” for troop withdrawal, we say: not one step backward. The compromise version that emerges from the Conference Committee will most likely be weaker than the House version.

We say to Members of Congress: You have already compromised too much with the lives of our loved ones and lives of others at risk,, and any move to support a bill weaker than the one the House passed would be betrayal of our troops, their families and our nation.

• It is totally unacceptable for anyone in Congress to suggest that we should wait until the 2008 presidential elections to end the war in Iraq. It is unconscionable for the lives of our troops and Iraqi children, women and men to be used for positioning in an election strategy. Congress has the ‘power of the purse’ now to end this war.

• If Congress votes to continue funding the war in Iraq, it will no longer be President Bush’s war. It will be theirs. If Congress funds it, they’ve bought it and they will own it.

• The Bush Administration’s claim that the supplemental funding must be passed by mid-April or funds will run dry is simply false. Congressional Research Service, the non-partisan public policy research arm of the United States Congress, has issued a report stating that there is funding for the troops is available in the current budget that would last into July, 2007. Congress could also pass a supplemental funding bill that provides additional funds for the safe and orderly withdrawal of our troops.

• Despite the Administration’s claims that they now need additional funding for “the troops”, the fact is that our troops have been doing without since the beginning of this misbegotten war, thanks to an administration that does NOT support our troops. Our troops were sent off to a war based on lies, many without adequate equipment, body armor, armored vehicles, supplies, even food and water.

Some troops still lack armored vehicles and equipment; military families are still spending our own money to send our loved ones off with essentials such as Global Positioning Systems, night vision goggles and more. The problem hasn’t been lack of funds, it has been an Administration that does not care about our troops.

• The funding our troops need is for their safe and orderly withdrawal from Iraq (with all the supplies, equipment, armor, etc. required) and for the care they need when they come home. We call on Congress to use the Supplemental Appropriations bill to do just that. Fund our troops – their safe and orderly withdrawal from Iraq and the care they need when they come home – and de-fund the war!

• There are several members of the House and Senate who are proposing or sponsoring stand-alone bills that would cut off funds for the war and/or set deadlines for ending the war. These are not substitutes for turning down the President’s Supplemental Appropriations request for funds to continue the war in Iraq.

In order become law, a stand-along bill would need a vetoproof, 2/3rds majority in both houses of Congress. Denying the President his Supplemental Appropriations request for funds to continue the war would only take a “no” vote of 50% plus one, in either house of Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, for example, recently stated that if President Bush vetoes the Supplemental Appropriations bill, he will pursue legislation that would end funding for combat operations on March 31, 2008.

In addition to allowing the war to continue for another year and having loopholes allowing tens of thousands of troops to stay in Iraq beyond the “deadline”, a stand-alone bill like this would require a 2/3rds vote of both houses of Congress to override a certain Presidential veto.

Because of this, Senator Reid’s proposal is really a posturing statement that is more window-dressing for the 2008 elections rather than a serious strategy for ending the war in Iraq.

To end the war in Iraq, Congress must stand firm now with the Supplemental Appropriations bill, refuse to give the President any more funds to continue the war, and press ahead for full funding for a safe and orderly withdrawal from Iraq and the care our troops need when they come home.

Nancy Lessin and Charley Richardson are co-founders of Military Family Speaks Out. For more information visit Military Families Speak at www.mfso.org. MFSO is an organization of people opposed to the war in Iraq who have relatives or loved ones in the military. Our membership currently includes over 3,000 military families, with new families joining daily.

Into Africa: The Militarization of US Foreign Policy

April 27th, 2007 - by admin

Conn Hallinan / Dispatches from the Edge / Berkeley Daily Planet – 2007-04-27 23:21:54

http://www.berkeleydaily.org/text/article.cfm?issue=03-30-07&storyID=26683

BERKELEY, California (March 30, 2007) — When the Bush administration recently unveiled its new African military command — AFRICOM — Deputy Assistant Sec. of Defense Teresa Whalen said that the initiative was aimed at “promoting security, to build African capacity to build their own environments and not be subject to the instability that has toppled governments and caused so much pain on the continent.”

And yet hardly was the announcement made when the Bush administration organized the overthrow of the first stable government Somalia has had since 1991, stirring up a hornet’s nest of regional rivalries in the strategic Horn of Africa.

When the Ethiopian Army stormed across the border in late December to support the besieged and isolated Transitional Federal Government (TFG), it was accompanied by US Special Forces. The United States also provided the Ethiopians with “up-to date intelligence on the military positions of the Islamic figures in Somalia,” Pentagon and counterterrorism officials told the New York Times.

The target of the invasion was the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which over the past year had brought a modicum of peace to the warlord-riven country. Since the poorly armed ICU militias were routed, fighting in the capital, Mogadishu, has sharply escalated.

The situation here [Mogadishu] is out of control,” Ali Said Omar, chair of the Center for Peace and Democracy, told the Guardian.

The ostensible reason for US participation in the invasion was the ICU’s supposed association with al Qaeda, a charge that has never been substantiated. United States warplanes and ships shelled and rocketed parts of southern Somalia where, according to Oxfam and the UN Refugee Center, 70 civilians died and more than 100 were wounded.

But the White House’s plans for Africa reach far beyond the Horn, and are part of a general militarization of US foreign policy. A recent Congressional report found that “some embassies have effectively become command posts, with military personnel in those countries all but supplanting the role of ambassadors in conducting American foreign policy.”

The US is already pouring $500 million into its Trans-Sahel Counterterrorism Initiative that embraces Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria in North Africa, and nations boarding the Sahara including Mauritania, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Chad and Senegal. The United States currently has a major base in Djibouti that houses some 1,800 troops and which played an important role in the Somalian invasion.

A major focus of AFRICOM will be the Gulf of Guinea, with its enormous oil reserves in Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Angola and the Congo Republic. It is estimated that by 2015, Africa will provide a quarter of all US oil imports.

Some of those countries are plagued by exactly the kind of “instability” that AFRICOM was created to deal with. A year ago, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) shut down one fifth of Nigeria’s oil production through a series of attacks on pumping stations and oil rigs.

“Though all the eyes of the public seem focused on the atomic ambitions of Iran, Nigeria is at the greatest risk of oil disruption today,” Peter Tertzakian, chief energy at ARC Financial Corporation told the Financial Times. Nigeria is the world’s eighth largest oil exporter.

General James L. Jones, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) supreme commander, says the US-dominated military alliance is “talking” about using its forces to protect oil tankers off the west coast of Africa and to provide security, according to the Associated Press, for “storage and production facilities in areas such as the oil-rich Niger Delta.”

NATO is doing more than talking. In June of last year, NATO troops stormed ashore at Vila Dos Espargos on the Cape Verde Islands. The war game modeled intervening in a civil war over energy resources.

If NATO were to “provide security” in the strategic Niger Delta, it would find itself in the middle of an enormously complex political situation that pits local people fighting for a bigger slice of the resource pie against corrupt elites allied with transnational oil giants like ExxonMobile, Chevron, Shell, France’s Total, and Italy’s ENI.

A spokesman for MEND, Jomo Gbomo, charged that “oil is the key concern of the United States in establishing its African command,” and warned “we will fight everyone who goes on the side of the Nigerian government, regardless of who.”

While the United States says its focus is on “terrorism,” Nicole Lee of TransAfrica, the leading African American organization focusing on Africa, says “This [AFRICOM] is nothing short of a sovereignty and resource grab.”

It’s also about the new energy-hungry kids on the block. China has invested $4 billion in the Nigerian oil infrastructure and is pouring money into Gabon, Angola and Chad. India, Malaysia and South Korea have also joined the oil rush, along with competing for copper from Zambia, platinum from Zimbabwe, timber from the Congo, and iron ore from South Africa. In a strange reversal of the 19th century, former colonies are going head to head with their old masters in the race for raw materials.

The Bush administration has long considered the control of resources like oil to be a strategic issue. In 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney’s National Energy Policy Development Group recommended that the administration “make energy security a priority of our trade and foreign policy,” a blueprint the White House has religiously followed.

In 2002, the administration also rolled out its “West Point Doctrine,” which in essence said that the United States would not permit the development of a major economic, political or military competitor.

Both of these policies are increasingly running up against China, the fourth largest economy in the world. When the United States pressured the International Monetary Fund to withhold loans to Angola, the Chinese stepped in with $2 billion. When the United States ringed the Sudan with sanctions over the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, China invested $4 billion in the East African country’s oil industry. Sudan may have the largest untapped reserves in Africa and exports about 200,000 barrels a day to China.

The Sudan is one of those places where the good guys and the bad guys seemed clearly etched. But up close, things are considerably more complex. The tragedy unfolding in Darfur is fueled in part by competition between nomads and agriculturalists. But it is also a proxy war between Sudanese elites in Khartoum as well as an arena for regional competition between Sudan, Chad, and Niger. Lost in the images we have of burned villages and destitute refugees is the issue of oil.

The vast bulk of Sudan’s oil is in its south, where a long-running civil war is currently dormant. But in 2011 the south will hold a referendum to decide whether it will remain part of Sudan or become independent. Will western oil companies that pulled up stakes in the 1980s and decamped to Chad push southerners to vote for independence so they can move back in? Will Khartoum really accept a breakup of the country?

The bottom line is that Sudan, like Somalia, Nigeria, and most African countries, are complex places, where military solutions are likely to cause problems, not solve them. There is also fear, according to Nigerian journalist Dulue Mbachu, “that increased US military presence in Africa may simply serve to protect unpopular regimes that are friendly to its interests, as was the case during the Cold War, while Africa slips further into poverty.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

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