January 31st, 2008 - by admin
David Morrison / Labour & Trade Union Review – 2008-01-31 23:07:13
LONDON (20 January 2007) — “Bush calls for end to Israeli occupation” was the headline on a story in The Guardian on 11 January 2008, reporting on a speech by President Bush in the King David Hotel, Jerusalem. The headline reflected the following portion of the President’s speech:
“There should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967. The agreement must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. These negotiations must ensure that Israel has secure, recognized, and defensible borders. And they must ensure that the state of Palestine is viable, contiguous, sovereign, and independent.” 
However, a couple of paragraphs later the President qualified his call for “an end to the occupation” by saying:
“While territory is an issue for both parties to decide, I believe that any peace agreement between them will require mutually agreed adjustments to the armistice lines of 1949 to reflect current realities.”
In fact, it is not for both parties to decide. The US and Israel have already decided upon major adjustments — and the Palestinians had no say in the matter.
In April 2004, Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, persuaded Bush to reward him in advance for “disengagement” from Gaza (which eventually took place in August 2005). The reward was set out in a letter from Bush to Sharon dated 14 April 2004, which said:
“In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949 … . It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.” 
Because Israel was going to “disengage” from Gaza, and remove 9,000 Jewish colonists, the US agreed to allow Israel to hold on to large areas of the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in perpetuity because of “new realities on the ground”, in other words, because Israel has planted 400,000+ Jewish colonists in these areas.
Just suppose Mexico invaded and occupied a portion of Texas and planted 400,000+ colonists there, would the US agree that these “new realities on the ground” earned Mexico the right to annex the portion of Texas it had occupied? Probably not.
No Right of Return
In this letter, President Bush also agreed with Sharon that Palestinian refugees should not be allowed to return to Israel, saying:
“It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair, and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel.” 
So, it is now the official policy of the US that every Jew in this world has a right to return to Israel, but no Arab has a right to return to Israel, even if s/he was born there.
This agreement with the US helped Prime Minister Sharon domestically to defend his decision to “disengage” from Gaza and remove 9,000 Jewish settlers. When asked by a journalist on 15 February 2005:
“How does it help the state of Israel to pull out of Gaza and get nothing in return?”
“I don’t think we made that compromise without getting anything in return. On the contrary, in the agreement between President Bush and myself we had tremendous achievements that Israel never had since its establishment, like the issue of the Palestinian refugees who will only be able to return to a Palestinian state. I would say the issue of the population blocs that are heavily populated by Jews, will be part of the Jewish state in the future … I did not mention all the important things that are in the agreement between myself and President Bush, so I think it is a mistake to say that Israel didn’t get anything, Israel got many important things.” 
Getting the unequivocal, publicly expressed, support of the US for the annexation of large areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem (and for no right of return for Palestinians to Israel) was indeed a tremendous achievement by Ariel Sharon. As US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, told journalists on 7 January 2008, this was something “an American President had not been willing to say before” .
No Surprises for Israel
It could be said that the Bush-Sharon letter merely formalised previously unstated US policy positions. Maybe so, but from now on, Israel can be confident that the US is not going to put pressure on it to end the occupation of the colonised areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem or to allow Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.
A Jerusalem Post report on 12 January 2008 made it clear that Prime Minister Olmert wasn’t in the least bit concerned by Bush’s “occupation must end” speech. Here’s an extract:
“A senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office said that Bush’s statement on the contours of a future Palestinian state was ‘in accordance with the understandings reached between us and the American[s], and there were no surprises’.
“The official said the statement was a continuation of longstanding positions of the Bush administration. ‘We see the Bush remarks as a positive basis for moving forward with the Palestinians’, the official said. …
“Jerusalem was also pleased that Bush essentially reiterated what was written in his 2004 letter to Ariel Sharon – namely that final borders will entail mutually agreed adjustments, language that Israel interprets to mean a US recognition that Israel can hold onto the large settlement blocs in a future agreement.” 
So much for Bush’s statement that “there should be an end to the occupation that began in 1967”.
Israel’s Bottom Line
It can be guaranteed that the position set out in the Bush-Sharon letter will be Israel’s bottom line in any future negotiations with the Palestinians. Olmert confirmed that in remarks at Annapolis on 28 November 2007:
“The negotiations will be based on previous agreements between us, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Roadmap and the April 14th 2004 letter from President Bush to the Prime Minister of Israel.” 
Of course, if serious negotiations ever take place, Israel will have additional territorial demands. For example, it will insist that it control the Jordan Valley, since it will never allow a Palestinian state to have free access to another Arab state.
Other Security Council Resolutions
Olmert cites Security Council resolution 242 and 338 (which demands the implementation of 242) as a basis for negotiations. The Security Council has passed many other resolutions about Israel/Palestine in the 40 years since 242 was passed in November 1967, some of them highly relevant to the establishment of a Palestinian state, which is supposed to be the subject of his negotiations with President Abbas. Here are two examples:-
Resolution 252  (passed on 21 May 1968) demands that Israel reverse its annexation of East Jerusalem. It says:
2. [The Security Council] Considers that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, including expropriation of land and properties thereon, which tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem are invalid and cannot change that status;
3. [The Security Council] Urgently calls upon Israel to rescind all such measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any further action which tends to change the status of Jerusalem;
Resolution 446  (passed on 22 March 1979) demands, not for the first time, that Israel cease settlement building in the territories it occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and remove those it has built. It says:
[The Security Council] Calls once more upon Israel, as the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to rescind its previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and, in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories;
Obviously, Olmert ignores these resolutions because they require actions by Israel and Israel alone and don’t require negotiations with any other party, actions that Israel could have taken at any time but has refused for decades to take. But, if the principles laid down by the Security Council over the years are to be the basis for negotiations, why should only those laid down in 242 be applicable?
(It should be emphasised that in total Israel is violating about 30 Security Council resolutions that require action by it and it alone – see list compiled by Stephen Zunes ).
242: no action required
Olmert cited 242 because it doesn’t require any action by Israel.
242 was passed on 22 November 1967, a few months after Israel had acquired large swathes of territory (the West Bank and Gaza plus Sinai and the Golan Heights) by war, contrary to the Articles 2 of the UN Charter. One might have thought that the Security Council, as the guardian of the UN Charter, would have required Israel to withdraw unconditionally from the territory it had recently acquired by war, contrary to the UN Charter, as Iraq was required to do after it invaded Kuwait in August 1990.
But 242 didn’t require Israel to do anything. It merely stated an opinion that “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” should be conditional on the “termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force” 
For 40 years, 242 has provided an ideal vehicle for Israeli prevarication about withdrawal from the territories it occupied in 1967. And that is why it is trotted out again at this time, and why 252 and 446 that require Israel to act unconditionally, and immediately, are ignored.
Violating 30 or so Resolutions
I am at a loss to understand why the Palestinian leadership doesn’t draw the world’s attention continuously to the fact that Israel is violating 30 or so Security Council resolutions that require action by it and it alone. When Olmert says he intends to proceed on the basis of 242, why does the Palestinian leadership not demand that Israel begin by ceasing its violation of 252 and 446? If 242 is relevant to the creation of a Palestinian state, are the later resolutions 252 and 446 not also relevant?
These resolutions are particularly relevant now that Israel is taking the position set out in the Bush-Sharon letter as its bottom line. The justification for Israel keeping large areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem is “the new realities on the ground”, in other words, that Israel planted 400,000+ Jewish settlers there in violation of 446.
When Bush held a press conference with Abbas in Ramallah on 10 January 2008, a Palestinian journalist put it to Bush that he had “launched war against Iraq after the Iraqi leadership refused to implement the United Nations resolutions” and asked “what is the problem to ask Israel just to accept and to respect the United Nations resolutions relating to the Palestinian problem” .
Bush didn’t understand what he was talking about and dismissed the suggestion by saying “look, the UN deal didn’t work in the past”. In a sense he is right, but it didn’t work because Israel has serially violated Security Council resolutions — and the US supported it in doing so.
But, think of the impact the journalist would have made if he had been more specific and asked Bush why he doesn’t make Israel unannex East Jerusalem as required by resolution 252 and make Israel remove its settlements as required by resolution 446? And was the US going to launch a war against Israel if it refused to implement them?
Why, at this late stage of his presidency, has Bush decided to press Israel into a process of negotiations with Palestinians, ostensibly about establishing a Palestinian state? He could have done so at any time since he came to power in January 2001, since when about 1,000 Israelis and 4,500 Palestinians have been killed.
The Taba Summit, which followed on from the Camp David talks the previous July, took place from 21-27 January 2001, so there was an ongoing process when Bush was inaugurated on 20 January 2001. This process was terminated by Ariel Sharon when he was elected a couple of weeks later. Like Sharon, Bush refused to have anything to do with the duly elected Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat.
On 24 June 2002, in what was hailed as a landmark speech, President Bush committed the US to a two-state solution in Palestine for the first time . However, there was a condition – Palestinians had to get “a new and different Palestinian leadership”, whether they wanted to or not. Unable to get rid of Yasser Arafat altogether, the US settled for a plan to sideline him.
It forced the Palestinians to change their Constitution: some of the president’s powers, for example, control of the various Palestinian security forces, were to be transferred to a Prime Minister acceptable to the US and Israel. The US-approved Mahmoud Abbas was that Prime Minister, appointed on 19 March 2003.
Having got an acceptable Prime Minister to negotiate with, the US published a “roadmap” to a Palestinian state on 30 April 2003 . Bush visited the Middle East in early June and met Sharon and Abbas at Aqaba, Jordan on 4 June 2003. But no negotiations took place.
A unilateral process of “disengagement” became Sharon’s big idea. He floated it in late 2003 and got the US seal of approval for it in April 2004, when, as we have seen, he was rewarded handsomely by Bush for promising to “disengage” from Gaza.
The death of President Arafat in November 2004 and the election of Abbas to replace him in January 2005 didn’t increase US enthusiasm for negotiations, despite the fact that Fatah controlled both the presidency and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). After Hamas gained control of the PLC in January 2006, all US efforts were concentrated in undoing the result of the election. They succeeded in June 2007 and the legitimate Hamas-led National Unity Government, properly endorsed by the PLC in accordance with the Palestinian constitution, was replaced by an entity, led by US-approved Salam Fayyad, which has no democratic legitimacy whatsoever, since it hasn’t been endorsed by the PLC.
Placating Sunni Allies
US pressure on Israel to open negotiations with Palestinians began a year or so ago. It was driven by the need, because of its difficulties in Iraq, to placate its “moderate” Sunni allies in the region – Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States – and enlist them in its confrontation with its “extremist” enemies – first and foremost Iran but also Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas.
Since the autumn of 2006, US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, has visited the Middle East about 10 times. She was in Riyadh on 15-16 January 2007 and met King Abdullah. At a press conference later with Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faysal, she said:
“I did say to His Royal Highness [King Abdullah] that the United States would deepen its involvement in the efforts to find a peace between Palestinians and Israelis so that the President’s vision of two states living side by side in peace and security could be realized, and described some of the efforts that we will be making over the next several weeks. I look forward to further discussion of that issue with the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council], Jordan and Egypt this evening.” 
So, there’s not much doubt that the US’s new found enthusiasm for negotiations about a Palestinian state is derived from a calculation of its own interests in the Middle East, and not from a sudden outbreak of concern for the lot of Palestinians.
Will There Be an Agreement?
But, does Bush really expect an agreement to be reached in 2008? It’s very unlikely. But the effort has to look serious, if it is to serve US interests. Hence, the optimism – and the appearance, to an unprecedented degree for this administration, of being sympathetic to Palestinians and hard on Israel.
That’s why Bush used the word “occupation” and said there should be an end to it. That’s why Rice has been comparing the lot of the Palestinians under Israeli occupation to that of black Americans in the southern states when she was a child (see Aluf Benn in Haaretz on 27 December 2007 ). That’s why Rice has stated unequivocally that all Israeli settlement activity must cease, as required by the roadmap, and made it clear that “the United States doesn’t make a distinction” between settlement activity in east Jerusalem and the West Bank .
Both parties agreed at Annapolis that they would carry out their obligations under the roadmap, and that the US would be the judge of whether this was being done. Under the roadmap, Israel is supposed to “freeze all settlement activity”. Standing beside Bush at a press conference on 9 January 2008, Olmert made it clear that Israel didn’t agree with Rice’s view that “all” meant “all”, saying:
“[Our Palestinian partners] know that there is a moratorium on new settlements and the new expropriation of land in the Territories. And they also know, and we have made it clear that Jerusalem, as far as we are concerned, is not in the same status. And they know that the population centers are not in the same status.” 
In other words, according to Olmert, settlement activity is allowed in East Jerusalem and within any of the existing settlement blocs on the West Bank. Will the US make Israel toe the line? Perhaps, since the purpose of the exercise us to placate its Sunni allies in the region.
Has there been any progress in the negotiations? Of course, there has been a major international conference at Annapolis in late November 2007, which was attended by some 50 states and organisations, including Tony Blair and the Vatican (see US State Department account ). T
he outcome? Olmert and Abbas agreed to enter into negotiations about establishing a Palestinian state, which they had agreed long before they went there. Annapolis must rank as one of the most pointless international conferences ever held.
In July 2007, Bush announced that an international conference would be held in the autumn. Over the next four months, Olmert and Abbas, and later negotiating teams led by Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, and former Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Qureia, met continuously to work on a “declaration of principles” on final status issues: Jerusalem, borders, settlements, refugees, security, and water.
Olmert wanted to keep the declaration vague in order to avoid concessions that would cause him difficulty domestically and perhaps bring down his government, whereas Abbas wanted it to address final status issues seriously in order to show that negotiations could lead to the end of occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state. They failed to produce a “declaration of principles”.
Instead, a “joint understanding” was agreed by the two parties – with great difficulty at the very last moment – and read out to the conference by Bush. This said that they agreed to enter into negotiations about establishing a Palestinian state:
“We agree to engage in vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations, and shall make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008. For this purpose, a steering committee, led jointly by the head of the delegation of each party, will meet continuously, as agreed.” 
But, since in four months before Annapolis, continuous negotiations couldn’t agree a “declaration of principles” on final status issues, it would be unwise to expect much from post-Annapolis negotiations, no matter how vigorous.
The Annapolis “joint declaration” also stated that Olmert and Abbas will meet every two weeks, as they have been doing for many months, without producing anything – not the slightest movement by Israel towards a Palestinian state, or even minor concessions to make the Palestinian lot more bearable under occupation.
(True, some Fatah prisoners have been released – 250 in June 2007 and a further 350 in November 2007 before Annapolis – but Israel still holds about 9,000 Palestinian prisoners . But how many checkpoints have been removed in the West Bank? Very few, if any. Has Israel stopped its theft of Palestinian revenue, which began after Hamas won the PLC elections in January 2006, and paid back what it has stolen? Don’t know, but I suspect not, otherwise it would have been trumpeted as a success for the peace process.)
On 8 January 2008, the day before Bush arrived in the Middle East, Olmert finally agreed to allow discussion of final status issues. As a result, Avigdor Lieberman announced on 16 January 2008 that he would withdraw his Yisrael Beitenu party from the government . The departure of his 11 MKs still leaves Olmert’s coalition with 67 seats in the 120-member Knesset. However, his majority may not last: the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, which has 12 seats, has threatened to pull out of the government, if the future of Jerusalem is discussed.
Olmert won’t be broken-hearted if domestic political difficulties force him to abandon the process. If that doesn’t happen, he has another unimpeachable excuse for doing so, which he laid down at his press conference with Bush on 9 January 2008, when he said:
“We made it clear to the Palestinians; they know it, and they understand that Gaza must be a part of the package … .” 
So, in reality, there isn’t much point in talking to Abbas since he has no authority in Gaza – and at any time Olmert can pull the plug by saying that. Meanwhile, he is humouring Bush by going along with the process – so that Bush can humour his “moderate” Sunni allies in the region.
Is the US strategy of enlisting its “moderate” Sunni allies in confronting its “extremist” enemies, especially Iran, working? It doesn’t seem to be. Before Bush arrived in Riyadh on 13 January 2008, the Saudi Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faysal, cautioned that Saudi Arabia would not act as a launching pad for any attack on Iran, saying:
“We will listen with interest to any issue raised by President Bush. (But) Saudi Arabia is a neighbour of Iran in the Gulf, which is a small lake. We are keen that harmony and peace should prevail among states of the region.” (see Daily Telegraph, 13 January 2008, )
An article by Roula Khalaf in the Financial Times of 11 January 2008 described the US’s lack of progress in building a Sunni alliance against Iran in the following terms:
“Eight days in the Middle East is a long trip for a US president. But George W. Bush’s sudden burst of personal engagement cannot beat the active diplomatic pace of his principal opponent – Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. …
“For the past year, however, Iran has multiplied official visits to neighbouring states, promoting perceptions of waning American authority and defying American attempts to build a Sunni Arab front against it.
“Mr Ahmadinejad sent his foreign minister in March to the Arab League summit in Riyadh. In May he became the first Iranian head of state to visit the United Arab Emirates, which claims three islands taken over by Iran in the 1970s.
“In the autumn, he was in Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet, before moving on to Saudi Arabia for the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries summit, and returning a few weeks later to perform the hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage.
“By the end of the year, he was attending the summit of the Gulf Co-operation Council in Qatar – the first appearance by an Iranian leader before a gathering of the six Arab states.” 
(Ahmadinejad received a personal invitation from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to perform the hajj. He was the first president of the Islamic Republic of Iran to do so.)
Happily, the US’s Sunni allies don’t seem to be enthusiastic about lending their weight to its confrontation with Iran.
There were several surreal moments during Bush’s trip to the Middle East, none more so that his remark at a press conference with Olmert on 9 January 2008:
“Arab leaders have an obligation to recognize Israel’s important contribution to peace and stability in the Middle East”. 
At the same press conference, he declared Iran to be “a threat to world peace”, saying:
“Iran is a threat, and Iran will be a threat if the international community does not come together and prevent that nation from the development of the know-how to build a nuclear weapon. A country which once had a secret program can easily restart a secret program.” 
Remember, he said that while standing beside the Prime Minister of a state, which has had a secret nuclear weapons programme for half a century, a programme that has successfully developed nuclear weapons, and today possesses an estimated 200 nuclear warheads, some of which are targeted on Iran — whereas Iran certainly hasn’t any nuclear weapons and there’s no evidence that it has, or ever had, a nuclear weapons programme.
And, finally, in a speech in United Arab Emirates on 13 January 2008, trumpeting his “freedom agenda” (in a state where the 50% of the national council that is elected is elected by an appointed electoral college):
“For decades, the people of this region saw their desire for liberty and justice denied at home and dismissed abroad in the name of stability.” 
This from the man who overthrew the democratically elected Hamas-led government in Palestine — and who the next day went to Saudi Arabia and had a cordial meeting with King Abdullah.
January 31st, 2008 - by admin
Sorcha Faal / What Does It Mean.com – 2008-01-31 22:54:47
MOSCOW (January 30, 2008) — Russian Space Forces (VKS) experts are reporting in the Kremlin today that the sudden, and catastrophic, loss of one of the United States most sophisticated spy satellites was due to a newly (January 22nd) launched Israeli spy satellite that upon reaching the same polar orbit of its American counterpart °ejected° thousands of ball bearings which “shredded” the KH-13, believed to be the US military’s most advanced reconnaissance satellite.
These reports state that Israel had become °alarmed° over this American spy satellite since its launching in December, 2006, (which the United States then reported had failed to reach its assigned orbit) due to its orbit which brought it over their secretive Negev Nuclear Research Center located at Dimona.
The United States has confirmed the loss of their spy satellite, and as we can read as reported by the Associated Press News Service:
“The US military is developing contingency plans to deal with the possibility that a large spy satellite expected to fall to Earth in late February or early March could hit North America.
Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, who heads US Northern Command, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the size of the satellite suggests that some number of pieces will not burn up as the orbiting vehicle re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere and will hit the ground.
“We’re aware that this satellite is out there,” Renuart said. “We’re aware it is a fairly substantial size. And we know there is at least some percentage that it could land on ground as opposed to in the water.”
Fearing retaliation from the United States, though not specifically naming the Americans, Israel’s Top Air Force Officer issued a warning today that their spy satellites could, likewise, now be targeted, and as we can read as reported by the Ynet News Service:
“If Israel didn’t have enough threats to its security already, what with the ongoing confrontation with Hamas in the south, Hizbullah in the north and Syria close by, on Wednesday Israeli Air Force Chief, Brig.-Gen. Eliezer Shkedi, spoke about possible threats to Israeli spy satellites in space at the Ilan Ramon International Space Conference in Herzliya.
Shkedi noted that there had not been any specific warnings, but suggested “not to keep our eyes closed to the possibility and treat it with full seriousness.”
To the greatest danger of these events facing Russia, however, these reports state, is the loss to the United States of its ability to track the movement of Israel’s nuclear weapons, and which many World powers fear could soon be targeted at Iran, and if used would plunge our World into Total War.
Israel’s fears have been further raised by the completion of nuclear fuel transfers from Russia to Iran and the Iranian Presidents statement that “Israel’s days are numbered.”
Russian Military Analysts further point out of these events that though Russia and China have continued to urge the United States to join them in banning the use of weapons in space, the Americans remain resolved not to change their position, and as we can read of the US’s official statement regarding the latest Chinese-Russian attempt at a treaty, and who said:
“Donald Mahley, acting US deputy assistant secretary for threat reduction, export controls and negotiations, on Thursday said China’s efforts for a space treaty stood in stark contrast with its anti-satellite test, which he called “a wake-up call.” Regarding the Sino-Russian draft, he said: “We see nothing in the new proposal to change the current US position.”
© January 30, 2008 EU and US all rights reserved. Sorcha Faal email@example.com
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
January 31st, 2008 - by admin
Reuters North American News Service – 2008-01-31 22:52:27
LONDON (January 30, 2008) — More than one million Iraqis have died as a result of the conflict in their country since the US-led invasion in 2003, according to research conducted by one of Britain’s leading polling groups.
The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Business (ORB) with 2,414 adults in face-to-face interviews, found that 20 percent of people had had at least one death in their household as a result of the conflict, rather than natural causes.
The last complete census in Iraq conducted in 1997 found 4.05 million households in the country, a figure ORB used to calculate that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war, the researchers found.
The margin of error in the survey, conducted in August and September 2007, was 1.7 percent, giving a range of deaths of 946,258 to 1.12 million.
ORB originally found that 1.2 million people had died, but decided to go back and conduct more research in rural areas to make the survey as comprehensive as possible and then came up with the revised figure.
The research covered 15 of Iraq’s 18 provinces. Those that not covered included two of Iraq’s more volatile regions — Kerbala and Anbar — and the northern province of Arbil, where local authorities refused them a permit to work.
Estimates of deaths in Iraq have been highly controversial in the past.
Medical journal The Lancet published a peer-reviewed report in 2004 stating that there had been 100,000 more deaths than would normally be expected since the March 2003 invasion, kicking off a storm of protest.
The widely watched Web site Iraq Body Count currently estimates that between 80,699 and 88,126 people have died in the conflict, although its methodology and figures have also been questioned by US authorities and others.
ORB, a non-government-funded group founded in 1994, conducts research for the private, public and voluntary sectors.
The director of the group, Allan Hyde, said it had no objective other than to record as accurately as possible the number of deaths among the Iraqi population as a result of the invasion and ensuing conflict. (Reporting by Luke Baker; editing by Andrew Roche)
Reuters North American News Service
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educatoinal purposes.
January 30th, 2008 - by admin
Barbara Plett / BBC News & New York Times – 2008-01-30 23:43:43
Pakistan Nuclear Sites on Alert
Barbara Plett / BBC News
ISLAMABAD (January 28, 2008) — Pakistan has raised the state of alert around its nuclear facilities amid concerns they could be targeted by Islamist militants.
But a senior Pakistan military official said there had been no specific threat to the sites, and insisted that safeguards in place were fool proof.
The official was speaking in a rare press briefing on the issue.
It followed Western media reports warning that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands.
The Pakistani authorities have been angered by Western media reports speculating that the country?s nuclear arsenal could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda militants.
The senior military official briefing foreign journalists said that the weapons were protected by an elaborate command and control system, and multiple levels of security.
He acknowledged that Islamic militants had begun to attack army personnel in recent months, and that nuclear sites may also become a target.
He said the state of alert around nuclear facilities had increased, but there had been no specific threats against them.
The official said there was no way the Taleban or al-Qaeda could take over Pakistan?s estimated 50 nuclear warheads.
And he dismissed the possibility of collusion from within the system, saying all personnel dealing with sensitive material had been carefully monitored.
Despite fears raised by US media and politicians, the official said the US administration had not shown any recent concern about the safety of Pakistan?s nuclear weapons.
He also said any foreign intervention over the issue would be disastrous for the intruder.
© BBC MMVIII
Pakistan Spurns Broader US Combat Presence
New York Times
Pakistan has rejected a bid by the top two US intelligence officials to win more access for the CIA in tribal areas where Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militants are active, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Citing unnamed officials briefed on the secret visit January 9 by Mike McConnell, the director of national intelligence, and General Michael Hayden, the CIA director, the Times said Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf “rebuffed proposals to expand any American combat presence in Pakistan, either through unilateral covert CIA missions or by joint operations with Pakistani security forces.”
“Instead, Pakistan and the United States are discussing a series of other joint efforts, including increasing the number and scope of missions by armed Predator surveillance aircraft over the tribal areas, and identifying ways that the United States can speed information about people suspected of being militants to Pakistani security forces,” the report said.
US and Pakistani officials have questioned each other in recent months about the quality and time lines of information the United States gave Pakistan to zero in on militants.
Posted in accordaance with Title 17, US Code for noncommercial, educational purposes.
January 30th, 2008 - by admin
Juan Cole / JuanCole.com – 2008-01-30 23:37:24
(January 19, 2008) — The instability of the Iraqi south was on display Friday, as a doomsday cult attacked police and religious mourners on the eve of Ashura’, the holiest day of the Shiite Islamic calendar. The clashes in Basra and Nasiriya left at least 80 dead and 90 wounded according to the LA Times.
The cities were under curfew Friday night, as over 2 million Shiite pilgrims gathered in the shrine city of Karbala to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
The initial clashes were not so important in themselves, since the Mahdist group involved appears to be quite small. But they demonstrate how bad security really is in Iraq, and what a morass the Democrats are likely to inherit. The only way I can make sense of the allegation that the fighting spread to 75% of Basra districts is that other groups joined in the attacks on police checkpoints, beyond just the Mahdists. And, the sectarians seem to have put up an impressive fight in Nasiriya, where they killed and wounded officers of the Iraqi security forces.
A group called Ansar al-Mahdi (Supporters of the Promised One), which may or may not be the same as or related to the Army of Heaven cult that attacked Najaf in January of 2007, engaged Iraqi police and army forces in two major southern cities.
The disturbances are said to have affected 75% of Basra neighborhoods and to have left some 50 dead and dozens wounded. Basra, population 1.5 million, is Iraq’s major port and the place from which its petroleum is exported. A security collapse there would deeply affect the whole country.
Al-Qabas reports in Arabic that the Supporters of the Promised One attacked and took control of a police checkpoint in Basra, then set it ablaze. Eyewitnesses told the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)that the checkpoint stood at the Jumhuriya intersection in downtown Basra. The cultists killed three Iraqi soldiers and several civilian bystanders.
In the nearby al-Janinah neighborhood in Jumhuriya district, the zealots wounded two policemen and then took over their checkpoint, burning it down.
Sawt al-Iraq reports in Arabic that Basra police chief Abdul Jalil Khalaf said that fighting also broke out in al-Andalus quarter in central Basra. He maintained that Iraqi police had killed Abu Mustafa al-Ansari, the alleged leader of the Basra uprising. Khalaf had ordered an assault on the sect’s headquarters. After that, the disturbances spread to other districts of the city, including Jumuhuriya, Janinah and Jabaliya.
Eyewitnesses in Jabaliya who participated in processions honoring Imam Husayn said that the Supporters of the Promised One killed two traffic cops and kidnapped a third who had been wounded in a police car in a confrontation with the cultists near the Gulf Flour Co. They reported that the Supporters then commandeered six emergency rescue vehicles and two police cars.
The cultists occupied the Oil Institute building and a hospital in Zahra district. Iraqi troops (presumably of the 14th Division) then deployed attack helicopters to strike at the Husayniya (Shiite Mourning Center) in Zahra District where the Supporters of the Promised One were holed up. A woman was killed by a sniper’s bullet in Ma`qal District, 7 miles north of Basra.
The Supporters of the Promised One also attacked and killed members of the Sadr movement in Basra. After that, the Sadrist paramilitary, the Mahdi Army, joined the fray against them on the side of the government forces. Sadrist spokesman Salah al-Ubaydi said in Najaf that the Mahdi Army had no connection to the disturbances in Basra, and that the JAM was uninvolved in this outbreak of violence.
Iraqi government sources maintained that they had reestablished control by Friday evening, setting up inspection checkpoints in most major intersections. The LAT reports 50 killed in the Basra fighting, at least.
Nasiriya is a smaller city than Basra, lying to its north in Dhi Qar Province. The Supporters of the Promised One or Ansar al-Mahdi also came into conflict with Iraqi security forces in that city. The LAT reports 20 killed and 25 wounded. A sniper from among the Supporters killed Col. Naji al-Jabiri (commander of the city’s Special Forces brigade). They also killed the Director of the Police Operations Office.
A police spokesman in Nasiriya said, “A group of millenarians attacked the HQ of police investigations in Nasiriya with light and medium arms. Clashes broke out that led to the death of Col. Zamil Ramid, the assistant director of investigations.” He added, “Army troops arrived at the place and succeeded in expelling the gunmen.” The local authorities announced a curfew in Nasiriya “until further notice.”
According to eyewitnesses, Supporters had come to the mosque to pray while carrying firearms. They refused to disarm when the police accosted them. A policemen is said to have told them, “We do not wish to prevent you from praying, but we do not want to see the brandishing of weapons.”
The Supporters refused to relinquish their weapons, saying “The Imam Mahdi will appear today and we want to fight the apostates alongside him.”
Al-Qabas says that a big battle broke out in Salihiya District in north Nasiriya between the Supporters and security forces. A spokesman for the millenarians, Abd al-Imam Jabbar, is quoted as saying that they had launched into action on the basis of a fatwa given by Sayyid Ahmad b. al-Hasan [al-Basri al-Yamani], in hopes that if they could disrupt security it would provoke the appearance of the Imam Mahdi or Promised One.
Another police officer said that the sectarians were waving yellow standards and wearing yellow headbands, and were shooting indiscriminately in north Nasiriya. He added that the Supporters had rocket propelled grenades.
When an Army rapid reaction force intervened against them, they waged a fierce battle with it, and badly wounded its commander, Capt. Abd al-Amir Jabbar al-Munadi. They also killed 4 other policemen and wounded 9. Nasiriya’s morgue said that among the dead was a woman, in addition to the 4 policemen.
The sectarians were said to have been bent on disrupting the Shiite processions on behalf of Imam Husayn, in hopes that by creating chaos, they would bring about the advent of the promised one.
Special Police Commandos from the Interior Minister arrested 8 members of the group.
Western wire services and newspapers quote Iraqis from Nasiriya as saying that machine gun fire and explosions could still be heard into the night, unlike the case with Basra, where order appears to have been restored.
Some will say that it is good news that the Iraqi security forces were able to put down the uprising by themselves. This is true, though how much help the US gave, exactly, is shrouded in mystery on these shores.
But it is also true that the cultists were able to kill one high ranking army officer and to wound two others, and to kill several police and military troops. And it is further true that this group is relatively tiny, whereas if the Mahdi Army really did launch a challenge to the government, it is not clear whether it could survive.
Another view of the days events, with valuable background, is at Arab Times Online.__Meanwhile, a spokesman for Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said that the clergyman may not extend the freeze on activities he imposed on his paramilitary, the Mahdi Army, late last summer. The spokesman, Salah al-Ubaidi, said that the group felt taken advantage of by government security forces, who have been arresting Mahdi Army leaders arbitrarily and with impunity.
Al-Ubaidi implied that those doing the arresting consist of criminal gangs infiltrated into the national security forces. In essence, the threat to revive the Mahdi Army seems to be a bargaining chip in a drive to stop arrests of its leaders.
Finally, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim on Friday attacked the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, his supposed ally. He lamented that “personal whims” were getting in the way of progress.
The NYT reports that al-Hakim is particularly upset that parliament has made little progress on crafting legislation on how Iraq’s oil wealth would be shared out among regions, and that it is dragging its feet on the holding of new provincial elections (these were last held in Jan. of 2005, and were supposed to be held again no later than June, 2006).
I had assumed that the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI) that al-Hakim leads was hostile to new provincial elections. The Sadr movement seems to have been spreading politically in recent years, and it might be able to win in a fair election. But the Saudi royal family must have something else in mind.
posted by Juan Cole @ 1/19/2008 06:30:00 AM
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
January 30th, 2008 - by admin
Lolita C. Baldor / Associated Press – 2008-01-30 23:29:45
WASHINGTON (January 30, 2008) — The U.S. military is developing contingency plans to deal with the possibility that a large spy satellite expected to fall to Earth in late February or early March could hit North America.
Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, who heads of U.S. Northern Command, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the size of the satellite suggests that some number of pieces will not burn up as the orbiting vehicle re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere and will hit the ground.
“We’re aware that this satellite is out there,” Renuart said. “We’re aware it is a fairly substantial size. And we know there is at least some percentage that it could land on ground as opposed to in the water.”
A U.S. official confirmed that the spy satellite is designated by the military as US 193. It was launched in December 2006 but almost immediately lost power and cannot be controlled. It carried a sophisticated and secret imaging sensor but the satellite’s central computer failed shortly after launch. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is classified as secret.
Renuart added that, “As it looks like it might re-enter into the North American area,” then the U.S. military along with the Homeland Security Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency will either have to deal with the impact or assist Canadian or Mexican authorities.
Military agencies, he said, are doing an analysis to determine which pieces most likely would survive re-entry. But he cautioned that officials won’t have much detail on where or when it will crash until it begins to move through the atmosphere and break up.
Renuart added that there does not as yet appear to be much concern about sensitive technologies on the satellite falling into enemy hands.
“I’m not aware that we have a security issue,” he said. “It’s really just a big thing falling on the ground that we want to make sure we’re prepared for.”
The satellite includes some small engines that contain a toxic chemical called hydrazine—which is rocket fuel. But Renuart said they are not large booster engines with substantial amounts of fuel.
Video images of the satellite captured by John Locker, a British amateur satellite watcher, show it to be about 13 feet to 16.5 feet across. He believes it weighs a maximum of 10,000 pounds. Locker calculated its size with data on its altitude and location provided by other amateur satellite watchers, using the International Space Station as a yardstick.
Satellite watchers—a worldwide network of hobbyists who track satellites for fun—have been plotting the satellite’s degradation for a year. They estimate it is now at an altitude of about 173 miles, and Locker believes it is dropping about 1,640 feet a day.
Where it lands will be difficult to predict until the satellite falls to about 59 miles above the Earth and enters the atmosphere. It will then begin to burn up, with flares visible from the ground, said Ted Molczan, a Canadian satellite tracker. From that point on, he said, it will take about 30 minutes to fall.
In the past 50 years of monitoring space, 17,000 manmade objects have re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere.
Associated Press writer Pamela Hess contributed to this report.
On the Net:
• U.S. Northern Command: http://www.northcom.mil/
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
US Warns Out-of-control Spy Satellite Is Plunging to Earth
Paul Harris / The Observer
LONDON (January 27, 2008) — A large American spy satellite is expected to fall to Earth some time in the next month, officials said yesterday.
It is unclear where the space debris might come down, but it could hit ground in late February or March. It is also not known whether the satellite could contain potentially hazardous materials, such as a nuclear-powered reactor.
Officials said they had lost control over the satellite and had informed countries around the world about the potential problem. ‘Appropriate government agencies are monitoring the threat … we are looking at potential options to mitigate any damage this satellite may cause,’ National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe told the AP news agency.
Johndroe declined to say whether such measures could include shooting down the satellite with a missile.
China recently conducted such an operation by destroying one of its own satellites from Earth to test a space missile system. However, that move created a cloud of fragments and other satellites had to be manoeuvred into new orbits to avoid being hit by the debris.
Other satellites have fallen to earth harmlessly before. In 2002 parts of a science satellite rained down over the Persian Gulf. The largest re-entry took place when Skylab, a 78-ton abandoned space laboratory belonging to Nasa, fell from orbit in 1979. It came down in a fiery mass of debris that fell mainly into the Indian Ocean and onto Australia.
No one was harmed in what was a media sensation. One San Francisco newspaper offered a reward for anyone who brought a piece of Skylab to its newsroom. The $10,000 prize was collected by a young Western Australian man who found a piece of it on his roof in the small town of Esperance and travelled to America with it.
In 2000 Nasa engineers brought down a much smaller satellite into a distant part of the Pacific Ocean. That is likely to not be possible in this case as the object has lost all power and propulsion. This makes it impossible to dictate where or when the satellite will come down — or if it will just burn up in the atmosphere.
One of the most disturbing examples of space pollution occurred in a type of Soviet satellite launched from 1967 to 1988. The Rorsat-class reconnaissance satellites contained a nuclear reactor as a power source. It was later shown that 16 of 31 Rorsats had been leaking potentially radioactive coolant into space, creating a trail of droplets in orbit.
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian News and Media Limited 2008
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Disabled Spy Satellite Threatens Earth
Eileen Sullivan / Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — A large US spy satellite has lost power and could hit the Earth in late February or early March, government officials said Saturday. The satellite, which no longer can be controlled, could contain hazardous materials, and it is unknown where on the planet it might come down, they said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is classified as secret. It was not clear how long ago the satellite lost power, or under what circumstances.
“Appropriate government agencies are monitoring the situation,” said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council, when asked about the situation after it was disclosed by other officials. “Numerous satellites over the years have come out of orbit and fallen harmlessly. We are looking at potential options to mitigate any possible damage this satellite may cause.”
He would not comment on whether it is possible for the satellite to perhaps be shot down by a missile. He said it would be inappropriate to discuss any specifics at this time.
A senior government official said that lawmakers and other nations are being kept apprised of the situation.
The spacecraft contains hydrazine — which is rocket fuel — according to a government official who was not authorized to speak publicly but spoke on condition of anonymity. Hydrazine, a colorless liquid with an ammonia-like odor, is a toxic chemical and can cause harm to anyone who contacts it.
Such an uncontrolled re-entry could risk exposure of US secrets, said John Pike, a defense and intelligence expert. Spy satellites typically are disposed of through a controlled re-entry into the ocean so that no one else can access the spacecraft, he said.
Pike also said it’s not likely the threat from the satellite could be eliminated by shooting it down with a missile, because that would create debris that would then re-enter the atmosphere and burn up or hit the ground.
Pike, director of the defense research group GlobalSecurity.org, estimated that the spacecraft weighs about 20,000 pounds and is the size of a small bus. He said the satellite would create 10 times less debris than the Columbia space shuttle crash in 2003. Satellites have natural decay periods, and it’s possible this one died as long as a year ago and is just now getting ready to re-enter the atmosphere, he said.
Jeffrey Richelson, a senior fellow with the National Security Archive, said the spacecraft likely is a photo reconnaissance satellite. Such eyes in the sky are used to gather visual information from space about adversarial governments and terror groups, including construction at suspected nuclear sites or militant training camps. The satellites also can be used to survey damage from hurricanes, fires and other natural disasters.
The largest uncontrolled re-entry by a NASA spacecraft was Skylab, the 78-ton abandoned space station that fell from orbit in 1979. Its debris dropped harmlessly into the Indian Ocean and across a remote section of western Australia.
In 2000, NASA engineers successfully directed a safe de-orbit of the 17-ton Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, using rockets aboard the satellite to bring it down in a remote part of the Pacific Ocean.
In 2002, officials believe debris from a 7,000-pound science satellite smacked into the Earth’s atmosphere and rained down over the Persian Gulf, a few thousand miles from where they first predicted it would plummet.
Associated Press writers Pamela Hess and Deb Riechmann contributed to this report.
January 30th, 2008 - by admin
Tom Engelhardt / Tomgram – 2008-01-30 23:05:42
Normalizing Air War from Guernica to Arab Jabour
A January 21st Los Angeles Times Iraq piece by Ned Parker and Saif Rasheed led with an inter-tribal suicide bombing at a gathering in Fallujah in which members of the pro-American Anbar Awakening Council were killed. (“Asked why one member of his Albu Issa tribe would kill another, Aftan compared it to school shootings that happen in the United States.”) Twenty-six paragraphs later, the story ended this way:
“The U.S. military also said in a statement that it had dropped 19,000 pounds of explosives on the farmland of Arab Jabour south of Baghdad. The strikes targeted buried bombs and weapons caches.
“In the last 10 days, the military has dropped nearly 100,000 pounds of explosives on the area, which has been a gateway for Sunni militants into Baghdad.”
And here’s paragraph 22 of a 34-paragraph January 22nd story by Stephen Farrell of the New York Times:
“The threat from buried bombs was well known before the [Arab Jabour] operation. To help clear the ground, the military had dropped nearly 100,000 pounds of bombs to destroy weapons caches and I.E.D.’s.”
Farrell led his piece with news that an American soldier had died in Arab Jabour from an IED that blew up “an MRAP, the new Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected armored vehicle that the American military is counting on to reduce casualties from roadside bombs in Iraq.”
Note that both pieces started with bombing news — in one case a suicide bombing that killed several Iraqis; in another a roadside bombing that killed an American soldier and wounded others.
But the major bombing story of these last days — those 100,000 pounds of explosives that U.S. planes dropped in a small area south of Baghdad — simply dangled unexplained off the far end of the Los Angeles Times piece; while, in the New York Times, it was buried inside a single sentence.
Neither paper has (as far as I know) returned to the subject, though this is undoubtedly the most extensive use of air power in Iraq since the Bush administration’s invasion of 2003 and probably represents a genuine shifting of American military strategy in that country. Despite, a few humdrum wire service pieces, no place else in the mainstream has bothered to cover the story adequately either.
For those who know something about the history of air power, which, since World War II, has been lodged at the heart of the American Way of War, that 100,000 figure might have rung a small bell.
On April 27, 1937, in the midst of the Spanish Civil War (a prelude to World War II), the planes of the German Condor Legion attacked the ancient Basque town of Guernica. They came in waves, first carpet bombing, then dropping thermite incendiaries.
It was a market day and there may have been as many as 7,000-10,000 people, including refugees, in the town which was largely destroyed in the ensuing fire storm. More than 1,600 people may have died there (though some estimates are lower). The Germans reputedly dropped about 50 tons or 100,000 pounds of explosives on the town. In the seven decades between those two 100,000 figures lies a sad history of our age.
Arab Jabour, the Sunni farming community about 10 miles south of the Iraqi capital that was the target of the latest 100,000-pound barrage has recently been largely off-limits to American troops and their Iraqi allies. The American military now refers generically to all Sunni insurgents who resist them as “al Qaeda,” so in situations like this it’s hard to tell exactly who has held this territory.
At Guernica, as in Arab Jabour 71 years later, no reporters were present when the explosives rained down. In the Spanish situation, however, four reporters in the nearby city of Bilbao, including George Steer of the Times of London, promptly rushed to the scene of destruction. Steer’s first piece for the Times (also printed in the New York Times) was headlined “The Tragedy of Guernica” and called the assault “unparalleled in military history.” (Obviously, no such claims could be made for Arab Jabour today.) Steer made clear in his report that this had been an attack on a civilian population, essentially a terror bombing.
The self-evident barbarism of the event — the first massively publicized bombing of a civilian population — caused international horror. It was news across the planet. From it came perhaps the most famous painting of the last century, Picasso’s Guernica, as well as innumerable novels, plays, poems, and other works of art.
As Ian Patterson writes in his book, Guernica and Total War:
“Many attacks since then, including the ones we have grown used to seeing in Iraq and the Middle East in recent years, have been on such a scale that Guernica’s fate seems almost insignificant by comparison. But it’s almost impossible to overestimate the outrage it caused in 1937… Accounts of the bombing were widely printed in the American press, and provoked a great deal of anger and indignation in most quarters…”
Those last two tag-on paragraphs in the Parker and Rasheed Los Angeles Times piece tell us much about the intervening 71 years, which included the German bombing of Rotterdam and the blitz of London as well as other English cities; the Japanese bombings of Shanghai and other Chinese cities; the Allied fire-bombing of German and Japanese cities; the U.S. atomic destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the Cold War era of mutually assured destruction (MAD) in which two superpowers threatened to use the ultimate in airborne explosives to incinerate the planet; the massive, years-long U.S. bombing campaigns against North Korea and later North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia; the American air power “victories” of Gulf War I and Afghanistan (2001); and the Bush administration’s shock-and-awe, air-and-cruise-missile assault on Baghdad in March 2003, which, though meant to “decapitate” the regime of Saddam Hussein, killed not a single Iraqi governmental or Baath Party figure, only Iraqi civilians.
In those seven decades, the death toll and damage caused by war — on the ground and from the air — has increasingly been delivered to civilian populations, while the United States has come to rely on its Air Force to impose its will in war.
One hundred thousand pounds of explosives delivered from the air is now, historically speaking, a relatively modest figure. During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a single air wing from the USS Kitty Hawk, an aircraft carrier stationed in the Persian Gulf, did that sort of damage in less than a day and it was a figure that, as again last week, the military was proud to publicize without fear of international outrage or the possibility that “barbarism” might come to mind:
“From Tuesday afternoon through early Wednesday the air wing flew 69 dedicated strike missions in Basra and in and around Baghdad, involving 27 F/A-18 Hornets and 12 Tomcats. They dropped nearly 100,000 pounds of ordnance, said Lt. Brook DeWalt, Kitty Hawk public affairs officer.”
As far as we know, there were no reporters, Iraqi or Western, in Arab Jabour when the bombs fell and, Iraq being Iraq, no American reporters rushed there — in person or by satellite phone — to check out the damage. In Iraq and Afghanistan, when it comes to the mainstream media, bombing is generally only significant if it’s of the roadside or suicide variety; if, that is, the “bombs” can be produced at approximately “the cost of a pizza,” (as IEDs sometimes are), or if the vehicles delivering them are cars or simply fiendishly well-rigged human bodies. From the air, even 100,000 pounds of bombs just doesn’t have the ring of something that matters.
Some of this, of course, comes from the Pentagon’s success in creating a dismissive, sanitizing language in which to frame war from the air. “Collateral damage” stands in for the civilian dead — even though in much of modern war, the collateral damage could be considered the dead soldiers, not the ever rising percentage of civilian casualties. And death is, of course, delivered “precisely” by “precision-guided” weaponry.
All this makes air war seem sterile, even virginal. Army Col. Terry Ferrell, for instance, described the air assaults in Arab Jabour in this disembodied way at a Baghdad news conference:
“The purpose of these particular strikes was to shape the battlefield and take out known threats before our ground troops move in. Our aim was to neutralize any advantage the enemy could claim with the use of IEDs and other weapons.”
Reports — often hard to assess for credibility — have nonetheless seeped out of the region indicating that there were civilian casualties, possibly significant numbers of them; that bridges and roads were “cut off” and undoubtedly damaged; that farms and farmlands were damaged or destroyed. According to Hamza Hendawi of the Associated Press, for instance, Iraqi and American troops were said to have advanced into Arab Jabour, already much damaged from years of fighting, through “smoldering citrus groves.”
But how could there not be civilian casualties and property damage? After all, the official explanation for this small-scale version of a “shock-and-awe” campaign in a tiny rural region was that American troops and allied Iraqi forces had been strangers to the area for a while, and that the air-delivered explosives were meant to damage local infrastructure — by exploding roadside bombs and destroying weapons caches or booby traps inside existing structures.
As that phrase “take out known threats before our ground troops move in” made clear, this was an attempt to minimize casualties among American (and allied Iraqi) troops by bringing massive amounts of firepower to bear in a situation in which local information was guaranteed to be sketchy at best. Given such a scenario, civilians will always suffer. And this, increasingly, is likely to be the American way of war in Iraq.
The ABCs of Air War in Iraq
So let’s focus, for a moment, on American air power in Iraq and gather together a little basic information you’re otherwise not likely to find in one place. In these last years, the Pentagon has invested billions of dollars in building up an air-power infrastructure in and around Iraq.
As a start, it constructed one of its largest foreign bases anywhere on the planet about 80 kilometers north of Baghdad. Balad Air Base has been described by Newsweek as a “15-square-mile mini-city of thousands of trailers and vehicle depots,” whose air fields handle 27,500 takeoffs and landings every month.
Reputedly “second only to London’s Heathrow Airport in traffic worldwide,” it is said to handle congestion similar to that of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. With about 140,000 tons a year of cargo moving through it, the base is “the busiest aerial port” in the global domains of the Department of Defense.
It is also simply massive, housing about 40,000 military personnel, private contractors of various sorts, and Pentagon civilian employees. It has its own bus routes, fast-food restaurants, sidewalks, and two PXs that are the size of K-Marts. It also has its own neighborhoods including, reported the Washington Post’s Thomas Ricks, “KBR-land” for civilian contractors and “CJSOTF” (Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force), “home to a special operations unit [that] is hidden by especially high walls.”
Radar traffic controllers at the base now commonly see “more than 550 aircraft operations in just one day.” To the tune of billions of dollars, Balad’s runways and other facilities have been, and continue to be, upgraded for years of further wear and tear. According to the military press, construction is to begin this month on a $30 million “state-of-the-art battlefield command and control system [at Balad] that will integrate air traffic management throughout Iraq.”
National Public Radio’s Defense Correspondent Guy Raz paid a visit to the base last year and termed it “a giant construction site… [T]he sounds of construction and the hum of generators seem to follow visitors everywhere. Seen from the sky at night, the base resembles Las Vegas: While the surrounding Iraqi villages get about 10 hours of electricity a day, the lights never go out at Balad Air Base.”
This gargantuan feat of construction is designed for the military long haul. As Josh White of the Washington Post reported recently in a relatively rare (and bland) summary piece on the use of air power in Iraq, there were five times as many U.S. air strikes in 2007 as in 2006; and 2008 has, of course, started off with a literal bang from those 100,000 pounds of explosives dropped southeast of Baghdad.
That poundage assumedly includes the 40,000 pounds of explosives, which got modest headlines for being delivered in a mere 10 minutes in the Arab Jabour area the previous week, but not the 16,500 pounds of explosives that White reports being used north of Baghdad in approximately the same period; nor, evidently, another 15,000 pounds of explosives dropped on Arab Jabour more recently. (And none of these numbers seem to include Marine Corps figures for Iraq, which have evidently not been released.)
Who could forget all the attention that went into the President’s surge strategy on the ground in the first half of last year? But which media outlet even noticed, until recently, what Bob Deans of Cox News Service has termed the “air surge” that accompanied those 30,000 surging troops into the Iraqi capital and environs?
In that same period, air units were increasingly concentrated in and around Iraq. By mid-2007, for instance, the Associated Press was already reporting:
“[S]quadrons of attack planes have been added to the in-country fleet. The air reconnaissance arm has almost doubled since last year. The powerful B1-B bomber has been recalled to action over Iraq… Early this year, with little fanfare, the Air Force sent a squadron of A-10 ‘Warthog’ attack planes — a dozen or more aircraft — to be based at Al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq. At the same time it added a squadron of F-16C Fighting Falcons… at Balad.”
Meanwhile, in the last year, aircraft-carrier battle groups have been stationed in greater numbers in the Persian Gulf and facilities at sites near Iraq like the huge al-Udeid Air Base in Qatar continue to be upgraded.
Even these increases do not tell the whole story of the expanding air war. Lolita Baldor of the Associated Press reported recently that “the military’s reliance on unmanned aircraft that can watch, hunt and sometimes kill insurgents has soared to more than 500,000 hours in the air, largely in Iraq.”
The use of such unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including Hellfire-missile armed Predators, doubled in the first ten months of 2007 — with Predator air hours increasing from 2,000 to 4,300 in that period. The Army alone, according to Baldor, now has 361 drones in action in Iraq. The future promises much more of the same.
(American military spokespeople and administration officials have, over the years, decried Iraqi and Afghan insurgents for “hiding” behind civilian populations — in essence, accusing them of both immorality and cowardice. When such spokespeople do admit to inflicting “collateral damage” on civilian populations, they regularly blame the guerrillas for making civilians into “shields.”
And all of this is regularly, dutifully reported in our press. On the other hand, no one in our world considers drone warfare in a similar context, though armed UAVs like the Predators and the newer, even more heavily armed Reapers are generally “flown” by pilots stationed at computer consoles in places like Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas. It is from there that they release their missiles against “anti-Iraqi forces” or the Taliban, causing civilian deaths in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
As one American pilot, who has fired Predator missiles from Nellis, put it:
“I go from the gym and step inside Afghanistan, or Iraq… It takes some getting used to it. At Nellis you have to remind yourself, ‘I’m not at the Nellis Air Force Base. Whatever issues I had 30 minutes ago, like talking to my bank, aren’t important anymore.'”
To American reporters, this seems neither cowardly, nor in any way barbaric, just plain old normal. Those pilots are not said to be “hiding” in distant deserts or among the civilian gamblers of Caesar’s Palace.)
Anyway, here’s the simple calculus that goes with all this: Militarily, overstretched American forces simply cannot sustain the ground part of the surge for much longer. Most, if not all, of those 30,000 troops who surged into Iraq in the first half of 2007 will soon be coming home. But air power won’t be.
Air Force personnel are already on short, rotating tours of duty in the region. In Vietnam back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, as ground troops were withdrawn, air power ramped up. This seems once again to be the pattern. There is every reason to believe that it represents the American future in Iraq.
From Barbarism to the Norm
The air war is simply not visible to most Americans who depend on the mainstream media. In part, this is because American reporters, who have covered every other sort of warfare in Iraq, simply refuse to look up.
It should be no surprise then that news of a future possible escalation of the air war was first raised by a journalist who had never set foot in Iraq and so couldn’t look up. In a December 2005 piece entitled “Up in the Air,” New Yorker investigative reporter Seymour Hersh suggested that “a key element of [any] drawdown plans, not mentioned in the President’s public statements, is that the departing American troops will be replaced by American airpower… The danger, military experts have told me, is that, while the number of American casualties would decrease as ground troops are withdrawn, the over-all level of violence and the number of Iraqi fatalities would increase unless there are stringent controls over who bombs what.”
After Hersh broke his story, the silence was deafening. Only one reporter, as far as I know, has even gone up in a plane — David S. Cloud of the New York Times, who flew in a B-1 from an unnamed “Middle Eastern airfield” on a mission over Afghanistan. Thomas Ricks traveled to Balad Air Base and did a superb report on it in 2006, but no reporter seems to have bothered to hang out with American pilots, nor have the results of bombing, missile-firing, or strafing been much recorded in our press. The air war is still largely relegated to passing mentions of air raids, based on Pentagon press releases or announcements, in summary pieces on the day’s news from Iraq.
Given American military history since 1941, this is all something of a mystery. A Marine patrol rampaging through an Iraqi village can, indeed, be news; but American bombs or missiles turning part of a city into rubble or helicopter gunships riddling part of a neighborhood is, at best, tag-on, inside-the-fold material — a paragraph or two, as in this AP report on the latest fighting in an undoubtedly well-populated part of the city of Mosul:
“An officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information, said three civilians were wounded and helicopters had bombarded buildings in the southeastern Sumar neighborhood, which has seen frequent attacks on U.S. and Iraqi forces that have led to a series of raids.”
The predictably devastating results of helicopters “bombarding” an urban neighborhood in a major Iraqi city, if reported at all, will be treated as just the normal “collateral damage” of war as we know it. In our world, what was once the barbarism of air war, its genuine horror, has been transformed into humdrum ordinariness (if, of course, you don’t happen to be an Iraqi or an Afghan on the receiving end), the stuff of largely ignored Air Force news releases. It is as unremarkable (and as American) as apple pie, and nothing worth writing home to mom and the kids about.
Maybe then, it’s time for Seymour Hersh to take another look. Or for the online world to take up the subject. Maybe, sooner or later, American mainstream journalists in Iraq (and editors back in the U.S.) will actually look up, notice those contrails in the skies, register those “precision” bombs and missiles landing, and consider whether it really is a ho-hum, no-news period when the U.S. Air Force looses 100,000 pounds of explosives on a farming district on the edge of Baghdad.
Maybe artists will once again begin pouring their outrage over the very nature of air war into works of art, at least one of which will become iconic, and travel the world reminding us just what, almost five years later, the “liberation” of Iraq has really meant for Iraqis.
In the meantime, brace yourself. Air war is on the way.
Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute’s Tomdispatch.com, is the co-founder of the American Empire Project. His book, The End of Victory Culture (University of Massachusetts Press), has been thoroughly updated in a newly issued edition that deals with victory culture’s crash-and-burn sequel in Iraq.
Note on Air-War Readings:
• The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) published a study in December 2007 on the air war in Iraq, which can be read by clicking here (PDF file).
• Figures on the rising intensity of air power in that country can be found there — of a sort that the Washington Post only recently reported on.
• For some historical background on U.S. air power and the bombing of noncombatants, I suggest checking out Mark Selden’s “A Forgotten Holocaust.”
• Those who, in these years, wanted to find out something substantive about the air war in Iraq had to look to independent sites on line.
• At Tomdispatch, I began writing on the air war in 2004. See, for instance, “Icarus (armed with Vipers) Over Iraq”; others have taken up the subject at this site since:
• See Dahr Jamail’s “Living Under the Bombs”;
• Nick Turse’s “Bombs Over Baghdad, The Pentagon’s Secret Air War in Iraq” and “Did the U.S. Lie about Cluster Bomb Use in Iraq” (both of which involved the sort of reporting, long distance, that American journalists should have been doing in Iraq); and
• Michael Schwartz’s “A Formula for Slaughter: The American Rules of Engagement from the Air,” among other pieces.
• On the air war in Afghanistan, see my “‘Accidents of War,’ The Time Has Come for an Honest Discussion of Air Power.”]
Copyright 2008 Tom Engelhardt
January 30th, 2008 - by admin
Peter Chamberlin / The Peoples’ Voice – 2008-01-30 00:19:06
In researching the events leading to America’s downfall, I have had to continually readjust my understanding of the situation as new information surfaced. Throughout the entire learning process it has proven especially difficult to determine whether the CIA determines the secret policies it carries out, or if the agency merely serve as a loyal tool to the moneymen who control the world from behind the scenes. It is very difficult to sort out the facts from the fabrication about an ongoing disinformation campaign while immersed in it.
I used to think that the “new right” was simply a merger between militarist corporate interests and right wing militant groups, and that the CIA was merely a servant to whoever was in power. But I have come to realize that the spy agency was instrumental in creating the “Reagan revolution” and the “neoconservatives” who were spawned by it. At first it seemed that the confluence of CIA dirty tricks with the Republican national politics was limited to agents helping out their former boss. But it became apparent that there had been a strategic merger between the CIA, the Republican Party and corporate America.
Names like Nelson Rockefeller and Nelson Bunker Hunt (of the infamous Hunt brothers) show up as major financiers in the new right “conservative movement.” Researcher Steve Kangas reported (shortly before his murder) on the connections between radical Republican billionaires and the early neocons, most of whom had previous CIA experience. Kangas was found shot to death outside the Pittsburgh offices of right-wing benefactor Richard Mellon Scaife, who gave millions to right wing groups trying to destroy President Clinton, including the Heritage Foundation and Newt Gingrich’s Free Congress Foundation.
Before Kangas died, he produced a lengthy report titled, “How the CIA Created a Ruling, Corporate Overclass in America” that may have gotten him killed.
“From 1973 to 1975, Scaife ran Forum World Features, a foreign news service used as a front to disseminate CIA propaganda around the world. Shortly afterwards he began donating millions to fund the New Right.
“The political machine they built is broad and comprehensive, covering every aspect of the political fight. It includes right-wing departments and chairs in the nation’s top universities, think tanks, public relations firms, media companies, fake grassroots organizations that pressure Congress…
“The CIA also helped create the conservative think tank movement… The Heritage Foundation opened its doors in 1973, the recipient of $250,000 in seed money from the Coors Foundation.
“A flood of conservative think tanks followed shortly thereafter, and by 1980 they overwhelmed the scene. The new think tanks turned out to be little more than propaganda mills, rigging studies to ‘prove’ that their corporate sponsors needed tax breaks, deregulation and other favors from government…
Using propaganda techniques it had perfected at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe, the CIA and its allies turned American AM radio into a haven for conservative talk shows… The origins of this machine, interestingly enough, can be traced back to the CIA… Its principle creators were [neoconservatives] Irving Kristol, Paul Weyrich, William Simon, Richard Mellon Scaife, Frank Shakespeare, William F. Buckley, Jr., the Rockefeller family… These men would take the propaganda and operational techniques they had learned in the Cold War and apply them to the Class War.
Therefore it is no surprise that the American version of the machine bears an uncanny resemblance to the foreign versions designed to fight communism…”
The radical neocon attack machine was constructed under CIA guidance to incorporate the political strategies that they had perfected while waging covert political warfare against our European allies, as well as other friends and enemies throughout the world. The politics of fear that underlie the “war on terrorism,” derive from the “strategy of tension” that the agency developed in Italy.
• Click for background on: Strategy of Tension.
“A strategy of tension (Italian: strategia della tensione) is a way to control and manipulate public opinion using fear, propaganda, disinformation, psychological warfare, agents provocateurs, as well as false flag terrorist actions (including bombings). According to historian Daniele Ganser, “It is a tactic which consists in committing bombings and attributing them to others. By the term ‘tension’ one refers to emotional tension, to what creates a sentiment of fear. By the term ‘strategy’ one refers to what feeds the fear of the people towards one particular group”.
This terror-based political strategy was called “Operation Gladio.” Neocons like Michael Ledeen were recruited from these actual covert operations to serve as spokesmen and political “hit men” for the united neocon front. Gladio was just a more recent manifestation of recurring secret CIA plans to overthrow the government of the United States that eventually leak out, stemming back to at least the era of “Operation Northwoods” (another “false flag” terror attack by CIA/military agents upon Americans, for the purpose of causing war with Cuba).
The recently released “Family Jewels” documents CIA crimes before 1975, including the involuntary MK-ULTRA LSD experiments upon the American people, which even included experiments upon children.
• Click for background on: Family Jewels
Kangas documented the astonishing gains reaped by the corporate ruling class from the benefits accrued to them by their merger with CIA interests.
“In 1975, the richest 1 percent owned 22 percent of America’s wealth. By 1992, they would nearly double that, to 42 percent — the highest level of inequality in the 20th century… The CIA has always recruited the nation’s elite: millionaire businessmen, Wall Street brokers, members of the national news media, and Ivy League scholars… By the 1950s, the CIA had riddled the nation’s businesses, media and universities with tens of thousands of part-time, on-call operatives… Historically, the CIA and society’s elite have been one and the same people. This means that their interests and goals are one and the same as well…
‘The CIA is the President’s secret army,’ Noam Chomksy correctly points out that its real mission was ‘deterring democracy.’ From corrupting elections to overthrowing democratic governments, from assassinating elected leaders to installing murderous dictators, the CIA has virtually always replaced democracy with dictatorship. It didn’t help that the CIA was run by businessmen, whose hostility towards democracy is legendary.
“The reason they overthrew so many democracies is because the people usually voted for policies that multi-national corporations didn’t like: land reform, strong labor unions, nationalization of their industries, and greater regulation protecting workers, consumers and the environment… Even when the communist threat was real, the CIA first and foremost took care of the elite…
“Since the end of the Cold War, Washington has been abuzz with talk about using the CIA for economic espionage… Remember, the CIA is an instrument of the President; it only carries out policy…
“The CIA’s contacts with big business quickly spread. The agency showed a preference for international companies, public relations firms, media companies, law offices, banks, financiers and stockbrokers. The CIA didn’t limit its activities to recruiting businessmen; sometimes the CIA bought or created entire companies outright… By allying itself with the business community, the CIA received the funds and ability it needed to remove itself from democratic control… the CIA began a mission in the late 1940s to recruit American journalists on a wide scale,..
“The agency wanted these journalists not only to relay any sensitive information they discovered, but also to write anti-communist, pro-capitalist propaganda when needed… By the early 50s, CIA Director Allen Dulles had staffed the CIA almost exclusively with Ivy League graduates, especially from Yale. (A disproportionate number of CIA figures, like George Bush, come from Yale’s “Skull and Crossbones’ Society).”
Today, after thirty years running roughshod over America, this unholy alliance of ruthless businessmen and cold-blooded spies has brought the world to the very edge of the precipice. Their policy has amounted to waging economic warfare against the American people. The purposeful de-industrialization and off-shoring of American vital industries and jobs has drained the life from our economy into their off-shore bank accounts.
The foolish anti-tax policies enacted by the Bush Administration to accelerate that transfer of wealth has accelerated the collapse of the global economy, as well as our own.
The shaky status of our bankrupted economy can best be seen in the desperate measures now being prepared to stave off the certain economic collapse that we have caused. The $100+ economic boost represents a complete break with Bush economic doctrine, giving every American $250 and Republicans giving up the hotly contested Bush tax cuts.
“The stimulus plan taking shape in Congress is likely to include targeted tax cuts and rebates for middle- and low-income Americans, tax breaks for business, and spending for unemployment insurance and food stamps… GOP leaders said they would not insist on an extension of Mr. Bush’s tax cuts, set to expire in 2010… ”
The dire military straits, in which the unholy neocon alliance have trapped us, can best be demonstrated by the news that Congress is now debating legislation to reinstate the national draft.
H.R. 393: Universal National Service Act of 2007 IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, January 10, 2007
“To require all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, to authorize the induction of persons in the uniformed services during wartime to meet end-strength requirements of the uniformed services…” This comes after six years spent fighting a war without end that is as much a war against American democracy as it is against Islamic extremism. The truth about our alleged enemy, “al Qaida,” is that there is no international terrorist conspiracy by that name, killing Americans and our friends by the hundreds. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7787
“Al Qaida” is a CIA fabricated enemy, created as an opponent for the CIA-created “neocon” supermen, intended to embed an invisible terror army amongst the people, in order to perpetually justify waging war upon the people. 9/11 was a declaration of war by the CIA conspirators upon the people of the United States and the military forces that defend us. The US Army should be hunting the real CIA terrorists.
The CIA National Intelligence Estimate on Iran is disinformation, intended to both throw the people off the trail of their crimes and to provide a backdoor confirmation of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. The upcoming Iran war should be seen as the CIA opening another front in its war against the Pentagon.
They will not relinquish control of America’s foreign policy to anyone, even if they have to destroy America in the process. What does the internationalist agency care, if the “homeland” gets toasted, as long as they hold the rest of the world in their hands?
The war on Iran is too important to the plotters’ time sensitive grand design; if the war cannot be started over the nuclear issue, then another pathway will open (a backdoor approach to starting the war through Pakistan will serve just as well).
The neocon Congress and their President have fully submerged American sovereignty in their dual-allegiance to the state of Israel, as demonstrated by yesterday’s news that Congress has followed Bush’s lead and rejected the American NIE in favor of intelligence provided by the Israeli Mossad. http://mparent7777-2.blogspot.com/2008/01/congress-dismisses-nie- declares-iran.html
With the recently-announced joining of US/Israeli missile defenses and discussions on a possible military pact with Israel, comes word that Bush and Olmert have been making plans to blockade the Syrian coast, as a means to counter growing Russian influence in the region, setting up a US/Russian confrontation, for the sake of reassuring Israel.
According to reports coming out of Israel, the Republican Party is even more supportive of the “Jewish state” than are its own leaders.
“The President this week explicitly called Israel a Jewish state and that any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians must establish Palestine as a homeland for the Palestinian people, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. This signals a complete rejection of the Palestinian right of return that derailed the Clinton Camp David talks in 2000…”
With Bush busily destroying all the groundwork from past peace negotiations, it becomes more than obvious that he is just as determined as ever to strike Iran for Israel, before he leaves office. It is also obvious that the full Congress has turned their backs on the will of the American people in this determination.
The false sense of jubilation expressed by many on the left and the right was premature. The war with Iran is still on, it will just be a little more difficult to instigate, than before. But the war gremlins are working overtime to provide the needed justification for a wider war. Israeli officials are now claiming that a rocket fired into Israel by Palestinians originated in Iran.
Hamas is but an appetizer. The Revolutionary Guard will be the main course. Anyone who saw the pictures of Bush (the man who believes that he is the hand of God in restoring “God’s people” to the Holy Land) begins to understand – Bush is on a “mission from God.” Did you see him tear up, when he said that he wished that he had been there to “bomb Auschwitz?”
He shed no tears for the poor Palestinians when he told them to stop hoping that Israel will pull back to the 1967 borders, which Israelis have dubbed the “Auschwitz borders.” He has wedded himself to Israel’s idea of the “two-state solution,” which will one day be revealed to mean a Palestinian state in Jordan and a “Jewish state” from the Jordan River to the sea.
Bush the alcoholic former party animal, who credits Billy Graham with “saving” him from himself, has no choice but to do God’s will. Remember, Bush once admitted that God had told him to strike Afghanistan and Iraq. Now God has ordered him to make peace in the Holy Land. Bush’s idea of “peace” is the peace of the grave.
The Bush push to force “peace” upon the Palestinians requires that every party be bound to the terms of his road map for peace, which is clearly slanted in Israel’s favor. It will take many years to implement the major restructuring of Mideastern society to one that is favorable to the will of Bush. This means that he doesn’t intend to leave office. His role as messiah will require that he remain in power for a long time. He is convinced that God wants him to start Armageddon.
The US war on terror has been, in reality, a machine for sowing terror, intended to force the people who are inclined to self-defense, to become terrorists. Kidnappings, targeted assassinations, military attacks, and the making of entire populations into refugees, are tactics intended to alienate individuals and drive them to vigilantism.
Terrorists are defined as those who take up arms to defend against US attacks and occupation. The driving purpose of the war on terrorism has been to uncover would-be terrorists (those who would resist America), by forcing radicalized men to violently act upon their beliefs. The use of “death squads” and militias to instigate conflicts is a plot to flush out the hidden commitments to family and country that would drive angry young men to oppose America’s violent designs upon their property.
It is the same wherever this covert foreign policy of fomenting civil war is being implemented. This plan that has been hatched by our “leaders” is pure evil. It cannot be allowed to proceed. That is exactly what the GWOT (global war on terrorism) does, it requires that those governments who join with the US in its offensive attack upon the world, agree to wage low-level war against their own people, until the people rise up in a true civil war.
Whether it is a straight-out insurgency that is ignited, or a religious conflict, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that the government agrees to oppress its own people in the name of “fighting terrorism.”
This sorry state of affairs is the brainchild of new world order geniuses like Zbigniew Brzezenski, who hatched the idea of reviving Islamic jihadism and turning it into a political weapon, inspiring a generation of Islamic insurgents armed and trained with modern weaponry and demolition skills. The idea was to indoctrinate millions of devout Muslims with militant Wahabi doctrine, dispensed in Saudi madrassas in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s badlands (utilizing radical Islamist textbooks printed for the CIA in the USA), is bearing fruit today.
The new generation of thirty-something Taliban leaders, like 34 year-old Baitullah Mehsud (accused of assassinating Benazir Bhutto), are products of the madrassa indoctrination. The University of Nebraska-Omaha jihadi textbooks began arriving in the Saudi/Pakistani madrassas when Mehsud and his pals were about ten years old.
It is little wonder that there are so many Islamists wanting revenge upon America, considering the suffering we have inflicted upon the families of the war dead, the refugees and the “disappeared.” The US campaign to save its economy by waging war upon the world will clearly succeed in raising a large portion of the earth’s people in opposition to us. When conditions deteriorate to that point, American survival will depend upon our leaders’ willingness to liquidate that very large protesting portion or the earth’s people.
The crimes of the corporate state are rapidly catching up to them. There will be “hell to pay,” when the people realize the true face of the organization of thieves and murderers that calls itself the “American government.” The takeover of democracy and the initiation of world war through the commission of the largest terrorist attack in history on US soil, are crimes beyond measure. We the people will destroy the terrorist government that has taken us over from within.
The world waits with baited breath to learn whether we will bring this government down before or after the real conflagration begins.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
January 30th, 2008 - by admin
Susan Smallheer Herald Staff – 2008-01-30 00:17:56
BRATTLEBORO (January 26, 2008) — Brattleboro residents will vote at town meeting on whether President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should be indicted and arrested for war crimes, perjury or obstruction of justice if they ever step foot in Vermont.
The Brattleboro Select Board voted 3-2 Friday to put the controversial item on the Town Meeting Day warning.
According to Town Clerk Annette Cappy, organizers of the Bush-Cheney issue gathered enough signatures, and it was up to the Select Board whether Brattleboro voters would consider the issue in March.
Cappy said residents will get to vote on the matter by paper balloting March 4.
Kurt Daims, 54, of Brattleboro, the organizer of the petition drive, said Friday the debate to get the issue on the ballot was a good one. Opposition to the vote focused on whether the town had any power to endorse the matter.
“It is an advisory thing,” said Daims, a retired prototype machinist and stay-at-home dad of three daughters.
So far, Vermont is the only state Bush hasn’t visited since he became president in 2001.
Daims said the most grievous crime committed by Bush and Cheney was perjury – lying to Congress and U.S. citizens about the basis of a war in Iraq.
He said the latest count showed a total of 600,000 people have died in the war.
Daims also said he believed Bush and Cheney were also guilty of espionage for spying on American people and obstruction of justice, for the politically generated firings of U.S. attorneys.
Voting to put the matter on the town ballot were Chairwoman Audrey Garfield and board members Richard Garrant and Dora Boubalis.
Voting against the idea were board members Richard DeGray and Stephen Steidle.
Daims said the names submitted to the town clerk’s office were the second wave of signatures the petition drive had to collect, because he had to rewrite the wording of the petition.
He said he gathered nearly 500 signatures in about three weeks, and he said most people he encountered were eager to sign it. He started the petition drive about three months ago.
“Everybody I talked to wanted Bush to go,” he said, noting that even members of the local police department supported the drive.
“This is exactly what the charter envisioned as a citizen initiative,” Daims said. “People want to express themselves and they want to say how they feel.”
He said the idea is spreading: Activists in Louisville, Ky., are spearheading a similar drive, and he said activists were also working in Montague, Mass., a Berkshires town.
The article asked the town attorney to “draft indictments against President Bush and Vice President Cheney for crimes against our Constitution and publish said indictments for consideration by other authorities.”
The article goes on to say the indictments would be the “law of the town of Brattleboro that the Brattleboro police … arrest and detain George Bush and Richard Cheney in Brattleboro, if they are not duly impeached …”
Daims said people in Brattleboro were willing to “think outside the box” and consider the issue.
Daims had no compunction in comparing Bush and Cheney with one of the most notorious people in history.
“If Hitler were still alive and walked through Brattleboro, I think the local police would arrest him for war crimes,” Daims said.
Contact Susan Smallheer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
January 30th, 2008 - by admin
Paul Craig Roberts / CounterPunch – 2008-01-30 00:17:08
(January 26 / 27, 2008) — It is difficult to know where Bush has accomplished the most destruction, the Iraqi economy or the US economy.
In the current issue of Manufacturing & Technology News, Washington economist Charles McMillion observes that seven years of Bush has seen the federal debt increase by two-thirds while US household debt doubled.
This massive Keynesian stimulus produced pitiful economic results. Median real income has declined. The labor force participation rate has declined. Job growth has been pathetic, with 28% of the new jobs being in the government sector.
All the new private sector jobs are accounted for by private education and health care bureaucracies, bars and restaurants. Three and a quarter million manufacturing jobs and a half million supervisory jobs were lost. The number of manufacturing jobs has fallen to the level of 65 years ago.
This is the profile of a third world economy.
The “new economy” has been running a trade deficit in advanced technology products since 2002. The US trade deficit in manufactured goods dwarfs the US trade deficit in oil. The US does not earn enough to pay its import bill, and it doesn’t save enough to finance the government’s budget deficit.
To finance its deficits, America looks to the kindness of foreigners to continue to accept the outpouring of dollars and dollar-denominated debt.
The dollars are accepted, because the dollar is the world’s reserve currency.
At the meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland, this week, billionaire currency trader George Soros warned that the dollar’s reserve currency role was drawing to an end: “The current crisis is not only the bust that follows the housing boom, it’s basically the end of a 60-year period of continuing credit expansion based on the dollar as the reserve currency. Now the rest of the world is increasingly unwilling to accumulate dollars.”
If the world is unwilling to continue to accumulate dollars, the US will not be able to finance its trade deficit or its budget deficit. As both are seriously out of balance, the implication is for yet more decline in the dollar’s exchange value and a sharp rise in prices.
Economists have romanticized globalism, taking delight in the myriad of foreign components in US brand name products. This is fine for a country whose trade is in balance or whose currency has the reserve currency role. It is a terrible dependency for a country such as the US that has been busy at work offshoring its economy while destroying the exchange value of its currency.
As the dollar sheds value and loses its privileged position as reserve currency, US living standards will take a serious knock.
If the US government cannot balance its budget by cutting its spending or by raising taxes, the day when it can no longer borrow will see the government paying its bills by printing money like a third world banana republic. Inflation and more exchange rate depreciation will be the order of the day.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com
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