by Chris Floyd
The reaction from actual Iraqis on the just-released report by the "Iraq Study Group"? They don't like it; it won't work; it's largely a tissue of fantasies and shows no grasp of the true situation in Iraq; it has nothing to do with solving Iraq's problems but everything to do with the American Establishment's desperate attempt to save face, no matter how many people must be slaughtered in the process.
But why should we listen to these wretched malcontents in Iraq? How the hell could they know more about the reality of their lives than Jim "Bagman" Baker and Lee "Whitewash for Hire" Hamilton and Harriet "Here's the PB&J, George" Miers and Ed "Porn Man" Meese? I mean, come on: who on God's green earth knows more about the political, social, ethnic, historical, religious and military complexities of Iraq than Ed Meese? The Heritage Foundation's Ronald Reagan Distinguished Fellow in Public Policy? Man, he's the go-to guy for all things Iraqi! There's no freaking, frigging way that any Hakim or Abdul or Nouri or Motqada or Mahmoud is gonna have any greater insight on Iraq than Ed Meese. Are you kidding me?
by Paul Balles
Some of mankind's most terrible misdeeds have been committed under the spell of certain magic words or phrases.
--James Bryant Conant
The sly and deceitful way that propagandists distort facts, events and history never ceases to amaze me.
That kind of disingenuous propaganda came recently from both Israeli leaders and American Zionists. The latest was the attempt to gloss over criticism of the Israeli murder and destruction in Lebanon by claiming that the Hezbollah militia used civilians as human shields.
That's one way to attempt to divert attention from the thousands of bombs the Israelis dropped on hundreds of civilian targets all over Lebanon. A typical evasion, the Israeli claim has been coyly used to purge attention from the reality: Israel had no business invading Lebanon in the first place!
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Earlier this year, when courage and clarity seemed dangerously rare among our politicians, many of us were heartened when Senator Russ Feingold stood up for the rule of law, proposing a motion to censure President Bush for his flagrant violation of both statutory law and the Constitution. Feingold quickly became a champion for many who hungered for someone in high places to speak the truth about the reckless criminality of this regime. We began to hear talk of a possible Feingold run for the presidency in 2008. And the idea had appeal to many, including me.
Recently, of course, Senator Feingold has taken himself explicitly out of the running. The reason he gave was that he intended to focus on his work as a Senator.
In such matters, itâ€™s never entirely clear what is going on. How often have we heard that someone, stepping down from high office or choosing not to run, has based his decision on some overwhelming desire to â€œspend more time with my family,â€ when other less flattering reasons are visible? Add a comment
The geese heard the barbarians scaling the gate-wall while the guard-dogs slept.
â€¦it offended his conscience to make a little money by sending to the slaughter-house an ox which had long been in his service.
-Plutarch, Life of Cato.
(This is a reluctant continuation from my last Studebaker classified post. An anonymous phone caller requested my address)*
To be the recipient of an insult is disgraceful; to return one is honorable. The contempt, cruelties, and prevarication of our dayâ€”rival any argument I know. There are many reproachable traits we observe in wartime which is abominable. Once, for instance, in our more innocent daily land-lover affairs, we may have been kicked black, red, and blue by a beast mule. That kind of assault is accepted without feeling serious insult. If we consider the source of the brunt-kick; healing will come with time. Avenging insult of certain kinds, itâ€™s wise to ignore. When human-tyrants use base and beastly powers to butcher, destroy cities where innocent citizens dwell, and defile written words, such as: democracy, freedom, and justiceâ€¦to horde capital, itâ€™s best to Address it.
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World War II had started more than two years earlier. But -- prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor -- America was having none of it. Remembering World War I, most Americans were anxious to avoid a repeat performance.
Having cracked the Japanese codes, American "leaders" knew the attack was coming, but they had no interest in preventing it.
Instead they moved all their carriers out to sea, left a few rusty old battleships in port, and manned those ships with thousands of sailors -- whose lives would be sacrificed for policy considerations. The aim was to produce a catalyzing event, after which it would be easy to lead the American people into another foreign war.
By now, everyone has heard about Rumsfeldâ€™s memo. It was leaked to the New York Times supposedly without Rumsfeldâ€™s knowledge. It makes the case that Rumsfeld was just about to make major changes in Iraq because he could see that the strategy wasfailing and hadcreateda disaster.
Everything about the memo reeks of deception. In fact, the Times even admits that, â€œRumsfeld may have been trying to shape the coming discussion and present himself as open to â€˜changeâ€™â€.
Because, according to the article, â€œPresident Bush interviewed Texas A&M University President Robert Gates as a potential successor to Rumsfeld a day before the midterm elections.â€
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Below is a reprise from June 2003, which appeared on CounterPunch and in my Moscow Times column, a piece that was not included in the Empire Burlesque book. It is a general argument that tries, briefly, to get at some of the deeper issues underlying the bedevilments of the age, which, as noted below, are by no means exclusive to our modern times.
We meant no offense to any Christian readers with our recent blast at the crude fundamentalism now riding herd on the American government and large swathes of American society as well ("Devil's Advocate," Counterpunch, May 31, 2003). We realize that it is not the fault of Jesus Christ or even the Apostle Paul â€“ that seminal master of marketing who repackaged Jesus' harsh and quirky parochial ascetism into a handy one-size-fits-all panacea for existential ills â€“ that fanatics like Bush and Company believe there is only one immutable Truth about reality, which they just happen to possess.
It is, of course, the fault of Plato, whose poetic fantasy of a changeless Perfection behind the messiness of physical existence infected the Western mind with the germ of ideological intolerance. For if Perfect Truth exists, then it can be known, and once known, it must necessarily be acknowledged as the sole measure, explanation and arbiter of "all of life and all of history," as Mr. Bush likes to say.
With Plato begins the slow death of the old gods: those powerful evocations who in their conflicts and contradictions, their lusts and doubts, their recklessness, sorrows, tempers â€“ and manifold imperfections â€“ surely embodied the seething chaos of human reality far better than the degraded Platonic idealism adopted by the Pauline Christians. We leave aside here Jesus' ethical teachings, which despite millennia of lip service have never been adopted or even taken seriously by any society throughout history â€“ although a few of Paul's more cranky notions about sex and obedience (especially his ever-popular injunction, "Slaves, obey your masters!") have been enthusiastically embraced by Western rulers since the days of the murderous Constantine the Great down to our present age, presided over by the warmongering Christian Coalition of Bush and Blair. Add a comment
It's been 25 years now since Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was shot dead in a Center City, Philadelphia red-light district. Since then, Faulkner has become a rallying point for the nation's death penalty advocates. It's been 25 years, too, since the man convicted of killing Faulkner, Philadelphia radio journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, was arrested for the crime at the scene. Since July 1982, Abu-Jamal has been in solitary confinement on Philadelphia's death row, from hich lonely spot he has become a world-famous prison journalist, and a rallying point for those opposed to capital punishment.
The debates over Abu-Jamal's guilt or innocence have raged now for an astonishing quarter of a century, through the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. Battles have raged, too, within the loose-knit group of people who have backed Abu-Jamal, between those who argue that he is an innocent man, a political prisoner condemned for his politics, and those who simply argue that he never received a fair trial. Politicians at the local, state and even federal level, many without any real knowledge about this complex case, have prostituted themselves by pressing for Abu-Jamal's execution, while others, sometimes equally ignorant of the facts, have lionized him and honored him with honorary citizenships and street names.
Whatever one's views on this case, however, the reality is that it for the first time in 25 years, Abu-Jamal is finally going to get a chance in the second highest court in the land to make the case that his 1982 trial was fatally tainted by unconstitutional error, judicial bias, race-based jury selection and prosecutorial misconduct. The reality also is that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which will be hearing arguments on Abu-Jamal's appeal early next year (barring any unanticipated delays), could conceivably end up ordering a new trial for Abu-Jamal--a trial that, because of better defense counsel, a changed political climate, shifting demographics, the deaths of some witnesses, and the likelihood of new defense witnesses, would most likely end up setting him free, or having him released for time served. At the same time, the same three-judge panel hearing this appeal will also be considering a counter appeal by the Philadelphia District Attorney's office, which seeks to overturn a lower Federal District Court decision which five years ago tossed out Abu-Jamal's death sentence. So at the same time that the Third Circuit could end up giving Abu-Jamal a new chance to prove his innocence, or at least to leave prison a free man, it could ironically also end up sending him back onto death row and to a date with the needle.
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It would be nice to believe that the U.S./British invasion of Iraq may have been horribly mishandled but the motivation behind it was sincere. After all, it's a timeless classic: toss out a depot and introduce democracy. However, even the most perfunctory glance at previous U.S./British ventures would promptly expose the lies. An excellent example is post-WWII Greece.
Before the (so-called) Good War, Greece was a right-wing monarchy and dictatorship, but German occupation gave birth to a civil war. The National Liberation Front (EAM), an extremely popular left-wing group, and the People's Liberation Army, the guerilla resistance wing of EAM, gained the support of the masses and were largely responsible for Greece being relatively Nazi-free by the time the British army arrived in late 1944. Viewing EAM's early support by the Greek Communist Party and its tendency towards unrealistic slogans like education for the illiterate and welcoming women as soldiers as a precursor of what post-war Greece may be like, a British army of intervention promptly stepped in to restore the right-wing dictatorship.
In response to the inevitable jailing and repression of regime opponents and trade union leaders, a left-wing guerilla movement sprang forth. By the fall of 1946, this friction led to civil war. Great Britain, no longer able to extend itself globally, was unable to handle the rebellion and called on the U.S. for help. "Thus it was," explains author William Blum, "that the historic task of preserving all that is decent and good in Western Civilization passed into the hands of the United States."
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â€œ[It] is wrong to suggest that the Jewish people would support a government in Israel or anywhere else that institutionalizes ethnically based suppression, and Democrats reject that allegation vigorously.â€
One might hope that the newly elected Democrats that constitute the majority in both houses would be able to think for themselves on the issue of Israeli apartheid and not be led by the prejudicial opinion of their presumed House leader. Pelosiâ€™s statement denies the reality that exists in Israel now on two counts: first, she denies the reality of the present government in Israel because with Olmertâ€™s acceptance of Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party into his government, he, and therefore his government, has acknowledged what this man and his party endorse, the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their land and the denial of citizenship of Palestinians living in Israel; secondly, she denies the reality of the Jewish stateâ€™s â€œDeclaration of Independence,â€ as noted by Dr. Uri Davis in his work, Apartheid Israel, â€œThe Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel â€“ known as Israelâ€™s Declaration of Independence â€“ does not declare Israel an independent State, nor does it declare Israel a sovereign State, it rather declares Israel a Jewish State â€¦ the Jewish State in the political Zionist sense of the term was to be an apartheid state.â€ Dr. Davisâ€™ work records the acts of â€œethnic cleansing of the majority of the native indigenous Palestinian Arab people from the territories that came under the control of the Israeli army and razing some 400 Palestinian rural and urban localities to the ground â€¦â€ and the plantation of Jewish settlements and subsequent annexation by the State in â€œviolation of both the UN Charter and of international law.â€ Add a comment
Last week, someone slipped New York Times reporters Michael R. Gordon and David S. Cloud the secret memo finished by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld just two days before he "resigned." It was the last in a flurry of famed Rumsfeldian "snowflakes" that have fluttered down upon the Pentagon these past years. This one, though, was "submitted" to the White House and clearly meant for the President's eyes. In it, the Secretary of Defense offered a veritable laundry list of possible policy adjustments in Iraq, adding up to what, according to Gordon and Cloud, is both an acknowledgement of failure and "a major course correction."
Think of this last zany, only semi-coherent Rumsfeldian document -- part of Washington's grim ongoing silly season over Iraq -- as Rumsfeld's last stand. In it, he quite literally cycles (as in bicycles) back to the origins of the Bush administration's shredded Iraq policy. It is, in a pathetic sense, that policy stripped bare.
Here are just three last-stand aspects of the memo that have been largely or totally overlooked in most reporting:
1. "Begin modest withdrawals of U.S. and Coalition forces (start â€˜taking our hand off the bicycle seat'), so Iraqis know they have to pull up their socks, step up and take responsibility for their country."
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I think it should be pretty clear to all by now that regardless that the ruling elites of the planet know whatâ€™s in store for humanity, they do not intend to take the necessary steps to reverse the slide toward chaos. Yeah sure, lots of hot air to add to an already over-heated atmosphere but no steps of any consequence.
In fact, the actions of our ruling elites over the past decades have been the major contributor to the increasing immiseration and desperation of much of the worldâ€™s population, let alone the on-going destruction of our ecosphere. And the two conditions are inextricably intertwined, for it is only because of the increased exploitation of people and planet through the misnamed globalisation that we have arrived at our current predicament.
Yet in spite of what we now know is the inevitable end-product of out-of-control production and consumption, they still maintain that we can have our cake and eat it, or more precisely, that they can.
So what does this tell us about the gangsters who control our economies? There are only two conclusions one can come to:
One, they think they can survive using their wealth and technological power to survive relatively intact as a class or two, they donâ€™t give a damn as long as they can continue to make a profit, today.
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