• Written by Stephen Lendman

Omissions In the Iraq Study Group Report

by Stephen Lendman

Noted historian Eric Foner in a December 7 article on OpEd News.com calls George Bush "the worst president in US history....(who) in his first six years in office....managed to combine the lapses of leadership, misguided policies and abuse of power of his failed predecessors."  Equally noted historian Gabriel Kolko agrees, and along with his other comments, calls the Bush administration "the worst set of incompetents ever to hold power in Washington." And referring specifically to the war in Iraq, Kolko colorfully describes what former Reagan administration National Security Agency (NSA) chief General William Odom calls "....the worst strategic mistake in the history of the United States" by saying the Bush administration "shocked and awed....itself."  Hard to say it better than that.

Enter James Baker and the Iraq Study Group (ISG) that reported its findings publicly on December 6 after most of it was leaked well in advance making its release and full-court corporate media press hyping and griping anti-climactic as well as disappointing and disturbing.  The ISG was formed in March with at least four crucial aims:

--to avoid a perceived inevitable political and fiscal train wreck caused by the disastrous Bush administration policy over the past six years.

-- to buy time for the failed and discredited Bush administration attempting to save it along with the family's name and reputation. 

-- to devise a scheme to assure US dominance in the Middle East, fast slipping away, is restored and maintained going forward so this country doesn't lose control over what a State Department spokesperson in 1945 called a "stupendous source of strategic power and one of the greatest material prizes in world history -(the region's oil)."

-- to be a (thinly-veiled) attempt to assuage public anger over a war gone sour, that's illegal, can't be won, is taking a terrible toll, and never should have been waged. 
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  • Written by Tom Engelhardt

Tomgram: Schwartz and Engelhardt, War without End

 by Tom Engelhardt

 [Note for Atlantic Free Press readers: Today, a rarity at the site. Two pieces, officially identified as such and piled atop each other -- think of them like a double-decker bus -- each focused on a different aspect of the Iraq situation as Washington imagines it. First comes a little "political bedtime story" of mine about how Washington has tried to "fix" everything but reality itself; then, an important analysis by Michael Schwartz of just why the withdrawal option, increasingly popular for the American public, is such poison to Washington's movers and shakers. So dig in. Tom]

"Fixing" the War By Tom Engelhardt This is an old tale. Long forgotten. But like all good political bedtime stories, it's well worth telling again.

Once upon a time, there was a retired general named Paul Van Riper. In 1966, as a young Marine officer and American advisor in Vietnam, he was wounded in action; he later became the first president of the Marine Corps University, retired from the Corps as a Lieutenant General, and then took up the task of leading the enemy side in Pentagon war games.

Over the years, Van Riper had developed into a free-wheeling military thinker, given to quoting Von Clausewitz and Sun-tzu, and dubious about the ability of the latest technology to conquer all in its path. If you wanted to wage war, he thought, it might at least be reasonable to study war seriously (if not go to war yourself) rather than just fall in love with military power. It seemed to him that you took a risk any time you dismissed your enemy as without resources (or a prayer) against your awesome power and imagined your campaign to come as a sure-fire "cakewalk." As he pointed out, "Many enemies are not frightened by that overwhelming force. They put their minds to the problem and think through: how can I adapt and avoid that overwhelming force and yet do damage against the United States?"

As a result, Van Riper took the task of simulated enemy commander quite seriously. He also had a few issues with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's much vaunted "military transformation," his desire to create a sleek, high-tech, agile military that would drive everything before it. He thought the Rumsfeld program added up to just so many "shallow," "fundamentally flawed" slogans. ("There's very little intellectual content to what they say… ‘Information dominance,' ‘network-centric warfare,' ‘focused logistics' -- you could fill a book with all of these slogans.")
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  • Written by Andrew Bard Schmookler

Let Things Ripen Some on Impeachment: Patience Will Be Rewarded

by Andrew Bard Schmookler

In the anti-Bushite movement, there is an ongoing clamor for impeachment. Even when someone as ill-suited to being useful for such an outcome as the out-going congresswoman Cynthia McKinney submits a resolution for impeachment, our movement treats that event –which would be regrettable, given the source and her standing in the body politic, were it not too obscure to matter one way or the other– as something to celebrate.

If ever any president and vice president in American history deserved impeachment, I would certainly agree, Bush and Cheney deserve it most richly. And more. And if ever there were a need in America to defend the Constitution and the rule of law by rebuking some would-be tyrants, now is the time.

But to achieve one’s goals, one must act in accordance with the lay of the land. And one must devise one’s strategies with an understanding of the correlation of forces, and with how the flow of time is affecting that balance of power.
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  • Written by Media Lens

Dangerous Minds

by David Edwards

"Our complex global economy is built upon millions of small, private acts of psychological surrender, the willingness of people to acquiesce in playing their assigned parts as cogs in the great social machine that encompasses all other machines. They must shape themselves to the prefabricated identities that make efficient coordination possible... that capacity for self-enslavement must be broken.”

- Theodore Roszak - The Voice Of The Earth

Heart Murmurs

Few tasks are more challenging than that of attending to our subtle, internal responses to the world against the deafening roar of what is deemed ‘obviously true‘. Writing in the 1930s, the anarchist Rudolf Rocker made the point that the state is not a disinterested spectator on the issue of freedom of thought. In his classic work, Culture And Nationalism, Rocker wrote:

"The state welcomes only those forms of cultural activity which help it to maintain its power. It persecutes with implacable hatred any activity which oversteps the limits set by it and calls its existence into question. It is, therefore, as senseless as it is mendacious to speak of a ‘state culture‘; for it is precisely the state which lives in constant warfare with all higher forms of intellectual culture and always tries to avoid the creative will of culture."

- Rocker, Culture and Nationalism, Michael E. Coughlan, 1978,p.85

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  • Written by William Bowles

Beware of gringos bearing gifts - Have the new centurians been hyped by their own propaganda?

by William Bowles

“Staying the course”, the battle cry of the republic. Then comes the Iraq Study Group and predictably all the headlines parrot the news bites about a war ‘lost’ and a ‘change of course’. But is it a change of course or the same wolf dressed up as a dove creeping in through the back door of the biggest embassy on the planet?

Green ZoneThe US Embassy in Baghdad covers about 100 acres and sits within the so-called Green Zone right in the heart of Baghdad, in effect a small town within a town, and not exactly a temporary dwelling, so regardless of whether the Marines et al continue to blow the country to pieces or not, you don’t build a gigantic piece of real estate costing billions on someone else’s land without every intention of staying (on the course). It’s the 21st century equivalent of one of those French Foreign Legion’s forts, built to police a colony and keep the natives in their place and, retreat to when under attack. Add a comment

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Presidential Tyranny Untamed by Election Defeat

by Chris Floyd

This is my latest column for Truthout.org.

I. Genetic Modification

Like the two entwining strands of the double helix, law and power form the genetic structure of government. Law is nothing but empty verbiage without power to back it up, enforce it, embody it. And power without law is nothing but a mad ape, baring its teeth, thumping its chest, raping and beating where it pleases, taking what it wants: a bestial thing, born in the muddy swamp of our lowest, blindest, rawest biochemical impulses. Disconnect these strands and things fall apart, as Yeats says; the center literally cannot hold, and the blood-dimmed tide is loosed upon the world.

We have seen the proof of this in our time. When law – understood here as agreed-upon principles of justice and commonweal – is treated as a filthy rag or a "quaint" relic or a cynical sham by those in power, the result is an ever-growing suppuration of greed, lies, brutality and violence. Its starkest form is evident in Iraq, where a lawless invasion based on deceit has created a hell beyond imagining, and beyond control. At home, unfettered power has stripped Americans of their essential liberties and human rights, which are now no longer unalienable and inviolable but are instead the gift of the "unitary executive," to bestow – or withhold – as he sees fit.

For those who hoped that November's elections might bring some essential alteration in our degraded estate, some repair of the broken strands, recent events have been disspiriting indeed. Two in particular stand out as exemplary of the ugly reality behind the bright rhetoric of "change" and "moderation" now  twinkling in the Beltway air. Although apparently unrelated, they are in fact part of the same malignant process that has been devouring the structure – and substance – of the Republic for years. Add a comment

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  • Written by Tom Chartier

Are We Comfortable Yet?

By Tom Chartier

It’s time to stop mollycoddling that petroleum-plated pest masquerading as a statesman in the White House.

Why do the press and the members of the Iraq Study Group care about George’s ability to accept the seventy-nine recommendations in the recently published ISG Report?

I don’t give a rat’s ass about Bush’s comfort level and neither should you. That pathetic excuse for a human couldn’t care less about your comfort level or that of the thousands he has put in harm’s way.

With the release of the long overdue whitewash, the Iraq Study Group Report, we have been treated to “revelations” and recommendations that have been plainly visible to those whose eyes have been open for the last six years.

The ISG Report won’t make George see reality… as if anything ever could. David E. Sanger of the New York Times reported that:

“The panel was careful to avoid phrases and rigid timelines that might alienate the White House.”

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  • Written by Stephen Soldz

Abusive interrogations: A defining difference between psychiatrists and psychologists

by Stephen Soldz

Ever since the United States government decided to deviate from accepted international and American standards of treatment of prisoners of war and other detainees in its Global War on Terror, the participation of health professionals in coercive interrogations of detainees has posed a fundamental moral issue for these, supposedly "helping," professions. Unlike the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association considers it acceptable for its members to participate in coercive interrogations at Guantanamo and the various other American detention centers around the world. [For those unfamiliar with the differences among mental health professions, psychiatrists are specialist medical doctors whereas psychologists are not medical doctors and receive a doctoral degree in psychology.]

American Psychiatric Association President Steven S. Sharfstein took the lead in getting that organization to change its policies. Last summer he delivered his Presidential Address at the organization's May 2006 conference. This address has some very important and pertinent words on the issue. To a psychologist, especially disturbing is his use of the issue as a defining difference between the two, sometimes collaborating and sometimes competing, professions:

"We must also exercise vigilance over our other core values. When I read in the New England Journal of Medicine about psychiatrists participating in the interrogation of Guantanamo detainees, I wrote to the Assistant Secretary for Health in the Department of Defense expressing serious concern about this practice. In mid-October I found myself on a Navy jet out of Andrews Air Force Base, along with the top health leadership in the military and other leaders from medical and psychological organizations, on a 3-hour trip to Guantanamo Bay. We were given an intensive 6-hour tour of the prison and briefed thoroughly on interrogation methods and the involvement of Behavioral Science Consultation Teams, known as BSCTs (pronounced “biscuits”) in the process.

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  • Written by Mike Whitney

The "Iraq Memorial" should go on the White House Lawn

by Mike Whitney

Where will we put the Iraq Memorial?

Eventually, there’ll be a memorial to the men and women who died in Iraq, so where do we put it?

Should we annex land in the capital so that veterans and family members can flock to Washington DC to see the etchings on a marble wall that are the last memento of a friend or comrade?

Should we build a little park with Sycamore trees and disabled access so the thousands of amputees, paraplegics and trauma victims can huddle together whilethey tryto cope with the surge of emotion; or amble about in stunned silence trying to make some sense of what they’ve done, or what they’ve seen, or what they’ve lost?

I have an idea. Let’s tear down the rot-iron gates surrounding the White House. Let’s remove the cement abutments and the cyclone fencing.
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  • Written by Robert Jensen

Saying goodbye to my “Fargo” accent

by Robert Jensen

Ever since the movie “Fargo” came out a decade ago, my ability to mimic the Scandinavian-inflected accent of my hometown and home state of North Dakota has been a guaranteed way to elicit laughter during my public speaking.

That joking ended earlier this month, when I realized -- in a painfully public manner -- that my use of that North Dakota accent was in a small but undeniable way supportive of a white-supremacist account of the history of this country. The story of that episode illustrates not just the depth of the pathology of white America but also a way we white folks can -- with self-reflection and help from others -- start to transform ourselves.

For those who have never seen the 1996 movie or heard a white person from the Dakotas or Minnesota (despite the title “Fargo,” which is the largest city in North Dakota, the film is set in Minnesota), the accent has an amusing sing-songy quality and trademark phrases such as, “Ah, geez” and “Yah, you betcha!” In print it may not sound particularly funny, but with the right delivery it can be a crowd-pleaser.

That is, it’s a crowd pleaser in certain crowds -- such as an audience at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where I was speaking, and where few are likely to think much about real Dakota history.

I was at the university to participate in a panel on racism and white privilege, a subject about which I’ve written a book, making me an alleged expert. In my introductory remarks I made reference to my upbringing in North Dakota and the accent made famous by the movie, using it for a bit of comic relief in a discussion of a difficult subject.

On that panel with me was D. Anthony Tyeeme Clark, a professor of American Indian Studies at that university and a citizen of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa. Although I didn’t poll the audience, I’m pretty sure Clark was one of the few indigenous people there. (Clark told me later that of the 100-plus students and faculty who have self-identified as American Indian on campus in recent years, about 15 to 20 are citizens of Indian nations or tribal members, and even fewer are tribally connected.) Add a comment

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  • Written by Will Durst

Reading Isn't Fundamental

by Will Durst

Right about now is when it could come in real handy to have a President who reads. A book learning wonk. A guy not allergic to the printed word. George W Bush even admitted it himself. I think his exact quote was: “I don’t read.” And you know what, I believe him. Then this summer, something happened. I think it was part of that midterm campaign thing, when the President claimed his beach reading list included Camus’ “The Stranger” and what he referred to as “3 Shakespeares.” 3 Shakespeares? Sounds like a customer at Baskin- Robbins ordering up a triple scoop of smart. And very suspicious coming from a man famous for struggling through the same page of “My Pet Goat” for 10 minutes.

The whole reading deal is important here because he should have been tempted to give the Iraq Study Group Report a brief scan before repeating “The Study Group agrees with me.” Unh. No. They don’t. He said this during a joint press conference with Tony Blair that could have been a Tivo of any of his previous eighty gazilliion press conferences with Tony Blair. Tony looks and sounds like a statesman and George like an eighth grader trying to fake his way through a book report on a classic he didn’t bother to skim. Does the term “Cliff Notes” have any meaning here?

At the risk of switching milieus, we’re stuck in “Groundhog Day.” Doesn’t matter what happens, we wake up the next morning and instead of hearing Sonny & Cher singing “I Got You Babe” we get the President playing the same lame game he has for three years: “Its a tough time. Going to take some hard work. We’re working hard.” His supporters say he’s resolute. You know what, resolute isn’t always a good thing. Butt cancer is resolute. Add a comment

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  • Written by Winter Patriot

More on Derrick Shareef, the "Air Grenadist" of Rockford, Illinois

by Winter Patriot

Derrick Shareef, about whom I wrote last Friday, wanted to be a "terrorist" so badly he couldn't see any of the signs that he was being set up, and he may spend the rest of his life in prison for his lack of ... what? ... awareness? discretion? common sense? ... or all of the above?!

Big Dan, who makes frequent and very funny comments at my blog, has taken to calling Derrick Shareef the "Air Grenadist", following a suggestion from Bluebear2, another regular and very funny commentor. It's a variation on the term "Air Guitarist", which of course refers to a person pretending to play a guitar that isn't there.


Shareef is charged with a crime which, had it taken place, would have involved weapons which -- according to some of the early news reports -- he never managed to obtain. However, according to an affadavit filed in the case, Shareef did obtain "weapons" (just before he was arrested), but they wouldn't have worked for him! So either he was playing an air guitar or else his guitar had no strings on it!

How do I know this? It's a long story, but I'll tell it as quickly as I can.

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