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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As predictions go, it wasn't exactly Broadway Joe Namath guaranteeing victory before Super Bowl III. Vice President Dick Cheney, on the March 16, 2003 edition of Meet the Press, famously declared:
"From the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators."
Earlier this year, Cheney announced on Face the Nation:
"I'm not in the business of making predictions,"
but the Veep was once again showing off his problematic prognostication skills on Meet the Press by September.
"I don't expect that Nancy Pelosi will be speaker," he prophesied. "I think we're doing very well out there. I feel better about the election now than I did three months ago ... I-if I had to bet today, I'd bet that-well, I can bet you a dinner that we hold both houses."Add a comment
The lead-up to the invasion of Iraq has become notorious in the annals of American journalism. Even many reporters, editors and commentators who fueled the drive to war in 2002 and early 2003 now acknowledge that major media routinely tossed real journalism out the window in favor of boosting war.
But itâ€™s happening again.
The current media travesty is a drumbeat for the idea that the U.S. war effort must keep going. And again, in its news coverage, the New York Times is a bellwether for the latest media parade to the cadence of the warfare state.
During the run-up to the invasion, news stories repeatedly told about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction while the Times and other key media outlets insisted that their coverage was factually reliable. Now the same media outlets insist that their coverage is analytically reliable.
Instead of authoritative media information about aluminum tubes and mobile weapons labs, weâ€™re now getting authoritative media illumination of why a swift pullout of U.S. troops isnâ€™t realistic or desirable. The result is similar to what was happening four years ago -- a huge betrayal of journalistic responsibility.
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â€œThe Lebanese government has nearly doubled the size of its security forces in recent months by adding about 11,000 mostly Sunnis and Christian troops, and has armed them with weapons and vehicles donated by the UAE, a Sunni state.â€
(Lebanon Builds Up Security Forces, Megan Stack, LA Times)
â€œThe armyâ€™s conclusion is that a war in the near future is a reasonable possibilityâ€¦.the IDFâ€™s operative assumption is that during the coming summer months, a war will break out against Hezbollah and perhaps against Syria as well.â€ Haâ€™aretz editorial
When Hezbollah puts a million people on the streets of Beirut, it doesnâ€™t appear on the front page of the New York Times. That spot is reserved for Bushâ€™s â€œmade-in-Washingtonâ€ extravaganzas like the Cedar, Orange or Rose revolutions. Those bogus revolutions were cooked up in American think tanks and engineered by US NGOs; thatâ€™s why they got headline coverage in the Times. The Beirut demonstrations donâ€™t promote the political agenda of the Americaâ€™s ruling elite, so theyâ€™re stuck on page 8 where theyâ€™ll be ignored.
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The most important task facing America now, after the election, is the same as it was before the election: it is to discredit the Bushite forces in the eyes of the American people, to drive the Bushites from power, and to repair the damage that those dark forces have done to America and to the world.
For the achievement of these goals, the Democrats in Congress and the anti-Bushite movement are natural allies. And how well both sides of this alliance manage their relationship, and perform their complementary roles, will be one important determinant of how successfully this task is accomplished. Add a comment
The United States has lost its center through destructive centrifugal politics. America seems spinning out of control. It has become a non-populist, dollar-driven, elitist democracy. Centrism can be a powerful metaphor and tool for national renewal, if it is also populist. In the world of politics, language is used to deceive, distract and divide. Some words become so abused that they lose meaning. In recent years, enormous numbers of liberals and Democrats decided to hide under the label of â€œprogressive.â€ Many politicians want to be seen as â€œmoderates.â€ A newer subterfuge is â€œcentrist.â€
Someone wrote this on a blog discussion: â€œCentrism is an empty, contentless label that by its very nature is without substance or ideology. What is the centrist position on heathcare reform, half way between the left and right? What is its position on defense spending, ditto? Someone, please, tell me what centrism is?â€ It was a good point and question.
Centrism sounds reasonable. But it has been abused. Many people see centrism as some middle ground between the liberal-Democratic and conservative-Republican ends of the political spectrum, some way to achieve balance and avoid extremes. By shunning these polarizing positions it is hoped that a moderate, middle of the road or â€œthird wayâ€ stance is created. But centrism may be nothing more than empty compromises of positions from each of the two major parties. It too easily becomes a diffuse, ambiguous mishmash of positions that say little about where someone stands in terms of absolute principles. Indeed, many find centrism attractive because it is malleable and flexible, allowing whatever seems pragmatic at the time. This makes centrism vulnerable to abuse by those seeking a popular political brand that is not burdened by adherence to clear principles. For the most part, centrism has been empty political rhetoric, but it can be re-powered. Add a comment
Philippe Diaz's "The Empire in Africa" (trailer), which premieres in theatres across in the United States on 8 December, is a troubling, highly graphic and enlightening film about the civil wars that ravaged Sierra Leone for over a decade. "The Empire in Africa" serves as a poignant counterpoint to the Hollywood vehicle "Blood Diamond" which will be released in US theatres the same day. Diaz's film, a documentary, is so powerful that after its French language version was played during Critic's Week at the Cannes Film Festival, India - the country contributing the second largest contingent of "peace-keeping" forces in Sierra Leone â€“ withdrew its participation in the effort.
Unlike "Blood Diamond," an action film and garnering Oscar buzz because it features Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Empire in Africa" puts the onus for the bloodletting, the near-genocide, in Sierra Leone squarely at the feet of the United Nations and the "international community" led by the United States and the United Kingdom. The film is a co-production of Sceneries Europe Production in association with Action Against Hunger and Cinema Libre Studio. It is produced, directed and edited by Philippe Diaz and narrated by musician and activist Richie Havens. Among the awards already received by the film are:
- Grand Jury Prize, Best Documentary â€“ Slamdance Film Festival, Park City, Utah, USA
- Grand Prize â€“ African Film Festival, Montreal, CANADA
- Most Powerful Film â€“ One World Film Festival, CZECHOSLOVAKIA
- Best Documentary â€“ Hollywood Film Festival, Los Angeles, CA, USA
by Tom Engelhardt
[Note: For those in the Santa Barbara area in California, Elizabeth de la Vega will be speaking on December 10th at a rally, one of many events being organized around the country for Human Rights (and Impeachment) Day. She'll be on stage with Ann Wright, Dennis Loo, and David Swanson (who also writes for Tomdispatch.com) among others. For more on this event and others that day visit Swanson's AfterDowningStreet.org website.]
With the presentation of the first day of grand jury testimony from former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega's new book, United States v. George W. Bush et al., the case against the top officials of the Bush administration for defrauding the American people into war in Iraq comes to a provisional end at Tomdispatch. What the Bush administration did, De la Vega argued in "A Fraud Worse than Enron", Part 1 of her series at this site, was a crime, conceptually similar to the Enron case and should be treated as such. It was, in fact, nothing less than the Enronization of American foreign policy. It was also a crime for which there should be actual legal culpability and so, in part 2 of her series, she produced a hypothetical indictment for fraud against the main actors in the case, just as she had, over her career, presented numerous fraud indictments to grand juries.
Today, "FBI Special Agent Linda Campbell" begins to lay out that case for fraud by discussing the administration's "predisposition to invade Iraq." Those of you who want to read De la Vega's brilliantly argued full case against George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell should promptly purchase a copy of her book either at Amazon, at the website of the independent publisher, Seven Stories Press, or at your local independent bookstore.
De la Vega's superb book, like the testimony of "FBI Special Agent Linda Campbell" below, is fiction of a high order, based on a deep knowledge of exactly what the Bush administration did to us and how they did it. What happens next is, in truth, in the hands of the same American people who were scammed by this administration. Only history will tell us the results.
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â€œWhen religion loses its credibilityâ€ was the title of a USA Today article by Christian writer Oliver Thomas. The articleâ€™s lead posed the question: â€œGalileo was persecuted for revealing what we now know to be the truth regarding Earthâ€™s place in our solar system. Today, the issue is homosexuality, and the persecution is not of one man but of millions. Will Christian leaders once again be on the wrong side of history?â€
Mr. Thomas rephrased and answered the question:
What if Christian leaders are wrong about homosexuality? I suppose, much as a newspaper maintains its credibility by setting the record straight, church leaders would need to do the same:
Correction: Despite what you might have read, heard or been taught throughout your churchgoing life, homosexuality is, in fact, determined at birth and is not to be condemned by God's followers.
Based on a few recent headlines, we wonâ€™t be seeing that admission anytime soonâ€¦
Religionâ€™s only real commodity, after all, is its moral authority. Lose that, and we lose our credibility. Lose credibility, and we might as well close up shop.
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The Bush family has been characterized in various ways including the Bush dynasty, crime family or syndicate. George Bush is just the latest in a line of unsavory characters but clearly the bad or worst seed and, in the eyes of most honest observers, the least worthy of an unworthy lot. He was supposed to be the latest in the Bush family line chosen to lay another golden egg for the dynasty but turned out instead to be an ugly duckling who's just been an embarrassment and much worse because of the course he chose and his rigid ideological obstinacy to change even in the face of failure.
The Bush family considers itself among the special chosen ones if based only on its royal heritage. The family is connected by blood to every European monarch on and off the throne including every member of the British House of Windsor. That relationship is more than familial and extends to the president's father having close business dealings with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip who themselves are connected to the notorious Carlyle Group that also employs GHW Bush as a "senior consultant" and master-rainmaker/fixer-arranger at a very high price for his services. Add a comment
Suddenly the whole Litvinenko business is looking more like Austin Powers than James Bond.
Aha. â€˜The Trail of Poison Leads To Moscowâ€™ deduced the Spiegel yesterday, as a number of BA flights were grounded. What kind of secret agents leave their dabs everywhere they go? Itâ€™s like sticking up a bank while posing in front of a CCTV camera not wearing a mask.
Back at Londonâ€™s Millenium hotel, traces were found on the floor of a room and on the light switch. A source told the Telegraph, â€˜ . . looks like they dropped the stuff on the floorâ€˜.
For sure the â€˜bungling amateursâ€˜ dropped it all over several aircraft, too. How is this possible? Polonium 210 emits only a few centimetres and wonâ€™t pass through a paper bag. Did they carry a big lump in a string bag? But what do I know. Especially when newspapers quote â€˜Expertsâ€™ and â€˜Security Sourcesâ€™. Add a comment
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