by William Blum
The good news is that the Republicans lost.
The bad news is that the Democrats won.
The burning issue â€” US withdrawal from Iraq â€” remains as far from resolution as before.
A clear majority of Americans are opposed to the war and almost all of them would be very happy if the US military began the process of leaving Iraq tomorrow, if not today. The rest of the world would breathe a great sigh of relief and their long-running love affair with the storybook place called "America" could begin to come back to life.
A State Department poll conducted in Iraq this past summer dealt with the population's attitude toward the American occupation. Apart from the Kurds â€” who assisted the US military before, during, and after the invasion and occupation, and don't think of themselves as Iraqis â€” most people favored an immediate withdrawal, ranging from 56% to 80% depending on the area.
The State Department report added that majorities in all regions except Kurdish areas said that the departure of coalition forces would make them feel safer and decrease violence.
George W. is on record declaring that if the people of Iraq ask the United States to leave, the US will leave. He also has declared that the Iraqis are "not happy they're occupied. I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either."
Yet, despite all this, and much more, the United States remains, with predictions from Pentagon officials that American forces will be in Iraq for years. Large US military bases are being constructed there; they're not designed as temporary structures. Remember that 61 years after the end of World War II the United States still has major bases in Germany. Fifty-three years after the end of the Korean War the US has tens of thousands of troops in South Korea.
by Paul William Roberts
According to the Iraqi newspaper Al- Quds al-Arabi, James Baker, the Bush familyâ€™s Mr. Fixit , recently met with one of Saddam Husseinâ€™s lawyers in Amman, Jordan, and told him that the former deputy prime minister of Iraq, Tariq Aziz, would be released from detention by December in order to negotiate with the US on behalf of factions of the Iraqi resistance movement still controlled by old Baâ€™ath Party leaders. Sources in Jordan tell me that the first stage of such negotiations has indeed already taken place. Two weeks ago, Aziz was whisked from his jail cell and, along with other representatives of Iraqâ€™s Sunni Resistance, taken for three daysâ€™ of secret discussions in Amman with senior US officials. It is heartening to note that this course of action was advised by the Atlantic Free Press three weeks ago. Aziz and his colleagues are currently discussing Americaâ€™s proposals with the divisional resistance leadership, whose response and counter-offers they will present to Washington early next month.
Jordanâ€™s Crown Prince Hassan tells me, furthermore, that Condoleeza Rice made a personal appeal to the Gulf Cooperation Council last month to act as intermediaries between the US and the armed Sunni resistance, not including Iraqi al-Qaeda leaders. Rice evidently joked during the closed-door meeting that â€œif Donald Rumsfeld could hear me now he would wage war against me fiercer and hotter than he waged in Iraq.â€
The official wing of US Government was represented in Gulf War 2: Retreat from Iraq by George W. Bushâ€™s security adviser, Stephen Hadley, who presented the following proposals regarding the future to Iraqi officials during his recent trip to Baghdad:
- Any initiative towards national reconciliation must now include Iraqi resistance and opposition leaders
- There must be a general amnesty for armed resistance fighters
- There must be a disbanding of militias and death squads
- Any federalist proposals dividing Iraq into three states must be abandoned in favor of a strong centralist authority combined with greater self-rule for local governors
- That oil revenues must be distributed more equitably for the benefit of all Iraqis, including the Sunnis whose region contains little of the resource
by Winter Patriot
According to the BBC, the NYT, CNN, and many other sources, German officials announced on Monday that they had foiled a terrorist plot to blow up a passenger plane.
The story was widely reported, even though nobody was charged in connection with their investigation; in fact five of the six so-called "suspects" were quickly released, and the other is being held on an unrelated matter. Hmmm.
You'd have to think if they had evidence implicating any of the "suspects", they would have kept them around... Wouldn't you?
German police questioned six suspects on Friday over the alleged plot, but five were released on Saturday, the federal prosecutor's office said.
One of those arrested on Friday remains in custody in connection with another investigation, the officials said. Nine apartments were searched on Friday in Rhineland-Palatinate state and Hessen, they added.
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The "War on Terror" represents a horribly, monstrously wrong turn for the United States, Britain, and the world. Like its offshoot, the aggression in Iraq, the Terror War is a strategic disaster of mind-boggling proportions, a moral, political and cultural failure so immense as to be almost unfathomable, an all-corrupting, counterproductive policy of resounding stupidity. We have not even begun to comprehend the scope and depth -- and duration -- of the harm that this reckless, witless, ignorant campaign has wrought. Tyranny, bankruptcy, decay, division, murder, cowardice and deceit -- these have been the hallmarks and the products of the Terror War launched by George W. Bush and Tony Blair, in supposed reaction to the criminal acts of a small gang of cranks.
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Short of an all-out nuclear attack, no enemy of the United States today could have ever damaged the nation as badly as Bush has done with his Terror War. No enemy could have deranged America's core constitutional system as badly as Bush has done, turning the government into a lurid perversion of its founding principles. No enemy could have bled America's treasury as dry has Bush has done; not even World War II or the half-century of Cold War left the nation as bankrupt and debt-ridden as it is today, its economy left completely at the mercy of foreign bondholders. No enemy could have devised a better program for undermining the security, solvency and liberty of the United States than Bush's "War on Terror" has proved to be.
So what should be we thankful for today? (In the public sphere that is; I'm not talking here of personal matters.) Perhaps only this: that we have not yet seen the worst of what Bush's Terror War will inflict upon us, and the world.
Below, Simon Jenkins has more on this theme in the Guardian, taking down Tony Blair's ignorance-riddled fearmongering -- with insights that also apply, in spades, to our own pig-ignorant fear merchants in the White House (and the media, academia, the "think tanks," the politicized churches, etc.).
Over a year before the United States launched an endless war on Iraq in what President George W. Bush told Congress was an urgently needed action to prevent an attack with nonexistent weapons by non-Iraqi terroristsâ€¦
Eleven months before Bush told British Prime Minister Tony Blair that a good way to start a war on Iraq would be to paint planes with U.N. colors, fly them low, and get them shot atâ€¦
Five months before the Downing Street Minutes were taken at a meeting revealing the knowledge top British officials had of the secret war plans of the Bush administrationâ€¦
Just a week or two before several of the Downing Street Memos recorded U.S.-British discussions of the coming warâ€¦
On February 27, 2002 â€“ just five months after 15 Saudis, 2 Lebanese, and 2 Yemenis flew airplanes into U.S. buildings â€“ Trevor Flugge, who was then chairman of AWB, the Australian Wheat Board, a private corporation, told AWB's board that John Dauth, who was then Australia's ambassador to the United Nations, had revealed to Flugge the plans of the U.S. and Australian governments for war on Iraq. Tragically, for war-profiteers everywhere, somebody took minutes of the meeting.Add a comment
Is O.J. Simpson more important than the greenhouse effect? Consider this: I just typed "O.J. Simpson" into a Google News search. The first page alone provided links for almost 2500 recent stories. The results for "global warming," however, totaled roughly 300. Thus, by media standards, O.J. Simpson appears to be at least eight times more significant than climate change.
Obviously, media coverage doesn't always correlate to value. Douglas Futuyma, a professor of ecology and evolution at the State University of New York in Stony Brook, recently talked to CNN about global warming. "It's not just down the road somewhere," said Futuyma. "It is just hurtling toward us. Anyone who is 10 years old right now is going to be facing a very different and frightening world by the time that they are 50 or 60."
And guess what? It's our fault. Add a comment
Tony Blair went to Pakistan last weekend with a quarter of a billion pounds in his back pocket and high hopes of making a trade, but from the look of things he only made a donation.
'Tis the spirit, one month early, perhaps?
His meeting with ex-General (now-President) Pervez Musharraf (who recently admitted that the US gave Pakistan millions of dollars in exchange for "terror suspects" shortly after 9/11) was a success from Musharraf's point of view, but not Blair's.
Blair's visit to Pakistan was apparently part of a concerted effort to break a deadlocked struggle for an extradition treaty .
The money â€” a 250-million-pound increase for "moderate Islamic madrassas" (schools which teach Islam without violence!), raising Britain's contribution from 230 to 480 million pounds (almost a billion dollars) over the next three years, must have seemed to Blair a reasonable quid-pro-quo.
To shorten a long story somewhat, the moderate madrassas of Pakistan got the money, or at least the Pakistani government did, but Tony Blair didn't get the treaty.
Merry Christmas to the moderate madrassas of Pakistan.
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Eva Golinger's eagerly awaited new book is now out - but only for those able to read and understand Spanish as it's not yet available in English. It's appropriately called Bush vs. Chavez - Washington's War Against against Venezuela published by Monte Avila Editores in Caracas. Hopefully it will soon be available in English as well.
Golinger is a Venezuelan-American attorney specializing in international human rights and immigration law. She wrote her first blockbuster book published in 2005 called The Chavez Code - Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela that documented the events surrounding the 2002 US-directed failed coup against Hugo Chavez that ousted him for two days and that the people of Venezuela through their mass outrage reversed. In her first book, Golinger obtained top-secret documents from the CIA and State Department through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests showing the Bush administration had prior knowledge of and was complicit in the 2002 coup against President Chavez and had provided over $30 million in funding aid to opposition groups to help pull it off. It failed because they hadn't expected the kind of people-power that's likely to arise again in the face of trouble and support the president they love and won't give up without a fight.
Golinger also showed how the US government funded the so-called National Endowment for Democracy (NED) that functions to subvert the democratic process to help oust leaders more concerned with serving their own people than the interests of wealth and power. Also involved in the coup plot was the international arm of the Republican party, the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the AFL-CIO that has a long and disturbing record of acting as an instrument of US foreign policy instead of sticking to what it's mandated to do - representing the interests of American working people it falls far short of much too often in its policy of selling out to the interests of capital for the personal gain of the union's leadership.
In the Chavez Code, Golinger showed how these agencies funded and worked with the Chavez opposition beginning in 2001 cooking up schemes that led to mass-staged street protests leading up to the day of the coup. It was done with the full knowledge and approval of the Bush White House that mounted a full-scale effort post-9/11 to oust Hugo Chavez and has now tried and failed three times to do it.
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â€œWe must bear in mind that imperialism is a world system, the last stage of capitalismâ€”and it must be defeated in a world confrontation. The strategic end of this struggle should be the destruction of imperialism. Our share, the responsibility of the exploited and underdeveloped of the world, is to eliminate the foundations of imperialism: our oppressed nations, from where they extract capital, raw materials, technicians, and cheap labor, and to which they export new capital-instruments of domination-arms and all kinds of articles, thus submerging us in absolute dependence.â€
- Ernesto Che Guevara.
While critics of the Iraq war are quick to point out that US occupation is failing, they hesitate to draw the obvious conclusion; that the Iraqi resistance is winning. Observations like that are tantamount to treason and thus banned in the establishment-media. The idea of American invincibility is such a carefully-nurtured myth that is defended in all quarters and at all times. Even if U.S. troops were caught red-handed pushing their helicopters into the Euphrates while hastily fleeing Baghdad, the â€œembeddedâ€ media would twist it around so it looked like a â€œstrategic redeploymentâ€.
Thereâ€™s nothing new about media bias, but its effect on the ongoing war has been negligible. The mediaâ€™s â€œspinâ€ cannot alter the reality on the ground, and the fact is the US is getting beaten quite badly. Theyâ€™ve locked-horns with a crafty enemy that has neutralized their advantages in terms of firepower and technology and limited their range of movement. Itâ€™s shocking to think that after 4 years of bloody conflict, occupation forces still control â€œno groundâ€ beyond the looming parapets of the Green Zone. This is a stunning admission of defeat.
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Now, we almost all agree that Bush and Cheney have done bad things. But have they actually committed crimes? If you know anyone who has any doubts on this topic, may I recommend a brilliant little book for you to stick in their stocking next month?
In her new book, "United States v. George W. Bush et al.," former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega presents the case, as if to a grand jury, for an indictment of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, and Powell. De la Vega does not address over a dozen clear criminal acts, including some openly confessed to â€” such as spying in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Instead she focuses on the area where the most significant harm has been done, but where the legal issues have seemed to many people complex and unclear.
De la Vega charges that Bush, Cheney, et al., "did knowingly and intentionally conspire to defraud the United States by using deceit, craft, trickery, dishonest means, false and fraudulent representations, including ones made without a reasonable basis and with reckless indifference to their truth or falsity, and omitting to state material facts necessary to make their representations truthful, fair and accurate, while knowing and intending that their false and fraudulent representations would influence the public and the deliberations of Congress with regard to authorization of a preventive war against Iraq, thereby defeating, obstructing, impairing, and interfering with Congress' lawful functions of overseeing foreign affairs and making appropriations."
That may sound like a longwinded and legalistic way of saying "Bush lied. People died." And more or less it is. But in some important ways it is not. De la Vega is arguing, as John Bonifaz did in this letter to Congressman John Conyers in May of 2005 , that there is probable cause to believe that the President and others have violated Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. This law makes it a felony "to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purposeâ€¦." The Congress is one such agency. To defraud the Congress is not the same thing as to lie to it.
by Art James
THE FIRST PRECEPT.
In Book One (1.37â€”40) of the Odyssey...
â€œAh, how shamelessâ€”the way these mortals blame the gods. From us alone, they say, come all their miseries, yes, but they themselves, with their own wicked ways, compound their pains, beyond their proper share.â€
Thirty-five years ago on the twenty-fourth day of November I was certain war ended forever. Suffering had reached the maximum endurance level. This â€˜certaintyâ€™ was not reality, of course, but my impression was based on an experience. If anyone read my first AFP article they were introduced to a suppressed, but nonetheless, seething anger in my heartâ€™s belly. A certain people who wield official power do not live in accordance with a dimension of the Greek word themis. Themis is a word that embodies the capacity to know and do â€œwhatâ€™s right.â€
The epic texts attributed to the poet Homer are best understood if readers consider many performers provide these two epics. The Iliad makes it plain to see brains can be bashed and flung across the floor in war. The Odyssey is narrated in a forceful style, not much different, somewhat parallel, to Old Testament biblical characters who try to weasel out of responsibility and blame. We are all flawed humans. On the allegorical path of life, travels can be viewed from a transcendent distance, though the pathway is parallel, many go the opposite direction. We are observers of self. We observe others. We instruct. Learn?
I sure donâ€™t want to tackle diverse scholarship opinion, hitch up with tense arguers, or deny a fact that all handed down ancient texts are tampered with by high-level committees, and open to discussions and reproof. I am not wishing to shun criticism of my personal views. What is interesting to me is these written down descriptive taunts in past literature are aimed at warmongers. Ancients became a sort of â€˜religiousâ€™ instructor and guide, and universal truisms were read for centuries at rural festive celebrations.
Recently, we've been plied and pummeled with the absurd proclamation that "the system worked" â€” that our congressional representatives listened and took note of the collective, antiwar fulmination of the people, registered in our faux republic's latest, sham plebisciteâ€¦ Yes, I suspect, the political classes of Washington did hear the people's thunder â€” and then went running for cover within the comfort zones of their sheltering smugness, constructed of the brick and mortar of arrogant power and inequitable privilege. Just ask Joe Lieberman: He's the self-satisfied fellow seated comfortably upon the large, plush lounge chair, stuffed with campaign dollars, nearest the door with access to K Street.
But we must not let ourselves â€” the true beneficiaries of empire â€” off so easily: Our national tragedies (from all the corpses amassed, buried and forgotten in our imperial wars â€” to our intransigence and denial regarding Global Warming) are a collaborative effort with our leaders: A joint and living lie of the mind â€” made manifest by collective desire and remorseless pursuit.
Upon the occasion of our cultural confabulation of colonial hagiography dubbed "Thanksgiving," a tradition when we stuff our overweight bellies by devouring big, growth hormone-injected, flightless birds in order to celebrate, what in truth was, a Thanks-taking of this land by our ancestors from its original inhabitants â€” (but a hearty salutation of "Happy Genocide Day" doesn't exactly stimulate the appetite, does it?) â€” I will address the following missive to you â€” my fellow unindicted (perhaps even unconscious) co-conspirators in the crimes of our country.
Let's begin with the things nearest to us: The structures and objects we see before us, everyday. And it's not a beautiful sight to behold.
Due to the banality, blandness, and flat-out ugliness of the stripmall/big box store/fast food outlet, prefab nowhereland of our contemporary landscape, life in the US under corporatism is as seductive as the glare of florescent tube lighting in a convenience store.
The architecture of the US looks as if Aldophe Eichmann grew bored endlessly calculating the human weigh capacity of death camp bound boxcars â€” rose from Hell â€” and went into the prefab structure design business.
Now, donâ€™t get ugly, you admonish.
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