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The most successful tyranny is not the one
that uses force to assure uniformity but the one that removes the
awareness of other possibilities, that makes it seem inconceivable
that other ways are viable, that removes the sense that there is an
"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it." - Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural
It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong. --Voltaire--
consciousness is freedom
Life is religion. Life experiences reflect how one interacts with God. Those who are asleep are those of little faith in terms of their interaction with the creation. Some people think that the world exists for them to overcome or ignore or shut out. For those individuals, the worlds will cease. They will become exactly what they give to life. They will become merely a dream in the "past." People who pay strict attention to objective reality right and left, become the reality of the "Future." [Cassiopaea 09-28-02]
April 3, 2003 Today's edition of Brought to You by The Bush Junta, Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions....The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen." If you can't stand the heat of Objective Reality, get out of the kitchen!
Baghdad Snapshot This is the human face of Iraq that the US government does not want you to think about, let alone see. These are the people that are blown to pieces in the name of "freedom". These are the men women and children that are dying daily as Bush and Co. wage their war for economic domination.
Kerry says US needs its own 'regime change' Senator John F. Kerry said yesterday that President Bush committed a ''breach of trust'' in the eyes of many United Nations members by going to war with Iraq, creating a diplomatic chasm that will not be bridged as long as Bush remains in office.
''What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States,'' Kerry said in a speech at the Peterborough Town Library. Despite pledging two weeks ago to cool his criticism of the administration once war began, Kerry unleashed a barrage of criticism as US troops fought within 25 miles of Baghdad.
By echoing the ''regime change'' line popular with hundreds of thousands of antiwar protesters who have demonstrated across the nation in recent weeks, the Massachusetts senator and Democratic presidential contender seemed to be reaching out to a newly invigorated constituency as rival Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont and a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq, closes in on Kerry in opinion polls.
Kerry said that he had spoken with foreign diplomats and several world leaders as recently as Monday while fund-raising in New York and that they told him they felt betrayed when Bush resorted to war in Iraq before they believed diplomacy had run its course. He said the leaders, whom he did not identify, believed that Bush wanted to ''end-run around the UN.''
''I don't think they're going to trust this president, no matter what,'' Kerry said. ''I believe it deeply, that it will take a new president of the United States, declaring a new day for our relationship with the world, to clear the air and turn a new page on American history.'' With a dig at Bush's previous lack of foreign policy experience, Kerry said he would usher in a new US foreign policy if he stood before the United Nations as president.
''I believe we can have a golden age of American diplomacy,'' he said, outlining his own foreign policy credentials in the speech. ''But it will take a new president who is prepared to lead, and who has, frankly, a little more experience than visiting the sum total of two countries'' before taking office. The criticism appeared to contradict statements Kerry made on March 18, just a day before Bush authorized military action to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Kerry, who previously had been critical of Bush's efforts to reach out to the international community, was reluctant that day to answer when a television crew asked him whether the administration had handled its diplomatic efforts poorly.
''You know, we're beyond that now,'' the senator said after addressing the International Association of Fire Fighters. ''We have to come together as a country to get this done and heal the wounds.'' Kerry, a Navy veteran of Vietnam, said he strongly supported US troops. ''There will be plenty of time here to be critical about how we arrived here,'' he said at that time. In response to questions after his speech yesterday, Kerry reiterated his support for the troops. He also joined the administration in blasting ''armchair generals'' who are criticizing the war plan.
''War is war,'' he said. ''It's tough, and I think there's a little too much armchair quarterbacking and Monday-morning reviewing going on. I think we need to trust in the process for a few days here. This is only  days old, and they've achieved quite a remarkable advance in that period of time.'' When asked to square his criticism with his pledge of restraint two weeks earlier, Kerry first said that he had tempered his criticism of the administration's diplomatic efforts. Then he said: ''It is possible that the word `regime change' is too harsh. Perhaps it is.''
Finally, he said his overall criticism of the administration was part of ''the healthy democracy of the United States of America'' and no different from some of the war critiques published on the front page of major newspapers. ''Is that unpatriotic?'' he asked.
After Iraq, the world The U.S. justifications for attacking Iraq -- which have metamorphosed into just one today, and that is, to "liberate" the Iraqis from Saddam Hussein -- have not been convincing except to the converted. The United States tried but failed to connect the Iraqi government to Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda. Its claim that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction the U.N. weapons inspections roundly contradicted, and U.S. troops now in Iraq have found not a trace of the biological, chemical and nuclear weapons the U.S. claims Saddam Hussein is either developing or has stockpiled. It has also been argued that if the possession of weapons of mass destruction were grounds enough for regime change, Israel, which has a nuclear, chemical and biological weapons arsenal, is a better candidate for U.S. invasion.
The Report speaks of "the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf… (which) transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein." The Report in fact admits that what is envisioned is for the U.S. "to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security." To achieve this, "the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification" for moving U.S. forces into the region. In short: Saddam Hussein is an excuse to deploy U.S. troops, and their sea and aircraft and other equipment into the Gulf region, so the U.S. military will have "a more permanent role." That role is likely to be not only that of playing the region’s "constabulary" by intervening in the countries where the U.S. believes its interests are under threat or potentially under threat. It will also include that of achieving "regime change" in countries other than Iraq.
Today, Iraq. Tomorrow: the
public hearing of the National Commission on Terrorist
Attacks Upon the United States
As such, this commission
has an extremely important task before it. I am here today to ask
you, the commissioners, to help us understand how this could have
happened; help us understand where the breakdown was in our
nation's defense capabilities. Where were we on the morning of
At around 8:55 I was confirming play date plans for Sam with a friend when she said, "I can't believe what I am watching on TV, a plane has just hit the World Trade Center." For some reason it did not register with me until a few minutes later when I calmly asked, "what building did you say?" "Oh that's Alan's building I have to call you back." There was no answer when I tried to reach him at the office. By now my house started filling with people--his mother, my parents, our sisters and friends. The seriousness of the situation was beginning to register. We spent the rest of the day calling hospitals, and the Red Cross and any place else we could think of to see if we could find him.
I'll never forget thinking all day long, "how am I going to tell Jacob and Lauren that their father was missing?" They came home to a house filled with people but no Daddy. How were they going to be able to wait calmly for his return? What if he was really hurt? This was their hero, their king their best friend, their father. The thoughts of that day replay over and over in our heads always wishing for a different outcome. We are trying to learn to live with the pain. We will never forget where we were or how we felt on September 11th. But where was our government, its agencies, and institutions prior to and on the morning of September 11th?
The Theory of Luck: With regard to the 9/11 attacks, it has been said that the intelligence agencies have to be right 100% of the time and the terrorists only have to get lucky once. This explanation for the devastating attacks of September 11th, simple on its face, is wrong in its value. Because the 9/11 terrorists were not just lucky once: they were lucky over and over again. Allow me to illustrate.
The SEC: The terrorist's lucky streak began the week before September 11th with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. The SEC, in concert with the United States intelligence agencies, has sophisticated software programs that are used in "real-time" to watch both domestic and overseas markets to seek out trends that may indicate a present or future crime. In the week prior to September 11th both the SEC and U.S. intelligence agencies ignored one major stock market indicator, one that could have yielded valuable information with regard to the September 11th attacks.
On the Chicago Board Options Exchange during the week before September 11th, put options were purchased on American and United Airlines, the two airlines involved in the attacks. The investors who placed these orders were gambling that in the short term the stock prices of both Airlines would plummet. Never before on the Chicago Exchange were such large amounts of United and American Airlines options traded. These investors netted a profit of at least $5 million after the September 11th attacks.
Interestingly, the names of the investors remain undisclosed and the $5 million remains unclaimed in the Chicago Exchange account. Why these aberrant trades were not discovered prior to 9/11? Who were the individuals who placed these trades? Have they been investigated? Who was responsible for monitoring these activities? Have those individuals been held responsible for their inaction?
Yet these 19 young single, unemployed, "classic overstay candidates still received their visas." I am holding in my hand the applications of the terrorists who killed my husband. All of these forms are incomplete and incorrect. Some of the terrorists listed their means of support as simply "student" failing to then list the name and address of any school or institution. Others, when asked about their means of support for their stay in the US wrote "myself" and provided no further documentation. Some of the terrorists listed their destination in the US as simply "hotel" or "California" or "New York". One even listed his destination as "no". Had the INS or State Department followed the law, at least 15 of the hijackers would have been denied visas and would not have been in the United States on September 11th, 2001. Help us to understand how something as simple as reviewing forms for completeness could have been missed at least 15 times. How many more lucky terrorists gained unfettered access into this country? With no one being held accountable, how do know this still isn't happening?
Airline and Airport
FAA and NORAD:
If that weren't protection enough, on September 11th, NEADS (or the North East Air Defense System dept of NORAD) was several days into a semiannual exercise known as "Vigilant Guardian". This meant that our North East Air Defense system was fully staffed. In short, key officers were manning the operation battle center, "fighter jets were cocked, loaded, and carrying extra gas on board." Lucky for the terrorists none of this mattered on the morning of September 11th.
Let me illustrate using just flight 11 as an example: American Airline Flight 11 departed from Boston Logan Airport at 7:45 a.m. The last routine communication between ground control and the plane occurred at 8:13 a.m. Between 8:13 and 8:20 a.m. Flight 11 became unresponsive to ground control. Additionally, radar indicated that the plane had deviated from its assigned path of flight. Soon thereafter, transponder contact was lost - (although planes can still be seen on radar - even without their transponders).
Two Flight 11 airline attendants had separately called American Airlines reporting a hijacking, the presence of weapons, and the infliction of injuries on passengers and crew. At this point, it would seem abundantly clear that Flight 11 was an emergency. Yet, according to NORAD's official timeline, NORAD was not contacted until 20 minutes later at 8:40 a.m. Tragically the fighter jets were not deployed until 8:52 a.m. -- a full 32 minutes after the loss of contact with flight 11. Why was there a delay in the FAA notifying NORAD? Why was there a delay in NORAD scrambling fighter jets? How is this possible when NEADS was fully staffed with planes at the ready and monitoring our Northeast airspace?
Flight's 175, 77 and 93 all had this same repeat pattern of delays in notification and delays in scrambling fighter jets. Delays that are unimaginable considering a plane had, by this time, already hit the WTC Even more baffling for us is the fact that the fighter jets were not scrambled from the closest air force bases. For example, for the flight that hit the Pentagon, the jets were scrambled from Langley Air Force in Hampton, Virginia rather than Andrews Air Force Base right outside D.C. As a result, Washington skies remained wholly unprotected on the morning of September 11th. At 9:41 a.m. one hour and 11 minutes after the first plane was hijack confirmed by NORAD, Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. The fighter jets were still miles away. Why?
So the hijackers luck had continued. On September 11th both the FAA and NORAD deviated from standard emergency operating procedures .Who were the people that delayed the notification? Have they been questioned? In addition, the interceptor planes or fighter jets did not fly at their maximum speed. Had the belatedly scrambled fighter jets flown at their maximum speed of engagement, MACH-12, they would have reached NYC and the Pentagon within moments of their deployment, intercepted the hijacked airliners before they could have hit their targets, and undoubtedly saved lives.
Leadership- Joint Chief Of Staff: The acting Joint Chief of staff on Sept 11th was on the morning of September 11th, he was having a routine meeting . Acting Joint Chief of staff Myers stated that he saw a TV. report about a plane hitting the WTC but thought it was a small plane or something like that. So, he went ahead with his meeting. "Meanwhile the second World Trade Center was hit by another jet. Nobody informed us of that," Myers said. By the time he came out of the meeting the Pentagon had been hit. Whose responsibility was it to relay this emergency to the Joint Chief of Staff? Have they been held accountable for their error? Surely this represents a breakdown of protocol.
Secretary of Defense:
Why didn't the Secret Service inform him of this national emergency? When is a President supposed to be notified of everything the agencies know? Why was the President permitted by the Secret Service to remain in the Sarasota elementary school? Was this Secret Service protocol? In the case of a national emergency, seconds of indecision could cost thousands of lives; and it's precisely for this reason that our government has a whole network of adjuncts and advisors to insure that these top officials are among the first to be informed--not the last. Where were these individuals who did not properly inform these top officials? Where was the breakdown in communication?
Was it luck or No Fault Government: Is it luck that aberrant stock trades were not monitored? Is it luck when 15 visas are awarded based on incomplete forms? Is it luck when Airline Security screenings allow hijackers to board planes with box cutters and pepper spray? Is it luck when Emergency FAA and NORAD protocols are not followed? Is it luck when a national emergency is not reported to top government officials on a timely basis? To me luck is something that happens once. When you have this repeated pattern of broken protocols, broken laws, broken communication, one cannot still call it luck. If at some point we don't look to hold the individuals accountable for not doing their jobs properly then how can we ever expect for terrorists not to get lucky again?
And, that is why I am here with all of you today. Because, we must find the answers as to what happened that day so as to ensure that another September 11th can never happen again. Commissioners, I implore you to answer our questions. You are the Generals in the terrorism fight on our shores. In answering our questions, you have the ability to make this nation a safer place and in turn, minimize the damage if there is another terrorist attack. And, if there is another attack, the next time, our systems will be in place and working and luck will not be an issue.
A 'terrible, bloody' miscalculation Former envoy to Iraq expects U.S. to win war, lose on many other fronts. Having talked to him on the phone a day or two before, I knew that former Ambassador to Iraq (well, actually, chief-of-mission, for obscure legislative and civil service reasons that he explained to me at some length, though they don't make a functional difference) Edward Peck would be provocative at the World Affairs Council last Thursday. He was.
Peck, a UCLA grad who spent 32 years as a diplomat, was careful to preface his remarks with the information that he had served two hitches in the U.S. Army as a paratrooper and had faced war, disease and riots as a diplomat, so he takes a back seat to none in facing danger for his country. He was in Iraq from 1977 to 1980, served in other Middle East posts, was coordinator of covert intelligence in the State Department and deputy director of the Cabinet Task Force on Terrorism in the Reagan White House.Not exactly a wimp or a pacifist.
He also peppered his talk with humor - a good diplomat is "somebody who can convince his wife she looks terrible in diamonds" - to leaven what for many had to be an unpleasant message. Noting that George W. Bush's approval rating was 52 percent on Sept. 10, 2001, and 90 percent on Sept. 12 when he was a president under foreign attack, Peck suggested a similar phenomenon might be at work for Saddam Hussein, as despicable as he is. He said that when you invade a foreign country, the people there just might view you as invaders rather than liberators. Peck thinks the United States will probably win this war eventually, but it will be harder than our leaders anticipated and will cost us dearly in national morale, solidarity and international prestige. And we'll be paying a high price for a long time to come in increased Middle Eastern instability and acts of terrorism.
The notion that Islamists hate us because of our freedom or "because Britney Spears has a bellybutton" is "terribly stupid," Peck believes. Most Americans don't want to face the fact that we've been killing Iraqis for 12 years, through sanctions and bombing, and that we're constantly in the world's face. But if we don't stop to consider honestly what really drives the terrorists of the world we'll have to deal with them for a long time to come. The idea that attacking Iraq will end terrorism is a little hard to square with the fact that we've called up 25,000 reservists to protect the homeland, and Colin Powell has asked for $6 billion to turn every American embassy into a fortress, all to coincide with the beginning of the war.
"I hope to the depths of my
being I am wrong," Peck said. "But I'm afraid we will pay a
terrible, bloody price for this miscalculation in Iraq." How did
the World Affairs Council audience in conservative Orange County
respond to this message? By my count, he got four hostile
questions, three friendly ones and a couple simply seeking more
information, all quite thoughtfully put. A few people, obviously
upset, walked out toward the end of the talk, but most people
stayed. Former World Affairs Council president Sir Eldon Griffiths
made it clear that he agreed with much of what Ambassador Peck had
said but disagreed with parts of the talk. He believes the evidence
on dangerous weapons and intention to use them is strong enough to
justify this war. Whatever you think about the war, there's little
doubt that it's stirring provocative and thoughtful discussion here
in Orange County.
Western Journalists Beaten, Starved by Americans Two Western journalists have arrived safely back in Kuwait City after being arrested, beaten up and deprived of food and water in Iraq — by members of the US Army’s military police. Arab News has learned that Luis Castro and Victor Silva, both reporters working for RTP Portuguese television, were held for four days, had their equipment, vehicle and video tapes confiscated, and were then escorted out of Iraq by the 101st Airborne Division.
Despite possessing the proper “Unilateral Journalist” accreditation issued by the Coalition Forces Central Command, both journalists were detained. Their ordeal at the hands of the Americans is in stark contrast to that received by Newsday journalists in Baghdad, who yesterday in Jordan described as “humane” their treatment at the hands of their Iraqi interrogators despite suffering various indignities. “I have covered 10 wars in the past six years — in Angola, Afghanistan, Zaire, and East Timor. I have been arrested three times in Africa, but have never been subjected to such treatment or been physically beaten before,” Castro said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.
“The Americans call themselves liberators and freedom fighters, but look what they have done to us,” he added. Castro and Silva entered Iraq 10 days ago. They had been to Umm Qasr and Basra and were traveling to Najaf when they were stopped by the military police. According to Castro, their accredited identification was checked and they were given the all clear to proceed. “Suddenly, for no reason, the situation changed,” Castro told Arab News. “We were ordered down on the ground by the soldiers. They stepped on our hands and backs and handcuffed us.
“We were put in our own car. The soldiers used our satellite phones to call their families at home. I begged them to allow me to use my own phone to call my family, but they refused. When I protested, they pushed me to the ground and kicked me in the ribs and legs.” “I believe the reason we were detained was because we are not embedded with the US forces,” he continued. “Embedded journalists are always escorted by military minders. What they write is controlled and, through them, the military feeds its own version of the facts to the world. When independent journalists such as us come around, we pose a threat because they cannot control what we write.”
After being held for four days, they were transported to the 101st Airborne Division to be escorted out of Iraq. Castro told Arab News: “A lieutenant in charge of the military police told me, ‘My men are like dogs, they are trained only to attack, please try to understand’.” The journalists were then transported by truck to Camp Udairi to await a helicopter transfer out of Iraq. At Camp Udairi, they told their stories to members of the US Marines. One soldier, who Castro asked not be identified, wrote out a note, which was shown to Arab News. The note said: “I am so sorry that you had to endure such bad conditions, but remember that I care and pray you can forgive.”
“The Americans in
Iraq are totally crazy and are afraid of everything that moves. I
would have expected this to happen to us at the hands of the
Iraqis, but not at the hands of the Americans. This is typical of
the American attitude, as related to us by British forces. The
attitude is ‘shoot first and ask questions
later’”, Castro added. Castro, a veteran journalist,
has had all his tapes and equipment returned to him, but not his
jeep. When asked by Arab News what he intends to do next, he
replied: “Return to Iraq as soon as possible to tell the
truth to the world about what is happening
April 2, 2003 Today's edition of Brought to You by The Bush Junta, Produced and Directed by the CIA, based on an original script by Henry Kissinger, with a cast of billions....The "Greatest Shew on Earth," no doubt, and if you don't have a good sense of humor, don't read this page! It is designed to reveal the "unseen." If you can't stand the heat of Objective Reality, get out of the kitchen!
Ailing dollar strikes at Euro in Iraq war - An Economic
Perspective On The War
America's Bush administration has been caught in outright lies, gross exaggerations and incredible inaccuracies as it trotted out its litany of paper thin excuses for making war on Iraq. Along with its two supporters, Britain and Australia, it has shifted its ground and reversed its position with a barefaced contempt for its audience. It has manipulated information, deceived by commission and omission and frantically "bought" UN votes with billion dollar bribes.
Faced with the failure of gaining UN Security Council support for invading Iraq, the USA has threatened to invade without authorisation. It would act in breach of the UN's very constitution to allegedly enforced UN resolutions. It is plain bizarre. Where does this desperation for war come from? There are many things driving President Bush and his administration to invade Iraq, unseat Saddam Hussein and take over the country. But the biggest one is hidden and very, very simple. It is about the currency used to trade oil and consequently, who will dominate the world economically, in the foreseeable future -- the USA or the European Union.
Iraq is a European Union beachhead in that confrontation. America had a monopoly on the oil trade, with the US dollar being the fiat currency, but Iraq broke ranks in 1999, started to trade oil in the EU's euros, and profited. If America invades Iraq and takes over, it will hurl the EU and its euro back into the sea and make America's position as the dominant economic power in the world all but impregnable.
It is the biggest grab for world power in modern times. America's allies in the invasion, Britain and Australia, are betting America will win and that they will get some trickle-down benefits for jumping on to the US bandwagon. France and Germany are the spearhead of the European force -- Russia would like to go European but possibly can still be bought off. Presumably, China would like to see the Europeans build a share of international trade currency ownership at this point while it continues to grow its international trading presence to the point where it, too, can share the leadership rewards.
DEBATE BUILDING ON THE INTERNET Oddly, little or nothing is appearing in the general media about this issue, although key people are becoming aware of it -- note the recent slide in the value of the US dollar. Are traders afraid of war? They are more likely to be afraid there will not be war. But despite the silence in the general media, a major world discussion is developing around this issue, particularly on the internet. Among the many articles: Henry Liu, in the 'Asia Times' last June, it has been a hot topic on the Feasta forum, an Irish-based group exploring sustainable economics, and W. Clark's "The Real Reasons for the Upcoming War with Iraq: A Macroeconomic and Geostrategic Analysis of the Unspoken Truth" has been published by the 'Sierra Times', 'Indymedia.org', and 'ratical.org'.
This debate is not about whether America would suffer from losing the US dollar monopoly on oil trading -- that is a given -- rather it is about exactly how hard the USA would be hit. The smart money seems to be saying the impact would be in the range from severe to catastrophic. The USA could collapse economically.
OIL DOLLARS The key to it all is the fiat currency for trading oil. Under an OPEC agreement, all oil has been traded in US dollars since 1971 (after the dropping of the gold standard) which makes the US dollar the de facto major international trading currency. If other nations have to hoard dollars to buy oil, then they want to use that hoard for other trading too. This fact gives America a huge trading advantage and helps make it the dominant economy in the world.
As an economic bloc, the European Union is the only challenger to the USA's economic position, and it created the euro to challenge the dollar in international markets. However, the EU is not yet united behind the euro -- there is a lot of jingoistic national politics involved, not least in Britain -- and in any case, so long as nations throughout the world must hoard dollars to buy oil, the euro can make only very limited inroads into the dollar's dominance. In 1999, Iraq, with the world's second largest oil reserves, switched to trading its oil in euros. American analysts fell about laughing; Iraq had just made a mistake that was going to beggar the nation. But two years on, alarm bells were sounding; the euro was rising against the dollar, Iraq had given itself a huge economic free kick by switching.
Iran started thinking about switching too; Venezuela, the 4th largest oil producer, began looking at it and has been cutting out the dollar by bartering oil with several nations including America's bete noir, Cuba. Russia is seeking to ramp up oil production with Europe (trading in euros) an obvious market. The greenback's grip on oil trading and consequently on world trade in general, was under serious threat. If America did not stamp on this immediately, this economic brushfire could rapidly be fanned into a wildfire capable of consuming the US's economy and its dominance of world trade.
HOW DOES THE US GET ITS DOLLAR ADVANTAGE? Imagine this: you are deep in debt but every day you write cheques for millions of dollars you don't have -- another luxury car, a holiday home at the beach, the world trip of a lifetime. Your cheques should be worthless but they keep buying stuff because those cheques you write never reach the bank! You have an agreement with the owners of one thing everyone wants, call it petrol/gas, that they will accept only your cheques as payment. This means everyone must hoard your cheques so they can buy petrol/gas. Since they have to keep a stock of your cheques, they use them to buy other stuff too. You write a cheque to buy a TV, the TV shop owner swaps your cheque for petrol/gas, that seller buys some vegetables at the fruit shop, the fruiterer passes it on to buy bread, the baker buys some flour with it, and on it goes, round and round -- but never back to the bank.
You have a debt on your books, but so long as your cheque never reaches the bank, you don't have to pay. In effect, you have received your TV free. This is the position the USA has enjoyed for 30 years -- it has been getting a free world trade ride for all that time. It has been receiving a huge subsidy from everyone else in the world. As it debt has been growing, it has printed more money (written more cheques) to keep trading. No wonder it is an economic powerhouse! Then one day, one petrol seller says he is going to accept another person's cheques, a couple of others think that might be a good idea. If this spreads, people are going to stop hoarding your cheques and they will come flying home to the bank. Since you don't have enough in the bank to cover all the cheques, very nasty stuff is going to hit the fan!
But you are big, tough and very aggressive. You don't scare the other guy who can write cheques, he's pretty big too, but given a 'legitimate' excuse, you can beat the tripes out of the lone gas seller and scare him and his mates into submission. And that, in a nutshell, is what the USA is doing right now with Iraq.
AMERICA'S PRECARIOUS ECONOMIC POSITION America is so eager to attack Iraq now because of the speed with which the euro fire could spread. If Iran, Venezuela and Russia join Iraq and sell large quantities of oil for euros, the euro would have the leverage it needs to become a powerful force in general international trade. Other nations would have to start swapping some of their dollars for euros. The dollars the USA has printed, the 'cheques' it has written, would start to fly home, stripping away the illusion of value behind them. The USA's real economic condition is about as bad as it could be; it is the most debt-ridden nation on earth, owing about US$12,000 for every single one of it's 280 million men, women and children. It is worse than the position of Indonesia when it imploded economically a few years ago, or more recently, that of Argentina.
Even if OPEC did not switch to euros wholesale (and that would make a very nice non-oil profit for the OPEC countries, including minimising the various contrived debts America has forced on some of them), the US's difficulties would build. Even if only a small part of the oil trade went euro, that would do two things immediately:
* Increase the attractiveness to EU members of joining the 'eurozone', which in turn would make the euro stronger and make it more attractive to oil nations as a trading currency and to other nations as a general trading currency.
* Start the US dollars flying home demanding value when there isn't enough in the bank to cover them.
* The markets would over-react as usual and in no time, the US dollar's value would be spiralling down.
THE US SOLUTION America's response to the euro threat was predictable. It has come out fighting. It aims to achieve four primary things by going to war with Iraq:
* Safeguard the American economy by returning Iraq to trading oil in US dollars, so the greenback is once again the exclusive oil currency.
* Send a very clear message to any other oil producers just what will happen to them if they do not stay in the dollar circle. Iran has already received one message -- remember how puzzled you were that in the midst of moderation and secularization, Iran was named as a member of the axis of evil?
* Place the second largest reserves of oil in the world under direct American control.
* Provide a secular, subject state where the US can maintain a huge force (perhaps with nominal elements from allies such as Britain and Australia) to dominate the Middle East and its vital oil. This would enable the US to avoid using what it sees as the unreliable Turkey, the politically impossible Israel and surely the next state in its sights, Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of al Qaeda and a hotbed of anti-American sentiment.
* Severe setback the European Union and its euro, the only trading bloc and currency strong enough to attack the USA's dominance of world trade through the dollar.
* Provide cover for the US to run a covert operation to overturn the democratically elected government of Venezuela and replace it with an America-friendly military supported junta -- and put Venezuala's oil into American hands.
Locking the world back into dollar oil trading would consolidate America's current position and make it all but impregnable as the dominant world power -- economically and militarily. A splintered Europe (the US is working hard to split Europe; Britain was easy, but other Europeans have offered support in terms of UN votes) and its euro would suffer a serious setback and might take decades to recover.
It is the boldest grab for absolute power the world has seen in modern times. America is hardly likely to allow the possible slaughter of a few hundred thousand Iraqis stand between it and world domination. President Bush did promise to protect the American way of life. This is what he meant.
JUSTIFYING WAR Obviously, the US could not simply invade Iraq, so it began casting around for a 'legitimate' reason to attack. That search has been one of increasing desperation as each rationalization has crumbled. First Iraq was a threat because of alleged links to al Qaeda; then it was proposed Iraq might supply al Qaeda with weapons; then Iraq's military threat to its neighbours was raised; then the need to deliver Iraqis from Saddam Hussein's horrendously inhumane rule; finally there is the question of compliance with UN weapons inspection.
The USA's justifications for invading Iraq are looking less impressive by the day. The US's statements that it would invade Iraq unilaterally without UN support and in defiance of the UN make a total nonsense of any American claim that it is concerned about the world body's strength and standing.
The UN weapons inspectors have come up with minimal infringements of the UN weapons limitations -- the final one being low tech rockets which exceed the range allowed by about 20 percent. But there is no sign of the so-called weapons of mass destruction (WMD) the US has so confidently asserted are to be found. Colin Powell named a certain north Iraqi village as a threat. It was not. He later admitted it was the wrong village.
'Newsweek' (24/2) has reported that while Bush officials have been trumpeting the fact that key Iraqi defector, Lt. Gen. Hussein Kamel, told the US in 1995 that Iraq had manufactured tonnes of nerve gas and anthrax (Colin Powell's 5 February presentation to the UN was just one example) they neglected to mention that Kamel had also told the US that these weapons had been destroyed. Parts of the US and particularly the British secret 'evidence' have been shown to come from a student's masters thesis.
America's expressed concern about the Iraqi people's human rights and the country's lack of democracy are simply not supported by the USA's history of intervention in other states nor by its current actions. Think Guatemala, the Congo, Chile and Nicaragua as examples of a much larger pool of US actions to tear down legitimate, democratically elected governments and replace them with war, disruption, starvation, poverty, corruption, dictatorships, torture, rape and murder for its own economic ends. The most recent, Afghanistan, is not looking good; in fact that reinstalled a murderous group of warlords which America had earlier installed, then deposed, in favour of the now hated Taliban.
Saddam Hussein was just as repressive, corrupt and murderous 15 years ago when he used chemical weapons, supplied by the US, against the Kurds. The current US Secretary for Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, so vehement against Iraq now, was on hand personally to turn aside condemnation of Iraq and blame Iran. At that time, of course, the US thought Saddam Hussein was their man -- they were using him against the perceived threat of Iran's Islamic fundamentalism.
Right now, as 'The Independent' writer, Robert Fisk, has noted, the US's efforts to buy Algeria's UN vote includes promises of re-arming the military which has a decade long history of repression, torture, rape and murder Saddam Hussein himself would envy. It is estimated 200,000 people have died, and countless others been left maimed by the activities of these monsters. What price the US's humanitarian concerns for Iraqis? (Of course, the French are also wooing Algeria, their former north African territory, for all they are worth, but at least they are not pretending to be driven by humanitarian concerns.) Indonesia is another nation with a vote and influence as the largest Muslim nation in the world. Its repressive, murderous military is regaining strength on the back of the US's so-called anti-terror campaign and is receiving promises of open and covert support -- including intelligence sharing.
AND VENEZUELA While the world's attention is focused on Iraq, America is both openly and covertly supporting the "coup of the rich" in Venezuela, which grabbed power briefly in April last year before being intimidated by massive public displays of support by the poor for democratically-elected President Chavez Frias. The coup leaders continue to use their control of the private media, much of industry and the ear of the American Government and its oily intimates to cause disruption and disturbance.
Venezuela's state-owned oil resources would make rich pickings for American oil companies and provide the US with an important oil source in its own backyard. Many writers have noted the contradiction between America's alleged desire to establish democracy in Iraq while at the same time, actively undermining the democratically-elected government in Venezuela. Above the line, America rushed to recognise the coup last April; more recently, President Bush has called for "early elections", ignoring the fact that President Chavez Frias has won three elections and two referendums and, in any case, early elections would be unconstitutional.
One element of the USA's covert action against Venezuela is the behaviour of American transnational businesses, which have locked out employees in support of "national strike" action. Imagine them doing that in the USA! There is no question that a covert operation is in process to overturn the legitimate Venezuelan government. Uruguayan congressman, Jose Nayardi, made it public when he revealed that the Bush administration had asked for Uruguay's support for Venezuelan white collar executives and trade union activists "to break down levels of intransigence within the Chavez Frias administration". The process, he noted, was a shocking reminder of the CIA's 1973 intervention in Chile which saw General Pinochet lead his military coup to take over President Allende's democratically elected government in a bloodbath. President Chavez Frias is desperately clinging to government, but with the might of the USA aligned with his opponents, how long can he last?
THE COST OF WAR Some have claimed that an American invasion of Iraq would cost so many billions of dollars that oil returns would never justify such an action. But when the invasion is placed in the context of the protection of the entire US economy for now and into the future, the balance of the argument changes. Further, there are three other vital factors:
First, America will be asking others to help pay for the war because it is protecting their interests. Japan and Saudi Arabia made serious contributions to the cost of the 1991 Gulf war.
Second -- in reality, war will cost the USA very little -- or at least, very little over and above normal expenditure. This war is already paid for! All the munitions and equipment have been bought and paid for. The USA would have to spend hardly a cent on new hardware to prosecute this war -- the expenditure will come later when munitions and equipment have to be replaced after the war. But amunitions, hardware and so on are being replaced all the time -- contracts are out. Some contracts will simply be brought forward and some others will be ramped up a bit, but spread over a few years, the cost will not be great. And what is the real extra cost of an army at war compared with maintaining the standing army around the world, running exercises and so on? It is there, but it is a relatively small sum.
Third -- lots of the extra costs involved in the war are dollars spent outside America, not least in the purchase of fuel. Guess how America will pay for these? By printing dollars it is going to war to protect. The same happens when production begins to replace hardware components, minerals, etc. are bought in with dollars that go overseas and exploit America's trading advantage. The cost of war is not nearly as big as it is made out to be. The cost of not going to war would be horrendous for the USA -- unless there were another way of protecting the greenback's world trade dominance.
AMERICA'S TWO ACTIVE ALLIES Why are Australia and Britain supporting America in its transparent Iraqi war ploy? Australia, of course, has significant US dollar reserves and trades widely in dollars and extensively with America. A fall in the US dollar would reduce Australia's debt, perhaps, but would do nothing for the Australian dollar's value against other currencies. John Howard, the Prime Minister, has long cherished the dream of a free trade agreement with the USA in the hope that Australia can jump on the back of the free ride America gets in trade through the dollar's position as the major trading medium. That would look much less attractive if the euro took over a significant part of the oil trade.
Britain has yet to adopt the euro. If the US takes over Iraq and blocks the euro's incursion into oil trading, Tony Blair will have given his French and German counterparts a bloody nose, and gained more room to manouevre on the issue -- perhaps years more room. Britain would be in a position to demand a better deal from its EU partners for entering the "eurozone" if the new currency could not make the huge value gains guaranteed by a significant role in world oil trading. It might even be in a position to withdraw from Europe and link with America against continental Europe. On the other hand, if the US cannot maintain the oil trade dollar monopoly, the euro will rapidly go from strength to strength, and Britain could be left begging to be allowed into the club.
THE OPPOSITION Some of the reasons for opposition to the American plan are obvious -- America is already the strongest nation on earth and dominates world trade through its dollar. If it had control of the Iraqi oil and a base for its forces in the Middle East, it would not add to, but would multiply its power. The oil-producing nations, particularly the Arab ones, can see the writing on the wall and are quaking in their boots. France and Germany are the EU leaders with the vision of a resurgent, united Europe taking its rightful place in the world and using its euro currency as a world trading reserve currency and thus gaining some of the free ride the United States enjoys now. They are the ones who initiated the euro oil trade with Iraq.
Russia is in deep economic trouble and knows it will get worse the day America starts exploiting its take-over of Afghanistan by running a pipeline southwards via Afghanistan from the giant southern Caspian oil fields. Currently, that oil is piped northwards -- where Russia has control. Russia is in the process of ramping up oil production with the possibility of trading some of it for euros and selling some to the US itself. Russia already has enough problems with the fact that oil is traded in US dollars; if the US has control of Iraqi oil, it could distort the market to Russia's enormous disadvantage. In addition, Russia has interests in Iraqi oil; an American take over could see them lost. Already on its knees, Russia could be beggared before a mile of the Afghanistan pipeline is laid.
ANOTHER SOLUTION? The scenario clarifies the seriousness of America's position and explains its frantic drive for war. It also suggests that solutions other than war are possible. Could America agree to share the trading goodies by allowing Europe to have a negotiated part of it? Not very likely, but it is just possible Europe can stare down the USA and force such an outcome. Time will tell. What about Europe taking the statesmanlike, humanitarian and long view, and withdrawing, leaving the oil to the US, with appropriate safeguards for ordinary Iraqis and democracy in Venezuela? Europe might then be forced to adopt a smarter approach -- perhaps accelerating the development of alternative energy technologies which would reduce the EU's reliance on oil for energy and produce goods it could trade for euros -- shifting the world trade balance.
Now that would be a very
positive outcome for everyone.
U.S. military warns foreign journalists in Iraq: “Don’t mess with my soldiers. Don’t mess with them because they are trained like dogs to kill. And they will kill you...”U.S. military detains, beats and threatens to kill four foreign journalists in Iraq. A Democracy Now! interview with Israeli reporter Dan Scemama. Listen to interview
Amy Goodman: The international press watch group Reporters Without Borders has accused the US and British coalition forces in Iraq of displaying contempt for journalists covering the conflict who are not embedded with troops. The criticism comes after a group of four “unilateral or roving reporters revealed how they were arrested by US military police as they slept near a US unit a hundred miles south of Baghdad and were held overnight. They described their ordeal as the worst 48 hours of their lives. The four journalists—Israeli journalist Dan Scemama, Boaz Bismuth, and Portuguese Luis Castro and Victor Silva, entered Iraq in a jeep and followed a US convoy though they were not officially attached to the troops. US military police seized the journalists outside their base, detained them even though they were carrying international press cards. The group claimed they were mistreated and denied contact with their families. We’re joined now by Dan Scemama in Israel. Welcome to Democracy Now!
Dan Scemama, Israel Channel One correspondent: Hi, good afternoon.
Amy Goodman: It’s good to have you with us. Can you describe exactly what happened.
Dan Scemama: Yes, we went into Iraq to report about the war. We went on a jeep that we had that we rented. We went with four guys. We all had credentials that we got from the American army. On the credential it was written “unilateral” and it was not written “embedded”. We just went in and we saw the British crews fighting, we saw the American crews—soldiers fighting.
We spent our nights with the American and the British soldiers, each time in another camp, in another place where they were parked. We were with them. We got to a place which was 120 kilometers south—kilometers which I think is seventy, maybe, miles south of Baghdad and there we met a group of, of the army of soldiers, and there was there also Ted Koppel was there with uniforms, with a big helmet on his head. And Ted Koppel looked at me and said to me, “You’re crazy, you don’t have a gas mask. Are you crazy? Because they’re going to use chemical weapons.” And I did not recognize Ted Koppel of course. Then I found out that it was him. Then we are asked by the army there to try and get gas masks, because if not, it’s very dangerous for our lives.
So we went south a little bit. We met another American troop, a chemical officer we met. We asked him for a gas mask and he gave it to us as a gift, which, what I’m trying to tell you is, we met a lot of American soldiers, and a lot of beautiful people that helped us. That understood what we were doing there, that a lot of times were trying to help us as much as they could. Until we got to this one group of soldiers in which the head of them was a guy that called himself—he did not call himself—we succeeded to find out his name because he did not want to identify himself. And his name was First Lieutenant Scholl which I will never forget his name. And him, with his soldiers have decided that we are very dangerous spies for Iraq. They decided that the CD player that we had is an electronic device that we used to tell the Iraqis where the American soldiers are. They took away our cameras. They took away our ID cards. They took away our money. They took our phones. They put their guns towards us. They forced us to lie down on the floor. To take our shirts up to make sure we didn’t have any explosives on our bodies. They checked us—our bodies—they checked our cars—I’m afraid I’m too long so maybe you have another question and then I will continue.
Amy Goodman: Was one of the Portuguese reporters beaten up?
Dan Scemama: Yes. After we were arrested at six o’ clock in the morning by these guys, and at about 11:30 I think it was, some five and a half hours after we were arrested, he kind of lost his patience, the Portuguese guy, and they put us in our jeep, they closed us inside the jeep and they said we are not allowed to get out of the jeep and we are supposed to stay there. And uh, so the Portuguese guy got out of the jeep, approached the army—the camp and said “Please, please, I am begging you, I have a wife and children. Let me just make a call, a telephone call to tell them that we are safe, that we are with you, the Americans and not with the Iraqis. They might think at home that we are killed by Iraqis. Please just let us tell them that.” And they said to him, “Go immediately to your car.” And he said, “Please I am begging you.” Five soldiers went out of the camp, jumped on him and started to beat him and to kick him. We ran to his direction. They all put bullets inside the cannons of their guns, and they said if we move forward they shoot at us. We were standing like stupid guys. We saw our friend lying on the ground crying, hurting. They tied his hand behind his back. They took him into the camp. And after half-an-hour, they let him go, and came back to us all crying. And then came this Lieutenant Scholl. And he told us, “Don’t mess with my soldiers. Don’t mess with them because they are trained like dogs to kill. And they will kill you if you try again.”
Amy Goodman: Well, Dan Scemama, how long were you held by the US forces?
Dan Scemama: We were there in our jeep for thirty-six hours outside the camp. They asked us if we need anything. They came politely, very nice, Lieutenant Scholl, he came again. “Do you need anything?” And we said “Yes, if you can give us a little food.” And he said, “I don’t have enough food for my soldiers. I will not give you food.” After about an hour, we saw a soldier going with water—a bottle of water—in our direction. And we said “Look! Something human is happening here. Somebody is coming to us with water!” And then we saw that he gave the water to a dog that was there, not to us!
Amy Goodman: Well—
Dan Scemama: And they kept us thirty-six hours and after thirty-six hours they put us on a helicopter and sent us to Kuwait. And we thought, okay, now we are safe. And in the military camp—American military camp in Kuwait, they hold us in a tent, standing up for six hours. An officer was standing next to us, I don’t remember his name. One of the sergeants who was there said, “Do you want a cup of coffee?” And the officer who was there shouted at them “Don’t give them anything! Don’t tell them anything. Don’t talk to them, don’t be nice to them!” and he said to us, “Don’t move and don’t talk to each other. “ This was already after 40-something hours that we were there. And suddenly at six o’ clock in the morning, that was exactly 48 hours from the moment we were caught, or everything started, they said “Guys, everything is finished, everything is finished, what hotel are you staying in Kuwait City, we’ll take you to your hotel.” Listen what we did, we asked “Can we use our mobile phones? Our satellite phones?” And they said “Yes.” And we all took the satellite phones that we had and we called home.
We all four of us started to cry and the Sergeant that six hours before wanted to give us a cup of coffee, came to us, a Sergeant Major of the American army and he started to hug us, he was crying. And he said, “Believe me, it’s not all the American army, excuse me I love you, I am with you, excuse us, please and please and please. This all was finished. They took me to my hotel. And when I arrived in my hotel, five minutes later, I had time to take a shower, I wanted to eat something, because I did not eat for a long time. And five minutes after I finished my shower, people knocked on my door in my hotel. And it was Kuwaiti secret police. And they told me for your own safety, we have to show you out of Kuwait immediately. And they took me to the airport and threw me out of Kuwait. I’m sure the Americans did that.
Amy Goodman: Well,
Dan Scemama, I want to thank you for recounting what happened to
you and your colleagues, another Israeli journalist and two
Red Cross confirms dozens dead after US bomb attack The Red Cross has confirmed that dozens of Iraqi people, including women and children, have been killed in a US bombing attack on a town south of Baghdad. Iraqi officials have claimed US helicopters attacked a residential neighbourhood, killing 33 people. At least 280 injured are being treated in Hillah Surgical Hospital, 60 miles south of Baghdad, said Florian Westphal, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross.
"The dead bodies and the nature of the injuries would suggest that at least some of them are the result of bombing," Mr Westphal said. Iraqi officials say US Apache helicopters attacked a neighbourhood in Hillah. The US Central Command says it is investigating the claim. Mr Westphal says he understands some of the casualties come from fighting over the past 48 hours in the town of Hindiya, into which US Army troops fought their way on Monday. Comment: "Liberation", US style.
US reveals new shoot to kill rule US soldiers can shoot to kill drivers who do not stop, according to reports from Iraq. "All Iraqis are to be treated as hostile until proven otherwise," said Capt Dennis Carletta, a combat lawyer with the Judge Advocate Generals Corps, the US army's legal branch.
"Warning shots are to be fired. If a civilian vehicle doesn't stop, soldiers are free to shoot to kill," he added. His comments demonstrate the "loosening" by US authorities of the rules of engagement, the laws under which their troops operate, after a suicide bomb killed four soldiers. Failure to follow the rules of engagement could leave a serviceman open to prosecution.
All US soldiers were issued
a card before the war - when there was a strong belief that the
Iraqi people would be welcoming them as liberators - listing the
conditions under which they could open fire. The rules are
understood to have been a mixture of the restrictions that normally
apply to peacekeeping operations, and those applicable to war
fighting. British rules of engagement remain confidential.
Comment: Confidential because they too
are illegal and constitute a war crime.
Russia accuses US authorities of media deception over Iraq. Russia has accused US authorities of misleading both domestic and international opinion by manipulating media reports on the war in Iraq, which Moscow strongly opposes. "We have all seen the bias in the information provided, the violations of the rights of journalists and the way they deceive the American public and the international community as a whole," a spokesman for the press ministry said in a statement, as quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency.
The statement did not cite any examples of the alleged manipulation by US officials. Last week a group of US Congressmen accused the White House of stifling opinion opposed to the US-led invasion of Iraq, now in its 13th day. The press media statement came in response to a report issued by the US State Department in which Russia was criticised for alleged constraints on press freedom, RIA Novosti noted.
The press ministry
"reaffirms the inviolability of the principles of free speech and
media independence in Russia and hopes that US statements will be
more balanced and unbiased in the future," the statement
said. Over the past two years
several independent or opposition Russian media organisations have
been closed down following alleged pressures or intervention by
pro-government structures, giving rise to fears voiced in
Washington and elsewhere the Kremlin was seeking to stifle
'I saw the heads of my two little girls come off' An Iraqi mother in a van fired on by US soldiers says she saw her two young daughters decapitated in the incident that also killed her son and eight other members of her family. The children's father, who was also in the van, said US soldiers fired on them as they fled towards a checkpoint because they thought a leaflet dropped by US helicopters told them to "be safe", and they believed that meant getting out of their village to Karbala.
Bakhat Hassan - who lost his daughters, aged two and five, his three-year-old son, his parents, two older brothers, their wives and two nieces aged 12 and 15, in the incident - said US soldiers at an earlier checkpoint had waved them through. As they approached another checkpoint 40km south of Karbala, they waved again at the American soldiers.
"We were thinking these Americans want us to be safe," Hassan said through an Army translator at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital set up at a vast Army support camp near Najaf. The soldiers didn't wave back. They fired. "I saw the heads of my two little girls come off," Hassan's heavily pregnant wife, Lamea, 36, said numbly. She repeated herself in a flat, even voice: "My girls - I watched their heads come off their bodies. My son is dead."
US officials originally gave the death toll from the incident as seven, but reporters at the scene placed it at 10. And Bakhat Hassan terrible toll was 11 members of his family. Hassan's father died at the Army hospital later. US officials said the soldiers at an Army checkpoint who opened fire were following orders not to let vehicles approach checkpoints. On Saturday, a suicide bomber had killed four US soldiers outside Najaf.
Details emerging from interviews with survivors of yesterday's incident tell a distressing tale of a family fleeing towards what they thought would be safety, tragically misunderstanding instructions. Hassan's father, in his 60s, wore his best clothes for the trip through the American lines: a pinstriped suit.
"To look American," Hassan said.
An Army report written last night cited "a miscommunication with civilians" as the cause of the incident. Hassan, his wife and another of his brothers are in intensive care at the MASH unit. Another brother, sister-in-law and a seven-year-old child were released to bury the dead. The Shi'ite family of 17 was packed into a 1974 Land Rover, so crowded that Bakhat, 35, was outside on the rear bumper hanging on to the back door. Everyone else was piled on one another's laps in three sets of seats.
They were fleeing their farm town southeast of Karbala, where US attack helicopters had fired missiles and rockets the day before. Helicopters also had dropped leaflets on the town: a drawing of a family sitting at a table eating and smiling with a message written in Arabic. Sergeant 1st Class Stephen Furbush, an Army intelligence analyst, said the message read: "To be safe, stay put." But Hassan said he and his father thought it just said: "Be safe". To them, that meant getting away from the helicopters firing rockets and missiles.
His father drove. They planned to go to Karbala. They stopped at an Army checkpoint on the northbound road near Sahara, about 40km south of Karbala, and were told to go on, Hassan said. But "the Iraqi family misunderstood" what the soldiers were saying, Furbush said. A few kilometres later, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle came into view. The family waved as it came closer. The soldiers opened fire. Hassan remembers an Army medic at the scene of the killings speaking Arabic.
"He told us it was a mistake and the soldiers were sorry," Hassan said. "They believed it was a van of suicide bombers," Furbush said. Hassan, his wife, his father and a brother were airlifted to the MASH unit. Three doctors and three nurses worked on the father for four hours but he died despite their efforts. Today, Hassan and his wife remain at the unit. He has staples in his head. She has a mangled hand and shrapnel in her face and shoulder.
Major Scott McDannold, an anaesthesiologist, said Hassan's brother, lying nearby, wouldn't make it. He is on a respirator with a broken neck. On March 16, Hassan and his family began to harvest tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions and eggplant. It was a healthy crop, and they expected a good year. "We had hope," he said. "But then you Americans came to bring us democracy and our hope ended." Lamea is nine months pregnant. "It would be better not to have the baby," she said. "Our lives are over."
Emperor George What has become of American values and idealism? All swept away in this thoroughly un-American war. This war is un-American. That's an unlikely word to use, I know: it has an unhappy provenance, associated forever with the McCarthyite hunt for reds under the beds, purging anyone suspected of "un-American activities". Besides, for many outside the US, the problem with this war is not that it's un-American - but all too American. But that does an injustice to the US and its history. It assumes that the Bush administration represents all America, at all times, when in fact the opposite is true. For this administration, and this war, are not typical of the US. On the contrary, on almost every measure, they are exceptions to the American rule.
The US was, after all, a country founded in a rebellion against imperialism. Born in a war against a hated colonial oppressor, in the form of George III, it still sees itself as the instinctive friend of all who struggle to kick out a foreign occupier - and the last nation on earth to play the role of outside ruler. Not for it the Greek, Roman or British path. For most of the last century, the US steered well clear of the institutions of formal empire (the Philipines was a lamentable exception). Responsibility was thrust upon it after 1945 in Germany and Japan. But as a matter of deliberate intent, America sought neither viceroys ruling over faraway lands nor a world map coloured with the stars and stripes. Influence, yes; puppets and proxies, yes. But formal imperial rule, never.
Until now. George Bush has cast off the restraint which held back America's 42 previous presidents - including his father. Now he is seeking, as an unashamed objective, to get into the empire business, aiming to rule a post-Saddam Iraq directly through an American governor-general, the retired soldier Jay Garner. As the Guardian reported yesterday, Washington's plan for Baghdad consists of 23 ministries - each one to be headed by an American. This is a form of foreign rule so direct we have not seen its like since the last days of the British empire. It represents a break with everything America has long believed in.
This is not to pretend that there is a single American ideal, still less a single US foreign policy, maintained unbroken since 1776. There are, instead, competing traditions, each able to trace its lineage to the founding of the republic. But what's striking is that George Bush's war on Iraq is at odds with every single one of them. Perhaps best known is Thomas Jefferson's call for an America which would not only refuse to rule over other nations, it would avoid meddling in their affairs altogether. He wanted no "entangling alliances". If America wished to export its brand of liberty, it should do it not through force but by the simple power of its own example. John Quincy Adams (before Bush, the only son of a president to become president), put it best when he declared that America "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy". Could there be a better description of Washington's pre-emptive pursuit of Saddam Hussein?
The Jeffersonian tradition is not the only one to be broken by Operation Iraqi Freedom. Last year the historian Walter Russell Mead identified three other schools of US foreign policy. Looking at them now, it's clear that all are equally incompatible with this war. Those Mead calls Hamiltonians are keen on maintaining an international system and preserving a balance of power - that means acknowledging equals in the world, rather than seeking solo, hegemonic domination. So Bush, whose national security strategy last year explicitly forbade the emergence of an equal to the US, is no follower of Alexander Hamilton. Jacksonians, meanwhile, have always defined America's interests narrowly: they would see no logic in travelling halfway across the world to invade a country that poses no immediate, direct threat to the US. So Bush has defied Andrew Jackson. Woodrow Wilson liked the idea of the US spreading democracy and rights across the globe; banishing Saddam and freeing the people of Iraq might have appealed to him. But he was the father of the League of Nations and would have been distressed by Washington's disregard for the UN and its lack of international backing for this war.
Which brings us to a key un-American activity by this Bush administration. Today's Washington has not only broken from the different strands of wisdom which guided the US since its birth, but also from the model that shaped American foreign policy since 1945. It's easy to forget this now, as US politicians and commentators queue up to denounce international institutions as French-dominated, limp-wristed, euro-faggot bodies barely worth the candle, but those bodies were almost all American inventions. Whether it was Nato, the global financial architecture designed at Bretton Woods or the UN itself, multilateralism was, at least in part, America's gift to the world. Every president from Roosevelt to Bush Senior honoured those creations. Seeking to change them in order to adapt to the 21st century is wholly legitimate; but drowning them in derision is to trash an American idea.
The very notion of unprovoked, uninvited, long-term and country-wide invasion is pretty un-American, too. When it thinks of itself, the US is a firm believer in state sovereignty, refusing any innovation which might curb its jurisdiction over its own affairs. Hence its opposition to the new international criminal court or indeed any international treaties which might clip its wings. Yet the sovereignty of the state of Iraq has been cheerfully violated by the US invasion. That can be defended - the scholar and former Clinton official Philip Bobbitt says sovereignty is "forfeited" by regimes which choke their own peoples - but it is, at the very least, a contradiction. The US, which holds sovereignty sacred for itself, is engaged in a war which ignores it for others.
The result is a sight which can look bizarre for those who have spent much time in the US. Americans who, back home, resent even the most trivial state meddling in their own affairs are determined to run the lives of a people on the other side of the planet. In New Hampshire car number plates bear the legend, Live Free or Die; a state motto is Don't Tread on Me. If a "government bureaucrat" comes near, even to perform what would be considered a routine task in Britain, they are liable to get an earful about the tyranny of Washington, DC. Yet Americans - whose passion for liberty is so great they talk seriously about keeping guns in case they ever need to fight their own government - assume Iraqis will welcome military rule by a foreign power.
Talk like this is not that comfortable in America just now; you'd be denounced fairly swiftly as a Saddam apologist or a traitor. The limits of acceptable discussion have narrowed sharply, just as civil liberties have taken a hammering as part of the post-9/11 war on terror. You might fall foul of the Patriot Act, or be denounced for insufficient love of country. There is something McCarthyite about the atmosphere which has spawned this war, making Democrats too fearful to be an opposition worthy of the name and closing down national debate. And things don't get much more un-American than that.
The truth about the war.It’s old hat, of course, to reiterate that the first casualty in war is always the truth. In the 1991 Gulf War a clear decision was taken to keep journalists away from the front lines, in order to avoid embarrassing disclosures of atrocities and on-side ineptitude, which were partly to do with the tide of public opinion turning against the United States's long-drawn-out adventure in Vietnam, where hundreds of thousands were killed and maimed in a war that made no sense.
This time round, in another
war that makes no sense, as far as anyone with half a brain can
see, the opposite tactic has been used. So confident are George W
Bush and Tony “Blah-Blah” Blair that their war is a
just and dignified one, in spite of massive and articulate
opposition from all over the world, including from inside the
United Nations Security Council, that they have adopted a new
tactic of having “embedded” journalists riding along
with the cavalry as it advances on Baghdad.
The BBC journalists tend to be more critical in their questioning of certain aspects of the morality of this whole enterprise, and the claims that come out of the mouths of the military — although, like their sister station CNN, they have fallen into the trap of making it seem like there is absolutely no other news of any interest going on across our vast and populous globe.
The “embedded journalists” seem to be gung-ho about being part of this massive military apparatus. So are their anchors back home.
When Boy George (to distinguish him from his father, Ol’ Massa George, who used to be a friend of Saddam Hussein’s, then went after him in the first Gulf War) sent in the cruise missiles on day one, the media dutifully mouthed the Pentagon’s announcement that this was to be something called Operation Decapitation Strike. The idea was that the American missiles are so accurate they would find Saddam sleeping in his bed, along with the rest of the Iraqi leadership, and finish off the war in a few hours.
When the man himself popped up on TV a few hours later, defiantly reading from handwritten notes (unlike the Western heroes, who have scores of hacks pumping propaganda into autocue machines so that they can look as if they are on top of every detail of the campaign) CNN spent several hours asking itself: “Was that really Hussein, or was it a double who appeared on TV after the first cruise missiles landed on Baghdad?”
Saddam has at least 11 doubles, they went on to tell us. “This means that there always is that element of doubt among the Iraqi people about whether they are seeing their actual president or not.” The United States and the United Kingdom, while continuing to pour scorn on the very idea of Saddam’s transparency, are themselves still refusing to publish the full list of the 46 countries that supposedly support this invasion, although Mongolia and the Solomon Islands are believed to figure prominently in this secret list.
What Mongolia and the Solomon Islands can actually contribute to this haywire turkey shoot in the blistering desert, and to what degree they can help fork out for the obscene $75-billion America’s boss-eyed president (himself, like Saddam, not exactly democratically elected) has said it will all cost at the end of the day, is hard to say. Although who is to say that the day will ever end? What kind of infuriated resistance is this extraordinary invasion, unfolding in the full gaze of the world, going to engender further down the line? How long will “the Allies” be bogged down in reprisals whose origin they have not the slightest intention of trying to understand?
One of the advantages of this live actuality TV is that it was impossible to hide various mishaps in the first days of the invasion. British attack helicopters bumped into each other with boring regularity, killing all the good ol’ boys on board. A US Patriot missile downed a Royal Air Force Tornado GR4, to much regret from the home side (called “the Allies” by the loyal media, to remind us of the heady days of World War II, Biggles, the Battle of Britain, and so on and so forth). “Until now,” said CNN, to put a better gloss on the disaster, “the Patriot missile has performed admirably.”
Well, it would. All true patriots always do the right thing.
What came as a surprise to the media was that Iraqis could be patriots too. This did not make sense. The “embedded” hacks were presumably embedded first and foremost so that they could show the world live footage of Iraqi peasants running out to greet the forces of liberation. The fact that (at the time of writing at least) this had not happened was one of the “coalition’s” eggier, ongoing moments. The advancing armies were met with fierce resistance. War machines were destroyed, helicopters downed, prisoners of war taken and paraded on TV. Meanwhile the embedded media kept telling us of “the Iraqis using women and children as human shields”. We never saw this footage either.
Self-inflicted injuries were glossed over with friendly-sounding language. British correspondent Terry Lloyd was killed by “friendly fire” as he drove towards an American convoy. An Australian cameraman was one of five onside players killed in a dastardly car bomb attack in the north, and at least two American soldiers were killed in a friendly grenade attack by one of their own number at base camp in northern Kuwait. A British tank blew the turret off one of its own kind, killing two squaddies and injuring several others. “No one said there would be no casualties in this war,” said the American president, trying to look profound. Well, at least the truth, for once, is not about to be the biggest casualty. Although they might decide to rethink this. Comment: Problem is, many of the above so called "accidents" are very possibly not accidents at all, particularly in respect of the "friendly fire" that kills journalists.
over cluster weapons. Coalition forces regard such issues
as "operational matters"
HRW argued that while the use of cluster munitions by US forces had not been confirmed by the military, it was evident from television images and stories from reporters embedded with US units that artillery projectiles and rockets containing large numbers of cluster munitions were being used. "The United States should not be using these weapons," said Steve Goose, executive director of HRW's arms division. "Iraqi civilians will be paying the price with their lives and limbs for many years."
HRW said it had seen footage showing the use of the Multiple Launch Rocket System by artillery units of the American 3rd Infantry Division. This, the group contended, was a system that only used cluster munitions - and the failure rate of the type used was 16%. It added that M483A1 and M864 grenades - a type of cluster weapon - were also being used by US forces. Their failure rate, it said, was 14%. It is not clear whether air-dropped cluster bombs have been used in the air campaign. Iraqi officials have repeatedly alleged use of cluster bombs by US and British aircraft, but these reports have not been confirmed.
Human Rights Watch has called for a global moratorium on the use of cluster munitions. Separately, it has urged the US-led coalition to prohibit the use of any cluster munitions in attacks on or near populated areas, and to suspend use of cluster munitions that have been tested and identified as having high failure rates. "The United States must rapidly provide extensive information and warnings to civilian populations to protect them from cluster munition duds," said Mr Goose. "The United States now bears a special responsibility to help clear these deadly remnants of war as quickly as possible." Comment: One problem with the above request; It would require first that the US military and politicians actually give a damn about civilian deaths.
Switzerland Documents U.S.-British War Crimes In Iraq U.S.-British war crimes in Iraq will be verified, documented by Switzerland. 13 days after the launch of U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the Swiss Foreign Ministry has decided to document U.S.-British war crimes against Iraqi civilians on a separate section within its website. Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy Rey Monday, March 31, told German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the section – operational since Monday morning – gathers information and data from credible and documented sources, adding names of new victims would be added on an hourly basis.
“The initial data available so far reveals the dirtiness of U.S.-British warmongers, the fakeness of their claims about a clean war, as well as their indifference to the lives of innocent, unarmed Iraqi civilians,” Rey, member of the ruling Socialist, Democratic Party, added. She noted that incoming data, days after the start of the invasion, revealed a significant and a dangerous rise in the number of civilian casualties, as a result of attacks carried out by the invading troops.
“Switzerland is a founder and a sponsor of the Geneva Convention, related to the prisoners of wars, civilians and human rights during wars, especially the protection of civilians in war zones. In this capacity, it was imperative for us to do our best to see the Convention is applied, especially, the protection of civilians during wars,” Rey said, adding that was the reason behind establishing the new section.
Since she held her post early this year, Rey adopted what she described as “open diplomacy”. In January, 2003, she called on the U.S. and Iraq to hold a meeting in Switzerland to try to solve the standoff peacefully. The Americans turned down her proposal. During this week, Rey plans to hold a conference to co-ordinate humanitarian and aid steps in Iraq, as a complementary step to a similar conference she organized a week before the launch of the invasion.
According to the latest poll about the U.S.-led invasion, among the Swiss citizens, majority of them opposes the invasion and denounces the U.S.-British policies. Almost all Swiss population have set up white flags on their roofs, as a sign of peace and opposition to the ongoing invasion. The Swiss government opposes using its airports or airspace by U.S.-British military aircrafts. It also refused expelling Iraqi diplomats, a request sought repeatedly by Washington. In line with her anti-U.S. plans, Rey intends to “take a walk” through the de-militarized zone on the border between North and South Korea, in an attempt to ease tension in the Korean Peninsula. Comment: There is not one country in the whole of europe where a majority of the population supports this illegal invasion by the US and UK. For most of us, democracy died a long time ago, if indeed it ever truly existed.
Rev. Moon to Al-Jazeera: The NWO have got us surrounded.
On al-Jazeera television, a reputed audience
"I had hoped to refer to him as the only member of Al Jazeera who hadn't been a former employee of the World Service of the BBC, thus subtly hinting that Al Jazeera is really an MI6 operation," said UPI's O'Sullivan. Was that an inside joke? If so, the joke is on the people around the world who think war is evil. Peacemakers have little chance of defusing tensions with CNN now counterpointed by al-Jazeera. Both are agents of the New World Order brigade. Both stations are assets of intelligence services. Both are fanning the flames of conflict in their respective audiences. This is how war is fomented. Not a short little war -but a great big long one.
That 2002 symposium also heard IIFWP leader Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak (no pun intended) endorse Rev. Moon's proposal that the United Nations establish a council of religious and spiritual leaders within the structure of the United Nations. Guess which religious leader will have the "spiritual" dimension to the UN nicely sewn up? So it's lucky we have Tony Blair and GW Bush standing up to those UN loonies and their associated Moonies. Or is it?
SURROUNDED - Back when George Bush was inaugurated, Rev. Moon held an Interfaith Inaugural Prayer Luncheon hosted by the Moon-owned Washington Times. The guest of honor was the then Senator John Ashcroft, now US Attorney General. Also attending were Pat Boone, Rev. Walter Fauntroy and evangelist Robert Schuller. Moon and his political organizations have been mired in religious right politics for decades. The "right-on" religious supporters of Moon include Rev. Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, and Robert Schuller, host of the "Hour of Power" TV show --among many others.
According to the compelling book, Yakuza, by David E. Kaplan, Moon's early backers included Ryoichi Sasakawa --a key figure in Japan's Yakuza organized crime family. Despite these dubious beginnings, Moon's organization has hired former President George H.W. Bush and former First Lady Barbara Bush to give speeches at Moon-sponsored events. In a speech on Aug. 4, 1996, Moon declared that Americans who insisted on "their privacy and extreme individualism … will be digested."
Tie all this in with
President Bush's Faith-Based Initiative and the "spiritual"
elements of the United Nations, and the game plan becomes
clear. We are to be terrorized
with manipulated wars blamed on a religious "clash of
civilizations." After which the UN will come riding to the rescue
and usher in a New World Order of "peace and prosperity." Featuring
a New Age mushy feel-good pseudo-religion; corporate control of
society and the abolition of the nation state as a political
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