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of the Day
© 2005 Pierre-Paul
WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush
said Robert Zoellick, the current US trade representative, would
become the number two US diplomat at the new State Department
to be led by Condoleezza Rice.
"Condoleezza Rice and Bob Zoellick will form one of the
really strong, capable foreign policy teams our country has
ever had," Bush said as he left the White House to start
a trip to the midwestern state of Michigan.
He was joined by Zoellick and Rice, whom he has named to replace
Colin Powell as secretary of state.
Zoellick's and Rice's nominations still must be confirmed by
the US Senate.
Elected to a second term in November, Bush
has been forced to name a number
of new cabinet posts.
Rice, 50, is currently the president's national security advisor.
Zoellick, 51 has been the trade representative since Bush entered
office in January, 2001. He will replace the current deputy
secretary of state, Richard Armitage.
Current job: US Trade Representative
Link to Enron: Mr Zoellick was
a paid consultant on the Enron advisory board before joining
the US administration.
He also owned Enron shares worth between $15,000 and $50,000,
which he sold after joining the administration.
Mr Zoellick is the cabinet official in charge of negotiating
trade deals for the Bush White House.
He is trying to open up foreign markets to US companies, including
ambitious plans for expanding the North American Free Trade
Area (currently including Canada, US, and Mexico) to the rest
of the Latin America - a goal strongly backed by US industry.
not affect the ability of the American companies and consumers.
… I think in reality, it's hard to predict what the prices
will be. … [G]uessing prices is not my business."
- U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick, in a March 5 briefing
on the Bush administration's new tariffs on steel imports. Zoellick
was responding to a question about whether the tariffs would
"[T]ariffs are nothing more than
taxes that hurt low- and moderate-income people, who pay for
a lot of the goods we import from Africa, whether it be clothes
or shoes or food."
- Feb. 8 briefing by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.
The subject was U.S. trade with Sub-Saharan Africa.
Robert Zoellick, the US Trade Representative,
is a man with a mission backed by a sense of history. Writing
in the 7 - 13 December edition of The Economist, he sketched
the battle plan for an American crusade to promote global free
trade, tracing the roots of the Bush
administration’s policies back to the protestors who dumped
English tea in Boston harbour.
The analogy was apt – but inadvertently so. After all,
the dumping of agricultural produce is one area in which the
United States retains a powerful comparative advantage, spending
billions of dollars each year disposing of American farm surpluses
in developing countries. Another area of trade policy in which
the Bush administration exercises global leadership, superbly
captured by the Zoellick manifesto, can be summarised in a single
word, ‘hypocrisy’. Like the British colonialists
that attracted the ire of the Boston tea party fraternity, the
United States is a good old-fashioned mercantilist power, combining
protectionism at home with a commitment to free trade overseas.
Of course, there are differences. In the 19th century, Britain
opened markets through gunboat diplomacy and occupation. These
days the preferred instruments for America’s crusade are
the World Trade Organisation (WTO), regional trade pacts and
bilateral agreements on open markets.
The road to Illsville
Nothing better illustrates the double standard of current US
trade policy than agriculture. Consider the case of cotton.
In 2001, the US Commodity Credit Corporation spent $4bn subsidising
the income of cotton producers, a fraternity comprising some
25,000 corporate farms in California, Texas, Mississippi and
Given that the world market value of the cotton crop was slightly
over $3bn, one might question whether the Bush administration’s
farm policies owe more to the principles of Bolshevik state
planning or the market principles espoused by Zoellick. But
as the world’s largest cotton exporter, domestic subsidies
in America have global consequences. According
to the International Cotton Advisory Committee, they lowered
world prices by around one-quarter, reinforcing the deepest
and most protracted depression in world cotton markets since
the Great Depression.
Skip from the subsidy fest in Texas to West Africa and you
can see the results. The latter is a region where some 11 million
households depend on cotton cultivation for their livelihoods,
and where cotton is a crucial source of foreign exchange and
government revenue. At a conservative estimate, it lost some
$200m in 2001 as a direct consequence of American farm subsidies.
To put this figure in context, it dwarfs
the amount that governments in the region receive in the form
of US aid or debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
(HIPC) Initiative. And behind the number there are real
people, ‘agricultural labourers who get lower wages, small
farmers who have less to spend on food and health, and children
being taken out of school because their parents can no longer
afford the fees.’
Like his illustrious predecessors, Robert Zoellick likes to
wax lyrical about the merits of a ‘level playing field’
in agriculture. No doubt President Bush himself will waste no
opportunity to press on African producers the benefits of open
markets when he visits the region in January. But what sort
of level playing field is it when the subsidies given to corporate
cotton farms in America are bigger than the entire national
income of cotton-producing countries such as Burkina Faso and
Mali? This is a level playing field that
slopes all the way downhill from Texas.
US farm policy and world poverty
[...] Under the 2002 Farm Security and Rural Investment Act,
the administration is committed to spending up to $20bn a year
in farm subsidies, an increase of around 10% over the last farm
bill. Moreover, the new legislation introduces elements that
will be deeply damaging to developing countries. It reinforces
the link between subsidies and output, raising the spectre of
an expanded surplus to be dumped on world markets. And
by shifting the burden of supporting farm incomes away from
the market and on to taxpayers, it enables agribusiness exporters
such as Cargill and Archer Daniels to get access to produce
at prices far below costs of production.
The upshot is relatively straightforward.
Smallholder farmers in developing countries – ‘a
group that accounts for three-quarters of all people living
below the extreme poverty line of less than $1 a day’
– will continue to face grossly unfair competition in
local and global markets. [...]
Looking beyond agriculture, it is difficult to avoid being
struck by the discrepancy between the picture of US trade policy
painted by Zoellick and the realities facing developing countries.
To take one example, much has been made
of America’s generosity towards Africa under the Africa
Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). This provides what, on the
surface, looks like free market access for a range of textile,
garment and footwear products. Scratch the surface and you get
a different picture. Under AGOA’s
so-called rules-of-origin provisions, the yarn and fabric used
to make apparel exports must be made either in the United States
or an eligible African country. If they are made in Africa,
there is a ceiling of 1.5 per cent on the share of the US market
that the products in question can account for. Moreover, the
AGOA’s coverage is less than comprehensive. There are
some 900 tariff lines not covered, for which average tariffs
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the benefits
accruing to Africa from the AGOA would be some $420m, or five
times, greater if the US removed the rules-of-origin restrictions.
But these restrictions reflect the realities of mercantilist
trade policy. The underlying principle is that you can export
to America, provided that the export in question uses American
products rather than those of competitors. For
a country supposedly leading a crusade for open, non-discriminatory
global markets, it’s a curiously anachronistic approach
to trade policy.
Africa’s experience under the AGOA reflects a deeper
problem in US trade policy which, as a seasoned user of selective
data, Zoellick is adept at obscuring.
As he rightly told readers of The Economist, America has the
rich world’s lowest trade-weighted tariff barriers. The
average level is around 1.5%. But averages obscure wide variations,
including the far higher levels of tariff facing many of the
world’s poorest countries.
In fact, the US places far higher tariffs on the least developed
countries than the EU, with an average of 13% compared to 2%.
In the case of agriculture, the average tariff on imports from
the same countries is 28%. Moreover, America subjects a far
higher share of manufactured imports from poor countries to
tariff peaks in excess of 15%, principally because of the high
level of import taxes applied to textiles and garments. This
helps to explain why revenues collected by the United States
on imports from Bangladesh are roughly equivalent to those collected
on imports from France, even though the latter are some twelve
times larger. [...]
Looking beyond issues of agriculture
and market access, some of the claims made by Zoellick simply
defy credibility. Take, for example, his suggestion that
the US is leading the way in implementing the Doha public health
This was a commitment undertaken by northern governments at
the start of the WTO round to ensure that trade-related intellectual
property rules (TRIPs) do not compromise public health in developing
countries by raising the costs of medicines. The US has in fact
comprehensively reneged on this commitment.
For all the complexities involved, the issues at stake are
relatively simple. The application of twenty-year patents to
drugs, as required under TRIPs, will have the effect of raising
prices, unless countries are allowed to produce and import generic
copies. For countries lacking strong domestic generic industries,
including sub-Saharan Africa, the right to import from countries
with such industries ‘such as Brazil and India’
Far from seeking to enshrine this right in WTO rules by allowing
a general waiver from TRIPs for public health purposes, the
US is insisting that the claims of developing country governments
should be considered on a case-by-case basis, and that both
the importing country and the country exporting the generic
drug should be required to seek authorisation.
This will open the door to endless litigation, which is presumably
what is intended. The US pharmaceuticals
industry, architect of the TRIPs agreement and author of Zoellick’s
negotiating scripts, is well placed to contest claims against
financially-strapped third-world governments, few of which will
contemplate legal action. The losers,
of course, will be the millions of poor households who will
face higher costs for the treatment, and the prospect of increased
vulnerability to ill health.
The focal point for the debate on TRIPs is the WTO. But there
is growing evidence, reinforced by Zoellick’s article
in The Economist, that this may be misplaced. The locus of US
policy has shifted strongly towards regional agreements, spearheaded
by negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement for the Americas
(FTAA), and bilateral deals such as that recently concluded
with Singapore. [...]
The second change is the erosion of the principle of special
and differential treatment. When Zoellick recently tabled his
proposal for zero tariffs on manufactured goods, he was including
developing countries. It is worth reflecting for a moment on
the sheer scale of the inequity implied by this approach. Because
average tariffs in developing countries are far higher than
in America, they would have to make far deeper cuts and absorb
far higher adjustment costs than the world’s richest country
– a novel approach to special treatment.
More importantly, the Zoellick zero-option reflects an approach
to the relationship between trade policy and poverty reminiscent
of the most crass thinking in the IMF and the World Bank twenty
years ago. There is no question that carefully designed and
properly sequenced trade liberalisation can be good for growth
and for poverty reduction. But the ‘big bang’ liberalisation
model envisaged under the US proposal is a prescription for
de-industrialisation, rising inequality and poverty. Countries
such as China and Vietnam have succeeded in capturing the benefits
of integration into global markets in part by doing the opposite
of what Zoellick advocates, liberalising imports slowly as part
of a broader domestic reform programme.
At one point in his article, Robert Zoellick berates ‘anti-globalisation
nihilists’ and special interest groups for seeking to
obstruct his free trade mission. He might
want to reflect on whether his brand of nihilism and blind pursuit
of US economic and corporate special interest represents an
obstacle to the creation of an international trading system
capable of extending the benefits of globalisation to the world’s
Kevin Watkins is Oxfam's head of research.
It takes one bizarre fiction to understand
another. Flannery O'Connor's 1952 novel "Wise Blood"
is full of insight into its not so distant relation "Free
Trade". Hazel Motes, O'Connor's would-be nihilist protagonist,
preaches a "Church without Christ" with all the zealous
fervour of Zoellick's devotion to "Free Trade" without
free trade. Lurking in the the novel is Zoellick's real doppelganger,
Asa Hawkes, the fake-blind preacher who cons people into parting
with their money, believing he blinded himself for his faith.
Like Hawkes, Zoellick is a superb and practised faith-based
con-man. Preaching free trade, he trails
a long history of private business interests in predatory multinational
corporations like Vivendi, Enron, Goldman Sachs, Alliance Capital
and SAID Holdings, the Bermuda-based South African patent and
copyright security specialists. His outlook melds seamlessly
into the Bush regime's deliberate confusion of the wishes of
their rule-bending plutocrat buddies with the interests of the
United States people.
Never mind the evangelism, feel the Clausewitz
Zoellick's pronouncements deserve attention. Like the other
mercenary fanatics surrounding George W. Bush, his evangelism
is one of arrogant candour. A member of Bush's Cabinet with
the rank of Ambassador, he assumed office as 13th U.S. Trade
Representative on February 7, 2001, unanimously
confirmed by the Senate. In fact,
as Bush's principal trade policy adviser and chief trade negotiator,
he puts big business first and the United States people last.
In the early 1990s, Zoellick worked as an economics undersecretary
for George Bush the Elder and led negotiations for the State
Department in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
During the 1997-1998 academic year, he
was the Olin Professor of National Security at the U.S. Naval
Academy. This interest in security
is natural for a man who sees aggressive trade negotiation as
the furtherance of war aims by other means.
The unvarying tenet in Zoellick's creed
is the manifest US destiny to dominate world trade. A
multilateral approach incorporating US pre-eminence seemed possible
in the early 1990s during the Uruguay Round of trade talks when
poorer developing countries were less able to defend their interests.
The 2001 Doha meeting showed the limitations of that approach
from the point of view of the US. [...]
In a widely reported speech in May this year to the Institute
for International Economics, Zoellick
said, "The U.S. seeks cooperation--or better--on foreign
policy and security...Given that the U.S. has international
interests beyond trade, why not try to urge people to support
our overall policies? Negotiating a free-trade agreement with
the U.S. is not something one has a right to--it's a privilege."
This callow brand of intimidation and bribery is nothing new.
The Reagan administration used PL480 agricultural aid and other
concessions to bribe and cajole Honduras into serving as a military
base for illegal terrorist aggression against Nicaragua throughout
Zoellick tries to put a benevolent gloss on the strategy, alluding
to the not so altruistic Marshall program in post-World War
Two Europe, "American trade policies are connected to our
broader economic, political and security aims. This intellectual
integration may confound some trade scholars, but it follows
in the footsteps of reconstruction after 1945."  But
the consistent nitty gritty of the US "free trade"
message is "do what we want--or else..."
Imposing the "Free trade" catechism
[...] When brow beating evangelism fails, Zoellick can call
on his US government colleagues to elicit appropriate measures
from the ever cooperative IMF and World Bank to help reluctant
converts see the light and speak in "free trade" tongues.
Under Bush, "free trade" has been carried the world
over by Zoellick and his apostles. In 2000 Jordan became the
first Arab country to sign a deal with the US. Similar agreements
have been reached recently with Singapore and Chile. A deal
with Morocco is in the offing. Bahrain is next in line. Occupied
Iraq is another obvious candidate.
When things need spelling out, Zoellick is very clear. With
China, he urges "to keep U.S. markets open, we need a two-way
street to try to expand U.S. exports to China and operate in
fair, transparent ways." His comments on patent and copyright
are especially interesting, "You need some prosecutions
and (to) put some people away...If it just becomes a fine or
a cost of doing business, then you're not going to be able to
stop intellectual property piracy." It
is interesting to note these remarks on criminal prosecution
come from one of fraudulent Enron's most influential former
paid advisers.  [...]
Galileo would recognise the deal
The Zoellick doctrine of universal "free trade" without
free trade brooks no heresy and has no time for genuine science.
In March this year Zoellick announced he was building a "coalition"--funny
how they keep cropping up--to force the EU to lift its moratorium
on GM foods and biotech products. Zoellick told the Senate Finance
Committee March 5. "I don't want this to be just the U.S.
versus EU." 
At a May 13th press briefing on the matter he claimed the EU
moratorium was stalling biotechnology development and blocking
its "benefits", especially in developing countries.
"In places where food is scarce or climates can be harsh,
increased agricultural productivity through biotechnology can
spell the difference between life and death, between health
and disease, for millions of the world's poorest people."
Through the crocodile tears and against
available scientific evidence Zoellick argues that biotechnology
increases crop yields but still miraculously benefits the environment.
Unfortunately for him, results of scrupulously
conducted recent British field trials tell a different story.
In the US, writer Mark Schapiro has followed transgenic crops
from their beginnings. He writes, "Monsanto alone poured
at least a billion dollars into biotech research, according
to NPR technology correspondent Daniel Charles in his book Lords
of the Harvest, "before it had a single genetically engineered
plant to sell." Other companies--DuPont, Dow, Aventis and
Syngenta--spent billions more on research and on a seed-company
buying spree that lasted well into the 1990s. The stakes for
these companies are huge."  Zoellick
works to benefit giant US agri-business biotech companies while
ruthlessly pursuing policies that impoverish millions of African
Breaking eggs for the globalized corporate omelette
The deals are not just bad for their
foreign victims, they are bad for ordinary people in the US.
They will encourage even further a low
wage service economy in the US while the corporate elite make
their fortunes even more vast than they are already by investing
in weak economies overseas. In the past those investments
were enforced and protected using US military muscle, as in
Latin America throughout the last century.
In the new millenium, trying to extend
and consolidate US global reach, Zoellick is using trade more
intricately than ever to underpin US foreign strategy in a cost-effective
way through bilateral and regional deals. The deals are
characterised by secrecy, intense political pressure and fierce
resistance to attempts at addressing local concerns that may
limit the rewards for US corporate investors, especially in
relation to health and safety and to the environment.
The zealot Hazel Motes may be the public negotiating persona
of Robert Zoellick. But Zoellick is neither
blind nor crazy. He simply has no interest in the massive human
cost, whether in the United States or abroad, of his lucrative
global evangelical mission on behalf of corporate monopoly capitalism.
Toni Solo is an activist based in Central America. He can
be reached at: email@example.com
1 Zoellick wants WTO deal by 2005. <CNN.com>
September 4, 2003.
2 'Unleashing the trade winds', The Economist,
December 5, 2002. Quoted in "Freeing trade or trading in
trade?" K. Subramanian. Financial Daily (from THE HINDU
publications group) Dec 24, 2002
3 "Property (Rights) is Theft" Gabriela
Bocagrande, Texas Observer, 8/17/2001
4 "Trade official says U.S. needs `fair
opportunity' to export to China" By Tim Johnson, Knight
Ridder NewspapersOct 27, 2003
5 "USTR Zoellick Says Free Trade is About
Freedom Holds Johhannesburg Press Conference" By Charles
W. Corey Washington File Correspondent. Thursday 21 February
6 AL-AHRAM On line, 3-9 July 2003 Issue No.
7 "U.S. Seeks Partners for WTO Challenge
to EU Biotech Moratorium", By Berta Gomez. Washington File
Staff Writer March 5, 2003, U.S. Department of State's Bureau
of International Information Programs,
8 "GM crops fail key trials amid environment
fears. Two out of three strains 'should not be grown' Paul Brown,
environment correspondent Guardian. October 2, 2003
9 "Sowing disaster?" Mark Schapiro.
The Nation. October 2002.
10 "WTO-USTR Says Other Nations Must 'Compromise'
Or WTO Meeting in Doha Could End in Failure", International
Trade Daily, October 31, 2001
11 "Trade hypocrisy: the problem with Robert
Zoellick" Kevin Watkins, 20-12-2002, www.opendemocracy.net
12 "Markets Must Open, U.S. Warns"
by Tim Rogers and Fabian Borges, Tico Times October 7, 2003
13 Congresswoman Aida Faingenzicht, of the ruling
Social Christian Unity Party. Quoted in Tico Times San Jose,
Costa Rica, October 31, 2003
14 "U.S. To Pursue Number of Objectives
at November FTAA Meeting in Quito" 15 October 2002 Washington
File, Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department
15 El Nuevo Diario, Managua Nicaragua 23 October
2003 & 28 October 2003
16 "Cuzcatlecos alertan a los ticos: Salvadorenos
pagan hasta 300% mas que en Costa Rica por servicios telefonicos"
by Alonso Gomez Vargas 22 October 2003 www.rebelion.org
17 January 8th Press release. www.precursorgroup.com
The New York Times reports today that
US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick is the frontrunner to
become the next president of the World Bank. He would replace
James Wolfensohn, whose second term ends next spring.
Mr. Zoellick has succeeded in launching a new round of multilateral
trade talks and has championed regional and bilateral trade
deals. Among those following developments is Washington Post
columnist Sebastian Mallaby. Mr. Mallaby is also author of “The
World’s Banker: A Story of Failed States, Financial Crises
and the Wealth and Poverty of Nations,” which chronicles
the tenure of James Wolfensohn. He was also a journalist with
The Economist Magazine. In Washington, he spoke to English to
Africa reporter Joe De Capua.
“Well, the first strong point that Bob Zoellick has is
that he is extraordinarily smart. Of
all the cabinet members in the Bush Administration, he probably
is the most creative intellectually and comes up the smartest
ways of thinking around obstacles. The other thing he
has is that he launched the DOHA development round. The trade
negotiations, which unlike previous rounds, sort of targeted
at helping poor countries. And that’s obviously a great
qualification for the World Bank job. Not only because it shows
you care about poor countries, but it also because in launching
this round he developed a lot of contacts in developing countries,
which would put him in a good position when he, or if he, took
over the World Bank,” he says.
Mr. Zoellick has spent the past week in West and Southern Africa.
Asked whether there is any controversial in Mr. Zoellick’s
policies, Mr. Mallaby replied, “ You can’t be the
US Trade Representative without having some controversies. He’s
gotten into fights about AIDS drug access for poor countries.
Whether US patent protections on pharmaceuticals should be relaxed
so that poor countries get better access. I would say he’s
been on the good side of that debate. He’s tried to fight
for a relaxation in the patent rules so that poor countries
get more access. But there are certainly advocates out there
who say he didn’t do enough. So, that’s one controversy.
Another one has been that he’s been in the middle of a
fight about how much trade agreements should have labor or environmental
standards built into them. And again, I would say he’s
moved the ball in favor of more environmental protections in
trade agreements. But again, there are people who say he hasn’t
Mr. Mallaby says Robert Zoellick has a reputation
of pushing for bilateral and regional trade agreements, which
have been described by many economists as hurting developing
He also says anyone succeeding James Wolfensohn at the World
Bank would have a hard time, describing Mr. Wolfensohn as a
“tempestuous force of nature.”
| A new-look team at the US State Department
emerged on Thursday, with the choice of Robert Zoellick as deputy
to Condoleezza Rice and the expected departure of John Bolton,
a controversial hawk on arms control.
The changes were interpreted by some
officials as further evidence that the second Bush administration
intended to work more closely with its allies. Others
said it came down to personality issues and more style than
Mr Bolton, reported by Reuters to be returning
to the private sector, had the reputation of being hard-hitting
and uncompromising on preventing proliferation of weapons of
He was also seen as a loose cannon who at times undermined
the diplomatic efforts of Colin Powell, secretary of state for
the last four years. In one memorable exchange of insults with
North Korea, he was described as “human scum” by
One official said he expected Ms Rice to take Robert Joseph
with her from the national security council to replace Mr Bolton.
Ms Rice, national security adviser, is due to have her Senate
confirmation hearing on January 18.
“People from one part of the foreign policy establishment
are moving to another. It is not a sea
change, but frankly more of the same,” a senior official
said. European diplomats in Washington
welcomed the news of the appointment of Mr Zoellick as deputy
secretary. He is currently trade representative. Their reaction
was partly out of relief that Ms Rice would not bring a team
dominated by the ideological neoconservatives who held sway
in Washington in the first term.
Mr Zoellick, 51, regarded as a tough, effective negotiator,
has had wide experience dealing with multilateral institutions.
He served in the Treasury in the 1980s and was the chief US
official handling the unification of Germany and the
cold war aftermath, when he worked closely with Ms Rice under
President George H.W. Bush.
It is rare for a serving cabinet member
to take a lesser ranking job as a deputy. But people
close to the discussions said on Thursday that President George
W. Bush and vice-president Dick Cheney were keen to restore
the State Department as an effective voice in the administration.
“The president had a transformational foreign policy
. . . now we are looking for a transformational diplomacy in
his second term,” said an official. [...]
News that Robert Zoellick is moving from
his post as US trade representative to deputy secretary of state
under Condoleezza Rice should not be taken as a demotion. Zoellick
is no shrinking violet, and he would never consider the deputy
job without assurances that he will have power and influence
in the administration.
Zoellick knows Rice from his Bush One days. He worked as a
top aide to James Baker, then secretary of state, while Rice
worked at the White House under Brent Scowcroft, then national
security adviser. Both collaborated on the highly successful
US policy which led to the peaceful unification of Germany (later
described in a fact-filled book, co-authored by Rice).
Before last November's presidential
election, Rice signalled that she was interested in moving from
her post as national security adviser to run the Pentagon.
Observer hears Zoellick, among others,
urged her to take a second look at the State Department.
His argument was that State could play an influential role,
as long as Rice kept her link to the president and assembled
a top-class team at the top. This was
precisely the model which James Baker employed to great effect,
even though it left many career diplomats out of the loop.
Zoellick, who prides himself on being
a strategic thinker, seems to have persuaded Rice that there
are lessons to be learnt from the past - as well as ways to
avoid being surrounded by hard-nosed neo-cons as she was in
Bush's first term. [...]
Having become a key figure of the neo-conservatives, [Wolfowitz]
is recruited by George W Bush in the fall of 1998 in order to
serve as an assistant on questions of foreign policy beside
a personality then very near to the republican candidate, Condoleezza
Rice. With her, he sets up the team of
the "Vulcans", in reference to the Roman god who forges
divine weapons in the depths of volcanos. Specialized
in international relations, the team consists of eight members:
and Wolfowitz, naturally, but also Richard
Armitage, Richard Bead, Dov Zakheim,
Robert Blackwill and Robert Zoellick.
At the same time, a second team, led by Rumsfeld, is also created
in the wake of the campaign of George W Bush. Its objective:
to promote the anti-missile shield project. One
finds several Vulcans there (Rice,
and Perle), but also external personalities such as George
Schultz or Martin Anderson. The very great contribution of Paul
Wolfowitz in the presidential campaign of George W Bush - whom
he briefs with Condoleeza Rice before the televised debate with
Al Gore - deserves a reward after the final victory. This reward
is made concrete by the return to the fold of the "child
of the Pentagon", this time in the Number 2 position. [...]
I started taking interest
in the [United States Trade Representative (USTR)] following
the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. I noticed
that the representatives of the office visiting recently independent
countries in Central Asia, the population of which was mainly
Muslim, would impose the condition of
dealing and trading with Israel to receive American aids.
Since these countries were coming out of decades of poverty
in the Soviet experience, they implemented what the USTR's representatives
asked, the majority of which are American Jews supporting Israel.
Later on, I was drawn to
the fact that 13 men and women had consecutively occupied the
position of trade representative, and that the last three or
four of them were American Jews. This is not an accusation but
a strange coincidence, since American Jews make up around 2%
of the population. Appointing one of them makes it 1/50.
Appointing three of them, consecutively, makes it a coincidence
of choosing 1/125,000. Appointing four
makes it more than 1/6,000,000, which refutes coincidence.
Michael Kantor was the trade representative between
1993 and 1996. Succeeded by Charlene Barshefsky between 1997
and 2000. Then came Zoellick. Each of
them is a committed Zionist, without, however, necessarily being
a neo-conservative. This is why I chose to leave the
USTR for another day.
Still, I can say, through my follow-up on the
USTR's work that it promotes Israel and imposes on the poor
countries to deal with it as a condition to benefit from relations
with the United States. I have recently fallen upon an example
of this in an unexpected source; it was a Mexican magazine,
which said that during Zoellick's tenure, fruits and vegetables
were not allowed to cross the U.S. borders from Mexico, although
they were not banned before.
At the same time, the Jewish
magazine for Los Angeles mentioned that America had started
importing the same sorts of fruits and vegetables from Israel.
Moreover, the Mexican magazine said that the Office of the USTR
had planned to replace their imports from Mexico with those
from Israel. I leave the reader to judge between the two parties.
The [Mexican] magazine says that Zoellick used the 9/11 terrorism
two years ago to help Israel at Mexico's expense. Zoellick
replied that fruits and vegetables imported from Mexico could
be polluted or poisoned by terrorists.
Unknown to the public at
large, Stephen Hadley has carried on a brilliant career in the
shadow of Brent Scowcroft and Condoleeza Rice. A business lawyer
convicted of fraud, he became the lawyer of the largest arms
manufacturer in the world, Lockheed Martin. He trained the candidate
George W. Bush, wrote up the new nuclear doctrine, prepared
the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, supervised
new entries into NATO, and sold the invasion of Iraq. Ever faithful,
he protected Bush the father from the Irangate scandal and Bush
the son from the lies of the Iraq war. He now finds himself
rewarded by becoming National Security Advisor.
Among the hard core of the Second Bush Administration,
Stephen J. Hadley is the least known element to the public and
the least visible personality. He plays, nonetheless, a central
Leaving Yale University, where
he got his law degree, calling himself Steven Hadley, he joined
the Secretary of Defense as controller of the analysis group.
Richard Nixon had not yet signed the Peace Accord with Vietnam.
Noticed by General Brent Scowcroft, an associate of Henry Kissinger
and who succeeded him as National Security Advisor, Mr. Hadley
joined the National Security Council in 1975 under the Ford
Administration. In 1977, when the Republicans lost the White
House, he left public service for the private sector. He joined
the firm Shea & Gardner, legal counsel to the world’s
largest arms manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, as a lawyer. The
firm then had to face a scandal that began in Japan and extended
to Europe: the company had corrupted political leaders who,
one by one, were forced to resign. Hadley kept this job for
twenty-four years, including the periods when he returned to
public life or when he invested himself in a firm for strategic
At the beginning of the 1980s, Mr. Steven
Hadley set up an insurance fraud of close to 1.1 million dollars.
He was discovered, found guilty by a court in Iowa, and forced
to reimburse the money. To erase any trace
to his crime, he changed his name to Stephen John Hadley.
When Ronald Reagan took the White House, Mr. Hadley stayed
in the private sector. However, in 1986, the Irangate scandal
broke. President Reagan appointed a commission of three wise
men to look into it. It was composed of the Texan Senator John
Tower, Edmund Muskie , and Brent Scowcroft who called once
more Stephen J. Hadley to his side. In spite of the implausibility,
the commission concluded that President Reagan and Vice-President
Bush were innocent. They found that the financing of the Contras
in Nicaragua through the trafficking of drugs and illegal weapons
sales to Iran was a secret initiative of over-zealous members
of the National Security Council, put into place without the
knowledge of their superiors.
In 1989, George H. Bush (father) took the place of Ronald Reagan.
To thank those who had whitewashed him, he named Brent Scowcroft
National Security Advisor and John Tower Secretary of Defense.
But the link was too obvious, and the Senate resisted. Finally,
Mr. Tower  withdrew for the benefit of Dick Cheney who took
Stephen Hadley into his service as assistant for International
Security Policy, that is, as the liaison officer with Scowcroft.
He would notably be involved with the invasion of Panama and
the Gulf War. He was also the special envoy of Cheney to the
post-Soviet States. In 1993 Clinton swept away the Republicans.
General Brent Scowcroft returned to private security consulting.
He created his own firm, the Scowcroft Group, where he surrounded
himself with proven talent, notably General Colin Powell, Stephen
Hadley, and Condoleeza Rice.
Hadley added this responsibility to his job at Shea & Gardner.
He was soon joined by another former collaborator of Scowcroft,
Democratic Ambassador R. James Woolsey, specialist in the balance
of arms and ephemeral director of the CIA.
As lawyer for Lockheed Martin, Hadley was in contact with the
directors of the firm, notably Lyne Cheney (wife of Dick). He
became close with Bruce P. Jackson, the vice-president of the
firm in charge of conquering new markets. They developed together
the US Committee to Expand NATO into which they brought Richard
Perle and Paul Wolfowitz. The Committee steered the entry of
the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in 1999. Then that of
Bulgaria, Estonia, Latonia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and
Slovenia. Each time, the leaders of the new member States were
solicited to bring their armies up to the norms of NATO, that
is to say, to purchase material from Lockheed Martin. The pressure
was so strong that certain of them denounced “the racket”
into which they were forced.
During this period, Hadley also invested himself in a think
tank of the extreme right, the National Institute for Public
Policy (NIPP). Nostalgic for Dr. Strangelove, they studied all
possible uses for the atomic bomb. With thirty or so people,
including his colleague R. James Woolsey, Hadley participated
in a working group that produced the celebrated report Rationale
and Requirements for U.S. Nuclear Forces.
In 2001 this group would be integrated into the Bush Administration
in a consultation panel on concepts of deterrence (Deterrence
Concepts Advisory Panel). He reformulated the report to make
it official nuclear doctrine (Nuclear Posture Review) in January
2002. During the Cold War, NIPP ensured the development of the
atomic bomb for protection against the Red Menace. Once the
USSR disappeared, NIPP made sure that they had to continue to
develop the bomb because they didn’t know who the next
enemy would be. It was therefore necessary to prepare for all
eventualities by inventing and producing new types of atomic
bombs, notably tactical nuclear weapons.
Mr. Hadley is also a director of Advanced National Strategies
and Enabling Results (ANSWER), a private institute issued from
Rand Corporation and that works exclusively for government agencies.
There he rubs shoulders with former directors of the Pentagon
and the CIA, who are usually also members of the Society of
Competitive Intelligence Professionals. ANSWER has a discrete
subsidiary, Legi-Slate, a specialist in the study of parliamentary
documents having to do with questions of defense. This is a
joint venture with the Washington Post.
Between 1998 and 2000 ANSWER and CSIS  developed a new concept
- Homeland Security. The word “Homeland” was before
this absent from political discourse because it was badly viewed
in a nation of immigrants, and the expression “Homeland
Security” was totally unknown. It designates the necessity
of preparing the country to confront an attack by weapons of
mass destruction. This includes everything from protective measures
against the dealings of the enemy to the organization of large-scale
emergency aid and the continuity of government.
The working group at the CSIS included thirty or so people,
including L. Paul Bremmer III, Richard Clarke, General Wayne
Downing, and, obviously, R. James Woolsey and Stephen J. Hadley,
who was the only one to sit both on ANSWER and CSIS.
Hadley also participated in a group of eight specialists, trained
by Condoleeza Rice, the Vulcans. Like the Roman God who forged
weapons for the Gods in the bottom of volcanoes, they trained
the candidate George W. Bush in international politics.
Upon his arrival in the White House, George W. Bush reformed
the National Security Council. He totally reorganized the work
in sub-committees  and created a post of Deputy Advisor that
he gave to Mr. Hadley.
It wasn’t a surprise that one of the eleven policy coordination
committees was named “proliferation, counter-proliferation
and homeland security”.
In a general fashion, George W. Bush opened the doors of his
administration to Lockheed Martin. The directors and managers
of the firm colonized the posts of high responsibility: vice-president
Norman Mineta became Transportation Secretary, director of operations
Peter B. Teets took over the direction of the Air Force and
NRO, the deputy director of the firm, Everet Beckner, took over
the direction of nuclear programmes, a lobbyist of the firm,
Otto Reich  was named to the Latin America bureau of the
State Department, etc. [...]
In 2002 Stephen Hadley supervised the creation
of the Project on transitional Democracies, once again with
his friend Bruce P. Jackson. It was a matter of bringing together
the military-industrial complex with the “spontaneous
revolutions” that the National Security Council was in
the process of planning for Central and Eastern Europe: Georgia,
Belarus, the Ukraine, etc. and to integrate these States
In December of the same year, the two accomplices created the
Committee for the Liberation of Iraq. This organization, that
would go on to dramatically increase the number of its public
meetings and interventions in the media in order to mobilize
US public opinion for the war, was administrated by a board
exclusively composed of shareholders and employees of Lockheed
Martin . To sell this war, Mr. Hadley
was active on all fronts. It was
he who transmitted the documents attesting that Saddam Hussein
attempted to obtain nuclear materials from Niger to the UN.
It was also he again who attested to the secret rendezvous in
Prague between Mohammed Atta, presumed chief of the September
11 attacks, and a responsible of the Iraqi secret service.
He took from that the proof that “Saddam” had plotted
against “America” and that he was ready to strike
again with an atomic bomb. The moment had come to deliver the
war against Iraq with the excellent material furnished by Lockheed
Martin and to insure “Homeland Security”. But the
documents were obvious forgeries, the rendezvous was complete
nonsense, and the invasion of Iraq a military fiasco. Mr. Hadley
accepted the blame to protect President Bush. He assumed responsibility
for all the errors. It was assumed that he had been completely
burned, but in November 2004, George W. Bush chose him to become
his National Security Advisor for his second administration.
 Edmund Muskie was Secretary of State (Democrat)
under Jimmy Carter from 1977 until 1980.
 In 1991, John Tower died in a plane accident. Several other
“witnesses” to Irangate died within a few days of
each other in various accidents.
 « CSIS, les croisés du pétrole »,
Voltaire, 6 July 2004.
 National Security Presidential Directive #1, 13 February
 « Otto Reich et la contre-révolution »,
Voltaire, 14 May 2004.
 « Une guerre juteuse pour Lockheed Martin »
Voltaire, 7 February 2003.
Translated by Signs of the Times
It's funny, the things people
Jon Ronson, author of Them: Adventures with Extremists,
showed his father footage of the elites' "cremation of care"
ceremony at the foot of Bohemian Grove's giant stone owl, complete
with burning of a human effigy. His father's comment:
"That didnít happen."
As a student in 1961, author Jacques Vallee witnessed "French
astronomers erase a magnetic tape on which our satellite-tracking
team had recorded eleven data points on an unknown flying object
which was not an airplane, a balloon, or a known orbiting craft."
An astronomer's explanation for the destructive act: "People
would laugh at us if we reported this!" (From Vallee's Messengers
I have heard people say, and perhaps you have as well, that
it doesn't matter what they are told regarding the events of
9/11, they will never believe the government - even
a Bush government - would have purposefully allowed the attacks
No one is standing over these people's shoulders, whispering
Don't believe it - destroy that - people will laugh at you.
The voices in their heads are their own. These are people who
are censoring themselves; sliding a door to guard their thoughts
from uncomfortable facts.
The most powerful control mechanism is internal. It's the
brain surgery we perform on ourselves - owing to social conditioning,
peer approval and dread of ridicule - that is of the greatest
service to those deserving exposure and justice, and who seem
to perpetually evade both.
We do it - we useless eaters - or have done it, or
can recognize the urge in ourselves. How much greater, then,
the internal pressure upon those in places of genuine influence,
such as the mainstream media and our legislatures, to suppress
the truth within themselves.
So a thank you is in order to Barbara Boxer, the lone Senator
who stood last Thursday, to challenge the legitimacy of the
Naturally, she will now be judged a "kook" - at least insofar
as her action breaks through the fog of unreality that passes
for news in America - for having the courage to call George
Bush a fraudulant President. (At her news conference she expressed
regrets for having respected Al Gore's wishes that senators
not challenge the results of 2000.)
To speak the truth in a crazy world is to sound crazy
yourself, and to invite marginalization and a blizzard of abuse.
As hard as it is to do for those who have little to lose, it's
much harder for those who have much. And it's a good part of
the reason why we hear so little truth spoken from the high
places. (Another notable exeption: the longest-serving UK Labour
MP, and former Minister of the Environment, Michael
The White House response to Senator Barbara Boxer's standing
on Thursday to contest Ohio's electors was predictable, as it
is its only response the White House offers when someone
calls bullshit on its galaxy of lies. Spokesman Scott McClellan
"It is time to move forward, and not engage in conspiracy theories
or partisan politics of this nature."
In the immortal words of Ronald Reagan, "Facts are stupid
| The Pentagon
may put Special-Forces-led assassination or kidnapping teams in
What to do about the deepening quagmire of Iraq?
The Pentagon's latest approach is being called "the Salvador
option"-and the fact that it is being discussed at all
is a measure of just how worried Donald Rumsfeld really is.
"What everyone agrees is that we can't just go on as we
are," one senior military officer told Newsweek. "We
have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents.
Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing."
Last November's operation in Fallujah, most analysts agree,
succeeded less in breaking "the back" of the insurgency-as
Marine Gen. John Sattler optimistically declared at the time-than
in spreading it out.
Now, Newsweek has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating
an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the
Reagan administration's battle against the leftist guerrilla
insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with
a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government
funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly
included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill
rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was
quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to
have been a success-despite the deaths of innocent civilians
and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among
the current administration officials who dealt with Central
America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S.
ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras.)
Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special
Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads,
most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite
militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers,
even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders
familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however,
whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called
"snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent
to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking
is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in,
say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out
by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell Newsweek.
| VIENNA, Austria (AP) -
Even though he's running unopposed, Mohamed ElBaradei may still
fail in his bid for a third term as head of the UN nuclear watchdog
agency, tripped by his main opponent, the United States.
Unable to find a candidate willing to go toe
to toe against the independent-minded Egyptian diplomat, Washington
is now quietly lobbying other countries on the board of the
International Atomic Energy Agency in a bid to unseat ElBaradei.
Then it hopes to engineer the choice of a replacement more to
its own liking - one harder on Iran and other countries on the
U.S. enemies list.
Since the agency spearheads international efforts to halt the
spread of nuclear weapons, the issue of who controls the IAEA
is key for officials in the administration of President George
W. Bush. They want someone in charge who
shares their view of which countries constitute nuclear threats
and what to do about them.
But ElBaradei has challenged those views - particularly over
Iraq and Iran, both labelled part of the "Axis of Evil"
He first disputed U.S. assertions that deposed
Iraqi president Saddam Hussein had an active nuclear weapons
program - claims that remain unproven. He then refused to endorse
assertions by Washington that Iran is working to make nuclear
A direct U.S. attempt to unseat ElBaradei fizzled late last
year, with the Americans unable to find anyone to challenge
him for a third term by a Dec. 31 deadline shortly after the
Bush administration called on him to step down after he completes
his second term next summer.
Since then, the nuclear power struggle has moved underground,
but even before Dec. 31 much of it was cloak and dagger, including
reported U.S. wiretaps of ElBaradei's phone to try and
show he was demonstrating favouritism toward Iran in his investigation
of its nuclear activities.
It's not the first U.S. campaign against UN officials deemed
at odds with its foreign policy. Washington blocked Egyptian
Boutros Boutros-Ghali from a second term as UN secretary general
More recently, in 2002, Jose Mauricio Bustani was voted out
as director-general of the UN Organization for the Prohibition
of Chemical Weapons after Washington accused him of mismanagement
and rallied other countries in a vote to have him dismissed.
At the time, Bustani's supporters said Washington
wanted him removed not because he performed poorly but because
he supported making Iraq a member of his organization, which
might have interfered with U.S. plans for war with that country.
U.S. officials in Vienna and Washington refuse to discuss Washington's
strategy in toppling ElBaradei. But diplomats accredited to
the Vienna-based IAEA said the United States has a new candidate
in the wings, who will be presented if Washington swings enough
countries on the IAEA board of governors to back its demand
for a non-confidence vote in the incumbent.
"They've already started lobbying in the capitals,"
said one diplomat, who insisted on anonymity like others who
spoke the issue.
"Whether or not they call for a (non-confidence) vote
depends on the support they will get."
ElBaradei appears to be taking the campaign to oust him in
"Member states have asked me to continue to serve,"
"I see that as confidence in my stewardship."
Agency officials close to the soft-spoken, austere diplomat
said he is of two minds about what they called a sometimes nasty
U.S. campaign against the IAEA leader. One official said ElBaradei
tried to ignore the reports his phone calls were bugged but
also was angry his conversations with family members had been
To oust ElBaradei, Washington must find backing from 12 other
member countries on the 35-member IAEA board of governors. It
can already count on traditional allies Canada and Australia
and several others and diplomats said it hopes to swing enough
others from Europe behind it for the required number.
Key here are countries like Hungary, Poland and Slovakia, all
with strong loyalties to Washington that also are supporters
of the U.S. campaign in Iraq. Other potential supporters include
West European countries now sitting on the fence over whether
to back ElBaradei.
"He continues to enjoy our confidence," one West
European diplomat said of ElBaradei.
But then, hedging his comment, he added his country agrees
with the consensus among states paying the bulk of UN bills
that heads of UN organizations should serve only two terms.
Also crucial to whether ElBaradei will be ousted is who Washington
has waiting in the wings.
With candidates from nuclear weapons countries unwanted in
the job, any replacement is unlikely to be American. Diplomats
also said they doubt the Bush administration can put forward
anyone who will find broad acceptance from the IAEA board, which
has been skeptical about U.S. efforts to control the direction
that the agency takes.
A wild card, played Friday, was the announcement from Washington
that U.S. undersecretary of state John Bolton was being replaced.
Bolton, an administration hawk, was considered the chief architect
of the anti-ElBaradei campaign.
President Bush had great success
in his first term by defining crises that demanded decisive
responses. Now, as he begins a second term, Bush is returning
to the same tactic to accomplish three longtime conservative
Warning of the need for urgent action on his Social Security
plan, Bush says the "crisis is now" for a system even
the most pessimistic observers say will take in more in taxes
than it pays out in benefits well into the next decade.
Sen. Harry M. Reid (D): The White House has "made an art
of creating crisis where a crisis does not exist." (Melina
Mara -- The Washington Post)
He calls the proliferation of medical liability lawsuits a
"crisis in America" that can be fixed only by limiting
a patient's right to sue for large damages. And Bush has repeatedly
accused Senate Democrats of creating a "vacancy crisis"
on the federal bench by refusing to confirm a small percentage
of his judicial nominees.
This strategy helped Bush win support for the war in Iraq,
tax cuts and education policies, as well as reclaim the White
House. What is unclear is whether the same approach will work,
given the battering to the administration's credibility over
its Iraq claims and a new Democratic campaign accusing Bush
of crying wolf.
"This White House had made an art of creating crisis where
a crisis does not exist," said Senate Minority Leader Harry
M. Reid (D-Nev.).
| American Army soldiers are deserting
and fleeing to Canada rather than fight in Iraq, rekindling memories
of the thousands of draft-dodgers who flooded north to avoid service
An estimated 5,500 men and women have deserted since the invasion
of Iraq, reflecting Washington's growing problems with troop
Jeremy Hinzman, 26, from South Dakota, who deserted from the
82nd Airborne, is among those who - to the disgust of Pentagon
officials - have applied for refugee status in Canada.
The United States Army treats deserters as
common criminals, posting them on "wanted" lists with
the FBI, state police forces and the Department of Home Security
Hinzman said last week: "This is
a criminal war and any act of violence in an unjustified conflict
is an atrocity. I signed a contract for four years, and I was
totally willing to fulfil it. Just not in combat arms jobs."
Hinzman, who served as a cook in Afghanistan, was due to join
a fighting unit in Iraq after being refused status as a conscientious
He realised that he had made the "wrong career choice"
as he marched with his platoon of recruits all chanting, "Train
to kill, kill we will".
He said: "At that point a light
went off in my head. I was told in basic training that if I'm
given an illegal or immoral order, it is my duty to disobey
it. I feel that invading and occupying Iraq is an illegal and
immoral thing to do.''
Pte Brandon Hughey, 19, who deserted from the 1st Cavalry Division
at Fort Hood, Texas, said that he had volunteered because the
army offered to pay his college fees. He began training soon
after the invasion of Iraq but became disillusioned when no
weapons of mass destruction were found.
"I had been willing to die to make America
safe," he said. "I found out, basically, that they
found no weapons of mass destruction and the claim that they
made about ties to al-Qaeda was coming up short. It made me
angry. I felt our lives as soldiers were being thrown away."
When he was ordered to deploy to Iraq, Hughey searched the
internet for an "underground railroad" operation,
through which deserting troops are helped to escape to Canada.
He was put in touch with a Quaker pacifist couple who had helped
Vietnam draft-dodgers and was driven from Texas to Ontario.
The Pentagon says that the level of desertion is no higher
than usual and denies that it is having difficulty persuading
troops to fight. The flight to Canada is, however, an embarrassment
for the military, which is suffering from a recruiting shortfall
for the National Guard and the Army Reserves.
The deaths of 18 American soldiers in a suicide bomb attack
in Mosul, northern Iraq, last month, was a further blow to morale.
Soon after, the number of American soldiers killed since President
Bush declared that large-scale combat operations were at an
end passed the 1,000 mark.
Lt Col Joe Richard, a Pentagon spokesman, said that the US
government wanted the deserters to be returned from Canada.
"If you don't want to fight, don't join," he said.
"The men in Canada have an obligation to fulfil their
military contracts and do their duty. If and when they return
to this country, they will be prosecuted."
The penalty for desertion in wartime can be death. Most deserters,
however, serve up to five years in a military prison before
receiving a dishonourable discharge.
In order to stay in Canada, deserters must convince an immigration
board that they would face not just prosecution but also "persecution"
if they returned to America. Hinzman's hearing has begun in
Toronto and a decision is expected next month.
During the Vietnam war an estimated 55,000 deserters or draft-dodgers
fled to Canada. There were amnesties for both groups in the
late 1970s under President Jimmy Carter, but many stayed.
One who did so is Jeffrey House, a Toronto-based lawyer, who
represents some of the deserters. He said that at least 25 had
reached Canada in recent months with the help of "railroad"
organisations, and believed that the immigration board would
back his clients.
Resistance sharpshooters reportedly killed
three US troops in a street in Ramadi Thursday morning. The
correspondent of Mafkarat al-Islam reported that the American
soldiers were shot down on al-Kass Street in the city a short
time before the correspondent filed his report, posted at 3pm
Thursday Mecca time. In the same attack Resistance sharpshooters
shot and killed a Lebanese translator collaborating with the
Americans who was broadcasting American warnings to the local
population on their behalf. The correspondent wrote that the
three Americans were killed instantly, and that he saw the blood
flowing from their faces and that of the Lebanese collaborator.
Americans Use Small Children As Human Shields
The correspondent for Mafkarat al-Islam in Ramadi reported
that US occupation forces on Thursday morning drove into the
western neighborhoods of ar-Ramadi, arresting 32 small children.
Local residents told Mafkarat al-Islam that
the US troops lured the children from in front of their houses
with candy then put them in tanks or armored vehicles and then
attacked the al-Bu Farraj Neighborhood and the 17 April Neighborhood
to raid and search houses there.
The correspondent wrote that the Resistance was in an extremely
anguished situation, for they could not attack the Americans
out of concern for the children whose relatives appealed to
the Resistance not to attack the US column for fear that their
children would be killed.
US troops stormed into the city at 9am Thursday and were still
there when the Mafkarat al-Islam correspondent sent in his report,
posted at 12:25pm Mecca time Thursday afternoon. The Americans
arrested 12 persons on charges of being with the Resistance,
as the children, being held on the tops
of the tanks, were reduced to tears in their terror.
The Resistance did not dare attack the American column which
drove around the city however it wanted, taking advantage of
the fighters self-imposed restraint out of consideration of
the captive youngsters.
One father agreed that the Resistance should attack the American
column even if is son, Hudhayfah, aged 3 would die. But the
Resistance rejected his offer.
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The
United States military said it dropped a 500-pound bomb on the
wrong house outside the northern city of Mosul on Saturday,
killing five people. The man who
owned the house said the bomb killed 14 people, and an Associated
Press photographer said seven of them were children.
The strike in the town of Aitha, 30 miles south of Mosul,
came hours before a senior U.S. Embassy official in Iraq met
with leaders of the Sunni Arab community to apply political
pressure against their threat to boycott Jan. 30 elections.
The Arab satellite broadcaster al-Jazeera said the Sunnis asked
the Americans to announce a timetable for a U.S. troop withdrawal.
Violence also continued, with at least eight Iraqis killed.
American officials repeatedly have insisted the vote go ahead,
but it is an extremely delicate time, with Iraq's government
perceived by many as closely tied to the U.S.-led coalition.
Late Saturday, a U.S. military statement
said an F-16 jet dropped a 500-pound GPS-guided bomb on a house
that was meant to be searched during an operation to
capture "an anti-Iraqi force cell leader."
"The house was not the intended
target for the airstrike. The intended target was another location
nearby," the military said in a statement.
The homeowner, Ali Yousef, told Associated Press Television
News that the airstrike happened at about 2:30 a.m., and American
troops immediately surrounded the area, blocking access for
four hours. The brick house was reduced to a pile of rubble,
according to an Associated Press photographer at the scene.
An Associated Press photographer said from the scene that
14 members of the same family - seven children, four women and
three men - were killed, and six people
were wounded, including another child in the house and five
people from neighboring houses. By evening, all 14 victims
had been buried in a nearby cemetery, Yousef said.
The U.S. military statement said coalition forces went to
the area to provide assistance and said five people were killed.
It said there was no other damage.
"Multi-National Force Iraq deeply regrets the loss of
possibly innocent lives," the statement said, adding that
an investigation was underway. [...]
Over the last few years,
the value of the U.S. dollar has fallen by more than 15 percent--and
by more than 50 percent against Europe's currency, the euro.
Financial commentators expect the decline of the dollar to continue--with
the nightmare scenario being a further big drop causing an international
The value of a country's currency rises and falls because of
a combination of factors, including international investment
flows and government policies. One of the most important is
a country's balance of trade--the difference between exports
The annual U.S. trade deficit has increased
more than eightfold from a two-decade low of $77 billion in
1991 to almost $650 billion by the end of 2004. That's about
6 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP)--the measure
of the overall size of the U.S. economy. In
a poor country, when the trade deficit climbs above 5 percent
of GDP, the International Monetary Fund usually steps in to
insist on a "structural adjustment" program.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government has gone from a budget surplus
at the end of the 1990s to a record-setting deficit of $412
billion in 2004, all in less than a decade. The most important
causes have been the Bush administration's trillion-dollar tax
cut giveaways to the super-rich and massively increased military
spending thanks to the "war on terror." And there's
more red ink to come with the Bush team's plans to privatize
Social Security and push through even more tax cuts.
"If this country were named Argentina
or Indonesia, it would be a clear candidate for financial crisis
any day now," economist and New York Times columnist Paul
Krugman said in a recent radio commentary.
The size of the U.S. trade deficit really took off in the late
1990s, when the U.S. government pumped large amounts of money
into the economy to stop America from suffering the financial
crisis that struck countries throughout East Asia beginning
in 1997. The strategy did stop the U.S. from coming down with
the "Asian flu." But one major consequence was a huge
increase in imports of goods and services into the U.S., as
the American market soaked up other countries' exports.
The trade gap is so big now that U.S. exports
of goods and services would have to grow by 50 percent to reach
the level of U.S. imports.
A deficit this big can't be paid for domestically. So the U.S.
has been funding its balance of payments deficits by borrowing
from the rest of the world--to the tune of $1.8 billion a day.
Add in the skyrocketing government deficit--which is competing
with the trade deficit in trying to attract foreign capital
to finance it--and it's obvious that the U.S. has become far
and away the world's biggest debtor.
Who are the lenders? This year, China, Japan and other East
Asian countries are expected to finance half the annual U.S.
trade deficit. As Financial Times columnist John Plender wrote,
the world's "lone superpower now depends on China as the
swing financier for its gigantic current account deficit."
That's why the dollar crisis finally attracted mainstream media
attention last month when rumors spread that central banks in
China, India and Russia were starting to divert their holdings
of foreign currencies out of dollars because of the decline
in their value.
The Bush White House claims that it is committed to keeping
the dollar strong, but this is hot air. Actually,
the administration has actively encouraged a controlled decline
in the value of the dollar.
One goal is to lower the U.S. trade deficit.
A weaker dollar benefits U.S. manufacturers because U.S. exports
are cheaper to buy in other countries, and other countries'
exports become more expensive in the U.S. Yet the trade deficit
has continued climbing despite the dollar's decline over the
U.S. policymakers also understand that the
accumulated debt from the twin deficits becomes cheaper to pay
off. "In essence, what is happening is that the American
government is defaulting on a part of its debt," Joel Geier,
associate editor of the International Socialist Review, said
in a recent interview. "They will pay back the debt at
its face value, but in a devalued currency. It's not declaring
bankruptcy, but the world's biggest debtor is telling its creditors:
'We'll pay you 80 cents on the dollar, or 60 cents on the dollar.'
Try that with your credit card company."
This is playing with fire--because the more the dollar drops
in value, the less incentive other countries will have to continue
financing the U.S. balance of payments deficit. "The break
can come either from the Reserve Bank of China deciding it has
enough dollars, thank you, or from private investors saying
'I'm going to take a speculative bet on a dollar plunge,' which
then ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy," Krugman
Even if the White House avoids this nightmare scenario, working
people will pay a price in declining living standards. The administration's
unstated policy of letting the dollar slide means not only that
imported products are more expensive to buy,
but that prices will rise across the board.
This hasn't shown up in the government's official
inflation statistics yet. But these figures are increasingly
misleading because they exclude so many essential products--like,
for example, gas, which has jumped in price over the last several
years--because they are supposedly "too volatile"
to measure properly.
Also, the high level of consumer spending in the U.S. was kept
going through the recession by a boom in mortgage refinancing
because of low interest rates. This provided homeowners with
extra cash to spend even as real wages declined. But the decline
in the dollar's value is already pushing up interest rates,
slowing the refinancing frenzy and threatening a more severe
crisis if the bubble in real estate values caused by the mortgage
boom is punctured.
As Geier puts it, "The press may present [the Bush administration's
dollar policy] as a brilliant stroke by the political representatives
of the U.S. capitalist class, but it is not a sign of strength...[T]he
U.S. remains the dominant power, and it is on this basis that
it assumes that the rest of the world will bail it out. The
U.S. ruling class may get this if the dollar collapses, because
Europe, Japan and Asia can't afford for that to happen. But
that won't enhance U.S. credibility."
Since the election, the mainstream media--as well as many progressives--have
acted as if the Bush administration is all-powerful. But the
dollar crisis with all its looming consequences shows the fault
lines and weaknesses right below the surface.
LONDON, England -- A
fierce winter storm packing hurricane force winds that swept
across northern Europe has left 11 dead two people missing,
officials said Sunday.
The storm, accompanied by torrential downpours,
caused damage in Britain, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Germany
before dying out early Sunday.
Six people were reported killed in Sweden after being hit by
falling trees and other debris. Four people died in Denmark,
two of them in the town of Assens when the roof of a house fell
in on them, police said.
In the North Sea city of Logstor, Denmark, authorities reported
the highest water level ever in their harbor -- 2.5 meters above
normal. Hundreds of people had to evacuate.
The bad weather brought train services to a halt in northern
Germany were two canoeists were missing after a strong gust
capsized their boat on a lake.
In Britain, the northwestern English city of Carlisle was turned
into a lake in the worst flooding to hit that region in 40 years.
Most access roads were still under water Sunday, cars were left
floating along the streets and more than 100,000 residents had
to spend the night without electricity.
Military helicopters rescued at least 15 people from the roofs,
including a family with a baby and a 90-year-old man. Other
residents fled to safety via boat. Three people died in the
city, but police were unable to say whether the deaths were
a direct result of the flooding.
Travel on roads, by ship and train were also obstructed. Numerous
ferry lines on the North and Baltic seas suspended service,
and a ferry grounded off the coast of western Scotland near
The P&O ferry was finally refloated after more than 30
hours at sea, the coastguard said Sunday.
Two tugs managed to free the European Highlander, with 100
people on board, with the help of the high tide.
High winds from the storm that were clocked at 140 kilometers
per hour in Britain, overturned 25 lorries on highways in northern
England. Numerous highways and bridges were closed because of
The storm swept in as northern Germany enjoyed its warmest
January night in more than a century with temperatures over
Ferries from Rostock, Germany, to Gedser, Denmark, were cancelled
in the Baltic but were resumed Sunday morning. The same was
true for the ferry line from Sassnitz on the German island of
Ruegen to Sweden's Trelleborg.
In the North Sea, ferries between Hirtshals, Denmark, to Larvik,
Norway, also remained in their harbors Saturday.
Meanwhile, authorities in Russia's second city, Saint Petersburg,
breathed a sigh of relief Sunday after high water levels that
threatened the former imperial capital with flooding began to
Alarm bells had rung as water levels in the river Neva rose
to within 30 centimeters (12 inches) of the flooding mark of
2.6 meters, causing city officials to close off embankments
to traffic and shut down six subway stations.
| Scientists in Canberra say they
are continuing to record unusual vibrations two weeks after the
earthquake that shook the Indian Ocean and triggered the devastating
Boxing Day tsunamis in Asia.
Dr Herb McQueen from the Australian National University (ANU)
says a gravity meter is still detecting ringing from the rare
Dr McQueen says the data is being studied by scientists across
"Normally a reasonably large earthquake
will continue reverberating for a couple of days on our charts,
but this one has been going steadily for the last 12 to 13 days
and shows no signs of letting up actually," he said.
"There's still a measurable oscillation."
SAIPAN -- Volcanic eruptions
on Anatahan island have escalated, with the volcano spewing
pyroclastic rocks hundreds of feet into the air, while seismicity
and ash emissions continued to intensify and billow during the
past days, sometimes rising up to 5,000 feet.
The Emergency Management Office reported this after conducting
an aerial look Friday over Anatahan, an uninhabited island about
75 miles north of Saipan and 200 miles north of Guam.
"Every time there are explosions, there were black rocks
-- sometimes red -- being thrown several hundred feet into the
air," said EMO's Juan Takai Camacho, who was part of a
team aboard a fixed-wing aircraft that flew over the island
The volcano's activity intensified beginning Tuesday and Wednesday
last week after months of extremely low seismic activities,
which followed the second batch of eruptions from April to June
The volcano on Anatahan first erupted after centuries of dormancy
on May 10, 2003, with ash plume rising to more than 30,000 feet.
That eruption ceased by mid-June that year.
In a joint report Saturday, the EMO and the U.S. Geological
Survey stated: "During the last 48 hours, the seismic signals
have changed from harmonic tremor to a somewhat broader band
tremor with frequent explosion signals recorded ... several
times per minute. A relatively full-scale strombolian eruption
is now under way and has been for the last two days."
Strombolian eruptions are characterized by the intermittent
explosion or fountaining of basaltic lava from a single vent
or crater, states the U.S. Geological Survey Web site, http://volcanoes.usgs.gov
TOKYO — A magnitude
4.4 earthquake jolted central Japan on Sunday evening, the Japan
Meteorological Agency said. There were no immediate reports
of casualties from the 6:59 p.m. quake. The agency did not issue
a tsunami warning.
The quake measured 4 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale
of 7 in Kani, Ginan, Kasamatsu and Yanaizu in Gifu Prefecture
and Nishi Ward in Nagoya, Inuyama, Komaki, Iwakura and Oguchi
in Aichi Prefecture. (Kyodo News)
Tricksters are posing as tsunami
victims on the internet in a bid to siphon some of the millions
of dollars flowing to relief efforts.
Online security experts on Wednesday said crudely written appeals
for help have begun to appear in email boxes, asking for donations
through a website or an offshore bank account.
"It's only a matter of time. We have fully fledged websites
that spoof well-known charities, for example," said Paul
Wood, chief information security analyst at MessageLabs, an
internet security company. [...]
The fraudulent appeals are patterned after two existing scams:
"Phishing" attacks that direct people to legitimate-looking
websites in order to trick them into giving up their credit
card numbers, and 419 scams, messages that promise great riches
in exchange for a bank account number.
"We have been rendered homeless and have lost all we have
in life. We will be very grateful if you can assist us with
any amount of money to enable us to start a new lease of life,"
one message said.
Ken Dunham, malicious code intelligence manager for the internet
security company iDefense, said such scams could be very effective.
"It is a get-rich quick thing, and it makes perfect sense
in light of the disaster. Everybody's heard of it, they all
know lots of people have died off, maybe whole families have
died off, and monies truly are available," Dunham said.
INDIANAPOLIS -- An underground explosion
injured three people Saturday and forced authorities to evacuate
dozens of residents from a downtown condominium.
The blast shortly before noon was similar to one that cut
power Wednesday to about 400 downtown businesses and homes,
including the federal courthouse. Officials
said both explosions likely were caused by heavy rains and later
freezing and thawing that triggered a series of short circuits
in underground utility lines.
Saturday's explosion buckled a bookstore's 3-inch concrete
floor into jagged 4-foot mounds and blew a steel door off its
hinges. Two workers and a customer were injured.
Tony Bayt had just opened the front door of the store when
he was blown off his feet.
"I was flying through the air," he said while medics
checked his injuries before putting him into an ambulance.
Residents of nearby condominiums were evacuated.
Texans who had snow for the first time
in more than a century at Christmas are selling snowballs on
Most have so far only attracted bids of a few dollars - but
one has attracted a bid of more than £10,000.
Its owner said: "This is a wonderful piece of history,
a snowball has not been made in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas,
in over a hundred years.
"This I made in my front yard in Laguna Vista on December
25, 2004. It has not snowed here since about 1889.
"A lot of people here never seen snow, it was an extraordinary
event. If you are a science buff or just want part of history
for many years you should bid now."
Another snowball seller, student Patricia Lucas, 18, from
Sugar Land near Houston, assured potential buyers her snow was
"in great condition, very clean bright white".
She told the LA Times: "People sell crazy stuff on EBay,
and I figured someone would buy a snowball."
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