the 9/11 Truth Movement
Canary in The Mine
Strike Flash Presentation by a QFS member
of the Day
Daniel Pipes is a rhetorical bomb-maker, and
last weekend he struck in Melbourne. Combining his audience's horrific
memories of the Holocaust with present fears of Iranian weapons
programs, he stood back and waited for a publicity explosion.
At Monash University's conference on anti-Semitism, the
American academic and commentator warned that preparations were
under way for a "second Holocaust". The Muslim
world had Israel in its sights, and to prove it Pipes picked a 2001
remark by a former Iranian president. But it is worth providing
the former president's quote in full:
"If a day comes when the world of Islam is duly equipped
with the arms Israel has in its possession, the strategy of colonialism
would face a stalemate because application of an atomic bomb would
not leave anything in Israel but the same thing would just produce
damages in the Muslim world."
Does this sound like a man threatening a second
Holocaust, or one pointing out the obvious, which is that Muslim
acquisition of nuclear weapons would change the strategic balance
in the region? Is "stalemate" really another word for
Anti-Semitism is a serious and enduring problem, which must be
tackled through education and exchange at every level of society.
It may be that Pipes has something to teach us about its range and
character today. But I wonder about placing him front and centre
at an anti-Semitism conference, for a number of reasons.
That he still commands audiences might surprise those who remember
that in 1987 he urged the United States to
supply Saddam Hussein with better weapons and intelligence, on the
basis that the Baathist leadership was an important force for moderation
and US security in the region. That Saddam was the aggressor
did not seem to matter; what was important was that Iran should
be utterly defeated.
Pipes' stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict also hinges on
the need for a complete military defeat of one side. Believing that
"what war had achieved for Israel, diplomacy has undone",
he has long opposed a two-state solution of the kind proposed by
George Bush and the international community and to which even Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon now pays lip service.
"To think that two states can stably and peacefully coexist
in the small territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean
Sea is to be either naive or duplicitous," Pipes has written.
How, in its hour of victory, the Israel envisioned by Pipes might
accommodate as equal citizens the millions of Palestinians living
in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and yet maintain its Zionist character
is not clear.
Most worrying of all was his recent article on kidnappings in
Iraq, which was published on this page under the headline "Hit
me and I will hit back" (September 15, 2004). In it Pipes contrasted
reactions in France and Nepal to the abduction of their citizens,
lamenting the French Government's use of diplomatic channels as
appeasement and pointing to riots in Kathmandu that targeted innocent
Nepalese Muslims as showing "an instinct for self-preservation
- hit me and I will hit you back . . . (which) made a repetition
of atrocities against themselves less likely".
A number of points might be made here, but surely the most important
is that the Nepalese rioters did not "hit you back", unless
the "you" in question was not the kidnappers in particular
but Muslims in general. Indeed, someone who
is familiar with the history of anti-Semitic violence should recognise
the Kathmandu riots for what they were: a pogrom, in which people
were targeted on the basis of shared faith rather than shared culpability.
We live in an era when alarm at the genuine threat of Islamist
terror is allowing some states to waive the civil rights of their
Muslim citizens. In this atmosphere, one might expect a scholar
of anti-Semitism to insist that the principles of innocence and
guilt deserve especial attention when it comes to Muslims.
Instead, Pipes has said that "all Muslims,
unfortunately, are suspect" and has advocated monitoring of
American Muslims on the basis that "if searching for rapists,
one looks only at the male population . . . if searching for Islamists,
one looks at the Muslim population". Yet in America,
I am not aware of a program requiring men to register their whereabouts
on the basis that they are all rape suspects.
Pipes has also gone on Australian television
to express the view that "easily half" of the world's
Muslims believed the terrorist atrocities of September 11, 2001,
were "a great thing". To
stigmatise more than half a billion people in this way is surely
not the act of someone who has studied the way in which anti-Semites
of the 1920s and '30s stigmatised East European Jews as carriers
of Bolshevism. And when Pipes notes that "all immigrants
bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim
customs are more troublesome than most", one wonders
if he recalls that less than a century ago an American newspaper
could argue that "the innate racial characteristics of Jews
so conflict with Christian customs and prejudices that happy marriages
As someone who has always rejected anti-Semitism in its myriad
guises, and who knows and respects several people who spoke at the
Monash conference, I fear that the choice of Daniel Pipes as a keynote
speaker was misguided, unless we would simply replace one repellent
brand of faith-based stigmatisation and violence with another.
JERUSALEM : The case against an Israeli army
officer on trial for allegedly pumping bullets into the dead body
of a Palestinian schoolgirl at a checkpoint has crumbled after key
witnesses retracted their statements, his lawyer said.
Interviewed on Israeli public radio, lawyer Yoav Manni said his
client had been effectively cleared of the incident, which occurred
on October 5 last year in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah,
because two witnesses at his military trial had admitted to having
He added that the two witnesses had sought to mount a vendetta
against his client, identified only as "Captain R."
The officer, said to be a member of Israeli's Druze minority,
was accused by fellow soldiers of having emptied the magazine of
his rifle into the body of 13-year-old Iman al-Hams after she had
already been shot dead by soldiers who suspected her of having explosives
inside her school satchel.
A statement from the Israeli military confirmed that the officer
had been released from detention by the southern command military
court after one of the soldiers admitted that he had given false
"In his testimony the soldier retreated from statements he
had previously made to the investigating military police,"
"Additionally, the court saw a conflict between versions
of two testimonies, and declared that the conflict was sufficient
to reduce the strength of the prosecution evidence and to justify
the officer's release from detention."
The statement said the decision to release him "did not in
any way suggest an opinion as the guilt or innocence of the officer."
However reports said he had already had his gun returned to him
and would be assigned to a new position shorlty.
Natan Sharansky, fighter for human rights
in the Soviet Union.
Natan Sharansky, fighter against human rights in this country
Natan Sharansky, Bush's mentor in his speeches about "global
Natan Sharansky, father of the infamous [Israeli] government
decision to rob the property of thousands of Palestinians in East
(Israeli peace bloc Gush Shalom, 4 February 2005)
A one time self-styled "symbol of the struggle for human
rights", Sharansky is in fact a bigot
and a hypocrite who does not believe that human rights are applicable
to all human beings everywhere and irrespective of their race, colour
We have chosen to profile Anatoly Sharansky, the Israeli minister
of social and diaspora affairs and leader of Yisra'el Ba'aliyah,
the Russian immigrants' party in Israel, because
he encapsulates the paradox of the Jewish inhabitants of Israel,
a paradox that is the hallmark of Zionists throughout the world.
That is, how can a people that has suffered
so much over the ages, from pogroms in Europe to Nazi genocide,
emulate their historical oppressors and be so lacking in empathy
with their victims, the Palestinian Arabs? (We salute the
tiny minority of Jews in Israel and elsewhere who have risked opprobrium
by consistently speaking out for Palestinian rights.)
Anatoly Sharansky (we shall call him by his birth name, Anatoly,
rather than Natan, the name given to him by the Israeli ambassador
to West Germany upon his release from prison) was born in Ukraine
and educated in Russia as a mathematician. In 1973 he applied for
an exit visa to Israel, but, like all Soviet citizens who had worked
in the military-industrial complex, he was refused on security grounds.
He then became involved in an Israeli-sponsored worldwide campaign
to put pressure on the Kremlin to give special treatment to Soviet
Jewish citizens by allowing them to emigrate to Israel, irrespective
of whether or not they had worked in the defence sector. In
1977 he was arrested on suspicion of spying for the US, and in the
following year he was found guilty as charged and sentenced to 13
years imprisonment. He was released in 1986 in a US-Soviet
Prior to his emigration to Israel, Sharansky liked to portray
himself as a symbol of the struggle for human rights, and since
then he has made much of his status as a former "victim of
totalitarian oppression". However, his belief in human rights,
nurtured at the height of the Cold War, appears to have been heavily
tainted with the culture of the Soviet-American power struggle,
which justified the cynical use of practically anything as ammunition
in the superpower rivalry for global dominance.
Unlike most of us, Sharansky apparently
does not believe that human rights are universal and indivisible,
that is, applicable to all human beings everywhere and irrespective
of their race, colour or creed. Not
only does he oppose any Israeli concessions that may eventually
lead to the realization of the Palestinians' right to self determination,
but he advocates policies that could only mean the dispossession
of more Palestinians living in Israel, and the illegally occupied
West Bank and Gaza Strip. No wonder that he was one of the
very few people to have amicable relations with the former ultra
right-wing prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.
Sharansky began his political career in Israel by becoming head
of the Zionist Forum, an organization dedicated to lobbying on behalf
of Soviet immigrants. However, not content with being a mere "welfare
worker", in 1995 he founded the Yisra'el Ba'aliyah party, with
the immediate aim of bringing in another million Jewish immigrants
from the former Soviet Union and of encouraging a further million
Jewish citizens of the United States and the European countries
to immigrate to Israel. For him, the value
of peace with the Palestinians is measured solely by the extent
to which it would work towards achieving the overriding goal of
encouraging Jewish citizens of other states to immigrate to Israel.
Thus, addressing the founding congress of Yisra'el Ba'aliyah in
June 1995, he said: "Without the hope for peace, you cannot
convince people to come here."
That the "ingathering of the Jews",
that is, the bringing into Israel and the occupied territories of
millions of foreign Jews who, like Sharansky himself, had no link
whatsoever to those lands, could only mean the dispossession of
more Palestinians from the land of their ancestors is a fact that
could hardly have escaped our human rights hero. Or perhaps,
having been brought up in a society where ideology and the class
struggle dictated one's view of life and where all conflicts were
seen as a zero-sum game, with victors and vanquished, be they a
class or a superpower, he was blinded by his own ideology, Zionism.
For almost in the same breath as reiterating
his commitment to the "ingathering" of millions of foreign
Jews, Sharansky is perfectly at ease with publicly objecting to
any hint of allowing Palestinians to take up residence in the territories
administered by the Palestinian National Authority or to the right
of refugees to return to those territories, even if they had families
Indeed, the impact of the Soviet system on Sharansky's mind appears
to have gone much deeper. Thus, like the
Soviet habit of remoulding the history books to suit themselves,
our human rights hero insists that any Israeli withdrawal from the
occupied territories should be made contingent on, among other things,
the Palestinians rewriting their school books "to remove all
language that denies the legitimacy of Israel and Zionism".
In other words, Palestinian children should be taught that their
uprooting from the land of their forefathers by foreigners from
the former Soviet Union, Europe and the United States was perfectly
Sharansky resigned as Israeli interior minister in former Prime
Minister Ehud Barak's government over rumours that Barak was contemplating
some trivial "concessions" over Jerusalem, territory and
the refugees at the Camp David talks with Palestinian leaders in
July 2000. But, judging by the unpopularity among Israelis of making
any concessions to the people they had uprooted, and given his solid
support among the Russian immigrants, Sharansky must have his vision
firmly fixed on the position of Israeli prime minister.
In the meantime, it would do him well to learn from the history
of his Slav cousins in the Balkans. For while
the Zionists have the dubious honour of being the twentieth century's
first ethnic cleansers, Sharansky's kith and kin in the Balkans
(let us not forget that our human rights hero is a Russian, albeit
of the Jewish religion), have taken that tradition to its logical
conclusion, with tragic consequences for themselves and their victims.
His blind ambition aside, Sharansky has a responsibility
to his compatriots and co-religionists in Israel because, as in
the Balkans, the burden of history weighs heavily on the shoulders
of the indigenous people of Palestine whose continuing misfortunes
are unlikely to let them forget the architects of their plight.
As a Russian, Sharansky should know more than anyone else that great
powers, even nuclear ones, come and go and that the fall can be
sudden and cruel. But, with his contradictions and double standards,
our human rights hero is unlikely to learn anything. Rather, when
the time comes to write his obituary Anatoly Sharansky will most
probably be remembered as Israel's great Russian dissembler, with
his years as a so-called "human rights campaigner" not
warranting even a footnote.
Israeli rabbis were planning on Sunday to hold special sessions
in 100 synagogues to pray for the failure of this week's summit
between prime minister Ariel Sharon and new Palestinian leader Mahmud
The prayer sessions on Monday will also call for divine intervention
against Sharon's plan to pull settlers out of the Gaza Strip and
small parts of the northern West Bank later this year.
Rabbi Yitzhak Batzri, one the organisers, told
army radio that "the objective is to prevent the prime minister
from committing the error of giving up parts of Eretz Israel (Biblical
Israel) which belongs to the Jewish people".
Another of the driving forces behind the initiative is the former
chief rabbi Mordechai Elihyau who is known for his hardline nationalist
Sharon and Abbas will meet at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh
on Tuesday as part of growing international efforts to revive the
RAMALLAH, West Bank — Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice's motorcade drove past Yasser Arafat's glass-enclosed
tomb Monday, one more snub to the late Palestinian leader who had
been largely ignored by the Bush administration.
Rice paid the first visit by a U.S. secretary of State to the
Palestinian government headquarters here since 2002, meeting with
Arafat's successor, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Rice and her entourage met with Abbas inside the same ruined compound
building where then-secretary of State Colin Powell visited a besieged
Arafat in April 2002 during Israel's incursion into the West Bank.
Rice passed within 200 yards of Arafat's resting place.
For two years prior to Arafat's death, President Bush had refused
to talk to the Palestinian leader. The White
House had made clear that it held Arafat responsible for terrorism
against Israelis and said a clampdown was a prerequisite for peace
negotiations. Arafat's death Nov. 11 did little to change
his status. When Powell made his last official trip to the West
Bank after Arafat's death in November, he visited Jericho instead
Other leaders have come, however. Since his riotous funeral here,
Arafat's burial site, which includes his signature black and white
checked kaffiyeh and is protected by an honor guard, has been visited
by former president Jimmy Carter. German Foreign Minister Joschka
Fischer and British Foreign Minister Jack Straw have laid wreaths.
Even British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a staunch U.S. ally who
considered Arafat a terrorist, paid his respects in December, in
a way. Blair paused outside the tomb's glass covering, nodded and
briefly stood silent.
Rice's decision will be viewed "as
a slap in the face for all the Palestinians," said Fawaz
Gerges, a Middle East expert at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.
"In Arab political culture, one must show respect and dignity
to fallen enemies."
"The people of Palestine will be unhappy about this,"
said Ali Sawafta, a journalist with WAFA, the Palestinian news agency.
"They want the respect for the president, who was our leader
for more than 50 years."
Arafat had dreamed of spending eternity on the Mount of Olives
in Jerusalem. But Israel refused permission. Instead, Palestinians
used backhoes to clear away crushed cars and mangled debris left
as a reminder of the 2002 Israeli raid on Arafat's headquarters
and broke through the asphalt in the compound's parking lot.
Arafat's coffin was laid inside a concrete tomb that Palestinians
hope will someday be moved to Jerusalem, which they also consider
the capital of a future state. Soil from Jerusalem's Temple Mount
lines the grave.
Shibley Telhami, a Middle East expert at the University of Maryland,
said Rice's snub demonstrated that the "post-Arafat era"
has begun. "In the end, people are looking more for real change
... than for simple gestures."
Rice couldn't completely avoid Arafat. As she answered questions
during a news conference with Abbas, a portrait of the late leader
smiled over her shoulder.
ROME - US Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice warned Syria that if it wants to avoid being "isolated"
it must end support for Islamic militants intent on wrecking the
Middle East peace process.
"It is time for Syria to demonstrate that it does not want
to be isolated, that it does not want to have bad relations with
the United States," Rice said after talks here with Italy's
Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini.
In a joint press conference dominated by the Middle East as Israeli
and Palestinian leaders met in Egypt to discuss a ceasefire, the
US official had harsh words for Syria, saying it has been "unhelpful"
by supporting Islamic militants intent on wrecking the process.
"I can't say it strongly enough. You can't say on one hand
that you want a process of peace and on the other hand support the
people who are determined to blow it up."
"Syria has been unhelpful in a number of
ways" including support for terrorists and militants operating
out of South Lebanon, she said.
"There's a long list and while
we sometimes make what I call minimal progress, it is by no means
the kind of progress we need to make," said Rice, making her
first foreign tour since succeeding Colin Powell as President George
W. Bush's top envoy last month.
She said the Islamic militants opposed to a Middle East peace "cannot
be allowed to continue to try to orchestrate the process".
Washington has imposed trade and investment sanctions against Syria
under the Syrian Accountability Act passed at the end of 2003 but
US officials acknowledge they have nothing new in the pipeline beyond
the latest sanctions imposed last May.
"The ties of Syria or Iran to these terrorist
organisations really need to be the subject of more discussion not
just by the Israelis and Palestinians but of course the Europeans
and we as well," said Rice.
Fini, who has recently returned from Moscow, said Russia could
be asked to use its influence over Damascus to rein in Syria. For
instance, he said, "Moscow can ask Damascus to control the
border between Syria and Iraq" and to persuade states in the
region to adopt a more "coherent" behaviour to allow Israel
enjoy its right to security.
Rice, speaking before heading for Paris on the latest leg of a
tour of Europe and the Middle East, also made a strong appeal to
Arab states to back the Middle East process.
She said "regional actors" must follow the lead of Egypt
and Jordan in supporting the talks, and called on Gulf states to
provide the funding that has been pledged to underwrite the effort.
The US official said that if they all lent their support "then
we really would have a chance this time for not just a peace between
Israelis and Palestinians, but a comprehensive peace for all the
people of the Middle East".
Rice later held discussions with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal
Angelo Sodano, before flying to Paris. A planned audience with Pope
John Paul II was cancelled because of the pontiff's illness.
Nor did she meet as expected with staunch Bush ally Silvio Berlusconi,
the Italian prime minister, who has been suffering from flu since
WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld,
traveling to France this week, will press NATO countries to
reduce political interference in the alliance's operations,
an issue that U.S. officials contend has hampered NATO efforts in
Kosovo and Iraq.
In some cases, the political leadership of individual NATO countries
have ordered their officers and soldiers, assigned to NATO units
and headquarters, not to take part in operations carried out by
NATO as a whole.
Rumsfeld will make his case to eliminate
these "national caveats" on the use of alliance forces
at a NATO defense minister's meeting in Nice, a senior U.S.
defense official said Monday, discussing the upcoming conference
only on the condition of anonymity.
Five NATO members have told their military personnel
assigned to NATO staff positions to either not go to Iraq or not
take part in any work involving the NATO mission in Iraq, set up
to assist in training Iraqi security forces, the official said.
The official did not identify the countries, Germany, France, Belgium,
Greece and Spain, who have previously announced they will not take
part in the mission.
NATO has about 80 soldiers in Baghdad for the mission, a number
that is expected to grow to 300 or more. Several members have offered
soldiers at the meeting of foreign ministers, including Poland,
Hungary and the Netherlands. Other countries have offered equipment
or money, or to run training programs outside of Iraq.
Another example of national interference in NATO, according to
the official: in March, some countries did not allow their troops,
serving as NATO peacekeepers in Kosovo, to move into certain areas
to help in riot control. The violence, the worst since the end of
the 1998-99 war, came as mobs of ethnic Albanians targeted Serbs
and other minorities in a two-day rampage in mid-March, triggered
by the deaths of two children allegedly chased into a river by Serbs.
The violence left 19 people dead and 900 injured, and 4,000 people,
mostly Serbs, were displaced, and at least 600 homes and Orthodox
Christian churches were burned.
Some 18,000 NATO-led peacekeepers are in the province working alongside
some 10,000 U.N. and local police officers.
The senior defense official said some fixes had already been implemented
should violence flare up again in Kosovo.
In Nice, Rumsfeld and his foreign counterparts
will also discuss the alliance's efforts in Afghanistan, where 8,300
NATO troops are taking part in peacekeeping and reconstruction there.
France is to hand over leadership of the force to Turkey this month.
The defense secretary will also meet with Russian Defense Minister
Sergei Ivanov, who will be in Nice for parallel Russia-NATO meetings.
It remains unclear whether Rumsfeld will also travel
to Germany later in the week for the annual European security conference
|BERN : Three armed men entered the Spanish consulate
in Bern, injuring a guard and briefly holding two people hostage,
but escaped before Swiss police mounted a massive security cordon
around the building.
Thinking that the trio were still inside the consulate, police
surrounded the premises for seven hours before discovering that
it was empty.
"We believe the three left the building before 8:00 o'clock
(0700 GMT) and (then) the police arrived," the head of Bern's
municipal police, Peter Theilkas, told a news conference.
Earlier, two staff members who had been held in a room of the
building were allowed to leave the villa in central Bern's Kirchenfeld
district. Another employee was stabbed in the head with a knife
when he arrived at the scene, but he managed to escape and alert
Police said they were not yet certain whether the men intended
to rob the consulate or were seeking hostages to ransom.
"The motive from our point of view is not clear: it ranges
from burglary to classic hostage-taking," said Theilkas, although
police believe the trio were not politically motivated.
Consulate staff quoted by Switzerland's French-language Radio
Suisse Romande said the intruders wanted to snatch passports or
visa stamps which are sold on the black market for between 6,000
and 8,000 Swiss francs (4,000 to 6,000 euros, 5,000 dollars to 7,700
The consulate had been the target of several break-in attempts,
staff said. [...]
TEHRAN - In his State of the Union address,
US President George W Bush once again demonized Iran as "the
world's primary state sponsor of terror", accusing it of pursuing
nuclear weapons, abusing human rights and being led by a few unelected
leaders. He also had a message for the Iranian people, "As
you stand for your own liberty, America stands with you."
Two cheers for the "great crusader" for America's new
manifest destiny - to spread the fruits of liberty and freedom in
all four corners of the world, to topple the world's tyrants and
deliver their subjects from modern political serfdom. Among
others heartened by his stern anti-Iran message there must have
been many members of US Congress, presently working overtime to
pass a new bill titled the "Iran Freedom Support Act",
which puts the US government squarely on the side of the opposition
groups contesting the Islamic regime.
The pending bill not only recycles the pre-existing sanctions
against Iran, by lumping conventional weapons with weapons of mass
destruction, it actually tightens the sanction
regime by calling for punishment of any foreign government or company
that trades such goods and material with Iran.
Also, the bill calls for a substantial increase in US financial
support of the TV and radio programs opposed to Iran beamed inside
For a country boasting of democracy, there is ironically not a
minimum required debate on this important bill, which, if passed,
would pretty much box the Bush administration in a head-on collision
course with Tehran. The combined forces of Iran's dissidents abroad,
composed mostly of monarchists and supporters of the armed opposition
group, the People's Mujahideen, and the neo-conservatives and friends
and allies of the state of Israel have for all practical purposes
shut down the deliberative process on Iran policy in Washington,
making it impossible for anyone to dare voice even slight criticism
of the unbounded, unreconstructed and ultimately unproductive and
even dangerous course of action cooked up in various committees
and sub-committees in both chambers of US Congress.
But, hypothetically speaking, we can imagine an opponent of this
bill, counseling a vastly different course of action vis-a-vis Iran,
presenting the following arguments: Iran
has proven a valuable ally against the Taliban, and its constructive
role in Afghanistan since its liberation deserves recognition in
While Iran for all the known national security reasons has meddled
in post-Saddam Hussein Iraq to some extent, it is wrong to perceive
this as purely a negative influence, given the powerful presence
of pro-Iran Shi'ite groups in the interim Iraqi government and Iran's
leaders steering the Shi'ites along the electoral road to power.
Iran has signed security agreements with its Persian Gulf Arab
neighbors, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, and has invited
Iraq to sign a similar agreement which calls for regional cooperation.
Iran, through the regional organization, the Economic Cooperation
Organization, has been a key promoter of regional cooperation and,
as a result, has established cordial relations with, among others,
Turkey and Azerbaijan (whose leader visited Iran recently).
Iran has fully cooperated with the United Nations'
atomic agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), whose
inspectors have spent more than 1,000 days in Iran over the past
few years, notwithstanding the last IAEA meeting in November, when
Iran's nuclear dossier was largely "normalized" after
Tehran's suspension of its nuclear fuel cycle, an initiative which
Bush himself "welcomed" as a positive step forward.
Iran has been receptive toward the post-Yasser Arafat leadership
and many official and semi-official voices in Iran, including newspaper
editorials, evince a rethinking of Iran's policy toward the Palestinian
issue, making it feasible to think that if the current trend continues,
Iran can be counted on to pressure Hamas and other Islamist groups
to give non-violence a chance.
Now, of course, all of the above is foreign
music to the ears of Washington policymakers, who would rather cling
to their caricature of Iran as an integral aspect of the "axis
of evil" warranting even military action following the "pre-emptive"
warfare doctrine of the Bush administration, as if that doctrine
has not already caused enough havoc on the international system.
In fact, the anti-Iran climate in the US is
presently so polluted, so poisoned, by the Manichean imagery of
the Islamic republic, as evil pure and simple, that it precludes
a rational discourse pertaining to an important Middle East country
that has proven unwilling to bow before the mighty "New Rome"
and, instead, clinging ever so stubbornly to its notion of independence
and political integrity uncontaminated by the American power.
This is not to absolve the Iranian regime of many of its shortcomings,
above all the human-rights situation, calling for drastic improvements,
but comparatively speaking, Iran's rights situation is much better
than is the case in Saudi Arabia and other pro-US countries in the
region. After all, Iranian women constitute more than half the student
population and many important positions in society are occupied
by women, a fact acknowledged even by Shirin Ebadi, the 2003 Nobel
But, alas, a lone superpower left with
a US$4 trillion military-industrial complex and hardly anyone to
fight needs functional enemies, and who better than Iran to fulfill
the role of evil (sub) empire, notwithstanding the recent
remark of a US State Department official that Iranians as a "nation"
still think about empire-building. Doubtless, the same official
would react negatively if, God forbid, anyone accused the US of
illusions of world empire.
This aside, the sad, and one might say even tragic, aspect of
this whole situation is that the Bush administration and US Congress
are gearing up for a new and more energetic anti-Iran offensive
precisely at a time when the pool of shared or parallel interests
between Iran and the US has expanded considerably, perhaps more
than ever before, calling for a serious reconsideration of the present
belligerent approach by Washington in the direction of conciliation
There is still time and opportunity left for a serious breakthrough
in the diplomatic deadlock and perhaps even achieve a rapprochement,
should both sides reflect deeply on their overall relations and
the misperceptions handicapping a sound reciprocal policy. Yet,
misperceptions bred and cultivated by deliberate propaganda, culminating
in outright demonization, have now become Washington's new orthodoxy
with regard to Iran, and one can only hope that the unhappy
lessons of war in Iraq can act as a timely catalyst in casting question
marks on this foreign policy orthodoxy.
Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New
Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press) and "Iran's
Foreign Policy Since 9/11", Brown's Journal of World Affairs,
co-authored with former deputy foreign minister Abbas Maleki, No
2, 2003. He teaches political science at Tehran University.
The former insurgent stronghold
had one of the best voter turnouts in the Sunni triangle.
back to Fallujah! Bring your own water, electricity and house.
FALLUJAH, IRAQ – Amid the ruins of Fallujah, white flags
are emerging - alerting US and Iraqi forces to the presence of Iraqi
families moving back home, clearing the rubble, and trying to renew
Residents say that the insurgents who made the city a virtual no-go
zone are gone. They were violently cut out of this former stronghold
by US forces during a monthlong battle in November - the toughest
urban combat for US forces since Vietnam - that pulverized this
city of some 300,000.
But now, the US Marines and the Iraqi government face a new challenge:
convincing Fallujans that the insurgency here is over and that their
ravaged homes can and will be rebuilt.
"This is probably the safest city in the country," says
US Marine Lt. Col. Keil Gentry, executive officer of Regiment Combat
Team 1 (RCT1), that controls Fallujah. "Is it blooming everywhere?
No. But it's like the beginning of spring, with signs of green emerging
here and there."
An unexpected measure of success came on election day last week.
Nearly 8,000 people here defied insurgent threats and voted, according
to US military officials. That figure accounts for 44 percent of
all votes cast in Anbar Province, which includes the Sunni triangle,
where antielection feeling was so strong that less than 7 percent
voted at all.
New sense of security
Iraqis say the result shows how secure Fallujahns are beginning
to feel, and note with added surprise that more than a few said
their ballot was for Iyad Allawi, the US-backed interim prime minister
who ordered the Fallujah invasion.
destroying his home and business, the Americans gave this Fallujan
boy a fold up desk and 4 empty breakfast cereal cartons as part
of their "restarting commerce in Iraq" initiative.
"It's better that the Americans are here," says Abdulrahab
Abdulrahman, a teacher who carries a folder containing a compensation
claim for the damage to his house. "I have the freedom to be
a student, or whatever I want to be."
The mujahideen "are gone," he says, clearly pleased,
standing on a street strewn with rubble. "They are finished."
Children wave at the marines, and accept candy that the men keep
in cargo pockets, alongside stun grenades and extra rifle magazines.
Many adults wave, too, though some look sullenly past.
But even as many Fallujans shift from anger to accommodation, there
are complaints. There is little electricity and less running water.
When Mr. Abdulrahman sees a marine pointing his rifle at pedestrians
far down the street to get a better look through his rifle scope,
the Iraqi scolds: "Don't do that. You could shoot a child."
Among the sullen is Abdulwahid, a teacher who acknowledges that
Fallujah is safer - perhaps even one of the safest places in Iraq
- though he detests the US presence. "We don't fear anything
now, but I'll feel safer when the Americans end their occupation,"
he says in English. He returned three weeks ago to a house with
little damage, but won't bring eight remaining family members until
it is easier to enter, and the curfews ease.
Was the invasion the right choice? "I ask you the opposite
question," says Abdulwahid, who would not give his last name.
"If you are in America, and some foreign army comes in your
country, are you happy? Can any citizen in the world support an
attack on their city?"
Inside the sealed city
The city remains sealed to all but residents. Draconian rules that
include biometric identity cards for some, a curfew, no weapons,
and a zero-tolerance policy for anyone who incites violence are
paying off, say US officers, and reassures those who have decided
Marines are receiving more local tips about suspects and ordnance;
one led to the discovery last Friday of a hidden cache of mortar
rounds, rockets, and 2,000 blasting caps - essential to making roadside
US military officials are quick to acknowledge that not everyone
welcomes their presence. "There is a lot of stoicism - I've
had some hard stares," says Colonel Gentry, from Carlsbad,
Calif. But the Marines are trying to soften the blow by creating
jobs, and stepping in when local officials are overwhelmed.
In one example, bureaucratic hurdles stymied Iraqi officials from
immediately fulfilling a promise to pay every household $200 to
tide them over until actual compensation packages - up to $10,000
to rebuild a house - could be worked out.
a country, demolish a city, then rehire the population of that
city to clean up the mess you made and pay them $6 a day. Good
god! Bush wasn't lying! He really is spreading American democracy
Recognizing the need to infuse cash into an economy, the Marines
took over in mid-January, handing out $6.4 million to 32,219 heads
of households over six days. In north of the city, the Marines also
employ up to 120 people, who work for $6 per day, to sweep streets
and clear rubble.
Iraqi ministries are slowly working to reconnect electricity lines
and water. Iraqi officials hand out staple foods - though US forces
still control distribution of water from 21 large tanks - because
of the importance of a steady supply.
it, smile and wave lady, and I won't shoot you."
"We thought when people came in, they would be [ready to]
riot, because of the destruction," says Capt. Paul Batty, of
the 3rd Battalion 5th Marines. "This whole evolution [from
invasion to rebuilding] has gone better than we ever imagined."
One reason, he says, is since civilians were first allowed to return
on Dec. 23, marines have shown their only military target to be
insurgents trying to get back into the city.
Marines estimate that they have found 98 percent of the weapons
caches in Fallujah. After the invasion, insurgents created new ratlines;
radio traffic showed attempts to get people in, and weapons caches
began to appear in places marines had already cleared.
"Insurgents were sending the message: 'You haven't taken Fallujah;
we can still get in,' " says Captain Batty, from Park City,
Utah. "But the cost for them to do it was too high. We would
identify the ratlines, put out snipers, and we would hunt them."
Officers acknowledge that the learning curve for bringing a wrecked
city empty of both civilians and insurgents to any kind of normalcy
has been steep. Election day turnout was a first step. "We
were shocked," says Batty. "We nearly ran out of ballot
papers. We were not prepared for that many people."
"My children can sleep easier," says Malik Abbas Ali,
a father of eight, whose wife stands half hidden at
the metal door of their house, a section of white sheet hanging
as a flag. "But there is no danger anymore. It is all
finished. I am concerned that we still have soldiers around."
Seeing a marine interpreter, another Iraqi comes into the conversation.
"Americans are sleeping [in a base] near our house - it's a
problem," he says. "When will they leave?"
"You've just elected a new government,"
replies Capt. Tom Noel, commander of the 3/5 Weapons Company from
Lenexa, Kan. "When they ask for US troops to leave, we will
"We're keeping the insurgents out," Captain Noel says
later. "[Residents] don't have to worry that someone will break
into the house in the middle of the night and shoot them in the
back of the head, or drag them off to one of their [insurgent] murder
For some in Fallujah, the rigor of the new security measures, and
even the destruction of much of the city, are more bearable than
the suffocation they felt when insurgents controlled the city. "My
water, OK. No electricity. Sleep is good, American army is good,"
explains Ali Kadhem, whose three children step out of the front
gate behind him, to wave to passing marines. He speaks with a smile,
then holds up his hands. "Money for
Two car bombs have exploded in Iraq,
killing 26 people and injuring 20, police say.
A car bomb explosion in the Iraqi city of Mosul on Monday killed
12 policemen as they queued to receive their monthly pay, police
The blast took place near the city's main hospital.
"Eleven policemen were killed and six others wounded in the
explosion. They had gathered to receive their pay near the
hospital," police Captain Qasim Muhammad said.
Hasan Tahsin al-Ubaidi, director of Mosul's al-Jumhuri hospital,
told Aljazeera a man had arrived at the hospital and asked
all policemen there to gather for military statistics purposes.
The man then blew himself up killing the assembled policemen.
The explosion created a large crater in the road and destroyed
at least five cars.
The second car bombing took place outside the police headquarters
in the town of Baquba, north of Baghdad, leaving 14 dead
and another 14 wounded, police said.
"A car bomb exploded in front of one of the entrances to Diyala
police headquarters slightly before 11am (0800 GMT)," Muhammad
"Fourteen people were wounded," fellow policeman Ali Mahmud
Husain al-Mujamaai, an Iraqi journalist, told Aljazeera that volunteers
had gathered near the Diyala police directorate, which also serves
as the headquarters of the US military police.
Although the building is surrounded by protective material,the driver
of the booby-trapped car managed to reach the volunteers, near one
of the building's gates.
Al-Mujamaai said a large number of policemen had quit the police
force over the last few months because of security concerns.
Baquba, 60km northeast of Baghdad, is the capital of Diyala province.
Reports said ambulances had arrived at the scene to tend to
Fighters trying to overthrow Iraq's US-backed interim government
have mounted frequent attacks on Iraqi security forces.
Meanwhile, an al-Qaida wing in Iraq has said one of its fighters
killed at least 11 Iraqis in Mosul, according to an internet statement.
"A lion in the Martyrs' Brigades of al-Qaida Organisation for
Holy War in Iraq attacked a gathering of apostates seeking to return
to the apostate police force in Mosul near the hospital," a
statement carried on an website said. The origin of the website
could not be confirmed.
"The martyr was wearing an explosives belt and blew himself
up after he entered the crowd," the group said, vowing to carry
out more attacks on "apostates and their masters".
Monday's blast in Mosul was the deadliest attack since last week's
| Hollywood has gone to war.
In a reflection
of America's conflict in Iraq, a proliferation of TV and film projects
is focusing on the U.S. military, the war or both.
Big-screen ventures in the works range from dramas (No True Glory:
The Battle for Fallujah, set to star Harrison Ford; and Jarhead,
about the Gulf War and starring Jamie Foxx and Jake Gyllenhaal,
opening Nov. 11) to comedies (The Tiger and the Snow, starring Roberto
Benigni) and documentaries (Gunner Palace, opening March 4).
Television is even more emboldened:
• Three cable channels are solely
devoted to all things military.
• Award-winning producer Steven Bochco is creating Over There,
a drama series about an Army unit serving in Iraq, set to air this
summer on FX.
• Even NBC soap opera Days of Our Lives has a plotline about
a Marine who is deployed in the war on terror.
Not since World War II has Hollywood so embraced
an ongoing conflict. It took years for pop culture to tackle
the Korean and Vietnam wars, and it took time before the country
was ready to be entertained by those politically charged conflicts.
With Iraq, however, and after 9/11, "all bets are off,"
says film historian Leonard Maltin. "Whatever happens in real
life inspires and affects our storytellers."
With no resolution in sight, Iraq remains a timely backdrop. Audiences
are hungry for glimpses of history in the making. March 19
is the war's second anniversary.
But not any and every angle of war is being depicted.
One aspect is glaringly absent from most projects: negativity. The
U.S. soldier is the hero; his cause is just. Storylines featuring
the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal or war protests are no-nos.
"That gets you into arenas of policy,"
says Bochco, who has written four episodes of Over There,
which is filming in Santa Clarita, Calif. "We'll be telling
the story about young people's experience in war. I've always tried
to stay off a soap box. I don't think proselytizing is good storytelling."
The show will focus on the men and women in uniform and the families
who are left behind. The opening scene of the pilot: Bo Rider, a
20-year-old soldier, and his wife, Terry, in a tract house somewhere
in California, are "having sex and loving it," as the
script puts it, before he ships out.
"Our aim is to humanize soldiers and their
families and to tell stories about the trials and tribulations,"
And because it is on cable, there will be no glossing over of gory
images or expletives.
FX's John Landgraf, who came up with the idea of setting a show
in Iraq, says it's surprising there haven't been more projects about
recent military conflicts.
"The best purpose of television and
film is to tell stories that are truthful and of the moment
and dig into the human experience," Landgraf says. The Iraq
war "is such a grand natural human drama." [...]
"The films coming out now are pro-soldier.
I think it genuinely says that Americans across the political spectrum
have a strong degree of admiration for the military" despite
how they might feel about the war in Iraq, West says. [...]
Hollywood needs the military
That makes the Pentagon brass happy.
"These days, there is an unwillingness to criticize individual
servicemen and women, which was quite common in the Vietnam era,"
says Phil Strub, who heads the Pentagon's film liaison office. "Americans
are very disinclined to do that now, and we're very glad this attitude
tends to pervade all entertainment."
Hollywood always has relied on the U.S.
military for assistance. That includes access to tanks, aircraft
carriers, helicopters and troops that would be too expensive to
re-create. The Pentagon, in return,
gets to approve the script to ensure the military is portrayed in
a positive light (though many of the current projects aren't being
made under Pentagon rules, creators say).
That relationship is blinding Hollywood into whitewashing the Iraq
conflict, says David Robb, author of the 2004 book Operation Hollywood:
How the Pentagon Shapes and Censors the Movies.
"In many ways, Hollywood is embedded
with the military," Robb says. The
military "know that when positive images are portrayed in movies
and television shows, they see huge spikes in recruitment.
The military is really pressing to get into these pictures. ...
These films (that receive Pentagon assistance) should have a disclaimer:
'This film has been shaped and censored by the military to meet
Viewers are either unaware of the relationship
or don't mind. Military culture is hotter than ever.
"It's always been a popular genre for
our viewers," says David Karp, general manager for the Military
Channel, which launched in January. Previously called Discovery
Wings, the channel is one of three competing for military enthusiasts.
The others are the Pentagon Channel and the Military History Channel
— a spinoff of A&E's History Channel, which has used the
military as a staple for years.
"The fact there's front-page news daily about military matters
and events heightens interest right now, but military subjects are
timeless and universal," Karp says. One of the show's biggest
specials in January was Delta Company, in which cameras were with
Marines of Delta Company 1st Tank Battalion on their push to Baghdad
during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
War games — literally
Video games have jumped on board, too. Today's combat games, among
the top sellers in the $10 billion-a-year video game industry, are
akin to interactive movies. In them, gamers often take the role
of soldiers, including:
• A sergeant coordinating realistic squad-based missions
in a fictional Middle East urban war zone (Full Spectrum Warrior).
• A contracted professional soldier acting covertly in North
• A soldier in battle during World War II (Battlefield 1942
and Call of Duty: Finest Hour) or Vietnam (VietcongPurple Haze and
Men of Valor: Vietnam).
"They have increased in realism dramatically and militarily.
You work together with your team, you set up lines of fire so you're
not injuring your troops," says Douglas Gentile, assistant
professor of psychology at Iowa State University and director of
research for the National Institute on Media and the Family.
On the anti-war side
In the middle of the entertainment industry's obsession with military
culture, a few anti-war projects can be found.
Why We Fight, director Eugene Jarecki's critical study of the American
military-industrial complex, won the American Documentary Grand
Jury Prize at January's Sundance Film Festival.
Embedded, a satire on the madness of the war, premieres on the
Sundance Channel March 20. It is written by and stars Tim Robbins,
who is well known for his anti-war stance, and was first performed
in July 2003 on stage in Los Angeles.
Still, Robbins says, "about the only thing we don't poke fun
of is soldiers."
Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi's Turtles
Can Fly, the first movie made in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein,
is a tragic look at the lives of Kurdish Iraqi children during wartime.
He believes that the film's anti-war message is the reason TurtlesCan
Fly was not nominated for a foreign-language Oscar.
"In Hollywood, politics and the moviemaking industry are so
intertwined that it's difficult for (filmmakers) to see the realities,"
Ghobadi says. The film opens Feb. 18 in New York and Los Angeles.
For documentary filmmaker Mike Tucker, who co-directed Gunner Palace
with wife Petra Epperlein, the experience of capturing the war on
camera was intense.
"If I had an opinion when the war started, it has mutated
into total confusion," Tucker says. The documentary follows
an Army artillery unit based in a palace that belonged to Uday Hussein,
Saddam's son. Four soldiers from the unit were killed.
"Unless you've actually been there —
people are just so detached from it — you don't understand
what the reality is," says Tucker, an Army veteran. "There
will always be a fascination with war, but who is going to define
that experience? Hollywood's tendency is to sugarcoat it."
In his film, a poignant scene features Army Spc. Richmond Shaw,
a young soldier and poet. Standing in the bombed-out remains of
Gunner Palace, a stoic Shaw locks-and-loads his rifle, looks straight
into the camera and raps: "For y'all, this is just a show,
but we live in this movie."
WASHINGTON - A federal judge on Monday dismissed
a lawsuit challenging the Army's right to force soldiers to serve
past the dates of their enlistments, the so-called "stop loss"
policy that can keep men and women in uniform during war or national
Spc. David Qualls had sought a preliminary injunction to prevent
the Army from forcing him to remain on active duty, claiming his
enlistment contract was misleading. He signed up for a one-year
stint in the Arkansas National Guard in July 2003 but was later
told he would remain on active duty in Iraq until 2005.
U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth for the District of Columbia
said the enlistment contract does notify those who sign up that
the government could extend their terms of service. While
acknowledging minimal harm to the Army if he ordered Qualls released,
Lamberth said similar claims could lead to substantial disruption
and diversion of military resources.
The enlistments of an estimated 7,000 active-duty soldiers have
been extended under the policy, which the Army says is needed to
provide experienced soldiers for battle. As many as 40,000 reserve
soldiers could be ordered to stay longer.
Qualls and seven other soldiers serving in Iraq or en route to
Iraq had asked the judge to order the Army to release them from
service immediately. They contended the enlistment contracts make
no explicit reference to the stop loss policy.
The government maintained that the enlistment contract provided
that soldiers may be involuntarily ordered to active duty in case
of war, national emergency or any other condition required by law,
which the government contended would include extensions of existing
Qualls was ordered in December to return to Iraq while Lamberth
reviewed his lawsuit. In January, Qualls volunteered for another
six-year stint in the Guard.
The Central Intelligence Agency's
'rendition' of suspected terrorists has spiralled 'out of control'
according to a former FBI agent, cited in a report which examined
how CIA detainees are spirited to states suspected of using torture.
Michael Scheuer a former CIA counterterrorism agent told The New
Yorker magazine "all we've done is create
a nightmare," with regard to the top secret practice
In an article titled 'Outsourcing Torture' due to hit newsstands
this week, the magazine claims suspects, sometimes picked up by
the CIA, are often flown to Egypt Egypt, Morocco, Syria Syria and
Jordan Jordan, "each of which is known to use torture in interrogations."
The report said suspects are given few, if any, legal protections.
Despite US laws that ban America from expelling or extraditing
individuals to countries where torture occurs, Scott Horton -- an
expert on international law who has examined CIA renditions -- estimates
that 150 people have been picked up in the CIA dragnet since 2001.
The New Yorker report said that suspects in Europe, Africa, Asia
and the Middle East "have been abducted by hooded or masked
American agents" and then sometimes forced onto a white Gulfstream
The jet -- marked on its tail by the code N379P which has recently
been changed to N8068V -- "has been registered to a series
of dummy American corporations ... (and) has clearance to land at
US military bases," it said.
Maher Arar was arrested in 2002 by US officials at John F. Kennedy
airport and then claims he was put on a "executive jet"
which flew him to Amman, Jordan Jordan, before he was driven to
Arar says he was tortured in Syria Syria and told his interrogators
anything they wanted due to the beatings He was released without
charge in 2003 and is suing the US government for his mistreatment.
He claims that the crew onboard the Gulfstream identified themselves
as "the Special Removal Unit" during radio communications
on his flight to Jordan Jordan.
"The most common destinations for rendered suspects are Egypt
Egypt, Morocco, Syria Syria and Jordan Jordan, all of which have
been cited for human rights violations by the (US) State Department,"
the report said.
By holding detainees without counsel or charges of wrongdoing,
the administration of US President George W. Bush "has jeopardized
its chances of convicting hundreds of suspected terrorists, or even
of using them as witnesses in almost any court in the world,"
the report said.
The article cited Dan Coleman, an ex Federal Bureau of Investigation
counterterrorism expert who retired in July 2003.
Coleman told The New Yorker that torture "has become bureaucratized,"
by the Bush administration, and that the practice of renditions
is "out of control."
Scheuer said there had been a legal process underlying early renditions,
but as more suspects were rounded up following the September 11,
2001, attacks, "all we've done is create a nightmare."
Abductees are effectively classified as "illegal enemy combatants,"
by the US government, which is how it also classifies the estimated
550 'war on terror' detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba Cuba.
Such a classifiction, the US argues, exempts such detainees from
the protections of the Geneva Conventions, part of which govern
the treatment of prisoners.
The report also cited the former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan, Craig Murray, as saying Washington Washington has accepted
intelligence from Uzkbekistan that was "largely rubbish."
The ambassador claims to know of at least three individuals rendered
to Uzbekistan Uzbekistan by the United States, where cases of the
authorities boiling prisoners' body parts have been documented.
Washington Washington has admitted it is holding some suspects,
including top Al-Qaeda operative Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but it
does not say where he is detained.
Mohammed has reportedly been "water boarded" during interrogations:
So called 'water boarding' refers to a practice whereby a detainee
is bound and immersed in water until he nearly drowns.
THE RAF Hercules transport plane that crashed
in Iraq killing Australian Paul Pardoel was
hit by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile that insurgents obtained
Military accident investigators believe the Special Forces plane
was hit when at least six heatseeking SA-18
missiles were fired at it.
The multiple firing of the one metre long missiles that travel
twice the speed of sound would have confused the plane's defences.
The defences would normally have been able to fire hundreds of
flares to confuse incoming missiles, according to the Mail on Sunday.
Britain's Ministry of Defence last night was unwilling to talk
about what caused the deaths of nine RAF men and a specialist army
signaller when the Hercules was shot down on Sunday last week near
the town of Taki, 30km northwest of Baghdad.
But first indications from investigators suggest that a new variant
of the Russian-made SA-18, a shoulder-launched missile with a range
of 6km, was used.
A suggestion that a faulty anti-tank shell exploded on board was
being discounted by military sources last night.
A spokesman said: "A board of inquiry has started into the
full circumstances of the crash."
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. administration lashed
out at China before an international audience Monday for not stopping
its munitions companies from selling missile technology to Iran
and other countries.
Speaking to a conference in Tokyo sponsored by Japan, U.S. undersecretary
of state John Bolton said President George
W. Bush's administration would move aggressively to suspend business
with companies that provide sensitive weapons technology to Iran
and other countries seeking to build weapons of mass destruction.
The speech by the U.S. administration's top arms-control official
appeared to mark a shift in tactics. Sanctions have usually been
applied quietly against offending firms. But
Bolton spoke forcefully and publicly about meting out punishment
and held the Chinese government directly accountable.
In the speech, Bolton also renewed the administration's opposition
to plans by European countries to resume arms sales to China by
ending an Embargo imposed after China's crackdown on anti-government
demonstrators in 1989.
"The Embargo on arms sales to China is not outmoded,"
"It is just as important to champion human rights today as
it was in 1989."
A second reason to maintain the Embargo, Bolton
said, is to protect Japan and other East Asian countries, while
also not permitting China to "significantly improve its coercive
capability" against Taiwan.
In some ways, Bolton praised China, such as for its joint effort
with the United States, Japan, South Korea and Russia to negotiate
an end North Korea's development of nuclear weapons.
"Our co-operation on mutually shared interests, however,
does not mean that the United States will shy away from highlighting
areas of disagreement and concern," Bolton said.
Last year, he said, Chinese companies were cited for having provided
ballistic-missile technology to Iran, Pakistan, North Korea and
"On numerous occasions, we have expressed our concern about
these entities to the Chinese government and have asked Beijing
to subject exports by these serial proliferators to persistent and
close scrutiny," Bolton said.
"Unfortunately," he said, "we continue
to see transfers by these serious proliferators of missile-related
items to rogue states and outposts of tyranny such as Iran."
For example, Bolton said, the Bush administration has alerted
the Chinese government for some time to concerns about the activities
of the China North Industries Corp. And yet, he said, "we are
not aware that the Chinese government has taken any action to halt
NORINCO's proliferant behaviour."
WASHINGTON, : A Senate committee is expected
to approve the nomination of Michael Chertoff as homeland security
The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired
by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said in a statement it would hold
a vote on the nomination Monday evening.
Only one member of the committee has said they might oppose the
nomination -- Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who is angry about homeland
security funding for Minneapolis-St. Paul.
Once voted out by the committee, the nomination will move to the
Senate floor later this week where it is expected to pass.
When Chertoff was confirmed as a federal judge in 2003, only one
senator opposed him -- Sen. Hilary Clinton, D-N.Y.
Another day, another accomplice in the construction
of the Bush Regime's torture chambers revealed. Nothing new there;
the perp walk of top Bushists colluding in torture could stretch
a mile. But the remarkable thing about the latest case is that it
exposes an even greater depth of official criminality than hitherto
suspected -- no mean feat, given the rap sheet of this crew.
The new man on the hot seat is Judge Michael Chertoff, nominated
to head the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Chertoff was hip-deep
in creating -- and covering up -- the infamous White House "torture
memos": carefully detailed guidelines from the desk of President
George W. Bush that instigated a global system of documented torture,
rape and murder.
Before Bush elevated him to the federal bench, Chertoff headed
the Justice Department's criminal division, where he was frequently
consulted by the CIA and the White House on ways to weasel around
the very clear U.S. laws against torture, The New York Times reports.
Bush and his legal staff, then headed by Attorney General-designate
Alberto Gonzales, were openly concerned with "avoiding prosecution
for war crimes" under some future administration that might
lack the Bushists' finely nuanced view of ramming phosphorous lightsticks
up a kidnapped detainee's rectum, or other enlightened methods employed
in the administration's crusade to defend civilization from barbarity.
Throughout 2002 and 2003, the CIA sent Chertoff urgent questions
asking whether various "interrogation protocols" could
get their agents sent to the hoosegow. The questions themselves
are revelatory of the tainted mindset at CIA headquarters -- officially
known as the George H.W. Bush Center for Intelligence. Beyond methods
we already know were used -- such as "water-boarding"
and "rendering" detainees to foreign torturers -- the
Bush Center boys sought legal cover for such additional refinements
as "death threats against family members" and "mind-altering
drugs or psychological procedures designed to profoundly disrupt
a detainee's personality."
However, the Justice Department could only offer advice; final
approval of interrogation techniques -- including the Bush Center's
requests -- rested solely with the Bush White House. As one senior
intelligence official told The New York Times: "Nothing that
was done was not explicitly authorized" by the Oval Office.
Thus the chain of responsibility is clearly established for the
reams of evidence on torture, rape and murder in the Bush gulag
-- cases documented by the FBI and the Pentagon's own investigators,
as well as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, the Red Crescent,
Human Rights Watch and others.
But Chertoff's involvement in Bush's chamber of horrors goes beyond
an advisory capacity. He was also instrumental in the earliest cover-up
of Bush's torture system: the trial of John Walker Lindh, the "American
Taliban" captured in Afghanistan, the Nation reports. In June
2002, Lindh was due to testify about the methods used to extract
his confession of terrorist collusion: days of beating, drugging,
denial of medical treatment, and other abuses. These were of course
standard procedures used -- by presidential order -- from the very
beginning of the "war on terror." To stop Lindh from exposing
this wide-ranging criminal regimen, Chertoff, overseeing the prosecution,
suddenly offered Lindh a deal: The feds would drop all the most
serious charges in exchange for a lighter sentence -- and a gag
order preventing Lindh from telling anyone about his brutal treatment.
Lindh, facing life imprisonment or execution, took the deal. Once
again, Bush skirts were kept clean. And the torture system was kept
safe for its expansion into Iraq, where thousands of innocent people
fell into its maw.
This memo was crafted by Jay Bybee, a long-time Bush Family factotum
who originally served as White House aide to George Bush Senior.
There, Bybee played a key role in quashing the investigation into
BNL, the shady bank used by George I to send millions of secret
dollars to Saddam Hussein for weapons purchases, including WMD materials
supplied by Bush-backed arms merchants. When the scandal broke,
Bush I appointed lawyers from these same arms dealers to top Justice
Department posts, where they supervised the "investigation"
into their former companies. Meanwhile, Bybee pressured local prosecutors
to restrict their probe of the bank's dirty dealings to -- you guessed
it -- a few low-ranking "bad apples." Once again, Bush
skirts were kept clean -- while Bush blood money kept flowing to
Saddam. For his faithful family services, Bybee, like Chertoff,
was made a federal judge by Bush II.
The Bush-Bybee torture authorization was in force until January
2005, when it was ostentatiously replaced by a somewhat broader
definition of torture just before Gonzales' confirmation hearings
in the U.S. Senate. But another Bybee-penned memo, detailing specific,
Bush-approved "coercive methods," remains classified.
Is it still in force? Nobody knows.
In any event, the Bushists' PR shuffle on torture is meaningless.
Gonzales has already declared to the Senate that interrogators in
the CIA's secret gulag aren't bound by the new "restrictions"
anyway. What's more, he's also asserted -- again openly, to the
Senate -- that Bush has the right to break any law or restriction
he pleases "while acting in his capacity as commander-in-chief."
Thus whatever the Leader orders -- even torture and murder -- cannot
be a crime.
This is no hypothetical case, as Gonzales pretended to the Senate.
In a series of executive orders beginning in October 2001, Bush
has declared his peremptory right to capture, imprison, indefinitely
detain or even assassinate anyone in the world whom he arbitrarily
and secretly designates an "enemy" -- without any legal
process at all, the Washington Post reports. Thousands of such "enemies"
have been plunged into the CIA's unrestricted prisons, The Guardian
reports; and as Bush himself bragged in his 2003 State of the Union
speech, "many others have met a different fate. Let's put it
this way: They are no longer a problem." They were simply killed,
in secret, at Bush's order.
This is thug law, a death-cult of blood and domination -- the
true religion of the Bushists and their mirror-image crimelords
It has been a long and lonely road for the
former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky, who has for years been
ridiculed for his political theories of spreading democracy across
the globe to obtain world peace.
But the former labour camp prisoner, who is now an Israeli cabinet
minister, no longer walks alone.
His companion in his campaign to democratise
the world is no less than the US President, George Bush.
To have the ear of the most powerful leader in the world after
decades of having his political ideology dismissed as naive and
eccentric is a pleasant change for the diminutive Ukrainian-born
"I am sorry that there are so few
people who believe in these ideas but it's nice to think that one
of these very few people is the President of the United States,"
57-year-old Mr Sharansky said.
Not only did Mr Bush read Mr Sharansky's new book, The Case for
Democracy, with avid interest days after it was published, but he
gave a copy to his top adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and said he bought
a copy for the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
"This is a book that ... summarises how I feel. I would urge
people to read it," Mr Bush told CNN. The
book depicts a clear moral universe divided into "free societies",
which promote peace, and "fear societies", which foster
Mr Bush was so taken with the book that he summoned Mr Sharansky
to the White House in November. The President spent an hour in the
Oval Office discussing Mr Sharansky's ideology based on his years
as a dissident and prisoner in the Soviet Union.
"I told him [MrBush]: 'You are the
real dissident. Politicians look at polls - what is popular, what
is not popular. A dissident believes in an idea and goes ahead with
it ... even when there are so many people who disagree,' "
Mr Sharansky said.
Mr Sharansky developed his ideas, which have influenced Mr Bush's
inauguration and State of the Union addresses, after years of battling
the Soviet system and observing Israel's negotiations with the Palestinians.
The gist of his view is that the "free world" should
encourage countries to democratise by linking international standing
and aid to their record on human rights and freedom of speech.
It was such linkage through the 1975 Helsinki Agreements that
led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, he said.
He has spoken out against the cult of stability in international
affairs, the cynicism of backing dictators, and the refusal to apply
moral judgements to allies or enemies.
Mr Sharansky was an aide to the Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov
in the 1970s and spent eight years in a Siberian
jail after the Soviet authorities convicted him as a spy and traitor.
He has opposed territorial compromise with the
Palestinian Authority until it keeps its commitments, democratises
and stops inculcating children with hatred of Israel and of Jews.
He has opposed Mr Sharon's plan to pull out of the Gaza Strip.
He has criticised what he considered the Clinton Administration's
pandering to Yasser Arafat while ignoring his involvement in terrorism.
But he resents being pigeonholed as a "right-winger".
"Today I am called a right-wing extremist. Tomorrow I will
be called a left-wing extremist."
What he is, he says, "is a refusenik", a perpetual idealistic
dissident from the messy realities of any current order.
When he was freed, in an exchange of prisoners with the United
States, Mr Sharansky walked to freedom alone across the Glienicke
bridge, from East Germany to the West. He was ordered to walk straight
across; a refusenik to the end, he zigzagged. He is zigzagging still.
|MANILA: Fourteen communist guerrillas and two
soldiers were killed in an intense gunbattle in the southern Philippines
over the weekend, the military said.
Troops ran into some 100 New People's Army (NPA) rebels in a remote
village in the province of Compostela Valley, triggering the gunbattle
Two soldiers and 14 rebels were killed in the fighting, which
lasted for two and a half hours, said Army spokesman Lieutenant
Colonel Buenaventura Pascual. Five soldiers were also wounded.
"The wounded government soldiers were evacuated by helicopters
to the Panacan Hospital where they are recuperating from gunshot
wounds," he said.
The 8,000-strong NPA s the armed wing of the Communist Party of
the Philippines (CPP), considered a terrorist organization by the
Philippines and the United States.
Troops have been on alert because the group will mark its 36th
anniversary on March 29, in one of Asia's longest running communist
Peace talks between the government and the insurgents have been
suspended after the rebels withdrew from the negotiating table last
year, accusing Manila of not doing enough to influence the US government
to strike it off its terrorist list.
LONDON - Gold hovered near its lowest levels
in almost four months in Europe on Tuesday, battered by dollar strength
and concerns over possible sales of IMF gold, dealers said.
The market has been on edge since a Group of Seven meeting at the
weekend asked the IMF to examine ways of using its huge gold reserves
to help alleviate Third World debt.
IMF sales would weigh heavily on a gold market that started 2005
weakly after a three-year bull run that saw prices scale a 16-1/2-year
peak at $456.75 in December.
Spot gold stood at $411.00/411.80 by 1528 GMT, compared with $413.80/415.60
late in New York on Monday. The market earlier hit a low of $410.50
-- last seen on October 13.
"Gold is still looking a bit thin and weak really -- I would
say that if we see further dollar strength then $410 support is
on the cards. Some people think these levels are a good buying opportunity
but the IMF talk is hanging over the market," one dealer said.
Safe-haven interest was also seen subsiding as
Israeli and Palestinian leaders declared a cease-fire at a summit
in Egypt aimed at ending more than four years of bloodshed.
The dollar stayed near a three-month peak versus
the euro as the market cheered U.S. efforts to narrow its yawning
Dollar strength makes gold less attractive for non-U.S. investors.
The U.S. fiscal, trade and current account deficits have dogged
the currency for the past three years -- and boosted gold -- due
to its inverse relationship with the dollar.
Bullion market analysts said the market could see further drops
although they believed any prospect of IMF sales would be squashed
by the United States with its majority voting rights.
"In reality, the talk about the IMF gold sales or revaluation
proposal has simply focused attention on the downward trend that
gold has been following since the dollar recovery began since the
start of the year," Barclays Capital said in a report.
NEW YORK - The dollar climbed on Monday as
proposed sweeping cuts in the U.S. federal budget contributed to
a growing view among market analysts that
the worst of the U.S. "twin" budget and trade deficits
may have passed, at least for now.
Against the rising dollar, the euro suffered its steepest single-day
decline since the first week of January, slipping through several
key chart levels and falling to a three-month low of around $1.2731,
according to Reuters data. The euro has fallen about 6 percent against
the dollar since the start of the year.
"There's a buzz in the air that the
trade deficit is going to work out somehow and the fiscal deficit
is going to work out somehow," said Steven Englander,
chief North American foreign exchange strategist with Barclays Capital
in New York.
"The specter of the twin deficits that has been hanging over
the U.S. economy is not going to be so much as resolved but mitigated
as a dollar negative," he added.
Englander said some U.S. exporters are now
hedging against the falling euro. Only a few months ago, European
businesses were rushing to hedge against the falling dollar.
HOUSTON - A young couple are accused of critically
injuring their 6-month-old baby, who police say was sexually assaulted,
suffered broken bones from head to toe, and had her tongue nearly
Donna Marie Norman, 19, and her common-law husband, Ivan Castaneda,
21, were jailed without bail on charges of causing injury to a child.
The infant lay in critical condition Monday at a hospital. She
was transferred there last week after her parents brought her to
another hospital, saying she was suffering from congestion.
Child Protective Services spokeswoman Estella Olguin said the baby
had been sexually abused, had two broken legs, a broken arm, a fractured
skull, a fractured vertebrae and a broken rib.
"Just about every vital organ in this child's body has damage
to it," said Houston police Sgt. Randall Upton. "This
child endured probably some of the most incredible amount of pain
that one could imagine."
Olguin said that if the little girl survives she could be blind
Norman told doctors the infant's tongue was severed when she tried
to remove a quarter from the baby's mouth that had been placed there
by her 15-month-old sister, prosecutor Kari Allen said
"Obviously, that is a bit far-fetched," Allen told a
judge at a hearing Monday.
The 6-month-old and her sister, who also had a
fractured skull and ribs, were taken into state custody.
Norman was "obviously upset about the situation that has happened
to her family and to herself and to her children," her attorney
Jerald Graber said. He said he had not yet talked to Norman about
the facts of the case.
Castaneda asked for additional time to hire an attorney.
Flash flooding which ripped through Dunedin
last evening left retailers and emergency services mopping up through
The damage bill is expected to climb into the millions of dollars.
Scores of businesses and homes were flooded as up to 34mm of rain
was dumped on the city in just 20 minutes.
The violent storm hit just before 6pm, and within 15 minutes shops
and roads were under knee-deep water and fire brigades were struggling
By 7.30pm the flooding calls had reached 52, and by 9.30pm firefighters
were working their way through a backlog of more than 100 calls.
Most of the flooding had receded within an hour of the storm,
leaving people to mop up their shops, homes, clubs and roads.
Such was the ferocity of the water, roads were ripped in the central
city and shop doors were burst open by its force. [...]
Severe tropical Cyclone Harvey was heading
for the Australian coast and intensifying, with high winds of up
to 190 km/h lashing the southern Gulf of Carpentaria.
Harvey was rated a category three cyclone on a scale of one to
Late yesterday it was about 100km north of Wollogorang in the
Northern Territory and 130km north-west of Mornington Island in
Harvey was expected to make its landfall in a largely unpopulated
area and would miss Mornington Island.
|SYDNEY : A strong earthquake measuring 6.1 on
the Richter scale struck off the coast of Papua New Guinea, Geoscience
The quake occurred shortly after 6:00 am in PNG (2000 GMT) and
was centered under the ocean near the islands of New Ireland and
New Britain, duty seismologist Cvetan Sinadinovski said.
"The earthquake measured 6.1, which is probably not capable
of producing large tsunamis but could cause damage in nearby population
centers," Sinadinovski told AFP.
He said there had not yet been any reports of damage or injuries,
but Geoscience Australia was still awaiting news from the area.
Officials at the PNG National Disaster Center in the capital Port
Moresby were not immediately available to comment on the quake.
Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- An earthquake
of magnitude 4.8 in Japan's southern Ibaraki Prefecture at 11:29
a.m. local time shook buildings in the Tokyo area.
There was no threat of tsunami waves, Japan's Meteorological Agency
said on its Web site. Japan's semi-public broadcaster, NHK, said
there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
The quake shook buildings in central Tokyo, where it registered
a 2 on the seven-level Japanese scale. Seven is the highest level.
Japan, one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries, is located
in a zone where the Eurasian, Pacific and Philippine tectonic plates
meet and occasionally shift, causing quakes.
Quakes of magnitude 5 and more can cause considerable damage.
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University
seismologists have determined that the Dec. 26 Sumatra earthquake
that set off a deadly tsunami throughout the Indian Ocean was three
times larger than originally thought, making it the second largest
earthquake ever instrumentally recorded and explaining why the tsunami
was so destructive.
By analyzing seismograms from the earthquake, Seth Stein and Emile
Okal, both professors of geological sciences in Northwestern's Weinberg
College of Arts and Sciences, calculated that the earthquake's magnitude
measured 9.3, not 9.0, and thus was three times larger. These results
have implications for why Sri Lanka suffered such a great impact
and also indicate that the chances of similar large tsumanis occurring
in the same area are reduced.
"The rupture zone was much larger than previously thought,"
said Stein. "The initial calculations that it was a 9.0 earthquake
did not take into account what we call slow slip, where the fault,
delineated by aftershocks, shifted more slowly. The additional energy
released by slow slip along the 1,200-kilometer long fault played
a key role in generating the devastating tsunami."
The large tsunami amplitudes that occurred in Sri Lanka and India,
said tsunami expert Okal, result from rupture on the northern, north-trending
segment of the fault -- the area of slow slip -- because tsunami
amplitudes are largest perpendicular to the fault.
Because the entire rupture zone slipped (both fast and slow slip
fault areas), strain accumulated from subduction of the Indian plate
beneath the Burma microplate has been released, leaving no immediate
danger of a comparable ocean-wide tsunami being generated on this
segment of the plate boundary. However, the danger of a local tsunami
due to a powerful aftershock or a large tsunami resulting from a
great earthquake on segments to the south remains.
The analysis technique used by Stein and Okal to extract these
data from the earth's longest period vibrations (normal modes) relied
on results developed by them and colleague Robert Geller (now at
the University of Tokyo) in their graduate studies almost 30 years
ago. However, because such gigantic earthquakes are rare, these
methods had been essentially unused until records of the Sumatra
earthquake on modern seismometers became available.
The largest earthquake ever recorded, which measured 9.5, was
in Chile on May 22, 1960.
Mumbai, Feb 7 : The great earthquake of December
26 in Sumatra and Andaman Nicobar islands has periodically triggered
off earthquakes at Mount Wrangell (volcano) in South Central Alaska
in the Arctic region, volcanologists and seismologists have said.
The data provided by the Alaska Volcano Observatory and the Alaska
Earthquake Information Center said, following the quake in Sumatra
and Andaman Islands, Mt. Wrangell, one of the largest 'andesite
shield' volcanoes in the world had a 'swarm' of seismic events.
"This is remarkable since Mt. Wrangell is nearly 11,000 km
from the epicentre," they said.
"It exhibits fumerolic (gaseous) activity and occasional
steam plumes. Because of its volcanic and seismic activity, a network
of short period seismometers is operated at Wrangell by the Alaska
Volcano Observatory," the scientists said.
"Following the quake in Sumatra and Andaman Islands on December
26, 2004, Mt. Wrangell had a swarm of seismic events ranging in
magnitude from -0.3 to 1.9. These events occurred as the large amplitude
surface waves from the Sumatra-Andaman earthquake crossed the region,"
While swarms are not uncommon at Wrangell, the events in this
swarm occur at intervals of 20-30 seconds in-phase with the teleseismic
ground motion and the tremors continuing, they said. "This
suggests that the events were triggered by individual pulses within
the teleseismic wavetrain," scientists said. [...]
TORONTO - Coal-fire generating stations and
diesel-spewing vehicles combined with a lack of wind in Ontario
has led to the first winter smog watch in the Canadian province's
history, the Ontario Ministry of Environment said on Monday.
The ministry issued the alert on Friday after smog blanketed southern
Ontario and parts of western Quebec.
"We are normally under the influence of a northwestern air
shed, which is clean but cold," said John Steele, spokesperson
for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
"For the last few days, we've had a front...that has moved
some fine particulate from the U.S. and we add to it from our own
coal-fire generating stations and our own vehicles that use diesel
fuel. So from a lack of air movement, it's remained here and there's
been very little dispersion."
Smog is a combination of airborne pollutants from vehicles and
other gasoline or diesel-powered machinery, factories, chemical
sprays, and oil-based paints.
It causes the air quality to fall below acceptable standards and
can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, coughing, wheezing and
shortness of breath. It can also lower resistance to infection and
can exacerbate heart and lung conditions.
LONDON - The British government on Tuesday
gave the creator of Dolly the Sheep a human cloning license for
It is the second such license approved since Britain became the
first country to legalize research cloning in 2001.
The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, which regulates
such research, approved the license for Ian Wilmut, who led the
team that created Dolly at Scotland's Roslin Institute in 1996.
He applied in September to Britain's fertility authority for a
human cloning license to study how nerve cells go awry to cause
motor neuron disease.
The first license was granted in August to a team at Newcastle
University that hopes to use cloning to create insulin-producing
cells that could be transplanted into diabetics.
Such work, called therapeutic cloning because it does not result
in a baby, is opposed by abortion foes and other biological conservatives
because researchers must destroy human embryos to harvest the cells.
Wilmut and motor neuron expert Christopher Shaw of the Institute
of Psychiatry in London plan to clone cells from patients with the
incurable muscle-wasting disease, derive blank-slate stem cells
from the cloned embryo, make them develop into nerve cells and compare
their development with nerve cells derived from healthy embryos.
The mechanism behind motor neuron disease is poorly understood
because the nerves are inaccessible in the brain and central nervous
system and cannot be removed from patients.
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