Have a cartoon cat… 30 September 2007Posted by marisacat in Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Political Blogs, Viva La Revolucion!.
.. all I can manage… but it will hold up a thread... ;)
I suppose we might … 29 September 2007Posted by marisacat in Inconvenient Voice of the Voter.
An early Piranesi drawing features a pastiche of ancient temples and a piazza with obelisks. [Photo: Pierpont Morgan Library]
I suppose we might …come home from “Empire” but doubt I will live to see it…
On and on it goes… 28 September 2007Posted by marisacat in Iran, Iraq War, Israel/AIPAC, la vie en rose.
In Baquba, 35 miles northeast of Baghdad, American soldiers of Alpha Company of 1/38 Infantry Regiment ran along a street where they were carrying out a mop-up operation to search and secure the neighborhood. The American military is blaming Al Qaeda for the recent series of bombings. [Photo: Alexander Nemenov/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images]
How you get up in the morning in Iraq, at the close of another – the fifth – American summer of fire, blood, sandstorm and whatever else, and put rosy-hued clothing on a child you’ve managed to keep out of the line of fire… well, it boggles the mind.
A war and its aftermath
A war with Iran, irrespective of how it started, would stretch well beyond a couple of days of strikes by US air-force and navy planes, and missiles against Iranian nuclear facilities (see ” The next Iran war“, 16 February 2006). There would also be attacks against four other sets of Iranian targets: air defences, air bases, missiles and command- and-control systems. Some of these would be targeted even before nuclear facilities were hit, partly to reduce the risk of US aircrew casualties (and hostages, a recurrent American nightmare in relation to Iran).
The US requirement to counter Iranian retaliation, especially by Revolutionary Guard units against Iraq and oil facilities in the western Gulf, means that its forces would have to attack numerous “forward bases” of the guard. This will involve a strenuous effort to severely damage transport and communications nodes, especially in western Iran; there could even be attempts to destroy the Iranian political leadership.
All these plans make operational sense from a strictly military standpoint, but two of their aspects are immediately apparent. The first is that the scale of the assault is such that it could not be completed within a few days. The combined US air force and navy might be formidable, but even this degree of force would be stretched to undertake hundreds of sorties stretching over many days; repeated reconnaissance, including bomb-damage assessments in between the raids; many repeat operations; and improvised reactions to setbacks, accidents or unexpected events. It would be clear, almost from the start, that this would not be over within a week.
The second aspect is the mismatch that would soon appear between early appearance and underlying reality. It is highly likely that the early indications from a sustained US military operation against Iran would be of a crippling of Iranian military power and of serious damage to its nuclear programme. America, in other words, would appear to have “won” this brief war.
This, however, would be an even greater illusion than the three-week race to Baghdad in March-April 2003. It is highly unlikely that, however much wishful thinking there might be to this effect in Washington, the governance of Iran will fall apart at the seams – let alone evacuate the scene to social collapse and implosion, as happened in Iraq.
What is far more probable on the Iranian side is that the Revolutionary Guards would be revitalised to spearhead a vigorous campaign in Iraq, and to back retaliation against US allies in the western Gulf (including strikes against their oil facilities). This strategy might evolve over many weeks or even months – just as in Iraq four months passed between the termination of the Saddam Hussein regime and the first big indication of the war that was unfolding, the bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003.
It is also as certain as can be that the Iranians would seek every means possible to speed the development of nuclear weapons. These two processes – Iran’s deepening involvement in Iraq and its intensified nuclear programme – would in turn provoke further US military action, involving both the deployment of ground forces across the border from Iraq and repeated air-raids.
On and on it goes, where it ends, nobody knows……….
The Jonathan Cook article on the Syrian strike earlier this month… It has been at the various sites for a couple days, so not news, but want to put it in here…
[S]o what did Israel hope to achieve with its aerial strike?
The stories emerging from the less gagged American media suggest two scenarios. The first is that Israel targeted Iranian supplies passing through Syria on their way to Hizballah; the second that Israel struck at a fledgling Syrian nuclear plant where materials from North Korea were being offloaded, possibly as part of a joint nuclear effort by Damascus and Tehran.
(Speculation that Israel was testing Syria’s anti-aircraft defenses in preparation for an attack on Iran ignores the fact that the Israeli air force would almost certainly choose a flight path through friendlier Jordanian airspace.)
How credible are these two scenarios?
The nuclear claims against Damascus were discounted so quickly by experts of the region that Washington was soon downgrading the accusation to claims that Syria was only hiding the material on North Korea’s behalf. But why would Syria, already hounded by Israel and the US, provide such a readymade pretext for still harsher treatment? Why, equally, would North Korea undermine its hard-won disarmament deal with the US? And why, if Syria were covertly engaging in nuclear mischief, did it alert the world to the fact by revealing the Israeli air strike?
The other justification for the attack was at least based in a more credible reality: Damascus, Hizballah and Iran undoubtedly do share some military resources. But their alliance should be seen as the kind of defensive pact needed by vulnerable actors in a Sunni-dominated region where the US wants unlimited control of Gulf oil and supports only those repressive regimes that cooperate on its terms. All three are keenly aware that it is Israel’s job to threaten and punish any regimes that fail to toe the line.
Contrary to the impression being created in the West, genocidal hatred of Israel and Jews, however often Ahmadinejad’s speeches are mistranslated, is not the engine of these countries’ alliance.
Nonetheless, the political significance of the justifications for the the Israeli air strike is that both neatly tie together various strands of an argument needed by the neocons and Israel in making their case for an attack on Iran before Bush leaves office in early 2009. Each scenario suggests a Shia “axis of evil,” coordinated by Iran, that is actively plotting Israel’s destruction. And each story offers the pretext for an attack on Syria as a prelude to a pre-emptive strike against Tehran — launched either by Washington or Tel Aviv — to save Israel.
That these stories appear to have been planted in the American media by neocon masters of spin like John Bolton is warning enough — as is the admission that the only evidence for Syrian malfeasance is Israeli “intelligence,” the basis of which cannot be questioned as Israel is not officially admitting the attack.
It should hardly need pointing out that we are again in a hall of mirrors, as we were during the period leading up to America’s invasion of Iraq and have been during its subsequent occupation [snip]
I happened to catch Tzipi Livni on with Charlie Rose this week, he asked her repeatedly about the strike. She would give up nothing, but kept laughing.
One point that none of the pundits and analysts have noted was that, in attacking Syria, Israel committed a blatant act of aggression against its northern neighbor of the kind denounced as the “supreme international crime” by the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal.
Oh right. Lame Duck. So they say….
Australia’s Herald Sun (full text):
A US air raid early today killed at least 10 people, including women and children, in a building in a mainly Sunni area of Baghdad, Iraqi officials said.
The raid targeted a building in the Al-Saha neighbourhood in southwestern Baghdad where families were sleeping, the Iraqi officials said.
Bodies were pulled out of the rubble of the building, which was destroyed.
“Ten people were killed and seven wounded when American helicopters attacked Building No 139 at 2am. We have no idea of the reason for the attack,” said an Interior Ministry official.
An official at Baghdad’s Al-Yarmuk hospital said 13 people – seven men, two women and four children – were killed and 10 men and a women were wounded. He said all the casualties were civilians.
The survivors said their building had been attacked by US helicopters early in the morning, the hospital official said.
There was no immediate comment from the US military.
The reported attack came after the US military said the bodies of five women and four children were found in a central Iraqi village after American soldiers raided houses believed used by al-Qaeda earlier in the week.
A military statement yesterday said a raid by ground and air forces had been carried out on Tuesday on a building in Babahani village near the town of Musayyib, about 50 kilometres south of Baghdad.
“According to Iraqi police, the bodies of five adult women and four children were taken to a local hospital in Musayyib Wednesday,” the statement said.
“Structures in the area have historically been found to be used as safe houses for Al-Qaeda,” it added.
“Coalition Forces searching a nearby house located (bomb)-making material including command wire, batteries and timers.“
Why believe them. Why bother. NYT report of very probably the same air attack. Or not. So much more information in the AU press.
Fog of war, no doubt. Something. Eyes on the next prize, every attack a warning. Send a message. Take them out, take them down.
Something like that…
… and where it stops nobody knows…
Resistance 28 September 2007Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, WAR!.
Tear gas hovered above the steps of the Shwedagon Pagoda on Wednesday in Yangon as the riot police broke up demonstrations. [REUTERS]
Witnesses and diplomats reached by telephone inside Myanmar, a sealed country, said troops were now confronting and attacking smaller groups of civilians around the city, sometimes running after them through narrow streets, sometimes firing at protesting groups.
“Today has been quieter than previous days, meaning far fewer protesters came out, but the military is being very quick to use violence, tear gas, guns and clubs to break it up,” said the chief diplomat at the United States Embassy, Shari Villarosa.
Diplomats said there was no way to estimate the numbers of dead and wounded in Yangon or other cities, but they said it was certainly far higher than what the junta has reported.
Bob Davis, Australia’s ambassador to Myanmar, said that based on unconfirmed reports, he was certain that the death toll was “several multiples of the 10 acknowledged by the authorities.”
Vineyardsaker has a provocative post on Ahmadinejad’s description of America as a “big prison.” He posts this chilling data (emphasis added):
Incarcerations per 100,000 population (sample):
1014____Texas (in 1999) (governor George W. Bush)
715_____United States of America (2001)
189_____Hong Kong (China)
142_____United Kingdom: England & Wales
125_____Republic of (South) Korea
TimesOnline takes a close look at the events surrounding the shooting of Mr Nagai, the Japanese photojournalist…
[S]ources in the opposition National League for Democracy said they believed that he was shot by an army sniper who may have mistaken him for a Burmese citizen.
There has clearly been gunfire because the demonstrators – some of them women – are fleeing in terror. Just one man, wearing a black shirt, is looking back. Two other demonstrators appear to be trying to lift a fallen colleague.
Chasing them are three members of the security forces. The officer in blue, who is about to beat a protester with a rubber baton, is a member of the riot police. The soldier in green is wielding a German G3 automatic rifle and is thought to be a member of the 77th Light Division. The third officer, dressed in grey, is a policeman. Just in front of his bamboo shield a teargas cylinder is flying through the air.
Seconds later Mr Nagai is lying prostrate, a look of agony on his face. The bloodstain on his shirt is now clearly visible. His right arm, bearing the camera, has fallen to his side. [snip]
Raimondo’s latest anti Dem screed….
It was Gravel who raised the real issue coming to the fore in this campaign, and that is the looming confrontation with Iran:
“There was a vote in the Senate today – Joe Lieberman, who authored the Iraq resolution, has offered another resolution, and it’s essentially a fig leaf to let George Bush go to war with Iran. And I want to congratulate Biden for voting against it, Dodd for voting against, and I’m ashamed of you, Hillary, for voting for it. You’re not going to get another shot at this, because what’s happened if this war ensues – we invade and they’re looking for an excuse to do it.
“And Obama was not even there to vote.”
How that last barb must have stung the self-righteous Obama, whose self-backslapping – “I was against this war [in Iraq] from the beginning” – was an embarrassment. Hillary’s sinister laugh, when given the opportunity by Russert to answer Gravel, ought to have curdled the blood of even the hardest of the antiwar movement’s hardcore Democratic partisans. What followed was a pretty faithful recitation of the War Party’s talking points regarding Iran and the resolution passed by the Senate:
“My understanding of the revolutionary guard in Iran is that it is promoting terrorism. It is manufacturing weapons that are used against our troops in Iraq. It is certainly the main agent of support for Hezbollah, Hamas and others, and in what we voted for today, we will have an opportunity to designate it as a terrorist organization, which gives us the options to be able to impose sanctions on the primary leaders to try to begin to put some teeth into all this talk about dealing with Iran.”
Asia Times has a post up on blogging from inside Burma (I added http:// to the non hyper links in the article but have not checkd each link):
One poignant blog, by a young, “sensitive” Myanma woman who identifies herself as Dawn, appears at http://www.xanga.com/dawn_1o9.
“Around 1:20 or 1:30pm, I heard someone saying that the police/army started shooting in the air,” Dawn wrote, describing Yangon on Wednesday.
“At 2:00pm, I heard that buses have stopped running on Sule Pagoda Road. Someone from the office went out to there, and came running back when there were shots being fired. I heard the gunshots too, but it sounded a lot like clapping. So I went out to look,” Dawn said.
International media said at least one person died when security forces attacked protesters on Wednesday, though some news reports said up to five people may have been killed.
In gallows humor, Dawn wrote: “I’ll let you know when I’ve been shot. I’ll ask someone before I die to blog about it. If it was an instant death, I’ll come to my sister in my dream and tell her to blog about it, or I won’t rest in peace.”
Another popular blogger created a “prosaic collection” of vivid text and photos at http://ko-htike.blogspot.com and said, “now regime open fire into these group, and used fire engine to sweep the blood on the street”.
Foreigners blogging in Myanmar include http://burmesedayze.blogspot.com, written by someone who moved to Yangon in March 2006. [snip]
I will probably add more to this post today… ;)
And continuing… 27 September 2007Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Lie Down Fall Down Dems, Viva La Revolucion!.
A man gestures to the Burmese military after a crowd of thousands was fired upon. [REUTERS]
Riot police arriving at the scene of the protests on Thursday. [REUTERS]
Ngwe Kyar Yan Monastery after it was raided in the early hours of Thursday morning. Hundreds of monks were dragged away by the troops. [DPA]
The protestors fled after soldiers marched through the streets with loudspeakers ordering people to go home or risk being shot. One man lies injured after the police charge the crowd. [REUTERS]
Quick snip from one of the stories at spiegel.de:
As the protests enter their 10th day, the military regime seems to be ignoring international pleas for restraint and is instead continuing its crackdown on the protestors. In the early hours of Thursday morning, troops raided a number of monasteries and dragged away hundreds of monks. Just a few hours later, images of the blood-spattered floor of the monasteries were posted on Internet news sites across the world.
Ko Htike’s blog’s traffic has increased tenfold over the past few days. The Burmese national, who lives in London, has turned his literary blog into a political forum. “I have around 10 people inside in different locations … They are walking along with the march and as soon as they get any images or news they pop into internet cafes and send it to me,” he told BBC News on Wednesday. Ko Htike said that the bloggers usually use chat rooms like Yahoo Messenger to communicate.
This snippet too…
According to the press freedom non-governmental organization Reporters without Borders, the ousting of former Prime Minister Khin Nyunt in October 2004 saw a marked reduction in the regime’s monitoring of the Internet. “He was a military intelligence guy … . After he was removed, they no longer have much knowledge in this area,” Vincent Brossel, the organization’s Asia director, told BBC News.
Brossel told AP that the junta was now trying to stem the flow of information by slowing down Internet connections, blocking mobile phone services and closing Internet cafes. But the opposition is now using satellite phones, which can bypass censors and firewalls to get the message out.
Burma’s state-run media has blamed “saboteurs” for causing the protests. “Saboteurs from inside and outside the nation and some foreign radio stations, who are jealous of national peace and development, have been making instigative acts through lies to cause internal instability and civil commotion,” said The New Light of Myanmar, a mouthpiece for the regime, on Thursday.
And… I noticed that catnip posted this, near the end of the previous thread:
liberalcatnip | liberalcatnip.blogspot.com |
Via the BBC: Eyewitness: Rangoon protests
Sep 27, 11:10 AM
Beats dead as door nails Democrats, all in a line in NH prattling lies to a worn out or gullible or disinterested or agreeing public.
UPDATE, 12:01 pm
Few can fail to be intensely moved by the exhilarating images of the “crimson revolution” – thousands of monks chanting “democracy, democracy” or reciting the Metta Sutta – the Buddha sermon on loving kindness, while civilian demonstrators, on a practical level, also call for the release of hundreds of political prisoners and a reduction in the price of fuel (raised 500% last month, the root cause of the protests).
The Asian Human Rights Commission has reported how the monks, in a pre-rally ceremony on Monday, have solemnly refused to accept donations from anyone junta-connected, people they have dubbed “pitiless soldier kings”. This very serious act amounts to nothing less than a Buddhist form of excommunication.
But fear now looms. The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi – lovingly referred to all over the country as The Lady – has been transferred from her lakeside home on University Avenue in Yangon to sinister Insein prison, according to a Reuters report. The junta has imposed a dusk-till-dawn curfew in Yangon and Mandalay.
A bit of a close look at Bush’s concern for Burma:
Myanmar has been in effect off the radar of the international community for years. Why this new, sudden, Bush administration interest in regime change in Myanmar? If the US and the West are so obsessed with “human rights”, why not put pressure on the ghastly practices of the House of Saud? Or the barely disguised repression under the glitz in Persian Gulf petromonarchies? Or the bloody Islam Karimov dictatorship in Uzbekistan?
A vast drug-money-laundering operation, plus full Asian cooperation – to the tune of billions of dollars – helped the Myanmar junta to build its new capital, Naypyidaw, in the middle of the jungle, almost 350 kilometers north of Yangon, in essence using slave labor. The 10-country Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member, has been very lenient, to say the least, with the unsavory generals, in the name of a policy of “non-interference”. Thailand – for complex historical reasons – would rather co-exist with a weak neighbor. India coddles the generals to get natural-gas deals – like a recent agreement to invest US$150 million in gas exploitation in the west of the country.
Enter the dragon
But Myanmar is above all a key strategic pawn for China. Not only as a captive market for civilian goods in addition to weapons, but as a pawn to keep India in check and assure China of key strategic access to the Indian Ocean. Just like Britain – which twice invaded Burma, as Myanmar was known until 1989 – China’s utmost interest is natural resources. Oil and gas, of course, but also gems and timber: the once-pristine forests at the Myanmar-China border have been practically wiped out. According to the rights group Global Witness, Myanmar exported no less than $350 million in timber to China in 2005 alone, and the bulk of it was illegal.
Them. Again. 26 September 2007Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter.
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. answers a question during a debate at Dartmouth College Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007 in Hanover, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
yup yup… that is her. tonight, in NH….
and the headline already?
Dems can’t make guarantee on Iraq troops
By BETH FOUHY, Associated Press Writer 21 minutes ago
HANOVER, N.H. – The three leading Democratic presidential hopefuls conceded Wednesday night they could not guarantee that all U.S. combat troops would be gone from Iraq by 2013, the end of the next president’s first term in office.
“I think it’s hard to project four years from now,” said Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in the opening moments of a campaign debate in the nation’s first primary state.
“It is very difficult to know what we’re going to be inheriting,” added Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
“I cannot make that commitment,” said former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.
Sen. Christopher Dodd of Connecticut and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson provided the assurances the others would not.
“I’ll get the job done,” said Dodd, while Richardson said he would make sure the troops were home by the end of his first year in office.
The opening question of the two-hour debate plunged the eight contenders into the issue that has dominated all others in the race for the White House.
With the primary season approaching, all eight have vied with increasing intensity for the support of anti-war voters likely to provide money and organizing muscle as the campaign progresses.
Edwards said his position on Iraq was different from Obama and Clinton, adding he would “immediately drawn down 40,000 to 50,000 troops.” That’s roughly half the 100,000 that Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, has indicated could be stationed there when President Bush‘s term ends in January 2009.
Edwards sought to draw a distinction between his position and that of Clinton, saying she had said recently she wants to continue combat missions in Iraq.
“I do not want to continue combat missions in Iraq,” he said.
Clinton responded quickly, saying Edwards had misstated her position. She favors the continued deployment of counterterrorism troops, not forces to engage in the type of combat now under way.
Protest the Juntas!… All of them, ours too! [UPDATED] 26 September 2007Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, Big Box Blogs, DC Politics, Democrats, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Lie Down Fall Down Dems, The Battle for New Orleans, Viva La Revolucion!, WAR!.
A Buddhist monk speaks to the crowd of supporters as they gather in downtown Yangon. Myanmar moved Wednesday to crush the mass rallies that have erupted nationwide against the military regime, as security forces fired tear gas and warning shots, and beat protesters in the streets. [AFP]
Buddhist monks marching in protest in Yangon in the strongest show of dissent against the ruling generals in nearly two decades, on 24 September. [AFP/MizzimaNews/File]
From the BBC:
“Monks demonstration watched by armed soldiers.” Photo: Tin
Burmese riot police attack monks
Several thousand Burmese monks and other protesters have been marching in Rangoon despite a bloody crackdown by police. One death is reported.
Police beat and arrested demonstrators at the revered Shwedagon Pagoda, including up to 100 monks, on the ninth day of unrest against military rule.
One march started for the city centre while another headed for the home of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Security forces have reportedly ringed six key monasteries.
One unidentified person was shot dead and five received gunshot injuries, Rangoon hospital sources told Reuters news agency. [snip]
Supporters of the Buddhist monks march down a street in downtown Yangon. [AFP]
Politician U Win Naing (L), comedian Zarganar (2nd L) and actor Kyaw Tun (2nd R) offering food and water to monks during a protest in Yangon, on 24 September, in the latest and strongest show of dissent against the ruling generals in nearly two decades.
Myanmar’s most famous comedian Zaganar, who had thrown his support behind Buddhist monks leading anti-government protests, was arrested at his home during the night, according to a friend.[AFP/MandalayGazette/File]
Filipino protesters hold burning incense as they display pictures of Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a rally Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007 in front of the building housing Myanmar embassy in Manila’s financial district of Makati. The protesters staged the rally in solidarity to the ongoing protests in Myanmar against the ruling military junta. [AP Photo/Pat Roque]
In this file photo, a Myanmar Buddhist monk takes video footage at the famous Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon. Myanmar’s swelling protests are in the global spotlight with the help of hi-tech gadgets in the era of YouTube — a stark contrast to the 1988 uprising in the pre-Internet age. [AFP/File/Saeed Khan]
UPDATED, 11:41 am – hot, dry and dusty again in San Francisco
someone just popped me this… ;)
Please, Democwaps, FUCK US HARDER! AND MAKE US PAY FOR IT!!!
Kos makes the case for early money. I won’t tell you who to donate to right now, but am instead making the case for donating “now” rather than later.
Judging from past experience, as we get closer and closer to election day ’08 donations from readers will keep increasing. It’d much much much better if everyone sat down and figured out how much money they expected to donate to congressional candidates over the cycle and then figured out how to give as much of it as early possible.
Comment s (145) Trackback (0)
Sorry to be blunt, but the only word for it is, DEMMING … rushing madly for the fall from the cliff. Heading straight for the deep dark water with the strong undertow…
Also this… I have to say 8 years ago I had some hope for Krugman. Too often a party cheerleader. Too often a party mouthpiece.
Blanco could give a good Cajun, Baton Rouge Democratic machine shit about the Jena 6.
A Democrat. And Nagin, that former Republican now a Democrat, rushed to be at Jesse’s side.
Here is Margaret Kimberley of BAR on Jena 6:
If sitting under a tree is the last symbol of white supremacy in a state that fought tooth and nail to maintain it, then challenging that supremacist ideology is dangerous indeed. Were it not for concerned parents and other supporters who fought for them, the Jena Six would have disappeared namelessly into the American prison system like so many millions of other young black men.
“A movement that doesn’t produce a backlash isn’t much of a movement at all.”
After a successful first step, there is now talk of “backlash” in Jena. A movement that doesn’t produce a backlash isn’t much of a movement at all. It isn’t surprising that a neo-Nazi website openly threatened the lives of the Jena Six or that rednecks attempt to provoke violence by tying nooses onto their pickup trucks.
Also from BAR, Glen Ford on Jena:
I am absolutely certain that profound, near-universal Black frustration at the abject failure of Black misleadership to respond effectively to the Katrina catastrophe played a central role in response to the plight of the Jena Six – an outpouring of pent-up pain from a wound much more recent than those evoked by nooses hung on a tree. At a gut level, Katrina forced African Americans to face the fact that the established Black institutions were not just ineffectual, but purposely so. Therefore Black folks, especially the youth, moved on their own, rather than appeal to the deaf ears of those who have refused to move for decades.
Power brokers will never permit Power to the People. They have no interest in justice – only in their own material interests, and must be kept out of the room when conspiracies for liberation are hatched. They are the oppressors’ first line of defense; they will kill the nascent new Movement in its crib, if given the chance. Organize around them, not with them.
Thread… 25 September 2007Posted by marisacat in Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Iran, WAR!.
Pepe Escobar is up in Asia Times with a take on Mahmoud does NYC…
The new “Hitler”, at least for a while, has lodged in a prosaic midtown Manhattan hotel. Contrary to a plethora of demonizing myths, this Persian werewolf did not evade his abode to eat kids for breakfast in Central Park. Instead, he turned on a carefully calibrated public relations charm offensive. Whatever his polemical views, for a now-seasoned head of state like Ahmadinejad to turn astonishing US disinformation on Iran, the Middle East and US foreign policy for his own advantage ended up as a string of slam-dunks.
Articulate, evasive, manipulative, the Iranian president – even lost in translation – was especially skillful in turning US corporate media’s hysteria upside down consistently to paint those in the administration of President George W Bush as incorrigible warmongers. Both at the National Press Club, via video-conference, and live at Columbia University, Ahmadinejad even had the luxury of joking about fabled Western “freedom of information” – as so many are still “trying to prevent people from talking”.
And a reference to oft repeated myth, as well:
To put in perspective the Iranian hostage crisis in the early days of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, he said one would need to “go back to US intervention in Iran since 1953″. His hosts preferred to change the subject. Humming non-stop in the background noise was the “wipe Israel of the map” myth. No one had the intellectual decency to point out that what he really said, in Farsi, in a speech on October 2005 to an annual anti-Zionist conference in Iran, was that “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time”. He was doing no more than quoting the late ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini – hoping that an unfair (toward Palestine) regime would be replaced by another one more equitable; he was not threatening to nuke Israel. Warmongers anyway don’t bother to check the facts.
ATimes picks up on the latest Tom Englehardt with a painful look back at Tommy Franks, Tenet, Myers and Bremer. This on Bremer is worth pulling out of the pain of reading again about thsoe horrible men, esp as Blackwater walks free in iraq, a week off for killing 11:
When it came to the freedoms of Western occupiers (or liberators, if you will), including armed mercenaries, however, Bremer achieved a true medal-snatching feat. He in essence turned that Baghdad clock back to the 19th century and made that “time” stick to this very day. On the eve of his departure, he issued a remarkable document of freedom – a declaration of foreign independence – that went by the name of “Order 17″  and that, in the US mainstream media, is still often referred to as “the law” in Iraq.
Order 17 is a document well worth reading. It in essence granted to every foreigner in the country connected to the occupation enterprise the full freedom of the land, not to be interfered with in any way by Iraqis or any Iraqi political or legal institution. Foreigners – unless, of course, they were jihadis or Iranians – were to be “immune from any form of arrest or detention other than by persons acting on behalf of their Sending States”, even though US and coalition forces were to be allowed the freedom to arrest and detain in prisons and detention camps of their own any Iraqis they designated worthy of that honor. (The present prison population of American Iraq is reputed to be at least 24,500 and rising.)
And then, of course, there was that “international zone”, now better known as the Green Zone, whose control was carefully placed in the hands of the Multinational Force or MNF (in essence, the Americans and their contractors) exactly as if it had been the international part of Shanghai, or Portuguese Macau, or British Hong Kong in the 19th century.
Above all else, Bremer freed an already powerful shadow army run out of private security outfits like Blackwater USA that, by now, has grown, according to recent reports, into a force of 20,000-50,000 or more hired guns. [I just read Scahill use the figure 180,000 for over all mercs, private contractors in Iraq — Mcat] These private soldiers, largely in the employ of the Pentagon or the US State Department – and so operating on US taxpayer dollars – were granted the right to act as they pleased with utter impunity anywhere in the country.
More than three years later, the language of Order 17, written in high legalese, remains striking when it comes to the contractors.
Order 17 begins on private security firms with a stated need “to clarify the status of … certain international consultants, and certain contractors in respect of the government and the local courts.” But the key passage is this:
Contractors shall not be subject to Iraqi laws or regulations in matters relating to the terms and conditions of their contracts … Contractors shall be immune from Iraqi legal processes with respect to acts performed by them pursuant to the terms and conditions of a contract or any subcontract thereto … Certification by the Sending State that its contractor acted pursuant to the terms and conditions of the contract shall, in any Iraqi legal process, be conclusive evidence of the facts so certified …
a longish snip, but more at the article….
“…a highly, terribly important issue…” 24 September 2007Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Iraq War, WAR!.
Good for Amy… in an era when most conversation is dreck – tho I suspect not entirely today at Columbia – she has Naomi and Alan…
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I’m just wondering if it troubles Mr. Greenspan at all that wars over resources in other countries are actually illegal. Mr. Greenspan has praised the rule of law, the importance of the rule of law, in his book. But in his statements about the reasons why this has not been publicly discussed, he has said that it’s not politically expedient at this moment. But it’s not just that it’s not politically expedient, Mr. Greenspan. Are you aware that, according to the Hague Regulations and the Geneva Conventions, it is illegal for one country to invade another over its natural resources?
ALAN GREENSPAN: No. What I was saying is that the issue which, as you know, most people who were pressing for the war were concerned with were weapons of mass destruction. I personally believed that Saddam was behaving in a way that he probably very well had, almost certainly had, weapons of mass destruction. I was surprised, as most, that he didn’t. But what I was saying is that my reason for being pleased to see Saddam out of office had nothing to do with the weapons of mass destruction. It had to do with the potential threat that he could create to the rest of the world.
NAOMI KLEIN: Yes, I realize that, but he was not simply deposed. The US invaded Iraq, occupied it and took control over its resources. And under international law, that it is illegal to wage wars to gain access to other countries’, sovereign countries’, natural resources.
ALAN GREENSPAN: Yes. No, I’m fully aware of the fact that that is a highly, terribly important issue. And as I said in other commentaries, I have always thought the issue of what essentially amounts to what is often called pre-emptive, preventive action on the part of some countries to secure resources or something else like that, it’s an issue that goes back to the Cold War, when we had the very difficult moral dilemma of what do you do when you think a missile is coming in our direction and you’re not sure whether it’s an accident or not an accident. And that is a problem which I think is a deep moral problem in civilized society. And the issue is one which I don’t think we’re going to resolve very easily. And as you point out, yes, I am a believer in the rule of law, and I think it is a critical issue, not only for domestic economies, but for the world economy as a whole.
AMY GOODMAN: Naomi Klein?
NAOMI KLEIN: You have also advocated economic shock therapy and supported IMF programs that have transformed economies very, very quickly. And then, you say that you are in support of the rule of law. But I’m just wondering how, in a country like Russia, there could be rule of law when it’s being transformed in fast-forward in that way.
ALAN GREENSPAN: Well, remember that you don’t get a market economy merely by eliminating central planning. And remember, when the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union disintegrated, you didn’t have a market economy. What you basically had was a black market economy. And they tried to develop the institutions of the democratic society, and it’s not something which they have had back for generations. And as you can see now, there’s an increasing authoritarianism. It’s a very — it’s a society which has very different trends at different levels of that society. And I don’t know exactly where they’re coming up, but I don’t like the direction it’s been going in in recent years. [snip]
“increasing authoritarianism”, good one Alan. Here too, sweetie.
… yes, just a device to hold up a thread… 8)
UPDATE, 2:24 pm in San Francisco: we are back to bright sun and dust here… the faint rain is gone.
Let’s just throw some more words against the brick wall. Why not. Just for fun, as we all are having fun fun fun these days.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, they are talking about, in one day, for example, the East Rutherford operation center of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 100 Orchard Street in East Rutherford, a tractor-trailer truck pulling up, and though accustomed to receiving and shipping large quantities of cash, the vault had never before processed a single order of this magnitude: $2.4 billion in $100 bills. But ultimately, again, $9 billion of $12 billion gone missing in Iraq.
ALAN GREENSPAN: I am not familiar with any such evidence. And it was certainly not brought to my attention. I, frankly, find it very unlikely that those orders of magnitude were involved in any of the numbers that we were dealing with. You have to make certain that — there’s been a lot of confusion about losses, and people have used the dinar, the basic currency unit of Iraq, and assumed they were American dollars. And, of course, that gives you a highly distorted view. There’s been, I’ve seen, several reports fairly recently in which that sort of mistake was being made. But what I can tell you is that no such numbers of any order of magnitude of the type you are discussing came to the attention of the Federal Reserve.
AMY GOODMAN: This is based on that award-winning article in Vanity Fair, or the team who have won —
ALAN GREENSPAN: Let me put it this way, award-winning doesn’t necessarily —
AMY GOODMAN: Well, no, no. I mean Don Barlett and Jim Steele, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists. I’m sure you know their work. But Naomi Klein?
NAOMI KLEIN: Well, I would just add that it’s quite surprising, actually, that Mr. Greenspan is unaware of this scandal around Iraq’s missing billions, because Paul Bremer had to testify before Congress and was asked directly about those missing billions. It’s been the subject of very high-level investigations. There is a huge paper trail around it. So this is hardly a secret, and it’s hardly just a matter that’s confined to Vanity Fair. This is —
ALAN GREENSPAN: Oh, I’m not saying that the losses are not real. I think they are, because, obviously, we can’t account for all the oil revenues. I’m just merely saying it’s not something which was directly related to any of the actions which the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, to which we were referring, was involved, as far as I know.
and so on…
STRIKE! 22 September 2007Posted by marisacat in 2008 Election, Afghanistan War, DC Politics, Inconvenient Voice of the Voter, Iran, Iraq War, Israel/AIPAC, The Battle for New Orleans, WAR!.
If someone were to suggest, for example, that we begin a general strike on Election Day, November 6, 2007, for the sole purpose of removing this regime from power, how readily and with what well-practiced assurance would you find yourself producing the words “It won’t do any good”? Plausible and even courageous in the mouth of a patient who knows he’s going to die, the sentiment fits equally well in the heart of a citizen-ry that believes it is already dead.
It is behind the sub wall at Harper’s [come on Harper’s, loosen up a bit! for democracy… ;) ] … an article calling for a General Strike on Election Day, it is by Garret Keizer and here are a few snips:
The stream of commuters heading into the city, the caravan of tractor-trailers pulling out of the rest stop into the dawn’s early light, speak a deep-throated Yes to the sum total of what’s going on in our collective life.
The poet Richard Wilbur writes of the “ripped mouse” that “cries Concordance” in the talons of the owl; we too cry our daily assent in the grip of the prevailing order— except in those notable instances when, like a donkey or a Buddha, we refuse to budge.
The question we need to ask ourselves at this moment is what further provocations we require to justify digging in our heels. To put the question more pointedly: Are we willing to wait until the next presidential election, or for some interim congressional conversion experience, knowing that if we do wait, hundreds of our sons and daughters will be needlessly destroyed? Another poet, César Vallejo, framed the question like this:
A man shivers with cold, coughs, spits up blood.
Will it ever be fitting to allude to my inner soul? . . .
A cripple sleeps with one foot on his shoulder.
Shall I later on talk about Picasso, of all people?
A young man goes to Walter Reed without a face. Shall I make an appointment with my barber? A female prisoner is sodomized at Abu Ghraib.
Shall I send a check to the Clinton campaign?
It is one thing to endure abuses and to carry on in spite of them. It is quite another thing to carry on to the point of abetting the abuse. We need to move the discussion of our nation’s health to the emergency room.
We need to tell the doctors of the body politic that the treatment isn’t working—and that until it changes radically for the better, neither are we.
From the close:
One need only speak a coherent sentence—one need only breathe from a differently shaped smirk—to seem like a savior. Ding-dong, the Witch is dead.
Already I can see the winged monkeys who signed off on the Patriot Act and the Iraq invasion jumping up and down for joy. Already I can hear the nauseating gush: “Such a welcome relief after Bush!” Relief, yes. But relief is not hope.
How much better if we could say to our next administration: Don’t talk about Bush. We dealt with Bush. We dealt with Bush and in so doing we demonstrated our ability to deal with you. You have a mandate more rigorous than looking good beside Bush. You need a program more ambitious than “uniting the country.” We are united—at least we were, if only for a while, if only in our disgust. If only I believed all this would happen.
I wrote this appeal during the days leading up to the Fourth of July. I wrote it because for the past six and a half years I have heard the people I love best—family members, friends, former students and parishioners—saying, “I’m sick over what’s happening to our country, but I just don’t know what to do.” Might I be pardoned if, fearing civil disorder less than I fear civil despair, I said, “Well, we could do this.” It has been done before and we could do this. And I do believe we could. If anyone has a better idea, I’m keen to hear it.
Only don’t tell me what some presidential hopeful ought to do someday. Tell me what the people who have nearly lost their hope can do right now.
Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust. —Isaiah 26:19