by Gilad Atzmon
From Pond to River
The legendary British music icon Robert Wyatt is a big supporter
of Palestine. A few days ago he came down to London to promote For the Ghosts Within (Wyatt/ Stephen/Atzmon, Domino Records),
a new album we produced together with violinist Ros Stephen. We had a
lively chat about Palestine, music, cultural resistance and about the
importance of the coming Jazza Festival. For Robert Wyatt,
music is where “people are introduced to each other”. “People were
playing each other’s music long before they were mixing politically or
socially” he says. Musicians can anticipate change. “In the deep south,
white kids were listening to Black radio stations and Black kids
listened to Country Music, long before these kids could share space or
even meet”. Music has this unique capacity to cross the divide, to bring
people together, to introduce harmony and yet, for some reason, not
many musicians are brave enough to jump into the deep water. Not many
musicians celebrate their ability to bring change about.
by Norman Solomon
This letter was published in The Nation [October 11, 2010 print edition]:
The "Debating Obama" forum spotlighted some big obstacles to
progressive change, but the discourse was notably hazy about
presidential accountability for calamitous policies. It was a bad sign
that the word "Afghanistan" did not appear anywhere in the forum's seven
pages. (What would we say about a "Debating Johnson" forum in August
1966 that didn't mention Vietnam?) Whatever the limits to the
president's options, he wields gargantuan power—and makes fateful
While the political terrain is cemented with structural factors,
no systemic analysis should absolve government leaders of moral
responsibility or basic accountability. "The system" may be to blame,
but since when does that let the president—or anyone else—off the hook?
After eighteen months, we should be discussing how progressives
might try to bell this cat—a president who has clearly embraced what
Martin Luther King Jr. called "the madness of militarism," in tandem
with an array of other grim policies, including promulgation of
extensive corporate agendas in the guise of "reform" and continuing
encroachment on precious civil liberties like habeas corpus. The
discussion is spreading inside the Democratic Party.
In mid-August, the entire leadership of the California
Democratic Party's Progressive Caucus—by most measures the largest
caucus in the state party—mustered a directness in addressing the
president that eluded the seven writers in the Nation forum.
"We worked very hard for your election as we do for all candidates who
seem able and willing to work for progressive social change, and to make
a better life for our citizens and for the world," the caucus's
executive board wrote in a letter to President Obama. "Your rhetoric
often suggests that you share this goal, but your actions frequently
prove otherwise. We do not simply disagree with you on a single small
issue. Unfortunately our unhappiness and disappointment has a broad
The letter said, "You campaigned against the Bush imperial
presidency, and then you expanded it.... In our opinion you have failed,
in whole or in part, to deliver on many of your commitments. Instead,
you have continued and supported some of the Bush policies that many
hoped and believed, based on your utterances, you would quickly
terminate." And the letter declared that presidential spokesman Robert
Gibbs, like chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, "is not the real problem, Mr.
President. We fear you are."
Such deep concerns are widespread—and increasingly corrosive for
the Democratic base. Bleak poll data on inclinations to vote this
November reflect the demoralizing and demobilizing effects of Obama's
triangulation. Below the radar, many party activists are agonizing and
questing for strategies as we try to prevent Republican gains and push
for progressive policies. If progressives seem to be making excuses for
Obama's corporate policies, it casts us as defenders of an untenable
status quo—and helps corporate-funded "populists" of the right wing to
masquerade as the agents of change.
NORMAN SOLOMON, national co-chair
Healthcare Not Warfare
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
the resumption of settlement construction in the West Bank yesterday,
Israel’s powerful settler movement hopes that it has scuttled peace
talks with the Palestinians.
would be misleading, however, to assume that the only major obstacle to
the success of the negotiations is the right-wing political ideology
the settler movement represents. Equally important are deeply entrenched
economic interests shared across Israeli society.
interests took root more than six decades ago with Israel’s
establishment and have flourished at an ever-accelerating pace since
Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip after the 1967 war.
many Israeli Jews living within the recognised borders of Israel
privately acknowledge that they are the beneficiaries of the seizure of
another people’s lands, homes, businesses and bank accounts in 1948.
Most Israelis profit directly from the continuing dispossession of
millions of Palestinian refugees.
officials assume that the international community will bear the burden
of restitution for the refugees. The problem for Israel’s Jewish
population is that the refugees now living in exile were not the only
fifth of Israel’s citizens who are Palestinian but survived the
expulsions of 1948 found themselves either transformed into internally
displaced people or the victims of a later land-nationalisation
programme that stripped them of their ancestral property.
if Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, signed away the rights of
the refugees, he would have no power to do the same for Israel’s
Palestinian citizens, the so-called Israeli Arabs. Peace, as many
Israelis understand, would open a Pandora’s box of historic land claims
from Palestinian citizens at the expense of Israel’s Jewish citizens.
the threat to the economic privileges of Israeli Jews would not end
with a reckoning over the injustices caused by the state’s creation. The
occupation of the Palestinian territories after 1967 spawned many other
powerful economic interests opposed to peace.
most visible constituency are the settlers, who have benefited hugely
from government subsidies and tax breaks designed to encourage Israelis
to relocate to the West Bank. Peace Now estimates that such benefits
alone are worth more than $550 million a year.
from being a fringe element, the half a million settlers constitute
nearly a tenth of Israel’s Jewish population and include such prominent
figures as foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.
|by Tom Engelhardt
The long vacation season of 2010 is, by now, a distant memory. But Chip Ward, who has covered everything from the aridifying of the West to the Tea Partying of
the same territory for TomDispatch, reports from his tourist haven of a
home in the backlands of Utah that, for the first time in years, there
were more American visitors than French and German ones this summer.
Perhaps it was a measure of a drooping economy as more Americans opt for
cheaper domestic adventures. He gets a certain pleasure, he tells me,
from watching them enjoy the redrock landscape he loves, but he always
wonders how much they understand about what they’re obsessively
photographing. Most of us, after all, are not ecologically literate.
We might know how to email, tweet, and text, but we don’t know a
keystone species from an ecotone.
That’s a shame, because we’ll need to be ecologically knowledgeable
and aware to survive the human upheaval and ecological disruption that
are likely to follow on the heels of what we call “global warming.”
Just check out flooded Pakistan,
if you want to get a sense of the enormity of what could be coming.
And yet it’s not enough to simply, even obsessively, catalog the damage
and the crises, and plot out the nightmares ahead. Anyone who can offer
us some hints not just of why the world around us is falling apart, but
of how it can be put back together, is doing us all a
favor. Amazingly, amid the flood of bad environmental news, there’s
some good news, too, and Ward directs us toward one stirring case of it
-- and the opposition to it. In his case, it helps that, for the last
year, he’s been listening in on the ongoing conversations of a group of
biologists and environmentalists who have been dealing with the
reintroduction of the wolf to the West -- and he has quite a story to
The Big Bad Wolf Makes Good
The Yellowstone Success Story and Those Who Want to Kill It
By Chip Ward
At long last, good news. Fifteen years have passed since wolves were
reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park and the results are in. The
controversial experiment has been a stellar success. The Big Bad Wolf
is back and in this modern version of the old story, all that huffing
and puffing has been good for the land and the creatures that live on
it. Biggie, it turns out, got a bum rap.
The success of the Yellowstone project is the kind of good news we long for in this era of oil spills, monster storms, massive flooding, crushing heat waves, and bleaching corals.
For once, a branch of our federal government, the Department of the
Interior, saw something broken and actually fixed it. In a nutshell:
conservation biologists considered a perplexing problem -- the slow but
steady unraveling of the Yellowstone ecosystem -- figured out what was
causing it, and then proposed a bold solution that worked even better
Sadly, the good news has been muted by subsequent political strife
over wolf reintroduction outside of Yellowstone. Along the northern
front of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and
Colorado, as well as New Mexico and Arizona, so-called wolf wars have
added fuel to a decades-old battle over the right to graze cattle or
hunt on public land. The shouting has overwhelmed both science and
civil discourse. This makes it all the harder to convey the lessons
learned to an American public that is mostly ecologically illiterate and
never really understood why wolves were put back into Yellowstone in
the first place. Even the legion of small donors who supported the
project mostly missed the reasons it was undertaken, focusing instead on
the “charismatic” qualities of wolves and the chance to see them in the
|by Kourosh Ziabari in Iran
The 2010 Pakistan flood was one of the most unpleasant and painful incidents of the year which attracted widespread international attention due to its extensiveness and destructive impacts. The floods started in July following heavy monsoon rains and overflow of the Indus River in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan regions of Pakistan. It is estimated that more than two thousand people lost their lives and over a million homes were destroyed since the flooding began. According to the United Nations estimates, over 21 million people have been injured or displaced as a result of the devastative flood.
Pakistani journalist and former Air Force employee Shahid R. Siddiqi joined me in an interview to discuss the aftermaths of the unprecedented flood which encompassed the whole Pakistan in a matter of days and caused serious damages to the country's agriculture, industry, energy sector, infrastructures and even politics. Mr. Siddiqi answered my questions about the government's management of the flood and the distribution of humanitarian aid sent by different countries to the flood-hit regions. He explained that how the unanticipated disaster paralyzed Pakistan in an astonishing way and surprised the unprepared government which failed to manage the crisis appropriately. In this interview, I also seized the opportunity to ask Mr. Siddiqi some questions about the prospect of Iran – Pakistan relations and Pakistan's stance on Iran's nuclear program.
Shahid R. Siddiqi has been a broadcaster with the Radio Pakistan and the Islamabad bureau chief of the "Pakistan and Gulf Economist". His articles and political commentaries appear in the Pakistani newspapers such as Dawan, The Nation and Pakistan Herald. He is also the founder of Asian American Republican Club. Siddiqi is a frequent contributor to Foreign Policy Journal, Middle East Times and Axis of Logic.
Kourosh Ziabari: How did the government of Pakistan manage the aftermaths of the recent devastative flood? Has it succeeded in preventing a humanitarian disaster from taking place in the flood-hit regions?
Shahid R. Siddiqi: The floods caught the Government of Pakistan totally unawares. Unfortunately, civilian governments in Pakistan have historically failed to comprehend the importance of preparedness for disaster and relief management. This is exactly what happened with the present government. This happened in spite the fact that an organization, Disaster Management Cell, was in place with very adequate experience of handling the massive earthquake that hit the Northern Areas of Pakistan in 2005. This lack of preparedness was a direct consequence of general mismanagement at the top levels of the government.
These were the most widespread and disastrous floods, the like of which had never before been witnessed in this region. The scale of destruction did not dawn upon the government until much later, until after the waters had inundated Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and hit Punjab. And by the time the government began to respond, millions had been uprooted and tremendous losses had occurred. According to one estimate these floods have caused a disaster bigger than Haiti and Tsunami combined.
The losses were colossal. Twenty million people were affected. 20% of the country, mostly the farmland, went under water. Millions of cattle heads died, standing crops of rice, cereals and vegetables were destroyed, enormous quantities of stored wheat grain was lost to flood waters and the agricultural infrastructure crumbled. Breakdown in transportation caused food shortages all over the country resulting in prohibitively high prices.
The humanitarian disaster was humongous and beyond the capacity of the civil administration to handle. The military did a commendable job of rescue and relief. It quietly moved in to fill the void due to the absence of the civil administration and worked tirelessly round the clock with heads down. Had it not been for it, the humanitarian disaster would have been much greater.
The flood waters originated in the mountainous catchment areas in the north and flowed south overflowing the banks of several smaller rivers to eventually join the River Indus, overflowing it and causing all adjoining areas to come under water. The flood has now subsided in the north – in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, and the water is now passing through the southern province of Sindh to drain into the Arabian Sea. Hopefully by the middle of October the waters would recede in the South too.
As life in the north returns to normal and people return to their devastated towns, villages and homes, the more difficult and capital intensive phase of rehabilitation begins. The government is short of funds. Aid is coming in but is not enough. The UN is trying to raise funds for rehabilitation but the response is slow. The economic situation in the country is bad. People struggle to keep their body and soul together and raise a shelter over their heads to resume their lives.
by Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon (Hebrew: גלעד עצמון, born June 9,
1963) is a jazz
musician, author and anti-Zionist activist who was born in Israel and
currently lives in London. Ynet reported today that
"Anti-Semite is an empty signifier, no one actually can be
Anti-Semite and this includes me of course. In short, you are either a
racist - which I am not - or have an ideological disagreement with
Zionism... which I have."
He was born a secular Israeli Jew in Tel Aviv, and trained at the
Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. His service in the Israeli military
convinced him Israel had become a militarized state controlled by
religious extremists. In 1994, Atzmon emigrated from Israel to London,
where he studied philosophy. Atzmon is an anti-Zionist who critiques
Jewish identity issues and
supports the Palestinian Right of Return as well as the establishment of
a single state in Israel/Palestine. He is a signatory to the
"Palestinians are the Priority Petition" which states “full and
unconditional support of the Palestinian people is a condition sine qua
non for activists to adopt.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Monday criticized rock star Roger Waters for simply conveying the truth.
During Waters’ performances of “Goodbye Blue Sky,” in Toronto, an
animated scene projects images of planes dropping bombs in the shape of
Jewish Stars of David followed by dollar signs. It should be noted that
the clip also displays bombs in the shape of crosses, Muslim crescents
and a fuel company's logo.
We had better face it once and for all: artists are often
significantly far ahead of our corrupted ‘liberal’ politicians, who, for
some reason, keep silent instead of confronting the Jewish State.
The truth needs to be told: Israel is the Jewish State and,
actually, it does drop bombs from airplanes decorated with Jewish
symbols, and those planes are flown by Jewish pilots.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued a statement saying
that "it is outrageous that Roger Waters has chosen to use the
juxtaposition of a Jewish Star of David with the symbol of dollar
signs.…the use of such imagery in a concert setting seems to leave the
message open to interpretation, and the meaning could easily be
misunderstood as a comment about Jews and money.”
I am perplexed by Foxman’s comment. There is not actually much room
for interpretation here :the facts are well established. The U.S. is
providing Israel with at least $7.0 million each day. This is a lot of
money -- especially when it converted into bombs and white phosphorus.
The Israeli war crimes are also established : I advise Foxman to read
the Goldstone Report.
"Of course Waters has every right to express his political views
about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through his music and stagecraft.
However, the images he has chosen, when put together in the same
sequence, cross a line into anti-Semitism,” said Foxman, "We wish that
Waters had chosen some other way to convey his political views without
playing into and dredging up the worst age-old anti-Semitic stereotype
about Jews and their supposed obsession with making money."
May I suggest to Foxman and his notorious ADL that the rest of
humanity also has a wish : we want to see an end to the terror imposed
by the Jewish state, in the name of the Jewish people, Foxman included.
We also want to see an end of Jewish institutional pressure being
exercised on so many Western political groups, parties and governments.
If Foxman is really concerned about anti-Semitism, he would do far
better to tackle the real root causes of anti Semitism, by confronting
Israel and its lobbies about their policies, and he might think of
leading world Jewry to do the same.
by Tom Engelhardt
Sometimes it’s the little things in the big stories that catch your eye. On Monday, theWashington Post ran the first of three pieces adapted from Bob Woodward’s new book Obama’s Wars,
a vivid account of the way the U.S. high command boxed the
Commander-in-Chief into the smallest of Afghan corners. As an
illustration, the Post included a graphic the military offered
President Obama at a key November 2009 meeting to review war policy. It
caught in a nutshell the favored “solution” to the Afghan War of those
in charge of fighting it -- Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff, General David Petraeus, then-Centcom commander, General
Stanley McChrystal, then-Afghan War commander, and Secretary of Defense
Robert Gates, among others.
Labeled “Alternative Mission in Afghanistan,” it’s
a classic of visual wish fulfillment. Atop it is a soaring green line
that represents the growing strength of the notoriously underwhelming
“Afghan Forces,” military and police, as they move toward a theoretical
goal of 400,000 -- an unlikely “end state” given present desertion rates.
Underneath that green trajectory of putative success is a modest,
herky-jerky blue curving line, representing the 40,000 U.S. troops
Gates, Petraeus, Mullen, and company were pressuring the president to
surge into Afghanistan.
The eye-catching detail, however, was the dating on the chart.
Sometime between 2013 and 2016, according to a hesitant dotted white
line (that left plenty of room for error), those U.S. surge forces would
be drawn down radically enough to dip somewhere below -- don’t gasp --
the 68,000 level. In other words, three to six years from now, if all
went as planned -- a radical unlikelihood, given the Afghan War so far
-- the U.S. might be back close to the force levels of early 2009,
before the President’s second surge was launched. (When Obama entered
office, there were only 31,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.)
And when would those troops dwindle to near zero? 2019? 2025? The
chart-makers were far too politic to include the years beyond January 1,
2016, so we have no way of knowing. But look at that chart and ask
yourself: Is there any doubt that our high command, civilian and
military, were dreaming of, and most forcefully recommending to the
president, a forever war -- one which the Office of Budget and
Management estimated would cost almost $900 billion?
Of course, as we now know, the military “lost” this battle.
Instead of the 40,000 troops they desired, they “only” got 30,000 from a
frustrated president (plus a few thousand
support troops the Secretary of Defense was allowed to slip in, and
some special operations forces that no one was putting much effort into
counting, and don’t forget those extra troops wrung out of NATO as well
as small allies who, for a price, couldn’t say no -- all of which added
up to a figure suspiciously close to the 10,000 the president had officially denied his war commanders).
When, on December 1, 2009, Barack Obama addressed the cadets of West Point and, through them, the rest of us to announce the second surge
of his presidency, he was at least able to slip in a date to begin a
drawdown of U.S. forces. (“But taken together, these additional
American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing
over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer
of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.”) Hardly a
nanosecond passed, however, before -- first “on background” and soon
enough in public -- administration spokespeople rushed to reassure the
rest of Washington that such a transfer would be “conditions based.”
Given conditions there since 2001, not exactly a reassuring statement.
Meanwhile, days before the speech, Afghan war commander McChrystal
was already hard at work stretching out the time of the drawdown date
the president was still to announce. It would, he claimed
, begin “sometime before 2013.” More recently, deified new Afghan War commander General David Petraeus has repeatedly assured
everyone in sight that none of this drawdown talk will add up to a hill of beans.
by Stephen Lendman
Griffin is Professor of
Philosophy of Religion and Theology, Emeritus, Claremont School of
Theology and Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA where he's
still co-director of the Center for Process Studies.
He's authored and/or
edited three dozen books, mainly in his field, but notably and
heroically on 9/11 truth, Osama bin Laden, and his newest titled,
"Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee's Plan to Undermine the 9/11
Conspiracy Theory." More on it below.
Cass Sunstein is a
well-known University of Chicago and Harvard Law School Professor before
being appointed Obama's Administrator of the White House Office of
Information and Regulatory Affairs, in charge of "overseeing policies
relating to privacy, information quality, and statistical programs,"
among other duties.
Professor, activist, and international law and human rights expert
Francis Boyle said this about both law schools and the University of
Chicago's political science department, steeped in neo-con
"Do not send your children
to the University of Chicago where they will grow up to become
warmongers like (Paul) Wolfowitz and (John) Ashcroft. The University of
Chicago is an intellectual and moral cesspool," referring to its
political science department and law school. Its extremist economics
department is much the same, indoctrinating students with predatory
Boyle's "Harvard's Gitmo Kangaroo Law School: The School for Torturers" article advised:
"Do not send your children
or students to Harvard Law School where they will grow up to become
racist war criminals! Harvard Law School is a Neo-Con cesspool."
"Harvard is to Law School as Torture is to Law."
by William Bowles
It strikes me that we here in the UK have been top dog for so damn long that we've forgotten what it feels like to be an ordinary country, yet the memory lingers on…
"And it is why I will commit to you here and now. My beliefs will run through everything I do. My beliefs, my values are my anchor and when people try to drag me, as I know they will, it is to that sense of right and wrong, that sense of who I am and what I believe, to which I will always hold." -- From Ed's keynote speech at the Labour Party conference.
What beliefs exactly are not spelt out but never mind, just like Tony Blair, fine-sounding words make up for any lack of content. So Ed is just an old-time social democrat after all? Amazing, after thirteen years of neo-Thatcherism, the beaten 'party of labour' all of a sudden rediscovers its 'roots'. Who could trust such people?
If the whole charade wasn't such a miserable and desperate attempt to regain the 'high ground', Labour's attempt to reinvent itself again, it would be nothing short of laughable.
And predictably the media is doing the 'Red Ed' putdown, as the ruling class gets nervous about the possible reactions from 'militants' in the unions who were instrumental in putting Ed in power. So Labour has to tread a narrow and very precarious line between protest and the fear of unleashing 'social unrest' and 'industrial chaos'.
The repeated use of the word “militants” throughout the piece is standard for the business-friendly press. So too is the use of scare words and phrases that are traditional warning signals of the presence of rabid unionists and other undesirables: “threats”, which are sometimes “veiled”, the prospect of “industrial chaos” and, perhaps the worst example in the interview, the fear that “TUC's plan for organised protest” could “play into the hands of those who hijack legitimate demonstrations for their own violent ends”. -- 'Media Alert: “veiled threats” of “industrial chaos"'
So what is 'Not Red Ed' up to? I hazard the following guess: It must have been pretty obvious that Labour would lose the election and having already stated that they would 'put off' cuts in public spending for a coupla years, Ed has predictably attacked the Tory/Lib-Dem govt's plans to scupper our public services.
And it ties in neatly with his trade union backers who are mostly government workers, in fact it makes 'Not Red Ed' look squeaky clean. It's a good move, though as the government has got over four years to wreck everything (if anybody bothers to vote in four and a half years), they'll reelect a Labour government. And then what?
Surely, this Tweedle-Dee, Tweedle-Dum fiasco has gotta end?
by Jim Miles
Dismantling the Empire - America’s Last Best Hope. Chalmers Johnson.
Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt and Company, NY. 2010.
That the empire has caused much trouble and is in trouble itself has been
well documented and well explained by many current authors. Chalmers Johnson,
who wrote Blowback - at the time an unheralded piece of research - and
two more volumes, Sorrows of Empire and Nemesis that became the
Blowback trilogy, has since written a series of essays that are concise, clear,
hard-hitting, and undeniably for Dismantling the Empire.
The essential theme of the book is that the U.S. must dismantle its empire or
face a future of poverty and strife within a divided nation. As these essays
were written over a period of five years, there is some reiteration of
information - particularly on the military bases and their costs and effects on
the economy (not to mention all the other costs to the ‘host’ countries). Yet
that only reinforces the significance of Johnson’s thesis, as the numbers are
somewhat astounding for their significance with both foreign and domestic
policy. As the title indicates, to save the U.S. as a democratic republic, the
empire must be dismantled. If not….
There are three main points that Johnson presents his arguments on:
1) the CIA should be shut down.
2) the overseas military bases need to be dismantled.
3) economy - the pork-barrelling of politicians within the
military-industrial complex also needs to be shut down.
Straight forward. Basic. Logical. Not elegant, but very simple - at least for
conception. If these actions are not taken, Johnson argues, the “long-standing
reliance on imperialism and militarism in our relations with other countries and
the vast, potentially ruinous global empire of bases that goes with it” will
lead to “a devastating trio of consequences: imperial overstretch, perpetual
war, and insolvency, leading to a likely collapse similar to that of the former
For anyone following current events covering the environment, the economy,
and the “war on terror” or the “long war”, these conclusions should be obvious.
The introduction ends, commenting, “None of this [is] inevitable, although it
may [be] unavoidable given the hubris and arrogance of our national leadership.”
The CIA - a private presidential army.
The CIA is covered in three of the essays, two directly related to its
ineptitude. The first essay, “Blowback World,” focuses on events that led into
U.S. involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan, beginning with the CIA’s
introduction into covert actions in Afghanistan six months before the Soviet
invasion. The CIA was supposedly an intelligence gathering and assessment
operation, but included “a vaguely worded passage that allowed the CIA to
“perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the
national security as the National Security Council may form time to time direct”
- that turned the CIA into the personal, secret, unaccountable army of the
by Tom Engelhardt
We know the endpoint of the story: another bestseller for Bob
Woodward, in this case about a president sandbagged by his own high
command and administration officials at one another’s throats over an
inherited war gone wrong. But where did the story actually begin?
Well, here’s the strange thing: in a sense, Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars,
which focuses heavily on an administration review of Afghan war policy
in the fall of 2009, begins with... Woodward. Of course -- thank
heavens for American media amnesia -- amid all the attention his book is
getting, no one seems to recall that part of the tale.
Here it is: President Obama got sandbagged by the leaked release of
what became known as “the McChrystal plan,” a call by his war commander
in the field General Stanley McChrystal (and assumedly the man above
him, then-Centcom Commander General David Petraeus) for a 40,000-troop
counterinsurgency “surge.” As it happened, Bob Woodward, Washington Post
reporter, not bestselling book writer, was assumedly the recipient of
that judiciously leaked plan from a still-unknown figure, generally
suspected of being in or close to the military. On September 21, 2009,
Woodward was the one who then framed the story, writing the first stern front-page piece about
the needs of the U.S. military in Afghanistan. Its headline laid out,
from that moment on, the president’s options: “McChrystal: More Forces
or ‘Mission Failure’” And its first paragraph went this way: “The top
U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential
assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and
bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict ‘will likely
result in failure,’ according to a copy of the 66-page document obtained
by The Washington Post.”
The frustration of a commander-in-chief backed into a corner by his own generals, the angry backbiting Woodward
reportedly reveals in his book, all of it was, at least in part, a
product of that leak and how it played out. In other words, looked at a
certain way, Woodward facilitated the manufacture of the subject for
his own bestseller. A nifty trick for Washington’s leading
The set of leaks -- how appropriate for Woodward -- that were the
drumbeat of publicity for the new book over the last week also offered a
classic outline of just how limited inside-the-Beltway policy options
invariably turn out to be (no matter how fierce the debate about them).
As one Washington Post piece put it:
“[T]he only options that were seriously considered in the White House
involved 30,000 to 40,000 more troops.” All in all, it’s a striking
example of how the system really works, of how incestuously and narrowly
-- to cite the title of Andrew Bacevich’s bestselling new book -- Washington rules. Tom
Prisoners of War
Bob Woodward and All the President’s Men (2010 Edition)
By Andrew J. Bacevich
Once a serious journalist, the Washington Post’s Bob
Woodward now makes a very fine living as chief gossip-monger of the
governing class. Early on in his career, along with Carl Bernstein, his
partner at the time, Woodward confronted power. Today, by relentlessly
exalting Washington trivia, he flatters power. His reporting does not
inform. It titillates.
A new Woodward book, Obama’s Wars, is a guaranteed
blockbuster. It’s out this week, already causing a stir, and guaranteed
to be forgotten the week after dropping off the bestseller lists. For
good reason: when it comes to substance, any book written by Woodward
has about as much heft as the latest potboiler penned by the likes of
James Patterson or Tom Clancy.
Back in 2002, for example, during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Woodward treated us to Bush at War. Based
on interviews with unidentified officials close to President George W.
Bush, the book offered a portrait of the
president-as-resolute-war-leader that put him in a league with Abraham
Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. But the book’s real juice came from
what it revealed about events behind the scenes. “Bush’s war cabinet is
riven with feuding,” reported the Times of
London, which credited Woodward with revealing “the furious arguments
and personal animosity” that divided Bush’s lieutenants.
by Kourosh Ziabari in Iran
Almost 20 years have passed since the conclusion of 20th
century's longest, most erosive war which was brutally imposed on the
defenseless people of Iran by a belligerent and aggressive dictator who
was finally pushed to death by the same people who had once persuaded,
funded, aided and supported him in attacking and invading the new-born Iran of post-revolution days.
expansionistic ambitions of the beloved puppet of the White House who
was granted the honorary citizenship of Detroit as a reward for his
unconditional subservience to the United States, transpired to be a
deadly pandemic which claimed the lives of more than 400,000 innocent
Iranians who witnessed the most breathtaking years the country had
the intention of revitalizing the forgotten pan-Arabist sentiments of
the 1950s, confronting an emerging Shiite power in the Persian Gulf
region and taking over some of the strategic parts of Iran including the
Arab-speaking province of Khuzestan and the triple islands of Abu Musa,
Lesser Tunb and Greater Tunb which were handed over to Iran 9 years
earlier in a trilateral agreement between Iran, the protectorate of Ras
Al-Khaimah and the representatives of British forces in the Persian
Gulf, Saddam Hussein unilaterally nullified the 1975 Algiers Agreement
in 1980 and attacked Iran.
that time, he was enormously supported by the United States and its
European allies who had seen the post-revolutionary Iran an ideological
threat to their liberal democratic values and feared of the growing
embrace of Islam by the international community that was inspired and
attracted by the charisma of Iran's revolutionary leader, Imam Khomeini.
the victory of 1979 Islamic Revolution which put an end to the era of
U.S.-backed monarchy in Iran, White House frantically realized that it
had lost its stooge in the Middle East, so it should have replaced Shah
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi with an ambitious leader whose greed for power
could serve the interests of Washington in the region. Consequently, the
United States backed Saddam Hussein in bringing down President Ahmed
Hassan al-Bakr, as it had done the same in coup against Abd
al-Karim Qasim by entrusting Hussein the mission to assassinate the
Iraqi Prime Minister. The assassination plan was designed with the
cooperation of the CIA and Egyptian intelligence. Although the
22-year-old Saddam failed to kill the Prime Minister on October 7, 1959,
he was killed in a February 1963 Baath Party coup.
the case of confrontation with Iran, Washington did not spare any
effort to support the Iraqi dictator who was armed by the United States
to the teeth. In order to strengthen Saddam Hussein in war with Iran
which started in 1980, the U.S. State Department first removed the name
of Iraq from its list of state sponsors of international terrorism in
this point onward, United States took several steps to normalize its
already strained relations with Iraq. One of these steps was pressuring
the Export-Import Bank of the United States to provide Iraq with
financing, enhancing its credit standing and enabling Baqdad to obtain
loans from other international financial institutions.
by Matthew Nasuti
A gunman fired a few cents worth of AK-47 rounds at the U.S. Marines and
in response the Marines probably fired $10,000.00 in mortar rounds that
all missed their target, yet killed an innocent. This incident could
sum up the entire Afghan war and helps explain why American efforts have
On July 28, 2010, reckless mortar fire by U.S. Marines ended the life of
a 14 year old Afghan girl named Gul Makay. Her name مکئ ګل is that of
the heroine in the famous Pashtun folk tale of Musa Khan. The Marine
unit, according to Time Magazine’s Adam Ferguson, was the 3rd Battalion,
6th Marine Regiment. The location was the “liberated” Afghan district
town of Marjah in Helmond Province. The Marines had been fired upon by a
lone gunman 250 meters away in what appears to be a semi-residential
area. In response, the Marines radioed for indirect fire support. A
nearby outpost thereafter fired an unknown number of mortar rounds into
the area. The suppression fire apparently chased away the gunman but
killed Gul Makay.
Similarly, on March 24, 2010, the Taliban attacked an American outpost
in Ali Sher District, Khost Province. In response, the Americans fired
mortars, one of which hit a home in Chargoti village, killing a teenage
couple and injuring a man, his wife and two of his children. [reported
by the Afghan women’s network - RAWA]. The Wiki-leaks documents reveal
other incidents of civilians being killed by errant U.S. mortars, the
total number of such deaths being unknown. In each incident, there is no
press release by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
There is never any apparent official investigation and no apparent
discipline or courts-martial of the military members involved. The
pattern just continues to replicate in another part of Afghanistan.
The culprit is the “mortar.” The mortar is by definition an
indiscriminate weapon. It began its life as simply a tube from which a
shell or rocket is launched... some mortars in use in Afghanistan today are just as crude and
inaccurate as those used 60 years ago during the Second World War.
It is difficult to determine exactly how inaccurate these weapons are.
There is some data that the American M252 81mm mortar may have a CEP of
130 or more meters. (CEP stands for Circular Error Probable). What this
number means is that out of ten mortar rounds fired, at least five will
likely land within 130 meters of the target and five statistically will
land outside this circle. In residential areas this level of inaccuracy
for high explosive rounds equates with indiscriminate fire, which would
be a violation of the rules of war. Military weapons are considered
indiscriminate if they are either significantly inaccurate (and
therefore are just as likely to kill civilians as the enemy) or have the
potential to produce unnecessary civilian casualties. (see the Hague
by Stephen Lendman
On September 21, the UN
Human Rights Council's independent fact finding Committee issued its
report titled, "No Safe Place," assessing "investigat(ions) and
report(s) on violations of human rights law and international
humanitarian law during" Operation Cast Lead. Its members included:
-- Professor John Dugard, Chairman, former UN Special Human Rights Rapporteur for Occupied Palestine;
-- Norwegian Judge Finn Lynghjem;
-- Chilean attorney Gonzalo Boye;
-- Professor Corte-Real, a forensic body damage evaluator; and
-- solicitor Ms. Raelene Sharp.
On February 21, it held an
initial meeting with the Arab League's Secretary-General in Cairo, then
entered Gaza the next day through the Rafah crossing. The Palestinian
Centre for Human Rights organized its six day visit with a wide range of
persons, including Cast Lead victims, witnesses, doctors, lawyers,
journalists, business people, and members of NGOs, UN agencies and
Sites visited included
hospitals, schools, universities, mosques, businesses, police stations,
government buildings, UN facilities, private homes, and agricultural
lands - all devastated by destruction or damage.
Three times the Committee
requested Israeli cooperation, getting no response. "The Committee
regrets the decision of the Government of Israel to withhold
cooperation." It also stonewalled the Goldstone Commission, as it always
does to prevent independent investigations from exposing its crimes.
internationally recognized standards, the report documents the injuries
suffered and their alleged causes." The Committee obtained firsthand
evidence of great loss of life and injuries in Gaza, as well as the vast
amount of destruction, mostly affecting civilians, their homes,
neighborhoods, and other non-military facilities - a clear violation of
international law, documented clearly in earlier articles.
by James McEnteer
Today is sunny and warm
where I happen to be, with a light breeze, perfect for riding bikes
with the dogs, enjoying a cool swim and eating lunch outside under
the trees. But for thirty-three Chilean miners trapped more than two
thousand feet below the earth's surface since August 5, it's been
fifty-odd days since they've seen sunlight or taken a breath of fresh
air. Alive and uninjured, they can now communicate with their
families and get food. But they are trapped.
Rescuers say it may be
Christmas – three more months – before they can drill a hole wide
enough to pull the men one by one up to the surface. Three
simultaneous drilling operations are under way, attempting to rescue
the miners sooner. Some of them appear emotional on camera,
irritable and rebellious. When their request for wine was refused,
the miners complained. Some are reportedly riding mining machinery
“recklessly” in the tunnels. It's hard to blame them.
Not long after falling rock
trapped the miners in Chile, motorists heading into Beijing on a
major highway from Inner Mongolia became snarled in a monster traffic
jam that lasted ten days and stretched sixty miles. Truckers hauling
coal from Mongolia crowd the G110 Highway because it has no coal
checkpoints. So they don't need to bribe inspectors to ignore their
illegal loads. A few accidents and breakdowns helped create the
longest traffic jam ever (so far). The trapped truckers had to pay
roadside entrepreneurs nasty marked-up prices for their survival
staples of noodles, cigarettes and amphetamines, a capitalist coup.
Anyone who has ever spent a motionless hour in commuter traffic can
only sympathize with the horror of a ten-day stall.
Before you shake your head
and say, too bad for them, at least it's not us... Wait. We may not
be hung up in a Chilean copper mine or a Chinese traffic jam, but
we're stuck just the same in our own intractable dilemmas, like Iraq
and Afghanistan. President Obama claims the fifty thousand U.S.
soldiers still on the ground in Iraq are “non-combat” troops. But that
only proves we're still stuck with public officials who will
say anything, true or not, despite the rhetoric of “hope” and
“change.” Mission accomplished again? Same mission, equally
Every occupation of
Afghanistan has failed, but the U.S. feels exempt from history.
Exceptional. We've been there nine years already with no end in
sight, Since we lack any defined goals, we have no idea what
“victory” in Afghanistan might look like. So year after year we
kill more Afghani civilians and sacrifice more American soldiers
for... what, exactly?
We are stuck with a
militaristic foreign policy. We pursue global military dominance as
our tattered social safety nets fail to relieve the desperate
conditions millions of our citizens must now endure. We are stuck
with an unworkable capitalist model. But the tiny percentage of the
ultra-wealthy who control our media and our government like it this
way. They're doing better despite the widespread suffering. To
consider another economic system is Unimaginable! UnAmerican! Our
dysfunctional “freedom from government” is tops in the world. No?
Nobody – rich or poor –
wants to pay taxes so public services are deteriorating and
disappearing. Our roads are bad. Our schools are worse. Our
libraries and police departments are underfunded. Occasional acts of
billionaire noblesse oblige – Zuckerberg
to Newark! Gates pledges billions against AIDS! – make
headlines and substitute for sustainable public policy planning.
California spends more for prisons than for education. That's
by William Bowles
Peak Oil? Why not Peak Water, after all, water is much more crucial
to life than oil ever will be and it's being consumed in vast quantities
by the same economic system that chows oil?
In fact, water is a far more potent and relevant symbol of the way
capitalism chows the planet than is oil. Although it too is a finite
resource, it also a renewable resource through the process of recycling,
something that is done by nature in another of its amazing cycles that
keep (kept?) the biosphere stable; what we call homeostasis where life,
chemistry, physics and geology all meet. Water is thus far more symbolic
of the irrationality of capitalist production than is oil, where even a
renewable resource is consumed by capitalism.
This is why I just cannot get my head around the fact some on the
left (who I think should know better) are buying into the 'peak oil' BS.
'Running out of oil' is essentially a problem for capitalism,
but not for you and me. In fact, 'running out of oil' maybe a blessing
in disguise. Just think, we could once again be living in a world without plastic bags!
Clearly, oil and gas are non-renewable resources but then so is
every other element, mixture and compound present on Earth. What
makes oil so important is its centrality to capitalist production and
especially its ability to wage war, that's why there's all the fuss
about it. But why has the left bought into this 'peak oil' BS?
I suspect that part of the problem lies with the ideological position
on the left that on the one hand rightly opposes consumerism, a way of
life that ultimately consumes everything, with the much more
difficult problem of posing an alternative. Oil has become symbolic of
the capitalist way of life, yet it's ridiculous to advocate that we stop
using oil, at least in the short term. The real question is how it
should be consumed and critically who decides?
It also has to be accepted that we who live in the West have adsorbed
the ideology of Empire and this includes those of us on the left, who
assume that the nature and quantity of their consumption is
non-negotiable, unless of course capitalism does it for them.
Sure, we could 'run out of oil', but so what? We're also 'running
out' of helium. But let me rephrase this: we're running out of economically viable sources of oil. And by economically viable, they mean profitable to extract, not that there's a shortage.
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