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Wed

18

Jul

2007

“What are we supposed to do with our Dead”: Odds n’ Ends in the War on Terror
Wednesday, 18 July 2007 11:07
by Mike Whitney

Part 1: Bush to Putin: "Let them eat cake"

Much has been made of the chummy relationship between George Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin. An incident — which was reported last week in the "UK Spectator" — shows that this so-called "man-to-man" friendship is a complete fraud created by the Washington press corps to conceal the real issues and to perpetuate the illusion that Bush is a normal guy.

You be the judge:

"Six years ago, when George W. Bush first hosted Mr Putin at his ranch in Texas, he famously claimed to have seen into his soul. At the time he phrased it slightly differently to an adviser, unaware that his microphone was still live and his remarks were being broadcast over the speaker system in the next room. 'I’ve got him eating out of my hand,’ the President whispered. 'You give these Russkies some cake and they’ll give you their souls.’ (Fraser Nelson "The Cold War is back" UK Spectator)
Spoken like a true friend, eh?

Part 2: Israel's Friends on the Hill

For readers who may have missed the recent events on Capital Hill, there was this interesting tidbit which appeared The Jerusalem Post:
"The US House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday afternoon condemning a British call to boycott Israeli universities. The measure, approved 414 to 0, urged the European Union and governments around the world to reject the call by the leadership of the University and College Union of the United Kingdom to cease cooperation with Israeli institutions".
Always nice to see diversity of opinion on these key humanitarian issues, isn’t it? Congress has been equally supportive of the punitive measures which have prevented food and medicine from entering the Gaza Strip in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Congress has no problem approving "collective punishment" or any other internationally-condemned behavior as long as it serves the greater interests of Israel. Ironically, you would never see such unanimity on any issue among the members of the Israeli Knesset.

Part 3: Iranian Jews would rather stay in Iran?!?

An article which appeared last week in the UK Guardian is intriguing in many respects:
"Iran's Jews have given the country a loyalty pledge in the face of cash offers aimed at encouraging them to move to Israel, the arch-enemy of its Islamic rulers. The incentives — ranging from £5,000 a person to £30,000 for families — were offered from a special fund established by wealthy expatriate Jews in an effort to prompt a mass migration to Israel from among Iran's 25,000-strong Jewish community. The offers were made with Israel's official blessing and were additional to the usual state packages it provides to Jews emigrating from the Diaspora."
The treatment of Jews in Iran presents a shocking contrast to the way Palestinians are treated in the Occupied Territories. As the Guardian notes, there are roughly 25,000 Jews in Iran and they seem to be quite happy despite allegations in the western press that their president is a raving anti-Semite. Could it just be another example of the media demonizing someone who dares to control his country’s own vast resources?

Who knows? But Iranian Jews certainly have not suffered the daily brutality that Palestinians have in the Occupied Territories.

Jewish Iranians were declared a "protected minority" by the late Ayatollah Khomeini. They are not persecuted. They do not have to endure humiliating checkpoints and they are not dragged off to prison and tortured without charges. Their homes are not randomly bulldozed, F-16s do not fire missiles into their civilian areas and they are not treated as second class citizens. Compared to Gaza, Iran is Nirvana. In Tehran there are 6 kosher butcher shops, numerous Jewish schools, and a number of temples.

For the most part, they are loyal Iranians who love their country and are determined to stay. The worrisome implication of the Guardian’s article is that it suggests that Israel may be planning an attack on Iran — in which case they may be hurrying to evacuate Jews from Tehran.

Part 4: If Iran is Attacked, will anyone Help? If the United States attacks Iran preemptively (a third carrier moved into the Gulf just last week) how would the other nations react?

We don’t know — but we do know that the signatories of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty do have certain obligations. As Gordon Prather points out in his article "More Neocrazy Media Sycophancy" (antiwar.com)
"The [Sixth] Conference notes the reaffirmation by the nuclear-weapon states of their commitment to the United Nations Security Council resolution 984 (1995) on security assurances for non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons." (excerpt from the 2000 NPT Review Conference)
So, what does that mean?

As Prather says:
"Well, basically Russia and China, as well as France and the United Kingdom, will "provide immediate assistance" to Iran if it "is a victim of an act, or an object of a threat of, aggression in which nuclear weapons are used."
Interesting, eh? So if Bush-Cheney bomb Iran, the other NPT members are required under international law TO DEFEND IRAN. That might be worth a follow-up to see if they honor that commitment.

Part 5 : Russia Redux

This week Russian President Putin suspended his country's participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty, a pact which limited military forces in Europe. Putin's withdrawal is a response to Bush’s plan to put US Missile Defense systems in Eastern Europe which poses a threat to Russia's national security.

By repealing the treaty, Putin is free to move troops, tanks and heavy artillery back into the de-militarized zone along Russia’s western flank. This is bound to rouse the anxieties of peace-loving Euopeons. At the same time, Putin is threatening to place short-range nuclear missiles in Kallingrad a small Russian-owned province just north of Poland. The EU and NATO will now have to decide whether they want to go ahead with Washington’s provocative missile defense scheme or reestablish peaceful relations with the nation that provides 40% of their energy supplies. That shouldn’t be a difficult choice unless the Germans and French choose to live in the dark like Baghdadis.

Putin will continue to tighten the noose until Bush publicly abandons his reckless plans. Realistically, the Russian president has no other option. He cannot allow the MDS to be deployed.

On a related topic:
"Putin (recently) tested a weapon deadlier than anything developed by the Soviet Union. A missile launched from a submarine in the White Sea entered the stratosphere and returned precisely on target 3,800 miles away in the Russian Far East — the other side of the world. …It signaled that Russia means business. After a hiatus of two decades, the arms race is back. (Fraser Nelson "The Cold War is back" UK Spectator)
Putin has succeeded in building strong alliances with his Central Asian neighbors through the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as well as consolidating the vast deposits of natural gas and oil which are mainly transported through Russian pipelines. He is no longer the "junior partner" that Washington had hoped for originally. Instead, has become the "Glavny protivnik", the "main enemy" of the empire encroaching on the last reserves of dwindling energy supplies in Eurasia while rebuilding his military power.

We should expect a steady escalation in the rhetoric and threats.

Part 6: Iran forces Japan to pay in yen

This week, "Iran asked Japan refiners to switch to the yen to pay for all crude oil purchases, after Iran’s central bank said it is reducing its holdings of the US dollar." (Bloomberg News) . The new arrangement will be "effective immediately" leaving Japan — which is 100% dependent on foreign imports for its oil—with no opportunity to negotiate.

Iran’s move is a "double whammy" for the US. It puts more downward pressure on the already-weakening dollar and it increases the value of the yen which is vital to stock market liquidity.

This is a smart move on Iran’s part. While Cheney is moving his aircraft carriers into the Gulf and conducting guerilla operations inside Iran, the Mullahs have concocted a plan to strike at America’s most vulnerable spot — the anemic greenback.

The Japanese have been manipulating their currency for years to increase their exports and keep the Japanese worker in a permanent state of poverty. The world’s second biggest economy serves as Wall Street’s banker providing tens of trillions in cheap loans to keep the over-leveraged stock market flying high. Last February, when Japan raised its rates overnight, Wall Street plummeted 500 points in a matter of minutes. The US stock market is addicted to regular infusions of cheap Japanese capital and can’t survive without it.

Europac’s Peter Schiff sums it up like this:
"The Japanese realize that if they stop the flow of global liquidity they will destroy the dollar and the U.S. economy. To survive, the U.S. must be able to both limitlessly exchange the dollars it prints for the goods the rest of the world makes and then pay low rates of interest on its IOU’s that foreigners accumulate as a result…A real rate of interest on the yen would reverse the carry trade by creating demand for Japanese assets and diminishing demand for dollar denominated assets. Such a move would simultaneously send U.S. interest rates and consumer prices thought the roof and stock and real estate prices through the floor. The entire U.S. consumer economy would collapse and Americans would experience the greatest period of economic hardship since the Great Depression."
That’s the long and short of it: if the yen goes up (causing the "carry trade" to unwind) liquidity will dry up, panic will set in, and the stock market will crash.

Iran’s announcement was lost in the flurry of Iraq-related news, but it is a serious development all the same. It adds to the growing list of problems facing the rickety US economy. As the Bush-Paulson plan to devalue the dollar goes into high-gear: its shortcomings are becoming more obvious. More and more countries are trimming their USD reserves — converting to the euro and buying gold—and its becoming clearer that the US will lose its special role as the world’s "reserve currency". Soon, the $550 billion of borrowed money which fuels the American war-machine — via the $800 billion current account deficit — will peter out forcing the US to rebuild its hobbled manufacturing sector to create an export-based economy. The slowdown in the purchase of dollar-based assets has already begun. On top of that, Uncle Sam is no longer a credit-worthy applicant.

Putin has been leading the attack on the dollar seeing it as the best way to undermine Bush’s military shenanigans. Elaine Supkis makes this illuminating entry on her blog site "Money Matters":
"Russia has been examining plans to price the Urals oil export blend in rubles to curb currency risks. The nation plans to open the Energy Stock Exchange in St. Petersburg in the first half of next year to trade oil in rubles."

Iran is following a similar strategy, threatening to open an oil bourse sometime in the next year. (although the "kick off" date keeps changing) The days of dollar hegemony are numbered.


Part 7: Iraqi Child Prostitution on the rise:

MSNBC has come up with a video of Iraqi women who have been forced into prostitution to survive as refugees in Syria. Bush’s "Democratic Revolution" in Iraq has produced some dismal results, but the story of young girls—some only 6 years old — being exploited takes the cake. It is both appalling and heartbreaking. The video is served up with typical western-media cynicism — as though America played no part in this latest horror story from Iraq.

{flv}http://www.msnbc.msn.com/default.cdnx/id/19698074/displaymode/1157/?t=.flv{/flv}

Part 8: Another Journalist Killed in Iraq under suspicious circumstances

In an article by veteran author Chris Floyd ("One in a Million: More on the killing of Khalid Hassan") we hear about the killing of New York Times reporter Khalid Hassan, in Baghdad. Hassan will join the more than one hundred other journalists who have been shot dead during the US-led occupation.

Floyd says:

"He was apparently gunned down by militiamen after his car had been diverted into the backstreets by an American roadblock. It was a two-stage hit: he was forced off the road by a black Mercedes and shot, but survived. As he was calling his mother to say that he was OK, a second car came along, carrying a gunman who shot Hassan twice more and killed him. NY Times reporter "Burns notes that Shiite extremists have been entering Hassan's district in police uniforms, then changing into mufti to carry out their killings. Thus they are almost certainly Iraqi policemen who have been TRAINED, ARMED AND PAID BY AMERICAN FORCES."
'nuff said.

Part 9: Al Qaida: "They’re Everywhere!"

In a White House speech this week, President Bush reiterated his pet fantasy that we are fighting "the same people" in Iraq who attacked the Twin Towers on September 11. This isn't a theme that Bush is likely to abandon as it provides the last, feeble justification for the ongoing-blitz in Iraq.

There was a good article in the LA Times by Ned Parker which helps to shed some light on the "miniscule" role of foreign fighters in Iraq.

Parker states: "Of the 19,000 "insurgents" held by the US military in Iraq, only 135 are foreigners."

In other words, al Qaida is just not a significant part of the so-called "insurgency". In fact, only 7% of detainees are foreign fighters.

The US is fighting a Sunni-led army of resistance in Iraq. They are not allied to Bin Laden or al Qaida.

So, which country is providing most of the foreign suicide bombers?

Saudi Arabia. (Although no one in the Bush administration has called for bombing Riyadh!)

Repeat: There is no significant cadre of foreign "al-Qaeda" fighters in Iraq …"Everything Bush and Cheney have said about the nature of the war and the supposed dangers of a US withdrawal is transparent falsehood." ( http://www.juancole.com/)

Is that like a lie?

Part 10: Bombs Away: Beefing up the air war

The Associated Press reported this week that the Air Force is building up its force-capability in Iraq. According to Charles Hanley, the Air Force
"sharply stepped up bombing and laid a foundation for a sustained air campaign in support of American and Iraqi forces….Squadrons of attack planes have been added to the in-country fleet. The air reconnaissance arm has almost doubled since last year. The powerful B1-B bomber has been recalled to action over Iraq.

"The night before last we had 14 strikes from B-1 bombers. Last night we had 18 strikes by B-1 bombers," Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch said approvingly of air support his 3rd Infantry Division received in a recent offensive south of Baghdad".
This tells us everything we need to know about Bush's future plans for Iraq. B-1 bombers are not used for pinpoint attacks on "terrorist strongholds". That’s bullsh**. They are used for carpet-bombing and vast indiscriminate destruction which invariably causes massive civilian casualties.

The statistics confirm this assertion. There’s been a fivefold increase of bombs dropped over the first half of 2006 which proves that civilian carnage has not deterred the military from trying to "pacify" the Iraqi people through vicious, unrelenting bombardment.

The article continues:
""The Air Force sent a squadron of A-10 "Warthog" attack planes - a dozen or more aircraft - to be based at Al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq. At the same time it added a squadron of F-16C Fighting Falcons here at Balad." Air operations are constant with "more than 100 aircraft crisscrossing Iraqi air space at any one time."
As Bush is forced to reduce troop deployments, the "air surge" will continue into the foreseeable future — poisoning the country with depleted uranium, killing and maiming tens of thousands of civilians, and further reducing Iraq’s infrastructure into rubble.

The Democrats fully support this bloody "scorched earth" policy.


Part 11: A Word from one of the Victims

Iraqi blogger and poet Layla Anwar manages to express what many of us feel about this ghastly war, but are unable to state in words. Here is a short passage from a recent piece called "Some Thoughts on Forgiveness" Layla Anwar)
"What are we supposed to do with our dead ones, our injured ones, our memories, our lost hopes, our vanished dreams? What are we supposed to do with our exile, our losses, our uprootedness?

Christ was crucified once. He was able to forgive. But you are crucifying us daily.

So how do I forgive?"
God help us for what we have done to the Iraqi people.
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