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Mosaic News – 3/28/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad

Warning

.

This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war/violence and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

linktv

For more: http://linktv.org/originalseries
“Charge of the Night” Operation Continues in Basra,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Iran to Mediate between Sadr & Iraqi Government,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Mass Demonstrations in Sadr City,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Al Sadr Blames Government for Violence,” Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq
“British Apologize to an Iraqi Family,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Israel Evicts Palestinian Families from Jerusalem,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Several Arab Leaders Missed the Arab Summit in Damascus,” IBA TV, Israel
“Iraqi and Yemeni Governments Support Summit,” Syria TV, Syria
“March Coalition: Arab Summit Will Fail,” NBN TV, Lebanon
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

from www.youtube.com posted with vodpod

.

Hope Abandoned: Obama Stands Up for Murder & Plunder by Chris Floyd

Dandelion Salad

by Chris Floyd
Empire Burlesque
Monday, 31 March 2008

Well, it doesn’t really get much plainer than this, does it? From AP:

Obama Aligns Foreign Policy with GOP
Sen. Barack Obama said Friday he would return the country to the more “traditional” foreign policy efforts of past presidents, such as George H.W. Bush, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

At a town hall event at a local high school gymnasium, Obama praised George H.W. Bush — father of the president — for the way he handled the Persian Gulf War: with a large coalition and carefully defined objectives. Obama began a six-day bus tour through Pennsylvania, the largest remaining primary prize in the contest with Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton…

“The truth is that my foreign policy is actually a return to the traditional bipartisan realistic policy of George Bush’s father, of John F. Kennedy, of, in some ways, Ronald Reagan….”

Obama is doing two things here, reaching out to two very different audiences, on different wavelengths. First, for the hoi polloi, he is simply pandering in the most shameless way imaginable, throwing out talismans for his TV-addled audience to comfort themselves with: “You like JFK? I’ll be like him! You like Reagan? I’ll be like him too! You like the first George Bush? Hey, I’ll be just like him as well!” This is a PR tactic that goes all the way back to St. Paul the spinmeister, who boasted of his ability to massage his message and “become all things to all men.” Obama has long proven himself a master of this particular kind of political whoredom — much like Bill Clinton, in fact, another champion of “bipartisan foreign policy” who for some strange reason got left off Obama’s list of role models.

But beyond all the rubes out there, Obama is also signaling to the real masters of the United States, the military-corporate complex, that he is a “safe pair of hands” — a competent technocrat who won’t upset the imperial applecart but will faithfully follow the 60-year post-war paradigm of leaving “all options on the table” and doing “whatever it takes” to keep the great game of geopolitical dominance going strong.

What other conclusion can you draw from Obama’s reference to these avatars, and his very pointed identification with them? He is saying, quite clearly, that he will practice foreign policy just as they did. And what they do? Committed, instigated, abetted and countenanced a relentless flood of crimes, murders, atrocities, deceptions, corruptions, mass destruction and state terrorism.

Obama is telling us — and the war-profiteering powers-that-be — that he will give us “realistic policies” like those of John Kennedy. These include his steady march into the quagmire of Vietnam, and the backing of a deadly coup in Saigon to replace one brutal junta with another; greenlighting successful coups in Guyana, the Dominican Republic and Iraq, where the CIA helped the Baath Party come to power; greenlighting the spectacularly unsuccessful Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba, not to mention the terrorist operations and assassination attempts there. As Edward Jay Epstein noted (in John Kennedy Jr.’s magazine George, of all places):

While the Mafia continued its unsuccessful machinations, John F. Kennedy became President and, in April 1961, launched the Bay of Pigs invasion, an attack on a swamp in Cuba by CIA-trained Cuban exiles that ended in disaster. Furious at this humiliating failure, Kennedy summoned Richard Bissell, the head of the CIA’s covert operations, to the Cabinet Room and chided him for “sitting on his ass and not doing anything about getting rid of Castro and the Castro regime” (as Bissell recalled). Richard Helms, who succeeded Bissell, also felt “white heat,” as he put it, from the Kennedys to get rid of Castro.

By then, the Kennedys had set up their own covert structure for dealing with the Castro problem the Special Group Augmented, which Attorney General Robert Kennedy and General Maxwell Taylor effectively ran and which, in November 1961, launched a secret war against the Castro regime, codenamed Operation Mongoose. Secretary of Defense Robert Strange McNamara, who was not a formal member of this group but attended meetings, later testified: “We were hysterical about Castro at about the time of the Bay of Pigs and thereafter. And there was pressure from JFK and RFK to do something about Castro.” It was a “no holds barred” enterprise, as Helms termed it, for which the Special Group Augmented assigned such “planning tasks” as using biological and chemical warfare against Cuban sugar workers; employing Cuban gangsters to kill Cuban police officials, Soviet bloc technicians, and other targeted people; using agents to sabotage mines; and, in what was called Operation Bounty, paying cash bonuses of up to $100,000 for the murder or abduction of government officials.

More of this kind of thing, then, from Obama when he reaches the White House?

As for his other two foreign policy mentors, Reagan and Bush I, the rap sheet is far too long for even a brief accounting here. (And indeed, I’ve spent much of the past seven years detailing many of these crimes in various venues — because they involved so many of the same players now spewing filth and blood from the current administration.) We could begin, I suppose, with Reagan and Bush’s act of treason in negotiating with Iranian hostage-takers in 1980 to ensure that Teheran would not release the American captives at the U.S. embassy before the November election; in return, Reagan and Bush pledged to provide cash and military hardware to the extremist mullahs, which they duly did. (See here, and here.)

Or we could cite Reagan’s ardent support for mass-murdering militarist regimes in Central and South America; the arming and funding of the Contra insurgent army in Nicaragua, which received CIA training in terrorist tactics. Or the Iran-Contra affair, which saw Reagan and Bush ship weapons to the extremist Iranian regime in return for cash which they then gave to their Contra terrorist militia, in flagrant violation of the law. Or Reagan’s stupid and pointless invasion of Grenada, which he undertook solely to cover up the embarrassment of his stupid and pointless intervention in Lebanon, where 241 American soldiers were killed after having been dropped into the middle of a multi-sided civil war. Or Reagan’s vast expansion of a policy begun under Jimmy Carter of arming, funding, training and organizing a global network of violent Islamic extremists — a “foreign policy” masterstroke that is still paying dividends today. (Quite literally paying dividends for investors in the defense, security and military servicing industries.)

But at least Obama did qualify his embrace of Reagan’s traditional and realistic bipartisan foreign policy, saying that he would emulate “some” of Reagan’s approaches. So maybe he will skip on the election-fixing treason and go for supporting mass-murdering militarist regimes instead? Or are we being too cynical? Perhaps Obama means he will follow in the footsteps of some of Reagan’s more merciful and reconciliatory policies — such as the time the Great Communicator laid a wreath at a cemetery where Nazi SS soldiers lie in honored burial: a clear signal from the U.S. president to these dead mass-murderers that “all is forgiven” at last.

Obama offers no qualification at all to his championing of George Herbert Walker Bush however. Indeed, his was the first name uttered in the paean to bipartisan foreign policy. But here too one quails (and Quayles) at the prospect of toting up the high crimes and monstrous follies of this “traditional realist” whom Obama promises to emulate. Should we start with Bush’s arming and funding of Saddam Hussein — long after the latter “gassed his own people” — and Bush’s later perversion of the legal process to cover up his largess to the dictator? Or Bush’s pointless and unnecessary invasion of Panama, which killed hundreds if not thousands of innocent people and drove at least 20,000 people from their homes, all to remove a long-time U.S. intelligence “asset,” Manuel Noriega, who in the 1970s received fat payments of bribes from the director of the CIA — one George Herbert Walker Bush?

Or perhaps we should follow Obama’s example and point to “the way [Bush] handled the Persian Gulf War.” Yes, let’s take a closer look at that, since Obama clearly sees it as a model for his own presidency. Here’s an excerpt from an earlier piece, Scar Tissue: How the Bushes Brought Bedlam to Iraq (where you will also find much more on Bush’s backroom tryst with Saddam):

Then came Bush’s “Gulf War,” when he turned on his protégé after Saddam made the foolish move of threatening the Kuwaiti royals – Bush’s long-time business partners [in the oil business], going back to the early 1960s. Saddam’s conflict with Kuwait centered on two main issues: first, his claim that the billions of dollars Kuwait had given Iraq during the war with Iran was simply straightforward aid to the nation that was defending the Sunni Arab world from the aggressive onslaught of the Shiite Persians. The Kuwaitis insisted the money had been a loan, and demanded that Saddam pay off. There was also Saddam’s claim that Kuwait was “slant-drilling” into Iraqi oilfields, siphoning off underground reserves from across the border. These disputes raged for months; a deal to resolve them was brokered by the Arab League, but fell apart at the last minute when Kuwait suddenly rejected the agreement, saying, “We will call in the Americans.”

How worried was Bush about the situation? Let’s look at the historical record. In the two weeks before the invasion of Kuwait, Bush approved the sale of an additional $4.8 million in “dual-use” technology to factories identified by the CIA as linchpins of Hussein’s illicit nuclear and biochemical programs, the Los Angeles Times reports. The day before Saddam sent his tanks across the border, Bush obligingly sold him more than $600 million worth of advanced communications technology. A week later, he was declaring that his long-time ally was “worse than Hitler.”

Yes, the Kuwaitis had called in their marker. Like a warlord of old, Bush used the US military as a private army to help his business partners. After an extensive bombing campaign that openly – even gleefully – mocked international law in its targeting of civilian infrastructure (a tactic repeated in Serbia by Bill Clinton – now regarded as an “adopted son” by Bush), the brief 100-hour ground war slaughtered fleeing Iraqi conscripts by the thousands – while, curiously, allowing Saddam’s crack troops, the aptly-named Republican Guard, to escape unharmed. Later, these troops were used to kill tens of thousands of Shiites who had risen in rebellion against Saddam – at the specific instigation of George Bush, who not only abandoned them to their fate, but specifically allowed Saddam to use his attack helicopters against the rebels, and also ordered US troops to block Shiites from gaining access to arms caches. It was one of the worst, most murderous betrayals in modern history – and has been almost entirely expunged from the American memory.

Then came the Carthaginian “peace” of the victors – Iraq sown with the salt of sanctions, which led to the unnecessary death of at least 500,000 children, according to UN’s conservative estimates. The sanction regime actually strengthened Saddam’s grip on Iraqi society, as the ravaged people were reduced to surviving on government handouts of food….


Yes, these are truly worthy examples of the kind of traditional, realistic, bipartisan foreign policy that we need more of. And my stars, isn’t that Obama a breath of fresh air, promising to take us back to that golden age of yore!

Next up: “Sen. Barack Obama said today that he would appoint Supreme Court Justices ‘like John Roberts, Samuel Alito and, in some ways, Antonin Scalia,’ in ‘a return to a more traditional, realistic, bipartisan judicial philosophy…..'”

P.S. We’ve said it before and no doubt we’ll say it again: an Obama presidency, like a H. Clinton presidency, will mean some measure of genuine mitigation of some of the worst depredations of the Bush Regime. There’s no question about that. But no one who openly embraces the foreign policy of Ronald Reagan and George Bush I, or John F. Kennedy for that matter, is going to change in any substantial way the militarist-corporate machine that has already destroyed our democracy, gutted our Constitution, corrupted our system beyond all measure (and probably beyond all repair), and killed – and keeps on killing – hundreds of thousands of innocent people, decade after decade. Given this fact, every American voter must decide, in his or her own conscience, this question: Should I act to mitigate some small measure of the mass suffering wrought by this machine; or does that action, that participation, merely legitimize the machine, and strengthen it?

That is the only question at issue in this election. For none of the prospective presidents offer any hope – audacious or otherwise – of any kind of root-and-branch reform of the imperial system, which will continue to grind on — in its traditional, realistic, bipartisan way.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Interview: Ralph Nader Says We’re Living Under Corporate Fascism (link)

The Decriminalization of Corporate Crime

Dandelion Salad

By Stanley Kutler
truthdig.com
Mar 29, 2008

With our economic and financial crises deepening, government insiders reportedly are debating whether we need to restore some regulation—or not. Given the state of things, we can expect further woes and no regulation.

Why have regulation when JPMorgan can gobble up Bear Stearns for peanuts, with the backstage encouragement and acquiescence of the Federal Reserve Board? The Fed’s concern for the big investors is no surprise, and it needed no cue from John McCain to reject any thoughts of helping the victims of the banks’ sting operations. Meanwhile, JPMorgan has offered bonuses to Bears Stearns’ top brokers to stay on, though many of them are probably responsible for the subprime loans Bear Stearns so aggressively pursued.

George W. Bush and his cohorts have quietly dismantled more than a century of regulatory history—and good history at that. If we truly are to have “change” in Washington, the “changers” must begin by restoring those proven, efficient and protective elements of the regulatory state.

…continued

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Iran Brokers Call for Ceasefire; Bush reduced to Irrelevancy in Iraq; Fighting Continues

Dandelion Salad

By Juan Cole
Informed Comment
31/03/.08 “ICH

McClatchy provides a lot of important detail about Sunday’s surprising developments regarding the fight between the Iraqi government and the Mahdi Army. A parliamentary delegation from Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s own coalition (mainly now the Da`wa Party and the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq) defied him by going off to the holy seminary city of Qom in Iran and negotiating directly with Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr and with the leader of the Quds Brigades of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Brig. Gen. Qasim Sulaymani.

As a result of those parleys, Muqtada al-Sadr called on his followers to stand down, though I read his statement as permitting continued armed self-defense, as at Basra where the Iraqi Army is attacking them and the US is bombing them. Significantly, he calls on the Mahdi Army to stop attacking the HQs of rival political parties. That language suggests that the parties are suffering from such attacks and are worried that party infrastructure is being degraded ahead of the October 1 provincial elections. The southern parties have essentially defied al-Maliki and Bush to make a separate peace.

The entire episode underlines how powerful Iran has become in Iraq. The Iranian government had called on Saturday for the fighting to stop. And by Sunday evening it had negotiated at least a similar call from Sadr (whether the fighting actually stops remains to be seen and depends on local commanders and on whether al-Maliki meets Sadr’s conditions).

Al-Sadr’s statement is translated here. The main points:

We have decided the following:

1. Cancel the armed manifestation in Basra and all over the governorates.

2. Stopping the illegal and random raids and arrests.

3. Demanding the government to apply the General Amnesty law and release all the prisoners that was not proved to be guilty and especially the prisoners of Sadr movement.

4. We announce our innocence from any one who caries the weapon and target the government and services apparatuses and establishments and parties offices.

5. Cooperating with the government apparatuses in achieving security and condemn criminals according to the legal procedures.

6. We assure that the Sadr movement doesn’t have any heavy weapons.

7. Working on returning the displaced people that moved due to security events to their original places.

8. We are asking the government to take care of the Human rights on all of its procedures.

9. Working on achieving the constructional and services projects all over the governorates.

[Signed and stamped Muqtada Sadr 22/Rabi Awal/1429]

The NYT notes the irony here that the al-Maliki government is dependent on Muqtada al-Sadr to pull its fat from the fire:

‘Many Iraqi politicians say that Mr. Maliki’s political capital has been severely depleted by the campaign and that he is now in the curious position of having to turn to Mr. Sadr, a longtime rival and now his opponent in battle, for a solution to the crisis.’

McClatchy reports civil war violence on Sunday, suggesting that any cease fire has not yet taken hold:

‘ Baghdad

- Rockets hit the Green Zone (IZ) in Baghdad in different times in the morning and afternoon. No casualties reported.

- Around 5 pm, gunmen attacked New Baghdad police station (east Baghdad) .Three policemen were injured.

- Around 5 pm, mortars hit Dora police station .No casualties recorded.

- Around 5 pm, clashes took place in Ur between gunmen and Iraqi police . Six people were injured including two policemen.

- At 5:10 pm, two mortars hit Karrada neighborhood , one hit Al-Hussein intersection near Al-Hussein two floor bridge killing 3 and injuring 8 others while the second shell hit a barber shop few meters of the same intersection killing 3 and injuring 13 others.

- Police found five dead bodies in . . . neighborhoods in Baghdad . . .

Basra

- Around 7:30 pm, three people were killed due to a fighter plane bombing at Abu Sukheir neighborhood (north Basra).

Diyala

- Around 9:30 am, American planes bombed Jizan neighborhood of Wajihiyah (20 east Baquba).One civilian was killed and another was injured.

- In the morning, one civilian was killed during the clashes between the Iraqi army and gunmen at Kanaan (10 km south east Baquba)

- Around 10 am, a roadside bomb targeted the convoy of Ibrahim Hassan, the head of Diyala governorate council , while it was on its way at Saadiya (90 km east Baquba) between Baquba and Khanaqeen .Two of his guards were killed in that incident.

Karbala

- Around 9.30 pm of Saturday night, a roadside bomb targeted an Iraqi army patrol at Al-Haidriyah (Khan Al-Nus) in midway between Najaf and Karbala. One officer was killed with two other soldiers.

Salahuddin

- In the morning, gunmen attacked a police check point at Bishkan village (10 km east of Dhulwiyah near Balad) .Six policemen were killed including an officer with their vehicle damaged.

- Today, an American force arrested two members of Al-Alam supporting council near AlLaqlaq village (35 km north of Tikrit) one of them is an officer .

Mosul

- In the morning, clashes took place between gunmen and police at Sahachi (west Mosul).Colonel Qasim Ziad, the commander of the first police battalion in Mosul was killed with one of his guards.

Kirkuk

- In the morning, a roadside bomb targeted a rescue police patrol at Tiseen street in Kirkuk city. Three people were injured in that incident including two women. ‘

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Iraq In The Balance By Scott Horton (+ video)

Sadr orders fighters to stand down

Iraq In The Balance By Scott Horton (+ video)

Dandelion Salad

By Scott Horton
ICH
03/31/08 “Harpers

“The Iranians Are Killing Americans” Senator Lindsey Graham

I scanned the Sunday talk shows and was amazed, even by the normally lowbrow standards of these programs, at the infantile level of discussion about Iraq. In concept, the Sunday shows offer a chance to drill down a bit deeper into the facts behind the news—to reach a level of detail that cannot be reached in the daily news broadcasts. For many decades they served that purpose, more or less. Today they have degenerated into extended opportunities for political sound bites, in which even the most idiotic statements rarely go challenged, and in the worst of which (generally on Fox), the punditry whip themselves into a cappuccino froth of distortions and idiocies.

This Sunday, the real standout topic was Iraq. The major game played was explaining how the massive explosion of violence shows that the “surge is working.” It was a classic case of “hammer round peg into square hole, using maximum blunt force.” Senator Lindsey Graham led the way with his Iran-obsessed explanation. Here’s the video:

Graham Oversimplifies Iran’s Role In Iraq

bhglitter

But all of this was foolish, starting with the media’s own framing of the question: “Is the surge working?” The question should be different, namely, what are the U.S. objectives in Iraq and are they being met, or even served, by these developments?

Let’s start by zooming out still further. How have the Bush Administration’s policies affected the United States’ ability to influence conditions in the Middle East generally? Towards the end of the administration of Bush 41, a consensus emerged that the old bipolar world system had collapsed and a new system had emerged in which the United States stood alone as a superpower—the “hyperpower,” as some Europeans framed it—with a historically unprecedented ability to affect matters around the world unilaterally, that is, without consulting or involving allies. The two administrations that followed revealed sharply differing styles. Clinton proved far closer to traditional conservative attitudes. He was hesitant to “go it alone,” generally opting for soft power and the construction of elaborate alliances in which U.S. goals were modified somewhat to bring in a broader block. Bush 43 adopted an approach of historically unprecedented unilateral action in which the value of traditional alliances was played down—indeed, in which traditional allies were publicly ridiculed by his surrogates. He also pushed extremely aggressive use of military force in the Islamic world, first in Afghanistan, where he had broad support from the international community, and then in Iraq, where he did not. Bush’s rhetoric in this process has been inflammatory, and his objectives have been unclear from the start. He began promising nothing less than a transformation of the Arab world, which was to be democratized and Westernized (rhetoric which, of course, played directly into the hands of the Islamicist groups he was seeking to destroy).

Now in the last year of the Bush presidency, a consensus view is arriving around the world that the era of the unilateral world power is ending. Why? There’s a pretty broad consensus on that, too, though you’ll never hear it come across the stage on American television: Bush broke it. He wore down the American military by crafting a force that was (as indeed seniors in the Pentagon insisted from the start) far too small for the functions he envisioned. And by profligate spending on what may be in the end a largely unfunded three-trillion-dollar war, he has dramatically undermined America’s economic position, sending the U.S. economy into a tailspin.

America remains the first among the world’s powers, but Bush’s wrecking crew will shortly allow the emergence of important competitors on the world stage, including the reemergence of traditional rivals: Russia and China. China’s position as an economic force alone is daunting.

All of this means that the use of American power and prestige in Iraq is a vital test. Thus far the United States has achieved military tactical objectives, but its strategic objectives keep changing as the reality of conditions in Iraq sinks in. And whatever absurd blather may appear on American television screens, this constant changing of the goalposts is read by the balance of the world as something very close to defeat.

The Bush White House and its surrogates (sadly including a general in Baghdad who seems increasingly to act as a sock puppet) want to sell the current developments in Iraq as a logical next step, the elimination of Shi’a militia units to allow the Iraqi government to consolidate its control over the country. It then goes a further step in linking the militia units in the crosshairs to Iran, and even labels their attacks on the Green Zone as Iranian provocations. This is a serious distortion. There are ties between the Iranians and many different militia units in Iraq, but in fact the Iranian ties are strongest with the militia units that the U.S. is backing in this contest, not those under the hammer.

The best analysis to be offered up on this topic has consistently come from Anthony Cordesman. He hit the ball out of the park in his op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times, which was the day’s must-read.

Mr. Maliki’s gamble has already dragged American forces part-way into the fight, including airstrikes in Basra. Striking at violent, rogue elements in the Mahdi Army is one thing, but engaging the entire Sadr movement is quite another. The official cease-fire that has kept the mainstream Mahdi Army from engaging government and United States forces may well be rescinded if the government’s assault continues. . .

How will it affect America? If the fighting sets off a broad, lasting, violent power struggle between Shiite factions, most of the security gains of the last year could be lost and our military role broadened. There is also no guarantee that a victory by Dawa and the Islamic Supreme Council will serve the cause of political accommodation or lead to fair elections and the creation of legitimate local and provincial governments. Such an outcome, in fact, might favor a Dawa and Islamic Supreme Council “Iraqracy,” not democracy.

These are exactly the questions which should be asked, and are still largely being ignored in the U.S. media in its stilted and simplistic portrayal of complex and important facts.

Yesterday, Sadr offered another truce. It would be good news if it proved durable, but the fact is that Sadr exercises loose control over his organization, which makes it unlikely that the truce can be easily put into effect. The U.S. objective in Iraq must be the creation of a self-sustaining and friendly government, and that goal has not been advanced, indeed it most likely has faced further setbacks. The U.S.-supported venture has probably actually increased Iranian government influence in Iraq, including inside the government. Tehran sees al-Maliki as a transitional figure, not likely to last long. It is intent on building a solid and broad base of support within the Iraqi Shi’a community, and it seems to be achieving its objectives.

All of this underscores the dilemma facing U.S. policymakers. Not only are their long-term goals unclear, the tactical choices available to achieve them are increasingly questionable. And the long-term outcome looks bleak. At this point the U.S. still has many allies in the region, allies who adhere to America largely because of their very rational fear and distrust of Iran. But the smart money has long labeled Iraq a massive misadventure, wasting precious American resources and lives. Analysts increasingly see waning influence for the United States in the region. That will be Bush’s legacy.

See also: Unholy Wars – Gareth Porter on Antiwar Radio discussing developments in Iraq.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Sadr orders fighters to stand down

A Third American War Crime in the Making By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
03/31/08 “ICH

The US Congress, the US media, the American people, and the United Nations, are looking the other way as Cheney prepares his attack on Iran.

If only America had an independent media and an opposition party. If there were a shred of integrity left in American political life, perhaps a third act of naked aggression–a third war crime under the Nuremberg standard–by the Bush Regime could be prevented.

On March 30, the Russian News & Information Agency, Novosti, cited “a high-ranking security source: “The latest military intelligence data point to heightened US military preparations for both an air and ground operation against Iran.” Russian Intelligence Sees U.S. Military Buildup on Iran Border According to Novosti, Russian Colonel General Leonid Ivashov said “that the Pentagon is planning to deliver a massive air strike on Iran’s military infrastructure in the near future.”

The chief of Russia’s general staff, Yuri Baluyevsky, said last November that Russia was beefing up its military in response to US aggression, but that the Russian military is not “obliged to defend the world from the evil Americans.” http://www.mnweekly.ru/national/20071115/55289883.html

On March 29, OpEdNews cited a report by the Saudi Arabian newspaper Okaz, which was picked up by the German news service, DPA. The Saudi newspaper reported on March 22, the day following Cheney’s visit with the kingdom’s rulers, that the Saudi Shura Council is preparing “national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom following experts’ warnings of possible attacks on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear reactors.” Worried Yet? Saudis Prepare for “Sudden Nuclear Hazards” After Cheney Visit by Chris Floyd

And Admiral William “there will be no attack on Iran on my watch” Fallon has been removed as US chief of Central Command, thus clearing the way for Cheney’s planned attack on Iran.The Iranians don’t seem to believe it, despite the dispatch of US nuclear submarines and another aircraft carrier attack group to the Persian Gulf. To counter any Iranian missiles launched in response to an attack, the US is deploying anti-missile defenses to protect US bases and Saudi oil fields.

Two massive failures by the American media, the Democratic Party, and the American people have paved the way for Cheney’s long planned attack on Iran. One failure is the lack of skepticism about the US government’s explanation of 9/11. The other failure is the Democrats’ refusal to begin impeachment proceedings against President Bush for lying to the Congress, the American people, and the world and launching an invasion of Iraq based on deception and fabricated evidence.

If an American president can start a war exactly as Adolf Hitler did with pure lies and not be held accountable, he can get away with anything. And Bush and his evil regime have.Hitler launched World War II with his invasion of Poland after staging a “Polish attack” on a German radio station. On the night of August 31, 1939, a group of Nazis disguised in Polish uniforms seized a radio station in Germany. Hitler announced that “last night Polish troops crossed the frontier and attacked Germany,” a claim no more true than the Bush Regime’s claim that “Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction.” Hitler’s lie failed, because his invasion of Poland, which began the next day allegedly in reprisal for the Polish attack, had obviously been planned for many months.

Iran is a beautiful and developed country. It is an ancient civilization. It has attacked no one. Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. Iran is permitted by the treaty to have a nuclear energy program. The Bush Regime’s case against Iran is based on the Bush Regime’s desire to deny Iran its rights under the treaty.

The International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have repeatedly reported that they have found no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Despite all the disinformation from US Gen. Petraeus and other Bush Regime military lackeys, Iran is not arming the Iraqis who are resisting the American occupation.

If Iran were arming insurgents, the insurgents would have two weapons that would neutralize the US advantage in the Iraqi conflict: missiles to knock down US helicopter gunships and rocket-propelled grenades that knock out American tanks. The insurgents do not have these weapons and must construct clumsy anti-tank weapons out of artillery shells. The insurgents are helpless against US air power and cannot mass forces to take on the American troops.

Indiscriminate American violence has reduced Iraq to rubble. The civilian infrastructure is essentially destroyed–electricity, water and sewer systems, medical care and schools. Depleted uranium is everywhere poisoning everyone, including US troops. There is no economy, and half or more of Iraqis are unemployed. Literally no Iraqi family has escaped an injury or a death as a consequence of the US invasion. Millions of Iraqis have become displaced persons. A developed country with a professional middle class has been destroyed because of lies told by the President and Vice President of the US. The Bush Regime’s lies are echoed by a neoconservative media, and have gone unchallenged by the opposition party and an indifferent American public.

In Afghanistan, death and destruction rains on even the smallest village from the air. America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are wars against the civilian populations.

Just as the world could not believe Hitler’s next horror and thus was always unprepared, the Iranians despite all the evidence cannot believe that even the Great Satan would gratuitously attack Iran based on nothing but lies about non-existent nuclear weapons.

Iran’s only chance would be to strike before the US delivers the first blow. Instead of using its missiles to take out the Saudi oil fields and to sink the US aircraft carriers, instead of closing the Strait of Hormuz, instead of arming the Iraqi Shi’ites and moving them to insurgency, Iran is perched like a sitting duck in denial even as the US and its Iraqi puppet Maliki move to eliminate Al Sadr’s Iraqi Shi’ite militia in order to avoid supply disruptions and a Shi’ite rebellion in Iraq when the US attack on Iran comes.

It is important to emphasize that Iran is making no moves toward war. Having tamed, blackmailed, and purchased Congress, the US media, and US allies and puppets, Cheney might delight in the arrogance with which he can now attack Iran free of any restraint or fabricated provocation. On the other hand, he might cover himself by orchestrating an “Iranian provocation” to justify his attack as a response. But like Hitler’s planned attack against Poland, Cheney’s attack on Iran has long been in the works.

On March 29 the Associated Press reported that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi “poured contempt on fellow Arab leaders” at the Arab summit that day. Gadhafi told the Arab “leaders,” many of whom are on the American payroll, that their American masters would turn on them all, just as America turned on Saddam Hussein after using him to fight a proxy war against Iran.

Saddam had once been an ally of Washington, Gadhafi reminded the Arabs, “but they sold him out.” Gadhafi told the American puppets, “Your turn is next.”

Gadhafi asked, “Where is the Arabs’ dignity, their future, their very existence?” If Arabs remain disunited, he predicted, “they will turn themselves into protectorates. They will be marginalized and turn into garbage dumps.”

Indeed, it is this disunity that permits the US to bomb and murder at will in the Middle East.

Paul Craig Roberts a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, has been reporting shocking cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades. A new edition of his book, The Tyranny of Good Intentions, co-authored with Lawrence Stratton, a documented account of how Americans lost the protection of law, is forthcoming from Random House in March, 2008.

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Bush’s Legacy Leads to Iran By Heather Wokusch

Worried Yet? Saudis Prepare for “Sudden Nuclear Hazards” After Cheney Visit

Kadhafi warns US allies could suffer Saddam’s fate

April Fools: The Fox To Guard The Banking Henhouse

Dandelion Salad

by Dr. Ellen Brown
Global Research, March 31, 2008

[author's website at  www.webofdebt.com]

The Federal Reserve, which has been credited with creating the current housing bubble and bust just as it created the credit bubble of the Roaring Twenties and the bust of 1929, is now to be given vast new powers to oversee regulation of the banking industry and promote “financial market stability.” At least, that is the gist of a Treasury Department proposal to be presented to Congress on Monday, March 31, 2008. Adrian Douglas wrote on LeMetropoleCafe.com, “I would like to think that this is some sort of sick April Fools joke, but, alas, they are serious! What happened to free markets?”1

In fact, what happened to regulating the banks? The Treasury’s plan is not for the private Federal Reserve to increase regulation of the banking system it heads. Au contraire, regulation will actually be decreased. According to The Wall Street Journal:

“Many of the [Treasury's] proposals, like those that would consolidate regulatory agencies, have nothing to do with the turmoil in financial markets. And some of the proposals could actually reduce regulation. According to a summary provided by the administration, the plan would consolidate an alphabet soup of banking and securities regulators into a powerful trio of overseers responsible for everything from banks and brokerage firms to hedge funds and private equity firms. . . . Parts of the plan could reduce the power of the Securities and Exchange Commission, which is charged with maintaining orderly stock and bond markets and protecting investors. . . . The blueprint also suggests several areas where the S.E.C. should take a lighter approach to its oversight. Among them are allowing stock exchanges greater leeway to regulate themselves and streamlining the approval of new products, even allowing automatic approval of securities products that are being traded in foreign markets.”2

“securities products” include the mortgage-backed securities, collateralized debt obligations, credit default swaps, and other forms of the great Ponzi scheme known as “derivatives” that have been largely responsible for bringing the banking system to the brink of collapse. But these suspect products are not to be more heavily scrutinized; rather, their approval will actually be “streamlined” and may be automatic if they are being traded in “foreign markets.” The Journal observes that the Treasury’s proposal was initiated last year by Secretary Henry Paulson not to “regulate” the banks but “to make American financial markets more competitive against overseas markets by modernizing a creaky regulatory system. His goal was to streamline the different and sometimes clashing rules for commercial banks, savings and loans and nonbank mortgage lenders.” “streamlining” the rules evidently meant eliminating any that “clashed” with the Fed’s goal of allowing U.S. banks to be more “competitive” abroad. The Journal continues:

“While the plan could expose Wall Street investment banks and hedge funds to greater scrutiny, it carefully avoids a call for tighter regulation. The plan would not rein in practices that have been linked to the housing and mortgage crisis, like packaging risky subprime mortgages into securities carrying the highest ratings. . . . And the plan does not recommend tighter rules over the vast and largely unregulated markets for risk sharing and hedging, like credit default swaps, which are supposed to insure lenders against loss but became a speculative instrument themselves and gave many institutions a false sense of security.”

Regulating fraudulent, predatory and overly-speculative banking practices has been left to the States, not necessarily by law but by default. According to then-Governor Eliot Spitzer, writing in January of 2008, state regulators tried to regulate these shady practices but were hamstrung by federal authorities. In a February 14 Washington Post article titled “Predatory Lenders; Partner in Crime: How the Bush Administration Stopped the States from Stepping in to Help Consumers,” Spitzer complained:

“several years ago, state attorneys general and others involved in consumer protection began to notice a marked increase in a range of predatory lending practices by mortgage lenders. Some were misrepresenting the terms of loans, making loans without regard to consumers’ ability to repay, making loans with deceptive ‘teaser; rates that later ballooned astronomically, packing loans with undisclosed charges and fees, or even paying illegal kickbacks. These and other practices, we noticed, were having a devastating effect on home buyers. In addition, the widespread nature of these practices, if left unchecked, threatened our financial markets.

“Even though predatory lending was becoming a national problem, the Bush administration looked the other way and did nothing to protect American homeowners. In fact, the government chose instead to align itself with the banks that were victimizing consumers. . . . [A]s New York attorney general, I joined with colleagues in the other 49 states in attempting to fill the void left by the federal government. Individually, and together, state attorneys general of both parties brought litigation or entered into settlements with many subprime lenders that were engaged in predatory lending practices. Several state legislatures, including New York’s, enacted laws aimed at curbing such practices . . . .

“Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which the federal government was turning a blind eye. . . . The administration accomplished this feat through an obscure federal agency called the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). . . . In 2003, during the height of the predatory lending crisis, the OCC invoked a clause from the 1863 National Bank Act to issue formal opinions preempting all state predatory lending laws, thereby rendering them inoperative. The OCC also promulgated new rules that prevented states from enforcing any of their own consumer protection laws against national banks. The federal government’s actions were so egregious and so unprecedented that all 50 state attorneys general, and all 50 state banking superintendents, actively fought the new rules. But the unanimous opposition of the 50 states did not deter, or even slow, the Bush administration in its goal of protecting the banks. In fact, when my office opened an investigation of possible discrimination in mortgage lending by a number of banks, the OCC filed a federal lawsuit to stop the investigation.”

Less than a month after publishing this editorial, Spitzer was out of office, following a surprise exposé of his personal indiscretions by the Justice Department. Greg Palast observed that Spitzer was the single politician standing between a $200 billion windfall from the Federal Reserve guaranteeing the mortgage-backed junk bonds of the same banking predators that were responsible for the subprime debacle. While the Federal Reserve was trying to bail them out, Spitzer had been trying to regulate them, bringing suit on behalf of consumers.3 But Spitzer has now been silenced, and any other state attorneys general who might get similar ideas will be deterred by the federal oversight under which banking regulators are to be “consolidated.”

The Federal Reserve under Alan Greenspan deliberately enabled and permitted the derivatives debacle to take down the dollar and America’s credibility. Greenspan is now lauded, feted and awarded at the White House and on network television, and takes a victory lap tour promoting and signing his book and celebrating his multimillion dollar book deal, enjoying his knighthood status in England and hero status on Wall Street. And as the falling debris of the American economy still piles up around us, the very agency that enabled disaster is now seeking to consolidate ultimate authority and accountability to itself, and through centralization and arrogation of power, eliminate all those pesky little Constitutional and State regulations and agencies, recalcitrant governors and the last few whistle blowers, so that the further abuse of power can be streamlined through one agency only. That agency is to consist of an alliance of the banking powers and the executive branch, a perfect formula for the institutionalization of continual abuse.

Perhaps Spitzer was lucky that he was the target only of a character assassination. When Louisiana Senator Huey Long challenged the Federal Reserve and fought for the State’s right to oversee its own financial affairs in the 1930s, he was assassinated with bullets. Long’s local assertion of decentralized State powers, as provided for in the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, enabled the State of Louisiana to loosen the grip of the corporations on the State’s wealth and allowed the setting up of schools and public institutions that elevated the people of the State and placed its “common wealth” back into the hands of its citizens, while providing employment and education. The Constitution reserves to the States and the people all those powers not specifically delegated to the federal government, arguably including the creation of money itself, which is nowhere specifically mentioned in the Constitution beyond creating coins. (See E. Brown, “Another Way Around the Credit Crisis: Minnesota Bill Would Authorize State Banks to Monetize; Productivity,” http://www.webofdebt.com/articles, March 23, 2008.) But in this latest attempt at expanding the Federal Reserve’s already over-expansive powers, we see clear evidence that the Wall Street and global banking powers have no intention of allowing their plans to be reined in by the Constitutional powers of the States and the people. Instead, they intend to fill up the moat and pull up the draw bridge on their feudal powers, and let the serfs shiver outside the gates for as long as they will put up with it.

NOTES

1 Adrian Douglas, “PPT to Come Out of the Closet,” http://www.lemetropolecafe.com (March 29, 2008).
2 Edmund Andrews, “Treasury’s Plan Would Give Fed Wide new Power,” New York Times (March 29, 2008).
3 Greg Palast, “Eliot’s Mess” http://www.gregpalast.com (March 14, 2008).

Ellen Brown, J.D., developed her research skills as an attorney practicing civil litigation in Los Angeles. In Web of Debt, her latest book, she turns those skills to an analysis of the Federal Reserve and “the money trust.” She shows how this private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Her eleven books include the bestselling Nature’s Pharmacy, co-authored with Dr. Lynne Walker, which has sold 285,000 copies. Her websites are www.webofdebt.com and www.ellenbrown.com.

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The $200 billion bail-out for predator banks & Spitzer charges are intimately linked By Greg Palast