Mountaintop coal mining at Hale Gap, VA By John M. Broder

Dandelion Salad

Published: August 23, 2007

WASHINGTON, Aug. 22 — The Bush administration is set to issue a regulation on Friday that would enshrine the coal mining practice of mountaintop removal. The technique involves blasting off the tops of mountains and dumping the rubble into valleys and streams.

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Of Barbarities, Beauties, Foreordained Foreclosures and The Two-Dollar Onion by Glitzqueen (aka The Other Katherine Harris)


Featured writer
Dandelion Salad

by The Other Katherine Harris

glitzqueen’s blog post

Aug. 23, 2007

“You, Doctor Martin, walk from breakfast to madness,” Anne Sexton wrote in 1960 of her therapist. The poem sprang to memory, in line with the contrariety of my own days. Each morning is a motion from atrocity to artistry, depravity to delicacy, fiendishness to finesse, as I contemplate our increasingly horrific news and then turn to acquiring, photographing and describing historic jewels.

The oppugnancy of these processes is more startling lately than usual, because my long-time middle ground — work on a novel with political aspects — has fallen away, in preference to juicing up websites for holiday shoppers. Despite war, economic dolor, climate catastrophe and Constitution-trampling, we Americans will spend the next few months with gift-shopping on the brain. Many fault this and of course it’s mad when people overspend. We also harm ourselves less directly by choosing presents that fuel pollution and our trade deficit. But the impulse to express love is never all wrong, is it?

Gifting — which may seem glib retail jargon, but actually encapsulates a meaningful human experience, from first thoughts of what might please to tying on the ribbons — is quite different from our ordinary modes of acquisition: both the purchases we have to make and the self-indulgences Shrub encouraged when he told us to “go shopping” after 9/11.

Now we can see that exhortation for exactly what it was: part of his “ownership society” campaign that extolled buying homes — and then draining them of equity to feed obscene corporate profits and a real estate bubble ultimately meant to shift still more assets into the grasp of the rich. And this is just a scrap of our general tattering.

We suckers of the lower orders are also being bled by their global trading and outsourcing schemes and wanton militarism; by our declining wages and benefits; by carrying the burden left by preferential taxation of the rich; and lately by the biofuels boondoggle.

Which brings us to The Two-Dollar Onion.

We normally buy quite a few groceries at a time, so prices tend to blur. However, the cost of one item snapped into focus for me, when I was rushing to complete a meal before guests arrived and discovered there was no onion for the salad. Thus I came to find that a single plump red onion now goes for two bucks.

That’s about what I thought I’d been paying for a whole bag of onions — the ordinary cooking kind, white or yellow — but, on my next shopping trip, I slowed down and noticed these have gone up by about a third. A closer look at the bell peppers stunned me, too. I remember being scandalized by the cost of those in midwinter, but here we are in high summer and they’re still a buck apiece for green, nearly twice that for red or yellow. Another shock was the doubling in price of plain flour tortillas — not even the corn type sparking tumult in Mexico.

With these recent observations in mind, news of sharply rising food prices didn’t exactly knock me for a loop. In fact, I’m inordinately well-prepared to argue that they’re far worse than our Labor Department is admitting. Take the supposed 19.5 percent rise in egg prices over last year’s. Where I forage, they’ve damn near doubled from about a buck a dozen to two. While I can’t dispute the 13.3 percent rise attributed to milk, since I loathe the stuff and no longer have to force it on a child, I’m confident that chicken and beef have gone up substantially more than 10 percent. Twenty percent is more like it.

Eggs, milk and meat are most directly linked to the biofuels lunacy, since the relevant animals live largely on corn, but just about everything at the food store has skyrocketed since Shrub’s Brazilian ethanol deal unbagged the cat. By then his transnational cronies had grabbed vast swathes of ground and begun burning forests all over creation, thus worsening our air beyond what their crops can hope to redeem. And he rightly reckoned no Dems would face him down on the brewing disaster, but instead would fall into line due to facing corn farmers in that Iowa primary.

So now — besides all the other factors collaborating to ruin those with least to lose — the Masters of the Universe have us over both ethanol and oil barrels, while automakers are panting to sell us overpriced new cars that run on both problematic fuels and every day more communities cede to corporations control of their most crucial resources, the land and water upon which lives depend.

Most victims, as usual, are paying attention to nothing but propaganda adverse to their interests. Even I — in full or near cognizance of the Conspiracy of Everything against us — would rather return now to thoughts of the exquisite Edwardian brooch gleaming before me, its perfect golden shells framing a rosy gemstone cabochon set in a collet with millegrained edges.

Among the things I know about it is that loving, careful hands brought it into being around 1905, when the average American family lived better than we do today and on the earnings of only one person. In inflation-adjusted terms, both adults now knock themselves out for only an 8 percent gain in income — far less than the cost of commuting, business apparel and child care, if requisite.

Yes, we’ve lost that much over this century, despite the little burst of advancement between WWII and the late 1960s. And, yes, the greedy will never be content until they have it all. They’ll assault us again and again, yet such barbarians will never understand beauty, even if it’s all around them. Their skill is to deceive, destroy and grab, not to create as workers do. And such love as is found in those cold hearts is just a form of ownership.

So perhaps it’s another act of resistance to our thieving would-be lords when we shift the light of truth away from exposing them toward appreciating love and loveliness. They can gloat over their crimes, but I submit after these musings that the rest of us hold the monopoly on real joy.

Presidential candidates to face MTV/MySpace grilling

Dandelion Salad

Thu, 23 Aug 2007 18:31:08 GMT
Author: DPA

Los Angeles – All of the major Republican and Democratic candidates have agreed to participate in one-on-one dialogues with MTV and MySpace users in a major coup for the two youth-oriented media channels. The events will be staged on college campuses around the US, and will be aired on MTV stations and over social networking site MySpace, according to an announcement Thursday. The first hour-long, townhall-style dialogue will take place on September 27 with former Senator John Edwards facing viewer questions in New Hampshire. The questions will be sent via MySpace Instant Messenger or through email while Edwards, a Democratic candidate, is on the air. At the same time, online viewer reaction will be monitored through live polling on both and “For years, young people have trusted MTV to inform and engage them on the issues that matter most, from politics to sexual health to the environment,” said MTV President Christina Norman. “We are extremely proud to partner with MySpace … to connect with presidential candidates in a much more meaningful way.”“These presidential dialogues will bring individual candidates directly to voters – one at a time,” said Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and CEO of MySpace. “We are setting a high-water mark for direct engagement between presidential candidates and average Americans.”Thousands of MySpace and users will have the opportunity to attend the dialogues from September to December of this year, some of them by “friending” the candidate’s official profile on, adding them to their “Top 8” and then being one of the first to arrive when a new campus location is revealed. Candidates confirmed to participate in the series include Democrats Edwards, Senator Chris Dodd, Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Barack Obama and Governor Bill Richardson. Among the Republicans scheduled to appear are Senator Sam Brownback, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Representative Duncan Hunter, Senator John McCain, Representative Ron Paul and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Copyright, respective author or news agency

h/t: Malcolm

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. This material is distributed without profit.

Debate on the foreign intelligence surveillance act By Chris Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Chris Roberts
©El Paso Times

The following is the transcript of a question and answer session with National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell.

Question: How much has President Bush or members of his administration formed your response to the FISA debate?

Answer: Not at all. When I came back in, remember my previous assignment was director of the NSA, so this was an area I have known a little bit about. So I came back in. I was nominated the first week of January. The administration had made a decision to put the terrorist surveillance program into the FISA court. I think that happened the 7th of Jan. So as I come in the door and I’m prepping for the hearings, this sort of all happened. So the first thing I want to know is what’s this program and what’s the background and I was pretty surprised at what I learned. First off, the issue was the technology had changed and we had worked ourselves into a position that we were focusing on foreign terrorist communications, and this was a terrorist foreigner in a foreign country. The issue was international communications are on a wire so all of a sudden we were in a position because of the wording in the law that we had to have a warrant to do that. So the most important thing to capture is that it’s a foreigner in a foreign country, required to get a warrant. Now if it were wireless, we would not be required to get a warrant. Plus we were limited in what we were doing to terrorism only and the last time I checked we had a mission called foreign intelligence, which should be construed to mean anything of a foreign intelligence interest, North Korea, China, Russia, Syria, weapons of mass destruction proliferation, military development and it goes on and on and on. So when I engaged with the administration, I said we’ve gotten ourselves into a position here where we need to clarify, so the FISA issue had been debated and legislation had been passed in the house in 2006, did not pass the Senate. Two bills were introduced in the Senate, I don’t know if it was co-sponsorship or two different bills, but Sen. (Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.) had a bill and Sen. Specter had a bill and it may have been the same bill, I don’t know, but the point is a lot of debate, a lot of dialogue. So, it was submitted to the FISA court and the first ruling in the FISA court was what we needed to do we could do with an approval process that was at a summary level and that was OK, we stayed in business and we’re doing our mission. Well in the FISA process, you may or may not be aware …


h/t: Malcolm
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. This material is distributed without profit.

Colbert-Branson Interview Trainwreck + Colbert-Branson Duel

Dandelion Salad

Updated: May 8, 2009 Added another video; see below

By Manila Ryce
Published Thursday, August 23rd, 2007, 11:22 am

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the long-anticipated wet t-shirt contest between Stephen Colbert and Rebel Billionaire Richard Branson. If you’re unfamiliar with Branson’s huge set of chompers and unpredictable nature, he’s basically a billion dollar version of Gary Busey. Branson smells better and has an English accent, but still can’t be anywhere near children without the cops showing up 10 minutes later. If you want to skip to the meat and potatoes, the simulated bukkake scene can be found at the end of the clip. You can’t buy this kind of publicity.

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The U.S. & Iran: A History of Imperialist Domination, Intrigue and Intervention by Larry Everest

Dandelion Salad

by Larry Everest
Global Research, August 22, 2007

Part 6: The 1980s—Double-Dealing, Double-Crossing, and Fueling the Gulf Slaughter

In 1986, President Ronald Reagan sent a personally inscribed Bible and a key-shaped chocolate cake—along with offers of millions in military hardware and a new strategic relationship—as a gesture of goodwill to Iran’s Islamic Republic, then led by Ayatollah Khomeini. Some 16 years later, in 2002, President George W. Bush condemned Iran as part of an “axis-of-evil,” and has since targeted Iran, openly threatened it with a military attack, and refuses to normalize relations.

This seemingly dramatic shift is the product of dramatic global changes and therefore different opportunities and necessities confronting U.S. imperialism in the years between Reagan’s offer and Bush’s threats.

But there is also continuity here. The shift from Reagan to Bush may seem stark, but both were attempting, in different circumstances and with different tactics, to advance U.S. imperialist interests—including strengthening U.S. domination over Iran and the whole region.

The U.S. offer of military aid to Iran was in the midst of the bloody 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. This war was launched by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, with a bright green light from the Carter administration. The Islamic Republic had just taken power in Iran following the 1979 revolution overthrowing a hated American puppet—the Shah. The White House calculated that Iraq’s attack would weaken the new Republic, prevent it from threatening U.S. clients in the Persian Gulf, and force it to release the 444 U.S. personnel that were being held at the U.S. embassy.

Reagan’s offer didn’t come about because the U.S. imperialists had come to like or accept Iran’s new rulers. Far from it. The U.S. was stung by the Shah’s fall and saw the new Khomeini regime as an impediment to U.S. political, military, and economic control of Iran. And the U.S. was increasingly concerned about Iran’s efforts to promote anti-U.S. Islamist currents and play a larger role in the Middle East—such as in 1982 dispatching 1,500 Revolutionary Guards to Lebanon during its war with Israel to help found the armed group Hezbollah. In 1984, the U.S. put Iran on its list of countries supporting “terrorism.”

Fears of Soviet Coup in a “Geopolitical Pivot”

However, by 1985, the U.S. had an even bigger worry: that the Soviet Union could score a major geopolitical coup in the struggle for power in Iran after Ayatollah Khomeini (then in his 80s), died.

After the end of World War 2—and especially since the 1960s—U.S. actions in the Middle East were primarily shaped by its global rivalry with the Soviet Union, an imperialist power with a “communist” cover. This contention, including in Iran, had placed major constraints on what the U.S. could and couldn’t do. For instance, one reason the U.S. hadn’t directly or massively intervened militarily in the region was the fear that the Soviets would come to the aid of the targeted country and gain a new beachhead. And there was also the possibility that such a confrontation could spiral toward nuclear war.

As a result, during the 1980s, while the U.S. stepped up its military presence in the Persian Gulf, it was still forced to work through regional states—like Iraq—that it often despised and distrusted. Sometimes the U.S. was reduced to trying to play one side off against the other or use unreliable regional states as proxies. The Iran-Iraq War was a case in point, illustrating both the cynical depravity of America’s ruling imperialists—but also their limited options.

Domination of the Middle East—for both its vast energy resources and its strategically central location—had been a pillar of U.S. global power and the functioning of U.S. capitalism since the end of World War 2. What made the prospect of Soviet gains so threatening was that Iran is what Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski called a “geopolitical pivot”—a country whose fate can shape global geopolitics. Iran is large—four times the size of Iraq. It is strategically located—dominating the Persian Gulf geographically with 1,000 miles of coastline, bordering the energy-rich Caspian Sea, standing between the Soviet Union and the oil fields of the Middle East, and linking the Middle East and Central Asia. And it has the world’s second or third greatest oil reserves.

A June 1985 draft National Security Directive worried: “Soviet success in taking advantage of the emerging power struggle to insinuate itself in Iran would change the strategic balance in the area.” A debate ensued in the Reagan administration, and ultimately those pushing for attempting to open a strategic dialogue with Iran’s leaders prevailed. National Security Advisor Adm. John Poindexter wrote, “We have an opportunity here that we should not miss…if it doesn’t work, all we’ve lost is a little intelligence and 1,000 TOW missiles. And if it does work, then maybe we change a lot of things in the Mideast.”

The U.S. sent several high-level missions to Iran to attempt to work out a deal. Beginning in the fall of 1985, the U.S. began secretly shipping TOW anti-tank missiles, Hawk missile parts, and Hawk radars to Iran, first via Israel and, beginning in early 1986, directly to Tehran. The immediate goal was the release of U.S. personnel held by Islamists in Lebanon. But the broader objective was building links and gaining leverage with Iran’s rulers and heading off any Soviet efforts to do likewise.

What U.S. Imperialists & Iranian Theocrats Have in Common

Reagan’s offer of “arms-for-hostages” also reflected an appreciation by the U.S. rulers of what the imperialists had in common with Iran’s theocrats. For all its anti-U.S. posturing, the Islamic Republic’s program was never about breaking free of the imperialist-dominated world order. Iran’s clerics explicitly upheld capitalism and private property. Iran’s economy was still geared to producing oil for the world market (80 percent of its government revenue still comes from oil sales), and it still relied on various technological and marketing agreements with global multinationals to do so. Iran welcomed foreign investment. Iran’s clerics preserved (and in many ways strengthened) the traditional class and social relations which were the internal basis of imperialism’s dominance. And they butchered those in Iran—communists, leftists, revolutionary intellectuals, and democrats—who were part of the struggle against U.S. domination of Iran.

Of course, for Reagan and his officials, cutting a deal never meant treating Iran with mutual respect and equality. The point was to incorporate and subordinate Iran in a U.S.-dominated order—through a mix of inducements, threats, and bloody double-dealing. The goal remained, as The New York Times put it in 1984, “that both [Iran and Iraq] should lose” and that their “mutual exhaustion” would further U.S. interests in the region. So in true Mafia godfather fashion, as Reagan was dispatching envoys, gifts, and arms to Iran, his team had also set up a secret intelligence link with Iraq, giving it near real-time battlefield intelligence to use against Iran. And Reagan himself sent Saddam a secret message urging him to step up the bombing of Iran.

In the fall of 1986, the U.S.’s Iran initiative collapsed (for a number of reasons, including deep distrust between the two governments and divisions among the U.S. rulers) after the arms-for-hostages arrangement was revealed by a Lebanese magazine. This, plus growing fears that Iran might defeat Iraq, led the U.S. to tilt decisively back to Iraq. It stepped up military and intelligence aid and increased its direct naval presence in the Gulf. On July 2, 1988, the U.S. warship Vincennes shot down an unarmed Iranian passenger jet—killing all 290 onboard. The U.S. claimed it was an accident, but the Iranian leadership apparently read it as a not-so-veiled threat: “halt the war or face further American attacks.” On July 18, just 16 days later, Khomeini accepted a UN cease-fire resolution.

By that time, thanks in large part to U.S. encouragement for and direct aid in the mutual slaughter, an estimated 367,000 to 262,000 Iranians and 105,000 Iraqis had been killed, and 700,000 were injured or wounded on both sides.

Next: Part 7: 1985-2007: From Containment to Confrontation—Possibly War



Larry Everest, Oil, Power & Empire: Iraq and the U.S. Global Agenda, Chapter 4–“Arming Iraq, Double-Dealing Death in the Gulf”

Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard—American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, p. 41

Global Research Articles by Larry Everest


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Palestinian Suffering: We Caused it, We Should Fix It By Liam Bailey


By Liam Bailey
featured writer
Dandelion Salad
August 23, 2007

U.N. states share a portion of blame for the Israel-Palestine conflict — they need to stop it.

During the Nazi holocaust of WWII — following orders or not — German soldiers were responsible for the expulsion of millions of Jews from their homes, businesses and countries — and the murder of millions more. Because of that, when the war was won the allied victors felt compelled by guilt to grant the Zionist/Jewish wish of a national Jewish state. As Britain then controlled Palestine, which is where the Zionists felt their state should be, Britain, along with the U.N. came up with a partition plan to give the Jews a portion of Palestine for their homeland.

So, I am saying that, for the above reasons, Britain, Germany and the UN — meaning all developed nations — bare equal responsibility for the Palestinian’s suffering, which I will detail below. Israel has had nearly 60 years to do the right thing, it is time for the world to step in and right the wrong it played a big part in creating.

Most Palestinians live with unemployment, depression, poverty and hunger; it has got so bad that child beggars are entering Israel from the supposedly better off West Bank. Children sent by parents who can’t afford to feed them, to face the danger of knife point robbery and sexual abuse for a few dollars, tells us just how desperate the situation is in the West Bank — and it’s even worse in Gaza.

Worse still all Palestinians are likely to feel: fear, anger, misery, hopelessness and despair on an almost daily basis, whereas we in the west might experience one or two of those feelings on an average day.

Here’s why: Israel is the occupying nation. With their check-points and border restrictions they keep Palestinians from visiting family and friends, which is likely to cause loneliness, hopelessness and depression, from getting to jobs and making exports difficult causing unemployment and poverty. Fear comes from air-strikes and arrest operations. And all the above causes and exemplifies Palestinian anger.

The more Israel gets away with, i.e. remaining in the world’s favour despite atrocities and violations of international law, the worse it gets, and the less likely a Palestinian state becomes. Like Israel failing to abide by the 4th Geneva convention regarding the treatment of civilians by an occupying force. Israel does not regard the Geneva convention as applying de jure to the West Bank and Gaza strip — yet says that the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment does not apply to the occupied territories because they are covered by the Geneva Convention. That is a clear example of Israel saying we are above international law – and getting away with it.

In the summer war with Lebanon last year Israel used depleted uranium bombs and cluster bombs in civilian areas. Lebanese civilians are still paying for the latter with their lives, and the damage the uranium may have done to the soil, crops and women’s fertility remains to be seen.

The 10ft high security wall Israel is building has been ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice, not to mention the hordes of human rights groups, Israeli and global, speaking out about the huge atrocity it is. Israel keeps on building and the U.S. keeps treating her as a massive ally. Any attempts made by the U.N. Security Council to put a kerb on Israel’s behaviour by issuing a resolution is vetoed by the U.S., who actually have the audacity to say the resolutions are biased against Israel. Israel acts like a rogue state and remains in the world’s good books and cheque books.

The Palestinians want their own state and control over their own borders and destiny, but only Israel can give them it and that would cost Israel a lot of land and money, their sacred Jerusalem and chance for a greater Israel. Israel doesn’t want to give up land, it wants to take more and Israel is the one in control. The wall is a good example of Israel wanting to take more Palestinian land, as the wall is kilometres inside the proposed Palestinian state, when it could provide the same security from inside Israel’s proposed border. All this should mean Israel isn’t impartial, yet Israel can still influence how the world deals with the Palestinians.

Israel is a prosperous state, receiving billions of dollars in aid from the U.S.. So who can blame the Palestinians for feeling despair and hopelessness when Israel on top of all the other bad things it causes in their lives was able to make the world stop giving aid to the Palestinians because they expressed their free will and elected Hamas. When the U.S. is following Israel’s policy and constantly providing aid and acting on Israel’s interests, of course the Palestinians are going to feel that the west is biased and miss-trust any efforts or initiatives they make towards peace, especially the U.S.. This feeling that they aren’t being treated fairly again worsens Palestinian anger, as does Israel continually getting away with violations like the wall.

I saw a programme once about the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands, I couldn’t imagine anything worse than soldiers your nation is at war with being in control of your day to day lives. At least the Channel Islanders had hope that the allies would be victorious and they would be liberated. Imagine living under an occupation that makes your life an impoverished misery, with the constant feeling that it is never going to end — that this is all your life will ever be. That, to me, is Palestinian life.

It needs to stop! Jews suffered the modern world’s worst atrocities for five years. But, although there has been no one atrocity on the scale of the holocaust, the mass expulsions, civilian massacres like the one in Lebanon last year and those before, the ever-lasting toll on civilians always running much higher that that of Israel, the home demolitions, and the general misery I talked about above, combined over 60 years to mean the Palestinians have suffered just as much. Death from a thousand cuts.

All the above should mean the world makes sure the Palestinians get their own state, as Britain and the U.N. decided Jews were entitled to their own state because of their suffering in the holocaust.

The UN, well the states that make it up should foot the bill for the Palestinian state. Offering the refugees, say, 2 million U.S. dollars for all they lost and the years of suffering. It should force Israel to give back all the land it took in 1967 including East Jerusalem, giving them a set time to decide what land it needs to swap; give Israeli land equivalent of any Palestinian land it needs to keep to maintain the security of all Israelis, including settlement blocs.

Paying the refugees should mean Israel has no reason to refuse, but if that combined with Israel’s reliance on international assistance isn’t enough to force their hand, no option should be taken off the table. Israel will complain about their security but with the full UN on the case, guarantees to ensure Israel’s security could certainly be made. It’s time to forcibly remove all obstacles and give peace a chance.

Liam Bailey is a U.K. freelance journalist. He writes regularly for the Palestine Chronicle, Arabic Media Internet Network and is an advanced blogger on the Washington Post’s Post Global. He runs the War Pages blog and you can contact him at:


A Boycott Of Israel: Something Has Changed By John Pilger

08.22.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

Dandelion Salad


This video contains images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Selected Episode

Aug. 22, 2007

For more episodes and other Link TV programs:

“Al Maliki Lashes Out At US Officials,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Reactions from Egypt to the Iraqi Situation,” Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq
“US Helicopter Crashes in Iraq,” Saudi TV, Saudi Arabia
“Nahr el Bared Refugees Insist on Returning to their Homes,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Third Round of Nuclear Talks Ends in Iran,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Showdown at Turkey’s Security Council,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“IDF Operation in Gaza Continues,” IBA TV, Israel
“New York School to Teach Arabic Meets Resistance,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar

The Path Towards War With Iran By Jeremy R. Hammond

Dandelion Salad

By Jeremy R. Hammond
08/23/07 “ICH

Ramifications of the proposal to add Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to the list of terrorist organizations

This month saw yet another escalation of the U.S. policy of isolating and pressuring Iran as the White House announced its intention to add Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. There is something to be learned from this about the nature of U.S. foreign policy if we care to examine the implications; and the ramifications of such a decision could be quite serious and potentially deadly, so it warrants a look.

The announcement was preceded by yet another declaration from the Pentagon that Iran was supplying “explosively formed penetrators” (EFPs) to Shiite militias combating the U.S. occupying forces in Iraq. The weapon is basically an improvised explosive device which projects a slug of metal upon detonation capable of penetrating armor. July, the Pentagon said, was a record-breaking month for incidents in which U.S. forces were faced with such weapons.

The actual evidence implicating the Iranian government in supplying the weapons is scant and relies upon two assumptions. The first is that Iraqis are not capable of assembling such a weapon, or at least not capable of manufacturing the required components, and the devices must therefore be supplied from elsewhere. The second is that the use of components manufactured in Iran could not occur without the knowledge and blessing of the Iranian government. Both assumptions are questionable, but the claim is given much the same appearance as fact as claims of Iraq’s WMD were prior to that invasion.

Whether the charges are true or not, the criticism of Iran is that they are contributing to the violence in Iraq. When Iran does so, it’s bad, presumably one of those things which makes Iran a part of an “axis of evil”. The U.S., on the other hand, which created the current state of violent affairs by waging what is known in international law as a war of aggression, “the supreme international crime”, against Iraq, is good. Our violence is legitimate and our intentions benevolent, while Iran’s violence (real or alleged), though far lesser in scale and in consequence, is illegitimate and their intentions evil. This unquestionable axiom is one of the most basic elements of the existing framework for discussion.

Similarly, reporting on the announcement that the White House is preparing to declare the Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization has been completely devoid of any examination of whether this designation would be appropriate or not. The reasons for the proposal are given: Iran has defied the U.S. and refused to comply with U.N. resolutions calling for it to renounce its rights under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) to continue with research and development of its nuclear program while monitoring and verification inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are ongoing; Iran has supported attacks upon U.S. troops by supplying weapons to Iraqis combating the foreign occupation of their country; Iran has helped to arm the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan; and Iran has also supported Lebanon’s Hezbollah organization, such as during Israel’s war on Lebanon last summer.

This case against Iran is stronger in some respects than in others. Hezbollah, during last summer’s war, engaged in actions that clearly fall under the definition of “terrorism”; namely its indiscriminate use of rocket attacks against Israel. Iranian support for Hezbollah, then, it could reasonably be argued, would be support for terrorism. Indeed, this argument is quite commonly made and rarely, if ever, questioned. Yet the corollary, if we apply the same standard—that Israel’s indiscriminate attacks against Lebanon were, therefore, likewise acts of “terrorism”, that the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) is a terrorist organization, and that the U.S. government’s support for Israel is, therefore, likewise support for terrorism—is inconceivable for commentators and policy-makers.

If the charge was true, a similar argument in favor of the White House proposal could be made in the case of Iranian support for the Taliban. The charge happens to be frivolous. Iran has historically opposed the Taliban and supported its opponents, the U.S.’s allies in the Northern Alliance (when many of these same warlords were removed from power by the Taliban, the Taliban were greeted as liberators). In fact, it was the U.S.’s allies Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that historically supported the Taliban. Pakistan openly supported the Taliban right up until 9/11. At that time, Pakistan officially ceased its support and joined the U.S. as its “ally” in the “war on terrorism”. Unofficially, Pakistani support for the Taliban arguably never ended (a situation which has caused some complications in relations between the “allies”, including threats of U.S. forces entering Pakistan).

As for the U.S. itself, it too was friendly towards the Taliban. Representatives from the Taliban were wooed by U.S. energy corporation executives and there were proposals (in need of government approval) to work with the Taliban to construct a pipeline across Afghanistan to transfer the wealth of oil and gas from the Caspian Sea region to a port in neighboring Pakistan. Eventually, public outrage against the Taliban and their treatment of women (their harboring of Osama bin Laden was not such an issue then) forced both corporations (namely UNOCAL) and the government to turn a cold shoulder to the Taliban and policy shifted more towards regime change in order to create stable enough conditions to go ahead with the proposed deals.

Even so, in 2001, in the months prior to 9/11, the U.S. gave $168 million in what it called aid to the Taliban. In May alone, the U.S. pledged to give $43 million, ostensibly to assist the Taliban in its efforts to eradicate the poppy crop in Afghanistan, which, except for a very brief spell under Taliban rule, has long provided the world with most of its heroin (this was one result of the Soviet-Afghan war as it provided financing for the U.S.-backed Mujahedeen; and production since the U.S. war on Afghanistan has once again soared, blowing away all past records).

Iran, on the other hand, opposed the Taliban from the beginning, preferring the warlords which the U.S. now also calls allies. Evidence that Iranian policy has shifted from the historical precedent by180 degrees is nonexistent—but, as was the case with the invasion of Iraq—evidence is hardly necessary. Policy makers simply make this stuff up and expect people to believe it (an expectation which, unfortunately, is not unreasonable, as the case of Iraq proved). Then when hindsight proves them wrong, the inconsistency between what was stated and the truth can be attributed as an “intelligence failure”.

The Taliban has been responsible for acts of terrorism in Afghanistan since the U.S. began its war there and, prior to that, harbored Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization which was presumably responsible for the attacks of 9/11. If the charge was true, the case could be made that Iran’s support for the Taliban was support for terrorism. But once again, applying the same standard to itself leads to uncomfortable conclusions for the U.S. It was the U.S. and its allies, and not Iran, that supported the Taliban. One could go further and point to the U.S.’s support for the Mujahedeen during the Soviet-Afghan war, which gave birth to al Qaeda (“the base”) and precipitated the rise of the Taliban to begin with. We have historically found the same phenomenon with many other cases of U.S. foreign policy across the globe, such as the U.S. support for the Contras in the war against Nicaragua (for which the U.S. was condemned by the World Court). Further examples abound.

The most prominent charge against Iran in the case to list a branch of its military as a terrorist organization is its alleged support for Iraqi militias fighting U.S. troops. While this claim has been given significant coverage in news articles reporting on the White House’s intention to add the Revolutionary Guard to the list of terrorist organizations, the fact that such actions don’t fall within the definition of “terrorism” has gone unmentioned and the reasonableness of adding Iran to the list based upon this charge left unquestioned. Under international law, attacks upon military personnel of a foreign occupying power are not terrorism, but legitimate acts of self-defense. This is a well recognized fact to any competent observer, but inconvenient. If we acknowledged this, we would either have to face up to our own hypocrisy or reasonably explain why the same standard applied to others isn’t also applied to ourselves, and vice versa. Hence it is simply ignored.

As for Iran’s nuclear program, as a member of the NPT it is quite legal for Iran to research and develop nuclear technology so long as it is used for peaceful purposes only. There is no evidence that Iran is attempting to use its technology to build a nuclear weapon. It’s reasonable to be concerned about Iran’s intentions, but the IAEA should be allowed to fulfill its function to ensure that members of the NPT comply with its terms. More to the point, researching and developing nuclear technology as a member of the NPT does not fall within the definition of “terrorism”, which has become a catch-all phrase used to describe anything foreign nations do that the U.S. doesn’t approve of. The word has thus become virtually meaningless, much as “communism” had been before it with relation to U.S. foreign policy.

This is the existing framework, and the consequence of continuing within its limited confines is perfectly well understood: the U.S. will engage in military attacks against Iran with devastating and predictable consequences which will subsequently be seen as perhaps regrettable, but unaffecting our claims of benevolent intent. This violent end is becoming increasingly inevitable because the existing framework makes it so; it is designed to make it so. Current U.S. policy towards Iran is designed to create a casus belli for attacking Iran. Then, when it occurs, it will be pointed to as justification for the policy that led to it.

U.S. pressure against Iran through the U.N. Security Council, it’s insistence that Iran give up its nuclear program despite being a member of the NPT and despite the enforcement of sanctions, will lead to Iran becoming increasingly defiant until the point they finally decide to withdraw from the NPT treaty (which they have already threatened to do, as predicted) and insist upon the withdrawal of all IAEA personnel. Iran has claimed its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes only, but threats of violence against Iran by the U.S. and its Middle East ally, Israel, can only demonstrate to Iran its need for a nuclear weapon to deter aggression from these nuclear powers that have openly declared their intention to bomb should Iran refuse to comply with U.S. demands. This future consequence, too, is well understood, and predictable. U.S. policy towards Iran is self-fulfilling, which is to say that it produces the very result it claims to be trying to prevent.

This was true for U.S. policy towards Iraq, as well. It was well understood that, given the assumption that Iraq actually had weapons of mass destruction (WMD)—a claim for which there was no credible evidence at the time—Saddam Hussein would only be willing to use his WMD against the U.S. or U.S. forces as a final act of desperation in the event that the U.S. invaded Iraq. Iraq had no WMD, of course, and this never occurred, but the fact is that U.S. leaders claimed the policy was designed to prevent such an occurrence while in fact bringing about the very circumstances required to make such an occurrence most likely.

In addition, the war was ostensibly fought to secure and destroy alleged stockpiles of WMD to prevent them from winding up in the hands of terrorists while actually exponentially increasing the chances that this very thing would happen, as a result of the chaos and looting that would occur as a result of destabilizing the government and the resulting foreseeable breakdown of law and order. Had Iraq had WMD, it is quite possible that the weapons would have ended up in the hands of terrorists not in spite of but as a result of the U.S. invasion.

The U.S. claimed that Iraq was an enemy in the “war on terrorism” and justifies the ongoing occupation by arguing that it needs to stay to combat the terrorism and other violence that exists there now as a consequence of the U.S. invasion. The war, as predicted, has also had the effect of increasing anti-American sentiment throughout the region and served as a catalyst for recruitment of increasingly frustrated and disillusioned Muslims into radical and violent organizations willing to use terrorism to achieve their ends. The “war on terrorism”, in other words, has increased the threat of terrorism by no small measure. In this case, though predicted, the intent of the policy was not to increase the threat of terrorism; it simply wasn’t a consideration that warranted much attention in their planning.

Further examples abound and the pattern is a well established aspect of U.S. foreign policy, not only in the Middle East but across the globe. There is no slight inconsistency with the declared intention of U.S. policy and its actual consequences. If their declared intentions are honest, then U.S. leaders would appear to be inept. On the other hand, if U.S. leaders are not incompetent, then the declared purposes of policies they establish cannot possibly be the correct ones. Assuming our leaders aren’t nincompoops, the corollary seems all too obvious: policy-makers constantly deceive the public about their true motives for implementing existing policies. Thus, the U.S. didn’t go to war to prevent Iraq from using WMD or from providing WMD to terrorists. We may debate true purpose of the invasion, but that the declared intentions were completely implausible and ridiculous should be fairly self-evident to all by now (as it was at the time for many of us).

In the case of Iran, U.S. policy makers claim to be trying to ensure peace and stability in the region by preventing Iran from developing a nuclear weapon and from supporting terrorism. The policies themselves, however, only serve to isolate Iran and increase the likelihood that Iran will withdraw from the NPT and actually begin to develop a nuclear weapon, as well as to provide motive for Iran to support attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq. Numerous commentators and foreign policy experts have observed that if the U.S. were to attack Iran, one likely consequence would be Iranian support for attacks against the U.S., from increased support for the Iraqi resistance fighters to support for terrorist acts by Hezbollah or other organizations against U.S. interests throughout the region, and possibly even at home. Once again, we see policies greatly increasing the likelihood of consequences policy-makers claim they are trying to prevent.

So what is the true reason for existing U.S. policies towards Iran? There may be a number of motivating influences, but we may again learn from the lesson of Iraq to make an educated guess about the answer. In that case, it was clear that Saddam Hussein had for too long successfully defied the U.S. and thus threatened U.S. credibility as the global superpower. An example had to be made of Iraq, and the consequences for the Iraqi people were simply not a consideration. This was true for the sanctions as well as for the war. For instance, when asked about UN sanctions that had resulted in the deaths of half a million children, then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright responded, “we think the price is worth it”. It was well understood at the time that the sanctions only served to strengthen the Hussein regime’s hold over the Iraqi people while collectively punishing the Iraqi people themselves. But the policy remained consistent.

Like any good mafia don, credibility was at stake and the U.S. had to take action to set an example. This motive is easily identifiable amongst documents written by current policy makers, such as the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance draft, The Project for a New American Century’s “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” document, or the U.S. National Security Strategy announced early on by the Bush administration.

Also, Iraq has lots of oil.

That this is the true purpose of U.S. policy should not come as all too surprising, particularly when policy makers have openly declared their intention of establishing global dominance with a focus on the energy-rich Middle East. What is more difficult for many people to accept is that the reasons they are given for a particular policy, which are important to them, are of little or no consideration to policy-makers.

Thus, as former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz had noted, the issues of WMDs and terrorism were chosen as the dominant justifications for the war. This was for a good reason; not because preventing proliferation and terrorism are high on the government’s agenda, but because it’s something the American people feel they have an interest in (particularly when made to feel threatened by images of a “mushroom cloud” that could be the “smoking gun” in the case of Iraq). The war was thus consciously and deliberately sold to Americans upon this false pretext. It’s not that policy makers don’t care about proliferation and terrorism; it’s just wasn’t a consideration when policy was being made towards Iraq.

The devastating consequences that many observers have predicted would result from an attack upon Iran do not have to be inevitable. A change of course is possible and there are alternatives to violence that would increase the likelihood that the stated purpose for U.S. policies would actually be fulfilled. In the case of Iran, this would mean establishing policies that increase the chances for peace and stability in the region. Ceasing from waging war and encouraging instability would be a good first step for the U.S. But we can go further.

It might be possible to establish policies that help increase the chances that Iran will continue to cooperate with the IAEA to ensure that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes only. This would require a cessation of the effort to isolate Iran and an increased effort to engage Iranian leaders in a constructive dialogue. And with relation to Iraq, it presents a historic opportunity for the U.S. to open up a dialogue with Iran and come to some consensus on what needs to be done to heal the situation, which might not be too difficult since both countries share similar interests in achieving a secure and stable Iraq led by a democratic, Shiite-dominated government. So far, meaningful steps towards peace and stability have been rejected by the current U.S. administration and a path towards war has once again been chosen as the desired course of action.

Jeremy R. Hammond is an independent researcher and writer currently residing with his wife in Taiwan. His articles have appeared in numerous online publications and he maintains a website dedicated to examining the myths and realities of U.S. foreign policy, primarily with regard to the “war on terrorism” and the Middle East. –

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Why Cheney Really Is That Bad By Scott Ritter (must-read)

Dandelion Salad

By Scott Ritter
Aug. 23, 2007

Karl Rove, interchangeably known as “Boy Genius” or “Turd Blossom,” has left the White House. The press conference announcing his decision to resign has been given front-page treatment by most major media outlets, but the fact of the matter is the buzz surrounding Rove’s departure is much ado about nothing, especially in terms of coming to grips with the remaining 16 months of the worst presidency in the history of the United States.

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A Boycott Of Israel: Something Has Changed By John Pilger

Dandelion Salad

By John Pilger
08/23/07 “ICH

From a limestone hill rising above Qalandia refugee camp you can see Jerusalem. I watched a lone figure standing there in the rain, his son holding the tail of his long tattered coat. He extended his hand and did not let go. “I am Ahmed Hamzeh, street entertainer,” he said in measured English. “Over there, I played many musical instruments; I sang in Arabic, English and Hebrew, and because I was rather poor, my very small son would chew gum while the monkey did its tricks. When we lost our country, we lost respect. One day a rich Kuwaiti stopped his car in front of us. He shouted at my son, “Show me how a Palestinian picks up his food rations!” So I made the monkey appear to scavenge on the ground, in the gutter. And my son scavenged with him. The Kuwaiti threw coins and my son crawled on his knees to pick them up. This was not right; I was an artist, not a beggar . . . I am not even a peasant now.”

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