Dennis Kucinich: Bill Moyers Journal 01.04.08 (videos)

Dandelion Salad

More info and transcript: PBS Bill Moyers Journal

Also:

Campaign analyst Kathleen Hall Jamieson on life after Iowa. (video)

Do Debates Matter?

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PBS

Dennis Kucinich on Bill Moyers Journal. January 4th 2008.

Thousands of media outlets descended on Iowa, erecting a powerful wall of TV cameras and reporters between the voters and candidates. Bill Moyers talks with Dennis Kucinich who knows well the power of the press to set expectations and transform the agenda.

January 04, 2008

see

Blackout of Kucinich, Hiring of Falsifier Kristol, NY Times Loses Credibility Protecting the Insane by Jay Janson

Dennis Kucinich – The Real Democrat (video)

A Call to Action: Candidates Excluded Again from Debates By Manila Ryce

Kucinich-Dennis

Dennis Kucinich Can Win by Lo

On The Issues: Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul by Lo

Attention Democrats: Who’ll Stand Up for Working Americans? (video)

Ron Paul: Bill Moyers Journal 01.04.08 (videos)

Dandelion Salad

More info and transcript: PBS Bill Moyers Journal

Also:

Campaign analyst Kathleen Hall Jamieson on life after Iowa. (video)

Do Debates Matter?

***

PBS

Ron Paul on Bill Moyers Journal. January 4th 2008.

Thousands of media outlets descended on Iowa, erecting a powerful wall of TV cameras and reporters between the voters and candidates. Bill Moyers talks with Ron Paul who knows well the power of the press to set expectations and transform the agenda.

January 04, 2008

see

Paul-Ron

A Call to Action: Candidates Excluded Again from Debates By Manila Ryce

Blackout of Kucinich, Hiring of Falsifier Kristol, NY Times Loses Credibility Protecting the Insane by Jay Janson

Dandelion Salad

by Jay Janson
http://www.opednews.com
January 4, 2008

The US newspaper of record, displayed in all libraries and used by students in junior high, high school, college and university is as much a corporate whore as are the sordid sex, crime, and scandals featuring news tabloids.

They all monger war for the giant corporate governance of America, now openly led by the industrial-military complex of conglomerates with interconnected interests and ownership control interlocked with the big six that own the TV channels and radio stations.

Presidential candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich is making himself a corporate governance troublemaker, having introduced bills of impeachment and speaking out unequivocally in favor of ending the wars of occupation.

Dec. 30, 2007, NY Times prints across the open pages 16 – 17 photos of Democratic and Republican candidates under the title: “After a Long Campaign, Issues Emerge and Presidential Candidates Shape Their Stances” Candidate Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s name and photo is amazingly just plain missing, and not even a mention of his ‘stances’, though each and every other candidate is covered in detail!

Damn! Can one call the NY Times and complain? No, not since many years.

Well, how ’bout calling the Federal Elections Commission? No. In the US there is ‘free press’. The Times is ‘free’ to eliminate from consideration anyone it pleases. The TV channels previously eliminated anti-Vietnam War Senator candidate Mike Gravel from the debates. On his last permitted debate Gravel said, “they died, and they are dying now, in vain!” The last time your author called the FEC to ask how the commission could have accepted Ralph Nader, a bonafide federal funds receiving candidate, being blocked from participation in TV debates, there was at least a nervous response, “Yes, we have some uneasiness about Nader’s exclusion and we intend to look into this more.” That was in back in 2000. America has since progressed in delimiting ‘democratic’ elections.

No! The NY Times says Kucinich is a non-reportable candidate, and that’s that. As the sad saying goes, ‘That’s all she wrote.’ – candidate Chris Dodd (who?), does appear on page 16, with photo and with his not so unique ‘stance’ on each of the listed issues. But then Chris Dodd has not been making waves.

One imagines that the mindless and amorphous monster, the NY Times prostitutes itself for, has heard just about enough of Kucinich’s impeachment bills. The Times has religiously grossly under-reporting the swelling, impeachment movement around the nation. So much for ethical journalism regarding national and domestic affairs in America.

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.

see

Dennis Kucinich – The Real Democrat (video)

A Call to Action: Candidates Excluded Again from Debates By Manila Ryce

Kucinich-Dennis

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

Dandelion Salad

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

Selected Episode

Jan. 3, 2008

linktv

For more: http://linktv.org/originalseries
“Nassrallah & Jumblat Trade Accusations,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Syria Suspends Cooperation with France Over Lebanon,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Interpreting Nasrallah,” IBA TV, Israel
“Clashes in Gaza & West Bank,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Palestinians Shave Their Heads Protesting Hamas’ Policies,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Hamas Advances in Missile Technology,” Al Aqsa, Gaza
“Palestinian Authority Wants to Re-open Gaza’s Crossings,” Palestine TV, Ramallah
“Pakistani Opposition Demands More Protection,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Car Bomb Attack in Turkey,” IRIB2 TV, Iran
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Dennis Kucinich – The Real Democrat (video) + ABC violates public interests, endorsing chosen candidates

Dandelion Salad

Kucinich2008
January 04, 2008

Help America hear from a real democrat

It’s happening again … They’re excluding Dennis Kucinich from tomorrow’s debate!

ABC News announced today that Dennis Kucinich will not be allowed to participate in tomorrow’s nationally televised debate from St. Anselm College in New Hampshire.

The Democratic Debate tomorrow is about figuring out what real Democrats care about. Real Democrats want to vote for someone who:

– has opposed the Iraq War from the beginning
– has defended the Constitution from the Bush Administration
– will give our country single payer not-for-profit health care.

Mainstream America needs to hear about the one real Democrat
Dennis Kucinich.

Tomorrow, during the debate, we want to air a message from Dennis Kucinich as a paid advertisement. To do that, we need your support to purchase an advertisement during the debate.

See the video above.

Please contribute $25, $50, $100, or any amount you can so we can air our commercial during Saturday’s Debate.

Together, we can overcome the media blockade.

Together, we can let mainstream America hear the message of the one real Democrat Dennis Kucinich.

Peace through Strength
The Kucinich Campaign

PS. You can tune in to the debate tomorrow at 7 pm EST (see local listings) on ABC News for the debate to see Dennis’ message.

***

ABC violates public interests, endorsing chosen candidates

Dennis 4 President

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Kucinich for President campaign late today filed an emergency complaint with the Federal Communications Commission claiming that the ABC television network “is violating its obligation to operate in the public interest” by excluding Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich from tomorrow night’s scheduled debate in Manchester, NH.

Further, the complaint charges, the televised event “is not a true presidential primary debate without including all credible candidates, but instead is effectively an endorsement of the candidates selected by ABC.” The filing also notes that ABC “is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Walt Disney, Co., whose executives have contributed heavily to other Democratic presidential primary candidates, including Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, former Senator John Edwards, and Governor Bill Richardson.”

And, the filing points out, Kucinich “is the only Democratic presidential candidate who has qualified for Federal matching funds who is being excluded by ABC.” (Full FCC complaint.)

“Although ABC would prefer to only report on easily described and well-known candidates, the proper enforcement of the Federal Communications Act ensures America’s voters that they will have the ability to vote for candidates with varied and new ideas and policies,” says the complaint. “ABC should not be the first primary.”

The Kucinich urged that ABC reverse its decision rather than face possible FCC action.

Among the so-called “criteria” established by ABC for inclusion in Saturday night’s debate is a fourth-place or better showing in Thursday’s Iowa caucuses. Kucinich effectively by-passed the Iowa caucuses because the state Democratic Party and other political and institutional interests there excluded him from two earlier debates and from Party-sponsored functions. Instead, the Kucinich campaign has focused heavily on New Hampshire.

To underscore Kucinich’s standing as both a “credible” and “qualified” candidate, the emergency complaint notes that he has campaign offices in Keene, Dover, Manchester, and Concord, paid staff, hundreds of campaign volunteers, and significant financial contributions from residents of New Hampshire. “In addition, Complainant Kucinich has been the winner in national online polls conducted by Democracy for America (receiving almost 50,000 votes while the closest competitor only received 38,000), Virginia State Democratic Party (receiving 30% of the Democratic vote while the closest competitor received 27%), Independent Voters (75% of the Democratic vote out of 80,000 online voters), as well as polls by Progressive Democrats of America and the Nation.  In an ABC News poll, Complainant Kucinich received the most support from 42,487 voters (garnering 35% of the vote to 22% for the next closest candidate) who were asked who won the Democratic presidential primary debate on August 19, 2007.”

Also, Kucinich’s “opponents share very similar policy platforms” while Kucinich offers very different positions on issues such as the war in Iraq and health care reform. His exclusion from the debate, therefore, “is contrary to ‘the public interest to afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of issues of public importance’.”  ABC’s “arbitrary and capricious decision “causes irreparable harm to the public interest by robbing the voters of the opportunity to hear his policy platform, including his pro-peace initiatives,” says the complaint.
see

A Call to Action: Candidates Excluded Again from Debates By Manila Ryce

Attention Democrats: Who’ll Stand Up for Working Americans? (video)

Dennis Kucinich: My Fellow Americans… (video)

Marc Pedraza: Vote Daily (music video)

Kucinich-Dennis

Dennis Kucinich Can Win by Lo

Iraqis resort to selling children By Afif Sarhan

Dandelion Salad

By Afif Sarhan in Baghdad
ICH
01/04/08 “Al Jazeera English

Abu Muhammad, a Baghdad resident, found it difficult to let go of his daughter’s hand but he had already convinced himself that selling her to a family outside Iraq would provide her with a better future.

“The war disgraced my family. I lost relatives including my wife among thousands of victims of sectarian violence and was forced to sell my daughter to give my other children something to eat,” he told Al Jazeera.

In 2006, Abu Muhammad and his family were forced to leave their home in Adhamiya, a district of Baghdad, after militia fighting claimed the streets in his once tranquil neighbourhood.

They began living in a makeshift refugee camp on the outskirts of Baghdad, but he soon lost his job and the children, unable to make the daily trek, quit school.

“There wasn’t enough money to spend on books, clothes and transport,” he said. His daughter, Fatima, the youngest of four children, began to show signs of malnourishment and a local medic said she had become anaemic.

Desperation

By mid-2007, conditions for his family had become desperate and his children, once healthy and bubbling with life, had become gaunt and lethargic.

It was then that a translator and a Swedish couple claiming to be part of an international NGO arrived in the makeshift refugee camp.

“They heard about my situation and the woman, who said she could not have babies, offered some money to give her my youngest daughter of two years old,” he said.

“I refused in the beginning but the Iraqi translator was constantly coming at the camp and insisting with the same question. One day I found that my children would die without food and a clean environment and the next time he came to my tent, I told him that I agreed.”

He gave the translator all personal documents and after a week the couple came with new documents for Abu Muhammad to sign, authorising the adoption and to pick up his daughter.

Abu Muhammad, who received $10,000, believes he is now damned by God, but he says his inner turmoil is allayed somewhat by his belief that Fatima will have a better life than many in Iraq.

“I could see her love in the first time she looked at her,” he said of the adoptive mother.

Alarming disappearances

Local officials and aid workers have expressed concern over the alarming rate at which children are disappearing countrywide in Iraq’s current unstable environment.

Omar Khalif, vice-president of the Iraqi Families Association, (IFA), a NGO established in 2004 to register cases of those missing and trafficked, said that at least two children are sold by their parents every week.

Another four are reported missing every week.

He said: “[The] Numbers are alarming. There is an increase of 20 per cent in the reported cases of missing children compared to last year.”

“In previous years, children were reported missing on their way home from schools or after playing with friends outside their homes. However, police investigations, police have revealed that many have been sold by their parents to foreign couples or specialised gangs.”

According to police investigations and an independent IFA study, Iraqi children are being sold to families in many European countries – particularly the Netherlands and Sweden – Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

“Taking advantage of the desperate situation of many families living under poverty conditions in Iraq, foreigners offer a good amount of money in exchange of children as young as one month old and up to five years of age,” Khalif said.

He said there are fears children are being trafficked for the sex trade and the organ transplant black market.

Children drugged

Hassan Alaa, a senior interior ministry official, said that while it has been difficult to precisely trace where the missing children are taken, government forces have captured 15 human trafficking gangs operating in Iraq in the past nine months.

“Many were carrying false documents prepared to take some children out from the country.”

“During their confessions, they said many children are sold for as little as $3000 and for very young babies, the price could reach $30,000,” Alaa said.

The interior ministry has stepped up its security at checkpoints and border posts throughout Iraq.

He says that the child traffickers resort to drugging children with powerful sedatives during the trip out of Iraq. When they drive up to a checkpoint, the police are told the children are merely sleeping.

“All children leaving Iraq now have to be woken up and interviewed by the police and border patrols, except those who are infants and unable to speak,” Alaa said.

Extreme poverty

Mahmoud Saeed, a senior official at the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, says extreme poverty and nationwide unemployment have pushed parents to the edge, forcing them to make decisions once believed unthinkable.

“Desperate seeing their families without food and hygiene, parents prefer to give their children for adoption, to save their lives,” he said.

Saeed said the ministry was making employment a national crisis issue in 2008, hoping to find immediate work for the poor.

He is hoping international aid agencies and NGOs will increase their participation and investments in projects geared towards helping children.

But for many parents, help will inevitably come too late.

Anguish

Khalid Jabboury, 38, a father of seven and displaced on the outskirts of Baghdad, says giving his daughter up for adoption to a Jordanian family has given him nothing but torment.

He said: “After one year I heard from some relatives that they had seen my seven-year-old daughter working as a servant for the supposed new family and she was being beaten as well.”

He says he was paid $20,000 for but wants to give the money back if a local NGO can assist in her repatriation.

The IFA’s Khalif says there is nothing the NGOs can do once children have been taken out of Iraq.

Ruwaida Saleh, 31, a mother of three, is also praying for her eight-year-old daughter Hala’s safety.

Saleh says her daughter disappeared in July 2007 and has not been heard from since.

“The police told us to give up, but I cannot. I have nightmares she is being raped,” she said.

“I will hold God’s hands and beg Him to have Hala in my arms again one day. It is a pain without explanation that I will carry to my coffin if I never find her.”

December 2007 Unicef Report on Iraqi ChildrenRoger Wright, Unicef’s Special Representative for Iraq recently told the media that “Iraqi children are paying far too high a price.”

“While we have been providing as much assistance as possible, a new window of opportunity is opening, which should enable us to reach the most vulnerable with expanded, consistent support. We must act now.”

Unicef says:

– An estimated 2 million children in Iraq continue to face threats including poor nutrition, disease and interrupted education.

– Many of the 220,000 displaced children of primary school age had their education interrupted.

– An estimated 760,000 children (17 per cent) did not go to primary schools in 2006.

– An average 25,000 children per month were displaced by violence or intimidation, with their families seeking shelter in other parts of Iraq.

– In 2007, approximately 75,000 children had resorted to living in camps or temporary shelters.

– Hundreds of children lost their lives or were injured by violence and many more had their main family wage-earner kidnapped or killed.

Source: Al Jazeera English

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.

Education is Ignorance By Noam Chomsky (1995)

Dandelion Salad

By Noam Chomsky
01/04/08 “ICH”

Excerpted from Class Warfare, 1995, pp. 19-23, 27-31

DAVID BARSAMIAN: One of the heroes of the current right-wing revival… is Adam Smith. You’ve done some pretty impressive research on Smith that has excavated… a lot of information that’s not coming out. You’ve often quoted him describing the “vile maxim of the masters of mankind: all for ourselves and nothing for other people.”

NOAM CHOMSKY: I didn’t do any research at all on Smith. I just read him. There’s no research. Just read it. He’s pre-capitalist, a figure of the Enlightenment. What we would call capitalism he despised. People read snippets of Adam Smith, the few phrases they teach in school. Everybody reads the first paragraph of The Wealth of Nations where he talks about how wonderful the division of labor is. But not many people get to the point hundreds of pages later, where he says that division of labor will destroy human beings and turn people into creatures as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be. And therefore in any civilized society the government is going to have to take some measures to prevent division of labor from proceeding to its limits.

He did give an argument for markets, but the argument was that under conditions of perfect liberty, markets will lead to perfect equality. That’s the argument for them, because he thought that equality of condition (not just opportunity) is what you should be aiming at. It goes on and on. He gave a devastating critique of what we would call North-South policies. He was talking about England and India. He bitterly condemned the British experiments they were carrying out which were devastating India.

He also made remarks which ought to be truisms about the way states work. He pointed out that its totally senseless to talk about a nation and what we would nowadays call “national interests.” He simply observed in passing, because it’s so obvious, that in England, which is what he’s discussing — and it was the most democratic society of the day — the principal architects of policy are the “merchants and manufacturers,” and they make certain that their own interests are, in his words, “most peculiarly attended to,” no matter what the effect on others, including the people of England who, he argued, suffered from their policies. He didn’t have the data to prove it at the time, but he was probably right.

This truism was, a century later, called class analysis, but you don’t have to go to Marx to find it. It’s very explicit in Adam Smith. It’s so obvious that any ten-year-old can see it. So he didn’t make a big point of it. He just mentioned it. But that’s correct. If you read through his work, he’s intelligent. He’s a person who was from the Enlightenment. His driving motives were the assumption that people were guided by sympathy and feelings of solidarity and the need for control of their own work, much like other Enlightenment and early Romantic thinkers. He’s part of that period, the Scottish Enlightenment.

The version of him that’s given today is just ridiculous. But I didn’t have to any research to find this out. All you have to do is read. If you’re literate, you’ll find it out. I did do a little research in the way it’s treated, and that’s interesting. For example, the University of Chicago, the great bastion of free market economics, etc., etc., published a bicentennial edition of the hero, a scholarly edition with all the footnotes and the introduction by a Nobel Prize winner, George Stigler, a huge index, a real scholarly edition. That’s the one I used. It’s the best edition. The scholarly framework was very interesting, including Stigler’s introduction. It’s likely he never opened The Wealth of Nations. Just about everything he said about the book was completely false. I went through a bunch of examples in writing about it, in Year 501 and elsewhere.

But even more interesting in some ways was the index. Adam Smith is very well known for his advocacy of division of labor. Take a look at “division of labor” in the index and there are lots and lots of things listed. But there’s one missing, namely his denunciation of division of labor, the one I just cited. That’s somehow missing from the index. It goes on like this. I wouldn’t call this research because it’s ten minutes’ work, but if you look at the scholarship, then it’s interesting.

I want to be clear about this. There is good Smith scholarship. If you look at the serious Smith scholarship, nothing I’m saying is any surprise to anyone. How could it be? You open the book and you read it and it’s staring you right in the face. On the other hand if you look at the myth of Adam Smith, which is the only one we get, the discrepancy between that and the reality is enormous.

This is true of classical liberalism in general. The founders of classical liberalism, people like Adam Smith and Wilhelm von Humboldt, who is one of the great exponents of classical liberalism, and who inspired John Stuart Mill — they were what we would call libertarian socialists, at least that ïs the way I read them. For example, Humboldt, like Smith, says, Consider a craftsman who builds some beautiful thing. Humboldt says if he does it under external coercion, like pay, for wages, we may admire what he does but we despise what he is. On the other hand, if he does it out of his own free, creative expression of himself, under free will, not under external coercion of wage labor, then we also admire what he is because he’s a human being. He said any decent socioeconomic system will be based on the assumption that people have the freedom to inquire and create — since that’s the fundamental nature of humans — in free association with others, but certainly not under the kinds of external constraints that came to be called capitalism.

It’s the same when you read Jefferson. He lived a half century later, so he saw state capitalism developing, and he despised it, of course. He said it’s going to lead to a form of absolutism worse than the one we defended ourselves against. In fact, if you run through this whole period you see a very clear, sharp critique of what we would later call capitalism and certainly of the twentieth century version of it, which is designed to destroy individual, even entrepreneurial capitalism.

There’s a side current here which is rarely looked at but which is also quite fascinating. That’s the working class literature of the nineteenth century. They didn’t read Adam Smith and Wilhelm von Humboldt, but they’re saying the same things. Read journals put out by the people called the “factory girls of Lowell,” young women in the factories, mechanics, and other working people who were running their own newspapers. It’s the same kind of critique. There was a real battle fought by working people in England and the U.S. to defend themselves against what they called the degradation and oppression and violence of the industrial capitalist system, which was not only dehumanizing them but was even radically reducing their intellectual level. So, you go back to the mid-nineteenth century and these so-called “factory girls,” young girls working in the Lowell [Massachusetts] mills, were reading serious contemporary literature. They recognized that the point of the system was to turn them into tools who would be manipulated, degraded, kicked around, and so on. And they fought against it bitterly for a long period. That’s the history of the rise of capitalism.

The other part of the story is the development of corporations, which is an interesting story in itself. Adam Smith didn’t say much about them, but he did criticize the early stages of them. Jefferson lived long enough to see the beginnings, and he was very strongly opposed to them. But the development of corporations really took place in the early twentieth century and very late in the nineteenth century. Originally, corporations existed as a public service. People would get together to build a bridge and they would be incorporated for that purpose by the state. They built the bridge and that’s it. They were supposed to have a public interest function. Well into the 1870s, states were removing corporate charters. They were granted by the state. They didn’t have any other authority. They were fictions. They were removing corporate charters because they weren’t serving a public function. But then you get into the period of the trusts and various efforts to consolidate power that were beginning to be made in the late nineteenth century. It’s interesting to look at the literature. The courts didn’t really accept it. There were some hints about it. It wasn’t until the early twentieth century that courts and lawyers designed a new socioeconomic system. It was never done by legislation. It was done mostly by courts and lawyers and the power they could exercise over individual states. New Jersey was the first state to offer corporations any right they wanted. Of course, all the capital in the country suddenly started to flow to New Jersey, for obvious reasons. Then the other states had to do the same thing just to defend themselves or be wiped out. It’s kind of a small-scale globalization. Then the courts and the corporate lawyers came along and created a whole new body of doctrine which gave corporations authority and power that they never had before. If you look at the background of it, it’s the same background that led to fascism and Bolshevism. A lot of it was supported by people called progressives, for these reasons: They said, individual rights are gone. We are in a period of corporatization of power, consolidation of power, centralization. That’s supposed to be good if you’re a progressive, like a Marxist-Leninist. Out of that same background came three major things: fascism, Bolshevism, and corporate tyranny. They all grew out of the same more or less Hegelian roots. It’s fairly recent. We think of corporations as immutable, but they were designed. It was a conscious design which worked as Adam Smith said: the principal architects of policy consolidate state power and use it for their interests. It was certainly not popular will. It’s basically court decisions and lawyers’ decisions, which created a form of private tyranny which is now more massive in many ways than even state tyranny was. These are major parts of modern twentieth century history. The classical liberals would be horrified. They didn’t even imagine this. But the smaller things that they saw, they were already horrified about. This would have totally scandalized Adam Smith or Jefferson or anyone like that….

BARSAMIAN: ….You’re very patient with people, particularly people who ask the most inane kinds of questions. Is this something you’ve cultivated?

CHOMSKY: First of all, I’m usually fuming inside, so what you see on the outside isn’t necessarily what’s inside. But as far as questions, the only thing I ever get irritated about is elite intellectuals, the stuff they do I do find irritating. I shouldn’t. I should expect it. But I do find it irritating. But on the other hand, what you’re describing as inane questions usually strike me as perfectly honest questions. People have no reason to believe anything other than what they’re saying. If you think about where the questioner is coming from, what the person has been exposed to, that’s a very rational and intelligent question. It may sound inane from some other point of view, but it’s not at all inane from within the framework in which it’s being raised. It’s usually quite reasonable. So there’s nothing to be irritated about.

You may be sorry about the conditions in which the questions arise. The thing to do is to try to help them get out of their intellectual confinement, which is not just accidental, as I mentioned. There are huge efforts that do go into making people, to borrow Adam Smith’s phrase, “as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be.” A lot of the educational system is designed for that, if you think about it, it’s designed for obedience and passivity. From childhood, a lot of it is designed to prevent people from being independent and creative. If you’re independent-minded in school, you’re probably going to get into trouble very early on. That’s not the trait that’s being preferred or cultivated. When people live through all this stuff, plus corporate propaganda, plus television, plus the press and the whole mass, the deluge of ideological distortion that goes on, they ask questions that from another point of view are completely reasonable….

BARSAMIAN: At the Mellon lecture that you gave in Chicago… you focused primarily on the ideas of John Dewey and Bertrand Russell [regarding education]…

CHOMSKY: … These were highly libertarian ideas. Dewey himself comes straight from the American mainstream. People who read what he actually said would now consider him some far-out anti-American lunatic or something. He was expressing mainstream thinking before the ideological system had so grotesquely distorted the tradition. By now, it’s unrecognizable. For example, not only did he agree with the whole Enlightenment tradition that, as he put it, “the goal of production is to produce free people,” — “free men,” he said, but that’s many years ago. That’s the goal of production, not to produce commodities. He was a major theorist of democracy. There were many different, conflicting strands of democratic theory, but the one I’m talking about held that democracy requires dissolution of private power. He said as long as there is private control over the economic system, talk about democracy is a joke. Repeating basically Adam Smith, Dewey said, Politics is the shadow that big business casts over society. He said attenuating the shadow doesn’t do much. Reforms are still going to leave it tyrannical. Basically, a classical liberal view. His main point was that you can’t even talk about democracy until you have democratic control of industry, commerce, banking, everything. That means control by the people who work in the institutions, and the communities.

These are standard libertarian socialist and anarchist ideas which go straight back to the Enlightenment, an outgrowth of the views of the kind that we were talking about before from classical liberalism. Dewey represented these in the modern period, as did Bertrand Russell, from another tradition, but again with roots in the Enlightenment. These were two of the major, if not the two major thinkers, of the twentieth century, whose ideas are about as well known as the real Adam Smith. Which is a sign of how efficient the educational system has been, and the propaganda system, in simply destroying even our awareness of our own immediate intellectual background.

BARSAMIAN: In that same Mellon lecture, you paraphrased Russell on education. You said that he promoted the idea that education is not to be viewed as something like filling a vessel with water, but rather assisting a flower to grow in its own way…

CHOMSKY: That’s an eighteenth century idea. I don’t know if Russell knew about it or reinvented it, but you read that as standard in early Enlightenment literature. That’s the image that was used… Humboldt, the founder of classical liberalism, his view was that education is a matter of laying out a string along which the child will develop, but in its own way. You may do some guiding. That’s what serious education would be from kindergarten up through graduate school. You do get it in advanced science, because there’s no other way to do it.

But most of the educational system is quite different. Mass education was designed to turn independent farmers into docile, passive tools of production. That was its primary purpose. And don’t think people didn’t know it. They knew it and they fought against it. There was a lot of resistance to mass education for exactly that reason. It was also understood by the elites. Emerson once said something about how we’re educating them to keep them from our throats. If you don’t educate them, what we call “education,” they’re going to take control — “they” being what Alexander Hamilton called the “great beast,” namely the people. The anti-democratic thrust of opinion in what are called democratic societies is really ferocious. And for good reason. Because the freer the society gets, the more dangerous the great beast becomes and the more you have to be careful to cage it somehow.

On the other hand, there are exceptions, and Dewey and Russell are among those exceptions. But they are completely marginalized and unknown, although everybody sings praises to them, as they do to Adam Smith. What they actually said would be considered intolerable in the autocratic climate of dominant opinion. The totalitarian element of it is quite striking. The very fact that the concept “anti-American” can exist — forget the way it’s used — exhibits a totalitarian streak that’s pretty dramatic. That concept, anti-Americanism — the only real counterpart to it in the modern world is anti-Sovietism. In the Soviet Union, the worst crime was to be anti-Soviet. That’s the hallmark of a totalitarian society, to have concepts like anti-Sovietism or anti-Americanism. Here it’s considered quite natural. Books on anti-Americanism, by people who are basically Stalinist clones, are highly respected. That’s true of Anglo-American societies, which are strikingly the more democratic societies. I think there’s a correlation there…As freedom grows, the need to coerce and control opinion also grows if you want to prevent the great beast from doing something with its freedom….

… Sam Bowles and Herb Gintis, two economists, in their work on the American educational system some years back… pointed out that the educational system is divided into fragments. The part that’s directed toward working people and the general population is indeed designed to impose obedience. But the education for elites can’t quite do that. It has to allow creativity and independence. Otherwise they won’t be able to do their job of making money. You find the same thing in the press. That’s why I read the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times and Business Week. They just have to tell the truth. That’s a contradiction in the mainstream press, too. Take, say, the New York Times or the Washington Post. They have dual functions and they’re contradictory. One function is to subdue the great beast. But another function is to let their audience, which is an elite audience, gain a tolerably realistic picture of what’s going on in the world. Otherwise, they won’t be able to satisfy their own needs. That’s a contradiction that runs right through the educational system as well. It’s totally independent of another factor, namely just professional integrity, which a lot of people have: honesty, no matter what the external constraints are. That leads to various complexities. If you really look at the details of how the newspapers work, you find these contradictions and problems playing themselves out in complicated ways….

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Social Repression & Internet Surveillance By Nikki Alexander

Dandelion Salad

By Nikki Alexander
01/04/08 “ICH

H. Res. 1695, 1955 & S.1959

Perhaps a clear and simple law is needed that states: “Congress shall pass no law abridging the freedom of speech. Speech includes ‘the broad and constant streams of information’ freely exchanged on the Internet.” Does the Internet need to be singled out? Or is this self-evident in the First Amendment to the Constitution?  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Clearly, Jane Harman (D-CA) who sponsored H.Res.1955 does not respect the Constitution. Nor does her partner, Dave Reichert (R-WA), who authored the original bill, H.Res.1695. Both bills seriously violate the most precious amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) are preparing to follow suit with a Senate companion bill, S.1959. Did any of the 404 members of the House of Representatives who voted for the passage of this bill understand that they violated our Constitutional rights, once again? The “immanent threat” charade seems to nullify their capacity for critical thinking and erase their memory of the Constitution, as well as their oath to defend it. How many Senators will succumb to terrorist fear tactics and betray the American people?

Among the Powers granted to the Federal Government by the People of the United States which one authorizes Congress to investigate the so-called “belief systems” of private citizens? Which Power granted by the People endows Congress with authority to investigate the motivations and clairvoyantly predict the intentions of private citizens? Which Power granted by the People authorizes Government surveillance and censorship of the Internet? Which Power granted by the People authorizes the Government to data mine the personal records of US citizens, subjectively filter the personal beliefs of Americans and categorize them for acceptability or to infiltrate local communities and eradicate ‘unacceptable’ beliefs? Which Power authorizes the Federal Government to gather intelligence on American citizens for use by Federal, State and local law enforcement? What is the Constitutional authority for Frau Harman’s storm troopers to terrorize the public through “vertical information sharing from the Intelligence Community to the local level and from local sources to State and Federal agencies”?

Is this Congress aware of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution? “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Is this Congress unclear about its Constitutional boundaries? Which rights are reserved to the People? The Ninth Amendment to the Constitution states: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the People.” The Tenth Amendment states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the People.” In other words, the People retain all rights not specifically granted to the Government. The rights to think freely, to exchange information, to choose values and beliefs and to freely associate with others are reserved to the People.

If current employees of the Federal Government are not happy with the laws that govern this country and would prefer to live under totalitarian regimes they are free to exit and live elsewhere. They are not free to pervert our laws to conform with their own personal belief systems and ideologically based values. In fact, they have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution as a prerequisite for holding public office.

This bill establishes a National Commission and Center of so-called “Excellence” to censor and crush social concerns which are subjectively perceived to be “threats” by RAND spokesmen, who supplied the content for this bill.  RAND coined the folksy epithets “homegrown terrorism,” “violent radicalization” and “ideologically based violence” to invalidate expressions of social conscience that conflict with corporate interests. RAND does not propose restraints on corporate abuse or explore US policy corrections that acknowledge the validity of these concerns. Rather, it characterizes individuals who care deeply about international human rights, national sovereignty and ecological protection as “homegrown terrorists” who have been “violently radicalized” by “extremist belief systems.” This bill quotes RAND ideology verbatim.

The People of the United States did not elect RAND Corporation or its emissaries on Capitol Hill to rewrite the laws of our nation “to advance political and social change” that serves the special interests of selected individuals. Our Constitution was carefully crafted to protect citizens from precisely this type of despotism. Regardless of emotional pretexts which appeal to fear, it is not the Constitutional prerogative of Congress to investigate, evaluate, censor or suppress the personal beliefs of United States citizens.

The Internet, which is a public channel of communication, is being systematically strangled by surveillance devices that police the flow of information; filtering web servers, search engines, web sites, email content and keystrokes.  Specifically, the information-sharing networks of citizens whose concerns are inconsistent with global corporate objectives are being censored, blacklisted and suffocated. In direct violation of our Constitution, channels of communication which are protected by the First Amendment are under surveillance by the National Security Agency. The Open Net Initiative reports, “With respect to online surveillance, the United States may be among the most aggressive states in the world in terms of listening to online conversations.”

This bill is a direct assault on Internet privacy and freedom of speech. Packaged as a pretext for “preventing terrorism”, the authors of this bill claim that, “The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.” Even if this gibberish were true, it would not legitimize Government censorship. There is no Constitutional authority for Government supervision of information freely chosen by American citizens.  This assault on the First Amendment is a transparent attempt to police the Internet by slandering the personal values of citizens and denouncing their activities, a practice well underway in Britain where Internet Service Providers are required to install software with secret “offender” lists that block out blacklisted websites.

China’s 60,000 strong Internet police force uses western surveillance technology to repress its citizens. There are currently 64 Chinese citizens in prison for signing online petitions. The Open Net Initiative reports that “Australia maintains some of the most restrictive Internet policies of any Western nation. Britain has been criticized for leading a ‘Web takedown’ culture where Internet Service Providers immediately remove content that is allegedly defamatory for fear of facing law suits.” Comcast, the second largest US Internet Service Provider is forging TCP RST packets with faked return addresses that disrupt file sharing among its customers, using equipment sold by the Canadian company, Sandvine. These are the exemplary democratic models of “lessons learned by foreign nations” that this bill declares the United States “can benefit from”; citing Canada, Australia and the UK.

The Baltimore Sun reported In November that George Bush requested $154 million in preliminary funding to “prevent cyberspace attacks”, which current and former government officials say is expected to become a seven-year, multibillion-dollar program to “track threats” in cyberspace on both government and private networks. A lawless administration which is notorious for covert surveillance and conjuring up fictitious threats of immanent danger can hardly be trusted to identify genuine threats or use this revenue in the public interest. Nor would an incoming administration be able to alleviate these unconstitutional invasions of our privacy. These Government crimes would be permanently institutionalized through the National Security Agency CAEIAE program, the Center of so-called “Excellence” designated by this bill. There is nothing excellent about unlawful surveillance and social repression by storm troopers.

What Harman describes as “vertical information sharing from the Intelligence Community to the local level and from local sources to State and Federal agencies” is equivalent to The Third Reich’s Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda which terrorized German citizens from Party Headquarters through a chain of command that reached all the way down into local communities. With modern telecommunications technology this terror campaign of “intelligence sharing” will persecute citizens in the privacy of their homes, monitoring their online conversations and reporting dissidents to the Gestapo. Lawmakers who voted for this malicious operation have forgotten that pogroms always begin by targeting a contrived enemy and expand exponentially to terrorize the whole society. We have laws for a reason.

Inventing a special “Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Officer” embedded in this unlawful operation to create rules for handling the Constitutional rights of US citizens should raise a red flag for lawmakers. Those procedures have been on the books for two hundred and thirty years. All civil servants in every branch of Government are required to uphold the Constitution and follow the rules established by the Bill of Rights. Assigning one individual to tailor those rules to an illegal Cointelpro operation is an indication of deep antisocial contempt for the Constitutional rights of all citizens protected by our system of law.

Masquerading as an “academic” assembly, the political appointees to this Commission will have “relevant expertise” in Information Technology, Juvenile Justice, Corrections, Counterterrorism, Intelligence and Local Law Enforcement. All members of the group will be endowed with sweeping investigative powers and unlimited access to classified files in all branches of government ~ A McCarthy Inquisition with a mandate to hold hearings, administer oaths, take testimony and propose “initiatives to intercede” in the so-called “radicalization process,” a RAND euphemism for crushing social dissent. This mandate to subjectively define and eradicate “unacceptable” social values and beliefs is a gross violation of our Constitution and Bill of Rights. The operation neatly sidesteps peer review systems and strict academic privacy safeguards for data collection that would be imposed on genuine academic scholars and conveniently bypasses the process of competitive bids for taxpayer-funded recommendations deemed “necessary” by this coterie of political insiders. If this assemblage of political appointees had wholesome objectives it would not have been released from congressional oversight and public transparency secured by The Federal Advisory Committee Act. The bill requires only that the Commission produce a public “version” of its findings before disbanding, permitting secret versions to permanently remain at the Center of so-called “Excellence” as a catalyst for Government abuse by Federal, State and local law enforcement agents trained to believe that their targets deserve persecution.

The Waco Texas massacre is a perfect example of citizens being assaulted without provocation by Government agents who ‘believed’ they were targeting “radicals”. The men, women and children who were poisoned and set on fire by Federal agents had not committed any crime, nor were their religious beliefs posing any threat to the community. Yet these Government agents tormented their victims for 51 days, violently destroying their homes and gassing 76 American citizens including 21 children. This bill would authorize exactly this type of ideological profiling perpetrated by self-righteous bigots under Color of Authority whose personal values direct them to commit acts of ‘ideologically based violence.

RAND spokesman, Brian Jenkins whose personal ideology is fully incorporated into this bill said to Jane Harman’s Committee: “Unless a way of intervening in the radicalization process can be found, we are condemned to stepping on cockroaches one at a time.” This statement perfectly expresses the deep contempt for Constitutional law that pervades this legislation. Is there any doubt that exterminating people would come easily to someone who views his victims as cockroaches? This particular characterization of human beings is the precise terminology that was used by Nazis to justify exterminating Jews.

If members of Congress were the intended victims of this malicious legislation they would instantly comprehend why the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Make no exceptions to the rule of law. Violating the Constitutional rights of any group or individual jeopardizes the security of our whole society.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all Beings are created equal, that they are endowed by Creation with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness; that to secure these Rights governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ~ that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Government long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind is more disposed to suffer than to right itself by abolishing the forms to which it is accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”  ~ The Declaration of Independence, 1776.

Nikki Alexander is a freelance writer and fine art painter living in southern California.

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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Thinking for yourself is now a crime By Paul Craig Roberts

War Crimes: Evidence of Israeli ‘cowardly blending’ comes to light by Jonathan Cook

Dandelion Salad

by Jonathan Cook
Global Research, January 4, 2008

It apparently never occurred to anyone in our leading human rights organisations or the Western media that the same moral and legal standards ought be applied to the behaviour of Israel and Hizbullah during the war on Lebanon 18 months ago. Belatedly, an important effort has been made to set that right.

A new report, written by a respected Israeli human rights organisation, one representing the country’s Arab minority not its Jewish majority, has unearthed evidence showing that during the fighting Israel committed war crimes not only against Lebanese civilians — as was already known — but also against its own Arab citizens. This is an aspect of the war that has been almost entirely neglected until now.

The report also sheds a surprising light on the question of what Hizbullah was aiming at when it fired hundreds of rockets on northern Israel. Until the report’s publication last month, I had been all but a lone voice arguing that the picture of what took place during the war was far more complex than generally accepted.

The new report follows a series of inquiries by the most influential human rights groups, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, to identify the ways in which international law was broken during Israel’s 34-day assault on Lebanon. However, both organisations failed to examine, except in the most cursory and dismissive way, Israel’s treatment of its own civilians during the war. That failure may also have had serious repercussions for their ability to assess Hizbullah’s actions.

Before examining the report’s revelations, it is worth revisiting the much-misrepresented events of summer 2006 and considering what efforts have been made subsequently to bring the two sides to account.

The war was the culmination of a series of tit-for-tat provocations along the shared border following Israel’s withdrawal from its two-decade occupation of south Lebanon in 2000. Almost daily for those six years Israel behaved as though the occupation had not ended, sending war planes into Lebanese air space to create terrifying sonic booms and spy on the country. (After the war, it resumed these flights almost immediately.)

In response Hizbullah, a Shia militia that offered the only effective resistance during Lebanon’s period of occupation, maintained its belligerent posture. It warned repeatedly that it would capture Israeli soldiers, should the chance arise, in the hope of forcing a prisoner exchange. Israel had held on to a handful of Lebanese prisoners after its pullback.

Hizbullah also demanded that Israel complete its withdrawal from Lebanon in full by leaving a fertile sliver of territory, the Shebaa Farms. Israel argues that the area is Syrian territory, occupied by its army along with the Golan Heights in 1967, and will be returned one day in negotiations with Damascus. UN catrographers disagree, backing Hizbullah’s claim that the area is Lebanese.

The fighting began with a relatively minor incident (by regional standards) and one that was entirely predictable: Hizbullah attacked a border post, capturing two soldiers and killing three more in the operation. Hizbullah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah proposed a prisoner swap. Israel declared war the very same day, unleashing a massive bombing campaign that over the next month killed nearly 1,200 Lebanese civilians.

An editorial in Israel’s leading newspaper Haaretz noted again this week that, by rejecting Hizbullah’s overtures, “Israel initiated the war”.

In the last days of the fighting, as a UN-brokered ceasefire was about to come into effect, Israel dropped more than a million cluster bombs on south Lebanon, of which several hundred thousand failed to detonate. Since the end of the war, 39 Lebanese civilians have been killed and dozens more maimed from these small landmines littering the countryside.

Israel’s own inquiry into its use of the cluster munitions wrapped up last month by exonerating the army, even while admitting that many of the bombs had been directed at civilian population centres. In Israel’s books, it seems, international law sanctions the targeting of civilians during war.

Veteran Israeli reporter Meron Rapoport recently noted that his newspaper, Haaretz again, has evidence that the army’s use of cluster munitions was “pre-planned” and undertaken without regard to the location of Hizbullah positions. The only reasonable conclusion is that Israel wanted south Lebanon uninhabitable at any cost, possibly so that another ground invasion could be mounted.

Human Rights Watch, which has carried out the most detailed examination of the war, was less forgiving than Israel’s own investigators — as might have been expected in the case of such a flagrant abuse of the rules of war. Still, it has failed to condemn Israel’s actions unreservedly. In a typical press release it noted the wide dispersal of cluster bombs over civilian areas of south Lebanon but concluded only that their use by Israel “may violate the prohibition on indiscriminate attacks contained in international humanitarian law”.

In this and other respects, HRW’s reports have revealed troubling double standards.

During the war two charges were levelled against Hizbullah, mainly by Israel’s supporters, and investigated by the human rights group: that the Shia militia fired rockets on northern Israel either indiscriminately or in a deliberate attempt to target civilians; and that it hid its fighters and weapons among its own Lebanese civilians (thereby conveniently justifying Israel’s bombing of those civilians).

Hizbullah was found guilty of the first charge, with HRW arguing that it was irrelevant whether or not Hizbullah was trying to hit military targets in Israel as its rockets were not precision-guided. All its rockets, whatever they were aimed at, were therefore considered indiscriminate by the organisation and a violation of international law. Worthy of note is that HRW expressed certainty about the impermissibility of Hizbullah firing imprecise rockets but not about Israel’s use of even less precise cluster bombs.

On the second charge Hizbullah was substantially acquitted, with HRW failing to find evidence that, apart from in a handful of isolated instances, the militia hid among the Lebanese population.

Regarding Israel, the human rights organisations investigated the charge that it violated international law by endangering Lebanese civilians during its bombing campaigns. Given that Israel’s missiles and bombs were supposed to have pinpoint accuracy, the large death toll of Lebanese civilians provided indisputable evidence of Israeli war crimes. HRW agreed.

Strangely, however, after submitting both Israel and Hizbullah to the same test of whether their firepower targeted civilians, HRW deemed it inappropriate to investigate Israel on the second allegation faced by Hizbullah: that it committed a war crime by blending in with its own civilian population. Was there so little prima facie evidence of such behaviour on Israel’s side that the organisation decided it was not worth wasting its resources on such an inquiry?

HRW produced two lengthy reports in August 2007, one examining events in Lebanon and the other events in Israel. But the report on what happened inside Israel, “Civilians under Assault”, failed to examine Israel’s treatment of its own civilians and focused instead only on proving that Hizbullah’s firing of its rockets violated international law.

HRW did made a brief reference to the possibility that Israeli military installations were located close to or inside civilian communities. It cited examples of a naval training base next to a hospital in Haifa and a weapons factory built in a civilian community. Its researchers even admitted to watching the Israeli army firing shells into Lebanon from a residential street of the Jewish community of Zarit.

This act of “cowardly blending” by the Israeli army — to echo the UN envoy Jan Egeland’s unwarranted criticism of Hizbullah — was a war crime. It made Israeli civilians a potential target for Hizbullah reprisal attacks.

So what was HRW’s position on this gross violation of the rules of war it had witnessed? After yet again denouncing Hizbullah for its rocket attacks, the report was mealy-mouthed: “Given that indiscriminate fire [by Hizbullah], there is no reason to believe that Israel’s placement of certain military assets within these cities added appreciably to the risk facing their residents.”

In other words, Israel’s culpability in hiding its war machine inside civilian communities did not need to be assessed on its own terms as a violation of international law. Instead Israel was let off the hook based on the assumption that Hizbullah’s rockets were incapable of hitting such positions. It is dubious, to put it mildly, whether this is a legitimate reading of international law.

An additional criticism, one that I made on several occasions during the war, was that Israel failed to protect its Arab communities from rocket attacks by ensuring they had bomb shelters or early warning systems — unlike Jewish communities. On this issue, the HRW report had only this to say: “Human Rights Watch did not investigate whether Israel discriminated among Jewish and Arab residents of the north in the protection it provided from Hezbollah attacks.”

Of Hizbullah’s indiscrimination, HRW was certain; of Israel’s discrimination, it held back from judgment.

Fortunately, we no longer have to rely on Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International for a full picture of what took place during what Israelis call the Second Lebanon War. Last month the Arab Association for Human Rights, based in Nazareth, published its own report, “Civilians in Danger”, covering the ground its much bigger cousins dared not touch.

The hostile climate in Israel towards the fifth of the population who are Arab has made publication of the report a risky business. Azmi Bishara, Israel’s leading Arab politician and a major critic of Israel’s behaviour during the Lebanon war, is currently in exile under possible death sentence. Israel has accused him of treason in helping Hizbullah during the fighting, though the secret services have yet to produce the evidence they have supposedly amassed against him. Nonetheless they have successfully intimidated most of the Arab minority into silence.

Also, much of the report’s detail, including many place-names and maps showing the location of Hizbullah rocket strikes, has had to be excised to satisfy Israel’s strict military censorship laws.

But despite these obstacles, the Human Rights Association has taken a brave stand in unearthing the evidence to show that Israel committed war crimes by placing much of its military hardware, including artillery positions firing into Lebanon, inside and next to Arab towns and villages. These were not isolated instances but a discerible pattern.

The threat to which this exposed Arab communities was far from as theoretical as HRW supposes. Some 660 Hizbullah rockets landed on 20 Arab communities in the north, apparently surprising Israeli officials, who believed Hizbullah would not target fellow Arabs. Of the 44 Israeli civilians killed by the rockets, 21 were Arab citizens.

Israel has cited these deaths as further proof that Hizbullah’s rocket fire was indiscriminate. The Human Rights Association, however, reaches a rather different conclusion, one based on the available evidence. Its research shows a clear correlation between an Arab community having an Israeli army base located next to it and the likelihood of it being hit by Hizbullah rockets. In short, Arab communities targeted by Hizbullah were almost exclusively those in which the Israeli army was based.

“The study found that the Arab towns and villages that suffered the most intensive attacks during the war were ones that were surrounded by military installations, either on a permanent basis or temporarily during the course of the war,” the report states.

Such findings lend credibility to complaints made during the war by Israel’s Arab legislators, including Bishara himself, that Arab communities were being used as “human shields” by the Israeli army — possibly to deter Hizbullah from targeting its positions.

In early August 2006, Bishara told the Maariv newspaper: “What ordinary citizens are afraid to say, the Arab Knesset members are declaring loudly. Israel turned the Galilee and the Arab villages in particular into human shields by surrounding them with artillery positions and missile batteries.”

Such violations of the rules of war were occasionally hinted at in reporting in the Israeli media. In one account from the front line, for example, a reporter from Maariv quoted parents in the Arab village of Fassuta complaining that children were wetting their beds because of the frightening bark of tanks stationed outside their homes.

According to the Human Rights Association’s report, Israel made its Arab citizens vulnerable to Hizbullah’s rockets in the following ways:

* Permanent military bases, including army camps, airfields and weapons factories, as well as temporary artillery positions that fired thousands of shells and mortars into southern Lebanon were located inside or next to many Arab communities.

* The Israeli army trained soldiers inside northern Arab communities before and during the war in preparation for a ground invasion, arguing that the topography in these communities was similar to the villages of south Lebanon.

* The government failed to evacuate civilians from the area of fighting, leaving Arab citizens particularly in danger. Almost no protective measures, such as building public shelters or installing air raid sirens, had been taken in Arab communities, whereas they had been in Jewish communities.

Under the protocols to the Geneva Conventions, parties to a conflict must “avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas” and must “endeavour to remove the civilian population … from the vicinity of military objectives”. The Human Rights Association report clearly shows that Israel cynically broke these rules of war.

Tarek Ibrahim, a lawyer and the author of the Association’s report, says the most surprising finding is that Hizbullah’s rockets mostly targeted Arab communities where military installations had been located and in the main avoided those where there were no such military positions.

“Hizbullah claimed on several occasions that its rockets were aimed primarily at military targets in Israel. Our research cannot prove that to be the case but it does give a strong indication that Hizbullah’s claims may be true.”

Although Hizbullah’s Katyusha rockets were not precision-guided, the proximity of Israeli military positions to Arab communities “are within the margin of error of the rockets fired by Hizbullah”, according to the report. In most cases, such positions were located either inside the community itself or a few hundred metres from it.

In its recommendations, the Human Rights Association calls for the removal of all Israeli military installations from civilian communities.

(Again noteworthy is the fact that Israel has built several weapons factories inside Arab communities, including in Nazareth. Arab citizens are almost never allowed to work in Israel’s vast military industries, so why build them there? Part of the reason is doubtless that they provide another pretext for confiscating Arab communities’ lands and “Judaising” them. But is the criticism by Arab legislators of “human shielding” another possible reason?)

The report avoids dealing with the wider issue of whether the Israeli army located in Jewish communities too during the war. Ibrahim explains: “In part the reason was that we are an Arab organisation and that directs the focus of our work. But there is also the difficulty that Israeli Jews are unlikely to cooperate with our research.”

Israel has longed boasted of its “citizen army”, and in surveys Israeli Jews say they trust the military more than the country’s parliament, government and courts.

Nonetheless, the report notes, there is ample evidence that the army based itself in some Jewish communities too. As well as the eyewitness account of the Human Rights Watch researcher, it was widely reported during the war that 12 soldiers were killed when a Hizbullah rocket struck the rural community of Kfar Giladi, close to the northern border.

A member of the kibbutz, Uri Eshkoli, recently told the Israeli media: “We deserve a medal of honor for our assistance during the war. We opened our hotel to soldiers and asked for no compensation. Moreover, soldiers stayed in the kibbutz throughout the entire war.”

In another report, in the Guardian newspaper, a 19-year-old British Jew, Danny Young, recounted his experiences performing military service during the war. He lived on Kibbutz Sasa, close to the border, which became an army rear base. “We were shooting missiles from the foot of this kibbutz,” he told the paper. “We were also receiving Katyushas.”

So far the Human Rights Association’s report has received minimal coverage in the Hebrew media. “We are facing a very difficult political atmosphere in Israel at the moment,” Ibrahim told me. “Few people inside Israel want to hear that their army and government broke international law in such a flagrant manner.”

It seems few in the West, even the guardians of human rights, are ready to hear such a message either.


Jonathan Cook is a journalist and writer based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest book, “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East”, is published by Pluto Press. His website is
www.jkcook.net

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© Copyright Jonathan Cook, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7729

Thinking for yourself is now a crime By Paul Craig Roberts

Dandelion Salad

By Paul Craig Roberts
1/04/08 “ICH

Extinguishing Liberty’s Light and Independent Views

What was the greatest failure of 2007? President Bush’s “surge” in Iraq? The decline in the value of the US dollar? Subprime mortgages? No. The greatest failure of 2007 was the newly sworn-in Democratic Congress.

The American people’s attempt in November 2006 to rein in a rogue government, which has committed the US to costly military adventures while running roughshod over the US Constitution, failed. Replacing Republicans with Democrats in the House and Senate has made no difference.

The assault on the US Constitution by the Democratic Party is as determined as the assault by the Republicans. On October 23, 2007, the House passed a bill sponsored by California Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman, chairwoman of a Homeland Security subcommittee, that overturns the constitutionally guaranteed rights to free expression, association, and assembly.

The bill passed the House on a vote of 404-6. In the Senate the bill is sponsored by Maine Republican Susan Collins and apparently faces no meaningful opposition.

Harman’s bill is called the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. When HR 1955 becomes law, it will create a commission tasked with identifying extremist people, groups, and ideas. The commission will hold hearings around the country, taking testimony and compiling a list of dangerous people and beliefs.

The bill will, in short, create massive terrorism in the United States. But the perpetrators of terrorism will not be Muslim terrorists; they will be government agents and fellow citizens.

We are beginning to see who will be the inmates of the detention centers being built in the US by Halliburton under government contract.

Who will be on the “extremist beliefs” list? The answer is: civil libertarians, critics of Israel, 9/11 skeptics, critics of the administration’s wars and foreign policies, critics of the administration’s use of kidnapping, rendition, torture and violation of the Geneva Conventions, and critics of the administration’s spying on Americans.

Anyone in the way of a powerful interest group—such as environmentalists opposing politically-connected developers—is also a candidate for the list.

The “Extremist Beliefs Commission” is the mechanism for identifying Americans who pose “a threat to domestic security” and a threat of “homegrown terrorism” that “cannot be easily prevented through traditional federal intelligence or law enforcement efforts.”

This bill is a boon for nasty people. That SOB who stole your girlfriend, that hussy who stole your boyfriend, the gun owner next door—just report them to Homeland Security as holders of extreme beliefs. Homeland Security needs suspects, so they are not going to check. Under the new regime, accusation is evidence.

Moreover, “our” elected representatives will never admit that they voted for a bill and created an “Extremist Belief Commission” for which there is neither need nor constitutional basis.

That boss who harasses you for coming late to work—he’s a good candidate to be reported; so is that minority employee that you can’t fire for any normal reason. So is the husband of that good-looking woman you have been unable to seduce. Every kind of quarrel and jealousy can now be settled with a phone call to Homeland Security.

Soon Halliburton will be building more detention centers.

Americans are so far removed from the roots of their liberty that they just don’t get it. Most Americans don’t know what habeas corpus is or why it is important to them. But they know what they want, and Jane Harman has given them a new way to settle scores and to advance their own interests.

Even educated liberals believe that the US Constitution is a “living document” that can be changed to mean whatever it needs to mean in order to accommodate some new important cause, such as abortion and legal privileges for minorities and the handicapped. Today it is the “war on terror” that the Constitution must accommodate. Tomorrow it can be the war on whomever or whatever.

Think about it. More than six years ago the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked. The US government blamed it on al Qaeda. Scant evidence has been presented. The 9/11 Commission Report has been subjected to devastating criticism by a large number of qualified people—including the commission’s chairman and co-chairman.[ Stonewalled by the C.I.A. By Thomas H. Kean And Lee H. Hamilton, New York Times,(Op-Ed) January 2, 2008]

Since 9/11 there have been no terrorist attacks in the US. The FBI has tried to orchestrate a few, but the “terrorist plots” never got beyond talk organized and led by FBI agents. There are no visible extremist groups other than the neoconservatives that control the government in Washington. But somehow the House of Representatives overwhelmingly sees a need to create a commission to take testimony and search out extremist views (outside of Washington, of course).

This search for extremist views comes after President Bush and the Justice (sic) Department declare that the President can ignore habeas corpus, ignore the Geneva Conventions, seize people without evidence, hold them indefinitely without presenting charges, torture them until they confess to some made up crime, and take over the government by declaring an emergency. Of course, none of these “patriotic” views are extremist.

The search for extremist views follows also the granting of contracts to Halliburton to build detention centers in the US. No member of Congress or the executive branch ever explained the need for the detention centers or who the detainees would be. Of course, there is nothing extremist about building detention centers in the US for undisclosed inmates.

Clearly the detention centers are not meant to just stand there empty. Thanks to 2007’s greatest failure—the Democratic Congress—there is to be an “Extremist Beliefs Commission” to secure inmates for Bush’s detention centers.

President Bush promises us that the wars he has launched will cause the “untamed fire of freedom” to “reach the darkest corners of our world.” Meanwhile in America the fire of freedom has not only been tamed but also is being extinguished.

The light of liberty has gone out in the United States.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider’s Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow’s Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.


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see

Maxine & Ted – Don’t Call Us If You Call Us Terrorists! by Linda Milazzo

Police State America – A Look Back and Ahead by Stephen Lendman

Naomi Wolf Celebrated Author of “The End of America” (must-see video)

Kucinich: Give me the vote, I’ll give you back your country! (video)

Kucinich on HR 1955 Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act

US House passes Democrat-crafted “homegrown terrorism prevention” legislation by Naomi Spencer

The Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act: A Tutorial in Orwellian Newspeak By Robert Weitzel

The Violent Radicalization Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 by Matt Renner

The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act by Philip Giraldi

‘Homegrown Terror’ Act an Attack on Internet Freedom? by Rep. Ron Paul

Attention Democrats: Who’ll Stand Up for Working Americans? (video)

This info needs to be shouted from rooftops! People need to hear Dennis speak on the issues. ~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

clearchoice2008

Protect American Jobs.

Added: January 04, 2008

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Dennis Kucinich: My Fellow Americans… (video)

Kucinich-Dennis

Dennis Kucinich Can Win by Lo

A Call to Action: Candidates Excluded Again from Debates By Manila Ryce

Bhutto’s Assassination: Who Gains? by F. William Engdahl

Dandelion Salad

by F. William Engdahl
Global Research, January 4, 2008

Assassination of prominent political leaders, presumably protected by the best security, is no easy thing. It requires agencies of professional intelligence training to insure that the job is done and that no person is caught alive who can lead to those behind. Typically, from the assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand in Sarajevo in July 1914 to JFK, the person pulling the trigger is just an instrument of a far deeper conspiracy. So too in the assassination on December 27th, of Pakistani former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. Cui bono?.

What was behind the murder of Bhutto at the moment her PPP party appeared about to win a resounding election victory in the planned January 8 elections, thereby posing a mass-based challenge to the dictatorial rule of President Musharraf?

Musharraf’s government was indecently quick to blame “Al-Qaeda,” the dubious entity allegedly the organization of Osama bin Laden, whom Washington accused for masterminding the September 11 2001 attacks. Musharraf just days after, declared he was “sure” Al Qaeda was the author, even though, on US pressure, he has asked Scotland Yard to come and investigate. “I want to say it with certainty, that these people (Al Qaeda) martyred … Benazir Bhutto,” Musharraf said in a Jan. 3 televised address. He named Baitullah Mehsud, a militant tribal chief fighting the Pakistani Army, who has alleged ties to al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taleban. Mehsud denied the charge. Had he been behind such a dramatic event, the desired propaganda impact among militant islamists would require taking open responsibility instead.

By linking the Bhutto killing to Al Qaeda, Musharraf conveniently gains several goals. First he reinforces the myth of Al Qaeda, something very useful to Washington at this time of growing global skepticism over the real intent of its War on Terrorism, making Musharraf more valuable to Washington. Second it gives Musharraf a plausible scapegoat to blame for the convenient elimination of a serious political rival to his consolidation of one-man rule.

Notable also is the fact that the Musharraf regime has rejected making a routine autoposy on Bhutto’s body. Bhutto publicly charged that the Government had refused to make followup inquiry after the October bombing which nearly killed her and did 134 followers near her auto. Bhutto accused Pakistani authorities of not providing her with sufficient security, and hinted that they may have been complicit in the Karachi attack. She also made clear in a UK television interview shortly before her death that she would clean out the Pakistan military and security services of corrupt and islamist elements. In the same David Frost interview, Bhutto also dropped the explosive news that Afghan Taleban leader Sheikh Omah had killed bin Laden some while back. That fact would make the alleged Bin Laden terror videos periodically delivered to western media clear as forgeries.

Days after the Bhutto killing, Pakistani authorities published a photo alleged to be of the severed head of the suicide bomber who killed Bhutto. Severed heads, like Lee Harvey Oswald don’t talk or say embarrassing things.

It has been known for months that the Bush-Cheney administration has been maneuvering to strengthen their political control of Pakistan, paving the way for the expansion and deepening of the “war on terrorism” across the region.

Who was Bhutto?

The Bhutto family was itself hardly democratic, drawing its core from feudal landowning families, but opposed to the commanding role of the army and ISI intelligence. Succeeding her father as head of the PPP, Benazir declared herself “chairperson for life” — a position she held until her death. Bhutto’s husband, Ali Zardari, “Mr. 10%,” is known in Pakistan for his demanding a 10% cut from letting major government contracts when Benazir was PM. In 2003, Benazir and her husband were convicted in Switzerland of money laundering and taking bribes from Swiss companies as PM. The family is allegedly worth several billions as a result. As prime minister from 1993 to 1996, she advocated a conciliatory policy toward Islamists, especially the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The Harvard educated Benazir had close ties to US and UK intelligence as well. She used the offices of neo-conservative US Congressman Tom Lantos when she was in Washington according to our informed reports, one reason Vice President Cheney backed her as a “safe” way to save his Pakistan strategic alliance in face of growing popular protest against Musharraf’s declaring martial law last year. The ploy was to have Bhutto make a face-saving deal with Musharraf to put a democratic face on the dictatorship, while Washington maintained its strategic control. According to the Washington Post of 28 Dec., “For Benazir Bhutto, the decision to return to Pakistan was sealed during a telephone call from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice just a week before Bhutto flew home in October. The call culminated more than a year of secret diplomacy — and came only when it became clear that the heir to Pakistan’s most powerful political dynasty was the only one who could bail out Washington’s key ally in the battle against terrorism. . . .As President Pervez Musharraf’s political future began to unravel this year, Bhutto became the only politician who might help keep him in power.

In November, John Negroponte, former Bush Administration Intelligence Czar and now Deputy Secretary of State was deployed to Islamabad to pressure Musharraf to ease the situation by holding elections and forming a power-sharing with Bhutto. But once in Pakistan, where her supporters were mobilized, Bhutto made clear she would seek an election coalition to openly oppose Musharraf and military rule in the planned elections.

A cynical US-Musharraf deal?

Informed intelligence sources say there was a cynical deal cut behind the scenes between Washington and Musharraf. Musharraf is known to be Cheney’s preferred partner and Cheney we are told is the sole person running US-Pakistan policy today.

Were Musharraf to agree to stationing of US Special Forces inside Pakistan, “Plan B”, the democratic farce with Bhutto could be put aside, in favor of the continued Musharraf sole rule. Washington would “turn a blind eye.”

On Dec. 28, one day after the Bhutto assassination, the Washington Post reported that in early 2008, “US Special Forces are expected to vastly expand their presence in Pakistan as part of an effort to train and support indigenous counter-insurgency forces and clandestine counterterrorism units,” under the US Central Command and US Special Operations Command, a major shift in US Pakistani ties. Until now Musharraf and his military have refused such direct US control, aside from the agreement after September 11, extracted from Musharraf under extreme pressure of possible US bombing, to give the US military direct control of the Pakistan nuclear weapons.

The elimination of Bhutto leaves an opposition vacuum. The country lacks a credible political leader who can command national support, which leaves the military enhanced as an institution, with its willingness to defend Musharraf on the streets. This gives the Pentagon and Washington a chance to consolidate a military opposition to future Chinese economic hegemony—the real geopolitical goal of Washington.


GLOBAL RESEARCH RELEASE
F. William Engdahl is a leading analyst of the New World Order, author of the best-selling book on oil and geopolitics, A Century of War: Anglo-American Politics and the New World Order,’ His writings have been translated into more than a dozen languages.

Reviews of Engdahl’s Seeds of Destruction

What is so frightening about Engdahl’s vision of the world is that it is so real. Although our civilization has been built on humanistic ideals, in this new age of “free markets”, everything– science, commerce, agriculture and even seeds– have become weapons in the hands of a few global corporation barons and their political fellow travelers. To achieve world domination, they no longer rely on bayonet-wielding soldiers. All they need is to control food production.

(Dr. Arpad Pusztai, biochemist, formerly of the Rowett Research Institute Institute, Scotland)

If you want to learn about the socio-political agenda –why biotech corporations insist on spreading GMO seeds around the World– you should read this carefully researched book. You will learn how these corporations want to achieve control over all mankind, and why we must resist… (Marijan Jost, Professor of Genetics, Krizevci, Croatia)

The book reads like a murder mystery of an incredible dimension, in which four giant Anglo-American agribusiness conglomerates have no hesitation to use GMO to gain control over our very means of subsistence…

(Anton Moser, Professor of Biotechnology, Graz, Austria).


CLICK to order William F. Engdahl’s book directly from Global Research


Seeds of Destruction,
The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation

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“Seeds of Destruction, The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation” by Stephen Lendman

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

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The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7728

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The Destabilization of Pakistan by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

The Benazir Bhutto assassination by Trevor Murphy

The plan to topple Pakistan’s military? by Ahmed Quraishi

Global Pulse: Who Killed Benazir Bhutto? (video)

After The NIE on Iran: Let The Great Debate Begin! by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach

Dandelion Salad

by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach
Global Research, January 3, 2008

“Preemptive surgical strike by the intelligence community against the war party”

The issuance of the National Intelligence Estimate on Dec. 3, could be compared to the historic “shot heard round the world;” but, perhaps the characterization given by Barbara Slavin, author of a new book on Iran, is more to the point. As she put it in mid-December at a conference of the Center for American Progress in the U.S. capital, the NIE report was ” a preemptive surgical strike by the intelligence community against the war party” of Dick Cheney et al, those who have been building for a military attack against Iran.

Since the publication of the report’s findings, that the Islamic Republic of Iran has not had a military nuclear program at least since 2005, a plethora of reports and leaks have appeared, relevant to the process leading to its publication. Among the most clamorous was the account that, faced with the commitment by Vice President Dick Cheney and others, to block release of the report, members of the intelligence community expressed their willingness to go to the press to leak it, even if that meant they could end up in prison as a result (“Behind the Annapolis Meet and the Iran NIE Shock,” EIR, 12.12.07). The French newsletter Reseau Voltaire hinted that the timing of the release of the report had to do with a brief visit by Cheney to the hospital for his recurring heart disorders (www.voltairenet.org/article153871.html).

Be that as it may, the point is that, not only has the war party been dealt a hopefully mortal blow, but, even more important, a process has unfolded in Washington, a most healthy process of serious debate on the failures of U.S. foreign policy in Iran to date, and the need for a radical revision and new definition of the same.

In this contest, two important books are circulating in the U.S. capital, which have fed into the debate. One is “Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Israel, Iran and the U.S.,” by the Iranian-American scholar Trita Parsi, and the other is “Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the U.S. and the Twisted Path to Confrontation,” by USA Today journalist Barbara Slavin. Both books were conceived and written over the past 18 months, i.e. in the same time frame in which the NIE report was being prepared. Although the two books are very different, Parsi’s being more scholarly and Slavin’s, a more journalistic account, both drive home important points. As the two authors stressed in a public forum at the Center for American Progress in mid-December, the image that most Americans (including many lawmakers) have of Iran is utterly distorted. The country and its people are neither anti-American, nor irrational, nor belligerent. The problem lies in Washington.

As Parsi has most scrupulously documented, Iran has, time and again, acted in ways to aid the U.S., albeit indirectly, only to be systematically rebuffed. This was the case in the first U.S. war against Iraq in 1991, when Iran remained neutral, and passed up the opportunity to exploit an Iraqi Shi’ite uprising against Saddam Hussein. Yet, what was Iran’s reward? When George Bush senior convened the Madrid conference in December 1991, Iran was conspicuous by its absence. Presaging what would occur at Annapolis in November 2007, the U.S. ostentatiously excluded the regional power Iran, while courting Syria, in hopes of breaking the alliance between Damascus and Tehran. The foreseeable result was enhancement of those hardliners in Iran, who opposed rapprochement with the U.S.

When, in 1997, the political leadership in Iran shifted to the reform camp, and Seyyed Mohammad Khatami was elected president by an overwhelming mandate, again Tehran reached out to Washington. Not only did Khatami offer detente to the Arabs and the European Union, but, in an unprecedented interview to CNN, he addressed the American people in the spirit of reconciliation. Khatami later indicated his government’s willingness to accept a two-state solution in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, in that he stated that Iran would support whatever the Palestinian leadership agreed to. His groundbreaking proposal to the U.N. General Assembly, for a dialogue of civilizations, put the offer of collaboration on a conceptually and morally higher level. Although that was fortunately welcomed by the U.N., there were no loud celebrations in Washington.

Few may remember it, but in those dramatic hours following the attacks of September 11, 2001, it was the government and people of Iran who perhaps most spontaneously and demonstratively manifested their solidarity with the American people. When, then, the Bush Administration waged war against the Taliban in Afghanistan, Iran did not stand in the way, but de facto facilitated the military operations against a force which had been its own enemy. The thanks Iran got for its role in the Afghan war, were expressed, as ever, ineloquently, by President Bush, who, in his January 29, 2002 State of the Union message, said: Iran was nothing but a member of the “axis of evil,” together with Iraq and North Korea.

The next, crucial step was the U.S. war against Iraq in 2003. Once the U.S. had ostensibly “won,” in the sense that it had overthrown the Saddam Hussein regime, the Iranians, though shedding no tears for the defeat of the regime they had waged a deadly eight-year war against, saw themselves increasingly encircled by American forces, in Afghanistan and now Iraq. It was in this context that the Tehran government made its boldest offer to date to the U.S., to overcome hostilities and reestablish normal relations. The famous 2003 offer by Tehran, which both Parsi and Slavin reprint as appendices, should be required reading for every American, emphatically every member of Congress. That document, which was delivered to the U.S. government through Dr. Tim Guldimann, then Swiss ambassador to Iran, and thus official liaison between Iran and the U.S., was a bombshell. In it, Iran said, essentially, it was ready to put {all} issues on the table: terrorism, Al Qaida, MKO, relations with Palestinian rejectionist groups, Iran’s nuclear energy program, and so on and so forth. The response from Washington, which had received the documents also by fax, was zilch. There was no response. When asked recently about the issue, Secretary of State Condi Rice responded that she “could not recollect” ever having heard of such an offer. One is reminded of the classic Mafia response to similar queries: “Non c’ero, e se c’ero, non ho visto niente” (“I wasn’t there, and if I was, I didn’t see anything”).

The point made by Parsi, as well as Slavin, in their Washington forum, was that the U.S. has repeatedly been offered opportunities to engage with Iran, indeed, to reestablish normal diplomatic relations with the Islamic Republic, but has willfully rejected any such opportunity. Why? Parsi is most forthcoming with his analysis that the most powerful brake on U.S. policy towards Iran has been the so-called Zionist lobby. This should not be misread as some sort of cheap anti-Zionist or, worse still, anti-semitic, approach. It is nothing of the sort. In fact, Parsi’s book documents also on the Israeli side of the equation, over the years since the time of the Shah, how there have been tendencies in Israel in favor of relations with Iran, just as there have been tendencies utterly opposed.

A most useful concept presented by Parsi in his book, to explain Israel’s otherwise incomprehensible behavior towards the U.S. and Iran over the last three decades, is that of the “periphery.” Ben Gurion had elaborated this doctrine, which “held that the improbability of achieving peace with the surrounding Arab states forced Israel to build alliances with the non-Arab states of the periphery–primarily Iran, Turkey, and Ethiopia–as well as with non-Arab minorities such as the Kurds and the Lebanese Christians.” This certainly was the case during the reign of the Shah, and, even following the 1979 revolution, the Israelis hoped to maintain a presence there. Ariel Sharon had even proposed sending Israeli paratroopers to save the Shah. In the deadly Iran-Iraq war, Israel feared Saddam Hussein would prevail, and therefore leaned towards Iran, and most conveniently bombed Iraq’s nuclear power plant at Osirik on June 7, 1981 at the start of the hostilities. This anti-Iraqi posture, which was also behind the arms deals blown in the 1986 Iran-Contra scandal, prevailed, even though the head of the Israel’s Foreign Ministry, David Kimchee, stated, “Our big hope was that the two sides would weaken each other to such an extent that neither of them would be a threat to us.” Parsi does not mention it, but this was of course the reigning doctrine of geopolitical manipulators like Henry Kissinger: let them destroy each other.

Once Iraq had been forced to its knees, Israel, afraid that the U.S. might seek better relations with regional power Iran, put forward the doctrine of the “New Middle East,” which would see Israel as the regional hegemony. In pursuit of this, Shimon Peres’s aim, Israel had to make some sort of peace with the Palestinians (Oslo 1993), and, Parsi wrote, “turned the periphery doctrine on its head,” by focussing on Iran as the new regional threat. This, as developments have shown, has continued.

As for U.S. attitudes towards Iran, every time there appeared to be the hope (or, from Israel’s viewpoint, the danger) of cooling tensions and even broaching de facto cooperation, the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), together with the U.S. neocons, shifted into high gear, to renew sanctions about to expire, or to push for new ones against Tehran. In response to the cooperation against the Taliban in late 2001, bolder steps were taken, and Israel intercepted the Karine A ship, claiming it was transporting “Iranian weapons” to the Palestinians. That was January 3, 2002, just weeks prior to Bush’s infamous “axis of evil” speech.

Now that the intelligence community has broken a major taboo, by taking the argument of Iran’s purported nuclear weapons program off the agenda, the question posed to an embarrassed U.S. Administration, the members of the Democratic majority in the Congress (newly famed for their tendency to cave in at every opportunity), and political figures worldwide is: what can and must a new, rational foreign policy towards Iran look like?

The response of President Bush to the NIE was reminiscent of the famous Jewish joke about one night in a European couchette. A male passenger, trying to sleep in his bunk on the night train, was prevented from doing so, by the sound of a woman’s frail voice, emanating from another bunk, saying “Oy, am I toisty, oy, am I toisty….” The man climbed down from his bunk, hurried to purchase a bottle of water, and returned to the compartment, to give the woman the water. After hearing her swallow several glugs, and readying himself for sleep, he was soon greeted by the same frail voice, this time saying, “Oy, vas I toisty, oy vas I toisty…” Thus, Bush, speaking to the press after the release of the NIE report, could only say, “Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will continue to be dangerous….” Nothing more could have been expected. Nor should it have come as a surprise that Israel dispatched a delegation to Washington, to try to undo the damage the NIE had done.

So, there is little reason to hope that this Administration will articulate anything approaching a rational policy towards Iran. As Barbara Slavin remarked, when asked whether she thought Iran could renew its famous 2003 offer for reviewing relations, yes, the Iranians could certainly do so, but one would have to have a radically different Administration in Washington, for it to be heard.

The good news is, there will be a new combination coming to Washington after the elections, and that may open the perspective for a significant change. First, for such a change to occur, as both authors stressed, prevailing stereotypes about Iran have to be trashed and replaced by a realistic view of what the Iranian policy establishment, and the nation more broadly, is. Contrary to the notion that Iran is ruled by a gang of “mad mullahs”–a notion Parsi traces back to Israeli sources–, the reality is that the country is rational, even though some of its leaders may indulge in “simulated irrationality” at times. Were they not rational, they would never have made the effort to improve relations with Washington, as they repeatedly have done.

Secondly, Iran must be recognized for what it is: a regional power without whose cooperation no perspective for security or stability in the entire region could be thinkable. This goes for Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, just to name the leading protagonists. Excluding Iran, as the neocons have consistently done, is comparable to excluding Germany from any post-World War II arrangement. Iran’s status as a regional power comes not only from its current role as a force of influence in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine and Lebanon, but, perhaps more importantly, from its role in the history of the region. This is not a podunk also-ran or a banana republic, as neocon loudmouths like Kenneth Katzman might fantasize; it is a nation with a continuous language culture over thousands of years and which, notwithstanding the Arab conquest, has maintained its Persian identity as heir to a rich and in many ways unique cultural heritage.

Thus, in its relations with the U.S. and other governments, Iran demands first and foremost respect, and to be treated as an equal. This is a point that Iranian representatives have stressed repeatedly in discussions with this author: if the U.S. were to deal with Iran as an equal partner, anything and everything would be possible. Steps taken by members of the “Dialogue Caucus,” a group of Congressmen led by Rep. Wayne T. Gilchrest and Gregory W.Meeks, open to discussion with their Iranian counterparts, indicate the approach required (www.baltimoresun.com/news/nation/politics/bal-te.gilchrest22dec22,0,7950987,pri… 12/23/2007). Iran is first and foremost interested in stability in Iraq and Afghanistan, its immediate neighbors. Iran knows what it can contribute to establish that security, and has made concrete proposals in this direction during the three tripartite meetings (with Iraq and the U.S.) that have taken place thus far. But, if Iran continues to be excluded, it also has the ability to be a “spoiler factor.”

It follows, thirdly, that Iran wants to be reintegrated into the so called “international community,” as a legitimate partner. Acknowledging Iran’s role “could turn [the U.S.’s] Iran foreign policy into a force for stability,” Parsi suggests, “by accommodating legitimate Iranian security objectives in return for Iranian concessions on various regional and international issues…” This is a far cry from what the West has thus far offered Tehran. For example, though Parsi does not discuss this, there were great expectations, also in Tehran, that the European Union’s EU-3 group (Great Britain, Germany and France) which was conducting talks on the nuclear issue, might come up with an interesting approach in summer 2005. Instead, even after Iran had unilaterally accepted an additional protocol to agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and suspended its uranium enrichment activities, as a gesture of goodwill, what it got in return was an undiplomatic slap in the face. The EU “offer” made that summer paid lip service to promising to assist Iran’s peaceful nuclear energy program, etc., etc., but, regarding security–i.e. guarantees that the country would not be given the Iraq treatment–what the Europeans could offer was only promises that no {nuclear power} in Europe (i.e. Great Britain or France) would nuke Tehran! As to what the U.S. or nuclear Israel might do, there was no mention. Nor was there any hint that the great European powers might abstain from a conventional attack. (In parentheses, it should be noted, that following this offer, which the Iranians had no choice but to roundly reject, the new French President Nicola Sarkozy threatened just such attacks.) It was rightly assumed that what the EU-3 proposed had been okayed by Washington.

What would a rational U.S. (and Western) foreign policy for Iran look like? It would start from acknowledging the geostrategic-political fact, evident to anyone (unlike President Bush) capable of reading a map, that Iran occupies a very special, indeed, unqiue, position in the world. It is the natural bridge for the landlocked Central Asian Republics, to the sea, and worldwide markets. It is also the western “column” of the Eurasian Landbridge, the project for reuniting Asia and Europe through reconstruction of the historical Silk Road transportation networks, with modern technologies, from China, via northern, central and southern routes, to Europe. As a clear sign of its rationality, the Iranian leadership was the first, in 1991, to recognize the independence of the Central Asian Republics following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and has since then defined its foreign policy largely in terms of economic agreements with these and other Eurasian nations. The rail links Mashhad-Sarakhs-Tajan are merely emblematic of this thrust, as are the multiple pipeline agreements Iran has tried to consolidate (despite tremendous sabotage from London and Washington): Turkmenistan-Iran-Turkey (and Europe), Iran-Pakistan-India, among them. Were the U.S. to alter its currently hostile stance towards Iran, which could help stabilize Afghanistan, even a pipeline project across Turkmenistan and Afghanistan might be revived.

Anyone serious about establishing stability in the Southwest Asian region encompassing the Persian Gulf and so-called Middle East, must take as his starting point the economic parameters of the region, and recognize that without a comprehensive regional program for economic cooperation, there can be no stability. World history has documented sadly and frequently enough that “non-aggression treaties” are not worth the paper they are written on. It is agreement on common interests, and initiatives in the common interests in mankind, that establish peace and prevent wars. Happily, it appears that many members of the Gulf Cooperation Council have grasped this point, and have begun to rethink their own relations with Iran from this standpoint.

It is known that Vice President Dick Cheney, the leading protagonist of the war policy against Iran, travelled to Saudi Arabia in November 2006, and again in mid-2007, to organize the Saudis to his tactical plan of mobilizing a “moderate” Sunni Arab force against a presumed “extremist” Shi’ite force in the region. This author has received firsthand reports, that Cheney made clear to his interlocutors in the GCC countries, as he had done via proxies to conferences at the Gulf Studies Center, that he was planning a war against Iran, and informed them that he was visiting simply to know what their response would be. Whatever they may have said in response, as the diplomatic protocols of politeness may require, it is also known to this writer, that most of the GCC governments (with the exclusion of those few truly subservient to Anglo-American interests) have recognized that their own further existence depends on decent relations with Tehran. It is no secret to anyone that, God forbid, were the U.S. to start a war against Iran, many of the GCC countries would immediately be affected, especially Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait, with their Shi’ite communities, and Kuwait and Bahrain which host U.S. armed forces.

The GCC made clear their rejection of Cheney’s war plan, immediately following the Annapolis conference. For the first time ever, the GCC invited an Iranian President to attend the December 3-4 Doha summit. Ahmadinejad welcomed the invitation, and at the conference, put forward a rational proposal for improving relations among the group, including a plan for an Organization of Persian Gulf Economic Cooperation and a security agreement. Although it was not accepted in toto, it established the basis on which relations among the GCC and Iran could proceed. Most significant in this context is also the fact that the GCC countries had issued a call at an earlier summit, in May, for a study on the feasibility of introducing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in the region. Not only, but they proposed to set up a joint enrichment facility for the GCC and Iran, to provide the fuel for such peaceful nuclear reactors. This was a bombshell in itself, as it signalled to the neocons in Washington 1) that the GCC was not going to be manipulated into an anti-Iran mode because of the threat of nuclear weapons (which the NIE says does not exist); and 2) that it was not going to be bamboozled by the anti-nuclear lobby into believing that nuclear energy were forbidden. Iran reciprocated by offering to share its nuclear technology with the GCC states. A further, unprecedented sign that Iran would be welcomed as an integrated partner among the Arab Gulf states, was the invitation extended by Saudi King Abdallah to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to take part in the Hajj.

A sane U.S. foreign policy approach would view the region as a whole, extending from the Persian Gulf westwards and northward to include Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey, and consider this Southwest Asian region then as part of the broader Eurasian continent. Economic development of the entire region, vectored on advanced technological infrastructure for transportation, energy and water, should define relations among the constituent states of the area; U.S. support for such cooperation, and participation in such great projects, would transform international relations for the good. Significantly, three of the major Eurasian powers, India, Russia and China, are oriented to precisely such a perspective, and this has been bolstered by clear political support for Iran, especially by Moscow and Beijing. What is missing is the U.S. Were a new Administration in Washington to define a sane approach to Iran, that could all change. And, in such a happy event, as Parsi has recommended, sane forces in Israel would do well to recognize the need to get in on such a shift, instead of trying to thwart it. (Their “periphery” in this event would anyway have been reduced to a fond memory of a failed policy.)

But the main point to be hammered home is: the great debate in Washington opened up by the NIE report and concomitant books, articles, political initiatives and conferences, has placed the need and opportunity for a profound U.S. foreign policy shift on the top of the political agenda. Policy towards Iran is the litmus test.

Muriel Mirak-Weissbach is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Muriel Mirak-Weissbach

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Misinformation from MSNBC (15 sec video; Gravel)

Dandelion Salad

gravel2008

Immediately following the results from the January third Iowa Caucus, MSNBC Pundit Keith Olbermann declared that Sen. Gravel has ended his bid for the US Presidency. This is not the case, and we are requesting that MSNBC retract their statement.

http://www.gravel2008.us/content/were…

J. Skyler McKinley
Multimedia Coordinator
Mike Gravel for President 2008
smckinley@gravel2008.us

see

Olbermann apologizes: Olbermann: Primary Numbers + Iowhat Happened? + Worst (videos)

A Call to Action: Candidates Excluded Again from Debates By Manila Ryce