CBS: Little e-voting accountability on Super Tuesday by Nick Langewis & David Edwards (vid)

Dandelion Salad

by Nick Langewis & David Edwards
Raw Story
Sunday February 3, 2008

Democratic House Representative Rush D. Holt, Jr. (NJ-12) talks to CBS about the lack of accountability put on electronic voting machines whose results are impossible to verify.

As California, Colorado and Florida join Ohio in plans already in place to abandon touch-screen voting machines, Rep. Holt proposes appropriating $500 million to states that wish to convert either to paper ballots, or electronic machines that also leave a paper trail. While it’s too late for such a change to take place for Super Tuesday’s vote, Holt would like for such an option to be available in time for the final presidential vote this November.

“I think lots of states are finding that they’re not getting everything they bargained for,” adds Doug Chapin of Pew Charitable Trusts’ electionline.org. “And, in many cases, not getting what they paid for.”

This video is from CBS’s Evening News, broadcast February 2, 2008.

Video link

Vodpod videos no longer available. from rawstory.com posted with vodpod

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$700 bribe buys access to voting machines (video)

A 12-Step Program to Save US Democracy by Mark Crispin Miller

On the ground in NH: Recount Update by Bev Harris + video (updated)

Hacking Democracy (must see videos; 2006)

Tell Your Senators: No Retroactive Amnesty, Support the Dodd-Feingold Amendment

Dandelion Salad

Credo Action
Feb. 3, 2008

Late last week, Senate leaders agreed to consider a series of amendments that could improve the bad warrantless wiretapping bill reported from the Senate Intelligence Committee. While there will be a number of provisions designed to limit warrantless wiretapping and protect our civil liberties, the most important vote will be on the amendment offered by Senators Dodd and Feingold to strip retroactive immunity for telecom companies from the bill.

George Bush and Dick Cheney are pushing hard to give their cronies at Verizon and AT&T retroactive immunity. This would stop us from finding out what the Bush administration asked these companies to do and who asked them to act outside of the law.

It would also prevent the big telecoms from ever being held accountable in a court of law for violating the privacy and rights of millions of Americans.

Our country is at its strongest when we are governed by the rule of law, not the rule of rightwing ideologues and authoritarian presidents in bed with our largest corporations. Stripping retroactive immunity from the current bill would ensure that the Senate preserves the rule of law in America.

The good news is that the Dodd-Feingold amendment just needs a simple majority to pass. We’ve fought hard to get to this point. Now we need 51 votes. Please take action at right — and then get some friends involved too.

(Keith Olbermann of MSNBC came out last week with a great commentary on just how hypocritical President Bush’s position is on this issue; click here to view it.)

Take Action


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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Keith Olbermann Special Comment: FISA (video)

Harry Reid: FISA Deal With Dodd, Feingold in the Works (video)

Sibel Edmonds Must be Heard by Philip Giraldi

Dandelion Salad

by Philip Giraldi
HuffingtonPost.com
February 4, 2008

Sibel Edmonds is the FBI translator turned whistleblower who decided to go public late in 2002 and has been seeking to tell her story about high level corruption in the United States government involving Turkey and Israel. What makes her story particularly compelling is that the corruption relates to the theft and sale of United States defense secrets, most particularly nuclear technology. Sibel obtained her information while translating Turkish language telephone intercepts directed against several Turkish lobbying groups who had contact with senior officials in the Bush Administration, both at the Pentagon and in the State Department. Many of the officials involved are apparently the same neoconservatives who cooked the books to enable the rush to war against Iraq and who are continuing to urge more wars in the Middle East, most notably against Iran and Syria. Several of them are close allies of leading Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Why should Sibel be heard? Mostly because her story, if true, involves corruption at the highest levels of government coupled with the sale of secrets vital to the security of the United States. One of her claims is that a senior State Department officer who has been identified as Marc Grossman, recorded by the FBI while arranging to pick up bribes from a Turkish organization, also revealed the identity of the CIA cover company Brewster Jennings to a Turkish contact in late 2001. The Turk then passed on the information to a Pakistani intelligence officer who presumably warned the AQ Khan nuclear proliferation network that the CIA was apparently pursuing. Some might call that treason and it should be noted that it occurred two years before Robert Novak’s notorious exposure of Valerie Plame and Brewster Jennings which led to the conviction of Scooter Libby.

…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.

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Phil Giraldi chats about Sibel Edmonds by Luke Ryland

Why Bush Wants to Legalize the Nuke Trade with Turkey by Joshua Frank

Turkey’s Drug-Terrorism Connection By Martin A. Lee (1997)

Sibel Edmonds: Kill The Messenger (must-see video)

Edmonds-Sibel

Seymour Hersh: What did Israel bomb in Syria? (video)

Dandelion Salad

CSPANJUNKIEdotORG

February 04, 2008 CNN Wolf Blitzer

***

Sy Hersh confirms: Syrian facility bombed by Israel was not nuclear

by David Edwards & Muriel Kane
Raw Story
Sunday February 3, 2008

After Israel bombed a Syrian military facility last September, the United States and Israel both claimed the target had been a Syrian nuclear facility under construction.

RAW STORY‘s Larisa Alexandrovna was alone at the time in reporting that the actual target was a cache of North Korean No-Dong missiles, dating back to the 1990’s, which Syria was converting for use as chemical warheads.

In a follow-up report, Alexandrovna added that Vice President Dick Cheney was suspected of being behind leaks to the press of misleading claims of a nuclear basis for the incident.

…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.

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Strong Doubts Israeli Air Strike On Syria Hit Nuclear Complex By Sherwood Ross

Report: IAF knocked out Syria radar during Sept. 6 strike By Yossi Melman

Israel’s Syrian Airstrike Was Aimed at Iran by Gareth Porter

US intelligence does not show Syrian nuclear weapons program, officials say by Larisa Alexandrovna

US Bombed Syria: Report

Why did Israel attack Syria? by Jonathan Cook

Stop corporate interests from buying a seat in Congress (video)

Dandelion Salad

electdennis

Corporate interests in Cleveland are spending huge amounts of money on television and elsewhere to make sure that Dennis Kucinich is not re-elected to the U.S. Congress. If you want to make sure that they don’t get away with buying an election and buying a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, please consider making a contribution today so Dennis can buy the advertising time he needs to continue being the voice of truth, courage, and integrity.

Hi everyone, Dennis here.

One month from now is the Ohio primary and I’m running for re-election to the House of Representatives. I’m also being outspent 5 to 1. Corporate interests are converging on Cleveland in an effort to try to knock me out of Congress. I need your help to make sure that there continues to remain in the United States Congress a voice of truth, a voice of courage, a voice of integrity. I want to continue to serve in Congress to stand up for my constituents and their economic rights: the right to a job, to health care for all, to retirement security, for the education of their children. I need your help in order to do that. These interests groups have enabled television ads to be run against me for 2 weeks running and I haven’t had the resources to be able to go back on television and to respond to them. But with your contribution I’ll be able to do that. So please go to our website right now at kucinich.us and give us the resources that we need to beat back this corporate challenge. I’m confident that with your help I’ll be able to continue to be the voice in the United States Congress that you count on to be heard in times of crisis. We need to regain our country. We need to sweep aside the fear that has engulfed this country. We need to set back the greed that is undermining this country. I’m prepared to do that and I’m prepared to do that with your help.

Added: February 04, 2008

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US Herbicides Exact High Toll on Indigenous Populations By Thomas D. Williams

Dandelion Salad

By Thomas D. Williams
t r u t h o u t | Perspective
Saturday 02 February 2008

Despite years of ongoing, critical public health controversies in Colombia and Ecuador over the US-assisted aerial herbicide spraying of coca and poppy crops while trying to reduce illegal cocaine and heroin production, US State Department officials are pursuing that very same spraying strategy today.

In fact, a couple of months ago, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai’s administration temporarily cast aside the latest of several State Department exhortations to begin massive herbal spraying operations on poppy crops producing heroin there.

Colombian aerosol dusting of a mix of Roundup Ultra, Cosmo-Flux and other plant-penetrating agents began seven years ago. (In 2006 alone, the United Nations reported the spraying of approximately 172,025 hectares of coca crops, producing cocaine. That equals a bit over 664 square miles.)

In the meantime, untold thousands of Colombians and Ecuadorians have become sick from the blended chemical spray. Studies have shown the environmental dangers of inhalation and skin and eye saturation of the floating mist. And critically valuable maize, yucca and plantains have been destroyed in large swaths of the fertile country.

For years, DynCorp International of Fort Worth, Texas, has had the lucrative US multimillion-dollar annual contract for Colombian aerial spraying operations.

The company is being sued in Washington, DC, and US District Court by a class of 3,000 Ecuadorians who claim spray blown over the border from Colombia has sickened them.

“Glyphosate is used all over the world without these kinds of claims,” said Gregory Lagana, a DynCorp spokesman. “We spray in Colombia, and there Glyphosate is used extensively. But we don’t have any complaints where we spray it and what we do when we spray it. If there are health problems in Ecuador, they are certainly caused by something else.” The spray itself, said Lagana, “is prescribed by the governments of Colombia and the United States. Monsanto makes the spray.”

Monsanto, the herbicide manufacturer, has from time to time been identified by various Internet sites as the supplier of Roundup Ultra to Colombian spraying operations. But, through spokeswoman Tamara J. Craig Schilling, Monsanto refused to say whether the company is or was a supplier for Colombian spraying. Schilling refused to disclose the differences between regular Roundup and Roundup Ultra. The company claims Roundup is not harmful if instructions on the label are followed. Schilling said a Monsanto official in Mexico referred all such inquiries to the State Department. But, Monsanto also lists an office in Colombia inside its website.

Along with Dow Chemical, Monsanto was one of several US Army suppliers of the infamous Agent Orange, the herbicide used to deforest huge areas of jungle during the Vietnam War. The chemicals were alleged by many in multiple lawsuits to have caused birth defects and cancers among a large population of natives as well as US soldiers and their families.

Despite DynCorp spokesman Lagana’s claims that Colombians are not being sickened by the spray, an American Friends service report, as early as 2002, said there were indeed health repercussions in Colombia as well. They cited the Putumayo Health Department report as saying: “Three municipalities targeted by spray campaigns from December 22, 2000, to February 2, 2001, indicated that medical personnel in three local hospitals reported increased visits due to skin problems, gastrointestinal infections, acute respiratory infection, and conjunctivitis following spraying.”

In August 2001, a commission from a European Human Rights Organization found in a visit to the Province of Santanter that: “Contrary to official declarations about the harmlessness of Glyphosate, we were able to verify skin conditions (rashes and itching caused by the skin drying to the point of cracking) in both children and adults who were exposed directly to spraying while they worked their land or played outside their homes.”

In fact, in spite of Lagana’s insistence that Colombians haven’t complained about the spray, a Colombian judge temporarily stopped spraying operations in July 2001 as a result of health complaints from indigenous groups.

Then in January 2002, the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations ruled “The UN (Human Rights) Commission should urge the United States and Colombia to discontinue the aerial herbicide application program and seek alternative eradication methods.”

Based on a complaint from Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund, the council concluded: “The combination of (1) health, food resource, and environmental impacts to Colombians and Ecuadorians, (2) the toxicity of the spray mixture and the failure of the United States and Colombia to instruct sprayers to observe health and environmental safety recommendations, (3) the failure of the United States and Colombia to disclose sufficient information about the mixture and its application, (4) the failure of the United States and Colombia to conduct sufficient health and environmental assessments, and (5) the potential human rights abuses that may result from future health studies, clearly places the United States and Colombia in violation of the rights of Colombians and Ecuadorians to a clean and healthy environment, health, life, sustenance, property, privacy, and access to information.”

Ecuador has threatened for months to go to The International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, to pursue a case against the herbicide spraying by Colombia drifting across their common border. Repeated attempts over several weeks by this writer to contact an Ecuadorian government spokesperson concerning the herbicide spraying controversy failed.

“Colombia is convinced that the herbicide used in aerial spray of coca and poppy crops is harmless for human health and the environment,” said Jurgan Kaiser, a Colombian government spokesman. “A scientific study recently undertaken under the auspices of the Organization of American States (Inter-American Commission against Drug Abuse) confirmed this. For more information about this, check the commission’s web page at http://www.cicad.oas.org.”

But a search of that site leads to a report on that scientific study that mentions many conflicting conclusions about the environmental impact of the herbicide mix sprayed in Colombia. It intricately discusses the pros and cons of a scientific treatise essentially concluding that the poppy spray is harmless to humans and the environment.

The US State Department believes the spraying of herbicide in Colombia is not harmful to the environment or to humans, said its spokeswoman Susan Pittman.

Contrary to government officials’ and manufacturers’ claims of non-toxicity, at least five inquiries have found that Roundup causes serious human health problems.

Specifically, seven scientific investigators, studying symptoms of Ecuadorians exposed to a mix of Roundup Ultra and other additive chemicals, concluded: “A total of 24 exposed and 21 unexposed control individuals were investigated using the comet assay. The results showed a higher degree of DNA damage in the exposed group compared to the control group. These results suggest that in the formulation used during aerial spraying Glyphosate had a genotoxic effect on the exposed individuals.”

Mitra’s Natural Innovation blog cites four more studies: “A group of scientists led by biochemist Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini from the University of Caen in France found that human placental cells are very sensitive to Roundup at concentrations lower than those currently used in agricultural application.

“An epidemiological study of Ontario farming populations showed that exposure to Glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, nearly doubled the risk of late miscarriages. Seralini and his team decided to research the effects of the herbicide on human placenta cells. Their study confirmed the toxicity of Glyphosate, as after eighteen hours of exposure at low concentrations, large proportions of human placenta began to die. Seralini suggests that this may explain the high levels of premature births and miscarriages observed among female farmers using Glyphosate…. They found that the toxic effect increases in the presence of Roundup ‘adjuvants’ or additives. These additives thus have a facilitating role, rendering Roundup twice as toxic as its isolated active ingredient, Glyphosate.

“Another study, released in April 2005 by the University of Pittsburgh, suggests that Roundup is a danger to other life forms and non-target organisms. Biologist Rick Relyea found that Roundup is extremely lethal to amphibians. In what is considered one of the most extensive studies on the effects of pesticides on non-target organisms in a natural setting, Relyea found that Roundup caused a 70 percent decline in amphibian biodiversity and an 86 percent decline in the total mass of tadpoles. Leopard frog tadpoles and gray tree frog tadpoles were nearly eliminated.

“In 2002, a scientific team led by Robert Belle of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) biological station in Roscoff, France showed that Roundup activates one of the key stages of cellular division that can potentially lead to cancer. Belle and his team have been studying the impact of Glyphosate formulations on sea urchin cells for several years.”

Notwithstanding the billions of US and Colombian dollars spent on hazardous aerial spraying of crops that some scientific studies insist adversely impact humans, animals and fish, United Nations estimates say Colombian illicit drug production in metric tons has actually doubled in the decade ending in 2006. As well, says the UN, Colombia still remains the world’s biggest coca grower, producing 62 percent of the world’s supply of cocaine.

Sometimes, when Colombia’s illegal drug totals dropped, those in Bolivia and Peru, where aerial spraying is illegal, went up, UN reports say. Even when narcotics-enforcing officials are successful one year, the demand for illicit drugs is so strong in the United States and elsewhere, the poppy crops pop up again and again from year to year.

In the meantime, these annual United Nations inquiries show the Far East, once a booming drug black market for the world, has dramatically cleaned up its act without major environmental harm.

“Thailand has been opium-free for a long time. Vietnam is also opium-free. Laos has cut opium production by 94 percent in less than a decade (down to 1,500 hectares, or about 5.79 square miles). Burma’s share of the world opium market has collapsed from 30 percent in 1998 to under six percent in 2007. A decades-long process of drug control is clearly paying off. Thailand, in particular, stands out as an inspiration to its neighbors and a role model for other countries trying to overcome their drug problems,” says the UN report.

Thailand worked over three decades to eventually replace poppies with other valuable agricultural production, says the UN. The government concentrated on battling the drug trade with a more comprehensive two-pronged approach: a crop replacement program and stronger police control over drug dealing. “In 1969, the Thai efforts were pioneered by King Bhumibol Adulyadej who introduced a crop replacement project after the establishment of his new Phubing Palace in Chiang Mai adjacent to an opium poppy-growing village on the mountain Doi Pui. He promoted a long-term and cooperative approach to opium control that encouraged finding income-generation alternatives rather than law enforcement,” the report says.

Contrasting with Colombia, the US government, which assisted Thailand in its efforts, “removed Thailand from the US list of major drug-producing countries in the late 1990s because of the country’s success in limiting opium cultivation to its current low levels, and from the list of major drug transit countries in 2004 when it was apparent that local trafficking in and through Thailand had no significant impact on the United States. There is, effectively, no cultivation or production of heroin, methamphetamine or other drugs in Thailand today,” said the US State Department’s own report.

Herbicide manufacturers and officials from the State Department, Environmental Protection Agency and Drug Enforcement Administration, plus Colombian officials, have been claiming for about seven years that the chemical cocktail including Roundup Ultra, in fact sometimes deadly to plants and often fish, is harmless to humans. Safe, they say, provided it is sprayed properly with just the right mixture; assuming humans are not covered with the mist more than several times; and supposing the chemicals don’t repeatedly make their way into drinking water supplies. Apparently, however, there are few, if any, independent overseers to make sure the spray is consistently totally non-toxic or is targeted just to the coca and poppy crops.

Despite the benign chemical claims, Rand Beers, assistant secretary of state for international narcotics & law enforcement affairs, testified in 2002 in the federal court case against DynCorp ongoing today, that there had been no scientific tests of the environmental impacts of the combinations of chemicals used for the extensive Colombian sprayings, then two years old.

Most tellingly, the US State Department has been unable to convince other nations to follow Colombia’s lead. After once again considering the repetitious US proposal to spray the lucrative drug-producing Afghan harvests, President Hamid Karzai’s administration cast aside the offer in October. “We have rejected the spraying of poppy in Afghanistan for good reasons: the effect on the environment, other smaller crops and on human genetics,” the acting minister for counter-narcotics, General Khodaidad, told Britain’s The Guardian.

However, says the article, Karzai promised to continue the difficult manual plant eradication, ongoing with help from US forces for six years, not long after US and Afghan troops began their continuing war with terrorists. Scores of US contract employees, soldiers and Afghan security men have used sticks, tractors and all-terrain vehicles with harrows to destroy poppies. But, this plan proves to be as dangerous as spraying; contractors have been regularly fired upon by terrorists or those allied with farmers, or otherwise blocked in their poppy-bashing efforts by corrupt officials bent on favoring farmers with powerful political connections, a plethora of news reports say.

The incredible difficulties with manual eradication apparently left Karzai with some doubts, so he has not yet completely eliminated the possibility of reconsidering a US-sponsored effort to spray the poppy crops from the air with weed and plant killer Roundup and the typical additives accompanying it.

In February 2006, William B. Wood moved from his post as US ambassador to Colombia to become the ambassador to Afghanistan. At that point in time, Sam Logan of ISN Security Watch editorialized: “it is worrying that (Wood) might promote the same failed drug policies used in Colombia…. Fumigation alone – the leading method for reducing the supply of coca plants – has eradicated other, legitimate crops and caused international disputes between Colombia and Ecuador. Environmental concerns linked to the use of herbicide to kill coca bushes inside Colombia’s national parks underline the lengths the US government will go to target small, clandestine coca plantations in Colombia. Aircraft spraying chemicals in Colombia must fly at high altitudes to avoid damage due to small arms fire from the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).”

It appears, however, that back-to-back wars in Afghanistan have created intense public animosity to airborne chemicals. Many Afghans are fed up with the decades of hazardous pollutants welling up from US aerial bombardments and bunker-busters, home-made terrorist bombs, radioactive depleted uranium dust from fired US munitions, smoke from oil and other chemical fires and a host of other sorts of dangerous chemical contaminations.

“The US government was pushing for this to happen,” said Said Mohammed Azam, a former Afghan Ministry of Counter-Narcotics official. “But the Brits were reluctant, particularly when it (developed) that the spray (could) have happened in Helmand province. Nearly half of the opium that was produced last year came from Helmand alone … most (Afghan officials) were afraid of nodding yes to (the spray) because they were not very much aware of the (contents)…. This concern among Afghan officials underpinned when the two sectarian ministries, public health and agriculture opposed the idea because they reasoned the chemicals could harm the environment in areas where the spray took place. I heard the eradication of poppy started yesterday (January 30) in Helmand province and the Interior Ministry has deployed 500 extra troops from center for this purpose. Apparently the eradication will happen through traditional means: hand, tractor or using oxen or other animals.”

Thomas “Dennie” Williams is a former state and federal court reporter, specializing in investigations, for the Hartford Courant. Since the 1970’s, he has written extensively about irregularities in the Connecticut Superior Court, Probate Court systems for disciplining both judges and lawyers for misconduct, and failures of the Pentagon and the VA to assist sick veterans returning from war. (He can be reached at denniew@optonline).


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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An Open Letter To Hillary Clinton From A Wellesley College Alumna

Palast Reports on the Battle Between Indigenous Ecuadorians & Chervon (link)

Were Baghdad’s Female Suicide Bombers Mentally Retarded? by Walter C. Uhler

Dandelion Salad

by Walter C. Uhler
2 February 2008

On February 1, 2008, two female suicide bombers killed some 91 people and wounded another 150 at Baghdad pet markets. The two coordinated explosions marked the bloodiest day in the Iraqi capital during the past six months. Coming on the heels of increased U.S. military deaths in Iraq in January, after four months of declines, the bombings raised new doubts about the wild-eyed claims made by President Bush and Republican presidential candidate, John McCain, that the surge is working and the U.S. is winning in Iraq.

But, almost immediately, Iraq’s chief military spokesman in Baghdad claimed that the female bombers appeared to be mentally retarded. Allegedly, an examination of the severed head of one of the bombers led to the conclusion that she suffered from Downs Syndrome. In addition, some Baghdad locals were reported to have claimed that the bomber was known as “the crazy lady.”

Such reports, if correct, would lend substance to the assertions — which constitute the conventional wisdom — that the success of the Bush/Petraeus surge has caused al Qaeda in Iraq to adopt desperate measures. Americans, then, could rest assured that such attacks were merely an aberration, and, thus, more proof that, thanks to the surge, Iraq’s insurgency is now in its final death throes

Condoleezza Rice seized upon the news to decry al Qaeda as “the most brutal and bankrupt of movements,” conveniently overlooking the massive bombing campaign unleashed by America’s military during the surge and conveniently overlooking the unmanned aerial vehicles, like the Predator, which fire missiles at the command of brave airmen stationed at computer consoles at Nellis Air Force base near Las Vegas. Sort of like sitting in the White House and challenging the insurgents to “Bring ’em on.”

Most of the mainstream news media uncritically reported the assertion that al Qaeda had stooped to manipulating mentally retarded women. After all, such evidence better fits into the mantra of a successful surge, than does the ominous possibility that al Qaeda has moved on to a new tactic, one that employs female suicide bombers who have theirs wits about them.

Thus, FOX News, CNN, ABC, MSNBC, CBS News and even The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer talked about the mentally ill suicide bombers. Lamentably, even the Huffington Post, uncritically posted an article sporting the headline, “Mentally Retarded Women Used To Set Off Massive Iraq Attacks.”

Yet, during an interview with Stephen Farrell of the New York Times viewers of the NewsHour were told that there were plenty of reasons to doubt the assertion made by Iraq’s chief military spokesman. First, there’s a huge probability that the bomber’s severed head could have been distorted by the blast. Second, Farrell talked about witnesses who saw the woman before the explosion and claimed that she acted normally. Finally, as Farrell noted online, “Iraqi officials have made similar claims in the past.”

In addition, McClatchy’s Washington Bureau ran an article in which the reporters noted: “Other police officials expressed skepticism about the claim, saying it was made too quickly for any investigation to have taken place.” Finally, Middle East expert Juan Cole weighed in with this common sense observation: “The story that the women had Downs syndrome seems unlikely to be true: you wouldn’t trust a sensitive terror plot to someone without their full faculties.”

Cole also concluded: “The bombings show that Sunni Arab guerrillas seeking to destabilize Iraq have not been defeated and are still capable of making a big strike right under the noses of the surge troops.” Moreover, you can bet the farm that such big strikes will occur as long as American troops do Bush’s (or McCain’s) bidding and continue their illegal, immoral occupation of Iraq – surge or no surge.

Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).   waltuhler@aol.com
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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Baghdad Bombing Thoroughly Barbaric (video) + 91 Dead in 2 Baghdad Blasts by Juan Cole

“Israel & the Clash of Civilisations” by Stephen Lendman (Jonathan Cook)

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, February 4, 2008

A Review of Jonathan Cook’s book

Jonathan Cook is a British-born independent journalist based (since September 2001) in the predominantly Arab city of Nazareth, Israel and is the “first foreign correspondent (living) in the Israeli Arab city….” He’s a former reporter and editor of regional newspapers, a freelance sub-editor with national newspapers, and a staff journalist for the London-based Guardian and Observer newspapers. He’s also written for The Times, Le Monde diplomatique, the International Herald Tribune, Al-Ahram Weekly and Aljazeera.net. In February 2004, he founded the Nazareth Press Agency.

Cook states why he’s in Nazareth as follows: to give himself “greater freedom to reflect on the true nature of the (Israeli-Palestinian) conflict and (gain) fresh insight into its root causes.” He “choose(s) the issues (he) wish(es) to cover (and so is) not constrained by the ‘treadmill’ of the mainstream media….which gives disproportionate coverage to the concerns of the powerful (so it) makes much of their Israel/Palestine reporting implausible.”

Living among Arabs, “things look very different” to Cook. “There are striking, and disturbing, similarities between” the Palestinian experience inside Israel and within the Occupied Territories. “All have faced Zionism’s appetite for territory and domination, as well as repeated (and unabated) attempts at ethnic cleaning.”

Cook authored two important books and contributed to others. His first one in 2006 was titled “Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State.” It’s the rarely told story of the plight of the 1.4 million Palestinian Israeli citizens living inside the Jewish State, the discrimination against them, the reasons why, and the likely future consequences from it. Israel’s “demographic problem” is the issue as Cook explains. It’s the time when a faster-growing Palestinian population (aside from the diaspora) becomes a majority, and the very character of a “Jewish State” is threatened. Israel’s response – state-sponsored repression and violent ethnic cleansing to prevent it – in the Territories as well as and in Israel.

Cook’s newest book, just published, is called “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East.” It’s the subject of this review in the wake of advance praise. Noted author John Pilger calls it “One of the most cogent understandings of the modern Middle East I have read. It is superb, because the author himself is a unique witness” to events and powerfully documents them. This review covers them in-depth along with some of this writer’s reflections on the region from America.

Introducing his topic, Cook begins with Iraq and states upfront that “civil war and partition were the intended outcomes of invasion.” Separation and conflict were planned, they serve America’s interests, they’re not haphazard post-invasion events, and they originated far from Washington.

From the early 1980s, it was Israeli policy to subdue the Palestinians, fragment Arab rivals, and foster ethnic and religious discord to maintain unchallengeable regional dominance. Bush administration neocons chose the same strategy. Like Israel, they want to neutralize the region through division and separation and make it work even though prior to invading Iraq, Sunni and Shia neighborhoods were indistinguishable, and the country had the highest intermarriage rate in the region.

The scheme is “Ottomanisation,” and it worked for Ottoman Turkey against a more dominant Islam. Israel sees four advantages to it:

— divided minorities are easier to exploit, and Sunni – Shia conflict can achieve a greater aim – subverting Israel’s main threat – secular Arab nationalism united against the Jewish State;

— greater military dominance lets Israel maintain its favored status as a valued Washington ally;

— regional instability may lead to the breakup of Saudi-dominated OPEC, weaken the kingdom’s influence in Washington, and diminish its ability to finance Islamic extremists and Palestinian resistance; and

— Israel becomes freerer to ethnically cleanse Palestinians from Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Washington supported the scheme post-9/11, the “war on terror” was born, a clash of civilizations ensued, and the idea was that “Control of oil could be secured on the same terms as Israeli regional hegemony: by spreading instability across the Middle East” and Central Asia through a new-type divide and conquer strategy. For Israel, it weakens regional rivals and dampens Palestinian nationalism and their hopes for “meaningful statehood.”

Regime Overthrow in Iraq

Removing Saddam Hussein was justified to disarm a dangerous dictator threatening the region. It was untrue and based on “False Pretenses” according to a study by two nonprofit journalism organizations. On January 22, it was posted on the Center for Public Integrity web site. It’s “an exhaustive examination of the record” that shows the President and his seven top officials “waged a carefully orchestrated campaign of misinformation about the threat” Iraq posed to galvanize public opinion and go to war “under decidedly false pretenses.”

At least 532 separate speeches, briefings, interviews, testimonies and more provide the evidence. They show a concerted web of lies became the administration’s case for war even though it’s clear Iraq had no WMDs or any ties to Al-Queda. Numerous bipartisan investigations drew the same conclusion, including those by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2004 and 2006, the multinational Iraq Survey Group’s “Duelfer Report,” and even the dubious 9/11 Commission.

The study cites 232 false Bush statements alone about WMDs and 28 others about links to Al-Queda. Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and others put out the same lies that increased after August 2002 and spiked much higher in the weeks preceding invasion. In all, the study documented 935 false statements, the dominant media spread them, their deception is now revealed, and yet the administration avoided any responsibility for its actions and the media is unapologetic. In addition, there are no congressional investigations, and the war is still misportrayed as a liberating one when its clear intent was to erase a nation, divide and rule it, turn it into a free market paradise, use it as a launching platform to dominate the region, and control its oil.

Saddam was never a credible threat. In addition, he’d been effectively disarmed in the early 1990s, but US officials suppressed what UN weapons inspectors’ learned – the Gulf War neutralized Iraq and “there were no unresolved disarmament issues.” Further, Saddam’s son-in-law, Hussein Kamel, ran the country’s WMD program in the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1995, he defected to the West, was thoroughly debriefed, and confirmed that there was no nuclear program, and “Iraq destroyed all its chemical and biological weapons stocks and the missiles to deliver them.”

The story was widely reported at the time, including a front page New York Times August 12 article headlined “Cracks in Baghdad” plus several subsequent follow-ups as events developed. It was then buried, however, and never resurfaced in the run-up to March, 2003. For Iraqis, the consequences were horrific, and they began after Saddam was tricked into invading Kuwait.

Four days later, Operation Desert Shield was launched, economic sanctions followed, a large US troop buildup began, and a sweeping Kuwait-funded PR campaign prepared the public for Operation Desert Shield. It began on January 17, 1991, ended on February 28, caused mass killing, and all essential to life facilities were destroyed, effectively returning the country to its pre-industrial condition.

Twelve years of the most comprehensive, genocidal sanctions followed. They included a crippling trade embargo and an air blockade to enforce it. Adequate humanitarian essentials were restricted, and the 1995 UN Oil-for-Food Program was a well-planned scam. Until it ended after March 2003, it provided the equivalent of 21 cents a day for food and 4 cents for medicines. In addition, vital drugs and other essentials were banned because of their claimed potential “dual use.”

The toll was horrific and got two UN heads of Iraqi humanitarian relief to resign with Dennis Halliday saying in 1998 that he did so because he “had been instructed to implement a policy that satisfies the definition of genocide: a deliberate policy that has effectively killed over one million individuals, children and adults,” including 5000 Iraqi children a month in his judgment.

Conditions got worse post-March 2003 with street violence commonplace; mounting deaths and injuries; and a total breakdown of essential services, including electricity, clean drinking water, sanitation, medical care, and education made worse by mass unemployment and poverty – an occupation-created humanitarian disaster of epic proportions that continues to worsen.

Four million refugees left the country or are internally displaced, one-third of the population needs emergency aid, millions can’t get enough food, malnourishment is rampant, medical care barely exists, and the British medical journal The Lancet published the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health study on the death toll in October 2006. It estimated 655,000 violent deaths since March 2003 that could be as high as 900,000 at the time (and now much higher) because interviewers couldn’t survey the country’s most violent areas and omitted from the study thousands of families in which all members were killed.

Cook quoted a Palestinian academic, Karma Nabulsi, citing similarities between Iraq and occupied Palestine – two populations “living in a Hobbesian vision of an anarchic society: truncated, violent, powerless, destroyed, cowed, ruled by disparate militias, gangs, religious ideologues and extremists, broken up into ethnic and religious tribalism and co-opted collaborationists.” Palestinians and Iraqis resist, demand their freedom, and polls shows overwhelming numbers want the occupations to end. In Iraq, almost no one thinks America came to liberate them or establish democracy.

Nearly everyone knows Washington’s real intent – permanent occupation to control the country’s oil so Big Oil giants can exploit it for profit, deny Iraqis their own natural wealth, and give America “veto power” over rivals and potential ones to assure their compliance.

A September 1978 Joint Chiefs of Staff memorandum is particularly notable. It listed three US Middle East objectives:

— “assure continuous access to petroleum resources,

— prevent an inimical power or combination of powers from establishing hegemony, and

— assure the survival of Israel as an independent state in a stable relationship with contiguous Arab states.”

Of great concern to US planners, then and now, is “curbing and crushing (Arab and Iranian) nationalism that might inspire Middle Eastern states” to claim the right to their own resources and deny the West their benefits. Twentieth century history documents how Britain and America controlled the region, installed puppet rulers, backed repressive dictators, removed uncompliant ones, and looted oil-rich states for their gain. Iraq is now exploited, local industry was crushed, US corporations plunder the country, and the so-called hydrocarbon law gives Big Oil the same right to the nation’s oil – if it’s enacted but so far it’s stalled.

The Iraqi cabinet approved it last February, but that’s where things now stand because of mass public opposition to a blueprint for plunder. If the puppet parliament passes it, foreign investors will reap a bonanza of resources leaving Iraq with just slivers. Its complex provisions, still being manipulated, give the Iraqi National Oil Company exclusive control to less than one-fifth of the country’s operating fields with all yet-to-be-discovered deposits (most of Iraq’s reserves) set aside for Big Oil. Even worse, contracts (under “production sharing agreements”) up to 35 years will be granted, all earnings may be expropriated, and foreign interests have no obligation to invest in Iraq’s economy, partner with Iraqi companies, hire local workers, respect union rights, or share new technologies.

Earlier in the 20th century, America coveted Middle East oil once its potential was realized. Post-WW I, however, Britain occupied Iraq and Kuwait, benefitted most until WW II, miscalculated on Saudi’s importance, and let the Roosevelt administration secure an oil concession in the 1930s that began close ties between the two nations. The President and King ibn Saud struck a deal. America guaranteed the kingdom’s security in return for a steady supply of oil at stable prices, and later on, the recycling of huge petrodollar profits into US investments and military hardware.

Thereafter, the region was key, and the Carter Doctrine highlighted it after engineering the Shah’s removal in 1979. Carter stated – “Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America (and) will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.”

Post-9/11, the Bush Doctrine applied Carter policy globally in the 2002 National Security Strategy (NSS), later revised and made harsher in 2006. It’s an imperial grand plan for world dominance, preventive wars are the strategy, the Middle East and Central Asia are its main targets, and the powerful Israeli Lobby assures Washington and Tel Aviv interests are in lockstep. More on that below.

The Long Campaign against Iran

The January 2007 Herzliya, Israel conference was notable for what’s become the country’s premiere political event. This one differed from others in two respects. Forty-two past and present US policy makers were invited, and attention focused on a Shia “arc of extremism” with debates and discussion highlighting Iran and Hezbollah.

Participants claimed Iran spread regional instability, was close to developing nuclear weapons, and would use them against Israel. There were similar echoes from the January 2008 conference with comments from speakers like Ehud Barak saying “The Iranian nuclear threat remains critical (and) We will not accept an Iran which possesses a nuclear capable military.” General Ephraim Sneh added “Our problem is not the nuclear problem, but rather the Iranian regime. (It) incorporates imperial ambition, hatred of Israel, increasing military strength, and an unlimited budget.” Ignored was common knowledge or any glimmer of truth – that the late Ayatollah Khomeini banned nuclear weapons development, today’s Iranian officials repeatedly stress the country’s only nuclear aim is commercial, and Tehran represents no threat to Israel or any other country in or outside the region.

Since the early 1990s, Israel claimed otherwise – that Iran sought nuclear weapons, represented an existential threat, and had to be confronted. By 1994, Haaretz reported that the country’s top priority was neutralizing Iran to thwart its regional aspirations because Tehran threatened to acquire nuclear weapons, long-range missiles, and had the ability to export terrorism and revolution to subvert secular Arab regimes. Iraq was already under sanctions, but Israel saw both countries as a combined threat. Weakening one would only strengthen the other, so both had to be smashed.

With Iraq under occupation, Iran’s now called the center of world terrorism and packaged with Syria and Hezbollah as Israel’s axis of evil with Hamas added later after its early 2006 electoral victory. Israel has big aims – to become a regional hegemon, prevent a rival power from influencing the “peace process,” and deny the Palestinians any hope of ending the occupation. It thus manufactured an Iranian threat and along with Washington blocks dialogue and negotiation.

Claiming Iran is a nuclear menace runs counter to the facts. Tehran is years away from producing nuclear power, and IAEA head Mouhammad el-Baradei reports no evidence that Iran is building or seeks to build nuclear weapons. He also told the press last August that “Iran is ready to discuss all outstanding issues which triggered the crisis in confidence. It’s a significant step. There are clear guidelines (and Iran is not) dallying with the agency (or) prolong(ing) negotiations to avoid sanctions….Iran (deserves) a chance to prove its stated goodwill.”

IAEA also reported Iran’s uranium enrichment program slowed, operates well below capacity, and isn’t producing nuclear fuel in significant amounts. It had only 1968 centrifuges functioning, several hundred others in various stages of assembly or testing, and its enrichment level is well below what’s needed to build a nuclear bomb. In addition, in December 2007, the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) reported that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 (without evidence one ever existed) and has none of these weapons in its arsenal.

The Bush administration and Israel sidestepped NIE and denounced the IAEA, called it an Iranian ploy to buy time, and “There was no (Israeli) debate about which country should be targeted after Iraq.” The goal was to isolate Iran, end its threat to Israel, but avoid the mistake of invading and occupying another country with Iraq already out of control. Other choices were preferable – stoking internal conflict, inciting instability, attacking by air, and deciding which reports to believe.

An August 2007 one called “Considering a war with Iran: A discussion paper on WMDs in the Middle East” was particularly alarming. British experts Dan Plesch and Martin Butcher prepared it, other evidence of impending conflict supported it, no date was given, but they stated things are too far along in planning to stop. They wrote the Pentagon has plans for a “massive, multi-front, full-spectrum” shock and awe-type attack with no ground invasion. Its aim is to target 10,000 sites with bombers and long-range missiles, destroy the country’s military capacity, nuclear energy sites, economic infrastructure and other targets to destabilize and oust its regime or reduce the country to a “weak or failed state.”

Washington also pressured the UN to impose sanctions on Iran. In July 2006, the Security Council passed Resolution 1696 demanding Tehran halt enriching uranium by August 31 or be sanctioned. UN Resolution 1737 followed in December, cited the country’s nuclear program and imposed limited sanctions with further ones applied after UN Resolution 1747 passed in March. On January 22, 2008, the five permanent Security Council members and Germany agreed to a third round of sanctions that was less than what the Bush administration wanted.

The cat and mouse game continues, the threat of wider war remains, and nothing may be resolved with the current administration in power. Nor is there much chance for change under a new one in 2009 as hawkish candidates from both parties dominate the race and support Israel’s design on Iran.

The Islamic Republic remains Target One, but on July 12, 2006 the Olmert government surprised. It attacked Lebanon in a blatant act of aggression. It later came out the war was long-planned, Washington was on board, and a minor incident became the pretext to launch it. The target was Hezbollah, and the scheme was to remove what former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage once called “the A-team of international terrorism.” That was his way of noting a long-time Israeli irritant that was able to liberate Lebanon’s south by ending the IDF’s 22 year occupation in May 2000.

By summer 2006, strong rhetoric suggested a wider war with Iran and Syria. Both countries were accused of supplying Hezbollah with thousands of rockets to “wipe Israel off the map,” and they were being indiscriminately used to do it.

In fact, Hezbollah was founded as a national liberation movement after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982. It’s not an Islamist or terrorist organization as its founding mission statement reveals. It was an “open letter to all the oppressed in Lebanon and the world” stating its aims – to drive the US, French and Israeli occupiers out of Lebanon, defeat the right wing Christian Maronite Phalange party allied with Israel, and give our people “liberty (in) the form of government they desire.” It added “we don’t want to impose Islam upon anybody. We don’t want Islam to reign in Lebanon by force as is the case with the Maronites today.”

Today, Hezbollah is a legitimate political and social organization that maintains a military wing for self-defense. It represents Lebanon’s Shia population (40% of the total) and is respected for running a comprehensive network of schools, health facilities and other social services available to anyone in need, not just Shias. Nonetheless, it’s been unfairly branded anti-Jewish, accused of wanting to destroy Israel, and Washington put it on its Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list in 1997.

In summer 2006, Hezbollah responded to Israeli aggression as its legitimate right. It targeted military, not civilian, sites with spotty accuracy, hit some, and proved to Israel’s embarrassment that its forces, Iran and Syria knew site locations that could be struck more accurately with more powerful weapons in retaliation if attacked.

The threat is real, but Hezbollah was the first order of business. Its rockets had to be eliminated as Seymour Hersh reported. Otherwise, “You hit Iran (or Syria first), Hezbollah then bombs Tel Aviv and Haifa,” but more was at stake as well. Backing Lebanon’s Siniora government against a weakened Hezbollah and asserting the army’s control in the south was key. In addition, with Iran and Syria potential targets, the Pentagon wanted Israel to field test its bunker-buster bombs to learn their effectiveness in advance.

Hezbollah was more formidable than expected, it prevailed against Israel’s might, its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasralah, is stronger than ever, his support extends beyond his Shia base in the south, the IDF suffered a humiliating defeat, and that’s where things now stand. Had the Olmert government prevailed, Cook reports that an air attack on Syria was planned, President Bashar Assad apparently knew it, a credible Washington source revealed it, and the Israeli media suggested the Bush administration wanted Israel to proceed.

Further hawkishness came from Hebrew University professor Martin van Creveld, a respected military historian “with intimate knowledge of the army’s inner workings and its collective ethos.” His March 2007 Jewish Daily Forward commentary argued that Syria planned to attack Israel no later than October 2008, possibly with chemical weapons, but no evidence was cited. He merely said the Assad government “had been on an armaments shopping spree in Russia” and let readers draw their own conclusions. Israel, he claimed, was thus justified to attack preemptively even though there was credible evidence that Syria sought resolution on the Golan issue, made overtures to negotiate, and the Olmert government believed Assad was serious.

Nonetheless, he was rebuffed and hard line Washington and Tel Aviv officials prevailed. Appeasing Iran and Syria was off the table, removing their “dire threat” had to be confronted, and it hardly mattered that none existed. Then came November 2006. Olmert’s approval rating was dismal, and a newspaper poll showed Netanyahu would best him in fresh elections. US Republicans were just as weak. The November 2006 congressional elections sent a strong message – end the war and bring home the troops. For the first time since 9/11, neocon dominance was uncertain, tensions surfaced in the administration, and a change of direction looked possible.

James Baker’s Iraq Study Group recommended one in December. It argued that US forces should be gradually withdrawn from Iraq, Iran and Syria should be engaged to help stabilize “what was clearly a failed state,” and the home front battle lines were drawn. Key Bush advisors continued to claim Iran was the problem by trying to undermine Washington in Iraq. It was stirring up Shia resistance, arming the Sunnis, and countering Tehran required greater US involvement, not an exit.

For a while, it wasn’t clear how things would turn out, but in the end the administration remained hard line, and in early 2007 announced a 30,000 troop surge, stepped up pressure against Iran, and positioned a major naval strike force in the Gulf. At the same time, President Ahmadinejad became another “Hitler” and was misquoted as saying he was trying to “wipe Israel off the map.” He actually said “this regime that is occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” in a reference to its military conquest, illegally occupying Jerusalem, colonizing the Occupied Territories, and repressing the Palestinian people. Ultimately, these policies will fail, and respected analysts say the same thing.

Ahmadinejad made no reference to Jews, only a racist Israeli government that relegates non-Jews to second class status or worse. Regardless of his words and meaning, every move and comment he now makes is scrutinized for any way to attack him.

End of the Strongmen

Cook asks why were Israel and the US extending the “war on terror” to the strongest Middle East state, Iran, since it’s the one most able to alleviate crisis in Iraq? Why turn a “clash of civilisations” into an added Sunni-Shia struggle and risk making an unstable situation worse? Many Middle Eastern states are “uncomfortable amalgams of Sunni and Shia populations” because they were combined into unnatural states post-WW I. By late 2006, internal conflicts destabilized Iraq and Lebanon, threatened to spread, and Washington and Tel Aviv were encouraging it.

By confronting Iran and Syria, things may only worsen, but White House reasoning is that this as preferable to a united resistance targeting its occupation. Israel has the same view, and it lay behind the summer 2006 Lebanon war. At its start, it was hoped conflict would unite Christians and Sunnis against Hezbollah and repeat the sectarian civil war that ravaged the country from 1975 to 1990. Instead, the nation united against Israel, and Hezbollah’s power and overall status was enhanced, the opposite of what Tel Aviv planned.

The same strategy is playing out in the Occupied Territories, but its outcome is unresolved. After Hamas’ electoral victory, Israel refused recognition, and the US and West went along. All outside aid was cut off, an economic embargo and sanctions were imposed, and the legitimate government was isolated. Stepped up repression followed along with repeated IDF incursions and attacks, and the idea was to foment internal conflict on Gaza streets. It went on for months, then subsided (with occasional flare-ups) when Hamas prevailed against Fatah. It defeated Mahmoud Abbas’ heavily US-Israeli-armed paramilitaries that were led by Mohammed Dahlan. In spite of defeat, Israel achieved a long-standing aim. It split the Palestinians into two rival camps in Gaza and the West Bank and recognized the unelected Abbas government as legitimate.

Israel plans the same fate for Syria, but Cook says its “closed society (is) more difficult to read.” Nonetheless, Congress passed the Syria Accountability Act in late 2003 to justify a US and/or Israeli future attack on any pretext that’s never hard to find. A clause in the law states Syria is “accountable for any harm to Coalition armed forces or to any United States citizen in Iraq if the government of Syria is found to be responsible” even without proof. Whatever Syria does, it’s thwarted despite clear evidence it seeks peace with the West and Israel and will make concessions in return for resolution to long-outstanding issues like the Golan.

Cook thus wonders “who controls American foreign policy? Does the dog wag the tail or the opposite given the power of Israel to influence policy? One camp argues the former with distinguished figures like Noam Chomsky believing Washington has a “consistent, predictable and monolithic view of American interests abroad” and how best to secure them.

How to explain Iraq then since the administration rejected the advice of many of its key policy advisors, including what Big Oil wanted. Instead, it opted for a messy “regime overthrow,” not a simpler “regime change” that worked well in the past without war and occupation. In addition, attacking Iran guarantees regional turmoil, greater instability, regimes likely toppling, intensified Iraq conflict targeting Americans, higher oil prices, possible world recession, and no assurance of a favorable outcome.

Why risk it when Iran sought dialogue for years, but Washington consistently refuses. Cook cites two US academics, John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt and might have included James Petras’ work and his powerfully important book titled “The Power of Israel in the United States.” This writer reviewed it in-depth and was greatly struck by its persuasive content. It documents the Lobby’s depth and breath at the highest levels of government, throughout Congress, business boardrooms, academia, the clergy (especially dominant Christian fundamentalists) and the mass media. Together they assure full and unconditional support for most Israeli interests most of the time going back decades. Wars included – in the Occupied Territories, against Lebanon, the Gulf War, the current Iraq war as well as all Israeli wars since 1967 and the prospect of engaging Iran and Syria despite strong opposition at home.

Cook presents his own view saying “the dog and tail wag each other,” and that’s Israel’s strategy by making both countries dependent on the other for dominance in and outside the region. He believes Israel persuaded administration neocons that both countries shared mutual goals. It worked because it placed US interests of global domination and controlling oil at the heart of strategy.

Consider also a long-standing “special relationship” between the two countries going back decades. Senate Foreign Relations Committee private meeting transcripts before and after the 1967 war reveal it. They explain, early on, that Washington valued Israel as a strategic ally in a vitally important part of the world. Aside from oil, the Johnson administration called Israel a useful Cold War asset at a time Russia courted leading Arab states and made progress. Its regional wars were also helpful to confront the kind of nationalist threat Egypt’s Nasser represented. They split regional states into irreconcilable camps – weak Gulf ones like the Saudis needing US protection; stronger regimes in Egypt, Jordan and Iran under the Shah; and outliers like Syria, Libya, Iraq and Iran after 1979.

Cook recounts Ariel Sharon’s vision of empire as a regional superpower in an early 1980s speech he never made. He radically departed from Israel’s traditional strategy of either seeking peace or directly confronting hostile neighbors. His new thinking was to extend Tel Aviv’s influence to the whole region by achieving qualitative and technological weapons superiority.

Sharon was a seasoned general, his views were respected, and he greatly influenced younger officers who rose in prominence and, in the case of Ehud Barak, became Prime Minister like himself. He believed Israel should impose its dictates and force other regional states to comply or be punished.

The “Sharon Doctrine,” as its called, also reflected the views National Security Adviser, General Uzi Dayan, and Mossad head, Ephraim Halevy stated in December 2001. They called 9/11 a “Hannukkah miracle” because it gave Israel a chance to marginalize and confront its enemies. Henceforth, all “Islamic terror” elements could be grouped together as threats to the region’s rulers. Confronting it was crucial, so after Afghanistan Iraq, Iran and Syria were next “as soon as possible.” It was Dick Cheney’s vision of permanent “war that won’t end in our lifetimes.”

In 1982, Israeli journalist and former Foreign Affairs Ministry senior advisor, Oded Yinon, proposed an even more radical idea. Like Sharon, he advocated transforming Israel into a regional power with an added goal: breaking up Arab states into ethnic and confessional groupings that Israel could more easily control. Similar to Huntington’s “clash of civilizations,” Yinon suggested we were witnessing cataclysmic times, the “collapse of the world order,” and he identified the threat: “The strength, dimension, accuracy and quality of nuclear and non-nuclear weapons will overturn most of the world in a few years.” He believed an age of terror emerged that would challenge Israel with growing Arab militancy.

His remedy – install minority population leaders who are dependent on colonial powers even after nominal independence. It worked in Lebanon under the Maronites, in Syria under the Alawis, and in Jordan under Hashemite monarchs. Yinon believed these states were weak, as were oil-rich ones, could be easily dissolved, and doing it was key to forcibly displacing Palestinians from the Territories and inside Israel. Furthermore, achieving dominance depended on dissolving Arab states so Israel would be unchallengeable and able to complete its ethnic cleansing process.

Remaking the Middle East

After the Soviet Russia dissolved, Israel’s military had to convince Washington it could be useful in a post-Cold War world. Would it be a bullying enforcer or a regional guarantor of US and Israeli dominance by sowing disorder and instability? In the 1990s, “two new kinds of Middle Eastern political and paramilitary actors” emerged – Sunni jihadis called Al-Queda and elements like the Taliban in Afghanistan and Hezbollah in south Lebanon. They represent formidable challenges that aren’t easily intimidated or bullied.

In this type world, threats are at a sub-state level, so Yinon’s scheme was appealing – encourage discord and feuding within nations, destabilize them, and arrange their dismemberment into mini-states. Tribes and sectarian elements could be turned on each other, and alliances with non-Arab, non-Muslim groups like Christians, Kurds and Druze could be cultivated to advantage.

One problem remains, however – the possibility that another Middle East state may develop nuclear weapons, challenge Israel’s dominance and get away with it. Nonetheless, Israel planned “organized chaos” across the region and convinced administration neocons the scheme was sensible. They had every reason to approve, and powerful opposition at home aside, they’re destabilizing the region along with Israel. There’s no guaranteed outcome, the subsequent fallout is unpredictable, but consider the possibilities. The administration is quite able to vaporize Iran and Syria and end the homeland republic if that’s the plan. It’s also what other states have to fear.

Cook considers why Israel and Washington chose this agenda despite the risks:

— by controlling Iran and Iraq, oil production can be increased and prices brought down to a desired level;

— Israel’s rivals will be economically and politically crippled as will Palestinians in the Territories and inside Israel;

— Gulf states will also be weakened, including Saudi Arabia; and one major out-of-region goal may be achieved –

— containing China by controlling its main oil source; it may also be easier to dismember the country the way the Soviet Union was dissolved.

The goal is grandiose, risky and its chance of succeeding highly improbable. Consider Russia under Vladimir Putin. Contained under Boris Yeltsin, it’s no longer a pushover. In a largely ignored June 2007 speech, Putin highlighted deteriorating US-Russian relations post-9/11 with alarm. Bush administration policies were threatening and endangered his country’s security:

— US military bases encircle it;

— former Soviet states were recruited into NATO;

— offensive missiles were installed on its borders on the pretext of missile defense;

— allied Central Asian regimes were toppled to Washington’s advantage; and

— US-backed Serbian, Ukrainian and Georgian “pro-democracy” groups incited political instability in Moscow.

These actions convinced Russian hard-liners that America plans regime change and further fragmentation of the Federation. China sees this, too, and knows it may be next. It’s gotten both powers to ally in two organizations for their own self-defense and to compete with the US for control of Central Asia’s vast reserves – the Asian Energy Security Grid and the more significant Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) that was formed in 2001 for political, diplomatic, economic and security reasons as a counterweight to an encroaching US-dominated NATO. Other regional powers may also join one or both alliances, including India, Iran and even South Korea and Japan as a new millennium Great Game unfolds.

On the other side are the US and Israel with the Occupied Territories a test laboratory for what they have in mind for the region. Israel has been at it since the 1967 war when the idea was to expel Palestinians to Jordan because “Jordan is Palestine.” The only debate was how to do it.

At the same time, Israel long considered dismembering Arab countries into feuding mini-states, and in the early 1980s, Haaretz’s military correspondent, Ze’ev Schiff, wrote that Israel’s “best” interests would be served by “the dissolution of Iraq into a Shi’ite state, a Sunni state and the separation of the Kurdish part.” Ever since, Israel implemented this practice in the Territories along with testing urban warfare tactics, new weapons and crowd control techniques. Workable or not, it’s been a boon to business and it’s built Israel’s economy around responding to violence at home and everywhere.

Israeli technology firms pioneered the homeland security industry, still dominate it, and it’s made the country the most tech-dependent one in the world and its fourth largest arms exporter after the US (far and away the biggest), Russia and France. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is one of its biggest customers for high-tech fences, unmanned drones, biometric IDs, video and audio surveillance gear, air passenger profiling, prisoner interrogation systems, thermal imaging systems, fiber optics security systems, tear gas products and ejector systems and much more.

With products like these and lessons learned from the Territories, Israel believes it can abandon the old puppet strongman model of controlling populations. It wants no part of a “Palestinian dictator” who might encourage Palestinian nationalism, challenge Israeli rule, and disrupt settlement development plans in the Territories. Building them depends on keeping Palestinians divided, weak, unable to resist, and easier to remove from land Israel wants to incorporate into a greater Israel that includes south Lebanon.

After the 1967 war, Israel prevented new Palestinian leaders from emerging and first tried to manage the population along family or communal lines by co-opting its leaders or eliminating ones who became obstacles. By 1981, Sharon (as defense minister) refined the scheme into what was named “Village Leagues” that were local anti-PLO militias. The system was abandoned, however, when Palestinians rebelled against their collaborating leaders so Israel tried new approaches.

Most important was the Muslim Brotherhood (that had roots in Egypt) that later became Hamas in the late 1980s. Israel, at the time, believed traditional Islamic elements were more easily managed than PLO nationalists, would later learn otherwise, and it led to a radically new experiment – the Oslo process. It began secretly with a post-Gulf War weakened PLO, specified no outcome, and let Israel delay, refuse to make concessions, and continue colonizing the Territories. For their part Palestinians renounced armed struggle, recognized Israel’s right to exist, agreed to leave major unresolved issues for indefinite later final status talks, and got nothing in return.

Yasser Arafat and his cohorts got what they wanted – a get-out-of-Tunis free pass where they were in exile following the 1982 Lebanon war. They got to come home, take charge of their people and become Israel’s enforcer. Interestingly, Cook points out a little known fact. Many high-level Israeli security figures opposed Oslo. They saw it giving Arafat an “internationalist platform” to encourage Palestinian nationalism that might undermine Israel. After Rabin’s assassination, it wasn’t surprising that the spirit of Oslo died, Arafat became isolated, spent much of the second intifada a prisoner in his Ramallah compound, and died in a Paris hospital in November 2004, the victim of Israeli poisoning with convincing evidence to prove it.

In the meanwhile, Israel scrapped Oslo and tried a new approach – cantonizing Gaza and the West Bank to crush organized resistance and dissolve Palestinian nationalism. It began with checkpoints and curfews. Then it was hardened into forced separation, displacement, willful harassment, land seizures, home demolitions, bypass roads, and state-sponsored violence matching lightly-armed people against the world’s fourth most powerful military with every imaginable weapon at its disposal and no hesitancy using them against civilians.

At the same time, Israel chose a co-optable Mahmoud Abbas over the legitimate Hamas government. Its leaders will only recognize Israel if Palestinians are recognized in return and given an independent homeland inside pre-1967 borders or there’s one state for all Israeli citizens. Israel, of course, refuses, and continues expanding settlements on expropriated land. In addition, with Abbas’ Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, Israel assures the two sides remain divided and continue fighting each other for control. That’s the strategy to keep Palestinians marginalized and Israel confident that what’s now working in the Territories can be applied advantageously across the region.

That became Bush administration strategy early on with extremist neocons in charge led by Dick Cheney. They knew all along that invading and occupying Iraq would unleash sectarian violence “on an unprecedented scale.” Cook notes that the scheme came out of a 1996 policy paper called “A Clean Break” that was written by key neocons behind the war – David Wurmser, Richard Pearle and Douglas Feith. They predicted that after Saddam fell Iraq would “be ripped apart by the politics of warlords, tribes, clans, sects and key families” because Sunni leadership maintained unity through state repression.

Pre-war, Britain knew it as well, and, in May 2007, a US Senate Intelligence Committee reported that US intelligence documents warned of post-invasion chaos because Iraq is one of the least cohesive Middle East states with rival Sunni, Shia and Kurdish populations. This, however, fits perfectly with the type occupation Washington wants. It also justifies the “war on terror,” and prepares things for the final solution Israel advocates – splitting the country into three mini-states: a Kurdish one in the North, Shias in the South, and Sunnis between them.

Making it work won’t be easy, however, because Iraq’s largest cities have mixed populations. It’s the reason the Pentagon plans to cantonize them Israeli-style by enclosing neighborhoods with barricades and walls and require special IDs for entry. Israel plans the same thing for Lebanon where a large Shia population has been marginalized under the country’s “confessional” system. It allocates public office along religious lines, gives disproportionate power to Christian and Sunni minorities, but Hezbollah is challenging the pro-western government with things so far unresolved.

After the 2006 war, Hezbollah got stronger, Washington supports the Siniora government, and is promoting a “Cedar Revolution” like the “Orange” and “Rose” ones it successfully engineered in Ukraine and Georgia. Assassinations and car bombings are part of the scheme, they’re blamed on Syria without evidence, but a more likely culprit is Mossad that has a long history in the region engineering this type violence. Cook quotes former US counter-terrorism expert, Fred Burton, saying the technology used in Lebanon’s recent assassinations is available only to a few countries – the US, Israel, Britain, France and Russia.

The Pentagon and CIA are also active in “black operations” in Iran, have been for many months, and it’s no secret why. As in Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine, it’s to create ethnic tensions throughout the country, promote conflict, and hope it will destabilize the government and force it into a mistake Washington can jump on in response. A Pentagon source told Seymour Hersh that their operatives are working with Azeris in the north, Baluchis in the southeast, Kurds in the northeast, and their own special forces in-country as well. The pot is bubbling, and Iran knows it.

It’s a new version of the older colonial “divide and rule” scheme that so far proved ineffective, and Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, thinks he knows what’s going on. He says Israel and Washington want to partition Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and Syria. If he’s right, as seems likely, it means the idea is to change the way colonial powers ruled post-WW I, and Cook challenges it. He believes making it work is “improbable (and) little more than a deluded fantasy.” It worked in Yugoslavia, but the Arab world is different.

He concludes his book saying a generation of Washington policy makers have been “captivated” by thinking the Middle East can be remade by “spreading instability and inter-communal strife.” Instead, Cook sees a different outcome – new political, religious and social alliances forming across the region. If Washington pursues its “war on terror,” he sees continued “war without end” with no victory. After the chaotic Bush years, it’s hard disagreeing with him.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Stephen Lendman is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7995

see

Israel gearing up for Another War

Defending Israel to the “End Times” By Bill Berkowitz

Strong Doubts Israeli Air Strike On Syria Hit Nuclear Complex By Sherwood Ross

Three Internet Cables Slashed in a Week: Has Iran lost all Internet Connectivity? by Mike Whitney

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

Cook-Jonathan

 

Romney Wins Maine Caucus

Dandelion Salad

source

Maine Republican Caucus
Candidate Votes %
Mitt Romney 2,362 52%
John McCain 958 21%
Ron Paul 851 19%
Mike Huckabee 268 6%
Undecided 94 2%
Fred Thompson 4 0%
Total Write-ins 3 0%
Rudy Giuliani 2 0%
Alan Keyes 1 0%
Duncan Hunter 0 0%
Tom Tancredo 0 0%
John Cox 0 0%

Precincts: 68%

***

McCain
93 delegates
States Won: FL,NH, SC
Mitt Romney Romney
77 delegates
States Won: WY, MI, NV, ME
Mike Huckabee Huckabee
40 delegates
States Won: IA
Ron Paul
6 delegates

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

Ron Paul in Colorado 02.01.08 (videos) (updated)

Republican Presidential Candidates Debate 1-30-08 (videos)

Ron Paul’s replies CA debate 01.30.08

Paul-Ron