General Petraeus: Zionism’s Military Poodle: From Surge to Purge to Dirge

Dandelion Salad

by Prof. James Petras
Global Research, May 4, 2008

General Petraeus: “President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders promised to end their support for the special groups but the nefarious activities of the Quds Force have continued.”

Senator Joseph Lieberman: “Is it fair to say that the Iranian-backed special groups are responsible for the murder of hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians?”

General Petraeus: “It certainly is…That is correct.”

General Petraeus testimony to the US Senate, April 8-9, 2008.

“The Israeli flag is proudly displayed above the Sacred Ark alongside the American flag…” (in an orthodox synagogue in wealthy Georgetown, Washington DC. The entrance fee to the synagogue is $1000 for a single holiday.)

“On each Sabbath the prayers include the benediction for the Israeli Jewish soldiers and the prayer for the welfare of the Israeli government and its officials. Many Jewish American Administration officials pray there. They not only don’t try to conceal their religious affiliation, but go to great lengths to demonstrate their Judaism since it may help their careers greatly.

The enormous Jewish influence in Washington is not limited to the government. In the Washingtonian media, a very significant part of the most important personages and of the presenters of the most popular programs on TV are warm Jews … and let us not forget, in this context, the Jewish predominance in the Washingtonian academic institutions.”

Avinoam Bar-Yosef, Ma’riv (Israeli daily newspaper), September 2, 1994 (translated by Israel Shahak).


When President Bush appointed General David Petraeus Commander (head) of the Multinational Forces in Iraq, his appointment was hailed by the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post as a brilliant decision: A general of impeccable academic and battlefield credentials and a warrior and counter-insurgency (terrorist) intellectual. The media and the President, the Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and Congress, described his appointment as ‘America’s last best hope for salvation in Iraq’. Senator Hilary Clinton joined the chorus of pro-war politicians in praise and support of Petraeus’ ‘professionalism and war record’ in Northern Iraq. In contrast, Admiral William Fallon, his predecessor and former commander, had called Petraeus’ briefings ‘a piece of brown-nosing chicken shit’.

In theory and strategy, in pursuit of defeating the Iraqi resistance, General Petraeus was a disastrous failure, an outcome predictable form the very nature of his appointment and his flawed wartime reputation.

In the first instance Petraeus was a political appointment. He was one of the few high military officials who shared Bush and the Zioncons’ assessment that the ‘war could be won’. Petraeus argued that his experience in Northern Iraq were replicable throughout the rest of the country. Moreover Petraeus, unlike most military analysts, was willing to ignore the heavy costs of multiple prolonged tours of duty on US troops. Petraeus willingness to ignore the larger costs of prolonged military engagement in Iraq has weakened the capacity of the US to sustain its world-wide imperial interests. For Petraeus, sacrificing the overall cohesion and structure of the US military in Iraq, the global interests of the empire and the US domestic budget were worth securing Bush’s appointment as ‘Commander of the Forces in Iraq’. Shortly after taking office and in the face of massive domestic, international and Iraq demands for the withdrawal of US troops, Petraeus took the path dictated by the US and pro Israeli militarists in the Bush Administration and their powerful ‘Lobby’. He escalated the war, by calling up more troops, what he euphemistically referred to as ‘the surge’ – a massive call-up of 40,000 more mission-weary infantry and marines.

An analysis and critique of the failure of military-driven imperialism and its militarily dangerous consequences requires an objective critical analysis of Petraeus’ media-inflated military record prior to taking command. Equally important Petraeus close ideological and political linkages with Israel’s militarist approach toward Iran (and the rest of the Middle East countries opposing it) dates back to his close collaboration with Israel’s (unofficial) military advisers and intelligence operatives in Kurdish Northern Iraq.

Petraeus’ Phony Success in Northern Iraq

Petraeus’ vaunted military successes in Northern Iraq – especially in Nineveh province in Northern Iraq was based on the fact that it is dominated by the Kurdish warlord tribal leaders and party bosses eager to carve an independent country. The relative stability of the region has little or nothing to do with Petraeus’ counter-insurgency theories or policies and more to do with the high degree of Kurdish ‘independence’ or ‘separatism’ in the region. Put bluntly, the US and Israeli military and financial backing of Kurdish separatism has created a de facto independent Kurdish state, one based on the brutal ethnic purging of large concentrations of Turkmen and Arab citizens. General Petraeus, by giving license to Kurdish irredentist aspirations for an ethnically purified ‘Greater Kurdistan’, encroaching on Turkey, Iran and Syria, secured the loyalty of the Kurdish militias and especially the deadly Peshmerga ‘special forces’ in eliminating resistance to the US occupation in Nineveh. Moreover, the Peshmerga has provided the US with special units to infiltrate the Iraqi resistance groups, and to provoke intra-communal strife through incidents of terrorism against the civilian population. In other words, General Petreaus’ ‘success’ in Northern Iraq is not replicable in the rest of Iraq. In fact his very success in carving off Kurd-dominated Iraq has heightened hostilities in the rest of the country and provoked Turkish attacks in the region.

Petraeus: Armchair Strategist

His theory of ‘securing and holding’ territory presumes a highly motivated and reliable military force capable of withstanding hostility from at least eighty percent of the colonized population. Petraeus, like Bush and the Zionist militarists ignore the fact that the morale of US soldiers in Iraq and those scheduled to be sent to Iraq is very low. The ranks of those who are seeking a quick exit from military service now include career soldiers and non-commissioned officers – the backbone of the military (Financial Times, March 3-4, 2007 p.2) The soldiers being recruited include convicted felons, mentally unstable young men, uneducated and impoverished immigrants and professional mercenaries. Unauthorized absences (AWOLs) have shot up – 14,000 between 2000-2005 (FT ibid). In March 2007, over one thousand active-duty and reserve soldiers and marines petitioned Congress for a US withdrawal from Iraq. By April 2008, a record 69% opposed Bush’s war strategy and economic policy (USA Today, April 22, 2008). The opposition of retired and active Generals to Bush’s escalation of troops percolates down the ranks to the ‘grunts’ on the ground, especially among reservists on active duty whose tours of duty in Iraq have been repeatedly extended (the ‘backdoor draft’). Demoralizing prolonged stays or rapid rotation undermines any effort of ‘consolidating ties’ between US and Iraqi officers and certainly undermines most efforts to win the confidence of the local population.

If the US troops are deeply troubled by the war in Iraq and increasingly subject to desertion and demoralization, how less reliable is the Iraqi mercenary army. Iraqis recruited on the basis of hunger and unemployment (caused by the US war), with kinship, ethnic and national ties to a free and independent Iraq do not make reliable soldiers. Every serious expert has concluded that the divisions in Iraqi society are reflected in the loyalties of the soldiers. The attempt by Petraeus and US puppet Prime Minister Maliki to invade Basra in Southern Iraq turned into a military fiasco as thousands of Iraqi soldiers joined the insurgents.

General Petraeus could not count on his Iraqi troops, because scores were defecting and perhaps thousands will in the future. An empty drill field or worse a widespread barracks revolt is a credible scenario. The continued high casualty rates among US soldiers and Iraqi civilians, during his 18 months as Commander suggests that ‘holding and securing’ Baghdad failed to alter the overall situation.

While the addition of 30,000 US troops saturating Baghdad initially reduced civilian and military casualties there, fighting intensified in other regions and cities. More important, the decline of violence had less to do with Petraeus’ ‘surge’ and had more to do with the temporary political cease-fire reached with the anti-occupation forces of Muqtada al Sadr. This was clear when the US and its client Prime Minister Maliki launched an offensive against Sadr’s forces in March-April 2008 and casualties shot up, and even the US ‘Green Zone bunker’ came under daily rocket attacks. After 18 months under Commander Petraeus, the Iraqi troops showed little willingness to fight their own compatriots engaged in resistance. Thousands turned their arms over to the anti-colonial popular militias and several hundreds joined them

Petraeus ‘rule book’ prioritizes “security and task sharing as a means of empowering civilians and prompting national reconciliation.” ‘Security’ is elusive because what the US Commander considers ‘security’ is the free movement of US troops and collaborators based on the insecurity of the colonized Iraqi majority. They continue to subject the civilian Iraqis to arbitrary house-to-house searches, break-ins and humiliating searches and arrests.

While the death toll of civilians declined from ‘hundreds a day’ to ‘hundreds a week’, it demonstrated Petraeus’ failure to achieve his most elementary goal. ‘Task Sharing’ as defined by Petraeus and his officers is a euphemism for Iraqi collaboration in ‘administrating’ his orders. ‘Sharing’ involves a highly asymmetrical relation of power: the US orders and the Iraqis comply. Petraeus defines the ‘task’ as informing on insurgents. The Iraqi population is supposed to provide ‘information’ on their families, friends and compatriots, in other words betray their own people. The concept sounded more feasible in his manual than in practice. US troops still are ambushed on a daily basis and insurgents, operating among the population, bomb their armored carriers.

‘Empowering civilians’, another prominent concept in Petraeus’ manual, assumed that those who ‘empower’ give up power to the ‘others’. In other words, that the US military cedes territory, security, financial resource management and allocation to a colonized people or to the local armed forces. During his 18 months in command, it is the ‘empowered’ people who protect and support insurgents and oppose the US occupation and its puppet regime. In fact what Commander Petraeus really meant was ‘empowering’ a small minority of civilians who were willing collaborators of an occupying army. They were frequently the deadly target of the insurgents. The civilian minority ‘empowered’ by the Petraeus formula requires heavy US military protection to withstand retaliation. In practice no neighborhood civilian collaborators have been delegated real power and those who were delegated authority, are dead, hiding or secretly allied with the resistance.

Petraeus’ goal of ‘national reconciliation’ has been a total failure. The Iraqi regime is paralyzed into squabbling sects and warlords. Reconciliation between warring parties is not on the horizon. What Petraeus fails to recognize, but even his puppet allies publicly state, is that US colonization of Iraq is a blatant denial of the conditions for reconciliation. Commander Petraeus and his army and the dictates of the Zionist White House play off the warring parties undermining any negotiation toward ‘conciliation’. Like all preceding colonial commanders, Petraeus fails to recognize that Iraqi popular sovereignty is the essential precondition for national reconciliation and stability. Military imposed ‘reconciliation’ among warring collaborator groups with no legitimacy among the Iraqi electorate has been a disaster.

Former Clintonite, Sarah Sewall (ex-Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and Harvard-based ‘foreign affairs expert’) was ecstatic over Petraeus’ appointment. Yet she claimed the ‘inadequate troop to task ratio’ would undermine his strategy (Guardian March 6, 2007). The ‘troop to task ratio’ forms the entire basis of Israel and the Zioncon Democratic Senators’ Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer’s’ ‘critique’ of Bush’s Iraq policy. Their solution is ‘send more troops’. While Petraeus did increase the troops with the surge, he is militarily and politically unable to mobilize 500,000 more to meet Sewall’s ‘troop to task ratio’. This argument begs the question: Inadequate numbers of troops reflects the massiveness of popular opposition to the US occupation. The need to improve the ‘ratio’ (greater number of troops) is due to the level of mass Iraqi opposition and is directly related to increasing neighborhood support for the Iraqi resistance. If the majority of the population and the resistance did not oppose the imperial armies, then any ratio would be adequate – down to a few hundred soldiers hanging out in the Green Zone, the US Embassy or some local brothels.

Petraeus’ prescriptions borrowed heavily from the Vietnam War era, especially General Creighton Abram’s, ‘Clear and Hold’ counter-insurgency doctrine. Abrams ordered a vast campaign of chemical warfare spraying of thousands of hectares with the deadly ‘Agent Orange’ to ‘clear’ contested terrain. He approved of the Phoenix Plan – the systematic assassination of 25,000 village leaders to ‘clear’ out local insurgents. Abrams implemented the program of ‘strategic hamlets’, the forced re-location of millions of Vietnamese peasants into concentration camps. In the end Abram’s plans to ‘clear and hold’ failed because each measure extended and deepened popular hostility and increased the number of recruits to the Vietnamese national liberation army. Israel’s brutal occupation policies in the West Bank have followed the same strategy with equally disastrous results, which doesn’t prevent its advisers from selling it to the US military.

Petraeus is following the Abrams- Israeli doctrine with the same disastrous civilian casualties. Large-scale bombing of densely populated Shia and Sunni neighborhoods has taken place since he took command. Mass arrests of suspected local leaders accompanied by the tight military encirclement of entire neighborhoods. Arbitrary, abusive house-to-house searches turn the poor sectors of Baghdad into one big shooting gallery and concentration camp. Paraphrasing his predecessor, General Creighton Abrams, Petraeus wants to ‘destroy Iraq in order to save it’. In fact his policy is merely punishing the civilians and deepening the hostility of the population. In contrast, the insurgents blend into the huge slum neighborhood of Sadr City population or into the surrounding provinces of Al-Anbar, Diyala, and Salah and Din. Petraeus was able to ‘hold’ a people hostage with armored vehicles but he has not been able to rule with guns. The failure of General Creighton Abrams was not due to the lack of ‘political will’ in the US, as he complained, but was due to the fact that ‘clearing’ a region of insurgents is temporary, because the insurgency is founded on its capacity to blend in with the people and then re-emerge to fight the occupation army.

Petraeus’ fundamental (and false) assumptions are based on the notion that the ‘people’ and the ‘insurgents’ are two distinct and opposing groups. He assumed that his ground forces and Iraqi mercenaries could distinguish and exploit this divergence and ‘clear out’ the insurgents and ‘hold’ the people. The four-year history of the US invasion, occupation and imperial war, including his 18 months in command, provides ample evidence to the contrary. With upward of 170,000 US troops and close to 200,000 Iraqi and over 50,000 foreign mercenaries, Petraeus has failed to defeat the insurgency. The evidence points to very strong, extensive and sustained civilian support for the insurgency. The high ratio of civilian to insurgent killings by the combined US-mercenary armies suggests that US troops have not been able to distinguish (nor are interested in the difference) between civilians and insurgents. Even the puppet government complains of civilian killings and widespread destruction of popular neighborhoods by US aerial bombing. The insurgency draws strong support from extended kin ties, neighborhood friends and neighbors, religious leaders, nationalists and patriots: these primary, secondary and tertiary ties bind the insurgency to the population in a way which can not be replicated by the US military or its puppet politicians.

Early on General Petraeus’ plan to ‘protect and secure the civilian population’ was a failure. He flooded the streets of Baghdad with armored vehicles but was quickly forced to acknowledge that the ‘anti-government…forces were regrouping north of the capital’. Petraeus was condemned to play what Lt. General Robert Gaid un-poetically called ‘whack-a-mole: Insurgents will be suppressed in one area only to re-emerge somewhere else’.

General Petraeus made the presumptuous assertion that the Iraqi civilian population did not know that the ‘special operations’ forces of the Occupation, which he directed, is responsible for fomenting much of the ethno-religious conflict. Investigative reporter Max Fuller in his detailed examination of documents, stressed that the vast majority of atrocities…attributed to ‘rogue’ Shiite or Sunni militias “were in fact the work of government-controlled commandos of ‘special forces’, trained by the Americans, ‘advised’ by Americans and run largely by former CIA agents” (Chris Floyd ‘Ulster on the Euphrates: The Anglo-American Dirty War’, 2006/021307J.sthml). Petraeus’ attempt to play ‘Good Cop/Bad Cop’ in order to ‘divide and rule’ has been unable to weaken the opposition and has instead destabilized and fragmented the Maliki regime. While Petraeus was able to temporarily buy the loyalty of some Northern Sunni tribal leaders, their dubious loyalties depends on multi-million dollar weekly payoffs.

In theory Petraeus recognized the broader political context of the war: “There is no military solution to a problem like that in Iraq, to the insurgency… In Iraq, military action is necessary to help improve security…but it is insufficient. There needs to be a political aspect” (BBC 3/8/2007). Yet the key ‘political aspect’ as he put it, is the reduction, not escalation, of US troops, the ending of the endless assaults on civilian neighborhoods, the termination of the special operations and assassinations designed to foment ethnic-religious conflict, and above all a timetable to withdraw US troops and dismantle the chain of US military bases. During his 18 month tenure, Petraeus increased the number of troops, increased the bombing of the very people he was supposed to win over and fortified the 102 acres of US bases. General Petraeus was not willing or in a position to implement or design the appropriate political context for ending the conflict because of his blind implementation of the Bush-Zionist ‘war to victory’ policy.

The gap between Petraeus’ ‘theoretical’ discourse on the centrality of politics and his practice of prioritizing military victory can be explained by his desire to please the Bush-Zioncons in Washington in order to advance his own military career (and future political ambitions). The result was an exceptionally mediocre military performance, underwritten by dismal political failures and the achievement of his personal ambitions.

In April 2008, the Bush Administration named Petraeus as head of the US Central Command, overseeing the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and the reast of the Horn of Africa. Petraeus replaced Navy Admiral William Fallon who was forced to resign his command by the White House and the Zioncons over his opposition to their war plans against Iran. Even prior to his retirement Fallon had expressed his contempt for Petraeus’ shameful truckling to the Zionists in Northern Iraq and the Bush ‘ Know Nothings’ in charge of Iraq and Iran policy planning. It is clear that Petraeus ensured his promotion on April 16, 2008, through his senate testimony, one week earlier (April 8-9, 2008) with his bellicose speech implicating Iran in the fighting deaths of US troops in Iraq. With the purge and intimidation of military officials not willing to act as White House/Zionist poodles, Petraeus had few competitors. Petraeus’ promotion to the top military post, just days after his senate testimony pointing to war with Iran could not be attributed to his( failed) military performance, but to his slavish adherence to Bush’s and Israel’s push for heightened confrontation with Iran. Blaming Iran for his failed military policies served a double purpose – it covered up his incompetence and it secured the support of leading Zionist Senators like Joseph Lieberman.

Petraeus reference to the “need to engage in talks with some groups of insurgents” fell on deaf ears. His proposal was seen by the insurgents as a continuation of the divide and conquer (or ‘salami’) tactics. The only ‘talks’ Petraeus secured were with tribal leaders who demanded millions of dollars up front. Otherwise he failed to attract any sector of the insurgency. Petraeus proved to be an armchair tactician, wise on public relations ‘techniques’, but mediocre in coming to grips with the ‘decolonization’ political framework in which tactics might work.

Petraeus Double Discourse

Commander Petraeus was quick to grasp the difficulty of his colonial mission. Just a month after taking command, he engaged in the same sophistry and double discourse of any colonial general confronted with an unwinable war. To keep the flow of funds and troops from Washington he talked of the “reduction of killings and discontent in Baghdad”, cleverly omitting the increase of civilian and US deaths elsewhere. He mentioned ‘a few encouraging signs’ but also admited that it is ‘too early to discern significant trends’ (Aljazeera 3/8/2007). In other words the ‘encouraging signs’ he expressed to the White House were of no military importance!

From the beginning Petraeus gave himself an open-ended mission by extending the time frame to secure Baghdad. He shifted the goal posts from days and weeks to ‘months’ and years. Playing with indefinite time frames in which to evaluate his performance , was a coy way to prepare the US public for prolonged warfare – with few positive results. There is nothing like a failed general acting as a political panderer covering his ass in anticipation of military defeat.

As a military intellectual Petraeus surely has read George Orwell’s ‘1984’ because he was so fluent in double-speak. In one breath he spoke of “no immediate need to request more US troops to be sent to Iraq’, on the other he called for 30,000 additional troops as part of what he called ‘the surge’. In March 2008, he spoke of big advances in security and one month later he demanded a ‘pause’ because the puppet regime and army were not capable of defending themselves without US backing.

Petraeus’ political manipulation of troop numbers and his blatant lies about the security situation in Iraq prepared the ground for a greater military escalation in the region. “Right now we do not see other requests (for troops) looming out there. That’s not to say that some emerging mission or emerging task will not require that, and if it does then we will ask for that (my emphasis)” (AlJazeera, 3/8/2006). First there’s a ‘surge’ then there is an ‘emerging mission’ and suddenly there are another fifty thousand troops on the ground and in the meat-grinder that is Iraq, seven battleship and aircraft carriers off the Persian and Lebanese coasts, thousands more troops in Afghanistan and $175 billion dollars in military spending added to the 2008 federal budget.

Petraeus Political Ambitions

The General is a fine master of ‘double speak’. Yet despite superb media performances before his colleagues in the White House and Congress, Petraeus’ military strategy is doomed to go down the same road of political-military defeat as his predecessors in Indo-China. His military police have jailed tens of thousands of civilians and killed and injured many more. They were interrogated, tortured and perhaps some were ‘broken’. But many more took their place turning the Green Zone into a war zone under siege. Petraeus real security policy through intimidation ‘held’ only as long as the armored cars patrolled each neighborhood, pointing their cannons at every building. That proved to be a temporary solution. As soon as the troops moved on, the insurgents returned. The insurgents re-emerge after a week because they live and work there, whereas the Marines do not and neither do the Iraqi collaborators dare. Petraeus ran a costly colonial army, which suffers endless casualties and, which is not politically sustainable. Petraeus knows that, so he chose a political route upward and out of immediate command in Iraq, shifting the burden for failure to his replacement Lieutenant General Ray Odierno.

General Petraeus realized his long-term political ambitions exceeded his military abilities. Militarism is a stepping-stone to a higher post in Washington. Since only winning generals or draft dodgers are elected President, Petraeus, like McCain, must present failure as success.

In his Senate testimony of April 8-9, 2008, Petraeus lied to Congress and the American people about the US military failures, fabricating accounts of progress, in order to bolster the sagging fortunes of his political patron, President Bush. His Senate testimony and press conferences were designed to bolster Bush’s total loss of credibility: he claimed that the war was being won, Iraq was stabilized, security and peace were ‘around the corner’ and that we should go to war with Iran.

If the media uncritically swallowed Petraeus testimony, the public didn’t and a host of former generals and admirals were chagrined, embarrassed and outraged that he was advancing his career by sucking up to President Bush and Israel at the expense of the troops serving under him.

Petraeus Panders to Israel’s Fifth Column: The Iran Threat

By the spring of 2008, as the war turned from bad to worse, as the insurgency grew in power and his leadership and strategy was transparently a sham, Petraeus played his last formidable political card. To sustain his position and cover up his defeats in Basra, and his inability to lower US casualties or even defend the Green Zone, he blamed Iran. It was Petraeus who charged Iranian weapons were blowing up US armored carriers; Iranian agents were training the Iraqi resistance and defeating his army of 200,000 Iraqi collaborators. Petraeus could not face the fact that he was losing Iraq. He deflected attention from the failure of his entire military-political strategy in Iraq by dragging in Iran as a key military player.

In pointing to Iran, Petraeus played the dangerous game of echoing the Israeli line and providing support for a military attack on Iran promoted by the leadership of the Major American Jewish Organizations.

Even while Petraeus was covering up his failure by blaming Iran, the Iraqi puppet government was praising the Iranian government for helping to stabilize the country, using its influence on the Shia militias to hold their fire. Puppet Prime Minister Maliki invited the Iranian President to Baghdad, signed trade agreements and praised their co-operation and efforts to stabilize the country.

The only organized group, which took up Petraeus’, campaign to blame Iran for the US defeats was the Zionist Power Configuration in the US. In the Congress, media and public forums, Zionists amplified and backed Petraeus. They see him as a critical ally in countering the National Intelligence Report absolving Iran of having a program to develop nuclear weapons. No other high military commander, in Europe or the US, took up Petraeus call to arms against Iran…except the Israeli military command. It is a sad commentary on the state of the US military when generals advance to the highest posts by flattering and propagandizing for the most discredited American president in memory and advance the agenda of power brokers for a foreign power.

General Petraeus, in his advance from Commander of US and ‘allied’ forces in Iraq to head of the US Central Command overseeing current US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and overseeing future wars with Iran, Lebanon and Syria, has left behind a bitter legacy of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilian deaths, an unreliable Iraqi ‘quisling’ army, a failed client regime and a vast US bunker under constant attack. Every military official and most experts know that he was ‘Bush’s man’ and his advances were very much a product of the White House and its pro-Israel backers in the Congress.


The advance of Petraeus is a victory of the Zionist Power Configuration in its quest for American military leaders willing to pursue Israel’s agenda of sanctions and war against Iran. That is why the ZPC was a factor in the ousting of Admiral William Fallon, and why the main propaganda bulletin (the Daily Alert) of the Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations worked for and hailed his promotion to military overseer of the Middle East wars.

AIPAC and their bought and bonded Senators ensured Petraeus an easy time during his confirmation hearing and his unanimous endorsement. His appointment marks the first time that the Zionist Power Configuration has trumped the views and opinions of the majority of active and retired American military officers. How far Petraeus will go in ‘paying back’ his debt to his long-term Zionist backers for his meteoric rise remains to be seen. What is certain is that they will demand that he line up with the State of Israel in pushing forth toward a war with Iran.

It is neither military honor, nor patriotism, which will restrain Petraeus from pursuing the Zionist War for Israel agenda – but his future presidential ambitions. He will have to calculate whether a second Middle East war, which will please Israel and billionaire American (?) Zionist political fundraisers can offset voter discontent resulting from a war in which the price of oil will rise to $300 dollars a barrel and cost several tens of thousands of American casualties, will further his political ambitions.

The US has degenerated into a sorry state of affairs when its future course depends on the political calculus of a reckless General, a failed counter-insurgency ‘expert’ and ambitious politician pandering to billionaire political contributors working for a foreign colonial power.

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Shadowing Slaughter in Sadr City By Hala Jaber

Iraq: Corruption Eats Into Food Rations by Ali al-Fadhily & Dahr Jamail

The Last War & the Next One By Tom Engelhardt

Iraq Says No Hard Evidence of Iran Support For Militia + US drawing up plans to strike on Iranian insurgency camp

Sustainable Development And The Vulnerable

Dandelion Salad

by Arun Shrivastava
Global Research, May 4, 2008

Isha vasyam idam sarvamam, Yat kinch jagatyam jagat!

Teyn tyakten bhunjithah, Magridhah kasya sweed dhanam!!

The cosmos is the abode of God; consume but with sacrifice!

(First verse, Isha Vasyam Upanishad)

1. Who is vulnerable?

Nature gave us good life. It gave us food, fibre, fodder, fuel, clean air, fresh water and seeds. Corporations defiled these basic survival goods; global pollution will make them scarce.

The peasants are increasingly finding it difficult to ensure a square meal for their households and sell surplus to feed the ‘non-vulnerable’. The pollution generated by industry and the consuming rich is posing problems of survival for all; the rich are equally vulnerable because they don’t know what it takes to grow food.

Our blind faith in economic development through industrialization and urbanization has violated Nature’s Law. Industrial farming is destroying biodiversity that protects ecosystems. Destruction of ecosystems is affecting the supply of basic survival goods. The muck of modernity has pushed the world to a point from where Mankind may just slip into the proverbial Olduvai Gorge. (1)

The options are limited now: either ‘consume with disregard’ to achieve the unsustainable GDP driven macro-targets or ‘consume with sacrifice’ that leaves greater survival options for the future generations. The model of development thrust upon the world by short-sighted economists, profit-driven Frankenstein globalists and blinkered politicians has ensured that the majority will be cremated by their parents and the survivors will cremate their children. Nature’s wrath expresses itself in many ways.

2. Settled societies

From around 12,000 BC (about 14,000 years ago) indications are that some sort of primitive horticulture, not field agriculture, started in at least four regions namely South Asia, Southeast Asia, West Asia (including Egypt) and Central America. The last Ice-age was receding and, after centuries of food shortage due to climate change, people could grow food. The domestication of plants and animals ushered in relative food security. There is also a belief that in these societies there was equality of sex. (2)

Transition from horticulture to settled agriculture perhaps took place over four to five thousand years. Whilst not much is known about how settled agriculture developed, there are indications that settled agriculture dates from about 8000-7000 BC. (3) People could live in clusters, till land and grow food. The transition led to division of labour: tillers, granary-guards, fortification of villages and towns, soldiers to protect food, contributions from households towards security and accountants. Dhaulavira excavations, near Bhuj, perhaps a classic example, show that people lived in well organized cities and their economy depended on farming, mining, metal work, textile etc. (4) As specialization grew, so was the society vertically stratified. As some say women lost their economic status and found themselves relegated to tasks inside the house. The economic success caused large states to emerge and soon of imperial ambition. When fewer people were available to tend to land and maintain irrigation channels, food production collapsed.

The ruins of Mesopotamia, Nile valley, the Jordan valley, the City of Jorash, of ancient towns of Tyre and Sidon are all testimony to the fact that these civilizations declined and eventually were wiped out when people stopped caring for soil and water. “In a larger sense a nation writes its record on the land, and a civilization writes its record on the land — a record that is easy to read by those who understand the simple language of the land.”(5)

Tribulations of the peasants

India suffered agriculture collapse on a regular basis only because of the British occupation. Seizure and conversion of best farmland to plantations, restrictions on internal trade, excessive taxation to support imperial ambition elsewhere, exports of staple crops from India to Britain exacerbated food shortage. Shortage increased the price of food and decreased availability. The first Bengal famine (1770s) killed about ten million, and during 1770-1947 in all about 79 million people lost their lives because of colonial control over land. (6)

Economic historians, like Dharampal, have calculated that, for example, in Madras presidency [present day Tamil Nadu state], from 1830 onward, around one-third of the most fertile land, went out of cultivation because, even with 100% produce sold for cash, land tax demand could not be met.’ (7) For the Indian peasants this was a new experience.

Attempts were made by the colonial administration to help peasants increase productivity. Notable among these were the efforts of Dr Albert Howard who did pioneering work at Pusa and Indore but these scientific advances did not reach the peasants. (8)

While on the one hand, the British destroyed the age old method of sustainable agriculture by over-taxing farmers, on the other, despite attempts to understand what went wrong, commercial interests prevented science effectively helping them maintain what had historically proven to be a near perfect system of stewardship for their lands and a means of adequately feeding themselves and the rest of the population.

3. Cheap energy

The issue of sustainable development is inextricably linked with problems created by cheap energy. The convergence of technologies of internal combustion engine, oil extraction, electricity generation and mass production of appliances made many things possible that earlier could not even be imagined. Machines replaced muscle power. Productivity soared and thus the affluent society was born. Slowly, affluence came to be perceived in terms of number of cars and gadgets people owned and the places they flew to. Cheap energy could move things farther and faster.

The oil and machine era fundamentally transformed food production and distribution. More land could be farmed by fewer people; fertilizers and pesticides, introduced in the early twentieth century gave an artificial boost to productivity. Food could be stored, processed, refrigerated and moved over long distances. The modern world was now ‘using soil to convert oil and gas energy into food energy,’ a tectonic shift from earlier days of converting solar energy to food energy.

Cheap energy transformed the so-called western world. In less than fifty years North American independent farmers progressively disappeared to be replaced by large industrial farms where profit maximization was the driving mantra. More or less the same transformation occurred in West Europe. If Old MacDonald had a farm, he was now working as stock broker or forecourt attendant. For the children, the reality of MacDonald’s farm slowly faded into a myth, for the new MacDonald produced food in the city centre. India stands now before the choices North America and Europe faced decades ago. There is a need to learn from what went wrong there and avoid making the same mistakes.

Corporatization of resources

As industrialization progressed the human bond with Nature weakened and there was far less concern as to who controlled the natural resources. The earlier community ownership and control was slowly replaced by corporate control. Those who were part of the industrial society influenced policies; peasants became inconsequential in economic decisions. In India their role was discussed only when the ‘business of poverty’ was on the agenda.

While this transition was of far less consequence to the urban society, it was of profound significance to the peasants. Especially after 1947, the desire to take the big leap forward into the industrialized world, an inhuman and unbearable system of sequestration of land at will by the State was imposed on the peasants. A myth was institutionalized into economic theory and political philosophy that technology frees humanity from drudgery without realizing that these technologies functioned because of cheap energy. The severance with Nature was complete. The South Asian leaders, co-opted ‘custodians of chaos,’ replicated the western model and continued with disastrous policies in the name of poverty alleviation and development. (9)

The fetish with GDP, since the middle of the twentieth century, effectively trashed the very essence of human progress. (10) GDP neither explains distribution of income, nor quality of life, nor does it factor in social and environmental costs that are critical survival elements, especially if the era of cheap energy should come to an end as it seems destined to do.

As humanity chased GDP driven goals, so the ecological footprint expanded. Footprint is our demand on Nature. It uses land as a surrogate measure to estimate the sum total of demand to maintain existing quality of life measured in ‘global hectare or Gha in short. The global mean per capita footprint, measured in global hectare is now two Gha; India’s footprint is well below world average while that of the US second highest. (Figure 1) ‘How we can live well within the means of one planet? This is the main research question of the 21st century,’ says Dr. Wackernagel. (11)

India’s population is still rising at the rate of 1.6% per year and the economy is growing at over eight percent per year. As the consumption pattern becomes more sophisticated the demand on resources will increase and the footprint will increase proportionally. This expansion is only possible so long as others do not compete for those resources. Analyses of the vectors of the natural resource systems like land, biological diversity, forests, water and atmosphere show steady decline. Experts have estimated that if oil, gas and coal reserves are exhausted, the planet can’t support more than 750 million people, i.e. the population of the earth in pre-industrial 1750AD. Therefore, the footprint must now contract or the people of the subcontinent must expropriate resources from elsewhere. That expropriation is not only unethical it is inhuman and contrary to natural justice.

6. Impact of cheap energy driven ‘development’

6.1 Global pollution

The world is burning non-renewable fuel to generate energy for almost every activity which emits green-house gases (GHG), chiefly Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane and Nitrous oxide, causing invisible pollution. Human activity also causes visible pollution in the form of suspended particulate matter (SPM), which is reducing solar radiation reaching the earth. While the GHGs trap heat and cause the earth to warm up, the SPMs cut down solar radiation reaching the earth and that is making the earth dimmer and cooler.

Industrial activity is responsible for CO2 emission. At the global level transporting fuels account for 11.3%, industrialized agriculture for 12.5%, transportation 14%, industrial processes 16.8%, power stations (to generate secondary energy, i.e. electricity) 21.3%, waste disposal and treatment 3.4% and residential, commercial uses 10.3%. Land use change and biomass burning account for just 10%, chiefly from less developed countries. (12)

The trend in CO2 concentration and temperature changes shows that while temperatures remained below the long term average while CO2 concentration was increasing, the point of inflexion occurred in 1975 when both CO2 concentration and the global temperature began to rise.

According to one group of scientists increases in CO2 concentration have occurred many times in the past mainly because of demineralization of soils triggering the onset of the ice age. The ice age, they say, is one way for Nature to restore the soil mineral balance. (13) Another group of scientists comprising IPCC say that CO2 concentration will cause global warming because GHGs trap solar radiation. (14) The third view, according to the group of scientists (let us call them Global Dimmists) is that the atmospheric brown clouds (ABCs, chiefly pollutants) ‘intercept sunlight by absorbing as well as reflecting it, both of which lead to reduction in solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth. The surface cooling from visible pollutants has slowed down the warming due to GHGs’ says Dr Ramnathan, one of the world’s leading climatologist. (15)

It is possible that together GHGs and SPMs have caused a different equilibrium the earth had never experienced before; the danger is that if one part of the complex equation is changed, ignoring the other, it just might make global climate more unpredictable.

The seriousness of industrial pollution can be gauged from the fact that while rainfall is increasing, much of it is falling into the oceans, known as the rainfall anomaly. (Figure 4) It will alter the normal weather pattern and upset the normal temperature range in densely populated regions.

Despite overwhelming evidence of the adverse impact on climate, particularly on the peasants in Asia, Africa and increasingly in Latin America, world’s greatest polluters are paying no heed as was evidenced at the recent conference of climate change held at Bali. One writer even went to the extent of saying,

‘the US and its climate racist, climate terrorist, climate criminal allies Australia and Canada are seriously threatening India, the developing world and indeed the World as a whole (16)

Pollution and lop-sided development is going to affect ecosystem services and food production everywhere. That makes not just the poor, but entire human specie vulnerable.

6.2 Impact on ecosystems


The peasants live off Nature. Mostly illiterate or barely literate, engaged in farming and gardening, their livelihoods are inextricably linked with ecosystem goods and services that Nature provides. Their way of life hasn’t changed in the last four or five thousand years. They had evolved a symbiotic relationship with nature and I can’t think of a single example where exploitation was unsustainable unless they were driven by some extraneous factors.

Ecosystems provide twenty-four essential goods and services classified under material goods, regulating services, cultural services and provisioning services. (Chart 1) Material goods include food, fodder, fibre, fuel, genetic resources (wild, hardy genes), medicinal plants (biochemicals), and fresh water. Of immense cash value, in many parts these resources are being corporatized. Regulating services are equally critical for survival and include pest resistance, plant material for wild animals (herbivory), pollination from birds, bees and wind, seed dispersal, micro climate regulation, etc. Green cover prevents soil erosion and also protects communities from hazards like flood and storms. Key supporting services like nutrient recycling, soil formation and retention and production of oxygen actually allow people to live a normal life. Finally, ecosystems help evolve the cultural diversity, knowledge systems and aesthetics, of great service to local people.

Chart 2 Variable impact due to changes in local ecosystems


Whilst the degree of dependence of peasants on ecosystem goods and services may differ according to location, their lives and livelihoods are significantly affected when ecosystems decline. For instance herbs collection alone generates about Rs 20-30,000 per year of cash income for villagers in the Himalayan region. In the Chhotanagpur region until nineteen nineties many tribal communities derived an equivalent of 40-50% of cash income and about 45% of nutrition from ecosystem provisioning services.

In a small pilot study in four villages of Himachal Pradesh it was observed that people value many ecosystem goods and services. Janghi, Hul and Sahoo are remote rural villages in Chamba district while Suradi is located in Kangra district. Because of various projects (like road construction, hydro-electric power projects, etc) eleven are severely affected. In all these villages the impact of developmental activities was moderate to severe on six of the seven factors essential for survival. It can further be seen that regulating and supporting services were also severely affected in nearly all villages. (Chart 2)

The study conclusively proves the importance of ecosystem goods and services in the economic, social and cultural lives of rural communities, especially peasants, whose livelihoods are inextricably linked to natural systems.

Ecosystems are declining for various reasons: destruction of biodiversity, shortage of water because of diversion, fragmentation of contiguous systems, local activities like industrialization and urbanization, expansion of farmlands into forested area and deforestation. Much of the decline can be traced to lop-sided policies, which have led some environmentalists to coin the term ‘policy-led-poverty.’ One of the key policy thrusts, privatization of ecosystem goods and services, especially water (for energy, drinking water and irrigation), land (for SEZ), herbs collection (nearly all pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry depend upon these), recreation areas and aesthetics (key locations in the mountains, coastal areas and pristine forested areas for tourism) has done the greatest damage. Pitted against commercial interest, when local communities lose access to these resources and benefit sharing they have no further stake in sustainable exploitation; they compete to extract as much as quickly as they can. And when driven to desperation they do it with full realization that what is being done goes against Nature.

6.3 Impact on food security and nutrition

Whilst cheap energy caused immense environmental pollution, corporatization of ecosystem goods and services had a far more insidious influence on food security and nutrition.

Peasants had developed the best seeds and the best farming techniques within the constraints imposed by Nature. That valuable knowledge, the millennia old wisdom, was trashed; corporations expropriated the seeds while the agriculture scientists wisdom.

Seeds: Industrialization of agriculture destroyed seeds’ diversity. India had more than 200,000 varieties of rice; today seeds for no more than fifty are available for commercial growing. Seeds’ diversity ensured that if one crop was blighted, others saved peasants from starvation. These were the ‘crops of truth’ given by Mother Nature who never short-changes its children. (17)

Destruction of soil fertility: Soil fertility is the function of minerals and soil biota, the billions of life forms that maintain fertility. A cup of soil may contain 200 billion bacteria, 100,000 metres of fungi, 20 million protozoa, 100,000 nematodes, and 50,000 anthropods. These micro, meso and macro flora and fauna recycle waste, create and aerate soil and provide plant food. (18) Use of chemicals upset the natural balance of minerals and soil biota. Supplementation by N, P and/or K (Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Kalium) caused the decline in the proportion of other minerals such as zinc, sulfur, selenium, boron, etc.

Pesticides kill living organisms. Pesticide residue remains in the soil for years. Together, fertilizers and pesticides played havoc with nature’s way of maintaining soil fertility and that directly affected the quality of food people ate.

Food without nutrition: Chemical based food production significantly reduced the nutritive content of foods. Modern foods are deficient in critical vitamins and minerals.


Vitamin C declined 41 to 61%, and magnesium was down 8 to 84%; so were calcium, potassium and Vitamin A (Table 1). But plants do not only contain those. There are a great number of trace minerals that are important for human health although not officially acknowledged to be so. Regulators do not analyze for these, but there is a strong likelihood that these trace minerals are greatly lacking in soils that have been artificially dosed with only three major minerals, and in consequence must also be lacking in the vegetables and other foods that are grown in those soils. But the key point is that nutrition decline caused an explosive growth in degenerative and many unknown diseases. (19)

Engineering Nature: Not satisfied with global havoc caused by pollution, destruction of ecosystems, seeds diversity, soil fertility and nutrition, the corporations driven by insatiable greed are now engineering Nature itself at the genetic level by engineering genes of seeds.

This will destroy India’s food and nutrition security. The technology is imperfect. Its long term consequences on human and animal health and the environment remain undocumented. Proper biosafety assessment has never been carried out. Independent scientists who did and found adverse effects in animal studies were harassed, dismissed, and their findings denounced. And yet, the last four governments in India have actively promoted this technology. Engineered seeds will permanently destroy the farming wisdom gained for us by peasants over the last 8-10,000 years. (20)

To put the whole story in perspective: cheap oil led industrialization has affected the earth, destroyed ecosystem goods and services, destroyed natural biodiversity, soil fertility and nutrition. Whilst undernourished peasants are committing suicide and over-nourished ‘rich’ are living on borrowed time, the multi-national corporations are printing money.

7. End of cheap oil

The end of cheap oil is now a reality. It will be difficult to produce cheap fertilizers and pesticides in sufficient quantity. Farmers will find it increasingly uneconomical to run their farming machines. Fewer still would be able to pull water up using cheap diesel oil to irrigate farms and gardens earlier provided free of cost by ecosystems.

The end of cheap oil era will not immediately reduce pollution levels or the vulnerability of the peasants but the ensuing social chaos will cause hunger, malnutrition and massive depopulation. The renewable sources of energy, yet to be scaled up, can’t replace non-renewable sources in terms of quality, quantity, ease of handling and storage. The situation demands that peasants are restored to their traditional role. Their vulnerability means that the rest of the population is vulnerable too. (21)

8. The way forward

The following issues need to be immediately addressed:

    1. Restoration of peasantry

The peasantry must be restored to their pre-eminent position. If people can’t get adequate nutrition, development will remain the prostitute of large corporations and co-opted governments. The corporations’ agenda of controlling food supply must be fought at all levels, beginning with restoring a central role to the peasantry. Sequestration of land must stop immediately, followed by a guaranteed payment of equitable wage and transfer of best practice and low-energy technology for food production. Food output must be measured in nutrition terms; measuring output by weight is the greatest fraud perpetrated on mankind by a handful of corporations. Peasants must be compensated for growing nutrition, because that alone can reduce the disease burden on the society. All this implies that a peasant must be projected as a skilled, respectable and an important member of the society. People in turn need to believe that farming and gardening is an intelligent activity. (22)

Farming activity has been deliberately undervalued to pave the way for large corporations. As Gabrielle Howard said, ‘The agriculturalist is the servant of the planet.’ (23) An intelligent farmer can feed himself 80% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of nutrition from just one hundred square metres of land. Many are already doing it. If Richard Heinberg, the greatest living ‘peak oilist’ believes that fifty million farmers are required for the United States of America, a country of 300 million people, then India, a country of 1150 million people requires over 190 million farmers, peasants who can lean on their hoes!

10.2 Restoring nutrition

This should be the top priority. Nutritious food can be produced from any land provided certain basic systems are worked up to peak health. Falling back on natural system of farming and gardening alone would help produce nutritious food that would reduce the social cost of health, malnutrition and at the same time give people the strength to transit to low-energy economy. (24)

We need to measure food production not in terms of tonnage but net natural nutrient gains that includes all the appropriate nutrients.

Farmers who have understood the science of soil biota and minerals and also learnt how to maintain peak soil health are consistently achieving 35 metric tonnes of food per year per hectare. It is possible to achieve this level of productivity for all farmers everywhere within about two years, even in difficult areas.

10.3 Soil, not oil!

In order to become self-sufficient and transit to low-energy society, we need soil, not oil. The way development has been mismanaged requires that every inch of defiled land is restored to peak health. If peasants need external inputs by way of financial assistance and technology, these should be made available without delay.

It should be noted that following a twenty-three year ‘Farming Systems Trial at Rodale Farm, organic manuring system showed an average increase of soil carbon of about 454 kilograms per acre-foot of soil per year. Similar results have not been obtained by any other method. Thus, building up of soil ‘as a living system’ can be a major tool in carbon sequestration and mitigating the adverse impacts of industrialization. (25)

Only healthy soil can produce healthy food. Therefore, the twin benefits of healthy soil-carbon sequestration and health giving foods- need to be restored to eminence and relevant skills speedily transferred to peasants.

Wastelands are human creation; Nature does not create wasteland. Whenever a society or nation has ignored stewardship of land, it has been destroyed, as said earlier. We may enter an era of even cheaper energy in the future. In that case, it is crucial that agriculture is already on its way back to conserving the soil and increasing nutrient content, as discussed above; otherwise cheap energy could wreak great havoc by accelerating the current degradation of land.

We need healthy soil, not oil. We need our farmers, not Ag-scientists! Nor developmental economists who disregard environmental issues. The oil-rich countries are building economies and social structures on nonrenewable wealth. But the entire world is also doing so, particularly with regard to agriculture. The social, political, and economic ramifications of this fact will be huge as is evidenced by farmers’ suicide and destruction of rural livelihoods.

Environmental considerations, especially global pollution, require a revaluation of GDP-based political and economic goals. As resources deplete and environment degrades, it is the responsibility of our governments to come out of GDP-driven consensus trance. It will be difficult for them because the trance gives comfort to the rulers as well as the ruled.

10.4 Restoring ecosystems

This would be most difficult given the way industrialization and urbanization have fragmented or destroyed our ecosystems. But a beginning can be made.

First, all private activities must stop despoiling land, rivers, air and forests. It means refusing permission to corporations that fragment ecosystems. It also means that people, including peasants can’t be allowed to do the same. Since land, a gift of Nature, is finite, we must assess the maximum sustainable footprint and curb population growth at local level as well.

Second, it must also be recognized that any ecosystem can be restored to peak health be they temperate or arid. Restoration must be taken up at village or cluster level as defined by the hydrology of the local ecosystem.

10.5 Stop privatizing profits and socializing environmental costs

As mentioned in the preceding paragraphs, as the society became intensive user of resources, the corporations increasingly expropriated those resources for private profit. The social cost of environmental destruction was externalized. This needs to be reversed.

There is now a compelling argument for community rights over natural resources as it was during the early nineteenth century, almost worldwide. Community rights as a class of rights must be acknowledged in common law and that right must take primacy over individual, corporate and state rights.

For far too long the world has been misled by the spurious free-market theory. Free markets work best when natural resources are under complete control of the community.

When that happens, no private entrepreneur would dare defile our rivers, forests, land, and air. The people can’t afford to allow corporations write the terms of expropriation of natural resources because they did not create them in the first place.

10.6 Relocalization (26)

This is diametrically opposite to the current piranha-like feeding-frenzy of globalization. Every nation must relocalize to reduce energy consumption and ecological footprint. Policies and plans don’t ensure conservation; they need to be grounded in local realities. Relocalization is an effective response to global problems with effective local action.

In essence the solution is close to what Mahatma Gandhi called Gram Swaraj or self governing villages. India needs Gram Swaraj. The Panchayati Raj system needs to be re-invigorated and implemented in earnest, not merely as a piece of additional paper in the Constitution.

Relocalization, like Gram swaraj, means every village must produce enough to meet the basic needs of all the people living in that village. Extending the principles further, even urban area must adopt the basic principles of Gram Swaraj. The Cubans have demonstrated how every city, every block within a city, can become low-energy society. They have also created a healthy society because every household grows its own food.

Is it possible to allocate just an hour a week to create a sustainable world? Assuming there are 700 million Indians over the age of 15, we can expend over 700 million hours per week, for the collective good. Please do think of the collective possibilities, for time is running out.


Text edited by: Sepp Haselberger

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The World According to Monsanto – A documentary that Americans won’t ever see (video)

Letter to Hillary about Monsanto connections (02.03.08)

William Clinton & Monsanto – a Team for Mutual Profit


Bush discovers that his ranch is not really a ranch (satire)


by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
May 5, 2008

CRAWFORD, Texas – President Bush seemed surprised when he was told that his “ranch” in Crawford was not really a working ranch. “No one could have known that a ranch is supposed to have animals that you have to be married to, you know that animal husbandry kind of stuff and also that you have to grow stuff,” George Bush said, “I thought to have a ranch, all you need to do is get yourself a real Texas spread and then clearicate the brush.”

“I didn’t have the heart to tell George that our ranch was, well sort of lightweight,” Laura Bush said, “because he might lose his temper and attack another country like when he invaded Iraq after I told him to eat all his peas.”

“It’s about time that the little hedge plant realized he is just a Connecticut cowboy way out of his league,” said Jed Crawley, who has a neighboring property where he runs 300 head of cattle. “Us Texans have enough people in the world hating us and we don’t need a George Bush to make that opinion unanimous.”

“I can’t believe someone told the Commander in Chief his property is a joke,” said Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff, “now I’ll have to raise the security alert level to red as that little schmuck might do something stupid.”

“What is really most alarming,” said a White House aide who preferred to remain anonymous, “is that I heard the President say that the thought of having all that hard, hard work around the ranch makes him want to get away from it on vacation and unfortunately for the world, he said he is going to spend more time in Washington.

London’s Mayoral Election: It’s Johnson And It’s No Joke

Dandelion Salad

by Michael Faulkner
May 4, 2008

The unthinkable has happened. With only a few hours to go before the count is completed, all the indications are that the right wing Tory candidate, Boris Johnson, will be elected Mayor of London. This great cosmopolitan city with its diverse ethnic communities and vibrant cultural life will be represented nationally and on the world stage by a man who is about as unrepresentative of this city as anyone could possibly be. Make no mistake; this result is a disaster for Londoners, for London and for its international reputation.

The defeat of Ken Livingstone, London’s mayor since 2002, follows yesterday’s rout of the Labour Party in the local government elections in England and Wales. The electoral defeat, which has seen previous Labour strongholds in Wales and the north of England go down to the Tories, is the worst suffered by the party for four decades and its share of the vote, at 24%, is the lowest since records began in the 1970s. The party has been pushed into third place by the Liberal Democrats who have taken 25%. This is a disastrous result for the Labour Party. It almost certainly means that the next general election will be won by the Conservatives. Until today it was still possible to hope that Ken Livingstone, who was semi-detached from the party, would be able to buck the trend and defeat the Tory challenger. But such hopes have been dashed. It only remains to be seen by how big a margin Johnson has won. As I wrote in my last column, a few months ago such an outcome would have been unimaginable. How could this have happened?

Livingstone stood as the official Labour candidate. As such, he has shared the fate of the party nationally, but this doesn’t adequately explain why he has been defeated. By whatever margin he loses to Johnson (and the final results will be announced as I write) it will be far narrower than the massive losses suffered by the party up and down the country. Ken Livingstone, during his thirty years of prominence in the political life of the city, has aroused both intense affection and loyalty and deep hatred. At the risk of oversimplifying, he has had strong support from working class and ethnic minority Londoners who live in poorer parts of the inner London boroughs. He has aroused the hostility of wealthier Londoners who are less dependent on public transport and tend to live in the more salubrious outer London suburbs. His vote has apparently held up well in his inner city heartlands, but it is in the wealthier suburbs that the voters have turned strongly against him. His own credentials as a Londoner are impeccable. He lives in a working class area of north London, uses public transport and does not drive a car. Needless to say, this has not endeared him to those opposed to the congestion charge.

The outcome of the mayoral election has been strongly influenced by the scurrilous campaign against Livingstone waged relentlessly by the right wing press in London and nationally over the past months. This has been quite extraordinary. I described this press campaign in my last column, but more can be said about the part played in it by certain journalists, some of whom have built their reputations as left wingers.

The London Evening Standard has run a ceaseless diatribe against Livingstone, penned largely by Andrew Gilligan. Gilligan, a former BBC journalist was fired by the corporation in 2004, following a rebuke by the judge, Lord Hutton, whose inquiry into the intelligence used to justify the Iraq war, produced a report whitewashing the Blair government. Gilligan had accused the government of “sexing up” the intelligence in order to justify the war – an accusation which proved to be correct. For a time unemployed, he later emerged on the staff of the Evening Standard to launch his campaign to unseat Livingstone. It seems that he was determined to live down his reputation for anti-government bias by building a new reputation as a paid hack in the service of Associated Press. He wants to be remembered as the man who brought down Livingstone.

Two other journalists with left wing credentials have been prominent in the anti-Livingstone witch-hunt. Martin Bright, political editor of the left-of-centre weekly New Statesman and the Observer’s Nick Cohen have both written in a similar vein, ludicrously claiming that Livingstone is “unfit to hold office.” These writers are only the latest in a growing band of those who have trodden the weary path from left to right. The most notable is Christopher Hitchens, the role model for Nick Cohen who went rapidly from being scourge of the New Labour establishment to ardent and unapologetic supporter of the Iraq war.

3rd May. 7am. The realization this morning that Boris Johnson is the Mayor of London is like waking to a bad dream. Before adjusting to the reality it is worth reminding ourselves just who this person is. To treat him as a buffoon – which he is – trivialises the matter, in rather the same way that treating Bush as an idiot and a joke can detract from the terrible damage he has done to the US constitution and reputation in the world. Johnson is not an idiot. His own jocularity is a cover for a very right wing political agenda. Let’s consider some of his views.

He is homophobic. The fact that his sentiments are expressed in the style of a stand-up comedian render them no more acceptable. Consider this:

“If gay marriage was OK – and I was uncertain on the issue – then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men as well as two men; or indeed three men and a dog.”

In 2002, when Blair visited the Congo, he said: “No doubt the AK 47s will fall silent and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will break out in watermelon smiles to see to see the big white chief touchdown in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird.” His description of black babies as “piccaninnies” is well known.

During the election campaign he has been kept on a tight rein by his minders. Lynton Crosby, (the Australian Karl Rove) who masterminded the campaign has succeeded in controlling the gaffe-prone Johnson. The fact that he has no experience at running anything has been lightly brushed aside. The absence of any serious policy proposals has been ignored. Johnson’s elitist disdain for almost everyone who does not share his own class background and prejudices has been kept hidden. Six of the nine leading national newspapers, claiming between them most of the national readership, have been unremittingly hostile to Livingstone and uncritical of Johnson. This morning the victor claimed “I will govern as new Boris – or whatever the phrase is.” We shall see.

What does this result – and the wider Labour debacle – signify for the future? The scale of the damage done to Brown’s government is clear this morning. Throughout England and Wales (there were no local elections in Scotland) Labour has lost 331 local council seats; the Tories have gained 256. If this result were repeated in a general election the Tories would have a parliamentary majority of over 100 seats. Brown’s government is in more or less the same position as John Major’s Tory government was in 1995 – two years prior to Blair’s stunning victory. All the pundits are opining that a Tory victory is more or less inevitable. They are probably right.

When one takes into account some of the factors operating against the Labour Party, namely the deepening crisis in the financial markets, falling house prices, increasing food and fuel prices, and, particularly the abolition of the 10% income tax rate which has hit some of the poorest people, it is hardly surprising that many of its core supporters have deserted the party

But this is only part of the story. The tide had turned against New Labour before Blair resigned last year. It is all but certain that the result would have been much the same had he still been in office. The deeper reason for the collapse in support is the widespread disillusionment with the New Labour project. The government, under Blair and Brown, has followed a neo-liberal, right wing agenda in domestic policy and been completely identified with the Bush administration in its foreign policy. New Labour has abandoned social democracy and become in most respects indistinguishable from the Conservatives. Until last year the decline in support for New Labour was not matched by any significant increase in support for the Tories. After a very brief honeymoon Brown was seen to be little different from Blair, and, given the economic downturn that started late last year, support collapsed.

Is there any hope of a change in Labour’s fortunes? It is probably too late this side of an election. A new leader, even in the unlikely event that his colleagues should decide to jettison Brown, would be unlikely to turn things around. Anyway, there is no obvious alternative to Brown. If there is to be a change it will have to come from a rebellion of the rank-and-file membership, and this will only make itself felt after a general election defeat. Who might, in such a situation, emerge as a leader of the Left, capable of restoring the party to its social democratic roots and challenging the neo-liberal consensus amongst the political elite?

It is not too fanciful to assume that such a person might be Ken Livingstone. He could seek to return to Parliament as a Labour MP. As a nationally and internationally known figure with a strong and successful record of public service behind him it is not inconceivable that he could be elected leader of the Labour Party in a few years time. A pipe dream? Maybe, but who knows.

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Patti Smith Indicts George W. Bush (video)

Dandelion Salad

BlingRhamesOct 31, 2008

Patti Smith indicts George W. Bush in this clip from Patti Smith: Dream Of Life, Steven Sebring’s award winning documentary on the poet/singer/activist.

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