Bill Moyers Journal: The Media, Mcclellan And The War

Dandelion Salad

Bill Moyers Journal
PBS
June 6, 2008

The Media, Mcclellan And The War

Five years after the invasion of Iraq, Scott McClellan, formerly White House press secretary and one of President George W. Bush’s closest advisors, has published a tell-all book with little new information about the propaganda campaign and the role of the press in selling the war. On this week’s JOURNAL, Bill Moyers talks to three prominent journalists to find out why the book is such big news and whether anything has changed.

Bill Moyers speaks with Greg Mitchell, editor of the influential magazine about the newspaper industry, EDITOR & PUBLISHER, and two members from McClatchy’s Washington Bureau, one of the few news outlets to aggressively question the administration’s case for invading Iraq: John Walcott, the bureau chief and John Landay, senior national security and intelligence correspondent. …

transcript and video

Dr. Ronald Walters and Kathleen Hall Jamieson

What happens now? That’s the question campaign watchers, Democratic Party operatives and voters are asking. The Annenberg School’s Kathleen Hall Jamieson and Dr. Ronald Walters, director of the African American Leadership Institute and Scholar Practitioner Program at the University of Maryland, contemplate what’s next for Obama, Clinton and the rest of the election cycle.

When he appeared on the JOURNAL on December 14, 2007, Dr. Ronald Walters said this about Senator Obama’s chances of becoming president of the United States:

“Mathematically and analytically there’s the chance, yes, that he could win. When you look at the history of this country and the history of racism and race in particular there is a huge, huge doubt that he will eventually become president of the United States.”

transcript and video

On the Democratic Party and its new nominee

transcript and video

***

Essay on the Democratic Nominee

PBS

see

The Empire – A Status Report by William Blum

MIR: McClellan – Our Minister of Misinformation

Bill Moyers addresses NCMR 2008 (must see)

Dow Jones Biggest Drop This Year! Oil Hits Record High!

Dandelion Salad

VOTERSTHINKdotORG

June 06, 2008
CNN Wolf Blitzer

Vodpod videos no longer available.

see

The Economy Sucks

The Empire – A Status Report by William Blum

Jim Rogers: Ben Bernanke should take economy 101

Mortgaging America By Eric J. Weiner

Countdown: Wiretapping-The Sequel

Dandelion Salad

videocafeblog

June 6, 2008

Wiretapping-The Sequel

Keith reports on John McCain’s stance that the illegal wiretapping done under the Bush administration was legal now. John Dean weighs in.

Bushed!

Tonight’s: Blackmail-Gate and the President May Not Be Rational-Gate 1 and 2.

Worst Person

And the winner is….Joe Lieberman. Runners up the AP and Bill O’Reilly.

see

McCain: I’d Spy on Americans Secretly, Too By Ryan Singe

Long History Of Space Arms Race + Final Day Of Solidarity Fast – For Now

Bruce

by Bruce Gagnon
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Bruce’s blog post
June 5, 2008

Day 13 of my solidarity hunger strike

We had six people on the street today for my vigil in Brunswick. Only one more day for me before I hand the hunger strike over to Mary Beth Sullivan who will take my place.

I have begun to hear from folks who are going to join the one-day fast against Star Wars on June 22. I’ve decided to compile a list of people who contact me. Many more of course will be fasting all over the world that day. These are the names I know of so far:

Bob Anderson (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Dennis Apel (Guadalupe, California)
Sally Breen (Windham, Maine)
David W. Chipman (Harpswell, Maine)
Kathe Chipman (Harpswell, Maine)
Michael Connelly (Rochester, New York)
Becky Farley (Damariscotta, Maine)
Bruce Gagnon (Bath, Maine)
Starr Gilmartin (Trenton, Maine)
Matt Gregory (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Regina Hagen (Darmstadt, Germany)
Dud Hendrick (Deer Isle, Maine)
Tensie Hernandez (Guadalupe, California)
Nancy Hill (Stonington, Maine) June 19-24
Tom Kircher (Biddeford, Maine)
Isolt Lea (Gainesville, Florida)
Jeanne Pahls (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Judy Robbins (Sedgwick, Maine)
Robert Shetterly (Brooksville, Maine)
Mary Beth Sullivan (Bath, Maine)
Margaret Weitzmann (Potsdam, New York)
Mariah Williams (Liberty, Maine)

This morning I got an email from the group Stop the War Machine in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They are organizing to participate in the June 22 fast and will hold a day-long vigil at the gate of Kirtland Air Force Base in their city that day. Kirtland AFB is testing laser weapons for Star Wars and has many aerospace corporations located nearby doing the research and development work on these space weapons systems.

New Mexico has a long history with military space weapons work. Right after World War II former Nazi rocket scientists (100 of them along with 100 copies of Hitler’s V-2 rocket) were brought to the New Mexico desert to create the U.S. military space program.

Maj. Gen. Walter Dornberger was in charge of Hitler’s program and was one of those brought to the U.S. to work on these systems. It was Dornberger that had the “vision” to put orbiting battle stations in space. The former Nazi rocketeer went on to become Vice-President of Bell Aerospace in New York.

The proposed U.S. Star Wars radar deployment in the Czech Republic would be one key piece in this larger program of Pentagon “control and domination” of space. The Czech radar would help communicate with orbiting military satellites and give the U.S. the ability to launch first-strike attack on Russia. Nearby “missile defense interceptors” in Poland would then pick off any remaining retaliatory strike that Russia might fire.

This new arms race in space has long been in the making. The Pentagon clearly understands that whoever controls space will control the Earth below.

It is our job to stop them. Our taxes should be spent for health care, education, and dealing with climate change not creating a deadly and destabilizing arms race in the heavens.

June 22 will signify a day of education about Star Wars and global resistance to it. Please join us.

***

Final Day Of Solidarity Fast – For Now

by Bruce Gagnon
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Bruce’s blog post
June 6, 2008

Day 14 of my solidarity hunger strike

Today is my last day, at least for now. I will rejoin the strike on June 22 for the day.

Military and NASA by Will Park

The cartoon above is the work of artist W. B. Park who lives in Altamonte Springs, Florida. Will Park is a friend of many years and his illustrations are throughout my book, Come Together Right Now. For years, while living and working in Orlando, Florida, I would regularly meet Will for lunch at various BBQ restaurants in the area and we’d sit and talk politics and try to make sense of our crazy country. Any leaflet or poster I needed artwork for he eagerly did.

Last night I got this message from Will, “Tomorrow night at midnight I begin a three day fast in solidarity with the courageous people of the Czech Republic. No more BBQ for a while.”

As you can see below, the list of people who have contacted me about joining the June 22 international fast against Star Wars is rapidly growing.

We’ve begun to brainstorm what we will do here in Midcoast Maine on June 22. The idea of an empty plate picnic has come up where we gather in the heart of Brunswick on the town green to share from our hearts with each other. People who are not fasting the whole day could skip the noon meal and join us as well. We could each speak about why we have joined the fast expressing our concern about how a space arms race is “stealing from those who are in need” as former president Eisenhower told the nation in 1961.

I must conclude my two-week hunger strike by thanking Jan Tamas and Jan Bednar in the Czech Republic and all those who have supported them during these recent days. The decision to do this strike by Jan and Jan was a beautiful spiritual undertaking. It was also a brilliant political strategy and I very much admire how they expanded the issue to Star Wars in general rather than just keeping it focused on the one radar facility in their country. They effectively opened the door to a larger constituency and have helped raise global consciousness dramatically. I’ve been doing this space weapons work for 25 years and have rarely seen a grassroots campaign bear such fruit. The entire support base behind Jan and Jan must be congratulated for top notch organizing.

To other organizers I hope this Czech campaign is a good lesson. It goes to show that when you take a positive, courageous, non-violent step forward it will be noticed and supported by others. Inspiration always draws energy and light. Build it and they will come.

But this campaign is far from over. There is still much work to be done to promote the June 22 day and to sustain that energy to block the U.S. deployment of “missile defense” interceptors in Poland and the radar in the Czech Republic. Then we, in the U.S., must get our Congress to defund Star Wars research and development. And we must all promote a new international treaty that would ban all weapons in space – from any country.

The aerospace and nuclear industries view space as a new market. They seek to establish mining colonies on the Moon and Mars and develop nuclear rockets to get to these planetary bodies. They intend to use military space systems to control the “pathway” on and off the Earth so that corporate interests will “dominate” space as they now do on our home planet.

Let June 22 be one giant step for humanity here on our beautiful spinning satellite called Madre Tierra.

June 22 Fast Names:

Beth Adams (Greenfield, Massachusetts)
Bob Anderson (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Dennis Apel (Guadalupe, California)
Sally Breen (Windham, Maine)
David W. Chipman (Harpswell, Maine)
Kathe Chipman (Harpswell, Maine)
Sung-Hee Choi (New York, New York)
Michael Connelly (Rochester, New York)
Frank Cordaro (Des Moines, Iowa)
Becky Farley (Damariscotta, Maine)
Sr. Barb Freemyer, RSM (Pueblo, Colorado)
Bruce Gagnon (Bath, Maine)
Sr. Carol Gilbert (Baltimore, Maryland)
Starr Gilmartin (Trenton, Maine)
Matt Gregory (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Regina Hagen (Darmstadt, Germany)
Tom Hastings (Portland, Oregon)
Dud Hendrick (Deer Isle, Maine)
Tensie Hernandez (Guadalupe, California)
Nancy Hill (Stonington, Maine) June 19-24
Ron King (Penobscot, Maine)
Tom Kircher (Biddeford, Maine)
Steve Landon (Waldhof, ON, Canada)
Steve Larrick (Lincoln, Nebraska)
Isolt Lea (Gainesville, Florida)
Bob Lezer (Freeport, Maine)
Mary Leonard, Mercy Associate (Pueblo, Colorado)
Tamara Lorincz (Halifax, NS, Canada)
Laurie McGowan (Mochelle, NS, Canada)
Michael Murphy (Omaha, Nebraska)
Sr. Elaine Lopez Pacheco, RSM (Pueblo, Colorado)
Jeanne Pahls (Albuquerque, New Mexico)
Rosalie Tyler Paul (Georgetown, Maine)
Sr. Ardeth Platte (Baltimore, Maryland)
Bonnie Preston (Blue Hill, Maine)
Kim Redigan (Dearborn Heights, Michigan)
John Rensenbrink (Topsham, Maine)
Judy Robbins (Sedgwick, Maine)
Robert Shetterly (Brooksville, Maine)
Gareth Smith (Byron Bay, Australia)
Mary Beth Sullivan (Bath, Maine)
Meredith Tupper (Tampa, Florida)
Carol Urner (Portland, Oregon)
William Watts (San Francisco, California)
Margaret Weitzmann (Potsdam, New York)
Elaine Wells (Omaha, Nebraska)
Molly Willcox (Westport, Maine)
Lynda Williams (Santa Rosa, California)
Mariah Williams (Liberty, Maine)
Loring Wirbel (Colorado Springs, Colorado)
Michael Wisniewski (Los Angeles, California)

see

U.S. face new Czech enemy: Peaceland

Pressure grows as more join Czech hunger strike

Czechs quit hunger strike as MPs join missile protest + Bruce’s Day 11

Hunger strikers stand firm against U.S. missile shield (updated)

What is NATO Doing in Afghanistan?

Dandelion Salad

By FAHEEM HUSSAIN
ICH
06/06/08 “
Counterpunch

NATO, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Pakistan

What is NATO doing in Afghanistan? What are the true aims of NATO intervention in the region? These are the questions that I mean to address in this article. To understand what is happening in Afghanistan one has to go back to the attack on Yugoslavia by NATO forces in February 1999.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, NATO lost its raison d’être given that Western Europe and the United States were no longer threatened by an invasion from Eastern Europe. NATO thus had the choice between disbanding itself or developing a new reason for its existence. This gave the opportunity to the United States to reshape NATO in ways that would serve its imperial interests. It is very important to remember that its founding documents clearly say that NATO was a defensive organisation, which would go into action only when one of its member states was attacked.

The first step in the US strategy of changing the nature of NATO was the attack on Yugoslavia on the pretext of preventing ethnic cleansing. Clearly Yugoslavia had not attacked a NATO member state thus excluding a response from NATO. Whatever one can say about Kosovo, it was internationally recognised as an integral part of Yugoslavia (and is still internationally recognised as part of Serbia) and Yugoslavia did not attack or even threaten a NATO member state.

As was clear right from the beginning of the Kosovo crisis in the 90s, and as was confirmed at the NATO 50th Anniversary Celebrations in Washington in April 1999, one of the aims of the United States in attacking Yugoslavia at that time on the pretext of preventing ethnic cleansing in Kosovo was to present to the European states a fait accompli as an example of the future role of NATO as an offensive organisation whose aim was to act as the world’s policeman, or more rightly thug, in the defence of perceived United States interests. It was clear that the US was intent on provoking a war with Yugoslavia and its subsequent bombardment.

How was this achieved? One of the final steps in the American strategy in attacking a sovereign state, Yugoslavia, which had not attacked any NATO member state, was the proposed Rambouillet Accords, February 23 1999. These show clearly that the Americans had no intention of pursuing a peaceful settlement of the Kosovo problem and that they intended to push Milosevic into a situation that he could not accept. In the words of Lamberto Dini, the then Italian Foreign Minister, the Rambouillet Accords were made deliberately to “humiliate the Serbs” so that they could not accept them.

Here I reproduce some of the worst points of the proposed Rambouillet Accords, Appendix B: Status of Multi-National Military Implementation Force:

3. The Parties recognize the need for expeditious departure and entry procedures for NATO personnel. Such personnel shall be exempt from passport and visa regulations and the registration requirements applicable to aliens. At all entry and exit points to/from the FRY (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, F.H.), NATO personnel shall be permitted to enter/exit the FRY on production of a national identification (ID) card. NATO personnel shall carry identification which they may be requested to produce for the authorities in the FRY, but operations, training, and movement shall not be allowed to be impeded or delayed by such requests.

6. a. NATO shall be immune from all legal process, whether civil, administrative, or criminal.

b. NATO personnel, under all circumstances and at all times, shall be immune from the Parties, jurisdiction in respect of any civil, administrative, criminal, or disciplinary offenses (sic) which may be committed by them in the FRY. The Parties shall assist States participating in the operation in the exercise of their jurisdiction over their own nationals.

7. NATO personnel shall be immune from any form of arrest, investigation, or detention by the authorities in the FRY. NATO personnel erroneously arrested or detained shall immediately be turned over to NATO authorities.

8. NATO personnel shall enjoy, together with their vehicles, vessels, aircraft, and equipment, free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY including associated airspace and territorial waters. This shall include, but not be limited to, the right of bivouac, maneuver (sic), billet, and utilization of any areas or facilities as required for support, training, and operations.

9. NATO shall be exempt from duties, taxes, and other charges and inspections and custom regulations including providing inventories or other routine customs documentation, for personnel, vehicles, vessels, aircraft, equipment, supplies, and provisions entering, exiting, or transiting the territory of the FRY in support of the Operation.

—-

15. The Parties recognize that the use of communications channels is necessary for the Operation. NATO shall be allowed to operate its own internal mail services. The Parties shall, upon simple request, grant all telecommunications services, including broadcast services, needed for the Operation, as determined by NATO. This shall include the right to utilize such means and services as required to assure full ability to communicate, and the right to use all of the electromagnetic spectrum for this purpose, free of cost. In implementing this right, NATO shall make every reasonable effort to coordinate with and take into account the needs and requirements of appropriate authorities in the FRY.

17. NATO and NATO personnel shall be immune from claims of any sort which arise out of activities in pursuance of the operation; however, NATO will entertain claims on an ex gratia basis.

21. In carrying out its authorities under this Chapter, NATO is authorized to detain individuals and, as quickly as possible, turn them over to appropriate officials.

I have here only given some of the articles of the infamous Appendix. The others are more of the same ilk. The whole appendix is worth reading. These are some of the privileges which are for example enjoyed by US troops in Italy. (The new secret agreements being proposed between the US government and the Maliki puppet government in Iraq go much further). It was clear that the Rambouillet Accords were attacks on the sovereignty of Yugoslavia and that NATO wanted to completely take over Yugoslavia. The above conditions were obviously entirely unacceptable to a sovereign state and it was clear that these conditions were put so that Milosevic could not accept them and that the bombing of Serbia could start. In fact that is exactly what happened.

It should be clear and there is ample evidence of this, which I cannot reproduce here without making this article too long, that the attack on Yugoslavia had absolutely nothing to do with preventing ethnic cleansing and all to do with punishing a state that did not accept US diktat and was a crucial step towards reinventing the role of NATO.

Attentive readers in Pakistan will note the uncanny similarities between the proposed Rambouillet Accords of 1999 preceding the 78 day NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia and what Shirin Mazari, a Pakistani defence analyst and former head of the Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad (ISSI), revealed as a set of demands that the USA recently made to the Pakistan government (The News March 8, 2008). Although one can never be sure, I hope that the Musharraf government at that time and the present government have rejected these demands which negate Pakistani sovereignty. I wonder if the new “democratic” dispensation has given in to US pressure to remove Ms. Mazari from her position as head of the ISSI given her opposition to NATO presence in Afghanistan and her criticisms of US policy in the region.

It is relevant to point out that although the Serbian Parliament had agreed to an accord a day before the bombardment was started, this was deliberately ignored. Also significant is the fact that the final accord sanctioning Yugoslav withdrawal from Kosovo after 78 days of bombing achieved much less than what was being pushed in the Rambouillet Accords. So what was the point of bombardment if much less was acceptable? It was clear then and it is clearer now that the main idea was to change the nature of NATO as part of a broader strategy to dominate the Eastern Mediterranean and the oil routes from Central Asia.

The aim of reinventing the role of NATO into an aggressive arm of US foreign policy was achieved at the Washington meeting. The birth of the new NATO was sanctioned by the following words of the 19 heads of state and government on 24th April 1999:

This new alliance will be bigger, more capable and more flexible, involved in collective defence and capable of undertaking new missions, among which is the active commitment in the management of crises, including the operations of responding to crises. (Washington Summit Communiqué, 24/4/1999)

The newly born creature is the fruit of an operation of genetic engineering: from an alliance that, on the basis of Article 5 of the Treaty of 4 April 1949, authorised its member countries to assist (also with armed force) any member state that was attacked in the North Atlantic area, was transformed into an alliance that, on the basis of the new “strategic concept”, commits the member countries also to conduct operations outside the territory of the Alliance (non-Article 5 operations). This was stressed several times in the document “The Alliance’s Strategic Concept” approved by the Heads of State and government on April 24, 1999. For example in Article 31 it says

NATO will seek, in co-operation with other organisations, to prevent conflict, or should a crisis arise, to contribute to its effective management, consistent with international law, including through the possibility of conducting non-Article 5 crisis response operations. (The Alliance’s Strategic Concept, 24/4/1999; Defence Capabilities Initiative, 24/4/1999)

Remove the fig leaf of respect for international law and here you have the real intentions of NATO, to conduct operations throughout the world as it pleases.

To remove any doubt about the intentions of NATO, President Clinton clarified, during the press conference on 24 April 1999, that the North Atlantic Allies

have reaffirmed their readiness to affront, in appropriate circumstances, regional conflicts beyond the territory of the members of NATO. (Transcript: Clinton Says NATO May Intervene Beyond Its Borders, 24/4/1999)

To the question on what was the geographical area in which NATO was ready to intervene, “the President refused to specify to what distance NATO intended to project its force, saying that it was not a question of geography”. In other words, NATO intended to project its military force beyond its borders not only in Europe, but also in other regions, like the Middle East, Africa and the Indian Ocean. NATO gave itself the right to intervene anywhere in the world whenever it feels its interests are threatened, without consulting the United Nations. Led by the biggest and most dangerous rogue state, the United States, NATO was set to become the gravest threat to peace throughout the world. One of the amazing and disgusting spectacles to watch in Europe in those days was that these so-called democracies accepted the new NATO without discussion in any of the European Parliaments. It is as if loyalty to NATO (which means in effect obedience to US diktat) has been put above all other considerations of national sovereignty and democracy. The Italian Prime Minister at that time, Massimo D’Alema, an ex-communist, said that Italy had to go to war because of its commitments and loyalty to NATO. He perhaps forgot that the principle of obeying orders while committing acts against humanity was not accepted at the Nuremberg trials as an attenuating circumstance.

It is worth remembering in these times, when one tends to blame Bush and his gang for all US aggressive imperialist policies, that all the above took place under the falsely admired Clinton and his Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, famous for her remark that the death of 500,000 Iraqi children as a consequence of the then embargo on Iraq was a justified price to pay to remove Saddam. We tend to forget that all US presidents follow such policies. As was obvious Bush and his gang whole-heartedly accepted the new role of NATO. If fact this was reemphasised in the recent NATO heads of states meeting in Romania where Bush explicitly said that the role of NATO was that of a “global expeditionary force”. These are terrible words that bode ill for the future of the world.

Yugoslavia of course could not and did not accept the demands made in the Rambouillet Accords and was therefore subject to savage bombing. The bombing of Serbia sanctioned NATO out of area operations and was a prelude to NATO involvement in Afghanistan as the handmaiden of the USA. NATO should never have been in Afghanistan in the first place and it is good to see that many European countries are reluctant to send their troops to die there. What is happening in Afghanistan is tragic with hundreds of innocents dying at the hands of indiscriminate bombing by US and NATO forces and by the retaliatory Taliban and resistance bombings but one thing is clear and that is that NATO will lose the war in Afghanistan. This is good because, I hope, that it will lead NATO to rethink its role in the post-cold war world and perhaps, if we are lucky, it may even be disbanded in the future. A NATO victory in Afghanistan will be disastrous for the region and for the world. It will encourage it in its Bush-designated role of a global “expeditionary alliance”. At the NATO summit in Bucarest in April Bush said about NATO: “It is now an expeditionary alliance that is sending its forces across the world to help secure a future of freedom and peace for millions.” In other words to interfere in and invade other poor countries of the south with the pretext of the new white man’s burden: promoting freedom and peace. The people of Iraq and Afghanistan have enough of this so-called freedom and peace. It is therefore necessary that NATO loses in Afghanistan.

A total withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan followed by a negotiated settlement between Afghan forces is the only way forward there. There are those who say that the withdrawal of NATO forces will lead to chaos, more deaths and re-talibanisation of Afghanistan. But the truth is that the presence of foreign troops is one of the major factors of violence there. What more chaos and destruction can there be in Afghanistan? All the touted aims of the USA and NATO are dead. There is no democracy there, Karzai is a US puppet, the warlords are in power and the level of insecurity is increasing, car bombs are becoming a norm. Pushtuns, as other peoples, never tolerate foreign occupation of their soil and to me it seems clear that the Taliban have mobilised Pushtun national sentiment in combating foreign troops.

Following the failure of NATO to defeat Afghan insurgents, the US blames Pakistan for providing sanctuary and training camps for Taliban and Al-Qaeda in the border region of Pakistan. But we have heard this before. When they cannot control the insurgency in Iraq they blame Iran or Syria for providing training and weapons to Iraqi insurgents. But this is an even older story. Those with a long memory will remember that when the US could not defeat the Vietnamese revolutionaries they said that there were training camps and sanctuaries in neighbouring Laos and Cambodia. One remembers the savage bombing of Cambodia from 1969 to 1973. It did not help the US to defeat the Vietnamese nationalists but lead to over a 100,000 Cambodian deaths to add to the 3 million Vietnamese killed during the war. Now they are bombing so-called Al-Qaeda and Taliban in Waziristan on dubious “actionable intelligence” in which hundreds of innocents are killed and this without a word of protest, if not connivance, on the part of our elected representatives.

It is a good sign that, in spite of continued US pressure, one of the first tasks that the new government in Islamabad has undertaken is a review of Pakistan’s involvement in America’s “war on terror”. An involvement that has already caused death and destruction in the frontier, disillusionment in the army and suicide bombings in major cities. There are reports of secret deals, made in January, between the USA and Musharraf’s government providing Predator bases inside Pakistan and changing rules of engagement of these aircraft whose controllers are now authorised to fire on suspicion rather than “hard” intelligence. One would like to know from the elected government whether there were such secret deals and if there were does it intend to repudiate them. Already the CIA and the FBI operate freely inside Pakistan and the Americans are demanding that we now accept ground troops in the guise of trainers for the Army and militia. They want to teach the Pakistan Army about counterinsurgency. If it were not so ominous it would be really quite hilarious given the singular failure of the US army in fighting guerrillas in Vietnam and now in Iraq and Afghanistan. What methods are they going to teach the Pakistan Army? Massive bombing and collective punishment in the best traditions of Vietnam?

Although the present government has taken some timid steps in distancing itself from the so-called “war on terror” and has rightly started to talk to the people of Waziristan, it has not gone far enough. It has to clearly tell the USA that its policies in Afghanistan and in Pakistan’s frontier are a failure. They have only led to death, destruction and the spread of terrorism. The only way out is for all foreign forces to get out of Afghanistan and for the US to stop interference in Pakistan. Once these forces are out of the region then and only then will one be able to come to a political solution, as there is no purely military solution neither to the problems of Afghanistan nor to the rising phenomena of Islamic militancy in Pakistan. Pushtuns have clearly voted against the mullahs and the militants but at the same time the rejection of Musharraf is also a sign that the people of Pakistan reject Pakistan’s forced marriage with the disastrous US policies in the region. It is time for a clean divorce.

Faheem Hussain is Visiting Professor of Physics at the School of Science and Engineering, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan.

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US Issues Threat to Iraq’s $50bn Foreign Reserves in Military Deal

Dandelion Salad

By Patrick Cockburn
ICH
06/06/08 “The Independent

The US is holding hostage some $50bn (£25bn) of Iraq’s money in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to pressure the Iraqi government into signing an agreement seen by many Iraqis as prolonging the US occupation indefinitely, according to information leaked to The Independent.

US negotiators are using the existence of $20bn in outstanding court judgments against Iraq in the US, to pressure their Iraqi counterparts into accepting the terms of the military deal, details of which were reported for the first time in this newspaper yesterday.

Iraq’s foreign reserves are currently protected by a presidential order giving them immunity from judicial attachment but the US side in the talks has suggested that if the UN mandate, under which the money is held, lapses and is not replaced by the new agreement, then Iraq’s funds would lose this immunity. The cost to Iraq of this happening would be the immediate loss of $20bn. The US is able to threaten Iraq with the loss of 40 per cent of its foreign exchange reserves because Iraq’s independence is still limited by the legacy of UN sanctions and restrictions imposed on Iraq since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the 1990s. This means that Iraq is still considered a threat to international security and stability under Chapter Seven of the UN charter. The US negotiators say the price of Iraq escaping Chapter Seven is to sign up to a new “strategic alliance” with the United States.

The threat by the American side underlines the personal commitment of President George Bush to pushing the new pact through by 31 July. Although it is in reality a treaty between Iraq and the US, Mr Bush is describing it as an alliance so he does not have to submit it for approval to the US Senate.

Iraqi critics of the agreement say that it means Iraq will be a client state in which the US will keep more than 50 military bases. American forces will be able to carry out arrests of Iraqi citizens and conduct military campaigns without consultation with the Iraqi government. American soldiers and contractors will enjoy legal immunity.

The US had previously denied it wanted permanent bases in Iraq, but American negotiators argue that so long as there is an Iraqi perimeter fence, even if it is manned by only one Iraqi soldier, around a US installation, then Iraq and not the US is in charge.

The US has security agreements with many countries, but none are occupied by 151,000 US soldiers as is Iraq. The US is not even willing to tell the government in Baghdad what American forces are entering or leaving Iraq, apparently because it fears the government will inform the Iranians, said an Iraqi source.

The fact that Iraq’s financial reserves, increasing rapidly because of the high price of oil, continue to be held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is another legacy of international sanctions against Saddam Hussein. Under the UN mandate, oil revenues must be placed in the Development Fund for Iraq which is in the bank.

The funds are under the control of the Iraqi government, though the US Treasury has strong influence on the form in which the reserves are held.

Iraqi officials say that, last year, they wanted to diversify their holdings out of the dollar, as it depreciated, into other assets, such as the euro, more likely to hold their value. This was vetoed by the US Treasury because American officials feared it would show lack of confidence in the dollar.

Iraqi officials say the consequence of the American action was to lose Iraq the equivalent of $5bn. Given intense American pressure on a weak Iraqi government very dependent on US support, it is still probable that the agreement will go through with only cosmetic changes. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the immensely influential Shia cleric, could prevent the pact by issuing a fatwa against it but has so far failed to do so.

The Grand Ayatollah met Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI), which is the main supporter of the Iraqi government, earlier this week and did not condemn the agreement or call for a referendum. He said, according to Mr Hakim, that it must guarantee Iraqi national sovereignty, be transparent, command a national consensus and be approved by the Iraqi parliament. Critics of the deal fear that the government will sign the agreement, and parliament approve it, in return for marginal concessions.

Copyright The Independent

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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Revealed: Secret Plan to Keep Iraq Under US Control by Patrick Cockburn

Rove Denies Trial Of 9/11 Conspiritors Timed For Political Purpose (satire)

Robert

by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
June 6, 2008

WASHINGTON – Karl Rove denied that today’s announcement of the trial schedule of five Guantanimo detainees accused of planning the 9/11 attacks has something to do with the upcoming Presidential election. “The fact that we arraigned the five terrorists right after Obama sewed up the Democrat nomination is purely a coincidence. And it will be a further coincidence when the guilty verdict will come down the day Obama is officially nominated by the Democrat party at their convention in August.”

“I am tired of all the false accusations by the Democrats saying we are using the tragedy of 9/11 for crass political purposes,” said Rudolf Giuliani, wearing a button saying, ‘don’t forget America’s mayor’ and talking into a bullhorn in downtown New York. “I’ve told those people many times we would never sink so low. I’ve told them at least 911 times.”

Detainee Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who was apprehended in Pakistan in 2003, is scheduled to face a military tribunal along with four others accused of involvement in the planning of the 9/11 attacks. “Mohammad is the number three in command of al-Qaeda,” said Brigadier general Tom Hartmann, “As you know, we had to kill al-Qaeda’s number two man six times, but will only have to kill the number three four times.” Mohammad has been waterboarded so many times that he is expected to win the Waterboard Internationals to be held a week before his scheduled execution. He has confessed to not only helping to plan 9/11, but to 79 other terrorist plots, the death of Anna Nicole Smith and for giving TriStar Pictures the green light on the Gigli movie.

“There will be one other coincidence,” Rove concluded, “in the final weekend before the November election, we will discover a high-ranking al-Qaeda operative named Hussein Obama Barack who will look into our camera and say “God Damn America.” This guy will turn out to be a complete hoax of course, but that will not be discovered until the day after the election, but not before Fox News will blanket the airwaves with wall-to-wall coverage of this imposter for six days straight.

see

Richard Gage Interview on The Standard (vids; 9/11)

On the Future of Israel and Palestine (Chomsky; Pappe)

Dandelion Salad

By Frank Barat
ICH
06/06/08 “Counterpunch

An Interview with Ilan Pappé and Noam Chomsky

Barat: Thanks for accepting this interview. Firstly I would like to ask if you are working on something at the moment that you would like to let us know about?

Ilan Pappé: I am completing several books. The first is a concise history of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the other is on the Palestinian minority in Israel and one on the Arab Jews. I am completing an edited volume comparing the South Africa situation to that of Palestine

Noam Chomsky: The usual range of articles, talks, etc. No time for major projects right now.

Barat: A British M.P recently said that he had felt a change in the last 5 years regarding Israel. British M.Ps nowadays sign E.D.M (Early Day Motions) condemning Israel in bigger number than ever before and he told us that it was now easier to express criticism towards Israel even when talking on U.S campuses.

Also, in the last few weeks, John Dugard, independent investigator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the U.N Human Right Council said that “Palestinian terror ‘inevitable’ result of occupation”, the European parliament adopted a resolution saying that “policy of isolation of the Gaza strip has failed at both the political and humanitarian level” and the U.N and the E.U have condemned Israel use of excessive and disproportionate force in the Gaza strip.

Could we interpret that as a general shift in attitude towards Israel?

Ilan Pappé: The two examples indicate a significant shift in public opinion and in the civil society. However, the problem remained what it had been in the last sixty years: these impulses and energies are not translated, and are not likely to be translated in the near future, into actual policies on the ground. And thus the only way of enhancing this transition from support from below to actual policies is by developing the idea of sanctions and boycott. This can give a clear orientation and direction to the many individuals and ngos that have shown for years solidarity with the Palestine cause.

Noam Chomsky: There has been a very clear shift in recent years. On US campuses and with general audiences as well. It was not long ago that police protection was a standard feature of talks at all critical of Israeli policies, meetings were broken up, audiences very hostile and abusive. By now it is sharply different, with scattered exceptions. Apologists for Israeli violence now tend often to be defensive and desperate, rather than arrogant and overbearing. But the critique of Israeli actions is thin, because the basic facts are systematically suppressed. That is particularly true of the decisive US role in barring diplomatic options, undermining democracy, and supporting Israel’s systematic program of undermining the possibility for an eventual political settlement. But portrayal of the US as an “honest broker,” somehow unable to pursue its benign objectives, is characteristic, not only in this domain.

Barat: The word apartheid is more and more often used by NGO’s and charities to describe Israel’s actions towards the Palestinians (in Gaza, the OPT but also in Israel itself). Is the situation in Palestine and Israel comparable to Apartheid South Africa?

Ilan Pappé: There are similarities and dissimilarities. The colonialist history has many chapters in common and some of the features of the Apartheid system can be found in the Israeli policies towards its own Palestinian minority and towards those in the occupied territories. Some aspects of the occupation, however, are worse then the apartheid reality of South Africa and some aspects in the lives of Palestinian citizens in Israel, are not as bad as they were in the hey days of Apartheid. The main point of comparison to my mind is political inspiration. The anti-Apartheid movement, the ANC, the solidarity networks developed throughout the years in the West, should inspire a more focused and effect pro-Palestinian campaign. This is why there is a need to learn the history of the struggle against Apartheid, much more than dwell too long on comparing the Zionist and Apartheid systems.

Noam Chomsky: There can be no definite answer to such questions. There are similarities and differences. Within Israel itself, there is serious discrimination, but it’s very far from South African Apartheid. Within the occupied territories, it’s a different story. In 1997, I gave the keynote address at Ben-Gurion University in a conference on the anniversary of the 1967 war. I read a paragraph from a standard history of South Africa. No comment was necessary.

Looking more closely, the situation in the OT differs in many ways from Apartheid. In some respects, South African Apartheid was more vicious than Israeli practices, and in some respects the opposite is true. To mention one example, White South Africa depended on Black labor. The large majority of the population could not be expelled. At one time Israel relied on cheap and easily exploited Palestinian labor, but they have long ago been replaced by the miserable of the earth from Asia, Eastern Europe, and elsewhere. Israelis would mostly breathe a sigh of relief if Palestinians were to disappear. And it is no secret that the policies that have taken shape accord well with the recommendations of Moshe Dayan right after the 1967 war : Palestinians will “continue to live like dogs, and whoever wishes may leave.” More extreme recommendations have been made by highly regarded left humanists in the United States, for example Michael Walzer of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton and editor of the democratic socialist journal Dissent, who advised 35 years ago that since Palestinians are “marginal to the nation,” they should be “helped” to leave. He was referring to Palestinian citizens of Israel itself, a position made familiar more recently by the ultra-right Avigdor Lieberman, and now being picked up in the Israeli mainstream. I put aside the real fanatics, like Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, who declares that Israel never kills civilians, only terrorists, so that the definition of “terrorist” is “killed by Israel”; and Israel should aim for a kill ratio of 1000 to zero, which means “exterminate the brutes” completely. It is of no small significance that advocates of these views are regarded with respect in enlightened circles in the US, indeed the West. One can imagine the reaction if such comments were made about Jews.

On the query, to repeat, there can be no clear answer as to whether the analogy is appropriate.

Barat: Israel has recently said that it will boycott the U.N conference on Human Rights in Durban because “it will be impossible to prevent the conference from turning into a festival of anti-Israeli attacks” and has also cancelled a meeting with Costa Rican officials over the Central American nation’s decision to formally recognize a Palestinian state. Is Israel refusal to accept any sort of criticism towards its policies likely to eventually backfire?

Ilan Pappé: One hopes it will backfire one day. However, this depends on the global and regional balances of power, not only on the Israelis ‘over reacting’. The two, namely the balance of power and Israel intransigence, may be interconnected in the future. If there is a change in America’s policy, or in its hegemonic role in the politics of the region, than a continued Israeli inflexibility can encourage the international community to adopt a more critical position against Israel and exert pressure on the Jewish state to end the occupation and dispossession of Palestine

Noam Chomsky: One can agree or disagree with these decisions, but they do not imply “refusal to accept any sort of criticism towards its policies.” I doubt that these particular decisions will backfire, or will even receive much notice.

Barat: How can Israel reach a settlement with an organization which declares that it will never recognize Israel and whose charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state? If Hamas really wants a settlement, why won’t it recognize Israel?

Ilan Pappé: Peace is made between enemies not lovers. The end result of the peace process can be a political Islamic recognition in the place of the Jews in Palestine and in the Middle East as a whole, whether in a separated state or a joint state. The PLO entered negotiations with Israel without changing its charter, which is not that different as far as the attitude to Israel, is concerned. So the search should be for a text, solution and political structure that is inclusive – enabling all the national, ethnic, religious and ideological groups to coexist

Noam Chomsky: Hamas cannot recognize Israel any more than Kadima can recognize Palestine, or than the Democratic Party in the US can recognize England. One could ask whether a government led by Hamas should recognize Israel, or whether a government led by Kadima or the Democratic Party should recognize Palestine. So far they have all refused to do so, though Hamas has at least called for a two-state settlement in accord with the long-standing international consensus, while Kadima and the Democratic Party refuse to go that far, keeping to the rejectionist stance that the US and Israel have maintained for over 30 years in international isolation. As for words, when Prime Minister Olmert declares to a joint session of the US Congress that he believes “in our people’s eternal and historic right to this entire land,” to rousing applause, he is presumably referring not only to Palestine from the Jordan to the sea, but also to the other side of the Jordan river, the historic claim of the Likud Party that was his political home, a claim never formally abandoned, to my knowledge. On Hamas, I think it should abandon those provisions of its charter, and should move from acceptance of a two-state settlement to mutual recognition, though we must bear in mind that its positions are more forthcoming than those of the US and Israel.

Barat: During the last few months, Israel has accentuated its attacks on Gaza and is talking of an imminent ground invasion, there is also a strong possibility that it is involved in the killing of the Hezbollah leader Mughniyeh and it is pushing for stronger sanctions (including military) on Iran. Do you believe that Israel’s appetite for war could eventually lead to its self destruction?

Ilan Pappé: Yes, I think that the aggressiveness is increasing and Israel antagonizes not only the Palestinian world, but also the Arab and Islamic ones. The military balance of power, at present, is in Israel’s presence, but this can change at any given moment, especially once the US withdrew its support.

Noam Chomsky: I wrote decades ago that those who call themselves “supporters of Israel” are in reality supporters of its moral degeneration and probable ultimate destruction. I have also believed for many years that Israel’s very clear choice of expansion over security, ever since it turned down Sadat’s offer of a full peace treaty in 1971, may well lead to that consequence.

Barat: What would it take for the U.S to withdraw its unconditional support to Israel?

Ilan Pappé: Externally: a collapse of its Middle East policy, mainly through the downfall of one of its allies. Alternatively, but less likely, the emergence of a counter European policy. Internally: a major economic crisis and the success of the present coalition of forces working within the civil society to impact such a change.

Noam Chomsky: To answer that, we have to consider the sources of the support. The corporate sector in the US, which dominates policy formation, appears to be quite satisfied with the current situation. One indication is the increasing flow of investment to Israel by Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and other leading elements of the high-tech economy. Military and intelligence relations remain very strong. Since 1967, US intellectuals have had a virtual love affair with Israel, for reasons that relate more to the US than to Israel, in my opinion. That strongly affects portrayal of events and history in media and journals. Palestinians are weak, dispersed, friendless, and offer nothing to concentrations of power in the US. A large majority of Americans support the international consensus on a two-state settlement, and even call for equalizing aid to Israel and the Palestinians. In this as in many other respects, both political parties are well to the right of the population. 95% of the US population think that the government should pay attention to the views of the population, a position rejected across the elite spectrum (sometimes quite explicitly, at other times tacitly). Hence one step towards a more even-handed stance would be “democracy promotion” within the US. Apart from that eventuality, what it would take is events that lead to a recalculation of interests among elite sectors.

Barat: CounterPunch featured an interesting debate on the 1 state vs 2 states solution last month. It started with a Michael Neumann article saying that “the one state solution was an illusion” and was followed by articles from Assaf Kfoury entitled “One-State or Two-State?” – A Sterile Debate on False Alternatives” and Jonathan Cook entitled “One state or two, neither, the issue is Zionism”. What’s your opinion on this and do you think that in view of the “facts on the ground” (settlements, bypass roads…) created by Israel a 2 state solution is still possible?

Ilan Pappé: The facts on the ground had rendered a two states solution impossible a long time ago. The facts indicated that there was never and will never be an Israeli consent to a Palestinian state apart from a stateless state within two Bantustans in the West Bank and Gaza totally under Israeli control. There is already one state and the struggle is to change its nature and regime. Whether the new regime and constitutional basis would be bi-national or democratic, or maybe even both, is less significant at this point. Any political outfit that would replace the present racist state of affairs is welcome. Any such outfit should also enable the refugees to return and even the most recent immigrants to remain.

Noam Chomsky: We have to make a distinction between proposal and advocacy. We can propose that everyone should live in peace. It becomes advocacy when we sketch out a realistic path from here to there. A one-state solution makes little sense, in my opinion, but a bi-national state does. It was possible to advocate such a settlement from 1967 to the mid-1970s, and in fact I did, in many writings and talks, including a book. The reaction was mostly fury. After Palestinian national rights entered the international agenda in the mid-1970s, it has remained possible to advocate bi-nationalism (and I continue to do so), but only as a process passing through intermediate stages, the first being a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus. That outcome, probably the best that can be envisioned in the short term, was almost reached in negotiations in Taba in January 2001, and according to participants, could have been reached had the negotiations not been prematurely terminated by Israeli Prime Minister Barak. That was the one moment in the past 30 years when the two leading rejectionist states did briefly consider joining the international consensus, and the one time when a diplomatic settlement seemed within sight. Much has changed since 2001, but I do not see any reason to believe that what was apparently within reach then is impossible today.

It is of some interest, and I think instructive, that proposals for a “one-state solution” are tolerated within the mainstream today, unlike the period when advocacy was indeed feasible and they were anathema. Today they are published in the New York Times, New York Review of Books, and elsewhere. One can only conclude that they are considered acceptable today because they are completely unfeasible — they remain proposal, not advocacy. In practice, the proposals lend support to US-Israeli rejectionism, and undermine the only feasible advocacy of a bi-national solution, in stages.

Today there are two options for Palestinians. One is US-Israeli abandonment of their rejectionist stance, and a settlement roughly along the lines of what was being approached at Taba, The other option is continuation of current policies, which lead, inexorably, to incorporation into Israel of what it wants: at least, Greater Jerusalem, the areas within the Separation Wall (now an Annexation Wall), the Jordan Valley, and the salients through Ma’aleh Adumim and Ariel and beyond that effectively trisect what remains, which will be broken up into unviable cantons by huge infrastructure projects, hundreds of check points, and other devices to ensure that Palestinians live like dogs.

There are those who believe that Palestinians should simply let Israel take over the West Bank completely and then carry out a civil rights/anti-Apartheid style struggle. That is an illusion, however. There is no reason why the US-Israel would accept the premises of this proposal. They will simply proceed along the lines now being implemented, and will not accept any responsibility for Palestinians who are scattered outside the regions they intend to incorporate into Israel.

Barat: During my recent trip to Israel/Palestine it became obvious (talking to people, reading newspapers, watching the news) that something scared Israel a lot: a Boycott. Are you in favor of this type of actions and do you think that they could bare fruit?

Ilan Pappé: Yes I am and I do think it has a chance of triggering processes of change on the ground.

Noam Chomsky: Boycotts sometimes make sense. For example, such actions against South Africa were effective, even though the Reagan administration evaded congressional sanctions while declaring Mandela’s ANC to be one of the “more notorious terrorist groups” in the world (in 1988). The actions were effective because the groundwork had been laid in many years of education and activism. By the time they were implemented, they received substantial support in the US within the political system, the media, and even the corporate sector. Nothing remotely like that has been achieved in this case. As a result, calls for boycott almost invariably backfire, reinforcing the harshest and most brutal policies towards Palestinians.

Selective boycotts, carefully formulated, might have some effect. For example, boycotts of military producers who provide arms to Israel, or to Caterpillar Corporation, which provides the equipment for destroying Palestine. All of their actions are strictly illegal, and boycotts could be made understandable to the general public, so that they could be effective.

Selective boycotts could also be effective against states with a far worse record of violence and terror than Israel, such as the US. And, of course, without its decisive support and participation, Israel could not carry out illegal expansion and other crimes. There are no calls for boycotting the US, not for reasons of principle, but because it is simply too powerful — facts that raise some obvious questions about the moral legitimacy of actions targeting its clients

Barat: Coming back from Israel/Palestine a few weeks ago, the director of ICAHD U.K said that, in spite of Annapolis, “not one thing on the ground has improved{…} witnessing Israel judaisation of the country left me feeling cold and angry”. Seeing this, could Palestinian resistance (which has mainly been non violent so far) go back to an armed struggle and start the most brutal 3rd intifada?

Ilan Pappé: It is difficult to understand the ‘could’ – theoretically they can and they may, the question is whether it is going to produce different results from the previous two uprisings, the feeling is that it is not likely.

Noam Chomsky: My opinion all along has been that the Palestinian leadership is offering Israel and its US backers a great gift by resorting to violence and posturing about revolution — quite apart from the fact that, tactical considerations aside, resort to violence carries a very heavy burden of justification. Today, for example, nothing is more welcome to Israeli and US hawks than Qassam rockets, which enable them to shriek joyously about how the ratio of deaths should be increased to infinity (all victims being defined as “terrorists”). I have also agreed all along with personal friends who had contacts with the Palestinian leadership (in particular, Edward Said and Eqbal Ahmad) that a non-violent struggle would have had considerable prospects for success. And I think it still does, in fact the only prospects for success.

Barat: What NGO’s and charities working for justice in Palestine should focus on in the next few months?

Ilan Pappé: They know best and I hesitate to advise them. I think they gave us guidance with their call for boycott and if they continue with initiatives like this it can be very helpful. But most importantly it would be great if they could continue to work for reconciliation and unity in the Palestinian camp.

Noam Chomsky: The daily and urgent task is to focus on the terrible ongoing violations of the most elementary human rights and the illegal US-backed settlement and development projects that are designed to undermine a diplomatic settlement. A more general task is to try to lay the basis for a successful struggle for a settlement that takes into account the just demands of contesting parties — the kind of hard, dedicated, persistent educational and organizational work that has provided the underpinnings for other advances towards peace and justice. I have already indicated what I think that entails — not least, effective democracy promotion in the reigning superpower.

© Frank Barat – June 2008

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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Mosaic News – 6/5/08: World News from the Middle East

President Abbas calls for Palestinian reconciliation

The occupation debate in Israel w/Daniel Levy Part III

The Empire – A Status Report by William Blum

Dandelion Salad

by William Blum
www.killinghope.org
June 6, 2008

The Anti-Empire Report

Read this or George W. Bush will be president the rest of your life

The Empire — A Status Report

There are a number of expressions and slogans associated with the Nazi regime in Germany which have become commonly known in English.

“Sieg Heil!” — Victory Hail!
“Arbeit macht frei” — Work will make you free.
“Denn heute gehört uns Deutschland und morgen die ganze Welt” — Today Germany, tomorrow the world
But none perhaps is better known than “Deutschland über alles” — Germany above all.

Thus I was taken aback when I happened to come across the website of the United States Air Force — http://www.airforce.com/ — and saw on its first page a heading “Above all”. Lest you think that this refers simply and innocently to planes high up in the air, this page links to another — http://www.airforce.com/achangingworld/ — where “Above all” is repeated even more prominently, with links to sites for “Air Dominance”, “Space Dominance”, and “Cyber Dominance”, each of which in turn repeats “Above all”. These guys don’t kid around. They’re not your father’s imperialist war mongers. If they’re planning on a new “thousand-year Reich”, let’s hope that their fate is no better than the original, which lasted 12 years.

The events of recent years indicate that the world is wizening up to and becoming less intimidated by Washington’s overarching ambition for world dominance. Latin America is increasingly attempting to escape the empire’s clutches. Leaders keenly aware of how US imperialism works and determined to keep it out of their own country are in power in Venezuela, Uruguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, and perhaps the latest addition, Paraguay.

And now Africa has turned down Washington’s offer to be part of the imperial family. African governments have refused to host Africom, the US Africa Command. The Washington Post reported that “worry swept the continent that the United States planned major new military installations in Africa”, and despite the promise of new development and security partnerships, many Africans concluded that Africom was primarily an extension of US counterterrorism policy, intended to keep an eye on Africa’s large Muslim population. The United States “equates terrorism with Islam,” said a senior Kenyan diplomat, and few African governments wanted to be seen as inviting US surveillance on their own people. [note from your editor: It would be more instructive to equate anti-American terrorism with American foreign policy, including building military bases in other people’s countries.]

When Bush visited Africa in February, he was told by the Ghanian president: “You’re not going to build any bases in Ghana.” US-funded aid groups protested plans to expand the American military’s role in economic development in Africa, sharply objecting to working alongside US troops. Said an Africom officer: “[Africom] was seen as a massive infusion of military might onto a continent that was quite proud of having removed foreign powers from its soil.”[1]

There’s also the oil factor. The US imports more oil from African nations than from Saudi Arabia, and the continent has huge unexplored areas. This undoubtedly is a major motivation behind Washington’s desire for an expanded military presence in the region. The United States is not about to take Africa’s rejection of Africom as the last word; indeed, some of the tough rhetoric by African officials may be for public consumption, for the US already has somewhat of a military presence on the continent. It will be interesting to observe the ongoing tug of war between Washington and African nationalists/anti-imperialists over expansion of the American presence.

Democracy American Style. You gotta problem wit dat?

Here’s White House spokeswoman Dana Perino at a recent press briefing:

Reporter: The American people are being asked to die and pay for this, and you’re saying that they have no say in this war?
Perino: I didn’t say that … this President was elected —
Reporter: Well, what it amounts to is you saying we have no input at all.
Perino: You had input. The American people have input every four years, and that’s the way our system is set up.[2]

In 1941, Edward Dowling, editor and priest, commented: “The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.”

Can we look forward to Perino’s memoir after she leaves the White House in which, like her predecessor Scott McClellan recently, she confesses that she was part of a “permanent campaign” mode to deceive the American public? I’m prepared to welcome her into the fold as I have McClellan. I have a soft spot in my heart for political late bloomers. I used to work for the State Department when I was a good, loyal anti-communist.

Washington’s grand and noble new ally in the Free World

Scott McClellan has been criticized for not expressing his reservations about Bush administration policies while still at the White House. This would have indeed taken a measure of courage few people have, and likely meant his job and career committing suicide. I’m reminded of Carla Del Ponte, the Swiss diplomat who in 1999 became Chief Prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, located in The Hague, Netherlands. In accordance with her official duties, she looked into possible war crimes of all the participants in the conflicts of the 1990s surrounding the breakup of Yugoslavia and the NATO (read the United States) 78-day bombing of Serbia and its province of Kosovo, where ethnic Albanians were trying to secede. In late December 1999, in an interview with The Observer of London, Del Ponte was asked if she was prepared to press criminal charges against NATO personnel (and not just against the former Yugoslav republics). She replied: “If I am not willing to do that, I am not in the right place. I must give up my mission.”

The Tribunal then announced that it had completed a study of possible NATO crimes, declaring: “It is very important for this tribunal to assert its authority over any and all authorities to the armed conflict within the former Yugoslavia.”

Was this a sign from heaven that the new millennium (2000 was but a week away) was going to be one of more equal international justice? Could this really be?

No, it couldn’t. From official quarters, military and civilian, of the United States and Canada, came disbelief, shock, anger, denials … “appalling” … “unjustified”. Del Ponte got the message. Her office quickly issued a statement: “NATO is not under investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. There is no formal inquiry into the actions of NATO during the conflict in Kosovo.”[3]

Del Ponte remained in her position until the end of 2007, leaving to become the Swiss ambassador to Argentina; at the same time writing a book about her time with the Tribunal — “The Hunt: Me and War Criminals”, published two months ago but available at the moment only in Italian. It hasn’t been much reported yet what del Ponte has said about NATO, but the book has already created a scandal in Europe, for in it she reveals how the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) abducted hundreds of Serbs in 1999, and took them to Kosovo’s fellow Muslims in Albania where they were killed, their kidneys and other body parts then removed and sold for transplant in other countries.

The KLA for years has been engaging in other equally charming activities, such as heavy trafficking in drugs, trafficking in women, various acts of terrorism, and carrying out ethnic cleansing of Serbs who have had the bad fortune to be in Kosovo because it’s long been their home. Between 1998 and 2002, the KLA appeared at times on the State Department terrorism list; at first because of its tactic of targeting innocent Serb civilians in order to provoke retaliation from Serbian troops; later because Mujahadeen mercenaries from various Islamic countries, including some tied to al Qaeda, were fighting alongside the KLA, as they were in Bosnia with the Bosnian Muslims during the 1990s Yugoslav civil wars.[4] The KLA remained on the terrorist list until the US decided to make them an ally, in some measure due to the existence of a major American military base in Kosovo, Camp Bondsteel. (It’s remarkable, is it not, how these bases pop up all around the world?) In November 2005, following a visit there, Alvaro Gil-Robles, the human rights envoy of the Council of Europe, described the camp as a “smaller version of Guantanamo”, referring to the detainees there at the time from Washington’s various wars, including the so-called War on Terror.[5]

On February 17 of this year, in a move of highly questionable international legality, the KLA declared the independence of Kosovo from Serbia. The next day the United States recognized this new “nation”, thus affirming the unilateral declaration of independence of a part of another country’s territory. The new country has as its prime minister a gentleman named Hashim Thaci, described in Del Ponte’s book as the brain behind the abductions of Serbs and the sale of their organs. The new gangster state of Kosovo is supported by Washington and other Western powers who can’t forgive Serbia-Yugoslavia-Milosevic — “the last communists of Europe” — for not wanting to wholeheartedly embrace the NATO/US/European Union triumvirate, which recognizes no higher power, United Nations or other. The independent state of Kosovo is regarded as reliably pro-west, a state that will serve as a militarized outpost for the triumvirate, which is intent on further encircling Russia and pushing it out of Europe.

In her book, Del Ponte asserts that there was sufficient evidence for prosecution of Kosovo Albanians involved in war crimes, but the investigation “was nipped in the bud” focusing instead on “the crimes committed by Serbia.” She claims that she could do nothing because it was next to impossible to collect evidence in Kosovo, which was swarming with criminals, in and out of the government. Witnesses were intimidated, and even judges in The Hague were afraid of the Kosovo Albanians.

In April, the Swiss Foreign Department issued a statement that Del Ponte’s book “contains statements which are impermissible for a representative of the government of Switzerland”, ordered her to return to her ambassadorial post in Argentina, and prohibited any further appearances promoting her book. The Swiss have officially recognized the independence of Kosovo and established an embassy in the country. Kosovo appears likely to remain a highly controversial issue in Europe and Washington for some time to come.[6]

Reason number 3,468 to yearn for the lifting of the capitalist weight from our souls

My phone company, Verizon, recently raised the monthly charge for my international call plan by 30 percent. I phoned them to find out the reason for this and was told that their competitors had raised their charge for the international plan and so Verizon was doing the same. “To stay competitive”, the earnest young man told me. I thought I must be misunderstanding him. We’ve all been raised to believe that one of the beauties of capitalism is that it provides a competitive environment which induces businesses to lower their rates so as to lure away customers from their competitors. In the end, the consumer benefits from lower prices. And this makes sense, at least within the capitalist framework. (Although there have of course been numerous cases of large companies lowering prices to force a small company — which initiated the price cuts — out of business, after which the large companies raise their prices back up.) But now? Now we’re told that competition leads to price increases. What, pray tell, is there left of the system for us to believe in?

Supply and demand? Like in Burma, following the recent devastating cyclone? Prices for food and other essentials have risen significantly since the disaster. As they should, according to the revered and beloved law of supply and demand, inasmuch as things are obviously in short supply in Burma and people’s needs are plainly much greater than usual. What could make more sense under circumstances of human desperation than to raise prices?

Yet, though questioning the law of supply and demand is normally regarded in the same light as being skeptical of the law of gravity, I have to do so, and refer to things I’ve expressed before: The price of gasoline in the United States has been increasing on a regular basis for a rather long time now, but there’s no shortage of supply. There are no lines of cars waiting hours at gas stations trying to fill up before the pumps run dry. And there’s been a considerable fall in demand as less-than-rich drivers cut back on car use. It does not require total cynicism to wonder whether the law of supply and demand has been repealed. Or can it be that what is known as “supply and demand” is not really any kind of immutable “law”, but rather (choke, gasp) “corporate policies”?

The oil companies are currently spending big bucks to convince the American public that the super-high gasoline prices are not the companies’ fault. “The industry,” reported the Washington Post, “is trying to convince voters — who, in turn, will make the case to their members of Congress — that rising energy prices are not the producers’ fault and that government efforts to punish the industry, especially with higher taxes, would only make pricing problems worse.”[7]

Do the oil companies think they’re being misunderstood? The next time you run into a friendly oil company executive ask him this: “If you lowered prices to what they were two years ago, would consumers stage protests outside your headquarters? Would the FBI raid your offices? Would your breathtakingly obscenely high profits drop into the red? Could you still maintain your decadent millionaire lifestyle? The oil companies are perfectly free to very significantly lower prices without anything that you or I would call financial suffering. But they don’t do it. So what’s being misunderstood by the public which obliges the companies to spend millions on advertisements? Money which could go toward price reductions.

Oil company executives at least produce a useful product compared to people in the hedge funds business. What are hedge funds, you ask? They’re private, largely unregulated pools of capital whose managers can buy or sell any kind of assets. The income of the fund’s executives — often in the tens or hundreds of millions of dollars, sometimes even a billion — is taxed as capital gains, a much lower tax rate than if it were taxed as regular earnings. One can say that hedge funds are simply pure speculation carried to absurdity; typical of the new American Dream: getting rich through speculation and inheritance instead of through skill, enterprise, and filling a human social need.

Here is Daniel Strachman, a former hedge fund consultant and author of “The Fundamentals of Hedge Fund Management.” He’s skeptical of raising taxes on hedge fund managers, saying they should be rewarded for taking huge risks. [So do firefighters, police officers, and bank robbers of course.] Most managers have their own money in their funds, he declares, and suffer massive losses when their investments go bad. “It’s clear somebody has to win and somebody has to lose”, says Strachman. “It’s not pretty at all because people say, ‘Oh my God. Look how much money these guys are making while people are losing their homes and are complaining about the cost of eggs and sugar.’ But so what? We don’t live in a society that is pretty all the time. That’s why it’s capitalism.”[8]

NOTES
[1] Washington Post, June 1, 2008, p.18

[2] White House press briefing, March 20, 2008

[3] The Observer (London), December 26, 1999; Washington Times, December 30 and 31, 1999; New York Times, December 30, 1999

[4] There are numerous articles in the world press of the past 20 years about the KLA’s inordinate thuggery; Google “KLA” and one or more of the key words, such as drugs, prostitution, ethnic cleansing, transplants, etc.

[5] http://wikipedia.org/, under “Camp Bondsteel”

[6] Del Ponte’s book and the turmoil it’s produced have been largely ignored in the US media, but if one does a Google on her name and the book, one will find many reports from Europe.

[7] Washington Post, May 9, 2008, p.D1

[8] Washington Post, April 17, 2008, p.D1

William Blum is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website at “essays”.

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission. I’d appreciate it if the website were mentioned. www.killinghope.org

***

Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II

by William Blum

William Blum book

see

Blum-William

Israel to attack Iran unless enrichment stops + Israel threatens war on Gaza & Iran

Dandelion Salad

by Dan Williams
http://www.rawstory.com
Reuters US Online Report World News
Jun 06, 2008 08:02 EST

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – An Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear sites looks “unavoidable” given the apparent failure of sanctions to deny Tehran technology with bomb-making potential, one of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s deputies said on Friday.

“If Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective,” Transport Minister Shaul Mofaz told the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

“Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable,” said the former army chief who has also been defense minister.

It was the most explicit threat yet against Iran from a member of Olmert’s government, which, like the Bush administration, has preferred to hint at force as a last resort should U.N. Security Council sanctions be deemed a dead end.

…continued

***

Mofaz sees Israeli attack on Iran

http://www.jta.org
06/06/2008

Israel will attack Iran if international diplomacy fails to rein in Tehran’s nuclear program, Shaul Mofaz said.

“If Iran presses ahead with its plan to develop nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The window of opportunity is closing,” the Israeli transportation minister, a former defense chief, told Yediot Acharonot on Friday. “The sanctions are not effective. To stop the Iranian nuclear program, an attack is inevitable.”

…continued

h/t: CLG

***

Israel threatens war on Gaza and Iran

By Tim Butcher in Jerusalem
http://www.telegraph.co.uk
10:24PM BST 06/06/2008

Israel braced itself for conflict on two fronts against militants in Gaza and an Iranian government persisting with its nuclear programme.

Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, said the “pendulum is closer” to a large scale military operation in Gaza after another Israeli civilian was killed by a mortar fired from Gaza on Thursday.

Amnon Roseberg was the 8th Israeli civilian to be killed by weapons fired from Gaza since Israel withdrew its settlers from the Gaza Strip two years ago.

While the number of Palestinian civilians killed in Gaza by Israel in retaliatory strikes dwarfs Israeli casualties, Mr Olmert’s government takes every Israeli civilian death very seriously.

…continued

h/t: CLG

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Mosaic News – 6/5/08: World News from the Middle East

Dandelion Salad

Warning

.

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

linktv

For more: http://linktv.org/originalseries
“Abbas Calls for Comprehensive Reconciliation,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Hamas and Fatah Reach Preliminary Reconciliations,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Obama Rushes to Win the Heart of AIPAC,” Syria TV, Syria
“A Look Back at the History of Negotiations,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Al Sahwa Forces Cleanse New Areas of Al Qaeda,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“UAE Appoints Ambassador to Iraq,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Iraqi Military Operations Over the Past Year,” Sumaria TV, Iraq
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Chavez Revamps His Intelligence Services: The Corporate Media React

Dandelion Salad

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, June 6, 2008

Reports keep surfacing about new threats against Hugo Chavez. Given past ones, they can’t be taken lightly. Chavez is alerted and reacts accordingly. Case in point: revamping Venezuela’s decades old intelligence services. It’s long overdue and urgently needed given the Bush administration’s tenure winding down and its determination in its remaining months to end the Bolivarian project and crush its participatory democracy.

CIA, NED, IRI, USAID and other US elements infest the country and are more active than ever. Subversion is their strategy, and it shows up everywhere. Violence is being encouraged. Opposition groups are recruited and funded. So are members of Venezuela’s military. Student groups as well and anti-Chavista candidates for November’s mayoral and gubernatorial elections.

The dominant media are on board in Venezuela and America. They assail Chavez relentlessly and are on the warpath again after his May 28 announced intelligence services changes. The Interior and Justice Ministries will oversee a new General Intelligence Office and Counterintelligence Office in place of the current Directorate of Intelligence and Prevention Services (DISIP). Similar military intelligence and counterintelligence components will replace the Military Intelligence Division (DIM) and will be under the Defense Ministry. Why was it done and why now? To counter stepped up US espionage and destabilization efforts when it’s most needed.

New tools will be used and current personnel retrained and vetted for their Bolivarian commitment. DISIP and DIM are outdated. They’ve been around since 1969 to serve the “capitalist vision” of that era. Ever since, they’ve been “notoriously repressive” and closely aligned with the CIA. Therein lies the problem. Chavez intends to fix it. The dominant media reacted. They’re hostile to change and showed it their reports.

The New York Times’ Simon Romero has trouble with his facts. He headlined “Chavez Decree Tightens Hold on Intelligence.” He referred to the new Law on Intelligence and Counterintelligence that passed by presidential decree under the legislatively-granted enabling law. He failed to explain that the 1969 law passed the same way, and that Venezuela’s Constitution then and now permit it.

Instead, he noted a “fierce backlash here from (mostly unnamed) human rights groups and ‘legal scholars’ who say the measures will force citizens to inform on one another to avoid prison terms….The new law requires (them) to….assist the agencies, secret police or community activist groups loyal to Mr. Chavez. Refusal can result in prison terms of two to four years (and up to) six years for government employees.”

Once again, Romero falls short on credibility. Hyperbole substitutes for truth as in all his reports. No country more respects human rights than Venezuela, and Chavez is committed to them. To the rule of law as well and social justice. The country’s Constitution mandates it, and government officials are bound by it. Appointed officials with other aims have no place in it. They need to be exposed and replaced but need fear no recrimination unless they violate the law.

The new one won’t create “a society of informers” as one of Romero’s sources stated. Nor will it imprison Venezuelan citizens or let Chavez “assert greater control over public institutions in the face of political challenges following a ‘stinging’ defeat in December(‘s) constitutional (referendum) that would have expanded his powers.”

It will insure greater “national security” and protect against “imperialist attacks” as Chavez explained. It’s to preserve Bolivarianism against persistent attempts to destroy it. It’s to serve all Venezuelans, advance a new 21st century vision, and put people ahead of privilege. It’s to counter Bush administration efforts to restore neoliberalism, return the old order, and destroy social justice in the region’s most model democracy.

Without explaining Venezuelan law or its legislative process, Romero states that the “law (was drafted and passed) behind closed doors, without exposing it to….public debate (and that) contributed to the public uproar and suspicion.” His “public,” of course, are elitists. They target Chavez for removal, denounce all his beneficial changes, and falsely accuse him of governing dictatorially.

“They” claim “justice officials, including judges, are required to actively collaborate with the intelligence services rather than serve as a check on them.” According to Americas director for Human Rights Watch (HRW), Jose Miguel Vivanco: “This is a government that simply doesn’t believe in the separation of powers….(It requires) the country’s judges (to) serve as spies for the government.” Vivanco knows better and damages HRW’s credibility with comments like these. Romero uses them with relish to aid the imperial project.

Venezuela’s internal threat is unmentioned. Rogue elements infest the government and military. They oppose democracy and social justice. Washington supports them. They must be found and removed. Venezuelans demand it. Better intelligence will help. Romero won’t report it. Instead, he inverts truth and sides with forces trying to destabilize and undermine a government of, by and for the people.

He quotes “a prominent legal scholar” (in fact, right wing lawyer Rocio San Miguel) saying “This is the most scandalous effort to intimidate the population in the 10 years this government has been in power. Under the new law (information I have) could be considered a threat to national security and I could be sent immediately to jail.” Indeed she could if she violates the law or tries to subvert the government. Otherwise, she’s entitled to all benefits and protections Venezuelan law affords everyone. No comment from Romero.

AP echoed The New Times in its headlined May 31 report: “Venezuelan intelligence law draws protests, seen as potential tool against dissent.” Again, it’s false and misleading and part of the imperial plot against Chavez. AP unfairly equates the new law to the USA Patriot Act, when, in fact, it’s totally dissimilar. The US law violates constitutional civil liberties. Venezuela’s respects them, but it’s easy for protesters to claim otherwise.

Justice Minister Ramon Rodriguez Chacin explained the difference. US law spies on Americans and denies them legal protection. Venezuela’s law enlists responsible citizen participation in preserving their government. They have a stake in “state security and resolving crimes. If (they) witness (wrongdoing and) hide it, then (they) are an accomplice to that crime.” It doesn’t require people to spy. It wants them to cooperate and be engaged in preserving Bolivarianism and to report threats against it. It’s to make them responsible citizens united for their common self-interest.

That’s not how BBC sees it as part of its anti-Chavez agenda. Its June 3 online report highlighted: “Venezuela ‘spy’ law draws protest….among groups who say it threatens civil liberties.” One of them is HRW’s Vivanco again voicing the same false and misleading statements about “judges serving as spies.” Another source, with a clear anti-Chavez agenda, says the “law may be used as a weapon to silence and intimidate the opposition.”

In fact, Chavez champions free expression in all forms unlike in America post-9/11. Repressive laws and presidential executive orders stifle it. Activists are targeted, harassed and imprisoned. Illegal spying is institutionalized. So are repression, torture and disdain for the rule of law. Where are BBC, AP, The New York Times and other dominant media voices? Why aren’t they exposing police state justice? Instead they denounce democracy, ally with despotism, and acknowledge no hint of hypocrisy.

Chavez is mirror opposite his media critics and counters them correctly. He calls the USA Patriot Act “dictatorial law.” In contrast, the new Venezuelan one upholds freedom, seeks to preserve it, and is within “a framework of great respect for human rights.” It will combat US subversion that dominant media sources ignore. They blame victims instead and are willing co-conspirators against Venezuela’s model democracy. Their latest efforts show why Chavez needs all the defense he can marshal against them, and for all the right reasons.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9118

© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9237

The Bobby Kennedy myth by Joe Allen

Dandelion Salad

by Joe Allen
http://socialistworker.org
June 6, 2008

Joe Allen, author of the new history Vietnam: The (Last) War the U.S. Lost, looks at the life of Robert F. Kennedy, assassinated 40 years ago this week, and separates the myth from the reality.

I think we can end the divisions in the United States…the violence, the disenchantment with our society, the divisions, whether it’s between blacks and whites, between the poor and the affluent, or between age groups, or over the war in Vietnam–that we can start to work together again. We are a great country, an unselfish country and a compassionate country…. So my thanks to all of you, and it’s on to Chicago, and let’s win there.

ROBERT F. KENNEDY said this to ecstatic supporters at the Ambassador Hotel following his triumph in the California Democratic primary on June 4, 1968. Shortly after his victory speech, Kennedy left the stage, and as he was entering the crowded hotel kitchen to greet supporters, he was shot and mortally wounded. Two days later, he died.

For many liberals, the hopes for progressive political change died with him. “The ’60s came to an end in a Los Angeles hospital on June 6, 1968,” Richard Goodwin mournfully declared in his popular memoir Remembering America: A Voice from the Sixties. Goodwin was a former White House staffer during the Kennedy-Johnson administrations who had resigned over the escalation of the war in Vietnam. He would later become a speechwriter for Sens. Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy during their 1968 presidential campaigns.

Jack Newfield, one of the leading journalists of the Village Voice, wrote in his memoir of Robert Kennedy that after his death “from this time forward, things would get worse.”

Goodwin, along with historians like Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and many members of an adoring press corps who could barely contain their enthusiasm for Bobby Kennedy’s quest for the White House when he was alive, would transform his life and death into a powerful liberal myth that has lasted to this very day.

Bobby Kennedy–in reality, an arrogant and intolerant political operative obsessed with his older brother John F. Kennedy’s political career–is now remembered as a thoughtful, pained prophet who identified with the dispossessed and forgotten of American society.

He has been placed alongside his brother and Martin Luther King Jr. as a trio whose assassinations collectively put America on the wrong historical path. Had they lived, much of the “turmoil” of the 1960s–the urban rebellions, the war in Vietnam and the long decades of conservative rule begun with Richard Nixon’s election to the presidency in 1968–could have been avoided.

Bobby Kennedy was the last hope–so goes the myth–for peaceful, progressive change. In the words of Michael Harrington, author of The Other America, “he was a man who actually could have changed the course of American history.”

The question we have to ask four decades later is whether any of this is remotely true.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

ROBERT FRANCIS Kennedy was the third son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr., a ruthless and politically ambitious businessman from Massachusetts. Kennedy Sr. made a fortune from a variety of enterprises, including real estate, moviemaking, the stock market and bootlegging alcohol during Prohibition.

Joe Kennedy had extensive ties to organized crime and corrupt politicians, who helped make him very rich and to pursue his political ambitions. His own ambition to be the first Irish Catholic president of the United States, however, was thwarted by Franklin Roosevelt, and he transferred his dream to his sons. Three out of four would either become president or run for the presidency.

It is one of the great ironies of U.S. political mythology that the Kennedy family, viewed today as the very symbol of liberalism, was, in fact, deeply conservative.

Joe Kennedy was openly supportive of the pro-fascist forces in Spain during that country’s civil war in the 1930s. He was appointed U.S. ambassador to Great Britain by Roosevelt in 1938, and was known as an “appeaser”–one of those who supported making concessions to Hitler on the eve of the Second World War. Herbert von Dirksen, the German ambassador to Britain, told his superiors that Ambassador Kennedy was “Germany’s best friend” in London. Kennedy was fired as U.S. ambassador in 1940.

From this point onward, Joe Kennedy concentrated on promoting his sons’ political careers and conservative causes in more covert ways. He was very close to the infamous anticommunist Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s, after McCarthy became famous for persecuting liberals and radicals. During McCarthy’s 1952 reelection campaign, Joe made a sizeable contribution and then asked that his son Bobby be placed on the McCarthy subcommittee investigating “subversives.”

Bobby only stayed on McCarthy’s committee for six months, using it as a springboard for an assignment to another congressional committee that gained him greater notoriety–the Senate Rackets Committee led by the reactionary Democratic Sen. John McClellan of Arkansas, whom the conservative labor leader George Meany described as “an anti-labor nut.”

As an assistant counsel to McClellan, Bobby carried on his particularly vicious persecution of Teamster leader Jimmy Hoffa, gaining a reputation for ruthlessness in pursuit of his political enemies and rivals. Joe Kennedy complimented his son on this character trait. “He’s a great kid,” Joe said. “He hates the same way I do.”

Throughout the 1950s, Bobby remained focused on building his older brother’s political career. He was campaign manager for John F. Kennedy’s first U.S. Senate campaign in 1952 and his presidential campaign in 1960. Bobby was his brother’s closest advisor (after Joe Kennedy Sr.). When JFK won the presidency, he made Bobby his attorney general.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE KENNEDY presidency took place during a crucial time for three issues that would later come to dominate the rest of the decade: the civil rights movement, the Cuban Revolution and the war in Vietnam.

The Kennedys relied heavily on the Black vote to win the presidency in 1960, making certain symbolic overtures to Martin Luther King during the campaign. But as Bobby recalled in 1964, “I did not lie awake at night worrying about the problems of Negroes.”

That would soon change as Freedom Riders challenged segregation on interstate bus lines during the first year of the Kennedy presidency. The year before, a wave of sit-ins took place across the country to desegregate everything from lunch counters to public swimming pools. A mass movement against Jim Crow segregation was emerging–and the Kennedys did everything they could to contain it.

The Democratic Party was still a Jim Crow party–white Southern Democrats were known as “Dixiecrats”–with Blacks almost entirely disenfranchised in the South and the border states. For most of the 20th century, the Democrats needed the “solid South” (the states of the former Confederacy voting for the Democratic ticket as a bloc) to win national elections, and Kennedy was no exception. During his short time in office, John Kennedy appointed five supporters of segregation to the federal judiciary.

The Freedom Riders and sit-ins threatened to push the Dixiecrats into the Republican Party. The Kennedys hoped to pressure civil rights activists in a direction that wouldn’t jeopardize their southern support.

John Kennedy told Louisiana Gov. James H. Davis that his administration was trying “to put this stuff in the courts and get it off the street.” As attorney general, Bobby Kennedy famously told representatives of student civil rights groups, “If you cut out this Freedom Rider and sitting-in stuff and concentrate on voter registration, I’ll get you a tax exemption.”

He told Harris Wofford, special assistant to the president on civil rights, “This is too much,” after King refused to call off the protests. RFK added, “I wonder if they have the best interests of the country at heart. Do you know that one of them is against the atom bomb? Yes, he even picketed against it in jail! The president is going abroad, and all this is embarrassing him.”

Robert Kennedy also authorized FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover to begin wiretapping Martin Luther King’s telephone conversations on the grounds that Stanley Levison, King’s closest adviser, was allegedly a closet member of the Communist Party. Of King, RFK remarked, “We never wanted to get very close to him just because of these contacts and connections that he had, which we felt were damaging to the civil rights movement.”

The Kennedys put enormous pressure on the organizers of the historic March on Washington in August 1963 to cancel the event; then, when that failed, to control it. Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee leader and future member of Congress John Lewis wanted to say in his speech: “I want to know: Which side is the federal government on?” The administration compelled him to take this out because, according to Bobby Kennedy, it “attacked the president.”

Lewis’s frustration with the Kennedy administration would have resonated with many civil rights supporters. One major source of frustration with the Kennedys was their refusal to provide federal protection to civil rights activists. Bobby later admitted, “We abandoned the solution, really, of trying to give people protection.”

A generation of civil rights activists became radicalized in the face of the waffling compromises and inaction of the Kennedy administration.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

MANY OF that generation also became radicalized by the Kennedy administration’s foreign policy, particularly when it came to Cuba and Vietnam. The Kennedy brothers were as committed to defending the American empire as any reactionary Republican.

For much of the 20th century, Cuba had been, for all intents and purposes, a colony of the United States, where poverty wages were being paid–and huge profits reaped–by American corporations. It also was a haven for the American Mafia.

Castro’s nationalist revolution in 1959 drove the American ruling class to hysterics, and they set out to destroy Castro. The Kennedy administration inherited plans from the Eisenhower administration and authorized the CIA’s disastrous “Bay of Pigs” invasion of Cuba in early 1961, the most spectacular of the U.S. government’s failed attempts to crush the Cuban Revolution.

But it didn’t stop there. Bobby Kennedy led a special White House committee that oversaw “Operation Mongoose,” a wide-ranging covert program of sabotage, assassination, blackmail and other activities directed against Fidel Castro and the Cuban government. Bobby declared that it was “top priority” to get rid of Castro. The U.S. failed, but its campaign resulted in untold death and destruction across Cuba.

The Kennedy brothers’ failure in Cuba only made them more determined to succeed elsewhere. They became fascinated with “unorthodox” warfare: counter-insurgency, assassination and covert action. The Eisenhower administration had authorized the CIA to carry out 170 major covert operations in eight years, while the Kennedy brothers authorized 163 in less than three years.

Vietnam became a laboratory for all these deadly programs. By the time of John F. Kennedy’s death in November 1963, the United States was already fighting a proxy war in Vietnam. Its 15,000 military advisors were leading combat operations and bombing missions in a faltering effort to prevent the victory of the National Liberation Front (NLF) of South Vietnam, called derisively by U.S. officials the “Viet Cong.”

In early November 1963, after the United States engineered the assassination of the corrupt South Vietnamese dictator Ngo Dinh Diem, Bobby said to his brother, “It’s better if you don’t have him, but you have to have somebody that can win the war, and who is that?” The “who” never emerged, but that didn’t stop the United States from destroying large parts of Vietnam in the hopes of winning the war against the NLF and the North Vietnamese.

After John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in November 1963, Bobby remained in the cabinet as a lame-duck attorney general until August 1964, when he resigned and ran successfully for a U.S. Senate seat from New York.

Despite his personal hatred for the reigning Democratic President Lyndon Johnson, who triumphed over his Republican rival Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election in part by pledging to keep the U.S. out of a ground war in Vietnam, Bobby supported Johnson’s war policies in Vietnam. As a U.S. senator, he never voted against any appropriation bills that funded the war. I.F. Stone, the great radical journalist, wrote an article in October 1966 titled “While Others Dodge the Draft, Bobby Dodges the War.”

In the Democratic congressional primaries in 1966, a number of antiwar candidates ran against incumbents supporting Johnson’s war policies. The best known of these was radical journalist Robert Scheer, who challenged Representative Jeffrey Cohelan, representing a district covering parts of Berkeley and Oakland in California. Kennedy endorsed Cohelan.

Even the slavishly loyal Kennedy biographer Arthur Schlesinger was forced to admit, “Kennedy brooded about Vietnam, but said less in public.” What were Bobby and other Senate liberals “brooding” about? Two things: the prospect of the United States losing the war, and the growing dissent in the country that threatened the Democratic Party’s domination of national politics since the early 1930s. How could the Democrats–the “war party” in Vietnam–capture the antiwar vote?

Antiwar sentiment was bound to find expression in the Democratic Party; it may have been the governing war party, but it was still the liberal party, and more importantly, it was the party that had traditionally played the role of capturing and disarming mass movements for social change.

When Bobby Kennedy made it clear that he would not challenge Johnson for the Democratic nomination, the field was left open for a little-known Democratic senator from Minnesota, Eugene “Gene” McCarthy, to run as an antiwar candidate. In November 1967, at the press conference announcing his candidacy, McCarthy was quite open about his political objective:

There is growing evidence of a deepening moral crisis in America–discontent and frustration and a disposition to take extralegal if not illegal actions to manifest protest. I am hopeful that this challenge…may counter the growing sense of alienation from politics which I think is currently reflected in a tendency to withdraw from political action, to talk of nonparticipation, to become cynical and to make threats of support for third parties or fourth parties or other irregular political movements.

Kennedy’s “broodings” got worse after the Tet Offensive by the NLF and its North Vietnamese allies at the end of January 1968. A large majority of the U.S. population concluded from the offensive that the war had become a “quagmire” and couldn’t be won. The leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, Richard Nixon, was proposing “peace with honor” to the Democrats’ war policies.

Gene McCarthy’s campaign would have gone down as a footnote in history, but because of the Tet Offensive, he won 42 percent of the vote in the first primary contest in New Hampshire. It shocked Johnson, leading him to withdraw from the race. It was at this moment that Bobby announced his candidacy for the presidency.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

IT’S IMPORTANT to be clear that Robert Kennedy never advocated unilateral withdrawal of U.S. forces from Southeast Asia; in fact, he voted against this. While he peppered most of his campaign speeches in 1968 with rhetoric about the need for “peace” in Vietnam, he offered little more than talk of a “negotiated settlement,” which was not very different from what Johnson or Nixon proposed, while they continued to wage war against the Vietnamese people.

Bobby’s chief political goal, like Eugene McCarthy’s, was to capture the support of the antiwar movement and to deliver it into the safe confines of the Democratic Party.

With a political record like his, why did Bobby Kennedy’s campaign generate such excitement? Kennedy attracted large, enthusiastic, sometimes frantic crowds that just wanted to reach out and touch him. His most bland speeches elicited roaring approval from supporters. The media at the time described him as having a “pop star” appeal to the young.

In many ways, Kennedy became the receptacle for the hopes of those millions of Americans who still desired change through the established political system.

He encouraged these illusions in him. He met with well-known antiwar activists like former Students for a Democratic Society president Tom Hayden and former Yale professor Staughton Lynd. He had a well-publicized meeting with United Farm Workers union leader Cesar Chavez while he was on hunger strike.

Kennedy would also confide to reporters, “I wish I’d had been born an Indian” and “I’m jealous of the fact that you grew up in a ghetto, I wish I’d had that experience”–or even more ridiculously, “If I hadn’t been born rich, I’d probably be a revolutionary.”

But he could also strike a chord with people. On the night of Martin Luther King’s assassination, he spoke to a predominately Black audience and told them that he could identify with their anger because “his brother was killed by a white man.”

Kennedy, however, worked both sides of the street. While crafting a left-wing, even rebellious, image for the younger generation, he also sought the support of the party bosses for his campaign. He sought but failed to get the support of Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago, the very symbol of Jim Crow in the North, for his presidential bid. “Daley’s the whole ballgame,” Kennedy declared.

One of his earliest supporters was Jesse Unruh, the speaker of the California State Assembly, who is attributed to popularizing the saying, “Money is the mother’s milk of politics.”

Kennedy also didn’t sound very progressive on many key issues. He opposed economic sanctions on South Africa for its apartheid policies, and he opposed busing to integrate schools. Kennedy even attacked Gene McCarthy during their televised debate prior to the California primary for his support for building public housing in the suburbs. Kennedy said incredulously, “You say you are going to take 10,000 Black people and move them into Orange County.”

McCarthy believed that Kennedy advocated a “segregated residential apartheid.” Kennedy’s big idea to alleviate poverty in the inner cities was to provide tax breaks to corporations to move into blighted neighborhoods. Then-California Gov. Ronald Reagan believed that “Kennedy is talking more and more like me.”

With all this in mind, how could Bobby Kennedy be turned into such an icon?

The American myth-making machine is very powerful and usually does two things. It elevates people like the Kennedy brothers to a status that they do not deserve, while washing away the real radical politics that were at the core of activists like Martin Luther King. They are all mushed together into a candy-coated picture of the alleged greatness of American society and its political system. “The yearning for Robert Kennedy–or someone like him–is an open wound in some parts of America,” wrote one reporter two decades after his death.

Some would say Barack Obama is an example of “someone like him” today. Yet when we remember Robert Kennedy, it should not be as someone who promised hope and idealism, but as an opportunist who was part of a political establishment responsible for the things the movements of 1960s struggled against.

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Why can’t we all get KennedyCare? by Helen Redmond

Dandelion Salad

by Helen Redmond
http://socialistworker.org
June 5, 2008

Helen Redmond asks why Ted Kennedy deserves a better standard of health care than ordinary Americans.

LAST MONTH, Ted Kennedy was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. All the major news outlets provided daily updates on Kennedy’s medical treatment and prognosis.

The media failed to point out an important fact: Unlike average Americans, the senator from Massachusetts didn’t have to worry for one minute that he wouldn’t get the care he needed for his life-threatening cancer.

The president, vice president and members of Congress all enjoy government-financed health care, with few restrictions or prohibitive out-of-pocket co-pays. They are never turned away for pre-existing conditions or denied care for what insurance companies label “experimental treatments” (like the brain surgery Kennedy just underwent).

No, from the moment he had a seizure at his home on Cape Cod and was flown to Boston (an ambulance would have taken too long), until his surgery early this week, he got what the California Nurses Association (CNA) has dubbed “CheneyCare”–named in honor of the vice president with a chronic heart condition, for whom no health care expense is too great.

Kennedy and his family didn’t have to spend hours on the phone fighting to get pre-authorization to see a neurosurgeon, and he didn’t wait months for an appointment. Within a week, he had a meeting with a group of top-flight neurosurgeons from the country’s leading medical institutions to discuss all his options and select a surgeon.

Kennedy didn’t have to argue with his insurer to get all those second opinions. And he wasn’t told by an insurance company bureaucrat that the surgery wasn’t “medically necessary” on the basis that the prognosis for a man his age with a malignant glioma in the parietal lobe is bleak at best.

Kennedy elected to have surgery at the Brain Tumor Center at Duke University Medical Center in North Carolina. He lives in Massachusetts, of course, but it wasn’t a problem that the surgery took place in another state–apparently the doctors and hospital aren’t “out of network.”

He won’t be sent a bill for the surgery and hospitalization. And, of course, Kennedy will never have to declare bankruptcy due to medical debt.

THE SENATOR from Massachusetts has staked his legislative career on reforming the health care system. By any measure, he and all the other politicians in Washington have failed abysmally.

Two statistics speak volumes about the scale of the health care crisis in the U.S. today: 50 million people in the United States have no health insurance, and at least 18,000 die every year due to lack of access to health care.

In 1971, Kennedy was actually in favor of a national, single-payer health care system. In opposition to President Richard Nixon’s support for a mandate requiring employers to purchase private insurance for employees, Kennedy, along with Rep. Martha Griffiths (D-Mich.), proposed the Health Security Act.

The legislation aimed to eliminate the role of commercial insurers and provide everyone with comprehensive medical benefits, financing the program out of a payroll tax and the government’s general revenues.

Kennedy railed against Nixon’s mandates, saying this would provide the insurance industry with “a windfall of billions of dollars annually.” How ironic then that Kennedy’s home state of Massachusetts was the first to pass a mandate model for extending health care coverage–with Kennedy a chief supporter of then Gov. Mitt Romney’s program.

The mandates are a failure. There are still over 600,000 uninsured in Massachusetts. All Massachusetts residents are required to have insurance, and for many not covered by their employer or under programs for the poor, that means buying policies. The lowest-cost plan offered to a couple in their 50s is $8,200 annually, with a $2,000 per person deductible.

The insurance industry loves the Massachusetts mandate. In the words that Kennedy uttered decades ago, it’s “a windfall of billions of dollars annually.”

Back in the 1970s, Kennedy abandoned the Health Security Act, saying it wasn’t “politically feasible.” In reality, he wasn’t willing to take on the medical-industrial complex.

Kennedy became known as the master of the “across-the-aisle compromise.” But these compromises, while maintaining the power and profits of the private insurance industry, didn’t lower the cost of health care or increase the percentage of people with insurance.

In 1974, he proposed the Mills-Kennedy Bill, a capitulation to the private insurance industry that preserved their role and the link between employment and health insurance. The Committee for National Health Insurance, founded by the United Auto Workers union, broke with Kennedy over this betrayal, charging him with “selling out on the health issue.” In 1978, Kennedy sold out again by advocating an employer mandate that continued to allow commercial insurers a central role, but with greater federal regulation.

Kennedy is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee. Not surprisingly, he is one of the top recipients of health-care industry political contributions. During his 40 years in Congress, he has accepted millions from insurance and pharmaceutical political action committees, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Perhaps this explains why he has refused to co-sponsor Rep. John Conyers HR 676, legislation that would create a single-payer, government-financed health care system.

For politicians like Kennedy, there will never be a time when single-payer, government-financed health care is politically feasible, viable or attainable.

Instead, they will echo the words of Barack Obama–another former supporter of single payer and current recipient of big bucks from the health sector. Obama argues that if he was starting from scratch, he would be in favor of single-payer, but now, we have to build on the broken system we have.

A government-financed health care system for everyone just won’t work–except for them.