Chomsky: Bush a catastrophe, a gambler + Brazen imperialism in the Middle East

Dandelion Salad
Sat, 14 Jun 2008 03:10:08

Noam Chomsky believes that everything the Bush administration has done has turned into a catastrophe, calling war on Iran a wild gamble.

When interviewed by Press TV about the possibility of a US-led attack Iran the world renowned US foreign policy analyst said, “It is conceivable that they would be willing to enter a wild gamble and to see what happens. Remember that everything Bush administration has done almost without an exception has turned into a catastrophe for the interests they represent.”

“US intelligence seems to oppose it. The US military opposes it. The Americans and surely the whole world oppose it,” he said while acknowledging his own doubts if the Bush administration would be swayed by those pressures.

“People like DicK Cheney are unpredictable,” he said in the live Friday interview.

About Iran’s nuclear talks with the IAEA, he said, “The right solution to this problem is to declare a nuclear weapons’ free zone in the entire region which would include Iran, Israel, American forces deployed there and so on. About three quarters of Americans favor it and I think that’s the right idea.”

About the controversial US long-term security treaty with Iraq which stipulates American investors are to be given concessions denied others to Iraq’s resources, he said, “That’s brazen imperialism, saying we invaded you so that we could control your country, and so that our corporations can have privileged access to your resources.”



Brazen imperialism in the Middle East
Sat, 14 Jun 2008 22:05:51

The following is Press TV’s exclusive full-length interview with American linguist, philosopher, political activist, author and MIT professor Avram Noam Chomsky:

Press TV: How do you characterize this so-called security treaty between Washington and Baghdad?

Chomsky: The security arrangement was in fact declared last November. There was a declaration from the White House, presumably a Bush-Maliki declaration, but had nothing to do with the Congress or Parliament or any other official institution. It called for an indefinite long-term US military presence in Iraq and that could include the huge air bases that are now being built around Iraq. The US is building what’s called an embassy but it’s unlike any embassy in the world. Its essentially a city inside a city. These are all declared intentions to retain a permanent dominant presence in Iraq.

The declaration also, a little to my surprise, had a rather brazen statement about exploiting the resources of Iraq. It said that the economy of Iraq, which means its oil resources, must be open to foreign investment, privileging American investors. That’s pretty brazen. Now that’s brazen imperialism saying we invaded you so that we can control your country; and so that our corporations can have privileged access to your resources.

It was not at all clear that any Iraqi was ever going to accept this and in the steps that had followed as there was an attempt to sort of formulate it, more precisely, there have been predictably increasing objections.

Different formulations and so on but without going through the details leading to prime minister al-Maliki’s recent comment that you quoted.


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Patrick Cockburn: Who is Muqtada al-Sadr? (videos)

Dandelion Salad


Patrick Cockburn describes his experiences in Iraq over nearly 30 years and describes the spiritual and militia leader, Sayyid Muqtada.

I apologize for the glitches in Segment 1, my miniDV cam is crap. Segments 2-6 should be fine.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Cockburn talks about US holding Iraqi money hostage

Bush To Detain Supreme Court Justices Who Ruled Against Him On Rights Of Detainees (satire)



by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
June 14, 2008

WASHINGTON – President Bush struck back today against a deeply divided Supreme Court who handed him a stinging defeat when they ruled that foreign detainees held for years at Guantanamo Bay have the right to appeal to U.S. civilian courts. “I have declared those five Justices who voted against me as enemy combatants,” Bush said, “and they are on their way to a secret prison. How could they think they were the deciders? I am the decider and if I decide that hideous corpus is from old Europe and is no longer American, than there is not longer any hideous corpus.”

“We at the justice department agree with the President’s actions,” said Attorney General Michael Mukasey, “the Supreme Court erroneously granted special rights to the foreigners, special rights like the right to know what they are being charged with and the right not to be railroaded to an execution for political gain. Where in the Constitution does it say you can’t be railroaded to an execution for political gain?”

“I am glad George got rid of those pansies,” said Justice Scalia, who in a blistering dissent said Americans by the scores would die if the US could no longer abuse the detainees, “that gang of five made me sick with their compassion and love for the law. There is no place for that on the Supreme Court.”

Vice President Cheney has been named by Bush to head up a special committee to find Justices to replace the five departed Justices. “I narrowed it down to one candidate to become a Supreme Court Justice,” Cheney said, “I propose that this candidate will get five votes and that this candidate is me. It makes sense as I feel so comfortable in a black robe.”


The McCain Paradox (video)

McCain, You Can’t Have It Both Ways (video)

A Setback for the State of Exception By Scott Horton

Graham: Amend Constitution to overturn court’s ruling + McCain: Ruling One of the ‘Worst Decisions’ in History

Bush Strongly Disagrees With Recent Supreme Court Decision! (Gitmo)

Bush Requires Employers To Conduct Background Checks To Keep Illegal Immigrants From Taking Good Jobs



by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
June 14, 2008

WASHINGTON – President Bush signed an executive order requiring contractors and others who do business with the federal government to perform background checks to bar illegal immigrants from obtaining work. “These governmental jobs tend to be the more high paying jobs than the low paying jobs,” Bush said. “and we need to keep the higher paid jobs for Americans, while making sure the illegals can stick to what they do best which is the busboys, maids and the construction of the wall between the US and Mexico.”

“We aim to keep the costs of these background checks low to employers,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, “so we are not requiring employers to check for criminal records, gun crimes, embezzlement or terrorist activities. Our bottom line is to protect the Americans from the most frightening employment problem of all – employees speaking Spanish in the workplace.” Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez planned to hold a news conference to discuss the President’s new directive, but was detained due to a suspicious last name.

“This new Presidential order will go a long way to enforce the immigration laws,” said Presidential Press Secretary Dana Perino, “We can’t have the government turn the other way and not enforce laws. Just how dangerous would it be for the American people if the FDA did not enforce laws regarding tainted food or if the EPA was lax on enforcing laws against pollution?”

Cockburn talks about US holding Iraqi money hostage

Dandelion Salad


Iraq Correspondent Patrick Cockburn on the US-Iraqi Clash Over the Status of US Troops

The Bush administration is leveraging tens of billions of dollars in seized Iraqi assets to force the Iraqi government to accept several demands in a long-term deal on keeping US troops in Iraq. The demands have included maintaining fifty-eight permanent military bases in Iraq, immunity for American troops and contractors, a free hand to conduct military operations without Iraqi approval and control of Iraqi airspace. We speak to journalist Patrick Cockburn of the London Independent, who broke the story last week.

Vodpod videos no longer available.


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

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

A Setback for the State of Exception, by Scott Horton

Dandelion Salad

By Scott Horton
06/14/08 “Harpers

For the dwindling but stout-hearted band of Bush loyalists, the creation of concentration camps and introduction of torture techniques never presented much of a problem—morally or legally. On the legal side, they reasoned, the president exercised commander-in-chief powers, and in wartime that let him do pretty much whatever he wanted. There were some limits, of course. One might be that his freedom of action had to be outside of the United States. Another that it couldn’t involve U.S. citizens. But with those two points resolved, Torquemada had better get out of the way.

Continue reading

Inside Iraq: US-Iraq secret deal

Dandelion Salad


America is believed to be negotiating a secret deal with Iraq. One that perpetuates the military occupation of Iraq indefinitely. The new deal, if it goes through, would grant the Americans a right to use more than 50 bases in Iraq, indefinitely. It also means immunity for the US troops and contractors against the Iraqi law. A free hand to carry out military activities without the approval of Baghdad. How would such a deal impact Iraq in the long run? AlJazeeraEnglish

Continue reading

Our Government’s Dirty Little Secrets By George Galloway

Dandelion Salad

By George Galloway
06/13/08 “ICH”

Part I

House of Commons debates
Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Somalia (Human Rights)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Steve McCabe.]

A Government ready to rely on those friends of liberty, the Democratic Unionist party, to shred the liberties of our own people are almost by definition unembarrassable, but I hope this evening to add to the issues ventilated in a recent Channel 4 “Dispatches” programme to adumbrate the extent to which the tragedy in Somalia, which so many people are now becoming aware of, is another of our Government’s dirty little secrets.

We must start the story in Ethiopia, where 4 million people, according to the United Nations, are facing starvation and 120,000 Ethiopian children have just one month to live, according to last week’s media reports. Television viewers were shocked to see the pictures last week of the widespread suffering redolent of 1984 and the great famine of that year.

The US and Britain immediately pledged $90 million in famine relief. Just one week after its appeal to the international community for famine relief, the Ethiopian Government increased their military budget by $50 million to $400 million. The regime in Addis Ababa—when I knew them in the 1980s, they were pro-Albanian Maoists—are the most militarised and heavily armed in Africa. They are in a state of perpetual war or preparation for war with one neighbour, Eritrea, and they are supporting anti-Government rebels in Sudan, many believe with western connivance.

Most astonishingly of all, the Government of Ethiopia—that starving country whose little children are fly infested, kwashiorkor swollen, famished and famine stricken—have been encouraged, armed, trained, financed and otherwise facilitated to invade and occupy their neighbour, Somalia, and create a reign of terror in that land, which is testified to by this voluminous Amnesty International report, which, if I had time, I would extensively quote from.

Somalia has lost thousands of dead as a result of the Ethiopian invasion. Millions have been displaced. Somalia, under Ethiopian occupation, is the grimmest prison state in Africa—far worse than Mugabe’s Zimbabwe. Who has done the encouraging, the arming, the training, the financing and the facilitating? The same US and British Governments who donated the $90 million to the same Ethiopian Government who are burning their money and burning the villages, the neighbourhoods and the people of occupied Somalia.

This Government are never done talking about the shortcomings of African leaders. Just last week in Rome, the Secretary of State for International Development was roaring at Robert Mugabe, yet there has not been a squeak out of him, or any other Minister, about the much bigger crime in which we are ourselves deeply complicit. Is it any wonder that African opinion considers so much of what we have to say about misgovernance in Africa to be the deepest, most cynical hypocrisy?

Two weeks ago, Channel 4’s “Dispatches” team took terrifying risks to bring us the latest from occupied Mogadishu. That was undoubtedly an award-winning documentary. It was memorable for many reasons, not least the scene in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office when the Minister of State, Lord Malloch-Brown, his face frozen in horror, was confronted by Aidan Hartley with the central case of the documentary makers. For the benefit of Members who did not see the programme—the Minister will certainly have seen it; she would hardly be sent out to bat on this wicket without being shown it—that central case was that, in the grim prison state of occupied Somalia, the fingerprints of our country and our Government were all over the scene of the crime.

The President of the puppet regime imposed by the Ethiopian army in Somalia turns out to be British. He spends much of his time here—well, it is dangerous in Somalia, after all—and has property and family here. After presiding over a gang of torturers, murderers, grand larceners and extortionists, he flies back to England. Then there is the police chief whose officers kidnap people for ransom, which they extort from people living in our own country—in Leicester, in Birmingham, in London. They torture people, make them disappear, and kill them if their families will not pay. He too is British. As for the former Interior Minister who presides over an interior of mass refugee camps, starvation and misery, and who stands accused of stealing international aid and diverting food for political purposes—why, he is British as well.

Guess who is paying the wages of the murdering, kidnapping, torturing, quisling police force in Ethiopian-occupied Somalia? That’s right: we are. The public dictatorship in Somalia is a very British crime, especially as our own Government—in particular, that pocket-sized Palmerston to whom I referred earlier, the Secretary of State for International Development—are so voluble on the subject of other problems in Africa.

So how did we get here? How did we get into bed with the former pro-Albanian Maoists of the Government in Addis Ababa? I am afraid that the answer is our old friend, our old acquaintance, the policy of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. The policy that has got us into so much trouble, from Afghanistan to Iraq and many other parts of the world, is what lies behind this obscene paradox.

We are supporting the Ethiopian Government’s occupation of Somalia because George Bush told us to: because Somalia is a front line in George Bush’s ill-conceived, counter-productive, utterly discredited, “about to be booted out in the United States” so-called war on terror. We were against the former Government of Somalia because they were an Islamic Government, just as we are against the Government in Sudan because they are an Islamic Government, and just as Ethiopia, on our behalf, opposed the Government in Eritrea because they are an Islamic Government.

This policy, having been such a disaster around the world, is now in full force in Somalia, and but for Channel 4’s “Dispatches” hardly anyone in Britain would know anything about it. No British Minister has come to the Dispatch Box to explain why British taxpayers’ money is being paid to a police force in Mogadishu that is accused of kidnapping people and extorting ransom money from British citizens. No British Minister has come to explain—unless we interpret Lord Malloch-Brown’s frozen face as an explanation—why we are so heavily involved with a puppet regime that is bereft of political and public support in Somalia.

This policy of backing anyone whom Bush tells us to back—this policy of backing anyone who is against those whom we, today, perceive ourselves to be against—is morally utterly vacuous. Arguably worse than that, however, is the fact that it is a total, dismal failure, as we have found in Afghanistan to our bitter, bitter cost, not least this very week. The very mujaheds whom Mrs. Thatcher’s Government lauded, supported and armed are now murdering and killing our soldiers in Afghanistan—

It being Seven o’clock, the motion for the Adjournment of the House lapsed, without Question put.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn .—[Ms Diana R. Johnson.]


Our Government’s Dirty Little Secrets Part II

By George Galloway

House of Commons debates
Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Somalia (Human Rights)

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn. —[Steve McCabe.]

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn .—[Ms Diana R. Johnson.]

Mr. Galloway: On a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. This Adjournment debate was scheduled to begin at 7 pm and last for half an hour. I have spoken for 10 minutes, and the country—or at least those interested enough to watch on parliamentary television—will not hear the Minister reply.

Mr. Deputy Speaker (Sir Michael Lord): The hon. Gentleman has misunderstood. The Adjournment debate is now starting, which means that he has so far had bonus time. This is one of the procedures, as far as the House is concerned, we have to go through.

Mr. Galloway: That is truly magnificent, Mr. Deputy Speaker, as I have plenty to say. Perhaps I will be able to quote Amnesty International in more detail in the time that I did not think that I would have available.

This policy is not only morally bankrupt, it is politically disastrous. Afghanistan is the perfect example, but the Ethiopian Government preside over a country where famine and mass starvation stalk the land. They are being helped militarily to invade, occupy and threaten their neighbours. What can that conceivably do for our standing in Africa, or for our credibility when we lecture the Governments of Sudan or Zimbabwe?

It would be bad enough if our difficulties in that respect were confined to Africa, but the problem is much worse. The Somalians are the tallest people on earth, but they are virtually invisible, politically, on the international stage and in this country. Yet there are hundreds of thousands of Somalians here, either because they have European Union passports or because they are refugees from the very fighting that we initiated and are now fuelling. Increasingly, young Somalis are furious, bitter and angry. They nurse their wrath as they watch—on Somali television or other Muslim channels—the carnage being wrought in their country.

Two million people in Somalia are living as refugees, out of a population of 11 million. That is almost a fifth of the total: to scale it up, in our country that would amount to 12 million people. There are another 1 million Somali refugees in neighbouring countries, and God knows how many hundreds of thousands are scattered across the EU.

In their bitter exile, the sons—and may be the daughters too—of those Somali families are being brought up bitter and furious at the role played by the west in the problems that they see on their televisions screens. We have spent hours this afternoon trying to deal with the problem of terrorism, but we cannot see how that connects with the way that we constantly infuriate young Muslim boys and girls with the double standards and injustices of our policy towards their countries and the countries from which their parents come.

We cannot see the connection between the growth of extremism and our actions. The Government are always looking for a cleric or an organisation to ban or to blame for the radicalisation of Muslim youth in Britain. But those young people do not need a cleric or an organisation to radicalise them: they just have to watch the news and see what our Government are doing in Muslim countries such as Somalia.

I know that the Minister has seen Channel 4’s “Dispatches” programme. She will not claim otherwise, even though she is answering a debate on human rights in Somalia. I hope that she will do a better job than Lord Malloch-Brown did when it comes to explaining how are taxes are being used. Among other things, that tax money could be used to help starving people in Ethiopia. It could be used to keep our pensioners warm in winter or to keep some post offices open.

I see that the hon. Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Jim Fitzpatrick), who is Under-Secretary of State for Transport and the Minister responsible for closing post offices, is standing by your Chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I hope that that counts as being in the House and that it is therefore in order for me to refer to him.

The British tax money that I have mentioned could have been used for a better purpose, but instead it is being spent on the security forces in Somalia, which Amnesty International, as well as Channel 4, accuses of widespread abuses of human rights—of torture, murder, disappearances, kidnapping, extortion and grand larceny. Why are we allowing the Interior Minister of Somalia to travel back and forth into our country unmolested when he is accused by aid agencies of purloining international aid—desperately needed emergency aid for hungry people—for himself and for political purposes for his political clan? Why are the Government not stopping him at the border and questioning him about where the money went that was put into Somalia and has disappeared?

Aid agencies will not now, by and large, set foot in Somalia, so catastrophic has the situation there become. I ask the Minister why we are supporting the President, the Interior Minister and the chief of police in Somalia, and allowing them to come and go freely without answering the charges that are being made against them? When will the Government at least condemn the human rights abuses in Somalia? Amnesty has voluminously recorded them, but not a squeak has come from the Government, which has never done roaring at Sudan or Zimbabwe. Why? Because we are deeply complicit in that. Indeed, we are paying for it; we are paying for the security services that are committing these crimes in Somalia.

The Government might think that because most Somalis in Britain do not, for one reason or another, have votes, they can be ignored—that tall as they are, they can be disregarded. However, the truth is that the Somali community in Britain’s loathing of the actions of our Government is a ticking time bomb in Britain. I, if not the Minister, am constantly exposed in my constituency, and in Birmingham and Leicester and other places, to the anger of these young Somalis. There is a disaster waiting to happen. I hope that the Minister will announce today that, in the wake of the Channel 4 revelations, she will investigate the allegations properly, and that she will report her findings to the House.

I am talking in my speech tonight about not only the current British Government’s foreign policy towards the horn of Africa and Afghanistan, but about previous Governments’ foreign policies, too. I remember being on the Opposition Benches and accusing the then Prime Minister, Mrs. Thatcher, of having opened the gates to the barbarians by her support for the so-called mujaheddin in Afghanistan so many years ago. The policy that our Governments have followed of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” has proved to be fatally flawed everywhere that it has been tried, and it is now being tried all over again in Somalia.

Many Somalis will be watching our debate this evening—word is out about it in the Somali community, and it is being shown on Universal TV and other Somali channels. For their sake, I hope that the Minister will come clean about the dreadful problems that exist, and I also hope that she will say some words to the Ethiopian Government.

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on having secured this debate. I apologise for having arrived late for it; I was caught somewhat unawares as it began early. What is best for Somalia and its people is, of course, security. Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the Ethiopian Government are providing security in Somalia at present, and that they want to withdraw from Somalia at the earliest possible moment? Will he also join me in encouraging the United Nations, the African Union Mission in Somalia—AMISOM—and the African Union to ensure that troops are put back into Somalia in order to give Somalis that security, which they need? Ethiopian troops want to return to Addis Ababa.

Mr. Galloway: I do not accept that at all, and it seems that I know the Ethiopian Government rather better than the hon. Gentleman does. As I explained before he came in, I knew them when they were pro-Albanian Maoist guerrillas in the Tigrean People’s Liberation Front. I knew all the leaders—they are now the Government Ministers—and I know that they have no intention of withdrawing from Somalia unless they are forced to do so. They want to occupy Somalia because they have been paid to do so by the Government of the United States and our own Government. The Ethiopian Government are doing a job for what they imagine to be the western part of the international community. I see the Minister for closing post offices laughing. His constituency contains many Somalis, as does mine, and I hope that the camera caught him laughing.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport (Jim Fitzpatrick): I apologise for intervening on the hon. Gentleman, but I must point out that I did not laugh at anything that he has been saying so far.

Mr. Galloway: I shall not go further down that track. Perhaps the camera caught the verisimilitude.

The truth is that the Ethiopian Government are carrying out a service for the people who give them weapons, for the people who give them money and for the people who give them diplomatic and political support. They are having a beano in the Ethiopian embassy next week. Perhaps the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) will go to it; he will certainly get an invitation in the post following his intervention. The Ethiopian Government are having a beano in the Ethiopian embassy in London to celebrate the 17th anniversary of their coming to power, and it is going to be a very grand event.

That event comes at a time when the Ethiopian Government’s own people are starving to death. Their children are starving to death—120,000 children have a month to live—they are invading and occupying their neighbouring countries and nobody says boo about it. In fact, far from saying boo, people are saying, “Here’s some more military and financial aid to do it.” That is because the Government of President Bush, who are utterly discredited and on their way out, with virtually nowhere to go except Downing street on Sunday for one last photo call, regard the defeat of the former Islamic Government in Somalia as part of their war on terror.

That is what this is all about. Ethiopia is playing the role of hammer in the horn of Africa for the policy of the United States and its war on terror. That is what Ethiopia is doing, so it will not withdraw until a new American Government, hopefully with a Kenyan-affiliated President, tell them that actually this policy is deeply flawed. The puppet regime of British citizens imposed on Somalia by the Ethiopian invasion would not last five minutes if the Ethiopian forces withdrew—that regime would have to withdraw with them. So, any Government who come to power in Somalia in the future will be filled with hatred of Britain and the United States.

That is the problem that we keep making everywhere; we intervene either to prop up tyrants or to support tyrants because we do not like the tyrants that they are fighting against, and we generate still more problems for ourselves. We wonder why that is, and we agonisingly debate anti-terrorism laws. We wonder why so many people in the Muslim world want to hurt us. We wonder why so many young people in the Muslim world are so bitter and angry about us that they want to hurt us. Is it any wonder? Can it be any wonder to any sane person? I beg the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to believe me when I say that it is because of the kinds of policies that I have described. I talk to Somalis all the time, and I know that the rage the Somali community both in Britain and around the world feels about Britain and America’s role in their country generates terrorists. As the right hon. Member for North Antrim (Rev. Ian Paisley), who saved the Government’s bacon earlier this evening, is in his place and as we spent so many hours discussing anti-terrorism, let me spell it out: we are making new terrorists in Britain with our policy towards Somalia, with our double standards and with our hypocrisy.

Mark Pritchard: While the Government of Ethiopia are not perfect—indeed, there are Governments closer to home who are not perfect—it is right that human rights abuses by the Somali security services are fully investigated. Nevertheless, does the hon. Gentleman accept that if Ethiopian troops withdrew, it would create a security vacuum in which terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, would create mayhem in the horn of Africa, which is a key strategic location, and that would come back to haunt us?

Mr. Galloway: I said in this House when it was recalled a few days after the atrocity of 9/11 that if we handled it the wrong way we would make 10,000 new bin Ladens. We have handled it the wrong way, and we have made 10,000 new bin Ladens. The problem of al-Qaeda in Somalia has been made worse by the western intervention and the Ethiopian invasion. Far more people have been recruited to a narrow, fundamentalist, separatist, violent Islamism by our policy than ever would have been if that policy had never been formed.

The hon. Gentleman obviously has not read the Amnesty International document. The Ethiopian forces are not providing security: they are providing mass murder and terror in occupied Somalia. The refugee camps are full with 2 million people. No one can walk on the streets of Mogadishu. Channel 4’s reporters were almost killed making their programme. Some of the team on the same vehicle with them were shot dead live on television—

Mark Pritchard: By Somalis.

Mr. Galloway: I do not know if they were shot by Somalis or Ethiopians. The point is that the country has been plunged into utter lawlessness, and to pretend that the Ethiopian Government are providing security is completely ridiculous. The words Somalia and security should not even be mentioned in the same sentence.

There may be a need for African Union forces or Arab League forces. This conflict will go on and I hope that the Minister will not claim that the deal reached this week is any kind of solution to the problem. The people who are doing the fighting are not involved in the deal. It is like a peace process in the north of Ireland that excluded the people who were doing the fighting. That is what has happened in relation to Somalia in the past few days.

I am grateful for the extra time that I had for this debate, and I apologise for my churlish point of order, which turned out to be entirely misconceived. I hope for some answers from the Minister this evening.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Meg Munn): I welcome the opportunity to reply to the hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow (Mr. Galloway) in this debate. I see this as an excellent chance to highlight how the Foreign and Commonwealth Office seeks to address a number of issues relating to Somalia.

As my noble Friend Lord Malloch-Brown, the Minister for Africa, said in his statement this afternoon, we congratulate the Somali transitional federal Government and the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia on reaching agreement on the cessation of violence. That agreement was signed by both parties in Djibouti on Monday and witnessed by members of the international community. I wish to thank the UN Secretary-General’s special representative, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, on his continued efforts to mediate in the talks between the parties which resulted in the agreement. This is a positive step and we look forward to all parties fulfilling their commitment to cease armed confrontation. We are committed to working with the UN to support this process.

Human rights issues in Somalia are longstanding and complex. They cannot be attributed to any one cause, and there are no easy or obvious solutions. Somalia is not like other countries. Serious violence, lack of governance structures and the deteriorating humanitarian situation have been ongoing for 17 years. Many in Somali society have been brutalised by years of violence. It is therefore often individuals, not answerable to any particular group or commander, who carry out abuses on their own initiative. That makes it even more difficult to prevent further abuses and to bring those responsible to justice.

Given that complexity and the insecurity in Somalia, there is little opportunity to monitor the situation reliably or gather and verify facts or allegations. Reporting is often biased and may be exaggerated to exert influence on the international community. The only sustainable way to address human rights in the long term is to engage in effective state building, concentrating on developing institutions, parliamentary accountability, an inclusive security sector and delivery of basic services. Short-term fixes that do not focus on state building will mean we return to the issue year after year, prolonging the suffering of the Somali people.

Reports of incidents and accusations of human rights abuses by Ethiopian troops are difficult to corroborate and have been categorically denied by the Ethiopian Government. Ethiopian troops in Somalia are carrying out a role that security providers in Somalia do not have the capacity for. Many critics forget that fighting between militias went on for 15 years before Ethiopia intervened, at the invitation of Somalia’s transitional federal Government.

African Union member nations have not yet committed to contributing sufficient troops to allow for full deployment of the African Union mission in Somalia, which currently has only 2,400 of the 8,000 troops mandated. Further planning for a possible UN mission was called for by UN Security Council resolution 1814, although that is unlikely to be mandated soon. Evidence from other Ethiopian peacekeeping deployments indicates that they make a positive contribution to missions. Ethiopian troops are likely to form the largest contingent of the UN-African Union mission in Darfur.

We regularly engage with human rights organisations, listen to their views and appreciate their efforts to gather information and evidence on human rights. We and they fully acknowledge that allegations of abuse are made against all parties to the conflict in Somalia. We sponsored an Arria meeting at the United Nations in New York on 31 March to enable Governments and the non-governmental organisation community freely to discuss human rights and humanitarian issues and to exchange views on how to achieve progress in Somalia.

The hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Bow might be interested to know that in response to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew), I said:

“We unreservedly condemn all proven incidents of human rights abuse and expect those responsible to face justice.”—[ Official Report, 3 June 2008; Vol. 476, c. 832W.]

My noble Friend the Minister for Africa, Lord Malloch-Brown, raised the issue of human rights in Somalia with the Ethiopian Prime Minister in late January 2008. Our ambassador to Ethiopia regularly raises the issue of respect for human rights in Somalia at senior levels of the Ethiopian Government. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials in London and at the UN have also raised the issue with their Ethiopian counterparts.

Ethiopia has told us that it intends to withdraw from Somalia and that it has reduced force numbers by more than half since late February 2007. The Ethiopian Government are extremely positive about the newly signed peace agreement, which includes a strategy for their withdrawal from Somalia. Until Ethiopia withdraws its troops completely, we urge them to use only appropriate force, adhere to international humanitarian law and respect human rights. However, for Ethiopia to withdraw from Somalia before an effective alternative force has been established would risk creating a dangerous security vacuum. Somalis would suffer the most from such a development.

The UK is a leading contributor to world efforts to rebuild the Somali state. We support the efforts of the UN Secretary General’s special representative for Somalia to engage with civil society and to help bring about social and political reconciliation that will lead to greater respect for human rights and religious freedoms for all Somalis. Through helping to shape UN Security Council policy, and our membership of the EU and the international contact group, we press for greater focus on human rights in Somalia. We asked the UN to enhance its capacity to monitor and report on the human rights situation in Somalia and 11 Jun 2008 : Column 434
Council resolution 1814, unanimously adopted on 15 May, and the EU General Assembly and External Relations Council conclusions, adopted on 26 May, support the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, including the independent expert for Somalia, and encourage them to undertake a fact-finding and assessment mission to Somalia to address the human rights situation.

We co-chair the donors group and are the second largest bilateral humanitarian and development donor. We are also the second largest bilateral donor, after the US, for the African Union mission to Somalia. We are a key donor to the UN Development Programme effort to develop a full justice system, including improving the police force and the judiciary and penal systems to an internationally acceptable standard. I understand that the hon. Gentleman thought that that issue was a matter for the Department for International Development, but I can confirm that it is a policy area of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

We value human rights highly. No other states are as active as the UK on human rights issues in Somalia. We urge other states to join our efforts and encourage international human rights organisations to concentrate their advocacy activities on pressing other less active states for support, too.

Question put and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at twenty-five minutes past Seven o’clock.

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Dispatches Warlords Next Door (Somalia)

Dispatches: Warlords Next Door (Somalia)

Dandelion Salad


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


May 29, 2008

Act Now!
Write to or call your MP or Congressional Representatives, tell them about the current situation in Somalia urge them to take action.
For contact details see:
UK citizens:…
US citizens:
Also if you live in the UK… sign the 10 downing street petition

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Bill Moyers Journal: LA Labor + Wages & Work + Gilded Ages

Dandelion Salad

Bill Moyers Journal

June 13, 2008

LA Labor

In the BILL MOYERS JOURNAL coverage of the union march from “Hollywood to the docks” viewers met Jaron Quetel, a clerk at University California Los Angeles (UCLA) and a member of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Quetel is trying to join the middle class, and support his young son. As Quetel explains:

“Working the best job I’ve ever had in my whole life, I’m still– I mean, I am a breath away from drowning. I’m $20 away from being on the street. I am one car payment away from being re-po’ed. I’m barely surviving. I’m leading a substandard lifestyle because I make substandard wages.”

transcript and video

Holly Sklar on Wages and Work

Are we living the American Dream in reverse? Study after study has shown that rather than leading the world in economic mobility — the United States has become the most unequal nation in the western world. According to a new study reported in THE NEW YORK TIMES, “The chance that children of the poor or middle class will climb up the income ladder, has not changed significantly over the last three decades.”

But it’s not just a matter of joining the ranks of the wealthy. THE ECONOMIST put the matter starkly: “After you adjust for inflation, the wages of the typical American worker — the one at the very middle of the income distribution — have risen less than 1% since 2000. In the previous five years, they rose over 6%.” Writer and activist Holly Sklar joins Bill Moyers to talk about the battle for “a living wage.”

transcript and video

Steve Fraser on Gilded Ages

The BBC reported startling economic equality figures in a recent documentary: the top 200 wealthiest people in the world control more wealth than the bottom 4 billion. But what is more striking to many is a close look at the economic inequality in the homeland of the “American Dream.” The United States is the most economically stratified society in the western world. As THE WALL STREET JOURNAL reported, a recent study found that the top .01% or 14,000 American families hold 22.2% of wealth — the bottom 90%, or over 133 million families, just 4% of the nation’s wealth.

Additional studies narrow the focus: This from the Pew Foundation and THE NEW YORK TIMES: “The chance that children of the poor or middle class will climb up the income ladder, has not changed significantly over the last three decades. “This from THE ECONOMIST’S special report, “Inequality in America:” “The fruits of productivity gains have been skewed towards the highest earners, and towards companies, whose profits have reached record levels as a share of GDP.”

transcript and video

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BILL MOYERS JOURNAL | Holly Sklar on Wages and Work | PBS



Socialism is the future – build it now by Michael Lebowitz

We Must Democratize Our Economic Institutions by Manila Ryce

How To Achieve Socialism

Could we organise things without money? (2005)


Ecuador police link plot to militias

Dandelion Salad

Associated Press Writer
Fri Jun 13, 8:51 PM ET


h/t: CLG

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.

The Illegitimate & Disastrous US Military Occupation of Iraq by Rodrigue Tremblay

Dandelion Salad

by Rodrigue Tremblay
Monday, June 16, 2008

“The president [George W. Bush] is strongly motivated to string out the [Iraq] war until he leaves office, in order to avoid taking responsibility for the defeat he has caused and persisted in making greater each year for more than three years.” – General William Odom, former head of the National Security Agency (NSA) under President Ronald Reagan

“In beloved Iraq, blood is flowing between brothers, in the shadow of an illegitimate foreign occupation, and abhorrent sectarianism threatens a civil war.” – King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, March 29, 2007

“After [this] war [against Iraq] has ended, the United States will have to rebuild much more than the country of Iraq. We will have to rebuild America’s image around the globe.” – Sen. Robert Byrd, (D-W.Va), March 19, 2003

The Iraqi Parliament is on record as being against the US-led military occupation of their country. Moreover, most Iraqis resent Americans occupying their country and the Bush-Cheney administration’s requests to do it forever by maintaining nearly 60 military bases in their country. The Bush-Cheney administration has even threatened the puppet Iraqi government to withhold some $50 billion of Iraq’s money held as reserves at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, if the Iraqi government does not sign what is also called a “strategic alliance” agreement to prolong U.S. occupation indefinitely and turn Iraq into a permanent American colony.

Indeed, after the illegal military invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the United Nations was forced to extend a mandate of occupation to the United States. Thus, in June 2004, the U.N. Security Council adopted Resolution 1546 that recognized the de facto occupation of Iraq by American-led military forces and kept Iraq subject to the Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter, which authorizes the use of force in Iraq. The mandate was supposed to be terminated at the end of 2005, but was extended. It is that U.N. mandate authorizing an American presence in Iraq that finally expires on December 31 of this year. After that date, there will be no legal basis for U.S. military forces to be on Iraqi soil and the Iraqi government would regain its entire authority.

That’s what the Bush-Cheney administration wants to avoid by pressing the Iraqis to sign a so-called long-term “security agreement”, which would not require approval by the U.S. Congress (because it would not be a treaty, although this is playing with words in order to escape the scrutiny of U.S. lawmakers), and which would keep real Iraqi authority to a nominal level and concentrate most of political power in American hands. In other words, the Bush-Cheney administration wants a puppet government in Baghdad in perpetuity. We may add that this is precisely what Republican presidential Candidate McCain also wants.

In the future, as now, Americans in Iraq (American troops, contractors and private security guards) would have full legal immunity for their actions, even when they steal, rape, kidnap, torture, or murder Iraqis, and could arrest Iraqis and put them in American-run jails. Moreover, the American occupiers would have key Iraqi departments such as Defense, Interior and National Security ministries, as well as armament contracts, under their supervision for ten years, would keep control of Iraqi airspace, would maintain permanent military bases in the country and would retain the right to strike, from within Iraqi territory, any country (Iran and Syria) they consider to be a threat to their security or contrary to U.S. or Iraqi interests. Some sovereignty and some independence indeed! Even the weak Nouri al-Maliki government thinks it’s too much, while Shia Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani is tinkering with the idea of issuing a religious fatwa against the Bush-Cheney’s so-called proposed agreement, a move that would likely kill it.

Let’s keep in mind that the Bush-Cheney’s military occupation of Iraq is doubly illegitimate, besides having been illegal from day one according to international law. First, a solid majority of Americans want American soldiers out of Iraq. Second, a vast majority of Iraqis also want American soldiers out of their country. The irony is that the Bush-Cheney regime pretends to be in Iraq for the sake of “democracy”, while they trample on people’s demands both in Iraq and in the United States. Some “democracy” indeed. How about fascism and imperialism!

When both the president of Iraq and the King of Saudi Arabia say that the ongoing U.S. military occupation of Iraq is ‘illegitimate’, and when Turkey has acted on its threats to bomb and invade Northern Iraq, it becomes obvious that the entire Middle East is now turning against the U.S. Bush-Cheney regime and its colonial adventure in that part of the world. The Bush-Cheney regime likes to delude itself and to play on words when it pretends that Iraq is not under an “illegitimate foreign occupation” but that U.S. troops are in that far away country at Iraq’s invitation (sic!), citing the after-the-fact U.N. mandate. This is an example of fuzzy and circular thinking. When you don’t think straight, you don’t act straight. And, on this score, the Bush-Cheney administration is the most crooked you can find.

All that remains to see is whether the Bush-Cheney administration will succeed on three fronts, that is to say, 1- force its puppet government in Baghdad to sign a long-term agreement of dependence toward the United States, 2- bypass Congress and the U.S. Constitution in adopting what would clearly be an international treaty, and finally, 3- tie up the hands of the next president and prevent him from withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq. When you think of it, this is a cynical game of brinksmanship, always on the edge of legality, morality and decency.

Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached at

He is the author of the book ‘The New American Empire’

Visit his blog site at:

Author’s Website:

Check Dr. Tremblay’s coming book “The Code for Global Ethics” at:

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.