Kucinich: Independence Day: Let Us Remember Who We Are + Impeach Bush

Dandelion Salad

Updated: July 5, 2008 added another video

Kucinich2008

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Some Democratic Leaders say Impeachment is off the table.
So, let us set a new table for our nation, upon which we place the Constitution and where we demand that all those who have taken an oath to defend it .. keep their promise and protect our nation from the threat within.

Please go to kucinich.us now and sign the petition, which calls for impeachment. This is the one petition that will make a difference because I will be delivering it personally to your member of congress. Please circulate word of this petition far and wide, to all your friends and family. This is the one opportunity that we have right now to actually change events in this country.

Two hundred and thirty-two years ago, our nation was conceived in liberty. We have once again reached a moment of truth, one that Lincoln recognized at Gettysburg as to whether “this nation or any nation so conceived or so dedicated can long endure”.

Through the ashes of war, Lincoln prayed that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom…and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

This Fourth of July, 2008, we face a different kind of war; one which is trying our souls.. a war based on lies. But with the power of truth and the power of the people we can achieve a new birth of freedom, standing up for what is good in America, insisting on the rule of law, demanding adherence to the Constitution, and supporting the impeachment of a President who lied to take us into a war against Iraq.

Be the answer to Lincoln’s Prayer. Please pledge your support now to restoring the rule of law in America. As we once again celebrate our Independence, let us celebrate freedom from fear and pledge that this government of the people will survive in this land that we love.

Please go to kucinich.us now. This is your chance to make a difference; truly celebrate our Independence. Thank you.

Video by Chad Ely

Updated:

Sign this Weekend, Stand for the Constitution, Impeach Bush

representativepress

http://impeachment.kucinich.us/petition/

We Want Bush Impeached, We Support the Kucinich Resolution. See video:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=kiIn3ytaUj…

Excerpts come from a June 11, 2008 Countdown with Keith Olbermann show:
http://representativepress.blogspot.c…

OLBERMANN: Time now to call in George Washington University law professor and constitutional law expert: Jonathan Turley.

Good evening, Jon.

JONATHAN TURLEY, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW EXPERT: Hi, Keith.

OLBERMANN: I’ve often argued here that even if you think the words aren’t going to lead to any action, say the words anyway, simply to get them on the record for history, and simply because nothing has ever changed from bad to good in this country without somebody first saying—this is bad. Assess the importance of what Dennis Kucinich did last night.

TURLEY: You know, it is very important. The fact is that this is not supposed to happen the way it happened in the last seven years. The framers, I think, would have been astonished by the absolute passivity if not collusion of the Democrats in protecting President Bush from impeachment. I mean, they created a system that was essentially idiot-proof and God knows we put that to a test in the past years.

But, I don’t think they ever anticipated that so many members of the opposition would stand quietly in the face of clear presidential crimes. It has many of us who study the Constitution quite worried that we have a real crisis here. This is not something that really was supposed to happen. It was not something that one would predict.

OLBERMANN: This is the list that he presented last night—a remarkably lengthy and thorough record of the high crimes and misdemeanors. It’s just a cascade really. Did Kucinich successfully make his case?

TURLEY: I think he’s made his case. I mean, frankly, some of these claims are not really impeachable offenses. Like for example, it’s not impeachable to be negligent. If that was the case, we’d lose half that people that sat in the Oval Office. But there are plenty of crimes there. This is a target-rich environment.

What’s really disturbing for many of us is that it takes a real effort for Democrats to walk from the floor to their offices and not trip over crimes. I mean, they are all over the record, from destruction of evidence, to illegal surveillance, to unlawful torture programs. They’re all over the place.

And what’s amazing is that the president is hiding in plain view. He hasn’t really denied the elements of these offenses. So, all that is lacking is political will.

But that doesn’t mean that suddenly the Democrats are going to get principled and say—my God, we took an oath, and we need to fulfill it regardless of the outcome. But it does mean one member, and they’re actually more than one, are really calling their colleagues to the floor and saying—it’s time to pony up. It’s time to answer the public of whether you stand for the Constitution and against its abridgement.

see

Take Action – Sign the Petition for Impeachment

Dee Dee Miller & Ray McGovern + Anthony St. Martin + The Case for Impeachment

Impeachment “ON or Off the table”? You decide.

Impeach

Impeach Bush and Cheney!

Ask Not What… by Cindy Sheehan

The Real Cindy Sheehan

by Cindy Sheehan
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Cindy Sheehan for Congress

July 3, 2008

“There is no challenge greater than the defense of our nation and our values. The men and women of our military –-– have signed up at a time when our troops face an ever-increasing load. Fighting a resurgent Taliban. Targeting al Qaeda. Persevering in the deserts and cities of Iraq. Training foreign militaries. Delivering humanitarian relief. In this young century, our military has answered when called, even as that call has come too often. Through their commitment, their capability, and their courage they have done us all proud.

“But we need to ease the burden on our troops, while meeting the challenges of the 21st century. That’s why I will call on a new generation of Americans to join our military, and complete the effort to increase our ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines.”

The above excerpt is from a speech that the “peace” candidate, Barack Obama gave in Colorado on the 2nd of July. To be sure, he also called for other service to our country but I feel these two paragraphs highlight the continuing subservience the so-called public servants of the USA have to War, Inc.

The only reason that our military is under such a great “burden” is because politicians like Barack Obama have voted consistently for billions (some award winning economists estimate, trillions) of wasted dollars to continue BushCo’s abominable occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead of increasing the Pentagon’s already bloated budget, a true peace candidate would be calling for immediate withdrawal of forces from these countries so our military can begin the healing processes that need to occur to rejuvenate our broken military so we can have a true defense force and not an imperialistic ready response team to be on constant alert to storm any country at the whim of the emperor to spread corporate imperialism (what politicians call: Democracy) at the end of an M-16 or bombs bursting in air.

President John F. Kennedy, whom Obama is trying to emulate by calling for increased service to the USA, famously said in his first and only inaugural address:

Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.

President Kennedy also said, less famously, in that same address:

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.

Since President Kennedy uttered those words almost 50 years ago, the USA has become very adept at ending all forms of human life and has also, unfortunately, become experts at increasing human poverty and all this is because we have not heeded Kennedy’s predecessor, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower when he warned the nation of the military industrial complex which has expanded over the years into the Military Industrial Congressional Media Complex.

I would like to enhance Kennedy’s famous words on this 4th of July when the country sets off on another celebration of gross militarism and the deaths of millions of people while we never pay tribute to our First Nation peoples who were exterminated so white Europeans could despoil a beautiful land. My new proposal for the 21st C. is:

Ask not what humanity can do for you, but what you can do for humanity.

A great beginning for the new surge of taking care of individuals instead of taking care of the pigs of War, Inc, would be to start withdrawing our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and don’t forget to pull out the independent contracting companies and oil companies who through their No-bid Dick contracts are raping the region.

Since every aspect of humanity is being destroyed by our sometime unconscious and sometimes active denial of War, Inc’s profound, multi-tentacled cancer, we need to drastically reduce the size of our military and “defense” budget. Yes, we have a new world, but the response to violence can never be “shocking and awful” more violence, especially since Iraq and Afghanistan were OVER reactions to the filthy imaginations of BushCo.

To encourage the reduction of violence and poverty, state education and health care should be free for all of our countrypersons, not just the ones who tragically, and for what ever reason, got sucked into being paid assassins for Uncle War, Inc. The need for the VA system would be eliminated, because a new-improved USA would not be creating damaged vets faster than they could (or even want to) fix them.

WE need to open our eyes and not blindly follow politicians because of the letter that goes after their names on the ballot. In almost every case this election season since the presumptive nominees have been declared, it has been very difficult to distinguish the D from the R. WE should be demanding more from politicians and not allow the lowest common denominator to grovel and pander his way into the oval office, again. Haven’t we had enough?

What WE can do for humanity right now is break our individual ties to War, Inc. WE have to educate our children that politicians like Obama just want them to do the dirty work of War, Inc and have no feelings or compassion for their cannon fodder or the families of the cannon fodder who will be mourning instead of celebrating this weekend.

Fireworks are pretty and if you can afford the gas, go see a show. But never allow your mind to wander far from what our Republic has degenerated into over the past 232 years.

Cindy Sheehan for Congress

A truly independent voice for humanity!

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Ask not… by Jennifer

Major US Sponsored “Organizational Catastrophes”: Learning from Past Disasters, Preventing Future Ones

Dandelion Salad

by Dr. Daniel Ellsberg
Global Research, July 3, 2008

The following text was first published as a preface to Flirting with Disaster: Why Accidents Are Rarely Accidental (Hardcover) by Marc S. Gerstein and Michael Ellsberg [click for details]

I have participated in several major organizational catastrophes. The most well known of them is the Vietnam War. I was aware on my first visit to Vietnam in 1961 that the situation there—a failing neocolonial regime we had installed as a successor to French rule—was a sure loser in which we should not become further involved. Yet a few years later, I found myself participating as a high-level staffer in a policy process that lied both the public and Congress into a war that, unbeknownst to me at the time, experts inside the government accurately predicted would lead to catastrophe.

The very word catastrophe, almost unknown in the dry language of bureaucracy, was uttered directly to the president. Clark Clifford, longtime and highly trusted adviser to U.S. presidents, told President Lyndon Johnson in July 1965: “If we lose fifty thousand men there, it will be catastrophic in this country. Five years, billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of men—this is not for us. . . .”

But it was for us, casualties included, after Johnson launched an open-ended escalation just three days later. In time, Clifford’s estimates were all exceeded: Before our ground war was ended in eight years (not five), the cost in dollars was in hundreds of billions, over five hundred thousand men served in Vietnam in a single year (1968) out of three million altogether, and—uncannily close to his predicted figure—more than fifty-eight thousand soldiers had died. Clifford’s prophecy in his face-to-face session with the president at Camp David—“I can’t see anything but catastrophe for our nation in this area”—could not have been more urgent in tone or, tragically, more prescient.

And Clifford’s was not a lone voice. Johnson’s vice president, Hubert H. Humphrey, had used almost the same words with him five months earlier; others, including Johnson’s career-long mentor Senator Richard Russell, had also made the same argument. Yet Johnson went ahead regardless.

Why? I have pondered and researched that question for forty years. (The documentation in the Pentagon Papers provides no adequate answer.) But one seemingly plausible and still widely believed answer can be ruled out. The escalation in Vietnam was not the result of a universal failure of foresight among the president’s advisers, or to a lack of authoritative, precise, and urgently expressed warnings against his choice of policy.

The nuclear arms race, in which I was intimately involved between 1958 and 1964 as a RAND Corporation analyst serving the executive branch, is a moral catastrophe on a scale without precedent in human history, even though its full tragic potential has not yet occurred. The arms race involved—under both Democratic and Republican administrations, soon joined by the USSR—the mutual construction of a physical and organizational capability for destruction of most of the world’s population within a matter of hours. That project—building two matched and opposed “doomsday machines” and keeping them on hair-trigger alert—is the most irresponsible policy in human experience, involving as it does a genuine possibility of creating an irreversible catastrophe for humanity and most other living species on a scale that the world has not seen since the dinosaurs perished sixty million years ago. Even if the system were decommissioned totally— and it is not yet remotely close to being dismantled—such a course of action would not cancel out the fact that over the past sixty years, a moral cataclysm has already occurred, with ominous implications for the future of life on earth.

I have been trying since 1967—when I realized that the Vietnam War must end—to understand how we got into that war, and why it was so hard to end it. Since 1961, even earlier, I have viewed the nuclear arms race as an ongoing catastrophe that has to be reversed, and a situation that has to be understood. I assumed then, and still believe, that understanding the past and present of these realities is essential to changing them. In my life and work, I have tried to do what Dr. Gerstein’s book is trying to help us do: to understand these processes in a way that will help us avert them in the future.

A major theme to be gained from this important book is that organizations do not routinely and systematically learn from past errors and disasters—in fact, they rarely ever do. This intentional lack of oversight can partly explain why our predicament in Iraq is so precisely close to the Vietnam experience, both in the way that we got into the war, deceptively and unconstitutionally, and in the way the war is being conducted and prolonged.

It might not seem surprising that after thirty years, a generation of decision-makers and voters would have come along that knew little about the past experience in Vietnam. What is more dismaying is to realize that much the same processes—the same foolish and disastrous decision-making, the same misleading rationales for aggression—are going on right now with respect to Iran, with little political opposition, just three years after the invasion of Iraq, and while the brutal and tragic consequences of that occupation are still in front of our eyes every day.

One reason for this folly is that many aspects of disasters in decision-making are known only within the organization, and not even by many insiders at that. The organizations involved tend not to make relevant and detailed studies of past errors, let alone reveal them outside the organization. In fact, the risk that such a study or investigation might leak to the outside is a factor sufficient to keep inquiries from being made in the first place. Making or keeping possibly incriminating documentation earlier, at the time of the decision, or later is similarly sidestepped.

This deliberate decision within organizations not to try to learn internally what has gone wrong constitutes what I have called, with respect to Vietnam, an anti-learning mechanism. Avoiding improved performance is not the point of the mechanism. But because studying present and past faulty decision-making risks may invite blame and organizational, political, perhaps even legal penalties, those outcomes “outweigh” the benefits of clearly understanding what needs to be changed within the organization.

The valuable cases studies, analyses, and information in the pages of this book were not provided by the organizations involved. This compendium arose from the accounts of individual whistle-blowers, journalistic investigations, and in some cases congressional action— and from Dr. Gerstein’s own initiative in collecting and analyzing the data. Did any one of the organizations detailed herein conduct a comparable study? Quite possibly not a single one. And even if they did, they certainly didn’t publish the results in a way that would allow other organizations and individuals to learn from their mistakes.

Societally, then, we don’t have an easy way to learn from organizational mistakes of the past. That’s one reason that disasters are so likely, and why comparable disasters occur again and again, across organizations and even within the same organizations. In the case of Vietnam, Americans did not learn from the French or Japanese occupations before ours. Nor did Republicans under Nixon manage to learn from Democratic missteps before theirs. Specifically, there was no systematic study of the Pentagon Papers, which were available within the Defense Department to the Nixon administration, but no one ever admitted to having read them or even to directing their staff to analyze possible lessons from them. (I personally urged Henry Kissinger, in a discussion at the Western White House in 1970, to do both of these, or at least the latter, but he later claimed he had never read anything of them or about them, though he had a copy available to him.) As far as we know, Secretary of Defense Laird, Henry Kissinger, and others had no interest in the documentary record and analysis of twenty-three years of decision-making in the same geographic area, against precisely the same adversaries. And so they ended up committing many of the mistakes made by those who’d gone before, with the same results.

This “anti-learning” phenomenon also explains why it is possible to reproduce our experience in Vietnam years later in Iraq, and now, from Iraq to Iran. In sum, there is strong and successful resistance within many organizations to studying or recording past actions leading to catastrophe—because doing so would reveal errors, lies, or even crimes.

There is no substitute for the kind of comparative study analysis Dr. Gerstein shares on these pages. I hope this book is read widely; if we are to avoid the kinds of disasters and catastrophes described, we first need to understand them. Flirting with Disaster is a pathbreaking, indispensable step toward such a goal.

Daniel Ellsberg Berkeley, California July 2007

© Copyright Daniel Ellsberg, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9496

“Keeping America Safe”- from the Constitution by Tom Burghardt

Dandelion Salad

by Tom Burghardt
Global Research, July 3, 2008
Antifascist Calling…

Total Information Awareness Finds its “Second Life” at IARPA

Like countless resurrections of Freddy Krueger, it appears that John Poindexter’s Total Information Awareness (TIA) program has found a new, more accommodating home for its “mission” of “keeping America safe”–from the Constitution–at the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA).

According to McClatchy investigative journalist Warren Strobel,

IARPA … is the U.S. intelligence community’s counterpart to DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which has been in business for more than 35 years and is meant to be a small, flexible R&D agency that funds high-risk, but potentially high-payoff technologies. (“What’s IARPA?”, McClatchy Washington Bureau, June 30, 2008)

Continue reading

President Chavez and the FARC: State and Revolution

Dandelion Salad

by James Petras
Global Research
July 3, 2008

When President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela called on the FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, to end their armed struggle and declared the ‘guerrilla war is history’, he was following a path taken by many revolutionary leaders in the past.

As far back as the early 1920’s, Lenin urged the nascent Turkish communist to sacrifice their revolutionary independence and to support Attaturk; his successor, Joseph Stalin encouraged the Chinese communists to subordinate their revolutionary movement to the nationalist party led by Chiang Kai Chek. Mao Tse Tung prioritized coalitions in which the Communist Party of Indonesia submitted to the leadership of the nationalist leader General Sukarno.

During the French-Indochinese Peace Agreements in Geneva in 1954, Ho Chi Minh agreed to the division of the country and urged the South Vietnamese communists to end the guerrilla war and work to re-unify the country through electoral means. During the new millennium Fidel Castro stated that ‘armed struggle’ was a thing of the past and that, under present conditions, new forms of political struggle were at the top of the agenda.

Hugo Chavez frequently urged Brazilians leftists to support the social-liberal regime of President Lula da Silva despite his embrace of free market economics at the World Social Forum of 2002. He also called on Latin American social movements to support a number of pro-capitalist regimes in Latin America, despite their defense of foreign investment, bankers and agro-mineral exporters.

These experiences of revolutionary governments calling on their radical co-thinkers to collaborate with non-revolutionary regimes and to submit to their political constraints have generally had disastrous consequences: The Kuo Ming Tang of Chiang Kai Shek turned on the Communist Party and massacred the majority of its workers and drove it into the mountains of the interior. The aboveground, legal Indonesian Communists and their supporters and family members suffered anywhere from 500,000 to 1 million deaths when Sukarno was overthrown in a CIA coup. The South Vietnamese communists who attempted to participate in electoral politics were assassinated or jailed and eventually, their survivors were forced to revert to underground guerrilla struggle.

The reformist electoral regimes which came to power in Latin America have rescued capitalism from the crises of the 1990’s, demobilized the Left and opened the door for the resurgence of the hard right throughout most of the continent.

In the case of Colombia, Venezuela’s President Chavez apparently chose to ignore the FARC’s earlier experience in attempting to shift from armed struggle to electoral politics. Between 1984-89 thousands of FARC guerrillas disarmed and embraced the electoral struggle. They ran candidates, elected congressmen and women and were decimated by the death squads of the Colombian military, paramilitary and private armies of the oligarchy. Over 5,000 militants and leaders were murdered. What is especially striking is that Chavez urgings to join the electoral process takes place under Colombia’s bloodiest and most brutal violator of human rights in recent history.

Why then do radical leaders who themselves led armed struggles, once in office, call on their revolutionary counterparts to abandon guerrilla warfare and engage in electoral processes which have such dubious prospects?

Several kinds of explanations have been put forth at different times to explain what appears to be a political ‘U-turn’.

The Moral Explanation

Some critics of the ‘U-turn’ explain the shift to a ‘moral degeneration’ – the leaders become autocratic, bureaucratic and seek only to consolidate their rule in their own country. This is the common position adopted by the Left Opposition to Stalin’s policies with regard to Russian policy toward the Chinese revolution. Defenders of the ‘U-turn’ in China claimed it resulted from a recognition of ‘changing times’ and ‘objective opportunities’ on a world scale, arguing that the emergence of the ‘world-wide anti-colonial revolution in the aftermath of World War II created a symmetry of purpose between nationalists and communists, which would evolve over time to a non-capitalist state.

That these alliances were fragile, led to regime breakdown and to the emergence of right-wing ‘strong men’ regimes suggests that this line of argument was itself of limited duration. There were and still are numerous variations on these explanation for the political ‘U-turns’ but any structural-historical explanation must come to terms with the difference between a revolutionary movement in the process of coming to power and a revolutionary leadership holding state power.

In the latter case, the revolutionary state must deal with a generally hostile environment, military pressures and interventions, economic boycotts and diplomatic isolation from imperial states and their clients. In this context the revolutionary or radical regime has a continuum of policy choices to enhance its international position, ranging from outright support of overseas radical or opposition movements to attempts to demonstrate moderation, conciliation and accommodation to imperial concerns. Several factors influence the foreign policies of the revolutionary regime. They are likely to pursue a revolutionary policy if:

1. Revolutionary movements are on the upswing and show promise of early success, in either toppling pro-imperial clients or putting in place a progressive or sympathetic government.
2. The revolutionary regime has recently come to power and confronts an imminent military threat to its consolidation, facing an all or nothing situation.
3. The revolutionary regime faces a solid bloc of intransigent opposition led by imperial powers, which show no willingness to negotiate a modus vivendi and are not eager to make any compromises.

In contrast, revolutionary regimes are more likely to downplay or renounce links to revolutionary movements overseas if:

1. There are definite opportunities to pursue diplomatic relations, market, trade and investment agreements with capitalist regimes;
2. The radical movements are on a downslide, losing support or being eclipsed by electoral parties, which promise recognition and improved relations.
3. Internal socio-economic changes within the revolutionary regime evolve toward an accommodation with emerging local or foreign private investors whose future growth is dependent on associating with overseas business elites and dissociation from radical anti-capitalist forces.

In practice, at different time and places, the two polar positions are combined, according to a series of attenuating circumstances. For example, the revolutionary regime may pursue an accommodating position with a large, potentially economically important capitalist regime, while continuing to support revolutionary movements in a smaller, less significant capitalist country.

In other cases, the revolutionary regime may dissociate itself from revolutionary movements, in order to diversify its markets and trade and, at the same time, continue to adopt ‘revolutionary rhetoric’ for domestic consumption and to maintain the allegiance of overseas reformist movements.

Foreign policy, revolutionary or not, is the prerogative of the diplomatic corps, which tends to contain many professionals who have no revolutionary standing and who are holdovers from pre-revolutionary times. Their understanding of foreign policy is to draw on previous ties and relations with their counterparts in the capitalist countries and with the past business elites of their country. Hence, by and large, they are constantly in a ‘negotiating mode’, immune to the internal revolutionary dynamics and look to maximize the greatest number of diplomatic ties and minimize overseas linkages to revolutionary movements which compromise their day-to-day relations with their foreign counterparts.

Government and Party: Solidarity and ‘Interests of State’

It is conceivable to envision a situation in which a revolutionary government pursues a moderate policy of accommodation, while the revolutionary party or parties/movements supporting the government expresses solidarity with overseas revolutionary parties and movements. This presumes that the state and party are mutually supportive but politically and organizationally independent. This dual approach is possible if the political party decides its policies through its own deliberative forums, in consultation with its membership and is not a ‘transmission belt’ of the state and its executive branch.

Unfortunately in the overwhelming number of cases, the party-state tend to merge, leaders of the party and mass social movements take positions in the government and the movements lose their autonomy and become mechanisms to implement state policy. Henceforth the diplomatic maneuvers of the Foreign Office, override the party/movement’s principles of revolutionary solidarity, reducing the latter to inconsequential abstract rhetoric.

While the post-revolutionary state has the responsibility of ensuring the day-to-day security, employment and provision of necessities to its people and therefore must find ways of dealing with existing regimes as they find them, the revolutionary parties and movements have as one of their prime goals the deepening and extension of the revolutionary changes embedded in their programs.

In other words, there is an inevitable tension between ‘reasons of state’ and the ‘revolutionary program’ of the mass movements. With the consolidation of the post-revolutionary state, the dominant tendency of the governing class is to stabilize external relations. This involves two related processes: to limit the revolutionary party to moral support of their overseas counterparts and to dissociate or disown any ties to overseas revolutionary movements. International radical and revolutionary rhetoric remains ritualized for anniversaries of historic victories, heroic revolutionary personalities, denunciations of immediate imperial aggressors; while on a day-to-day basis, all sorts of agreements with capitalist regimes are pursued. To the degree that capitalist countries reach diplomatic, economic and political agreements with revolutionary regimes, the latter recasts their new partners as ‘progressive’, part of a new wave of ‘anti-imperialist’ governments, or as adopting an ‘independent’ position. What is noteworthy of these new re-definitions of capitalist diplomatic/economic partners is that they are not based on any internal structural, class, property changes, nor even any break in relations with imperial countries. The change in political labeling occurs almost exclusively as a result of the country’s foreign relations with the revolutionary regime.

Venezuela: The Paradox of Revolutionary Changes and Conservative Foreign Policy

The Chavez government follows a policy practiced by the great majority of previous revolutionary or radical leaders faced with hostile imperial powers – adopting radical socio-economic policies to weaken internal allies of empire while seeking diplomatic allies externally among reformist and even conservative capitalist regimes. Chavez has backed the neo-liberal Lula regime in Brazil (and urged the popular social movements to do likewise) even as the ex-trade union boss slashed public employee pensions, imposed an IMF stability pact and favored agro-mineral exporters over landless rural workers. Likewise Chavez financially backed the Kirchner regime in Argentina via the purchase of state bonds even as it refused to challenge the illicit privatization of the 1990’s, maintained the socio-economic inequalities of the past, refused to grant legal recognition to the independent trade union confederation CTA. For Chavez, the key issue was Argentina’s opposition to US intervention against Venezuela and opposition to US-promoted integration via ALCA.

Chavez’ foreign policy toward Colombia, the principle US political and military ally in the region has alternated between ‘reconciliation’ and ‘rejection’ depending on the immediate threats to its sovereignty. The points of conflict revolve around several Colombian blatant interventions into Venezuela: In 2006, the Colombian military kidnapped a Venezuelan citizen of Colombian origin who was a FARC foreign affairs representative in downtown Caracas. Prior to that the Venezuelan military captured 130 Colombian armed paramilitary forces in Venezuela less than 100 kilometers from the capital. Following the kidnapping, Venezuela briefly suspended economic relations, but they were renewed shortly after a meeting following an amicable diplomatic meeting between Colombia’s death squad President Uribe and Chavez. Subsequently in 2008, when Chavez attempted to broker a prisoner release and open peace negotiations between the FARC and the Uribe regime, the latter launched a murderous military attack on the FARC’s lead negotiator operating out of Ecuador’s frontier. In the face of Uribe’s defense of his violation of Ecuadorian sovereignty in pursuit of the guerrillas, Chavez was forced to denounce Uribe and mobilize the Venezuelan armed forces and to raise the matter before the Organization of American States. Uribe launched a diplomatic offensive claiming a guerrilla computer, captured in the raid, contained evidence of Chavez ties to the FARC. Subsequently Uribe and Chavez negotiated a temporary settlement on the basis of a half-hearted understanding that Uribe would refrain from future cross-border military attacks. In this context of high military threats and diplomatic tensions, Chavez chose to publicly denounce the FARC, put distance between his government and the revolutionary left and call for its unilateral disarmament to gain diplomatic favor from Colombia, Europe and North America. Clearly Chavez believed that appeasing Uribe would lessen threats to Venezuela’s borders and lessen the chances that Colombia would grant the US use of its border territory as a launching base for an invasion.

Chavez’ decision was deeply influence by the military and political weakening of the FARC over the previous 5 years, the advance of the Colombian military and the calculation that the effectiveness of the FARC as a counter-weight to Uribe was in decline. In this context, Chavez probably considered an immediate diplomatic détente with US-backed Colombia more important that any past solidarity or future tactical recovery of the FARC. In general terms, when revolutionary governments perceive or confront a situation of weakening or defeated revolutionary movements abroad and increasing political threats by imperial powers and their satellites, they are more likely to build diplomatic bridges to centrists or rightist regimes. In order to pursue diplomatic support, the most likely confidence-building measure is to sacrifice any identification with the radical left, including public repudiation of any extra-parliamentary initiatives.

Since the 1990’s economic crises, Cuba has pursued close diplomatic and economic relations with all Latin American states (including Colombia) and has opposed all guerrilla movements and refrained from criticizing center-right regimes, except those which publicly attack Cuba, as happened with US clients such as ex-President Fox of Mexico and his former Foreign Minister, George Castaneda, a notorious mouthpiece of the CIA and Cuban exiles in Miami.

Conclusion

The dilemmas of revolutionary governments revolves around the problem of managing the state, which involves maximizing international economic and diplomatic relations to develop the economy and defending its security in an imperial world order, while living up to its revolutionary ideology and solidarity with popular movements in the capitalist world. The risks of solidarity are lessened when new leftist regimes come to power or popular movements are in the ascent. The risks are greater when the resurgent right is in ascendancy. The dilemma is especially acute because the revolutionary state and the revolutionary party are tightly integrated – and identified as such: The party is led by the President of the State and there is overlap at all levels between government office holders and the party and the latter’s activities reflect the priorities of the government. In the case where there is no independent space between Party and State, diplomatic moves, necessary for everyday policy, undermine the possibility that the Party based in its internal deliberations and principles could act independently in support of their international counterparts. In contrast, the existence of an independent revolutionary party – supportive of the state but with its own internal life – could resolve the dilemma by making overseas class solidarity central to its ‘foreign policy’. By rejecting the role of being a government foreign policy transmission belt, the revolutionary party would operate parallel to the state, conveying their opposition to imperialism and internal class enemies but independent in choosing overseas allies and tactics. Given the different composition of the foreign affairs bureaucracy and diplomatic corps and the radical mass base of a revolutionary party, such a separation of state and movements would reflect the class-political differences inherent between a diplomatic corps developed under previous reactionary regimes and accustomed to conventional modes of operation and newly radicalized popular activists, tested in class struggle and accustomed to exchanging ideas in international forums with overseas revolutionaries.

The risks of diplomatic dependence on unreliable capitalist allies and even riskier fragile temporary accommodations need to be balanced with the gains from solidarity and support from reliable, principled class-based opposition mass parties and movements engaged in extra-parliamentary politics.

© Copyright James Petras, Global Research, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9500

The Rise of Food Fascism: Agrarian Elite Foments Coup in Bolivia

Dandelion Salad

By Roger Burbach
ICH 07/03/08
Bolivia Rising 06/30/08

Like many third world countries Bolivia is experiencing food shortages and rising food prices attributable to a global food marketing system driven by multinational agribusiness corporations. With sixty percent of the Bolivian population living in poverty and thirty-three percent in extreme poverty, the price of the basic food canasta–including wheat, rice, corn, soy oil and potatoes, as well as meat—has risen twenty-five percent over the past year with prices gyrating wildly in the local markets.

As in most other countries affected by the food crisis, the overall rise in food prices is attributable to the workings of the free market—when the price of one or several commodities goes up, the consumers turn to other food stuffs, thereby driving up these prices as well. In an effort to halt the effects of this unregulated market, the government has enacted price controls and even prohibited the export of beef, most of which is produced on haciendas. But these measures have been largely ineffective: A black market flourishes as agrarian commercial interests openly flaunt the central government’s price controls, even directly exporting commodities like beef and cooking oil at higher prices to the neighboring countries of Chile and Peru.

This is taking place as Bolivia’s first Indian president, Evo Morales, is facing a sustained challenge by a right wing movement for autonomy that is integrally linked to the very agribusiness corporations that are profiting from the upsurge in food prices. Based in the eastern province of Santa Cruz, a powerful agrarian bourgeoisie is determined to upend the government’s agrarian reform program and to halt Morales’ efforts to more equitably distribute the wealth that flows from Bolivia’s oil and gas fields. Its ultimate goal is to topple Morales and the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) that backs him.

The corporate dominated agro-industrial complex in Santa Cruz is centered on the growing, processing and export of soy beans. Two of the world’s largest agribusiness multinationals, ADM and Cargill, play a major role in the regional economy. They are primarily exporters of Bolivian soybeans and sunflower seeds while ADM co-owns with a Bolivian firm the largest vegetable oil processing plant, Sociedad Aceitera del Oriente. (1) Giant agribusiness corporations like John Deere have commercial outlets in Santa Cruz as Bolivia manufactures no heavy agricultural machinery. Multinational companies supply most of Bolivia’s agrichemicals, while Monsanto and Calgene are promoting genetically modified seeds. Peruvian and Colombian agribusiness interests have also set up processing plants in Santa Cruz, including the Romero Company from Peru which has joint international operations with Cargill, while large soy growers from the neighboring Brazilian state of Mato Grosso have settled on Bolivian lands.

The agrarian bourgeoisie of Santa Cruz is orchestrating the movement for provincial autonomy in order to seize control of the region’s extensive resources from the national government. The referendum on autonomy that was unconstitutionally voted on and approved in Santa Cruz on May 4, 2008 would allow the provincial administration to write its own contracts with multinationals and to exercise direct control over the police and law enforcement agencies. Autonomy would also enable the province to override national legislation promoted by Morales and MAS on agrarian reform and the control of public forests and subsoil rights, including natural gas and oil.

The economic policies favoring the rise and consolidation of the agrarian bourgeoisie allied to global agribusiness took shape in the mid-1980s when the International Monetary Fund stepped in with a structural adjustment program. Hyper-inflation had gripped the country from 1983-85 and in exchange for the refinancing of Bolivia’s public and international debt the government agreed to a series of “market reforms,” including the reduction of tariffs and the slashing of state subsidies and assistance for the growing of basic food commodities. (2)

These measures overturned the strong role the state had come to play in the economy with the Bolivian revolution of 1952. Along with the nationalization of the tin mines, the worker and peasant backed revolution led to an agrarian reform that broke up the hacienda system in the Andean highlands which had bound much of the Indian population to the land in virtual servitude. With the takeover of the large estates by peasants, rural unions and Indian communities, the production and marketing of basic food stuffs increased, particularly in the 1950s and early 60s. (3)

But another agrarian dynamic began to take shape in the eastern part of the country during these years. Bolivia has three main geographical zones; the Andean highlands or plateau in the west where the agrarian reform was concentrated; the valleys located more in the center and to the south; and the plains or low lands that extend into the more humid and tropical regions in the east.

In the 1960s and 70s, a new landed class emerged in the low lands centered in the province of Santa Cruz. Seizing control of large swaths of the plains and rain forests, often illegally or through government concessions acquired through bribes, the new landed barons raised sugar cane and cotton while plundering the rain forests for lumber. The reactionary character of this region was manifested early on when General Hugo Banzer from Santa Cruz overthrew a leftist general backed by a popular assembly in 1971, ruling the country with an iron hand for seven years, much like the military regimes in other countries in the Southern cone that took power in the 1970s. (4)

The IMF reforms of 1985 privileged the role of Santa Cruz vis-à-vis other parts of the country. With the privatization and closure of many of the state tin mines in the Andean highlands, tens of thousands of miners were thrown out of work. Many migrated to the Chapare region in the south-central part of the country, becoming coca farmers, while others went to the east to squat on small patches of land and serve as an agrarian labor force for the large estates that were favored with credits and infrastructure loans backed by the World Bank. Then in the 1990s vast tracts of land were turned over to the cultivation of soybeans and by the turn of the century Bolivia’s export revenue from soy production was second in importance only to that of the natural gas and oil fields.

The rise of this agribusiness complex has plundered the natural resources of eastern Bolivia. As the frontier for soybeans advances further into the rainforests, the older depleted lands are either abandoned or turned into extensive cattle grazing pastures. Given the highly mechanized nature of soy farming, there are few employment opportunities in the countryside for either the local indigenous population or for those who migrate from the Andes searching for work. As Miguel Urioste, the director of the Land Foundation in La Paz explains: “This mono export model—promoted actively by the World Bank for 15 years—is a lamentable demonstration of how, those that decide public policies…in the third world, do not take into account the enormous environmental costs or the lamentable economic and political effects produced by this model. The monocultivation of soy has concentrated land in a few hands, it has transnationalized property rights, it has impeded new humanely planned settlements and concentrated thousands of poor peasants without lands to generate wealth, employment and well being.” (5)

While Bolivia ranks among the world’s ten top soy exporters, the production of domestic food stuffs by the peasantry has stagnated or declined and the urban population has come to rely more and more on imported grains. Today Bolivia imports sixty-nine percent of its wheat, forty-five percent of its rice, and forty-two percent of its corn. (6) In 2004, even the World Bank was compelled to admit: ‘the rural economy is increasingly polarised between the small peasant sector producing foodstuffs, on the one hand, and the agro-enterprise sector producing cash crops for export, on the other’. (7)

The Civic Committee of Santa Cruz, a business organization lead by agribusiness interests, is at the center of the drive for provincial autonomy. According to Bret Gustafson, an analyst of the Santa Cruz elite and its political and cultural institutions: “The Civic Committee is an unelected entity dominated by business and agro-industrial elites who have a long history of resisting control of, and demanding subsidization by, the central government. Typical business members include the private chamber of commerce, the cattlemen, the agro-livestock chamber, the industrialists, the forestry chamber, the soy-producers chamber, and professional organizations (doctors, lawyers, architects). Other “civic” members include representatives of provincial civic committees, of carnival comparsas, and of social clubs or “fraternities.” (8)

Branko Marinkovic, the powerful head of the Civic Committee whose parents migrated to Bolivia from Croatia in the 1950s, is the largest landowner in the country with 300,000 hectares, much of it obtained for pennies or fraudulent maneuvers under past dictatorial and oligarchic governments. (9) He also has considerable business investments, including IOL S.A., one of Bolivia’s largest soy and sunflower processing plants. A political ideologue of the autonomy movement, Marinkovic funds and sits on the board of the think tank Fundacion Libertad y Democracia that has ties to the Heritage and Cato Foundations. (10)

The Cruceño Youth Union (UJC), a junior men’s organization affiliated with the Civic Committee, is the strong arm of the Civic Committee, often acting as shock troops for the autonomy movement. During the plebiscite in May its members, mainly in their teens and early twenties, roamed the streets of the city of Santa Cruz and surrounding towns violently attacking and repressing any opposition to the referendum by local indigenous movements and MAS-allied forces. Not wanting to provoke a violent confrontation, Evo Morales did not deploy the army or use the local police, leaving the urban areas under the effective control of the UJC when the voting took place.

The other less densely inhabited provinces in the east that make up what is called the Media Luna—Pando, Beni and Tarija–have held referendums calling for autonomy under similar conditions. On the national level, the major political party of the right, Podemos (We Can) tied up the efforts of a popularly elected Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution for over a year and it is now maneuvering with other political forces in La Paz to block a national referendum to enact the constitution.

Simultaneously, the right wing lead by the Civic Committee is sewing economic instability, seeking to destabilize the Morales government much like the CIA-backed opposition did in Chile against Salvador Allende in the early 1970s. As in Chile the business elites and allied truckers engage in “strikes,” withholding or refusing to ship produce to the urban markets while selling commodities in the black market at high prices that cause alarm among the poor. The national Confederation of Private Businesses of Bolivia is calling for a national producers’ shutdown if the government “does not change its economic policies.” (11)

The social movements allied with the government are mobilizing against the right wing. In the Media Luna a union coalition of indigenous peoples and peasants has campaigned against voting in the autonomy referendums and taken on the bands of the UJC as they try to intimidate and terrorize people. In the Andean highlands, the social movements have descended on La Paz in demonstrations backing the government, including a large mobilization on June 10 that stormed the American embassy because of its support for the right wing, particularly over the US refusal to extradite a past president who ordered the shooting of demonstrators in the streets in 2003. Because of this growing unrest, the country is awash with rumors of a coup, and Morales went to a summit in Caracas in mid-June with Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Carlos Lage, vice president of Cuba, to discuss how to defend his government.

The ability of the agrarian interests of Bolivia to take the country to the brink of civil war is reflective of the powerful agrarian bourgeoisies that have arisen in many countries of the third world in tandem with global agribusiness. When national governments attempt to control the steep increase in food prices, or popular movements agitate for agrarian reform and food sovereignty, they encounter powerful internal agro-industrial interests, in effect a fifth column nurtured and developed by the multinational corporations in conjunction with the World Bank and the IMF.

This new configuration of power is particularly manifest in South America. In Argentina when President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner tried to levy an export tax on soybeans, the large growers orchestrated a rebellion that has tied up the country’s exports and food marketing system for over three months. In neighboring Brazil, the agrarian bourgeoisie is perhaps the strongest and most entrenched in the Global South. Over the years it has fought a running war with the Landless Movement, violently repressing the efforts of the poor to peacefully occupy and till idle lands. In October last year at the genetically modified seed experimental station of Syngenta (the world’s largest agrichemical corporation) five peaceful demonstrators were shot and one killed: The NT Security company that carried out the attack has close ties to the Rural Society, a right wing growers association known for repeated acts of violence against the Landless Movement. (12)

Some argue that that we are witnessing the rise of “petro-fascism” as multinational corporations and nation states struggle for control of the life-blood of the global economy. (13) Now with the efforts of the multinational agribusiness corporations and the agrarian bourgeoisies to control the very sustenance of human life we may be facing an even more violent period of repression, conflict and upheaval.

Roger Burbach is director of the Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA) based in Berkeley, CA. He has written extensively on Latin America and US foreign policy. His first book, co-authored with Patricia Flynn, was “Agribusiness in the Americas.” See www.globalalternatives.org for CENSA activities and publications.

Special thanks to Isabella Kenfield for her editorial assistance.

End Notes

1. Ximena Soruco (Coordinador) Wilfredo Plata and Gustavo Medeiros, Los Barones del Oriente: El Poder en Santa Cruz Ayer y Hoy, Fundacion Tierra, Observatorio de la Revolución Agraria en Bolivia, La Paz, Bolivia, pp. 206-12. www.ftierra.org

2. For a description of how the IMF and the World Bank imposed these structural adjustment programs on other countries in the Global South, see Walden Bello, “Manufacturing a Food Crisis,” The Nation, June 2, 2008.

3. Cristóbal Kay and Miguel Urioste, “Bolivia’s Unfinished Agrarian Reform: Rural Poverty and Development Policies, ISS/UNDP Land, Poverty and Public Action, Policy Paper No. 3, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands and United Nations Development Program, New York, NY, October, 2005, p. 11-13.

4. Forrest Hylton and Sinclair Thomson, Revolutionary Horizons: Popular Struggle in Bolivia, Verso Press, London, 2007, pp. 85-6.

5. Miguel Urioste, “El Banco Mundial Promovio los Moncultivos en Bolivia Durante 15 Anos, Fundacion Tierra, May, 2008, http://ftierra.org/sitio/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=159&Itemid=118

6. Marcos Nordren Ballivian, “El Precio de los Alimientos,” Foros del Banco Tematico, June 11, 2008. http://www.bancotematico.org/smf/index.php?topic=68.0 )

7. Kay and Urisote, p. 15.

8. Bret Gustafson, “Spectacles of Autonomy and Crisis: Or, What Bulls and Beauty Queens have to do with Regionalism in Eastern Bolivia,” Journal of Latin American Anthropology, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2006, p. 363.

9. BolPress, “Movilización para Aplastar la Conspiración Oligárquico-Imperialista en Bolivia,” Unidad de Promoción Indigena y Campesina, Boletin N. 45, 20 de Mayo, 2008, http://www.bolpress.com/art.php?Cod=2008050812

10. Bret Gustafson, “By Means Legal and Otherwise: The Bolivian Right Regroups,” NACLA Report on the Americas, January/February, 2008, p. 25. http://nacla.org/naclareport

11. La Prensa, “La CEPB Amenaza con Paro y el Gobierno Percibe Complot,” La Paz, June 21, 2008.

12. Isabella Kenfeld and Roger Burbach, “Corporate Murder in Brazil: Landless Rural Worker Shot by Security Company Hired by Multinational Syngenta,” Strategic Studies, Global Alternatives, October, 2007. http://globalalternatives.org/node/80

13. See Michael T. Klare, “Behold the Rise of Energy-Based Fascism,” Tomdispatch.com, January 20, 2007, http://www.alternet.org/story/46838

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.

Iran Warms To Freeze-For-Freeze Plan By Gareth Porter

Dandelion Salad

By Gareth Porter
07/03/08 “ICH’
WASHINGTON, Jul 2 (IPS)

A senior Iranian official reportedly told members of the Iranian parliament Monday that Iran has agreed to freeze its enrichment programme for six weeks and begin negotiations with the P5+1 group of states as early as next week, according to reports of that decision by the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) and by a Farsi-language website in Iran.

Remarks by Iranian Foreign Minister Manoucher Mottaki and a top adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday also seemed to indicate that decision to accept a “freeze-for-freeze” proposal from the “Iran Six” to begin at least preliminary negotiations.

The “Iran Six” consists of the permanent members of the UN Security Council – the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia – and Germany.

The apparent Iranian decision comes in the wake of an atmosphere of heightened threat of attack on Iran by Israel created by a series of moves by Israeli and US officials in recent days.

The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, Gholam-Reza Aghazadeh, told members of the Majlis (parliament) energy committee on Monday that Iran had agreed to start the talks, according to the Farsi-language Iranian website Fararou. It said “informed sources” had specified that Iran had accepted a six-week freeze on any expansion of enrichment as a condition on such negotiations, as proposed by European Union foreign affairs chief Javier Solana.

The “Iran Six” proposal also offers to suspend further progress in advancing UN sanctions against Iran. It does not, however, address sanctions organized outside the UN Security Council framework.

ISNA reported in a brief item on Monday that an Iranian parliamentary energy committee member, whom it did not name, had declared that Iran “has agreed to start talks with the 5+1 [“Iran Six”] countries group”. It added that the talks “will begin next week”.

Although ISNA did not report that the official had said Iran would freeze its nuclear activities, in the sense of foregoing any increase in centrifuges, it implied as much by reporting that the “Iran Six” proposal delivered by Solana on June 14 “required Iran to suspend nuclear activities in exchange for a set of economic and security incentives”.

The news further quoted unnamed “Iranian officials” as saying that “common points of the two packages can be a launching pad to start talks”.

The Farsi-language website Fararou identified the member of the committee who had quoted Aghazadeh as informing committee members that Iranian authorities had agreed to negotiate with the “Iran Six” group as Seyed Admad Hosseini. It was Hosseini who was quoted as telling reporters that the talks should start next week.

Fararou also provided additional details on Aghazadeh’s briefing. It said the secretary of the Majlis energy committee, Moayyed Hosseini, told its reporter that Aghazadeh had pointed to “positive aspects” of the negotiations with the “Iran Six”, “including the fact that the West was accepting Iran’s possession of 3,000 centrifuges”.

That comment suggested that Tehran will present the “freeze-for-freeze” proposal as a concession to Iran’s right to enrich uranium.

The committee secretary was quoted by Fararou as stating flatly that the proposal for a six-week freeze on enrichment “has been accepted by Tehran”.

The same parliamentarian was quoted as saying the atomic energy chief had declared that the “package” of proposals from the “Iran Six” was still being studied and that Iran would respond by the end of the week.

The formal “Iran Six” proposal given to Iranian officials by Solana on June 14 was a repackaging of the mid-2006 proposal to Tehran. But it was accompanied by a six-week “freeze-for-freeze” proposal under which Iran would not increase the level of its enrichment efforts and the “Iran Six” would freeze the movement towards tougher sanctions against Iran, according to diplomats in London quoted by Reuters on June 21.

That would enable “pre-negotiations” to begin between the two sides on “parameters for formal negotiations”, according to the diplomats.

Beginning formal negotiations, however, was said to require that Iran “fully suspend” enrichment, meaning that it would actually temporarily halt the enrichment.

The formal negotiations envisaged would last “up to six months”, according to the diplomats cited by Reuters, during which time the halt to enrichment activities would have to continue.

The remarks by energy committee secretary Hosseini implied that Iran’s commitment was only to the six-week freeze on the level of its nuclear activities and not to an actual suspension of enrichment as required for the formal stage of negotiations.

But Mottaki, in remarks at a luncheon meeting with reporters at the Iranian mission in New York, suggested that the Iranians might be prepared to go further.

Mottaki said that there were sufficient commonalities between the Solana proposal on behalf of the “Iran Six” and Iran’s own proposals for negotiations to provide the basis for talks. That remark, paralleling the unattributed view reported by ISNA on Monday, suggested that Iran was preparing to enter into substantive negotiations. Furthermore, Mottaki failed to repeat the standard Iranian statement that enrichment was Iran’s legitimate right, even though he was repeatedly questioned on the point.

Further indicating an Iranian desire to take advantage of any diplomatic opening in a period of rising threat from Washington and Tel Aviv, Ali Akbar Velyati, a top foreign policy adviser to Khamenei, said, “Americans wanted Iran not to accept Solana. Therefore our interests imply that we should embrace Solana.”

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, “Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam”, was published in 2006.

Copyright Inter Press Service

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Rep. Ron Paul Assails Congress’ “Virtual Iran War Resolution”

Ron Paul: Iran war will triple energy prices

Cheney & manufacturing consent on Iran Part 2

Congressional Resolution to Provoke Iran (Action Alert)

Will the US Congress ratify the Bush Administration’s Decision to launch a War on Iran (H. CON. RES. 362)

Hersh: Congress Agreed to Bush Request to Fund Major Escalation in Secret Operations Against Iran

Preparing the Battlefield by Seymour M. Hersh

Iran
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.

Rep. Ron Paul Assails Congress’ “Virtual Iran War Resolution” + vid

Dandelion Salad

By Congressman Ron Paul
07/03/08 “ICH”
07/01/08

Today the Dow Jones Average was down 350-some points, gold was up $32, and oil was up another $5. There is a lot of chaos out there and everyone is worried about $4 gasoline. But I don’t think there is a clear understanding [of] exactly why that has occurred.

We do know that there is a supply and demand issue, but there are other reasons for the high cost of energy. One is inflation. In order to pay for the war that has been going on, and the domestic spending, we’ve been spending a lot more money than we have. So what do we do? We send the bills over to the Federal Reserve and they create new money, and in the last three years, our government, through the Federal Reserve and the banking system, has created $4 trillion of new money. That is one of the main reasons why we have this high cost of energy and $4 per gallon gasoline.

But there is another factor that I want to talk about tonight, and that is not only the fear of inflation and future inflation, but the fear factor dealing with our foreign policy. In the last several weeks, if not for months, we have heard a lot of talk about the potential of Israel and/or the United States bombing Iran. And it is in the marketplace. Energy prices are being bid up because of this fear. It has been predicted that if bombs start dropping, that we will see energy prices double or triple. It is just the thought of it right now that is helping to push these energy prices up. And that is a very real thing going on right now.

But to me it is almost like deja vu all over again. We listened to the rhetoric for years and years before we went into Iraq. We did not go in the correct manner, we did not declare war, we are there and it is an endless struggle. And I cannot believe it, that we may well be on the verge of initiating the bombing of Iran!

Leaders on both sides of the aisle, and in the administration, have all said so often, ‘No options should be taken off the table—including a nuclear first strike on Iran.’ The fear is, they say, maybe someday [Iran is] going to get a nuclear weapon, even though our own CIA’s National Intelligence Estimate has said that the Iranians have not been working on a nuclear weapon since 2003. They say they’re enriching uranium, but they have no evidence whatsoever that they’re enriching uranium for weapons purposes. They may well be enriching uranium for peaceful purposes, and that is perfectly legal. They have been a member of the non-proliferation treaties, and they are under the investigation of the IAEA, and El Baradei has verified that in the last year there have been nine unannounced investigations and examinations of the Iranian nuclear structure and they have never been found to be in violation. And yet, this country and Israel are talking about a preventive war—starting bombing for this reason, without negotiations, without talks.

Now the one issue that I do want to mention tonight is a resolution that is about to come to this floor if our suspicions are correct, after the July 4th holiday. And this bill will probably be brought up under suspension. It will be expected to be passed easily. It probably will be. And it is just more war propaganda, just more preparation to go to war against Iran.

This resolution, H.J. Res 362 [listed as H. Con. Res 362 online] is a virtual war resolution. It is the declaration of tremendous sanctions, and boycotts and embargoes on the Iranians. It is very, very severe. Let me just read what is involved if this bill passes and what we’re telling the President what he must do:

This demands that the President impose stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains and cargo entering or departing Iran, and prohibiting the international movement of all Iranian officials.

This is unbelievable! This is closing down Iran. Where do we have this authority? Where do we get the moral authority? Where do we get the international legality for this? Where do we get the Constitutional authority for this? This is what we did for ten years before we went into Iraq. We starved children—50,000 individuals it was admitted probably died because of the sanctions on the Iraqis. They were incapable at the time of attacking us. And all the propaganda that was given for our need to go into Iraq was not true.

And it is not true today about the severity [of the need to attack Iran]. But they say, “Yeah, but Ahmadinejad—he’s a bad guy. He’s threatened violence.” But you know what? Us threatening violence is very, very similar. We must—we must look at this carefully. We just can’t go to war again under these careless, frivolous conditions.

NOTE: This is an unofficial transcript of Dr. Paul’s speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on June 28, courtesy of the DailyPaul web site; click here for the complete text of Congressional Resolution 362 (introduced on May 22, 2008) and here for the complete text of the companion Senate resolution 580 (introduced June 2, 2008). These bills are expected to come up for voting after the July 4th holiday.

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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Ron Paul on Iran & Energy (C-SPAN 6/26)

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

h/t: DailyPaul and Keith Gilbert

see

Ron Paul: Iran war will triple energy prices

Cheney & manufacturing consent on Iran Part 2

Congressional Resolution to Provoke Iran (Action Alert)

Will the US Congress ratify the Bush Administration’s Decision to launch a War on Iran (H. CON. RES. 362)

Hersh: Congress Agreed to Bush Request to Fund Major Escalation in Secret Operations Against Iran

Preparing the Battlefield by Seymour M. Hersh

Iran

Judge Orders YouTube to Give All User Histories to Viacom

Dandelion Salad

By Ryan Singel
http://blog.wired.com
July 02, 2008

Google will have to turn over every record of every video watched by YouTube users, including users’ names and IP addresses, to Viacom, which is suing Google for allowing clips of its copyright videos to appear on YouTube, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Viacom wants the data to prove that infringing material is more popular than user-created videos, which could be used to increase Google’s liability if it is found guilty of contributory infringement.

…continued

h/t: Hooded Soldier-FarewellFreedom.com

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Poland, U.S. agree on missile shield terms

Dandelion Salad

RIA Novosti

WARSAW, July 3 (RIA Novosti) – Poland and the U.S. have reached a tentative agreement on the deployment of an American missile base in Poland, a leading Polish TV channel reported.

Poland and the United States have been engaged in protracted talks over a U.S. request to place 10 interceptor missiles in northern Poland as part of a U.S. missile shield for Europe and North America against possible attacks from “rogue states,” including Iran.

…continued

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Bush: Some of my failures have been successful

Satire

Robert

by R J Shulman
Dandelion Salad
featured writer
Robert’s blog post
July 3, 2008

CRAWFORD, Texas – In an exclusive interview with the Post Times Sun Dispatch, President George W. Bush reflected his Presidency as it nears its end. “Reflecticating back on my years as the decider,” Bush said, “there have been some high moments and some that seemed not to be so high, but were in fact successful failures. Now, first off,” Bush said, “People say I am concerned about my legacy. Now I don’t know why they call it a legacy, as a leg is not that important as you can be down one leg and still kick someone, but a head is more important as you can’t kick someone if you are missing your head, so it shouldn’t be called a legacy, but a headicy.”

“Now some naysayers say that Katrina wasn’t handled well by me,” Bush continued, “but now they can build luxury high rise hotels in place of the old blight and Trent Lott gets a new porch, which is a good thing as his old one wasn’t holding up too good and could have collapsed on some of them dogs he keeps under there. Now, the American people must understand that Brownie really did do a heck of a job as we were able to aid a third world country, New Orleans with some trailers that had a little extra naugahyde in them.”

The President also addressed criticism that he has received for announcing that the mission in Iraq was accomplished when the bulk of the death and destruction followed that statement. “Now on this mission accomplished thing,” Bush explained, “it really was accomplished. See, the mission was for me to be a war president, and how could I be one if the war ended lickity split, so the mission was not to win the war in Iraq but to keep it going so I could be a war president for a long time.”

Bush also reflected on his accomplishments with the economy. “It’s a good thing that the economy is rough on the middle class,” Bush said, “because when the going gets tough, the tough get to do things. It’s important for Americans not to get too lazy and take a lot of vacations on their ranches clearing brush, no, they have to do it the old fashioned way by earning it and I would like to say more but my daddy’s friends have a big surprise for me at some fancy hotel ballroom.”

International Justice and Impunity: The Case of the United States

Dandelion Salad

by Kim Petersen
Global Research, July 2, 2008
Dissident Voice

Review of Wiliam Blum’s book

Getting Away with the Supreme International Crime

full review see Dissident Voice / June 18th, 2008

I don’t care about international law. I don’t want to hear the words ‘international law’ again. We are not concerned about international law. – US military judge in Guantánamo Bay

The US and its coalition has been ground down by the Iraqi resistance, despite its vastly superior weaponry, despite plundering the Iraqi treasury, despite decimating the economy and infrastructure, despite the blatant divide-and-conquer strategy, despite, as my colleague B.J. Sabri wrote me,

Here is the picture: over 1.5 million killed, 4 million refugees inside Iraq, 3 million outside Iraq, 75% unemployed, cancer rates increased 20,000% since 2003, no medical system, no functioning economy, prostitution is rampant and Iraq has the highest number of women turned prostitutes more than any country that experience war, US detains over 28,000 Iraqis kids below age 18, and over 110,000 adults, US and Shiites divided Baghdad with concrete walls, electricity is available every 4-6 days, no clean water, gasoline is scarce, and the killers still kill and no one knows who is killing who except of course the Americans …

The “culture of impunity” is well known of within the United Nations, and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon often comments on it. He talked about “a serious culture of impunity” in Central African Republic. Prior to heading off to Sudan, Ban warned that “a culture of impunity and a legacy of past crimes that go unaddressed can only erode the peace.” Most recently, at a memorial to slain reporters in London, Ban said, “In tribute to their memory we must end the culture of impunity surrounding crimes against reporters. We must bring the perpetrators to justice.”

Clarity Press has published a book, International Justice and Impunity: The Case of the United States, that deals with the scourge of impunity that enables serial aggressions, violations of human rights, and international laws. In Impunity, 26 experts make the case against impunity.

Author William Blum has detailed the United State’s serial aggressions and military interventions that violate the sovereignty of other states. Rarely has the US been called to account for these international crimes. One instance where it was called before the bench was when it suffered the indignity of being found guilty of wielding an “unlawful use of force” (i.e., “terrorism” as defined by the US Code of Federal Regulations) by the International Court of Justice in 1986. In a blatant act of impunity, the US disregarded the verdict and removed itself unilaterally from the purview of the court. Likewise, the US refuses to recognize the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over it, and it has “negotiated”6 bilateral treaties with a plethora of countries removing referral to of any criminal American actions to the ICC — an undermining of the ICC.

In fact, much of the policies and actions of the US are directed to subverting international law and international institutions, and often these actions undermine/contradict the historiography of the US itself. For instance, the US was a prime mover in the formation of the United Nations, a central plank of whose Charter is to prevent the scourge of war upon future generations. The US is a signatory to the Geneva Conventions (although as Impunity co-editor Daniel Iagolnitzer acknowledges, additional Protocol I of 1977 remains unratified by the US and other countries) — conventions that the US, ostensibly, chooses to respect and uphold at its convenience. The Waterboarding USA is also a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture. The US’s hackneyed warmongering all-options-are on-the-table rhetoric against Iran, which is legally developing its nuclear technology within the stipulations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), exposes further the hypocrisy underlying its imperialist agenda.

Under conditions where fairness exists, it is axiomatic that one must not criticize one state for alleged pursuit of nuclear weaponry while its client state, Israel, possesses an armada of nuclear weapons built with western aid. Arab states have called for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. The US dismisses this, thus declaring itself for the existence of unfairness in the world.

The US is a signatory to the NPT. As former US attorney general Ramsey Clark points out, the NPT was actually an abolition treaty: not only was it designed to prevent the emergence of new nuclear weapons states, the states already in possession of nuclear weapons were obliged to rid themselves of nuclear weapons. Obviously, once again, disregard for treaty obligations and fairness is abundantly evident to any neutral observer.

Clark states that “equality is the mother of justice” and notes how the US undermines the UN Charter through the creation of separate tribunals to sit in judgement upon crimes as directed by US interests: for example, the tribunals on Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia.

Despite such a treaty already being in place (the NPT), Hiroshima mayor Tadatoshi Akiba works toward a universal nuclear weapons convention by 2010, which would abolish all nuclear weapons. He states that public opinion in the US indicates that two-thirds of Americans support such an abolition.

Given the present Pax Americana mindset in the US regime, there is negligible chance of the US giving up its nuclear weapons. Egyptian professor Samir Amin lays clear the ruling class’s aim: global military control, evidenced by plans dividing the planet into zones of military control and the far-flung global network of US military bases.

Amin describes how trans-national corporations entrench a western-led, capitalist world order through spreading neoliberalism via international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organization, NATO, and the G7/G8. According to Amir, consequent to the imperialist agenda is securing tribute to imperial states through the indebting of poor states. Amir states that Europe’s steadfast support of Empire is signaled by the European corporate media’s silence on imperialism.

Maybe the Europeans shouldn’t be so quick to hop on the American horse of imperialism. Abraham Behar, president of the French section of the UN Disarmament Commission in Geneva, states bluntly that rejection of international treaties and “total enthrallment of all ‘allies’” is the strategy of the George W. Bush administration.

Honorary professor Monique Chemillier-Gendreau addressed the “large scale targeting of the Vietnamese population” by the US, and argues that there is no passage of time that allows the US to escape culpability for reparations.

Noting the lawlessness in the US’s gulag in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, Director of Amnesty International in France, Geneviève Sevrin asks, “Would the United States tolerate such treatment of its citizens by another government?” There is no adherence to fairness in US Empire.

Blum asks if the host country of the conference on impunity (1) complains about the undermining of the UN, and (2) whether France or any other country decried the US-UK overflying and bombing of Iraqi airspace. However, France is poorly positioned to condemn the no-fly zones since it partook in the overflight of these zones. Moreover, France is very much complicit in the undermining of the UN, as exemplified by its participation in the aggressive coup against Haiti and the removal of the Haitian’s people’s popularly elected president Jean Betrand Aristide, exacerbating the humanitarian plight in Haiti.

Law professor Robert Charvin examines the co-opting of humanitarianism by the US and the West and concludes that humanitarian law has been weakened as a result.

Charvin posits, “It cannot be accidental that a rise in the importance of humanitarianism in general came simultaneously with interference, allowing for the by-pass of the fundamental principle of the United Nations Charter, the sovereign equality of all States!”

Given the hypocritical pressure exerted by imperialist regimes7 and the cacophony of the toe-the-line corporate media over cyclone-ravaged Myanmar, a statement by Charvin is cautionary:

Humanitarianism as an alibi is the worst of all perversions practiced today. It can be avoided only by protesting the humanitarianism.

… With humanitarian interventionism without the consent of the parties involved, humanitarian law, which to that point had been universal, becomes a law of inequality.

Professor Barbara Delacourt rues the militarization of humanitarianism. She quotes Bush’s “we intervene in Iraq in order to make them respect 17 UN resolutions.” This is astounding because of the US’s overt hypocrisy vis-à-vis Israel, which is a far more flagrant violator of UN Security Council resolutions and, yet, receives support and cover from the US.

Professor Antoine Bernard, a specialist in international public law, says the tools to tackle impunity are missing, as is the political will to tackle impunity. He calls for a strengthening of the ICC and emphasizes the importance of prosecuting anyone, including state or government heads, which, according to Bernard, is permitted by Article 27 of the Rome Statute.

Attorney Nuri Albala adds, “What is fundamental to universal jurisdiction is the fact that all of humanity is victimized by crimes against humanity, and hence that these crimes can be judged anywhere.”

Lawyer Roland Weyl charges that the “United States institutionalizes impunity” when it pressures other states to drop laws on universal jurisdiction. He warns that unequally applied humanitarian law may have anti-humanitarian effects; he reveals a secret clause of the Rambouillet Agreements required privatization of the Serb economy, something unconnected with human rights, which eventually served as a pretext to destroy Serbia.

Canadian law professor Ann Bartholomew claims that US violations of international law are designed to “reconstitute the law itself.”

She sees overcoming the bystander effect among citizens of empire as crucial, and deplores the lack of outrage to known widespread violations of human rights and humanitarian law. She argues “‘non-resistance’ to empire is a moral and political failing.”

In the vein of Bartholomew, theoretical physicist Jean Bricmont concludes, “In the absence of a genuine international force, the only thing that could limit the impunity of powerful states is the actions of their own citizens.”

Sociology professor Pedro A. García-Bilbao warns, “The fact that crimes which are classified as serious under international law are being committed is cause for concern; but repeated impunity is even worse.” Repeated impunity leads the transgressor to believe himself above the law.

Is there hope is on the horizon? Ramsey Clark’s effort to move a case for impeachment against Bush was put on the congressional agenda by Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich, who pledged to keep reintroducing the measure until the House Judiciary Committee voted on it.8 But a Kucinich pledge is lightly regarded by many progressives who remember well how he betrayed his progressive support base by endorsing the pro-war presidential contender John Kerry. Thus it was no surprise when Kucinich voted against his own measure (along with the Democrats), dismaying his constituents.9

In another recent happening, the US Supreme Court ruled that rights of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay were being violated by the government.10 A distraught looking Bush disagreed with the judgement but relented, “We’ll abide by the Court’s decision.”

Virginia Sloan of Constitution Project President hailed it a tremendous victory for the system of checks and balances. Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights said it was a critical decision and predicted most of the detainees would be released for lack of evidence against them.

Impunity is a book that a single book review cannot do justice to (pun unintended). Clarity Press translated Impunity into English, so its vital message could reach a wider audience. For a Table of Contents and acquisition information, go here.

© Copyright Kim Petersen, Dissident Voice, 2008

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9491