Archive for September, 2004

Allawi gems

Thursday, September 23rd, 2004

Josh Marshall has posted on this “amazing exchange” on Thursday’s PBS Newshour between Jim Lehrer and Iraqi puppet Prime Minister Iyad Allawi:

LEHRER: What would you say to somebody in the United States who questions whether or not getting rid of Saddam Hussein was worth the cost of more than a thousand lives now and billions and billions of U.S. dollars?

ALLAWI: Well, I assure you if Saddam was still there, terrorists will be hitting there again at Washington and New York, as they did in the murderous attack in September; they’ll be hitting also on other places in Europe and the Middle East.

When I heard this, I wanted to shake the softballs out of Lehrer’s throat, as he at least could of asked Allawi how his answers might square with the 9/11 Commission report:

to date we have seen no evidence that [Iraq-al Qaeda] contacts ever developed into a collaborative operational relationship. Nor have we seen evidence indicating that Iraq cooperated with al Qaeda in developing or carrying out any attacks against the United States. (p. 66)

Here are a couple more neo-agitprop gems from Allawi’s performance:

LEHRER: How many Iraqis have died since the U.S. military operation began?

ALLAWI: The figures we have so far, this is the ministry of health figures… in the last five months, this is taking into account the most recent ones, deaths, three-thousand-six hundred and something, I can’t remember the fractions over six hundred. Civilians have been killed by terrorist attacks in the last five months by terrorists, and more than twelve thousand injured now.

You have to be killed by the bad guys to be mentionable. Iraq Body Count has about 13,000 civilian deaths recorded since early 2003, mostly from US bombing and other military operations.

ALLAWI: …there are a lot of areas in Iraq, the majority of areas are free of such violence.

Juan Cole eloquently refuted this oft-used nonsense tack by asking, “If America were Iraq, What would it be Like”??:

…What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll….[What if the rulers] maintained that the citizens of the United States are, under these conditions, refuting pessimism and that freedom and democracy are just around the corner?

The Bush people are ballsy to trot out this brutal intelligence asset and have him maintain these fantasies of success that the recent CIA intelligence estimate (signed onto even by some Republicans) has declared are really “pitiful” failures.

Racicot: We're there for our children

Thursday, September 23rd, 2004

Former Montana governor Marc Racicot, who heads the Bush campaign, gave the real purpose of the American invasion of Iraq in a Wednesday interview with The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. Racicot slipped this in as he chatted up family life with Stewart: We invaded Iraq for our children, “So they won’t have to.”

Hmmmm….The way it’s going, American newborns today — not to mention Iraqi children — will two decades from now still be paying with their lives for America’s arrogance.

Bush to release strategic oil

Thursday, September 23rd, 2004

“The strategic reserve should not be used as an attempt to drive down oil prices right before an election….It should not be used for short-tem political gain at the cost of long-term national security.” (Presidential candidate George W. Bush, in September 2000)

A story is out this afternoon that the US Energy Department will “loan” oil to refineries from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to make up for hurricane-related supply problems. The BBC story cited suggests this is routine and legitimate, as it was done following hurricane Lili in 2002.

Meanwhile, crude prices are almost touching $50 again. Let’s see how this policy develops. Will Bush benefit from a pre-election drive-down of oil prices? Yes or no, don’t expect Bush to be criticized from reactionary quarters like NewsMax.

Bush running against Saddam Kerry

Tuesday, September 21st, 2004

As soon as John Kerry yesterday at New York University opened his mouth to level his strongest criticism yet of the conduct of the invasion of Iraq by President Bush, the president in reply sprung a heavy steel-jawed trap, smashing and holding Kerry’s bloody, crippled legs.

Kerry decried that, “The president misled, miscalculated, and mismanaged every aspect of this undertaking and he has made the achievement of our objective – a stable Iraq, secure within its borders, with a representative government, harder to achieve”.

Okay, some voters may buy Kerry’s promise to be a better imperialist than Bush. But here is how the president, laying in wait for the tentative Kerry, swung back with a visceral appeal to base emotion:

Another lesson of September the 11th, another lesson is that we must take threats seriously, before they fully materialize. (Applause.) Prior to September the 11th, if we saw a threat, we could deal with it if we felt like it, or not, because we never dreamt it would come home to hurt us. So if we saw a gathering threat overseas, maybe it’s something to pay attention to, maybe it wasn’t. Today, that world changed. Today, we’ve got to take every threat seriously because we saw the consequences of what can happen. We’re still vulnerable.

So I looked at the world and saw a threat in Saddam Hussein. (Applause.) I’ll tell you why I saw a threat. He was a sworn enemy of the United States of America; he had ties to terrorist networks….

Saddam Hussein was a threat. We had been to war with him once. Many politicians prior to my arrival in Washington had said we better — it would be naive, to the point of grave danger, not to confront Saddam Hussein — that would be Senator John Kerry — “naive to the point of grave danger”….

The world had given Saddam Hussein a chance, a last chance to listen to the demands of the free world. And he made the decision — and so did I. I had to either trust a madman, or forget the lessons of September 11th, or take the touch decision to defend our country. Given that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.)

Thank you all. Today, my opponent continued his pattern of twisting in the wind, with new contradictions of his old positions on Iraq. He apparently woke up this morning and has now decided, no, we should not have invaded Iraq, after just last month saying he still would have voted for force, even knowing everything we know today. Incredibly, he now believes our national security would be stronger with Saddam Hussein in power, not in prison.

Whoa. Take that Saddam Kerry! You aint ever gonna protect this country like I will you, you TRAITOR!!

Kerry is in a box of his own making. Bush has expertly thrown Kerry’s war support straight back at him – in a manner designed to resonate like a laser into the minds of the electorate. As I warned in two postings from last fall – one before the capture of Saddam (Nov.3, Saddam is Back! Bush Re-Election Strategy Emerges); and one after (Dec.16, Saddam may be useful) – “Progressives who want to use the bloody occupation of Iraq as an election issue against Bush better look out. The president and his rich campaign/advertising machine will have a powerful answer for us”.

Now with some news outlets reporting, “Interim Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi says the trial of the Saddam Hussein is likely to begin next month” – that is, before the election – Kerry better get some kind of treatment for those wounded campaign legs. He’s got a very, very tough last stand ahead of him.

Update 10:45am: I just read Juan Cole’s posting on the Bush New Hampshire remarks. Cole says

Bush attempted to turn [Kerry’s] statement around and suggest that Kerry was preferring dictatorship to democracy.

Iraq, however, does not have a democracy, and cannot possibly have a democracy any time soon because of events such as those described below (and they are only 24 hours’ worth)– that is, because of a failed state and a hot guerrilla war.

Yep, Professor Cole is exactly right, but it doesn’t matter. Bush plays to emotions and uses people’s emotions to lie to them. The truth about Iraq will have a very difficult time emerging, and Kerry is a flawed messenger. Kerry oughta just say, yes, Saddam probably still would be in power. But he’d be in a box and couldn’t hurt anyone. Meanwhile tens of thousands of people, ours and theirs, would still be alive and the Iraqi people would have a chance to make their own history. That would have to be better than allowing Bush to pummel him like this.

Professor Cole finishes with this lament: “I have a sinking feeling that the American public may like Bush’s cynical misuse of Wilsonian idealism precisely because it covers the embarrassment of their having gone to war, killed perhaps 25,000 people, and made a perfect mess of the Persian Gulf region, all out of a kind of paranoia fed by dirty tricks and bad intelligence…. How deep a hole are they going to dig themselves in order to get out of the bright sunlight of so much embarrassment”??

I’d offer that I think the American people certainly have a clue that the Iraq thing is a mess. But I think challenger Kerry has done a terrible job conveying the horror of the death and destruction the invasion has brought. That’s the gut-wrenching truth we must act on to save ourselves from Bush.

Report: Iraq now has Taliban Emirate

Tuesday, September 21st, 2004

According to a posting in the Angry Arab News Service, a marvelous blog site run by Professor As’ad AbuKhalil, Al-Mustaqbal newspaper is reporting today that the Taliban has established an Emirate in districts south of Baghdad and is conducting “acts of assassinations and kidnapping on the road near those districts which extends to Najaf and Karbala”.

Hmmmm, somebody forgot to tell the president. At a campaign event in Derry, New Hampshire, he puffed up his great success in eliminating the Taliban:

So I said, if you harbor a terrorist, you’re just as guilty as the terrorist. I was speaking to the Taliban at this point in time. And they ignored what we said. And thanks to a great military, the Taliban are no longer in power. (Applause.)

Okay, a couple of other points — we’ve got too much work to do here. (Applause.) Thank you all — too much work here. And so we went in and removed the Taliban from power. Now, remember, al Qaeda was training there. They trained thousands of killers. And al Qaeda no longer has a safe haven, they’re on the run in that part of the world. And we’re safer for it. We’re safer for it. (Applause.) We’re safer because people now are free in Afghanistan, as well.

My GOD. How out-of-touch is Bush when the country he invaded has become a magnet for this? I wonder how many Americans understand that MOST of Iraq is outside the control of the US and its puppet government?

Meanwhile, Kerry talks about how he’s gonna take control of it from mismanaging Bush, bring in allies, train Iraqis, etc. It’s bullshit, of course. “Fresh leadership” will not convince Iraqis to accept peace on US terms.

State terror is terror

Sunday, September 19th, 2004

The US-led Terror War quickly devolved into exactly what I feared it would in my September 14, 2001 essay entitled Why? Examining the roots of the September 11, 2001 terror attack on the United States. At that time I wrote

Naturally, our first reaction is that we want those responsible punished. And they should be punished. But I have a great deal of fear that the U.S. will retaliate, blindly, with actions that would put us on the same disgusting moral level of terrorism of the hijackers. If we as a generous, free, peace-loving people, want justice, there should be justice, not just vengeance. This is no time for blind patriotism that could become the justification for the killing of innocents in the manner of the hijackers.

The jingoes and commissars who stake claim for an America-centered moralism – justifying infliction of unimaginable horror while covering American eyes with a sheet of propaganda – most certainly will accuse me of the crime of moral relativism. I reject the exisistance of such a crime. Instead I believe in the one lesson I remember from Lutheran Sunday school – The Golden Rule set forth by Jesus in the sermon on the mount (Matthew 7:12) – Treat others as I myself wish to be treated.

A fine blogger producing Past Peak: Cause for Alarm started me off on this post. Please see his post on this subject, referencing a fine New Statesman article by John Pilger.

From the West Bank and Gaza to Fallujah, the US and its allies are engaged in “systematic, murderous assault on civilian populations”. Take a look at recent reporting from Fallujah, Iraq. The standard copy stamps an imprimatur of righteousness upon recent actions where the US has blown up homes from cowardly 1000-meter stances with aerial launched bombs, saying “intelligence” told them groups of “terrorists” were there. But when an honest journalist like Patrick Cockburn of the Independent investigates, the hospitals are found to be filled with shattered noncombatants, including many, many women and children.

Reality, America, reality. We better get back to it, witness our true effects on the world, and start trying to redeem our souls before we are lost for eternity. Rational, rapid withdrawl of our troops from Iraq would be a good start.

Seen in Orono: 1027 flags

Sunday, September 19th, 2004

Please donate to Deep Blade Journal

Saturday, September 18th, 2004

Deep Blade began in February 2003 during the run-up to the Iraq conquest. It is written by Eric T. Olson aka Deep Blade, a long-time peace and justice activist living in the Bangor, Maine area.

The blog site dates to August 21, 2003 when it was initiated at tripod.com. New postings moved to Blogger in May 2004. The tripod.com archives will remain for a few more months.

Significant postings in the “old blog” include the entire saga of the proposed — then indefinitely postponed — University of Maine School of Business, US-Iraq Business Alliance conference; and the Energy/hydrocarbon depletion thread.

With all this history of great research & information and edgy opinion posted, I feel it is time to ask people who benefit from this blog for a small donation. An amount like $2 or $5 from a few of the approximately 100 readers I get per day would really help out and inspire me to dig deeper and put up more great stuff.

My expenses are very low. Right now we pay for hosting of two sites, maineowl.net and practicalpantry.com (an excellent food-related website). We buy plenty of bandwidth for about $12 per month. Our major expense is equipment. We’ve lucked out in 2004, having no major drive or motherboard meltdowns like we did in 2003. Any donations will first go towards defraying hosting expenses, then to an equipment replacement fund, as this string of luck is unlikely to continue forever. Right now I can forsee the need for at least one new monitor in the coming months.

Help from readers for these purposes will be greeted with immense gratitude from both of us at maineowl.net and practicalpantry.com. We both toil in a low-income world of contingent labor (freelance editing & writing and part-time teaching). Even a little bit of support for the good things we try to bring you would not only be flattering, but would really help us bring you more.

Using PayPal to donate is easy. Please just click the PayPal/Donate button in the left-side pane to initiate a donation. The best thing for you to use is your own PayPal account. They are really handy for small transactions, believe me. So open one if you don’t already have one. The PayPal site provides complete explanation/instructions. Otherwise, you can also use a credit card to send us your donation through PayPal by clicking through the appropriate link.

Thank you in advance so very, very much!!

Friday vegetable blogging

Friday, September 17th, 2004

Scarlet nantes carrots

We do not have many of these because of poor germination. Apart from a few oddballs, most of the ones that have come in are champions — flavor is unbelievable when compared to the blankness of store-bought carrots.

More on Korean nuclear ambitions

Thursday, September 16th, 2004

Empire Notes today has an excellent explanation of the US-North Korea foreign policy stand-off, faulting policy of both the Republican administration and the alternatives the Democrats propose:

Far from the narrative that Republicans and Democrats agree on, it was the Bush administration, not North Korea, that provoked this crisis. North Korea is a less-than-admirable state internally, but it has no interest in a suicidal confrontation with the United States. It just understands that weakness is not the best way to keep the United States from attacking you.

Mahajan attacks further the central foreign policy canard of Bush camapaign rhetoric, where it continually highlights the demonstration value of the conquest of Iraq:

One of the most absurd moments in a very absurd post-9/11 world came on April 9, 2003, when John Bolton, U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, used the war on Iraq to warn Iran, Syria, and North Korea: “With respect to the issue of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the post-conflict period, we are hopeful that a number of regimes will draw the appropriate lesson from Iraq that the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction is not in their national interest”.

This is an odd lesson to learn from a war in which Iraq was quite obviously attacked because it couldn’t defend itself, and the attack occurred while it was disarming, in particular while it was destroying its al-Samoud 2 missiles. The lesson that those countries, and virtually every other one in the Third World, obviously learned from the war was the opposite, articulated straightforwardly by North Korea: “The Iraqi war shows that to allow disarming through inspection does not help avert a war but rather sparks it. This suggests that even the signing of a nonaggression treaty with the U.S. would not help avert a war”. (April 7, 2003, Howard French, New York Times)

On one perfectly valid point Mahajan makes, I too want to distance myself from the tough-minded liberal concensus:

The obvious implication being that the way to deal with North Korea’s weapons was to be able to threaten them with the maximal number of troops. And in general he makes it a staple of his analysis that Bush has “underestimated” the threat from North Korea and Iran.

It’s actually become quite a common refrain among liberals. Sometimes they imply we should have gone to war against Saudi Arabia rather than Iraq; sometimes that we should have gone to war against North Korea instead.

Careful readers of this blog might remember that a few posts ago, even I argued that,

Perhaps Pakistan or Saudi Arabia could have been better selections for last year’s invasion, as the more likely source of such a surprise attack exists within these countries — noting that the 911 plot was arguably centered there. And Pakistan is known to have nukes — they tested one, remember? But Pakistan is President Bush’s Terror War “ally”, even as it is wrapped in layer after layer of secret machinations. What is the truth? Is the US afraid of Pakistan? Is that why it receives treatment far different than that given Iraq?

I just want to clarify that I agree fully with Mahajan and doubt the Kerry/tough-minded-liberal solutions to these confrontations — troop strength and military threats — are much better than the inflammatory approach of the Bush administration. In the earlier post, I merely was extending the internal logic of the administration’s rhetoric, thereby highlighting the contradictions.

South Korean nuclear program

We have yet to hear much more about this very significant story:

South Korea – a strong ally of the US in its continuing quest to get North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions – stunned the region on 2 September when it revealed that, like its neighbour, it too had fallen foul of international nuclear accords.

A small number of South Korean scientists had conducted secret tests to produce 0.2g of enriched uranium in 2000, the government admitted. (BBC, 13.Sep.2004)

Doesn’t this tell us that we need calming diplomacy, truth-seeking, international cooperation, and American willingness to back off of military solutions? Get-tough approaches will one day backfire as the United States neither today nor ever will have the power to put an iron lid on everyone elses ambitions to defend themselves from ill-considered use of that power, or from each other.