Short Peace In A Terrible War

Alfred Anderson died last month at the very ripe old age of 109.

But it was not the Scotsman's many years that made him remarkable at the end of his long life. It was that, to his last days, he well recalled participating in the Christmas Truce of 1914 -- that brief respite from the carnage of World War I that saw soldiers of both sides in the conflict lay down their arms, climb out of their trenches and celebrate together along the 500-mile Western Front.

Anderson was the last surviving old soldier known to have participated in what he would refer to in his later years as "a short peace in a terrible war."

That peace, which was initiated not by presidents or prime ministers, but by the soldiers themselves, serves to this day as a reminder that war is seldom so necessary -- nor so unstoppable -- as politicians would have us believe.

So it comes as no surprise that the Christmas Truce of 1914 is a bit of history that many in power have neglected over the past 90 years.

But Anderson's long survival, and his clear memory, made it impossible to write this chapter out of history.

On December 25, 1914, Anderson was an 18-year-old soldier serving with 5th Battalion, Black Watch, of the British Army, one of the first to engage in the bloody trench warfare that was the ugliest manifestation of a war that claimed 31 million lives. But on that day, there was no violence.

Rather, Anderson recalled in an interview on the 90th anniversary of the truce, "there was a dead silence that morning, right across the land as far as you could see. We shouted 'Merry Christmas,' even though nobody felt merry."

The calls of "Merry Christmas" from the Brits were answered by Germans singing: "Stille Nacht. Heilige Nacht. Alles Schlaft, einsam wacht."

The Brits responded by singing "Silent Night" in English. Then, from the trenches opposite them, climbed a German soldier who held a small tree lit with candles and shouted in broken English, "Merry Christmas. We not shoot. You not shoot."

Thus, began the Christmas Truce. Soldiers of both armies -- more than a million in all -- climbed from the trenches along the Western Front to exchange cigarettes and military badges. They even played soccer, using the helmets they had taken off as goalposts. And they did not rush to again take up arms. Along some stretches of the Front, the truce lasted into January of 1915.

Finally, distant commanders forced the fighting to begin anew.

Thus, it has ever been with war. As George McGovern, the decorated World War II veteran who would become one of America's greatest champions of peace, "old men (are always) thinking up wars for young men to die in."

But Alfred Anderson remembered, well beyond the century of two world wars and too many lesser conflicts, that the young men of opposing armies often have more in common with one another than they do with the old men who send them into battle.

Once, on a Christmas Day that ought not be forgotten, the young men decided to make a short peace in a terrible war.

The memory of the courage of those who chose, however briefly, to see the humanity in one another, and to lay down the arms of one of the most brutal wars this planet has ever seen, offers hope this weekend, as Christians mark the birth of the Nazarene who was called Prince of Peace. Perhaps, someday, we will make a Christmas truce that lasts not merely through the hours of good cheer on this Holiday but the whole year long.

(Original Link)


How to create an Angry American

Punditman Says:
As 2007 draws to a close, let us all remember who is still in charge of the most powerful nation on earth. Let us not forget who continues to wield unlawful power; how the Congress of the United States is shirking its responsibility by doing nothing about high crimes and misdemeanors; how "weapons of mass distraction" continue to dominate the media; and how, for all these reasons (and more), the world is worse off.


Iraq, Afghanistan War Costs Top Vietnam

December 21, 2007
Iraq, Afghanistan War Costs Top Vietnam
by Aaron Glantz

Congress' approval Wednesday of $70 billion more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan mean the twin conflicts are now more costly to American taxpayers than the war in Vietnam.

According to a study by the Washington-based Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Congress has now approved nearly $700 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Using inflation-adjusted dollars, the total cost of those wars has now surpassed the total cost of the Vietnam war (which ran to $670 billion)," the group's Travis Sharp told OneWorld. "It's also more than seven times larger than the Persian Gulf War ($94 billion) and more than twice the cost of the Korean war ($295 billion)."

As a result of Wednesday's vote, Sharp said, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will become the second costliest conflict in American history, trailing only World War II.

Keep Reading...

punditman says...And all signs are that it is full speed ahead. Wait till the cost of these two quagmires eclipses Dubya Dubya Two (WW II) - pun intended.


Brown: 'It's time to talk to the Taliban'

Today, the Prime Minister will announce a major shift in strategy on Afghanistan. Could it mark the beginning of the end of a bloody six-year war? Or is it just spin?

By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor
The Independent
Published: 12 December 2007

As the deadliest year in Afghanistan since the US-led invasion in 2001 comes to a close, Gordon Brown is ready to talk to the Taliban in a major shift in strategy that is likely to cause consternation among hardliners in the White House.

Six years after British troops were first deployed to oust the Taliban regime, the Prime Minister believes the time has come to open a dialogue in the hope of moving from military action to consensus-building among the tribal leaders. Since 1 January, more than 6,200 people have been killed in violence related to the insurgency, including 40 British soldiers. In total, 86 British troops have died. The latest casualty was Sergeant Lee Johnson, whose vehicle hit a mine before the fall of Taliban-held town of Musa Qala.

The Cabinet yesterday approved a three-pronged plan that Mr Brown will outline for security to be provided by Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) and the Afghan national army, followed by economic and political development in Afghanistan.

But the intention to engage Taliban leaders in a constructive dialogue, which Mr Brown will make clear in a parliamentary statement today, will be by far the most controversial element of the plan. A senior Downing Street source confirmed the move last night and one Brown aide who accompanied the Prime Minister on his recent visit to Kabul, said: "We need to ask who are we fighting? Do we need to fight them? Can we be talking to them?"

Senior government officials said it was an error to see the Taliban as a unified organisation rather than as a disparate group of Afghan tribesmen, often farmers recruited at the end of the gun, infiltrated by foreign fighters. The aim is to divide the Taliban's local support from al-Qa'ida and militants from Pakistan.

Full article...

punditman says: Now that the British are (apparently) seeing the hopelessness of the current policy of endless war with no light at the end of the tunnel, what does Canada say? Hello, Mr. Harper, are you listening?


The Iran Charade

So They Lied Again


So they lied again. And again. Despite the fact that the Bush administration knew quite well that its very own intelligence estimate stated quite clearly that the Iranian government had halted its work on building nuclear weaponry, Mr. Bush told the world not more than two months ago that Iran was risking World War Three if it continued said work. On Monday, December 3, 2007, a report from Mr. Bush's own government said quite clearly that its intelligence proved that Iran halted nuclear arms work four years ago. Despite this knowledge, the Bush administration and its enablers in Congress have continued to move the United States closer and closer to war with Iran.

Of course, the fact that the White House has been lying for at least four years about the dangers of Iranian nuclear weaponry comes as no surprise to many of the world's citizens. After all, it was this very same administration that invaded Iraq on the basis of lies regarding Iraq's nuclear ambitions and its long lost weapons of mass destruction. What is somewhat surprising is the response to Monday's news from the White House. According to national security adviser Stephen Hadley, everything that the White House has said up to now about Iran's nuclear intentions was not wrong. Indeed, according to Hadley, it only proves that gathering intelligence is "notoriously difficult." Furthermore, in the White House's estimation, this revelation proves that the White House was right and that the US is correct to continue threatening war and encouraging sanctions. You know, just to keep Iran in line. Now, I don't know about you, but this argument sounds very similar to Bill Clinton's line about what constituted having "sex with that woman." In other words, they got caught in a lie and now the Bush White House and its allies in the government and media are using facetious arguments to justify those lies.

Full article...

punditman says:

Bush said in his December 4 press conference: "I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was Mike McConnell came in and said, we have some new information. He didn't tell me what the information was; he did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze."

Are we supposed to believe that the President of the United States is not given detailed briefings on important national security developments on a regular basis? Or that he doesn't ask follow-up questions? Or, is it simply the case that he is a bold faced liar?

Well, judging from his record...


Debunking Iran's Nuclear Program: Another 'Intelligence Failure' -- On the Part of the Press?

Iraqi WMD redux: The release of the NIE throwing cold water on oft-repeated claims of a rampant Iranian nuclear weapons program has chastened public officials and policymakers who have promoted this line for years. But many in the media have made these same claims, often extravagantly.

By Greg Mitchell

NEW YORK (December 04, 2007) -- Press reports so far have suggested that the belated release of the National Intelligence Estimate yesterday throwing cold water on oft-repeated claims of a rampant Iranian nuclear weapons program has deeply embarrassed, or at least chastened, public officials and policymakers who have promoted this line for years. Gaining little attention so far: Many in the media have made these same claims, often extravagantly, which promoted (deliberately or not) the tubthumping for striking Iran.

Surely you remember Sen. John McCain's inspired Beach Boys' parody, a YouTube favorite, "Bomb-bomb-bomb, Bomb-bomb Iran"? That was the least of it. You could dance to it and it had a good beat. Not so for so much of the press and punditry surrounding the bomb. Who can forget Norman Podhoretz's call for an immediate attack on Iran, in the pages of the Wall Street Journal last May, as he argued that "the plain and brutal truth is that if Iran is to be prevented from developing a nuclear arsenal, there is no alternative to the actual use of military force -- any more than there was an alternative to force if Hitler was to be stopped in 1938."

As I've warned in this space for years, too many in the media seemed to fail to learn the lessons of the Iraqi WMD intelligence failure -- and White House propaganda effort -- and instead, were repeating it, re: Iran. This time, perhaps, we may have averted war, with little help from most of the media. In this case, it appears, the NIE people managed to resist several months of efforts by the administration to change their assessment. If only they had stiffened their backbones concerning Iraq in 2002.

For the rest of today and this week, media critics will be offering up all sorts of reminders of the near-fatal claims by many in the press relating to Iranian nukes. Sure to get attention are the scare stories in the summer of 2005 after "proof" of an Iranian nuke program somehow surfaced on a certain laptop, proudly unveiled by officials and bought by many in the media then as firm evidence (and now debunked, like much of the "proof" of Iraqi WMD provided by defectors a few years back).

With much effort, I've already found this beauty from David Brooks of The New York Times from Jan. 22, 2006, when he declared that "despite administration hopes, there is scant reason to believe that imagined Iranian cosmopolitans would shut down the nuclear program, or could if they wanted to, or could do it in time - before Israel forced the issue to a crisis point. This is going to be a lengthy and tortured debate, dividing both parties. We'll probably be engaged in it up to the moment the Iranian bombs are built and fully functioning."

As recently as this past June, Thomas Friedman of The Times wrote: "Iran is about to go nuclear."

Full article...

punditman says:
This shows how much America's mainstream media is part of an elite consensus. Despite their abysmal failings to hold the Bush administration to account before and after the Iraq invasion, on Iran, they nevertheless started following a familiar script of kowtowing to power -- the only one they know.


Nuclear Weapons Bombshell for Bush


Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility is seen in a June satellite photo.
U.S. spy agencies insist Tehran scrapped arms bid in 2003, despite White House rhetoric
Toronto Star
December 04, 2007


WASHINGTON–Iran scrapped its pursuit of a nuclear weapon four years ago, according to a declassified security document released yesterday, contradicting the bellicose rhetoric aimed at Tehran by U.S. President George W. Bush.

Just six weeks ago, Bush linked Iran's nuclear ambitions to a potential World War III, but the National Intelligence Estimate painted a picture of an Iran guided by sober cost-benefit analyses, not the wild-eyed rush to destruction often described by the White House.

Although the report says Iran has left the door open to pursue a bomb, it now estimates it is unlikely to have the wherewithal to develop such a weapon before 2015.

Critics who had been fearful that Bush and U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney were weighing military strikes on Tehran stressed yesterday's report now offers an opening for a "diplomatic surge" with the regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

The National Intelligence Estimate represents the consensus of 16 separate American spy agencies and is provided to U.S. military and political leaders to help craft strategy or respond to perceived threats.

A full report was provided to Bush last week before a declassified version was given to U.S. legislators by Michael McConnell, the director of national intelligence.

The review, which represents a complete about-face from a 2005 report on Iran, brought memories to the fore of the botched 2002 intelligence on Iraq which led to the U.S. invasion the following spring.

Full article...

punditman says...
White House to intelligence community: "What? Don't you know yet that we make the intelligence fit our policy, not the other way around?"


Bombs away?

Arms expert Scott Ritter says the U.S. plans to attack Iran. MT asks why he's so sure.

by Curt Guyette and W. Kim Heron

It seems that with each passing week there are more stories raising the specter of George Bush turning Iraq and Afghanistan into a bloody trifecta by attacking Iran.

In mainstream daily papers we see pieces like one by Gannett's John Yaukey, who wrote in early November that "confrontation could be near" because "Iran continues to taunt the United States with its aggressive posturing in Iraq and Lebanon while pushing ahead with its nuclear research ..."

We are also witnessing what appears to be a chilling rerun of the Iraq debacle. Confronted with evidence that calls into question the status of Iran's nuclear program, the Bush administration is shifting its rhetoric.

"The Bush administration has charged that Iran is funding anti-American fighters in Iraq and sending in sophisticated explosives to bleed the U.S. mission, although some of the administration's charges are disputed by Iraqis as well as the Iranians," the Los Angeles Times reported in October. "Still, ... diplomatic and military officials say they fear that the overreaching of a confident Iran, combined with growing U.S. frustrations, could set off a dangerous collision."

Look beyond daily papers — from Seymour Hersh's reporting in The New Yorker to articles in The Nation — and the picture emerges of an administration that is determined to attack Iran.

John H. Richardson's "The Secret History of the Impending War With Iran That the White House Doesn't Want You to Know" in the November issue of Esquire magazine is particularly eye-opening. Richardson, using two former high-ranking Middle East experts who worked for the White House as his primary sources, warns that the Bush administration is "headed straight for war with Iran" and that "it had been set on this course for years."

"It was just like Iraq, when the White House was so eager for war it couldn't wait for the UN inspectors to leave," writes Richardson, who details the Bush administration's success at scuttling diplomatic efforts — notably involving then-Secretary of State Colin Powell — to reach a peaceful accord with Iran. "The steps have been many and steady and all in the same direction. And now things are getting much worse. We are getting closer and closer to the tripline. ..."

With all this in mind, we decided to talk with the man who literally wrote the book on Bush's intentions. Nearly a year ago, Scott Ritter's Target Iran was published, and he's been sounding the claxon of impending war ever since.

A former Marine Corps intelligence officer, Ritter served as chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 to 1998 when he left as a pointed critic of the Clinton administration's commitment to weapons inspection and its Iraq policy. Before the United States' 2003 invasion, Ritter loudly disputed the Bush administration's claims regarding weapons of mass destruction under Saddam's control and predicted that, instead of the quick and easy war being promised, Iraq would turn into a quagmire, though not necessarily of the type he envisioned. His analyses have been embraced by both the right and the left at various points. He portrays himself as the straight-shooting analyst unconcerned by who supports him or whom he offends.

To learn what he thinks the future holds for Iran, and the consequences of a U.S. invasion, we recently sat down for a 90-minute phone interview with Ritter. What follows is a condensed version of that conversation.

Metro Times: A year ago, when your book Target Iran came out, you were sounding the alarm about war being imminent. Why do you think that attack hasn't occurred?

Scott Ritter: Let's remember that this is an elective war, not a war of necessity. A war of necessity would be fought at the point and time a conflict is required, if somebody is threatening to invade you, to attack, etc. But an elective war is one where we choose to go to war. It will be conducted on a timescale that's beneficial to those who are planning the conflict.

As far as why it hasn't happened, there's any number of reasons. One, the Bush administration has not been able to stabilize Iraq to the level they would like to see prior to expanding military operations in the region. Two, the international community has not rallied around the cause of Iran's nuclear program representing a casus belli to the extent that the Bush administration would like. They were hopeful that there would be more action from the [United Nations] Security Council. It took a long time to get the issue shifted from the International Atomic Energy Agency's headquarters to the Security Council. And even when it got shifted to the Security Council, the Council took very timid steps, not decisive steps. The Bush administration sort of tied its hands at that point in time. I think you are seeing increasing frustration today at the slow pace.

Also, the need to redefine the Iranian threat away from exclusively being focused on nuclear activity, because now you have the difficulty of both the IAEA saying there is no nuclear weapons program and the CIA saying pretty much the same thing. So the Bush administration needs to redefine the Iranian threat, which they have been doing successfully, casting Iran as the largest state sponsor of terror, getting the Senate resolution calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command a terrorist organization, and creating a perception amongst the American people, courtesy of a compliant media, that talks about the reason why things are going bad in Iraq is primarily because of Iranian intervention.

They have been working very hard to get back on track. I still believe that we are seeing convergence here. The Bush administration is moving very aggressively toward military action with Iran.

MT: Is your conclusion that an attack is imminent based on the administration's statements and actions, like labeling Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist group, or do you also have sources within the intelligence community and the military and the administration telling you what's going on?

Ritter: I don't have any current sources of the sort you just spoke of. I was plugged in back in 2006 to good quality current information. But I haven't been plugged in recently, so I have to use some sort of analytical methodology as opposed to saying, "Aha, I got it from the horse's mouth." But there's nothing that has occurred that leads me to believe the Bush administration has changed its policy direction. In fact there has been much that's occurred that reinforces the earlier conclusions that were based on good sources of information. We take a look at items in the defense budget, the rapid conversion of heavy bombers to carry bunker-busting bombs on a specific time frame, the massive purchasing of oil to fill up the strategic oil reserve by April 2008. Everything points to April 2008 to being a month of some criticality. It also matches my analysis that the Bush administration will want to carry this out prior to the crazy political season of the summer of 2008.

MT: Last year you expressed hope that if Democrats took control of Congress it might pass legislation that could block the march toward war. Do you see them stepping up?

Ritter: No. They just passed a resolution declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Command as a terrorist organization. Unless there is a radical reawakening in Congress, I don't see them passing any sort of pre-emptive legislation of that nature.

Keep Reading (Full interview)...


Imbecilic email still making the rounds

punditman says:

Recently, I received the following forwarded email, which has a kind of innocent jingoism about it:

"Someone in Pakistan advertised in a newspaper an offer of reward to anyone who kills a Canadian -- any Canadian. In response, an Australian dentist wrote the following editorial to help define what a Canadian is:

A Canadian can be English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. A Canadian can be Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab, Pakistani or Afghan.

A Canadian may also be a Cree, Metis, Mohawk, Blackfoot, Sioux, or one of the many other tribes known as native Canadians. A Canadian's religious beliefs range from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or none. In fact, there are more Muslims in Canada than in Afghanistan. The key difference is that in Canada they are free to worship as each of them chooses. Whether they have a religion or no religion, each Canadian ultimately answers only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

A Canadian lives in one of the most prosperous lands in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which recognize the right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

A Canadian is generous and Canadians have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return. Canadians welcome the best of everything, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services and the best minds. But they also welcome the least - the oppressed, the outcast and the rejected.

These are the people who built Canada. You can try to kill a Canadian if you must as other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world have tried but in doing so you could just be killing a relative or a neighbor. This is because Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, can be a Canadian.

Nice thoughts. Too bad it is hokum. A dead giveaway that this is recycled gibberish is the claim that there are more Muslims in Canada than in Afghanistan. What imbecilic nonsense! In fact, 1.9% of the population in Canada is Muslim compared to 99% in Afghanistan and yet both countries have roughly the same population: 33,390,141 and 31,889,923 respectively (source: CIA World Fact Book--ironically). Add to that the American spelling of "neighbor." Then again, the pro war folks rarely do their homework.

A quick google search reveals a strikingly similar five-year-old email, but in fact it was talking about Americans, not Canadians. See the following link (scroll down to the part entitled "An American"):

It is possible the whole thing is just some internet urban myth -- was there such an ad in a Pakistan newspaper? Did an Australian dentist write an editorial? Where was it published? Who knows?

The tone of the “original” piece equates America with all things bright and beautiful, while the copy-cat version merely substitutes Americans with Canadians.

The same basic email appears on David Kilgour's personal website, he being the former Liberal Member of Parliament for the Alberta riding of Edmonton Southeast: http://www.david-kilgour.com/2007/Nov_21_2007_06.htm

More Muslims in Canada than Afghanistan? Sloppy, David, sloppy!

The whole thing just smacks of cheap flag-waving, which politicians thrive upon.

The Australian dentist who supposedly wrote this editorial undoubtedly did so at least five years ago. That was when the post-911 sympathy-for-America phenomenon was at its peak -- before the Bush administration set to work to unravel it. Since then, the seemingly endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ongoing turmoil throughout much of the Middle East and a constant stream of scandals and malfeasance -- from torture, to rendition, to the new cooked-up lies about Iran's nuclear program -- have used up that "compassion capital" several times over.

hus I remain suspicious of the agenda of the person who first “Canadianized” this forwarded email because no Aussie dentist ever wrote any such thing about Canadians. That much is true.

It always pays to do a little background research -- for what it's worth.


Noam Chomsky on U.S. policy towards Iran

From the interview:
"Just a couple of years ago, from 2004 through 2006, Iran did agree to suspend all uranium enrichment, halt even what everyone agrees they're legally entitled to. That was an agreement with the European Union. They agreed to suspend all uranium enrichment. And in return, the European Union was to provide what were called full guarantees on security issues—that means getting the United States to call off its threats to attack and destroy Iran. Well, the European Union didn't live up to its obligation, [as] they couldn't get the U.S. to stop it. So the Iranians then also pulled out and began to return to uranium enrichment. The way that's described here is-- the Iranians broke the agreement."


Interview with Naomi Wolf: The End of America

punditman says:

The evidence of the drift towards a distinct and dangerous form of 21st authoritarianism is everywhere folks, and--not for a millisecond to let Bush and company off the hook--its' tentacles are global in scope.

I keep harping on this drift towards fascism and nobody even bats an eyelash--much less drops by with a comment. Is this the state of fear (or indifference) in which we are now ensnared? Or, is this blog just a load of paranoid and derivative parrot droppings?

Now, listen to Naomi. She speaketh the truth (I recommend taking the time to listen to this interview. You may want to nurse it along with your bevy of choice).


Pentagon Cover Up: 15,000 or More US Deaths in Iraq War?

by Mike Whitney

The Pentagon has been concealing the true number of American casualties in the Iraq War. The real number exceeds 15,000 and CBS News can prove it.

CBS's Investigative Unit wanted to do a report on the number of suicides in the military and "submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Defense". After 4 months they received a document which showed--that between 1995 and 2007-- there were 2,200 suicides among "active duty" soldiers.


The Pentagon was covering up the real magnitude of the "suicide epidemic". Following an exhaustive investigation of veterans' suicide data collected from 45 states; CBS discovered that in 2005 alone "there were at least 6,256 among those who served in the armed forces. That's 120 each and every week in just one year."

That is not a typo. Active and retired military personnel, mostly young veterans between the ages of 20 to 24, are returning from combat and killing themselves in record numbers. We can assume that "multiple-tours of duty" in a war-zone have precipitated a mental health crisis of which the public is entirely unaware and which the Pentagon is in total denial.

If we add the 6,256 suicide victims from 2005 to the "official" 3,865 reported combat casualties; we get a sum of 10,121. Even a low-ball estimate of similar 2004 and 2006 suicide figures, would mean that the total number of US casualties from the Iraq war now exceed 15,000.

That's right; 15,000 dead US servicemen and women in a war that--as yet--has no legal or moral justification.

CBS interviewed Dr. Ira Katz, the head of mental health at the Department of Veteran Affairs. Katz attempted to minimize the surge in veteran suicides saying, "There is no epidemic of suicide in the VA, but suicide is a major problem."

Maybe Katz is right. Maybe there is no epidemic. Maybe it's perfectly normal for young men and women to return from combat, sink into inconsolable depression, and kill themselves at greater rates than they were dying on the battlefield. Maybe it's normal for the Pentagon to abandon them as soon as soon they return from their mission so they can blow their brains out or hang themselves with a garden hose in their basement. Maybe it's normal for politicians to keep funding wholesale slaughter while they brush aside the casualties they have produced by their callousness and lack of courage. Maybe it is normal for the president to persist with the same, bland lies that perpetuate the occupation and continue to kill scores of young soldiers who put themselves in harm's-way for their country.

It's not normal; it is a pandemic--an outbreak of despair which is the natural corollary of living in constant fear; of seeing one's friends being dismembered by roadside bombs or children being blasted to bits at military checkpoints or finding battered bodies dumped on the side of a riverbed like a bag of garbage.

The rash of suicides is the logical upshot of the U.S. war on Iraq. Returning soldiers are traumatized by their experience and now they are killing themselves in droves. Maybe we should have thought about that before we invaded.

Check it out the video at: CBS News "Suicide Epidemic among Veterans."

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

punditman says: Mike Whitney pens denunciatory tracts against the Bush administration on a regular basis.


Mainstream Media is Selling Another War

I will keep hammering away at this Iran theme until the cows come home (I don't own any cows, so I guess I will be kept quite busy).


Fact Sheets of Iran-US Standoff: Twenty Reasons against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran

punditman says:
These are the facts, as we know them--on Iran's nuclear program. Note how they differ from the prevailing propaganda emanating from the Bush administration and major sections of the mainstream media.

(source: CASMII)


Five years into the US-UK illegal invasion of Iraq and its consequent catastrophe for Iraqi people, peace loving people throughout the world are appalled by the current Iran-US standoff and its resemblance to the run-up to the invasion of Iraq . The hawks, headed by Dick Cheney in Washington , are now shamelessly calling for a military attack on Iran . The same Israeli lobby which pushed for the invasion of Iraq is now pushing for a military attack on Iran . The same distortions which were attempted to dupe the western public opinion for the invasion of Iraq , are now used to pave the way for another illegal pre-emptive war of aggression against Iran . As in the case of Iraq , the UN Security Council Resolutions against Iran , extricated through massive US pressure, are meant to provide a veneer of legitimacy for such an attack.

Contrary to the myth created by the western media, it is the US and its European allies which are defying the international community, in that they have rejected negotiations without pre-conditions. They show their lack of good faith by demanding that Iran concede the main point of negotiations, namely, suspension of enrichment of uranium which is Iran 's legitimate right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, before the negotiations actually start.

The Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) calls for immediate and direct negotiations between the US and Iran without any pre-conditions.

Here, we debunk the main unfounded accusations, lies and distortions by the US and Israel and their allies while highlighting the main reasons to oppose sanctions and military intervention against Iran .


1. There is no evidence of a nuclear weapons programme in Iran . The US and its allies pressure Iran to prove that it is not hiding a nuclear weapons programme. This demand is logically impossible to satisfy and serves to make diplomacy fail in order to force regime change. Numerous intrusive and snap visits by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors, totalling more than 2,700 person-hours of inspection, have failed to produce a shred of evidence for a weapons programme in Iran . Traces of highly enriched uranium found at Natanz in 2004, were determined by the IAEA to have come with imported centrifuges.

In July 2007, IAEA and Iran agreed on a work plan with defined modalities and timetable to clarify all issues of concerns in relation to Iran 's nuclear programme. On 27 th August 2007 IAEA announced that “The Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of the declared nuclear materials at the enrichment facilities in Iran and has therefore concluded that it remains in peaceful use ”. The Agreement also cleared Iran 's plutonium experiments, which the Cheney Camp had accused of being evidence of Iran 's weaponisation programme.

Dr Mohammad El-Baradei, the IAEA Director General, said on 7 th September 2007, “For the last few years we have been told by the Security Council, by the board, we have to clarify the outstanding issues in Iran because these outstanding issues are the ones that have led to the lack of confidence, the crisis” , “We have not come to see any undeclared activities or weaponisation of their programme”.

Two years earlier, in June 2005, Bruno Pellaud, former IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards, was asked by Swissinfo if Iran was intent on building a nuclear bomb. He replied: "My impression is not. My view is based on the fact that Iran took a major gamble in December 2003 by allowing a much more intrusive capability to the IAEA. If Iran had had a military programme they would not have allowed the IAEA to come under this Additional Protocol. They did not have to."

2. Iran 's need for nuclear power generation is real. Even when Iran 's population was one-third of what it is today, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, negotiating on behalf of President Gerald Ford, persuaded the former Shah that Iran needed over twenty nuclear reactors. With Iran 's population of 70 million, and growing, and its oil resources fast depleting, Iran may be a net importer of oil in just over a decade from now. Nuclear energy is thus a realistic and viable solution for electricity generation in the country.

3. The "crisis" over Iran 's nuclear programme lacks the urgency claimed by Washington . Weapons grade uranium must be enriched at least to 85%. A 2005 CIA report determined that it could take Iran 10 years to achieve this level of enrichment. Many independent nuclear experts have stated that Iran would face formidable technical obstacles if it tried to enrich uranium beyond the 3.5% purity required for electricity generation. According to Dr Frank Barnaby of the Oxford Research Group, because of contamination of Iranian uranium with heavy metals, Iran cannot possibly enrich beyond even 20% without support from Russia or China. IAEA director, Dr. Mohammad ElBaradei, too, reiterated in October 2007 that “I don't see Iran , today, to be a clear and present danger. And our conclusion here is supported by every intelligence assessment I've seen that even if Iran has ambitions to develop nuclear weapons, it's still three to eight years away from that”.

4. Iran has met its obligations under the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Iran voluntarily accepted and enforced safeguards stricter than IAEA's Additional Protocol until February 2006, when Iran 's nuclear file was reported, under the pressure from the US , to the Security Council. (The US , by contrast, has neither signed nor implemented the Additional Protocol, and Israel has refused to sign the NPT.)

Iran 's earlier concealment of its nuclear programme took place in the context of the US-backed invasion of Iran by Saddam. Not only the U.S. , Germany , and the UK were complicit in the sale of chemical weapons to Saddam which were used against Iranian soldiers and civilians but Israel 's destruction of Iraq 's Osirak reactor in 1981 was treated with total impunity. Iranian leaders then concluded from these gross injustices that international laws are only “ink on paper”.

But the most direct reasons for Iran 's concealment were the American trade embargo on Iran and Washington 's organized and persistent campaign to stop civilian nuclear technology from reaching Iran from any source. For example, in 1995 Germany offered to let Kraftwerk Union (a subsidiary of Siemens) finish Iran 's Bushehr reactor, but withdrew its proposal under US pressure. The following year, China cancelled its contract to build a nuclear enrichment facility in Isfahan for the same reason. Thus Washington systematically violated, with impunity, Article IV of the NPT, which allows “signatories the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy”.

Nevertheless, Iran 's decision not to declare all of its nuclear installations did not violate its NPT obligations. According to David Albright and Corey Hinderstein, who first provided satellite imagery and analysis in December 2002 [7], under the safeguards agreement in force at the time, " Iran is not required to allow IAEA inspections of a new nuclear facility until six months before nuclear material is introduced into it."

5. Iran has given unprecedented concessions on its nuclear programme. Unlike North Korea , Iran has resisted the temptation to withdraw from the NPT. Besides accepting snap inspections under Additional Protocol until February 2006, Iran has invited Western companies to develop Iran 's civilian nuclear programme. Such joint ventures would create the best assurance that the enriched uranium would not be diverted to a weapons programme. Such concessions are very rare in the world, but the U.S. and its allies have refused Iran 's offer.

6. Enrichment of uranium for a civilian nuclear programme is Iran 's inalienable right. Every member of the NPT has the right to enrich uranium for a civilian nuclear programme and is entitled to full technical assistance.

But with the US as the back seat driver and in violation of their assistance obligations, France , Germany , and the UK insisted throughout the three years of negotiations that Tehran forfeit its right, in return for incentives of little value. Some European diplomats admitted to Asia Times Online on 7th September 2005, that the package offered by the EU-3 was “an empty box of chocolates.” But “there is nothing else we can offer,” the diplomats went on to say . “The Americans simply wouldn't let us.”

7. The Western alliance has not tried true diplomacy and relies instead on threats. Iran refuses to suspend its enrichment of uranium before bilateral negotiations begin, as demanded by the White House, because it suspects Washington will stall with endless doubts regarding verification of suspension.


8. The UN resolutions against Iran , in contrast to the treatment of the US allies, South Korea , India , Pakistan , and Israel , smack of double standards. For example, in the year 2000, South Korea enriched 200 milligrams of uranium to near-weapons grade (up to 77%), but was not referred to the UN Security Council.

India has refused to sign the NPT or allow inspections and has developed an atomic arsenal, but receives nuclear assistance from the US in violation of the NPT. More bizarrely, India has a seat on the governing board of IAEA and, under US pressure, voted to refer Iran as a violator to the UN Security Council. Another non-signatory, Pakistan , clandestinely developed nuclear weapons but is supported by the US as a “war on terror” ally.

Israel is a close ally of Washington , even though it has hundreds of clandestine nuclear weapons, has dismissed numerous UN resolutions and has refused to sign the NPT or open any of its nuclear plants to inspections.

The US itself is the most serious violator of the NPT. The only country to have ever used nuclear bombs in war, the US has refused to reduce its nuclear arsenal, in violation of Article VI of NPT. The US is also in breach of the Treaty because it is developing new generations of nuclear warheads for use against non-nuclear adversaries. Moreover, Washington has deployed hundreds of such tactical nuclear weapons all around the world in violation of Articles I and II of the NPT.

9. Iran has not threatened Israel or attacked another country. The track records of the US , Israel , the UK and France are very different. These so called “democracies” have a bloody history of invading other countries. Iran 's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, has declared repeatedly that Iran will not attack or threaten any country. He has also issued a fatwa against the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons and banned nuclear weapons as sacrilegious. Iran has been a consistent supporter of the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and called for a nuclear weapons free Middle East .

The comments of Iran 's President Ahmadinejad against Israel have been repeated by some of Iran 's leaders since 1979 and constitute no practical threat. The statement attributed to him that “ Israel should be wiped off the map” is a distortion of the truth and has been determined by a number of Farsi linguists, amongst them, Professor Juan Cole, to be a mistranslation. What he actually said was that “the regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time". Ahmadinejad has made clear that he envisions regime change in Israel through internal decay, similar to the demise of the Soviet Union . Iranian leaders have said consistently for two decades that they will accept a two-state solution in Palestine if a majority of Palestinians favour that option.

This is in sharp contrast to the explicit threats by Israeli and the US leaders against Iran , including aid to separatist movements to disintegrate and wipe Iran off the map, as reported by Seymour Hersh and Reese Erlich. There is considerable evidence of clandestine operations by the US , British and Israeli agents who are arming, training and funding terrorist entities such as Jundollah in Baluchistan, Arab separatists in Khuzestan, and PJAK in Kurdistan . These concrete attempts at disintegration of Iran , as well as the 100 million dollars congressional funding for ‘democracy' promotion in Iran , constitute aggression and are interference in Iran 's domestic affairs and Iranian people's rights of sovereignty. They violate the bilateral Algiers Accord of 1981, in which Washington renounced any such actions in the future.

Furthermore, President Bush and Vice President Cheney, former UN ambassador, John Bolton, Senator Lieberman, as well as presidential candidates Guilliani, Romney and McCain are openly advocating and pushing for pre-emptive military attack on Iran. The French President, Sarkouzy, and his Foreign Minister, Kouchner, the new recruits to the Neo Cons camp, have added their voice to this chorus for war . British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, too has not ruled out the pre-emptive military option against Iran .

Iran is no match for Israel , whose security and military needs are all but guaranteed by the US . Iran is surrounded on all sides by the US Navy and American bases.

Iran has not invaded or threatened any country for two and a half centuries. The only war the Islamic Republic fought was the one imposed by Saddam's army, which invaded Iran with the backing of the US and its allies. When Iraq used chemical weapons, supplied by the West, against Iranian troops, Iran did not retaliate in kind. When Afghanistan 's Taliban regime murdered eight Iranian diplomats in 1996 and remained unapologetic, Iran did not respond militarily.

10. The US “democratization” programme for Iran is a hoax. Although violations of human rights and democratic freedoms do occur too often in Iran , the country has the most pluralistic system in a region dominated by undemocratic client states of the US . It is sheer hypocrisy for the US, which turns a blind eye to the gross human rights abuses by its allies, such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Libya, and Egypt, to misrepresent its agenda in Iran as a “democratization” programme. Washington 's pretensions ring especially hollow when one remembers that in 1953 Iran 's nascent democracy under Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq was overthrown by the CIA, which restored a hated military dictatorship for the benefit of American oil conglomerates.


11. There are no legal bases for Iran 's referral to the UN Security Council. Since there is no evidence that Iran is even contemplating to weaponize its nuclear programme, no grounds exist for this sidelining of the IAEA.

Michael Spies of the New York-based Lawyers' Committee on Nuclear Policy has clarified the issue: "Under the Statute (Art. 12(C)) and the Safeguards Agreement, the Board may only refer Iran to the Security Council if it finds that, based on the report from the Director General, it cannot be assured that Iran has not diverted nuclear material for non-peaceful purpose. In the past, findings of `non-assurance' have only come in the face of a history of active and ongoing non-cooperation with IAEA safeguards. The pursuit of nuclear activities in itself, which is specifically recognized as a sovereign right, and which remain safeguarded, could not legally or logically equate to uncertainty regarding diversion."

IAEA director, Dr ElBradei, has consistently confirmed that there has been no diversion of safeguarded nuclear material in Iran and the recent IAEA-Iran workplan of July 2007 has reconfirmed this. He has also said, under pressure from Washington , that he cannot rule out the existence of undeclared nuclear activities in the country. However, according to the IAEA's Safeguards Implementation Report for 2005 (issued on 15 June 2006), 45 other countries, including 14 European countries, in particular Germany , are in this same category as Iran . ElBaradei added in September 2007 that in Iran “we have not come to see any undeclared activities ... We have not seen any weaponisation of their programme, nor have we received any information to that effect” . He has also repeatedly urged skeptics in Western capitals to help the IAEA by sharing any possible proof in their possession of suspicious nuclear activity in Iran .

Moreover, according to the UK-based Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, certifying non-diversion of nuclear material to military purposes for any given country takes an average of six years of inspections and verification by the IAEA. In the case of Iran , these investigations have been going on for only about four years now.

Iran 's file, therefore, must be returned to the jurisdiction of the IAEA and the rules of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). The US and its allies violated the rules by exerting massive pressure on the IAEA to report Iran without any legitimacy to the UN Security Council. For example, David Mulford, the US Ambassador to India , warned the Government of India in January 2006 that there would be no US-India nuclear deal if India did not vote against Iran at the IAEA. On February 15th 2007, Stephen Rademaker, the former US Assistant Secretary for International Security and Non-Proliferation, admitted publicly that the US coerced India to vote against Iran. Clearly, reporting Iran to the UN Security Council and the subsequent adoption of the Resolutions 1696 and 1737 have been carried out with US coercion and have thus no legitimacy at all.


12. Dr ElBradei, the head of the IAEA, has said that more sanctions are counterproductive. Economic sanctions on Iran will harm the people of Iran , as they were devastating to Iraqis, resulting in the death of at least 500,000 children. Sanctions would not however bring the Islamic Republic to its knees. Instead, any kind of sanctions, including the so-called "targeted" or "smart" sanctions, are viewed by the Iranian people as the West's punishment for Iran 's scientific progress (uranium enrichment for reactor fuel). As sanctions tighten, nationalist fervour will strengthen the resolve of Iranians to defend the country's civilian nuclear programme.

13. Sanctions are not better than war; they can be exploited as a diplomatic veneer and a provocative prelude to military attack, as they were in Iraq . Thus, countries which support sanctions against Iran are only falling into the US trap in aiding the war drive on Iran .


14. A US attack on Iran is imminent. The end of George Bush's presidency in 2009 could be a serious set back for the NeoCons' hegemonic dreams to control the energy resources in the region. He is unlikely to leave office bearing the legacy of failures in Afghanistan and Iraq and particularly leaving Iran a stronger player in the region. Thus the likelihood of military attack on Iran before Bush leaves office is a reality. Washington insiders have told security analysts that preparations for military attack have been made and are ready for execution.

Since January, in addition to the nuclear issue, the US has also focused its propaganda to falsely implicate Iran in the violence and failures of US policies in Afghanistan and Iraq . The Iran-US bilateral dialogue this summer was derailed amidst accusations that Iran aided the killing of American soldiers by providing sophisticated weapons and training to Afghan and Iraqi fighters. As in the nuclear case, Washington has provided no proof .

British Foreign Minister, David Miliband, admitted in an interview with the Financial Times on 8 th July 07 that there was “No Evidence” of Iranian involvement in the violence and instability in Iraq . Likewise, the British Defence Minister, Des Browne, in August 07 maintained categorically that “No Evidence” existed of Iranian government's complicity or instigation in supplying weapons to Iraqi militias. The Washington Post, too, reported from Iraq that hundreds of British troops combing southern Iraq for sign of Iranian weapons have come up empty-handed. Furthermore, Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and Al-Maleki, the Iraqi Prime Minister, have stated Iran 's positive role in providing whatever limited stability there is in both these countries. Nevertheless, G eorge Bush's speech on 28 th August, authorizing the American military to “ confront Tehran 's murderous activities”, and the deployment of British troops to the Iranian border to guard against Iran 's “proxy war” in Iraq , signaled a systematic building towards a casus belli for another illegal pre-emptive war. The Kyle-Lieberman Amendment to the Defence Authorisation Bill, too, accused Iran of killing American servicemen in Iraq and nearly authorized the military to take all necessary action to combat Iran .

A third focus in the US war drive has now been launched by branding Iran 's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization. This unprecedented move in US foreign policy and international relations is the proclaimed basis for imposing the toughest sanctions ever on Iranian banks, companies and individuals.

These new measures represent a massive escalation in the US war drive, they are a prelude to a military attack on Iran and provide the legal pretext for the US military to wage war on Iran without the prior approval of the US Congress.


15. Foreign state interference in Iran violates the UN charter. According to Seymour Hersch, the US is running covert operations in Iran to foment unrest and ethnic conflict for the purpose of regime change. Unmanned US drones have also entered into Iranian air space to spy over Iranian military installations and to map Iranian radar systems. These actions violate the UN Charter's guarantee of the right of self-determination for all nations.

The Bush Administration has also confirmed, in the 2006 US National Security Strategy, its long term policy for pre-emptive military action against Washington 's rivals. Former British prime minister, Tony Blair, supported this policy in his 21st March 2006 foreign policy speech, and his successor Gordon Brown has not rejected the pre-emptive use of military force against Iran . However, unprovoked strikes are illegal under international law. To remove this obstacle, John Reid, the then British Secretary of Defence, in his speech on 3rd April 2006 to the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies, proposed a change in international law on pre-emptive military action.

16. Reports of nuclear attack scenarios against Iran can serve to raise the public's tolerance for an act of aggression with conventional military means. People of conscience and sanity must not only condemn even contemplation of a nuclear attack, but also denounce any conventional attack.


17. Bombing cannot end Iran 's nuclear programme. Since Iran already has the expertise to enrich uranium up to the 3.5% grade for a fuel cycle, no degree of bombing will halt Iran 's civilian nuclear programme. On the contrary, the resulting mass casualties and destruction would strengthen the voices that argue Iran , like North Korea , should build a nuclear deterrent.

18. An attack on Iran will unite Iranians against the US and its allies. A great majority of the public in Iran support the country's right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes. This has been confirmed by all opinion polls conducted in the country, including polls taken by Western institutions. Therefore, a bombing campaign will not lead to an uprising by the Iranian people for regime change as envisaged by the US . Rather, it would ignite nationalist feelings in the country and unite the population, including most of the government's critics, against the West.

19. A nuclear attack on Iran would fuel a new nuclear arms race and ruin the NPT. Any military intervention against Iran will lead to a regional catastrophe and expanded terrorism. Senator McCain, the Republican presidential hopeful, who has himself advocated the use of force on Iran , has predicted that an attack against Iran will lead to Armageddon. American or Israeli aggression on Iran , coming on the heels of the Iraq disaster, would inflame the grievance and outrage of Muslims worldwide and help jihadi extremists with their recruitment campaign. The region wide conflagration resulting from an Israel/US attack on Iran would dwarf the Iraq catastrophe.

20. The cause of democracy in Iran will suffer gravely if the country is attacked. President Bush's "axis of evil" rhetoric severely undermined the reformist movement in Iran at a time when the country's president promoted Dialogue Among Civilizations. Bush's hostile posture strengthened the hands of Iranian hardliners and contributed to the reformist movement's electoral defeat in 2005. That setback would be dwarfed by the consequences of a military assault on the country.


Amnesty International condemns Canadian probe into alleged Afghan abuses

A new Amnesty International report questions whether Canada really wants to get to the bottom of torture allegations involving Afghan detainees.

The human rights organization said Monday it has concerns that the investigation by Canadian authorities into abuse claims last spring may not have been "competent" or "impartial."

The scathing assessment, part of 51-page report on NATO's overall handling of prisoners in Afghanistan, also accused Canada of blurring the number of insurgents captured and handed over to local Afghan authorities.

Amnesty International "remains gravely concerned that detainees handed over by [NATO] to the Afghan authorities are currently at substantial risk of torture and other ill-treatment," said the report, released Monday in Europe and North America.

"Of the five countries with agreements regarding detainee transfer, only the second Canadian agreement specifies provisions for investigation into allegations of torture or other ill-treatment.

"However, [Amnesty International] fears that investigations by the Canadian government into allegations may not have been 'competent' and 'impartial.' "

Amnesty's Canadian-based expert on Afghanistan said the group's harsh judgment is based on the Conservative government's protracted legal battle to keep government documents on detainee transfers secret.

Keep Reading...


Canned Hunts for Dick Cheney: The Blood Sport of Vice Presidents

November 9, 2007



While most people are lamenting the violence in Pakistan, Burma, Afghanistan and Iraq, apparently it's not enough bloodshed for Vice President Dick Cheney.

Last month in a caravan of 15 sport utility vehicles and an ambulance--no jokes, please--Cheney made his way to Clove Valley Rod & Gun Club about 70 miles north of New York City, near Poughkeepsie, for a day of controlled bloodletting.

Cheney landed at Stewart Air Force Base and took off the following day for the upscale gun club at a cost of $32,000 for local law enforcement officials who guarded his hotel, protected his motorcade and diverted school buses.

Unlike Cheney's 2003 trip to Rolling Rock Club in Ligonier Township, PA in which he killed 70 pheasants and an undisclosed number of ducks (his hunting party killed 417 pheasants), staff at the Clove Valley Rod & Gun Club remained tight lipped about the take. An employee who answered the phone would not disclose which species was being shot--ads say pheasants, ducks and Hungarian partridges--and kept repeating "I don't know anything about it," before hanging up. Like Cheney's last visit to Clove Valley in 2001, the 4,000 acre club which costs $150,000 a year to join was a fortress with Blackwater style snipers "protecting" the Vice President's right to shoot tame birds.

Full article...

punditman says...As if another reason was needed to loathe Cheney, witness how he gets his kicks. From the article:
When released for put and take hunters like Cheney, pen raised birds can barely walk or fly--or see thanks to the goggles. They don't know how to forage or hide in the wild and sometimes have to be kicked to "fly" enough to be shot.
Such a big, tough, brave guy, that Dick--always slaughtering smaller creatures and countries. It is time that someone stands up to this psychopathic bully before he and his idiot-boy boss launch their third war, this time against Iran--guaranteed to be even more disastrous than their first two wars against Afghanistan and Iraq.

Kucinich Offers Bill to Impeach Cheney

It is bizarre how spineless most of the Democrats are on this whole issue. Kucinich is one of the few that is willing to stand up to this criminal administration.


Antiwar Radio: Scott Horton Interviews Eric Margolis

punditman says: Been away for a few days folks, getting the computer fixed. But I am back, and I bring this to your attention:

From antiwar.com:
Eric Margolis, foreign correspondent for Sun National Media and the American Conservative magazine, discusses the state of emergency in Pakistan, the history of the Musharraf dictatorship, his relationship with Dick Cheney, the return of Benazir Bhutto, her accusation that Musharraf was behind the recent suicide bomb attacks, the Islamists in Waziristan, the cause of their insurgency, Pakistan’s feudal system and the slim chance that crazies could get their hands on the nukes, the tension between Pakistan and India, the collision course coming this way as the Kurdish PKK attacks Turkey and vice versa, the U.S. and Israel’s policy of splitting off Kurdistan Iraq while simultaneously backing the Turks, U.S. support for Kurdish terrorism against Iran and the plan for long term occupation of Iraq.

Listen to the mp3 here.


No Time for Letter Writing

The Easy Way to Stop the Looming US Attack on Iran


Even as one faction of the American government, the military and the corporatocracy grow collectively more alarmed about the possibility of a US attack on Iran, the Bush/Cheney administration and its allies seem increasingly moving towards just such a new war.

Okay, so Sen. James Webb (D-VA) and 29 other US Senators who oppose such a mad plan have done what? They've written a letter to the president telling him that he cannot attack Iran without express approval in advance from the Congress.

A letter! Boy, that'll stop him.

What's the matter with these people?

A few months back, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a resolution authored by war cheerleader Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to be a "global terrorist organization." In President Bush's pathologically twisted view of his power, that resolution gave him all the go-ahead he needed, because Bush and his legal apologists claim that back on Sept. 18, 2001, Congress, in passing an Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, were actually declaring a War on Terror--a conflict without end and without borders. Under this crazy logic, any attack on a terrorist or terrorist organization is simply another battle in that "war."

If Sen. Webb and his colleagues really want to stop the president from further murderous madness, they need only revoke that 2001 AUMF. A simple resolution declaring it ended, and stating that the war on terror is not a war would do the trick.

Why hasn't the Congress done this?

Keep Reading...


Stalin, Mao And … Ahmadinejad?

Conservatives have become surprisingly charitable about two of history's greatest mass murderers.

By Fareed Zakaria

Updated: 1:57 PM ET Oct 20, 2007

At a meeting with reporters last week, President Bush said that "if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing [Iran] from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon." These were not the barbs of some neoconservative crank or sidelined politician looking for publicity. This was the president of the United States, invoking the specter of World War III if Iran gained even the knowledge needed to make a nuclear weapon.

The American discussion about Iran has lost all connection to reality. Norman Podhoretz, the neoconservative ideologist whom Bush has consulted on this topic, has written that Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is "like Hitler … a revolutionary whose objective is to overturn the going international system and to replace it in the fullness of time with a new order dominated by Iran and ruled by the religio-political culture of Islamofascism." For this staggering proposition Podhoretz provides not a scintilla of evidence.

Here is the reality. Iran has an economy the size of Finland's and an annual defense budget of around $4.8 billion. It has not invaded a country since the late 18th century. The United States has a GDP that is 68 times larger and defense expenditures that are 110 times greater. Israel and every Arab country (except Syria and Iraq) are quietly or actively allied against Iran. And yet we are to believe that Tehran is about to overturn the international system and replace it with an Islamo-fascist order? What planet are we on?

Keep Reading...

punditman says...Ever notice that whenever the US government wants to go to war, their newly designated enemy becomes the "new Hitler"? We saw it with Gaddafi, Hussein, Milosevic....I am so sick of this bogus act!

Thankfully, Fareed Zakaria and the article above represent a voice of sanity within the mainstream media. Unfortunately, it is a rare voice in the wilderness.


The Secret History of the Impending War With Iran That the White House Doesn't Want You to Know

By John H. Richardson

Thursday 18 October 2007

Two former high-ranking policy experts from the Bush Administration say the US has been gearing up for a war with Iran for years, despite claiming otherwise. It'll be Iraq all over again.

In the years after 9/11, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann worked at the highest levels of the Bush administration as Middle East policy experts for the National Security Council. Mann conducted secret negotiations with Iran. Leverett traveled with Colin Powell and advised Condoleezza Rice. They each played crucial roles in formulating policy for the region leading up to the war in Iraq. But when they left the White House, they left with a growing sense of alarm - not only was the Bush administration headed straight for war with Iran, it had been set on this course for years. That was what people didn't realize. It was just like Iraq, when the White House was so eager for war it couldn't wait for the UN inspectors to leave. The steps have been many and steady and all in the same direction. And now things are getting much worse. We are getting closer and closer to the tripline, they say.

"The hard-liners are upping the pressure on the State Department," says Leverett. "They're basically saying, 'You've been trying to engage Iran for more than a year now and what do you have to show for it? They keep building more centrifuges, they're sending this IED stuff over into Iraq that's killing American soldiers, the human-rights internal political situation has gotten more repressive - what the hell do you have to show for this engagement strategy?' "

But the engagement strategy was never serious and was designed to fail, they say. Over the last year, Rice has begun saying she would talk to "anybody, anywhere, anytime," but not to the Iranians unless they stopped enriching uranium first. That's not a serious approach to diplomacy, Mann says. Diplomacy is about talking to your enemies. That's how wars are averted. You work up to the big things. And when U.S. ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker had his much-publicized meeting with his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad this spring, he didn't even have permission from the White House to schedule a second meeting.

The most ominous new development is the Bush administration's push to name the Iranian Revolutionary Guards a terrorist organization.

"The U.S. has designated any number of states over the years as state sponsors of terrorism," says Leverett. "But here for the first time the U.S. is saying that part of a government is itself a terrorist organization."

This is what Leverett and Mann fear will happen: The diplomatic effort in the United Nations will fail when it becomes clear that Russia's and China's geopolitical ambitions will not accommodate the inconvenience of energy sanctions against Iran. Without any meaningful incentive from the U.S. to be friendly, Iran will keep meddling in Iraq and installing nuclear centrifuges. This will trigger a response from the hard-liners in the White House, who feel that it is their moral duty to deal with Iran before the Democrats take over American foreign policy. "If you get all those elements coming together, say in the first half of '08," says Leverett, "what is this president going to do? I think there is a serious risk he would decide to order an attack on the Iranian nuclear installations and probably a wider target zone."

This would result in a dramatic increase in attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq, attacks by proxy forces like Hezbollah, and an unknown reaction from the wobbly states of Afghanistan and Pakistan, where millions admire Iran's resistance to the Great Satan. "As disastrous as Iraq has been," says Mann, "an attack on Iran could engulf America in a war with the entire Muslim world."

Mann and Leverett believe that none of this had to be.

Keep Reading...

punditman says...This article is a highly recommended read. It is a fascinating behind the scenes glimpse that sets the record straight on recent US-Iranian relations. It is also a tale of how the neo-cons within the Bush administration have done everything in their power to derail any sort of accomodation between the two sides, and, like the Valerie Plame affair, it demonstrates the lengths that this administration will go to threaten and punish whistle blowers.

Regime Change Redux

by Patrick Foy

It is time to contemplate, post “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, the reality and the implications of “regime change” with respect to Iran. One fact has been made perfectly clear by the American reaction to the Iranian President’s recent visit to the UN and to Columbia University in New York. The de facto U.S. policy toward Iran is “regime change.” Nothing less. It has been that way for some time, of course, but now the White House policy is unambiguous. Concurrently the policy seems to have acquired support in the mass media to match that already evident on Capitol Hill. For all practical purposes, we are at war with Iran. The dauphin, as Maureen Dowd sometimes refers to G.W. Bush, has probably signed a secret executive order, at the direction of the Regent, Dick Cheney, spelling out the policy. Is it too much to ask our rulers to share this document with their subjects?

So far the war against Iran has taken the form of economic sanctions, an embargo on spare parts, the seizure of financial assets, psychological warfare, gratuitous calumny, and CIA support for the activities of the terrorist organization Mujahadeen el-Khalq (MEK), a secular Iranian group opposed to the Islamic regime, all of which is designed to destabilize Iran without actually invading the country.

These initial forays have been backed up with threats of a full-scale attack by supersonic B-2 stealth bombers stationed in the U.S., by Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from the U.S. Navy armada in the Persian Gulf, and by B-52’s parked, locked and loaded with ordinance on Diego Garcia. Faced with a barrage of such magnitude, should it be unleashed by those in control of the lone surviving Superpower, Tehran has little to defend itself. Tehran also must be concerned about the four or five hi-tech, long-range, German-gifted U-boats which Tel Aviv has patrolling in the Indian Ocean and/or in the Persian Gulf, armed with American cruise missiles, possibly with nuclear warheads. The Middle East’s regional “superpower” is putting German and American tax dollars to work on behalf of Pax Israeliana. In effect, Iran is cornered.

Keep Reading...


Ill-informed Fox anchors spread fears of al Qaeda link to California fires

Questionable 4-year-old FBI memo presented as new to stoke terror fears

Did al Qaeda start the California wildfires?

As more than a million people escaped the flames, Fox News anchors couldn't help speculating about a terrorism link to the blazes ravaging southern California.

"I've heard some people talk about this a little bit to me, but have you heard anybody suggest that this could be some form of terrorism," Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy asked Wednesday morning.

Correspondent Adam Housley said he's received "hundreds of comments" from readers of his Fox News blog speculating about a link to terrorism.

Keep Laughing (I mean reading)...

punditman says: This is hilarious.


Polling Afghanistan: Questions and Contradictions

From: Canadian Peace Alliance

The Environics poll, conducted by D3 Systems in Afghanistan is being touted as "groundbreaking" research into the views of the Afghan people about the NATO occupation. The reality is that there are as many questions as answers arising from the poll results.

This new poll is not the first of its kind to be done in Afghanistan, but the results are striking because they contradict dozens of comprehensive studies conducted by other agencies. For example a remarkable 73 per cent of respondents in the D3 Systems study said that women's rights were improving in Afghanistan. This contradicts the NGO Womenkind Worldwide which found that attacks against women have actually been on the rise since 2001 and that there had been no improvement in the lives of Afghan women as a whole.

Likewise, a whopping 76 per cent of people said that they have "a lot" or "some" confidence in the Afghan National Army and 60 per cent have faith in the Afghan National Police (ANP). This contradicts countless documents from groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch who have consistently found that a majority of Afghans cite the Army and ANP as a chief source of violence. In fact, poll results from December 2006 found 78 per cent of Afghan people believed that the ANP was corrupt and one in four Afghans had to pay bribes to local police for protection. So therefore, the numbers from D3 Systems either represent an astounding turnaround in public opinion or there was some type of flaw in the research.

These strange results aren't surprising given the history of the D3 Systems polling firm. The group, whose former clients include NATO and the RAND Corporation (a virtual who's who of the military industrial complex) is notorious for providing the results that are needed to advance a political agenda.

Tellingly, D3 Systems is the only polling form in the world that was able to consistently show that a majority of Iraqis felt their lives had improved since the invasion of 2003. In 2004 and 2005, D3 conducted polls for media outlets based in the US and found more than 50 per cent of Iraqis were exited about their future. As late as 2006 D3 found a miraculous 64 per cent of Iraqis who felt that their lives were improving.

There are still many other unanswered questions about this survey. For example, did security or military contingents escort the survey teams around the country? If so the results will be terribly skewed, as these types of escorts would have destroyed the impartiality of the surveyors. Also, if 75 per cent of respondents called for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban (a number that has been omitted from most media reports on the survey) how do we reconcile that with the 64 per cent who want us to continue to fight the Taliban. Furthermore, if only 2 per cent of respondents knew that Canada was fighting the Taliban, how did that 64 per cent think that we were doing a good job.

This survey has come out at a particularly fortuitous time for the Conservative government, days after a throne speech advocating and extension of Canada's war in Afghanistan and a week before a pan-Canadian day of action against the war. But as with most of what we hear from the Conservatives, the numbers just don't add up.

punditman says: As the old saying goes, "there are lies, damn lies and then there are statistics."