Beware Bush's Madman Theory

punditman says...

Sure, enough, it seems that with prodding from the Israelis, Bush the Sociopath is seriously considering a bombing campaign against Iran's nuclear facilities, as reported by CBS News. This, despite the fact that there is no evidence that Iran is currently developing nuclear weapons--not from US intelligence agencies, who late last year, stated that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 and that the program remains frozen, and not from the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Not that facts ever mattered to the Bush gang. Surprise, surprise, Dick "Darth Vader" Cheney along with his cadre of neo-con storm troopers is pushing for an Iran attack. Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates is worried that this may touch off yet another mid-east war.

Duh? What was his first clue? Attacking other countries usually does cause wars. Perhaps the myriad of warnings has finally had some impact? I speak of those thoughtful and sane analysts in and out of government who predict that a bombing campaign against Iran would be the most catastrophic and dumbest thing that the US could possibly do at this historic juncture. Has a modicum of smarts and caution somehow seeped into the mind of the one person who wields Pentagon meta power? A tiny hope, perhaps?

It is a safe bet to conclude that Secretary Gates appears to have at least one foot (or maybe a big toe) in the old fashioned realist camp of international thuggery, where bluffing the other guy is akin to an old boys' poker game but the chips are big honkin' aircraft carriers, cruise missiles and strategic bombers. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has proven to be a willing participant in this type of pissing match and normally these are fun things to watch and analyze, and they make for cool case studies in Poly Sci 101 courses: "de jure" versus "de facto" foreign policy--or the gap between what a nation is poised to do, even "as a matter of law" versus what it actually does in practice. (In this case, the US Congress introduced a new resolution May 22, 2008, H. Con Res. 362, that many fear is tantamount to declaring that the President should pursue a naval blockade against Iran, which would be an act of war).

There's only one problem: Leave it to this administration to actually do what they threaten to do and leave it to them to always choose precisely the worst possible course of action. A blockade of Iran leading to a unilateral attack is becoming increasingly likely.

Actually, I have always thought that this peculiar combination of stupidity and ferocity, places BushCo$ in a different category of governments altogether--as contemptible as many others have been. My logic flows thusly: in October, 1969, President Nixon came up with what he thought was a brilliant idea: the "Madman Theory." For no known tactical reason, he ordered the US Military onto full global war readiness alert and US bombers armed with nukes flew patterns near the Soviet border for three consecutive days. WTF? Most Americans didn't have a clue that this was happening, but it didn't matter. The audience was the Soviet government; Nixon's sole reason for this crazy game of chicken was to scare the beejezus out of them and make them wonder just what else he was capable of doing. According to the theory, every so often the madman needs to make "bold moves," so along those lines, Nixon then invaded neutral Cambodia in 1970 in a criminal and wasteful extension of the already criminal and wasteful war in Vietnam. It was to be a "limited" incursion although US bombings continued from 1969-1973. Nixon also went to China and opened up a dialogue, which could be considered the inverse of the Madman Theory.

Reagan's version of the Madman Theory amounted to outspending the Soviets in the largest build up of nuclear weapons ever, while huffing, bluffing and threatening Nicaragua's Sandinista government. But instead of sending in US troops and planes to invade Central America, he chose instead to dispatch a rampaging, murderous proxy army of CIA-trained "Contras" to attack Nicaragua, while funding and training the brutal Salvadoran and Guatemalan regimes to fight leftist guerillas. All very nasty stuff for the people on the ground and all very criminal in nature. In fact, the attack against Nicaragua was condemned by a World Court ruling in 1986. Make no mistake: Ray-gun was a gangster, but a "rational" gangster who actually negotiated with Gorbachev. When he did decide to attack other countries outright, he chose his targets carefully: Grenada and Libya couldn't fight back.

Not so with Iran. What keeps aware people awake at night is the fact that you can count on Bush the Madman to not only scare the crap out of everyone, but to actually bomb the crap out of everything.

I sometimes think that Bush's appalling ineptness and blinkered worldview is a form of sorcery because no one seems to be able to break the spell. It is a very odd situation that defies conventional logic; record low poll numbers somehow transmute into Bush's uncanny ability to wield military power almost at will--thanks in no small part to his willing accomplices throughout the Congress and Senate. Low approval ratings? Here's more Iraq war funds! What, everyone hates you? Bomb Iran and we Democrats will stand by you 100%, Sir! It is like there exists a kind of inverted relationship, privy only to an inner circle of alchemists, who apparently are all bonkers. Of course, the media knows its place as well.

In order to avoid starting World War Four (it's hard to keep track), cool-headed rationality is the very least we should demand; and, given the bleak landscape of possibilities it is probably the best we can hope for. Simply put, the political system of the most powerful nation on earth is broken; its citizenry lost, apparently unable to exert any meaningful influence in what is left of their democracy. A majority may despise the King, but they are far from storming the palace.

Where does this leave a world headed into the abyss? Well, there is always the Hope candidate. But from what I have seen, I have to say with expected disappointment: Obama, schmama! He will not save the day. In fact, the scuttlebutt says that despite the fact that Obama is falling all over himself to show his pro-Israel-no-matter-what stance, an Iran attack is nevertheless scheduled before Bush leaves office because the Israelis don't trust that Obama will do the deed. So they are pushing hard to make sure Iran is attacked before inauguration day next January. Even if Secretary Gates convinces Bush of the folly of such an attack, then Israel will attack Iran themselves. And though I shutter to even mouth the phrase "President McCain," we already know what he will do.

The Bush administration has boxed itself into an unnecessary collision course with Iran, and the elephant in the room is the fact that the US is beholden, as never before, to narrow Israeli interests.

Hence, I would be perfectly willing to write you off, America (sadly, of course), resigning myself to the mantra that every country gets the government it deserves, (occupations and genocides excluded). Yes, America, I would gladly do this if not for the fact that the consequences of an attack on Iran have such vast reaching potential military, political, economic, health and human consequences that it is almost unfathomable to contemplate.

But contemplate it we must. And then work to prevent it.

And, yes, hope. Hope that Bush reads Gates' memos and ignores Cheney's.


The Folly of Attacking Iran: Lessons from History

House Approves Unconstitutional Surveillance Legislation (6/20/2008)

Fourth Amendment: guards against searches, arrests, and seizures of property without a specific warrant or a "probable cause" to believe a crime has been committed. Some rights to privacy have been inferred from this amendment and others by the Supreme Court.

Washingon DC – Following a vote in the House of Representatives sanctioning warrantless wiretapping and handing immunity to telecommunications companies for their role in domestic spying, the American Civil Liberties Union expressed outrage at representatives who voted for the unconstitutional legislation. The bill, H.R. 6304, or The FISA Amendments Act of 2008, passed the chamber by a vote of 293 (yes) -129 (no), and is expected to be voted on in the Senate next week.
Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU’s Washington Legislative Office said: "It’s Christmas morning at the White House thanks to this vote. The House just wrapped up some expensive gifts for the administration and their buddies at the phone companies.
Watching the House fall to scare tactics and political maneuvering is especially infuriating given the way it stood up to pressure from the president on this same issue just months ago. In March we thought the House leadership had finally grown a backbone by rejecting the Senate’s FISA bill. Now we know they will not stand up for the Constitution.
"No matter how often the opposition calls this bill a ‘compromise,’ it is not a meaningful compromise, except of our constitutional rights. The bill allows for mass, untargeted and unwarranted surveillance of all communications coming in to and out of the United States.
The courts’ role is superficial at best, as the government can continue spying on our communications even after the FISA court has objected. Democratic leaders turned what should have been an easy FISA fix into the wholesale giveaway of our Fourth Amendment rights.
"More than two years after the president’s domestic spying was revealed in the pages of the New York Times, Congress’ fury and shock has dissipated to an obedient whimper. After scrambling for years to cover their tracks, the phone companies and the administration are almost there. This immunity provision will effectively destroy Americans’ chance to have their deserved day in court and will kill any possibility of learning the extent of the administration’s lawless actions.
The House should be ashamed of itself. The fate of the Fourth Amendment is now in the Senate’s hands. We can only hope senators will show more courage than their colleagues in the House."

George Carlin: They own you!

punditman says: George Carlin, R.I.P.


Scott Horton Interviews Eric Margolis


Eric Margolis discusses the widening of the hopeless U.S. occupation of Afghanistan into Pakistan, America’s siding with the formerly pro-Soviet Tajik and Uzbek forces against the Pashtuns, the hatred of U.S. actions by most of the people of Pakistan, the relative lack of danger that Pakistan’s nukes could get loose or be used, how Americans don’t recognize they are living in an empire, U.S. plans to invade Afghanistan before 9/11, why the U.S. let Bin Laden escape and the AQ Kahn nuclear black market network.

MP3 here. (26:27)

Award winning author, columnist, and broadcaster Eric S. Margolis has covered 14 wars and is a leading authority on military affairs, the Middle East, South Asia, and Islamic movements. He is the author of War at the Top of the World. See his website.

punditman says...
I urge everyone who regularly reads this blog, as well as those who stumble in here, to take the time to listen to the above Eric Margolis interview, especially those of you who support the current NATO mission in Afghanistan and who think that the Afghan War is a "good war" compared to Iraq.


State of Emergency: The US in the Final Six Months of the George W. Bush Administration

by Lewis Seiler and Dan Hamburg


In short, we are living in an on-going state of emergency whose exact limits are unknown, on the basis of a controversial deep event — 9/11 — that is still largely a mystery. - UC Professor Emeritus Peter Dale Scott

Unhindered by a neutered Congress and a compliant Court, President Bush has six months remaining to pursue his agenda of expanding the war in the Middle East and ensuring the continuation of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) beyond his tenure in office.

The current administration has taken unto itself unprecedented, nearly hegemonic powers since the events of 9/11. On that day, George W. Bush issued his “Declaration of Emergency by Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks” under the authority of the National Emergencies Act. This declaration, which can be rescinded by joint resolution of Congress, has instead been extended six times. In 2007, the declaration was strengthened with the issuance of National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51) which gave the president the authority to do whatever he deems necessary in a vaguely defined “catastrophic emergency” including everything from canceling elections to suspending the Constitution to launching a nuclear attack.

Despite time constraints, there are clear signs that the president, the vice-president and their neocon collaborators are not finished. The constant saber-rattling toward Iran, with strong support from Israel, should send a chill down the spine of any peace-loving American. Military chiefs who oppose the president are “retired,” as observed most recently with the March dismissals of CENTCOM commander Admiral William Fallon and 6th Fleet commander Vice-Admiral John Stufflebeem. Public opinion counts for nothing. In a March 24 interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz, vice president Dick Cheney responded to a question about the war weariness of Americans with a languid “So?”

According to J. Scott Carpenter, former deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, Cheney pushed hard for airstrikes against Iranian Revolutionary Guard bases last summer. He was deterred by Pentagon officials who insisted that retaliation might be difficult to contain. Now, with Cheney ally General David Petraeus poised to take over Fallon’s command, a significant obstacle has been removed.

Keep Reading...

Lewis Seiler is president of Voice of the Environment, Inc. Dan Hamburg, a former US representative, is executive director.


Obama's Chicago Boys

by Naomi Klein

Barack Obama waited just three days after Hillary Clinton pulled out of the race to declare, on CNBC, "Look. I am a pro-growth, free-market guy. I love the market."

Demonstrating that this is no mere spring fling, he has appointed 37-year-old Jason Furman to head his economic policy team. Furman is one of Wal-Mart's most prominent defenders, anointing the company a "progressive success story." On the campaign trail, Obama blasted Clinton for sitting on the Wal-Mart board and pledged, "I won't shop there." For Furman, however, it's Wal-Mart's critics who are the real threat: the "efforts to get Wal-Mart to raise its wages and benefits" are creating "collateral damage" that is "way too enormous and damaging to working people and the economy more broadly for me to sit by idly and sing 'Kum-Ba-Ya' in the interests of progressive harmony."

Obama's love of markets and his desire for "change" are not inherently incompatible. "The market has gotten out of balance," he says, and it most certainly has. Many trace this profound imbalance back to the ideas of Milton Friedman, who launched a counterrevolution against the New Deal from his perch at the University of Chicago economics department. And here there are more problems, because Obama — who taught law at the University of Chicago for a decade —is thoroughly embedded in the mind-set known as the Chicago School.

Keep Reading...

punditman says...Progressives: Don't get your hopes up too high.


Articles of Impeachment for President George W Bush

by Rep. Dennis Kucinich

Introduced in Congress June 9, 2008.

Resolved, that President George W. Bush be impeached for high crimes and misdemeanors, and that the following articles of impeachment be exhibited to the United States Senate:

Articles of impeachment exhibited by the House of Representatives of the United States of America in the name of itself and of the people of the United States of America, in maintenance and support of its impeachment against President George W. Bush for high crimes and misdemeanors.

In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has committed the following abuses of power.

  1. Article I - Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq.
  2. Article II - Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression.
  3. Article III - Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War.
  4. Article IV - Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States.
  5. Article V - Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression.
  6. Article VI - Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of HJRes114.
  7. Article VII - Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration of War.
  8. Article VIII - Invading Iraq, A Sovereign Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter.
  9. Article IX - Failing to Provide Troops With Body Armor and Vehicle Armor
  10. Article X - Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes
  11. Article XI - Establishment of Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq
  12. Article XII - Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation's Natural Resources
  13. Article XIII - Creating a Secret Task Force to Develop Energy and Military Policies With Respect to Iraq and Other Countries
  14. Article XIV - Misprision of a Felony, Misuse and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the Central Intelligence Agency
  15. Article XV - Providing Immunity from Prosecution for Criminal Contractors in Iraq
  16. Article XVI - Reckless Misspending and Waste of U.S. Tax Dollars in Connection With Iraq and US Contractors
  17. Article XVII - Illegal Detention: Detaining Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and Foreign Captives
  18. Article XVIII - Torture: Secretly Authorizing, and Encouraging the Use of Torture Against Captives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Other Places, as a Matter of Official Policy
  19. Article XIX - Rendition: Kidnapping People and Taking Them Against Their Will to 'Black Sites' Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice Torture
  20. Article XX - Imprisoning Children
  21. Article XXI - Misleading Congress and the American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the Iranian Government
  22. Article XXII - Creating Secret Laws
  23. Article XXIII - Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act
  24. Article XXIV - Spying on American Citizens, Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the Law and the Fourth Amendment
  25. Article XXV - Directing Telecommunications Companies to Create an Illegal and Unconstitutional Database of the Private Telephone Numbers and Emails of American Citizens
  26. Article XXVI - Announcing the Intent to Violate Laws with Signing Statements
  27. Article XXVII - Failing to Comply with Congressional Subpoenas and Instructing Former Employees Not to Comply
  28. Article XXVIII - Tampering with Free and Fair Elections, Corruption of the Administration of Justice
  29. Article XXIX - Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965
  30. Article XXX - Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare
  31. Article XXXI - Katrina: Failure to Plan for the Predicted Disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Failure to Respond to a Civil Emergency
  32. Article XXXII - Misleading Congress and the American People, Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address Global Climate Change
  33. Article XXXIII - Repeatedly Ignored and Failed to Respond to High Level Intelligence Warnings of Planned Terrorist Attacks in the US, Prior to 911.
  34. Article XXXIV - Obstruction of the Investigation into the Attacks of September 11, 2001
  35. Article XXXV - Endangering the Health of 911 First Responders


'Hotline to Iran' Aims to Head Off War

Keep Reading...



by Jim Lobe

Once again, notably in the wake of this week’s annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference and the visit here of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, there’s a lot of chatter about a possible attack by Israel and/or the United States on Iran. Olmert appears to have left the White House (and a dinner with Cheney Tuesday evening before the prime minister’s meeting with Bush) quite satisfied on this score, while rumors — most recently voiced by Daniel Pipes — that the administration plans to carry out a “massive” attack in the window between the November elections and Bush’s departure from office, particularly if Sen. Obama is his successor, continue to swirl around the capital.

What to make of this? Is this real? Or is it psychological warfare designed to persuade Tehran that it really does face devastation if it doesn’t freeze its uranium enrichment program very, very soon and/or U.S. allies, Russia, and China that they have to put more pressure on Tehran or deal with the consequences of such an attack?

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve generally been sceptical of the many reports over the last two years that an attack — either Israeli or U.S. — was imminent, as those reports had often warned at the time of their publication. After the release of the December NIE, I, like just about everyone else, became even more doubtful that Bush would order an attack before leaving office (and I didn’t think the Israelis would mount an attack without a green light from Washington), in part because neo-conservatives, who had been and remain the most eager champions of military action, seemed to simply give up on Bush and, in any event, were not showing any signs of orchestrating a major new media campaign to mobilize public opinion in that direction, as they did in the run-up to the Iraq invasion.

Since the abrupt resignation of Adm. Fallon as Centcom commander, which I saw as a major blow to the realist faction in the administration, and Cheney’s subsequent visit to the region, as I noted at the time, however, I’ve been increasingly concerned about the possibility of an attack, and the past week’s events have done nothing to allay that concern.

Let me just lay out a few items, other than those mentioned above, that I find disturbing.

Keep Reading...


Oil, Israel, Iran, America and the High Cost of a Single War-Like Remark

One remark by a minor Israeli cabinet officer hinting at a possible US or Israeli attack on Iran has sent oil prices up by a record $11/barrel to a record $139 per barrel Friday. That should tell us what would happen if the Bush administration were crazy enough to attack Iran, or to let its vassal state of Israel do it.

Most analysts say an actual attack on Iran would send oil almost immediately to past $300 per barrel—a level that would strangle economies worldwide and send the world into an economic collapse not since the Smoot-Hawley Tariffs kicked off the Great Depression.

The repercussions of that would be staggering.

America, which runs on oil, would grind to a halt. Gasoline and home heating oil would double or triple in price, leading to desperation in the coming winter for those living north of the Mason-Dixon line, and to a mass exodus of the elderly from Florida and Arizona, where air-conditioning would no longer be affordable.

In China, an economy almost wholly dependent upon the manufacture of goods for sale to American consumers, hundreds of millions of workers would suddenly find themselves unemployed. With their remittances to their peasant relatives halted, half the country would be kicked back to the pre-capitalist era, only without guaranteed wages, homes, food and healthcare. It is likely that unrest unprecedented since the Cultural Revolution would erupt.

The Middle East would explode.

In Iraq, Shia fighters would rise up in solidarity with their Shia neighbor, Iran, and begin attacking American forces in Iraq in earnest, probably making the Tet Offensive in 1968 Vietnam look like a picnic. Where the US had half a million troops in Vietnam in that offensive, the military is already stretched to the breaking point in Iraq, with supply lines barely defended.

It makes you wonder what is going on in the higher reaches of the US bureaucracy. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has in the past intimated that he’s no fan of war with Iran, just sacked the two top men in the Airforce—the most gung-ho of the service branches in terms of Iran war mongering. The unprecedent surprise firing of Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne and the Air Force’s top officer, Gen. T Michael “Buzz” Moseley, was officially blamed on their poor handling of the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal, in the wake of last year’s unauthorized and improper removal from storage and cross-country aerial transfer of six nuclear-armed cruise missiles in launch position on a B-52 Stratofortress, and the discovery this year of an earlier “inadvertent” shipment of ICBM missile warhead nuclear triggers to Taiwan. While it is possible that those two incidents were the cause of the firings, there remain serious unanswered questions about both incidents, and particularly about the cruise missile flight.

As I reported earlier on this site and in Counterpunch magazine and American Conservative magazine, there were a half dozen unexplained deaths of US airmen, including two suicides, which occurred just before and after that flight last August 30, none of which were investigated at least publicly by the Pentagon or the FBI according to local prosecutors and medical examiners contacted. A number of experts in nuclear weapons handling have said that it would be “impossible” for the six warheads to have been removed from guarded bunkers at Minot AFB in North Dakota, mounted on cruise missiles, loaded onto launch pylons under the wing of a B-52, and flown to Barksdale AFB in Louisiana, all as a “mistake.”

This leads inexorably to the question: What was being planned for those warheads, if they were not being removed from storage by mistake, and if they were being moved without the knowledge of the top brass, including Gates, at the Pentagon? Recall that the only reason anyone learned about the incident was that it was reported outside the military chain of command to a reporter at Military Times newspaper by several Air Force whistle-blowers upset by what they were seeing.

We already witnessed the sudden resignation from the post of CentCom Command of Adm. William Fallon, whose outspoken opposition to the Bush/Cheney administration’s talk of attacking Iran led to his being pushed aside in favor of the more pliant Gen. David Petraeus. Fallon was pushed out by Iran war hawks because of his opposition to an attack. Were the Air Force Secretary and Chief of Staff forced out by Gates because of their pro-attack position?

Plenty to ponder here, but the concerns of oil speculators, who have driven up the price of oil by 8.6 percent (and the stock market down by 3.2 percent) in a single day, in large part on war rumors, should have us all concerned.

It’s not just about the price of gasoline.

punditman says...Remember this when you go to fill-up at the pumps, folks. Remember who is to blame.


Lying Liars: To Make Iraq An American Colony

by Mentarch

Two items.

First one: the long-awaited Senate Select Intelligence Committee report is out, confirming what everyone in the reality-based progressive community has known for a long time - that the Bush administration (including President Bush and V.-P. Cheney) made public statements to promote their invasion of Iraq which they knew full well were not supported by available intelligence.

(i.e. they "lied their asses off")

Among the report's conclusions:
* Claims by President Bush that Iraq and al Qaida had a partnership "were not substantiated by the intelligence."

* The president and vice president misrepresented what was known about Iraq’s chemical weapons capabilities.

* Rumsfeld misrepresented what the intelligence community knew when he said Iraq's weapons productions facilities were buried deeply underground.

* Cheney's claim that the intelligence community had confirmed that lead Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta had met an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in 2001 was not true.
In addition, a companion report found that a special office set up by then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld undertook "sensitive intelligence activities" that were inappropriate "without the knowledge of the Intelligence Community or the State Department."

(In other words: they cooked the intel - again, nothing new revealed here, except that it is now "official")

Second item - Secret plan to keep Iraq under US control:
A secret deal being negotiated in Baghdad would perpetuate the American military occupation of Iraq indefinitely, regardless of the outcome of the US presidential election in November.

(...) Iraqi officials fear that the accord, under which US troops would occupy permanent bases, conduct military operations, arrest Iraqis and enjoy immunity from Iraqi law, will destabilise Iraq's position in the Middle East and lay the basis for unending conflict in their country.

But the accord also threatens to provoke a political crisis in the US. President Bush wants to push it through by the end of next month so he can declare a military victory and claim his 2003 invasion has been vindicated. But by perpetuating the US presence in Iraq, the long-term settlement would undercut pledges by the Democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama, to withdraw US troops if he is elected president in November.

(...) The US has repeatedly denied it wants permanent bases in Iraq but one Iraqi source said: "This is just a tactical subterfuge." Washington also wants control of Iraqi airspace below 29,000ft and the right to pursue its "war on terror" in Iraq, giving it the authority to arrest anybody it wants and to launch military campaigns without consultation.

Mr Bush is determined to force the Iraqi government to sign the so-called "strategic alliance" without modifications, by the end of next month. But it is already being condemned by the Iranians and many Arabs as a continuing American attempt to dominate the region. Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the powerful and usually moderate Iranian leader, said yesterday that such a deal would create "a permanent occupation". He added: "The essence of this agreement is to turn the Iraqis into slaves of the Americans.

(...) The US is adamantly against the new security agreement being put to a referendum in Iraq, suspecting that it would be voted down. The influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has called on his followers to demonstrate every Friday against the impending agreement on the grounds that it compromises Iraqi independence."
I think there can be no more doubt now that the Iraq war was not only about securing oil resources, but owning them permanently.

Taking the two items above, it is safe to conclude that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al. lied their collective asses off to procure a new colony for the U.S.A. - and its very first one in the 21st century at that.

One small step for American Imperialism, a giant leap for the neocons' wet dreams.

I wonder if they'll be doing the same with Afghanistan ... or perhaps they prefer Iran?

In any case, I will join in the sarcasm of The Station Agent and make the suggestion of simply annexing Iraq and make it a state (with the huge, new embassy there becoming the state house) - and therefore be done with this.

Or maybe going about it this way would be too obvious?

Regime change indeed ...

P.S. See also this!


Economic depression in America: Evidence of a withering economy is everywhere

by Mike Whitney


Look around. The evidence of a withering economy is everywhere. In "good times" consumers shun the canned meat aisle altogether, but no more. Today, Spam sales are soaring; grocery stores can't keep it on the shelves. Everyone is looking for cheaper ways to feed their families. The Labor Dept. assures us that core-inflation is only 4 per cent, but everybody knows it's load of malarkey. Food prices are going through the roof. White bread is up 13 percent, bacon is up 7 percent and peanut butter is up 9 percent. Inflation is rampant and there's no end in sight. The dollar is closing in on the peso and working people are struggling just to get by. The bottom line is that more and more people in "the richest country on earth" are now surviving on processed pig-meat. That says it all.

In Santa Barbara parking lots are being converted into hostels so that families that lost their homes in the subprime fiasco can sleep in their cars and not be hassled by the cops. The same is true in LA where tent cities have sprung up around the railroad yards to accommodate the growing number of people who've lost their jobs or can't afford to rent a room on service-industry wages. It's tragic. Everywhere people are feeling the pinch; that's why 9 out of 10 Americans now believe the country is now headed in the wrong direction and that's why consumer confidence is at its lowest ebb since the Great Depression. This is the great triumph of Reagan's free trade "trickle down" Voodoo economics; whole families living out of their cars waiting for the pawn shop to open.

The economy is on life-support. The rest of the world would be doing us all a favor if they decided to chuck the dollar and boycott US financial products altogether. That would put an end to Wall Street's chicanery once and for all. Foreign investors should be demanding restitution and impounding American assets to compensate for the trillions of dollars they lost in the subprime/securitization swindle. Litigate, litigate, litigate; that's the only way to make the guilty parties pay for their crimes. Either that or set up a gallows on Wall Street and get down to business.

The pundits on the business channel are telling us that the "worst is over"; that the Force 5 hurricane in the financial markets has weakened to a squall. Don't believe it. The corporate bond market is still frozen, housing is in free fall, and the banking system is buckling from the overload of bad investments. The FDIC is even trying to lure former employees out of retirement to deal with the tsunami of bank failures set to touch down later in 2008. Corporate defaults are on the rise and and commercial real estate is crashing.

"Commercial property prices in the US in February saw their sharpest decline since records began nearly 15 years ago as sources of finance for deals has dried up, according to data from Standard & Poor’s out yesterday. Sales of commercial properties were down 71 per cent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier." (Financial Times) Commercial real estate is following the same downward trajectory as residential housing. They're both headed for the bottom of the fish-tank. Any slump in CRE will send unemployment skyrocketing while adding to the solvency problems facing the banks.

We're not out of the woods by a long shot, and won't be for years to come. According to Bloomberg News, soaring raw material costs have caused a sharp rise in costs to producers that they won't be able to pass on to cash-strapped consumers. That means that corporate profits will fall and stock values will plunge.

Last week, Oppenheimer analyst Meredith Whitney announced that:

"The real harrowing days of the credit crisis are still ahead of us and will prove more widespread in effect than anything yet seen. Just as strained liquidity pushed so many small and mid-sized specialty finance companies to the brink, we believe it will do the same to the US consumer. We believe losses will only accelerate further and far worse than the most draconian estimates."

Full article...

punditman says...From the Full article link above: "The country is undergoing a collapsing real estate market that surpasses the Great Depression and former Fed-chief Alan Greenspan's book is still on the New York Times Best Seller list. How's that for irony?"


Bush's War on Civil Liberties

Legislating Tyranny




The George W. Bush administration responded to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon with an assault on U.S. civil liberty that Bush justified in the name of the “war on terror.” The government assured us that the draconian measures apply only to “terrorists.” The word terrorist, however, was not defined. The government claimed the discretionary power to decide who is a terrorist without having to present evidence or charges in a court of law.

Frankly, the Bush administration’s policy evades any notion of procedural due process of law. Administration assurances that harsh treatment is reserved only for terrorists is meaningless when the threshold process for determining who is and who is not a terrorist depends on executive discretion that is not subject to review. Substantive rights are useless without the procedural rights to enforce them.

Terrorist legislation and executive assertions created a basis upon which federal authorities claimed they were free to suspend suspects’ civil liberties in order to defend Americans from terrorism. Only after civil liberties groups and federal courts challenged some of the unconstitutional laws and procedures did realization spread that the Bush administration’s assault on the Bill of Rights is a greater threat to Americans than are terrorists.

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punditman says...Yes, keep reading folks. This is a good account of the United States' slide toward fascism.


Enabling Nuke Proliferation

by Gordon Prather

Surely you already knew – without reading Scott McClellan's mea culpa – that the Cheney Cabal came to power in January, 2001, determined to firmly establish by any means an American Hegemony, removing or destroying any opposition regimes.

But, how to rationalize to you the absolute necessity for "removing" those pesky regimes? And how to justify to you the use of nukes – if “necessary” – to effect those removals?

Well, within days of the spectacularly successful second attack by al-Qaeda on the World Trade Center Towers, the Cheney Cabal had formulated their game plan.

And in his first State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush, already the self-anointed Commander-in-Chief of the War on Terror, outlined it.

After singling out the pesky regimes then in place in North Korea, Iran and Iraq, Bush declared that –

"States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world. By seeking weapons of mass destruction, these regimes pose a grave and growing danger. They could provide these arms to terrorists, giving them the means to match their hatred. They could attack our allies or attempt to blackmail the United States.

"In any of these cases, the price of indifference would be catastrophic.I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."

For reasons perhaps known only to Bush, himself, within hours of the Twin Towers coming down, he had directed that plans be drawn up to invade and occupy Iraq.

In August 2003, Walter Pincus and Barton Gellman at the Washington Post revealed to you that the White House Iraq Group had been established by President Bush's chief of staff in August 2002, to essentially "market" to you gullible consumers what was – as we now know, thanks to the Downing Street Memos – Bush's impending war of aggression against Iraq.

WHIG – which met weekly in the White House Situation Room – included the president's political adviser Karl Rove, National Security Adviser Condi Rice, her deputy Stephen Hadley, Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby, and various congressional-relations and media-relations flacks.

The rationale for the upcoming invasion and occupation of Iraq was to be the (known to be non-existent) threat to you and yours of "mushroom clouds."

Known to be non-existent?

You better believe.

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punditman says...As in the case of the lead-up to the war on Iraq, Iran now is being asked to prove a negative. From the above link, we read:

In the case of Iran, Director-General ElBaradei has consistently reported to the IAEA Board that he can find "no indication" that any NPT-proscribed materials have ever been "diverted" to any purpose, military or otherwise.

Therefore, the IAEA Board is acting corruptly, contrary to its own Statute, when it repeatedly requires Iran to essentially "prove" to ElBaradei that it does not have a nuclear weapons program, never had a nuclear weapons program, and does not intend to ever have a nuclear weapons program.

Similarly, the Security Council is acting corruptly, contrary to the UN Charter, when it imposes Article 41 sanctions on Iran without ever making a determination under Article 39 that Iran's IAEA Safeguarded uranium-enrichment program constitutes a "threat to the peace"!