questions one asks *always* determine the answers one gets. Values and theories form the basis of all inquiry. This blog asks questions about Bush's "pre-emptive war on Iraq", the political influence of corporations, US foreign policy, the ''politically right'' media bias, developing countries, wealth distribution, and political philosophy.
Saturday, February 15, 2003
Today's protest in London was the largest ever in British history.
In Berlin, it was the largest peace protest in the history of Germany.
It was the biggest peace protest in Australia since the Vietnam war.
Two million turned out in Spain, and another million in Italy, to protest their leaders' support for Bush's war. Millions more protested in local demonstrations across the U.S., France, Greece, and thousands of others around the world. Taken worldwide, never before in history have so many millions of people taken to the streets to express their opposition to a war--and this, before it even starts. Saddam is an evil, despicable tyrant, and the sooner he loses power the better, but the biggest threat to the world right now is the shadowy network of groups like "Al Qaeda". Invading Iraq now makes rooting out "Al Qaeda" more difficult.
But there are disturbing historical parallels: In the US during World War One, historian Joan M. Jensen notes in her book Army Surveillance in America, "What began as a system to protect the government from enemy agents became a vast surveillance system to watch civilians who violated no law but who objected to wartime policies or to the war itself." They harrassed millions of Americans, and caught exactly one German spy.
Now, arch-conservative funders like Paul Weyrich advocate are following suit. In his own words: "We don't know how many people demonstrated in Washington, D.C., against the likely war with Iraq last week. However, there are lots of people who participated in that march who also were involved with the riots in Seattle in 2001 [sic]. ... It seems that no matter what the cause, some of these groups have the money to go wherever there are demonstrations. If you read the names of the participating groups, you will see that they are hardcore leftists. ... So where do they get their money? The stated objective of these Communist front groups is to destroy our republic. ... We need to know how these groups are financed. If Homeland Secretary Tom Ridge wants to do something useful with all his new powers, he ought to find out how these neo-Communists are being financed. If Ridge won't act, then Congress should. Congress should hold hearings and compel the organizers to testify. No legitimate group should be intimidated if Congress goes after true enemies of America." ['If you're innocent, you have nothing to hide from the secret police'--scary overtones of the East German Stasi. Weyrich is not a marginal character; he was the first head of the Heritage Foundation, and is in the intellectual heart of the Republican Party.]
Likewise, John Ashcroft, the most powerful lawmaker in the U.S. Ashcroft was confirmed by a Senate vote of only 58 to 42 -- the most votes against a U.S. Attorney General in history. After 9/11, he testified before Congress that critics of the Bush Administration's policies were near-treasonous: "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies and pause to America's friends."
Thursday, February 13, 2003 U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8: "The Congress [not the President] shall have power To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water; To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years; To provide and maintain a navy; To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces; To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions..."
Lawsuit filed to stop Bush, for his unconstitutional pre-emptive war plans.
Wednesday, February 12, 2003 Joe Conason: "While I put together my survival kit of duct tape and canned soup, I hope an administration spokesman will explain why we are sending 150,000 troops to overthrow Saddam Hussein when we wouldn't send in 5,000 to capture or kill bin Laden."
Bin Laden's smoking-gun tape: implies no prior ties to Saddam! Bin Laden says: "the fighting should ... not be for the aid of the infidel regimes in all Arab countries, including Iraq." "The [Baath Socialist Party, Saddam's] socialists and the rulers have lost their legitimacy a long time ago, and the socialists are infidels regardless of where they are, whether in Baghdad or in Aden." That's a direct slap at Saddam. Bin Laden concedes a temporary alliance against the US, but this sounds like a new development: "It doesn't harm *in these conditions* the interest of Muslims to agree with those of the socialists in fighting against the crusaders, even though we believe the socialists are infidels." This is hardly the language he would use had Iraq been involved in 9/11. Bin Laden loathes Saddam's secular regime. Yet 70% of the American public still believes Iraq was involved in 9/11, because Bush continues this lie and the conservative-biased press does not call him on it.
It's preposterous that the Bush White House is claiming that the tape "underscores what the President and Secretary Powell have said about al Qaeda linking up with Iraq." What nonsense spin! The tape shows the *exact opposite*: bin Laden was *not* allied with Saddam before, but due to Shrub's utter mismanagement of foreign policy the US has forged a temporary alliance-of-convenience of our enemies. (Recall that on Sept. 16, 2001, Bush referred to "This crusade, this war on terrorism." "The Crusades," redux--can you think of a worse word choice for Bush to have used? Go ahead, think about it, can you? At a time when we want the best in leadership, Bush comes up with the worst. Bin Laden exploited this gaffe, referring three times in his latest tape to "crusaders".) What a debacle. Instead, we in the US should have divided and conquered Bin Laden, Saddam and others, separately. Further, this latest tape proves what critics of the war on Iraq have said all along: it will provoke further terrorist attacks. This is the nightmare that Bush's policies have led to. Yet the TV news (and Nightline) again gave Bush a free ride on this.
Let's see, should we count the exaggerations, misleading conclusions, and outright deceptions in Powell's UN testimony? No Iraqi link to the 9/11 WTC and Pentagon attacks has been found, despite exhaustive searching. Prior links between Iraqi and Al Qaeda seem slim, although Al Qaeda (and perhaps Saddam) may now be seeking to build one (as a US attack on Iraq plays into Al Qaeda's murderous treachery), thus ObL's latest PR release. The US should be dividing these enemies in order to conquer them, not uniting them.
1) Europe is skeptical of Powell's claim that ricin found in Britain was made in (Kurdish-held) Iraq: "The ricin that is bouncing around Europe now originated in Iraq -- not in the part of Iraq that is under Saddam Hussein's control, but his security forces know all about it," Powell said. But investigators have said that arrests in Europe found suspected terrorists trained in biological and chemical weapons in the Pankisi Gorge region of Georgia and nearby Chechnya -- and the traces of the ricin found in a British raid were clearly "homemade." A French intelligence source said he was "stunned" by Powell's comment. "There is no, repeat, no suggestion that the ricin was anything but locally produced," he said. "It was bad quality, not technically sophisticated." Further, the source said, British authorities "are clear" that the poison was "home-made. Don't forget, intelligence is like a supermarket, and at that level in government, you see everything, and can pick anything," the source said. US State Department officials said that Powell was likely referring to the "knowledge and capability" to produce ricin originating in Iraq. [...] It is the second time in as many days that Powell's interpretation of purported Iraq-al Qaeda connections has been questioned. On Tuesday, Powell said that an audiotape said to be al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was indisputable proof of such a connection. But translations of the tape show that bin Laden, while voicing support for the Iraqi people and urging them to resist any U.S.-led attack, called the Baath party of Saddam Hussein "infidels" and said he wouldn't be disappointed if Saddam Hussein and his supporters "disappear."
2) New York Times: Officials agree that Mr. Abu Mussab Zarqawi is a charismatic terror lieutenant whose dual specialties — chemical weapons and recruitment — make him a potent and dangerous force. But there is less consensus about Mr. Powell's contention that Mr. Zarqawi exemplifies a fledgling alliance between Iraq and Al Qaeda. In Germany, officials have investigated Mr. Zarqawi for more than a year, but Mr. Powell's assertion surprised them. "We have been investigating Mr. Zarqawi for some time," said a senior German intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "We need to examine the evidence that Powell has drawn from, and it is possible that he knows things that we don't. But as of yet we have seen no indication of a direct link between Zarqawi and Baghdad."
3) Guardian/Observer: [...] Al-Zarqawi is not an al-Qaeda operative. If there is a link between bin Laden and Saddam Hussein he is not it. His story is the story of modern Islamic militancy. It is also the story of why the American-led 'war on terror' risks backfiring badly. Al-Zarqawi is not even, on close examination, an 'al-Qaeda associate', as Powell claimed. Primarily, al-Zarqawi is part of a broad movement of Islamic militancy that extends well beyond the influence and activities of any one man. This is a movement that is rooted in broad trends... Islamic militancy is a multivalent, diverse and complex phenomenon. Focusing on individuals, even bin Laden, is a ludicrous oversimplification. Desperately trying to paint all Muslim militants as 'al-Qaeda' is wrong and counter-productive. Eliminating one man, or one group, will not make much difference. Nor will concocting spurious links between very different threats. If Powell believes his own rhetoric then he has simply not understood the nature of his enemy. [...]
4) Hans Blix cast doubt on some intelligence submitted by Powell. He questioned Powell's evidence to the Security Council on Feb. 5, saying that two satellite images shown in his presentation did not prove that Iraq was clearing the site of forbidden munitions. "The reported movement of munitions at the site could just as easily have been a routine activity as a movement of proscribed munitions in anticipation of an imminent inspection," Blix said.
Sunday, February 09, 2003
Now the Bush admin has weakened the NATO alliance?! NATO has been the bedrock of world order and progress for the past 50 years. The London Times writes (somewhat exaggeratedly): "War split puts NATO's future in jeopardy." And according to the Washington Times/UPI (Feb 4), Richard Perlesaid: France is no longer an ally of the United States and the NATO alliance "must develop a strategy to contain our erstwhile ally or we will not be talking about a NATO alliance" . Richard Perle, a former assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration and now chairman of the Pentagon's Policy Advisory Board, condemned French and German policy on Iraq in the strongest terms at a public seminar organized by a New York-based PR firm and attended by Iraqi exiles and American Middle East and security officials. "France is no longer the ally it once was," Perle said. [...] "I have long thought that there were forces in France intent on reducing the American role in the world." [...] "Very considerable damage has already been done to the Atlantic community, including NATO, by Germany and France," Perle said. "But in the German case, the behavior of the Chancellor is idiosyncratic. He tried again to incite pacifism, and this time failed in Sunday's elections in Hesse and Lower Saxony. His capacity to do damage is now constrained. Chancellor Schroeder is now in a box, and the Germans will recover their equilibrium." Perle went on to question whether the United States should ever again seek the endorsement of the U.N. Security Council on a major issue of policy, stressing that "Iraq is going to be liberated, by the United States and whoever wants to join us, whether we get the approbation of the U.N. or any other institution," he added.
This added to Rumsfeld's dismissal of "old Europe" (vs. weaker southern and eastern European states which the US can influence). In response, France exercised a vetoagainst Nato's deploying forces to protect Turkey in the event of a US-led war with Iraq, despite pressure from the US. Belgium and Germany supported France. Also, France, Germany and Russia have proposed an alternative peace plan. The rift between Washington and what US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld termed "old Europe" threatens to do lasting damage to NATO solidarity. "We are going to block it between now and Monday - it is settled," Belgium's Foreign Minister Louis Michel said. "When one has to take a slap in the face such as the insulting remarks... by Mr Rumsfeld, who comes to teach a thing or two to 'old Europe', the Europe of democratic values, humanist Europe, the Europe of the Age of Enlightenment, personally I find that this hurts."
These rifts will be mended. But just imagine what the Republican media-machine's reaction would have been, if President Clinton's administration had similarly and so ineptly antagonized our European alliance.
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