30 August 2007
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
Three years ago the inimitable Jim Hightower came to Grenoble to participate in our 2-day conference on "The Contemporary State of American Political Culture." He quoted a brief passage from his very funny book, Thieves in High Places, which the CEIMSA collective that academic year (2003-2004) had translated into French for our spring colloquium. "Even a dog knows the difference," Hightower admonished the 500 students who had gathered to hear him speak that evening at Stendhal University, "between being kicked and being accidently stumbled over. The poor in the United States of America," he continued, "are being kicked hard."
The war on the poor has progressed to a point where aesthetics is gaining authority over economics as an approach to understanding what's going on. Instead of the question, "How can they get away with it?", many are now asking "Why would they want to do that in the first place?"
Homo economicus,, a 19th Century economic concept, celebrates the freedom of wanting more and more, and never enough, and the rational means of attaining it. The 21st Century offers the fulfillment of so many other human potentials that greed seems no longer "a rational choice," and appears instead as a major character flaw. Homo creativus, psychoanalyst Eric Fromm once wrote, will eventually supplant homo economicus. But until that day, it would seem, we are in for some turbulent weather.
The need to be productive, to be creative, to feel that one is contributing to the well being of society, it has been argued, is part of the genetic makeup of our species. At the beginning of the last century Thorstein Veblen wrote about this human characteristic in his classic book, The Instinct of Workmanship. Given the amazing developments in science and technology over the past 100 years, we suspect this instinct has grown stronger as technological innovations have increased the possibilities for creative and fulfilling activities. The unnecessary and often destructive labor many of us must engage in today (simply to earn a living) is more odious than ever before; so are the deep frustrations many of us feel at being reduced to consumers and targeted by marketing firms for the bottom line, i.e. maximizing the private profits. Most of us are rarely consulted in our daily lives for our opinions, as producers and as citizens, on how to improve the institutions we inhabit.
I was recently re-reading my old copy of The Glass House Tapes, edited by Citizens Research and Investigation Committee (C.R.I.C.) and published in 1973, before President Nixon's fall. The African-American police informer/agent provocateur at the Los Angeles Police Department (L.A.P.D.), Louis Tackwood , became a triple agent after the murder of George Jackson by San Quentin prison guards on 21 August 1971, and the attempted setup of Angela Davis, following the killing of her bodyguard Jonathan Jackson, George's brother. Tackwood contacted the Los Angeles Free Press to tell his story. From the perspective of this police agent, there was a big conspiracy underway in the 1970s to create a police state across in the United States and at the center of this conspiracy was the L.A.P.D. According to Tackwood's testimony, this huge conspiracy began toward the end of Nixon's first term of office and included police attacks on members of the ruling class --Republicans and Democrats, alike. The creation of victims ascribed to the violence of left-wing activists would be the justification for suspending the U.S. Constitution and cancelling the presidential election of 1972. Nowhere do we see more clearly than in this testimony the difference between "esprit du corps" and "class consciousness". The destruction of fellow members of a social class is permissible in order to advance the social class interests in general. This has been a universal tactic in class-divided societies. Agent provocateurs were used by the police force in Tsarist Russia to provoke violence in order to justify police repression. Between 1903 and 1908, the Tsar's most important secret police agent was also a leader of the Social Revolutionary Party. He successfully planned the assassination of the Russian Minister of Interior, V.K. Plehve, who was in charge of hunting down members of the SRP. And when he participated in the plot to assassinate the Grand Duke Sergei, the Tsar's top political advisor. In the summer of 1905, he failed to notify the police of this plot, and after it was carried out all 17 members of the SRP who were involved in this assassination were arrested on Azef's information. The head of Ochrana, the Russian secret police, was Zubatov. He expressed his views on the police provocation of violence succinctly at the time of the Petrograd insurrection in 1905: "We shall provoke you to acts of terror and then crush you." (pp.135-136) The editors of Glass House Tapes observed that in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, Ochrana was effective again and again in organizing terrorist acts of violence, then blaming it on revolutionaries in order to justify intense police repression.
This historic analogy with the L.A.P.D. in the 1970s was made by the editors Tackwood's taped interviews because they began to sense that a new network of police organizations was mushrooming across the State of California, and throughout the United States with the assistance of the F.B.I. beyond the U.S. boarders with C.I.A. involvement. It was a qualitatively different game than in the 1930s, when the L.A.P.D. "Red Squad" was used to harass and sabotage the California labor movement. By 1973, the police industry had come into possession of new technologies, they argued, which enabled the police to effectively put in place an authoritarian system of surveillance at all levels of society, from the local to the international, with informants becoming provocateurs at strategic moments. The 1970s was a period of police reorganization, supported by new budgets: the L.A.P.D. Metro Squad gave rise to the Criminal Identification and Investigation Division (CII), which included a Criminal Conspiracy Section (CCS), a Scientific Investigation Division (SID), and their Special Weapons and Tactics team (SWAT). The California Correctional Officers' Association (CCOA) was also active in hunting down dissidents, such as the Black Panthers and Students for a Democratic Society, and more importantly their middle-class financial supporters. Surveillance allowed them to conduct tactical interventions to neutralize their targets at strategic moments, such as when the Black Panther breakfast program was becoming popular in San Diego, California and the police telephoned pasters and priests telling them that their congregations did not approve of this support, or when at precise moments in Los Angeles the L.A.P.D. funded and armed the African American association, United Slaves, in Los Angeles to attack the Black Panthers in the streets in order to achieve bad press coverage for the Panthers in the L.A. Times.
The New Left editors of The Glass House Tapes tried to argue that in 1973 police technology was not controlled by capitalist interests, where strategies for maximizing profits would be expected to dominate decision making. Instead their argument was that political authority within a specific kind of social order was the primary objective of the police themselves, and this aim sometimes be subordinated the private profit motive and some individual capitalist interests. The editors provided evidence which supported their view that there was a great deal of local autonomy during these "clean-up campaigns". What emerges from this important 1973 document is the view that in class warfare all individual interests get quickly subordinated to social class interests, and class interests are so big they are rarely recognized for what they are, the forces that govern our lives collectively, often unconsciously. The representatives of the capitalist class simply allow the forces of repression to do what they have to do to preserve the system and, of course, to perpetuate the mutual advantages they themselves derive from this political economy of repression.
At one point in the Glass House interviews Tackwood concluded, "I am not politically Right or Left. It's not a thing where I feel I am politically obligated Right or Left. It is a time when political Right and Left (should demand) that the Police Department of Los Angeles stop being provocateurs. I feel once this atmosphere is cleared up that the black man and the Chicano can clean up their own houses."(251) But, as Tackwood reminded his interviewers, no one is indispensable, and even the best police informer/agent provocateur can be neutralized when he is no longer useful to the team.
The 9 items below take us from this summer's outrageous provocation, the raw sewage attack against the Palestinian people by Israeli settlers, to the "raw story" of U.S. covert actions against the people of Iran in an attempt to provoke the expansion of U.S. military aggression in order to cover up their huge losses in the Middle East. (A perpetual war is never lost?)
Item A. is an article sent to us by Edward Herman describing, in the words of one colleague, "another ignoble act of aggression by 'a lost tribe of Israel' on the Palestinian homeland": the evacuation of Israeli raw sewage running across the landscape of Palestine is another desperate attempt to establish Israeli ownership rights to this property.
Item B. is an article sent to us by American historian Jim O'Brien, wishing to set the record straight on the Vietnam War analogy recently use by President Bush in explaining U.S. policy in Iraq.
Item C. is an article by Noam Chomsky explaining the contemporary use of the Cold War paradigm in Washington, D.C. applied to Iran in a attempt to render the idea of military expansion in the Middle East more palatable.
Item D., is an article by investigative reporter Robert Fisk on political ploys and brutal deceptions used by Washington, D.C., which finds itself in the midst of loosing another war.
Item E. is an article from University of Massachusetts Professor of economics, Dr. Richard Wolff on the approaching debacle of the American economy and classic attempts to use scapegoats to "solve" the fiscal crisis.
Item F., sent to us by San Francisco Attorney Robert Rivkin, includes an update on the attack, lead in part by The Progressive Magazine editor Ruth Conniff, against the academic freedom of Dr. Norman Finklestein, an ardent and honest critic of Israeli policies in Palestine. In the same issue of Dissident Voice we recommend the article by Robert Rivkin on Bush's use of the "stab-in-the-back" myth to mobilize support in the U.S.
Item G. is an article by the conservative Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration and associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal and National Review on war crimes committed by the Bush Administration and their long-term consequences.
Item H., is an article from Information Clearing House on "the raw story" of U.S. covert activities in Iran in an attempt to provoke an expansion of war in the Middle East.
Item I. is a how-it-is-done article from Rolling Stones, sent to us by Edward Herman and describing what it takes to be a successful war profiteer in the 21st Century.
Finally, we take this opportunity to encourage readers to look at the May 21st Democracy Now! pod cast of an interview with Manning Marable on the life and death of Malcolm X.
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Universit Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Edward Herman :
Date: 21 August 2007
Subject: When the occupation gets really filthy
Read it and weep. This daily ruthless armed robbery and ethnic cleansing is
sickening, and one can only marvel that the West not only doesn't interfere
but actually gives active support to the ethnic cleansers. This must reflect
some combination of ignorance, self-deception, fear of Lobby retaliation,
and a widely internalized racism.
MIDEAST: When the Occupation Gets Really Filthy
by Nora Barrows-Friedman
by Andrew J. Bacevich
[The war is indeed relevant to Iraq -- but not the way Bush thinks.]
FINDING IN THE DEBACLE of the Vietnam War a rationale for sustaining the U.S. military presence in Iraq requires considerable imagination. If nothing else, President Bush's speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars earlier this week revealed a hitherto unsuspected capacity for creativity. Yet as an exercise in historical analysis, his remarks proved to be self-serving and selective.
For years, the Bush administration has rejected all comparisons
between Iraq and Vietnam. Now the president cites Vietnam to bolster his insistence on "seeing the Iraqis through as they build their democracy." To do otherwise, he says, will invite a recurrence of the events that followed the fall of Saigon, when "millions of innocent citizens" were murdered, imprisoned or forced to flee.
The president views the abandonment of our Southeast Asian allies as a disgrace, deploring the fate suffered by the "boat people" and the victims of the Khmer Rouge. According to Bush, withdrawing from Iraq constitutes a comparable act of abandonment. Beyond that, the president finds little connection between Vietnam and Iraq. This is unfortunate. For that earlier war offers lessons of immediate relevance to the predicament we face today. As the balance of the president's VFW address makes clear, Bush remains oblivious to the history that actually matters.
Here are a few of the lessons that he overlooks.
In unconventional wars, body counts don't really count. In the Vietnam War, superior American firepower enabled U.S. forces to prevail in most tactical engagements. We killed plenty of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. But killing didn't produce victory -- the exertions of U.S. troops all too frequently proved to be counterproductive.
So too in Iraq -- although Bush insists on pretending otherwise. His speech had him sounding like President Lyndon Johnson, bragging that, in each month since January, U.S. troops in Iraq have "killed or captured an average of more than 1,500 Al Qaeda terrorists and other extremists." If Bush thinks that by racking up big body counts the so-called surge will reverse the course of the war, he is deceiving himself. The real question is not how many bad guys we are killing, but how many our continued presence in Iraq is creating.
There's no substitute for legitimacy. Wars like Vietnam and Iraq aren't won militarily; at best, they are settled politically. But political solutions imply the existence of legitimate political institutions, able to govern effectively and to command the loyalty of the population.
In the Republic of Vietnam, created by the United States after the partition of French Indochina, such institutions did not exist. Despite an enormous U.S. investment in nation-building, they never did. In the end, South Vietnam proved to be a fiction.
So too with Iraq, conjured up by the British after World War I out of remnants of the Ottoman Empire. As a courtesy, we might pretend that Iraq qualifies as a "nation-state," much as we pretend that members of Division I varsity football programs are "scholar-athletes." In fact, given its deep sectarian and tribal divisions, Iraq makes South Vietnam look good by comparison.
In his VFW presentation, Bush described Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki as "a good guy." Whether Maliki is a good guy or even a heckuva good guy is beside the point. The real question is whether he presides over a government capable of governing. Mounting evidence suggests that the answer to that question is no.
As a lens for strategic analysis, ideology distorts rather than clarifies. From Dwight D. Eisenhower through Richard M. Nixon, a parade of presidents convinced themselves that defending South Vietnam qualified as a vital U.S. interest. For the free world, a communist takeover of that country would imply an unacceptable defeat.
Yet when South Vietnam did fall, the strategic effect proved to be limited. The falling dominoes never did pose a threat to our shores for one simple reason: The communists of North Vietnam were less interested in promoting world revolution than in unifying their country under socialist rule. We deluded ourselves into thinking that we were defending freedom against totalitarianism. In fact, we had blundered into a civil war.
With regard to Iraq, Bush persists in making an analogous error. In his remarks to the VFW, the president described Iraq as an "ideological struggle." Our adversary there aims to crush "freedom, tolerance and dissent," he said, thereby "imposing this ideology across a vital region of the world." If we don't fight them "there," we will surely have to fight them "here."
Radical Islamists like Osama bin Laden do subscribe to a hateful ideology. But to imagine that Bin Laden and others of his ilk have the capability to control the Middle East, restoring the so-called Caliphate, is absurd, as silly as the vaunted domino theory of the 1950s and 1960s.
Politics, not ideology, will determine the future of the Middle East. That's good news and bad news. Good news because the interests and aspirations of Arabs and non-Arabs, Shiites and Sunnis, modernizers and traditionalists will combine to prevent any one faction from gaining the upper hand. Bad news because those same factors guarantee that the Middle East will remain an unstable mess for the foreseeable future.
Sometimes people can manage their own affairs. Does the U.S. need to attend to that mess? Perhaps not.
Here the experience of Vietnam following the U.S. defeat is instructive. Once the Americans departed, the Vietnamese began getting their act together. Although not a utopia, Vietnam has become a stable and increasingly prosperous nation. It is a responsible member of the international community. In Hanoi, the communists remain in power. From an American point of view, who cares?
Bush did not even allude to the condition of Vietnam today. Yet the question poses itself: Is it not possible that the people of the Middle East might be better qualified to determine their future than a cadre of American soldiers, spooks and do-gooders? The answer to that question just might be yes.
Andrew J. Bacevich is professor of history and international relations at Boston University. He is a Vietnam War veteran.
from Noam Chomsky :
Date: 27 August 2007
Subject: Cold War II.
by Noam Chomsky
These are exciting days in Washington, as the government directs its energies to the demanding task of containing Iran in what Washington Post correspondent Robin Wright, joining others, calls Cold War II.
During Cold War I, the task was to contain two awesome forces. The lesser and more moderate force was an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever cost. Hence if the United States is to survive, it will have to adopt a repugnant philosophy and reject acceptable norms of human conduct and the long-standing American concepts of `fair play that had been exhibited with such searing clarity in the conquest of the national territory, the Philippines, Haiti and other beneficiaries of the idealistic new world bent on ending inhumanity, as the newspaper of record describes our noble mission. The judgments about the nature of the super-Hitler and the necessary response are those of General Jimmy Doolittle, in a critical assessment of the CIA commissioned by President Eisenhower in 1954. They are quite consistent with those of the Truman administration liberals, the wise men who were present at the creation, notoriously in NSC 68 but in fact quite consistently.
In the face of the Kremlins unbridled aggression in every corner of the world, it is perhaps understandable that the US resisted in defense of human values with a savage display of torture, terror, subversion and violence while doing everything in its power to alter or abolish any regime not openly allied with America, as Tim Weiner summarizes the doctrine of the Eisenhower administration in his recent history of the CIA. And just as the Truman liberals easily matched their successors in fevered rhetoric about the implacable enemy and its campaign to rule the world, so did John F. Kennedy, who bitterly condemned the monolithic and ruthless conspiracy, and dismissed the proposal of its leader (Khrushchev) for sharp mutual cuts in offensive weaponry, then reacted to his unilateral implementation of these proposals with a huge military build-up. The Kennedy brothers also quickly surpassed Eisenhower in violence and terror, as they unleashed covert action with an unprecedented intensity (Wiener), doubling Eisenhowers annual record of major CIA covert operations, with horrendous consequences worldwide, even a close brush with terminal nuclear war.
But at least it was possible to deal with Russia, unlike the fiercer enemy, China. The more thoughtful scholars recognized that Russia was poised uneasily between civilization and barbarism. As Henry Kissinger later explained in his academic essays, only the West has undergone the Newtonian revolution and is therefore deeply committed to the notion that the real world is external to the observer, while the rest still believe that the real world is almost completely internal to the observer, the basic division that is the deepest problem of the contemporary international order. But Russia, unlike third word peasants who think that rain and sun are inside their heads, was perhaps coming to the realization that the world is not just a dream, Kissinger felt.
Not so the still more savage and bloodthirsty enemy, China, which for liberal Democrat intellectuals at various times rampaged as a a Slavic Manchukuo, a blind puppet of its Kremlin master, or a monster utterly unconstrained as it pursued its crazed campaign to crush the world in its tentacles, or whatever else circumstances demanded. The remarkable tale of doctrinal fanaticism from the 1940s to the 70s, which makes contemporary rhetoric seem rather moderate, is reviewed by James Peck in his highly revealing study of the national security culture, Washingtons China.
In later years, there were attempts to mimic the valiant deeds of the defenders of virtue from the two villainous global conquerors and their loyal slaves for example, when the Gipper strapped on his cowboy boots and declared a National Emergency because Nicaraguan hordes were only two days from Harlingen Texas, though as he courageously informed the press, despite the tremendous odds I refuse to give up. I remember a man named Winston Churchill who said, `Never give in. Never, never, never. So we won't. With consequences that need not be reviewed.
Even with the best of efforts, however, the attempts never were able to recapture the glorious days of Cold War I. But now, at last, those heights might be within reach, as another implacable enemy bent on world conquest has arisen, which we must contain before it destroys us all: Iran.
Perhaps it's a lift to the spirits to be able to recover those heady Cold War days when at least there was a legitimate force to contain, however dubious the pretexts and disgraceful the means. But it is instructive to take a closer look at the contours of Cold War II as they are being designed by the former Kremlinologists now running U.S. foreign policy, such as Rice and Gates (Wright).
The task of containment is to establish a bulwark against Irans growing influence in the Middle East, Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper explain in the New York Times (July 31). To contain Irans influence we must surround Iran with US and NATO ground forces, along with massive naval deployments in the Persian Gulf and of course incomparable air power and weapons of mass destruction. And we must provide a huge flow of arms to what Condoleezza Rice calls the forces of moderation and reform in the region, the brutal tyrannies of Egypt and Saudi Arabia and, with particular munificence, Israel, by now virtually an adjunct of the militarized high-tech US economy. All to contain Irans influence. A daunting challenge indeed.
And daunting it is. In Iraq, Iranian support is welcomed by much of the majority Shiite population. In an August visit to Teheran, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki met with the supreme leader Ali Khamenei, President Ahmadinejad and other senior officials, and thanked Tehran for its positive and constructive role in improving security in Iraq, eliciting a sharp reprimand from President Bush, who declares Teheran a regional peril and asserts the Iraqi leader must understand, to quote the headline of the Los Angeles Times report on al-Malikis intellectual deficiencies. A few days before, also greatly to Bushs discomfiture, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Washingtons favorite, described Iran as a helper and a solution in his country. Similar problems abound beyond Irans immediate neighbors. In Lebanon, according to polls, most Lebanese see Iranian-backed Hezbollah as a legitimate force defending their country from Israel, Wright reports. And in Palestine, Iranian-backed Hamas won a free election, eliciting savage punishment of the Palestinian population by the US and Israel for the crime of voting the wrong way, another episode in democracy promotion.
But no matter. The aim of US militancy and the arms flow to the moderates is to counter what everyone in the region believes is a flexing of muscles by a more aggressive Iran, according to an unnamed senior U.S. government official everyone being the technical term used to refer to Washington and its more loyal clients. Iran's aggression consists in its being welcomed by many within the region, and allegedly supporting resistance to the US occupation of neighboring Iraq.
Its likely, though little discussed, that a prime concern about Irans influence is to the East, where in mid-August Russia and China today host Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at a summit of a Central Asian security club designed to counter U.S. influence in the region, the business press reports. The security club is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which has been slowly taking shape in recent years. Its membership includes not only the two giants Russia and China, but also the energy-rich Central Asian states Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan was a guest of honor at the August meeting. In another unwelcome development for the Americans, Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov also accepted an invitation to attend the summit, another step its improvement of relations with Russia, particularly in energy, reversing a long-standing policy of isolation from Russia. Russia in May secured a deal to build a new pipeline to import more gas from Turkmenistan, bolstering its dominant hold on supplies to Europe and heading off a competing U.S.-backed plan that would bypass Russian territory.
Along with Iran, there are three other official observer states: India, Pakistan and Mongolia. Washingtons request for similar status was denied. In 2005 the SCO called for a timetable for termination of any US military presence in Central Asia. The participants at the August meeting flew to the Urals to attend the first joint Russia-China military exercises on Russian soil.
Association of Iran with the SCO extends its inroads into the Middle East, where China has been increasing trade and other relations with the jewel in the crown, Saudi Arabia. There is an oppressed Shiite population in Saudi Arabia that is also susceptible to Irans influence and happens to sit on most of Saudi oil. About 40% of Middle East oil is reported to be heading East, not West. As the flow Eastward increases, US control declines over this lever of world domination, a stupendous source of strategic power, as the State Department described Saudi oil 60 years ago.
In Cold War I, the Kremlin had imposed an iron curtain and built the Berlin Wall to contain Western influence. In Cold War II, Wright reports, the former Kremlinologists framing policy are imposing a green curtain to bar Iranian influence. In short, government-media doctrine is that the Iranian threat is rather similar to the Western threat that the Kremlin sought to contain, and the US is eagerly taking on the Kremlins role in the thrilling new Cold War.
All of this is presented without noticeable concern. Nevertheless, the recognition that the US government is modeling itself on Stalin and his successors in the new Cold War must be arousing at least some flickers of embarrassment. Perhaps that is how we can explain the ferocious Washington Post editorial announcing that Iran has escalated its aggressiveness to a Hot War: the Revolutionary Guard, a radical state within Iran's Islamic state, is waging war against the United States and trying to kill as many American soldiers as possible. The US must therefore fight back, the editors thunder, finding quite puzzling...the murmurs of disapproval from European diplomats and others who say they favor using diplomacy and economic pressure, rather than military action, to rein in Iran, even in the face of its outright aggression. The evidence that Iran is waging war against the US is now conclusive. After all, it comes from an administration that has never deceived the American people, even improving on the famous stellar honesty of its predecessors.
Suppose that for once Washingtons charges happen to be true, and Iran really is providing Shiite militias with roadside bombs that kill American forces, perhaps even making use of the some of the advanced weaponry lavishly provided to the Revolutionary Guard by Ronald Reagan in order to fund the illegal war against Nicaragua, under the pretext of arms for hostages (the number of hostages tripled during these endeavors). If the charges are true, then Iran could properly be charged with a minuscule fraction of the iniquity of the Reagan administration, which provided Stinger missiles and other high-tech military aid to the insurgents seeking to disrupt Soviet efforts to bring stability and justice to Afghanistan, as they saw it. Perhaps Iran is even guilty of some of the crimes of the Roosevelt administration, which assisted terrorist partisans attacking peaceful and sovereign Vichy France in 1940-41, and had thus declared war on Germany even before Pearl Harbor.
One can pursue these questions further. The CIA station chief in Pakistan in 1981, Howard Hart, reports that I was the first chief of station ever sent abroad with this wonderful order: `Go kill Soviet soldiers. Imagine! I loved it. Of course the mission was not to liberate Afghanistan, Tim Wiener writes in his history of the CIA, repeating the obvious. But it was a noble goal, he writes. Killing Russians with no concern for the fate of Afghans is a noble goal. But support for resistance to a US invasion and occupation would be a vile act and declaration of war.
Without irony, the Bush administration and the media charge that Iran is meddling in Iraq, otherwise presumably free from foreign interference. The evidence is partly technical. Do the serial numbers on the Improvised Explosive Devices really trace back to Iran? If so, does the leadership of Iran know about the IEDs, or only the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Settling the debate, the White House plans to brand the Revolutionary Guard as a specially designated global terrorist force, an unprecedented action against a national military branch, authorizing Washington to undertake a wide range of punitive actions. Watching in disbelief, much of the world asks whether the US military, invading and occupying Irans neighbors, might better merit this charge -- or its Israeli client, now about to receive a huge increase in military aid to commemorate 40 years of harsh occupation and illegal settlement, and its fifth invasion of Lebanon a year ago.
It is instructive that Washingtons propaganda framework is reflexively accepted, apparently without notice, in US and other Western commentary and reporting, apart from the marginal fringe of what is called the loony left. What is considered criticism is skepticism as to whether all of Washingtons charges about Iranian aggression in Iraq are true. It might be an interesting research project to see how closely the propaganda of Russia, Nazi Germany, and other aggressors and occupiers matched the standards of todays liberal press and commentators..
The comparisons are of course unfair. Unlike German and Russian occupiers, American forces are in Iraq by right, on the principle, too obvious even to enunciate, that the US owns the world. Therefore, as a matter of elementary logic, the US cannot invade and occupy another country. The US can only defend and liberate others. No other category exists. Predecessors, including the most monstrous, have commonly sworn by the same principle, but again there is an obvious difference: they were Wrong, and we are Right. QED.
Another comparison comes to mind, which is studiously ignored when we are sternly admonished of the ominous consequences that might follow withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. The preferred analogy is Indochina, highlighted in a shameful speech by the President on August 22. That analogy can perhaps pass muster among those who have succeeded in effacing from their minds the record of US actions in Indochina, including the destruction of much of Vietnam and the murderous bombing of Laos and Cambodia as the US began its withdrawal from the wreckage of South Vietnam. In Cambodia, the bombing was in accord with Kissingers genocidal orders: anything that flies on anything that moves actions that drove an enraged populace into the arms of an insurgency [the Khmer Rouge] that had enjoyed relatively little support before the Kissinger-Nixon bombing was inaugurated, as Cambodia specialists Owen Taylor and Ben Kiernan observe in a highly important study that passed virtually without notice, in which they reveal that the bombing was five times the incredible level reported earlier, greater than all allied bombing in World War II. Completely suppressing all relevant facts, it is then possible for the President and many commentators to present Khmer Rouge crimes as a justification for continuing to devastate Iraq.
But although the grotesque Indochina analogy receives much attention, the obvious analogy is ignored: the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan, which, as Soviet analysts predicted, led to shocking violence and destruction as the country was taken over by Reagan's favorites, who amused themselves by such acts as throwing acid in the faces of women in Kabul they regarded as too liberated, and then virtually destroyed the city and much else, creating such havoc and terror that the population actually welcomed the Taliban. That analogy could indeed be invoked without utter absurdity by advocates of staying the course, but evidently it is best forgotten.
Under the heading Secretary Rices Mideast mission: contain Iran, the press reports Rices warning that Iran is the single most important single-country challenge to...US interests in the Middle East. That is a reasonable judgment. Given the long-standing principle that Washington must do everything in its power to alter or abolish any regime not openly allied with America, Iran does pose a unique challenge, and it is natural that the task of containing Iranian influence should be a high priority.
As elsewhere, Bush administration rhetoric is relatively mild in this case. For the Kennedy administration, Latin America was the most dangerous area in the world when there was a threat that the progressive Cheddi Jagan might win a free election in British Guiana, overturned by CIA shenanigans that handed the country over to the thuggish racist Forbes Burnham. A few years earlier, Iraq was the most dangerous place in the world (CIA director Allen Dulles) after General Abdel Karim Qassim broke the Anglo-American condominium over Middle East oil, overthrowing the pro-US monarchy, which had been heavily infiltrated by the CIA. A primary concern was that Qassim might join Nasser, then the supreme Middle East devil, in using the incomparable energy resources of the Middle East for the domestic. The issue for Washington was not so much access as control. At the time and for many years after, Washington was purposely exhausting domestic oil resources in the interests of national security, meaning security for the profits of Texas oil men, like the failed entrepreneur who now sits in the Oval Office. But as high-level planner George Kennan had explained well before, we cannot relax our guard when there is any interference with protection of our resources (which accidentally happen to be somewhere else).
Unquestionably, Iran's government merits harsh condemnation, though it has not engaged in worldwide terror, subversion, and aggression, following the US model which extends to todays Iran as well, if ABC news is correct in reporting that the US is supporting Pakistan-based Jundullah, which is carrying out terrorist acts inside Iran. The sole act of aggression attributed to Iran is the conquest of two small islands in the Gulf under Washingtons close ally the Shah. In addition to internal repression heightened, as Iranian dissidents regularly protest, by US militancy -- the prospect that Iran might develop nuclear weapons also is deeply troubling. Though Iran has every right to develop nuclear energy, no one including the majority of Iranians wants it to have nuclear weapons. That would add to the threat to survival posed much more seriously by its near neighbors Pakistan, India, and Israel, all nuclear armed with the blessing of the US, which most of the world regards as the leading threat to world peace, for evident reasons.
Iran rejects US control of the Middle East, challenging fundamental policy doctrine, but it hardly poses a military threat. On the contrary, it has been the victim of outside powers for years: in recent memory, when the US and Britain overthrew its parliamentary government and installed a brutal tyrant in 1953, and when the US supported Saddam Husseins murderous invasion, slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Iranians, many with chemical weapons, without the international community lifting a finger something that Iranians do not forget as easily as the perpetrators. And then under severe sanctions as a punishment for disobedience.
Israel regards Iran as a threat. Israel seeks to dominate the region with no interference, and Iran might be some slight counterbalance, while also supporting domestic forces that do not bend to Israels will. It may, however, be useful to bear in mind that Hamas has accepted the international consensus on a two-state settlement on the international border, and Hezbollah, along with Iran, has made clear that it would accept any outcome approved by Palestinians, leaving the US and Israel isolated in their traditional rejectionism.
But Iran is hardly a military threat to Israel. And whatever threat there might be could be overcome if the US would accept the view of the great majority of its own citizens and of Iranians and permit the Middle East to become a nuclear-weapons free zone, including Iran and Israel, and US forces deployed there. One may also recall that UN Security Council Resolution 687 of 3 April 1991, to which Washington appeals when convenient, calls for establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery.
It is widely recognized that use of military force in Iran would risk blowing up the entire region, with untold consequences beyond. We know from polls that in the surrounding countries, where the Iranian government is hardly popular -- Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan -- nevertheless large majorities prefer even a nuclear-armed Iran to any form of military action against it.
The rhetoric about Iran has escalated to the point where both political parties and practically the whole US press accept it as legitimate and, in fact, honorable, that all options are on the table, to quote Hillary Clinton and everybody else, possibly even nuclear weapons. All options on the table means that Washington threatens war.
The UN Charter outlaws the threat or use of force. The United States, which has chosen to become an outlaw state, disregards international laws and norms. We're allowed to threaten anybody we want -- and to attack anyone we choose.
Washington's feverish new Cold War "containment" policy has spread to Europe. Washington intends to install a missile defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, marketed to Europe as a shield against Iranian missiles. Even if Iran had nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, the chances of its using them to attack Europe are perhaps on a par with the chances of Europe's being hit by an asteroid, so perhaps Europe would do as well to invest in an asteroid defense system. Furthermore, if Iran were to indicate the slightest intention of aiming a missile at Europe or Israel, the country would be vaporized.
Of course, Russian planners are gravely upset by the shield proposal. We can imagine how the US would respond if a Russian anti-missile system were erected in Canada. The Russians have good reason to regard an anti-missile system as part of a first-strike weapon against them. It is generally understood that such a system could never block a first strike, but it could conceivably impede a retaliatory strike. On all sides, missile defense is therefore understood to be a first-strike weapon, eliminating a deterrent to attack. And a small initial installation in Eastern Europe could easily be a base for later expansion. Even more obviously, the only military function of such a system with regard to Iran, the declared aim, would be to bar an Iranian deterrent to US or Israel aggression.
Not surprisingly, in reaction to the missile defense plans, Russia has resorted to its own dangerous gestures, including the recent decision to renew long-range patrols by nuclear-capable bombers after a 15-year hiatus, in one recent case near the US military base on Guam. These actions reflect Russias anger over what it has called American and NATO aggressiveness, including plans for a missile-defense system in the Czech Republic and Poland, analysts said (Andrew Kramer, NYT).
The shield ratchets the threat of war a few notches higher, in the Middle East and elsewhere, with incalculable consequences, and the potential for a terminal nuclear war. The immediate fear is that by accident or design, Washington's war planners or their Israeli surrogate might decide to escalate their Cold War II into a hot one in this case a real hot war.
 Wright, WP, July 29 07
 Correspondent Michael Wines, NYT, June 13, 1999. Doolittle report, Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: the History of the CIA, Doubleday 2007
 Ibid., 77.
 Ibid., 180.
 Paul Richter, LAT, Aug. 10, 2007. Karzai, CNN, Aug. 5, 2007.
 Robin Wright, U.S. Plans New Arms Sales to Gulf Allies, WP, July 28, 2007.
 Henry Meyer, Bloomberg, Aug. 16, 2007.
 Schmitz, Weiner.
 Weiner. Failed States.
 Brian Ross and Christopher Isham, ABC News Exclusive: The Secret War Against Iran, April 3, 2007; Ross and Richard Esposito, ABC, Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran, May 22, 2007.
 On Iran, see Gilbert Achcar, Noam Chomsky, and Stephen Shalom, Perilous Power (Paradigm, 2007), and Ervand Abrahamian, in David Barsamian, ed., Targeting Iran (City Lights, 2007). On Hamas, among many similar statements see the article by Hamass most militant leader, Khalid Mish'al, "Our unity can now pave the way for peace and justice," Guardian, February 13, 2007. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly taken the same position. See among others Irene Gendzier, Assaf Kfoury, and Fawwaz Traboulsi, eds., Inside Lebanon (Monthly Review, 2007).
 Kramer, Recalling Cold War, Russia Resumes Long-Range Sorties, Aug. 18, 2007.
from : Roberet Fisk :
Date: 24 August 2007
Subject: "The Iraquis don't deserve us."
by Robert Fisk
Always, we have betrayed them. We backed "Flossy" in Yemen. The French backed their local "harkis" in Algeria; then the FLN victory forced them to swallow their own French military medals before dispatching them into mass graves. In Vietnam, the Americans demanded democracy and, one by one -- after praising the Vietnamese for voting under fire in so many cities, towns and villages -- they destroyed the elected prime ministers because they were not abiding by American orders.
Now we are at work in Iraq. Those pesky Iraqis don't deserve our sacrifice, it seems, because their elected leaders are not doing what we want them to do.
Does that remind you of a Palestinian organization called Hamas? First, the Americans loved Ahmed Chalabi, the man who fabricated for Washington the"'weapons of mass destruction" (with a hefty bank fraud charge on his back). Then, they loved Ayad Allawi, a Vietnam-style spook who admitted working for 26 intelligence organizations, including the CIA and MI6. Then came Ibrahim al-Jaafari, symbol of electoral law, whom the Americans loved, supported, loved again and destroyed. Couldn't get his act together. It was up to the Iraqis, of course, but the Americans wanted him out. And the seat of the Iraqi government -- a never-never land in the humidity of Baghdad's green zone -- lay next to the largest US embassy in the world. So goodbye, Ibrahim.
Then there was Nouri al-Maliki, a man with whom Bush could "do business"; loved, supported and loved again until Carl Levin and the rest of the US Senate Armed Forces Committee -- and, be sure, George W Bush -- decided he couldn't fulfill America's wishes. He couldn't get the army together, couldn't pull the police into shape, an odd demand when US military forces were funding and arming some of the most brutal Sunni militias in Baghdad, and was too close to Tehran.
There you have it. We overthrew Saddam's Sunni minority and the Iraqis elected the Shias into power, and all those old Iranian acolytes who had grown up under the Islamic Revolution in exile from the Iraq-Iran war -- Jaafari was a senior member of the Islamic Dawaa party which was enthusiastically seizing Western hostages in Beirut in the 1980s and trying to blow up our friend the Emir of Kuwait -- were voted into power. So blame the Iranians for their "interference" in Iraq when Iran's own creatures had been voted into power.
And now, get rid of Maliki. Chap doesn't know how to unify his own people, for God's sake. No interference, of course. It's up to the Iraqis, or at least, it's up to the Iraqis who live under American protection in the green zone. The word in the Middle East -- where the "plot" (al-moammarer) has the power of reality -- is that Maliki's cozy trips to Tehran and Damascus these past two weeks have been the final straw for the fantasists in Washington. Because Iran and Syria are part of the axis of evil or the cradle of evil or whatever nonsense Bush and his cohorts and the Israelis dream up, take a look at the $30bn in arms heading to Israel in the next decade in the cause of "peace."
Maliki's state visits to the crazed Ahmedinejad and the much more serious Bashar al-Assad appear to be, in Henry VIII's words, "treachery, treachery, treachery." But Maliki is showing loyalty to his former Iranian masters and their Syrian Alawite allies (the Alawites being an interesting satellite of the Shias).
These creatures -- let us use the right word -- belong to us and thus we can step on them when we wish. We will not learn -- we will never learn, it seems -- the key to Iraq. The majority of the people are Muslim Shias. The majority of their leaders, including the "fiery" Muqtada al-Sadr were trained, nurtured, weaned, loved, taught in Iran. And now, suddenly, we hate them. The Iraqis do not deserve us. This is to be the grit on the sand that will give our tanks traction to leave Iraq. Bring on the clowns! Maybe they can help us too.
From Rick Wolf :
Date: 25 August 2007
Subject: A History of Financial Crises.
Dear Francis Feeley,
You will find my article below this message.
I appreciate your posting of other pieces I wrote some
Financial Panics, Then and Now
by Rick Wolff
The authors of the most widely read book on financial panics (Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, Fifth Edition, 2005) refer to them as "hardy perennials" and document how they have repeatedly devastated large portions of modern economies and societies over the last three centuries. Charles Kindleberger (a professor of economics at MIT until his death in 2003) and Robert Aliber (a professor of economics and finance at the University of Chicago who is responsible for this latest edition) also write that the period since the 1970s has been the most economically tumultuous in all that time. The last few weeks certainly
reinforce that judgment.
The ingredients of financial panics are boringly repetitive. Financial institutions figure out ways to circumvent the regulations established to prevent those past panics from happening again. New innovations and credit arrangements allow greater risks, extension of credit and exert new upward pressures on asset prices. Rising asset prices enable easier credit and vice-versa. Market euphoria grips increasing numbers. Risks are underestimated. Quick, large fortunes are made and flaunted.
Everyone seeks to ride the economic boom to wealth. All the conditions are in place for something significant to go wrong. Sometimes it is a sudden demonstration that risks were greater than understood or admitted. Today that is what has happened to sub-prime mortgages and the mortgage-backed securities dependent on them. Sometimes it is a crisis of the lenders who can no longer extend easy credit to dependent borrowers. Today hedge funds, experiencing depletion of the funds entrusted to them by frightened investors, need to raise cash and decrease their lavish use of credit to buy assets and enhance yields. Sometimes it is a crisis of the borrowers who simply cannot maintain the growth of indebtedness upon which the market depends. Today this happens as businesses and consumers face levels of debt repayment, declining home prices, and rising energy costs that combine to make them less willing to borrow and spend as they have for the last quarter century. One or more of the things that can go wrong eventually do. The sweet economy can turn sour fast.
As has happened so many times before, the ride up the economic boom is as thrilling as the crash down is depressing. Likewise, the boastful assertions during the boom about economic intervention being unnecessary and counterproductive give way to desperate cries for government bail outs (acting as "lender of last resort" when the private credit markets have stopped functioning). The Fed is now acting out this old scenario yet again. Millions bemoan the trillions in value vanishing in every orgy of market self-destruction. Experts in the US real estate markets now estimate that 2 million families will lose their homes by the end of 2008 or early 2009. For 6-8 million citizens - and the countless friends, relatives, businesses, and communities that depend on them - economic hardships loom. Bankruptcies, unemployment, delayed or cancelled visits to doctors, reduced enrollments and rising absences in schools, postponed home and auto repairs, and so on will cause losses.
Of course, universal market optimality's defenders are ready to disseminate explanations that cast disasters in better light. We will be told that the workers and businesses collapsing around us were the "inefficient" ones and that their elimination serves to make the economy as a whole healthier and more successful. This metaphorical use of Darwin's theory of natural-selection will coexist with creationism as parallel modes of rejecting unwelcome explanations. Blame for economic disaster will be heaped on government regulations, taxes, and programs that prevented the wonderful things private enterprise would otherwise surely have done. Other scapegoats attacked these days - to explain the economic disasters or at least distract attention from them - include "terrorists," immigrants, outsourcing, China, and so on. No doubt there will have been many and serious policy misadventures. No doubt another set of misadventures created the boom that everyone thought was just fine and proof of health. The double standards employed will not be widely discussed or recognized.
Meanwhile, the wreckage will ramify. Millions of families will alter their lives to accommodate lost homes, jobs and educations. Resources will rust and rot from disuse. It will take time for prices to fall far enough, making profit rates high enough to lure capital back in. The painful wait for that will revive the hoary old debate between conservatives and liberals. The former will insist that the private market is best left to its own devices to end the downturn and return to better economic times. Liberals will demand a more or less welfare state type of government intervention to provide jobs, incomes, health care, subsidized housing, and so on. Whichever side "wins," the other side will set to work to undo the victory. Sooner or later, the winning side will encounter yet another financial panic that produces enough pain and suffering to allow the side that lost before to win now by promising to fix the broken economy. Then the whole sorry story gets replayed yet again.
The Great Depression of 1929 yielded such a victory to FDR's New Deal and its Keynesian economics. The Republicans went to work to undo FDR and his legacy, while Milton Friedman and his ilk went to work to undo Keynesian economics. Neither succeeded until the US economy experienced a meltdown in the 1970s. Recall a few facts. In the middle of that decade the US experienced the worst recession since the Great Depression. Gold at the beginning of that decade cost $40 per ounce; by the end it cost $1000 per ounce. Petroleum went from $2.50 per barrel to $40. The US dollar lost more than half its value relative to the German Mark and the Japanese Yen across the 1970s. Perhaps most relevant to the here and now is this statistic: during the 1970s, the real rates of return on holding stocks and bonds (that is the return adjusted for price inflation) was negative. By contrast, in the 1990s, the real rate of return on stocks and bonds averaged 15% per year. The economy experienced sufficient troubles across the 1970s to enable the Republicans finally to emerge strong enough to undo and reverse the New Deal: to commence Reagan's "revolution."
With the next panic, set off by the US stock market's burst bubble early in 2000, the debate revived. Paul Krugman and his ilk restarted the revival the "state intervention is necessary" song and dance. George Bush accelerated the fight to stave off the undoing of the Reagan revolution. Bush's policies tried, rather clumsily and haphazardly, to complete a free market revolution. Millions of Americans (and millions more abroad) are today poised to bear the costs of yet another financial panic.
This will hold true even if today's looming readjustment is successfully pushed back a few months or more. Perhaps it will yield another oscillation between the private market and the state-interventionist forms of capitalism. This pattern will continue until deeper economic management questions are asked and old ideological oscillations are replaced by real change.
from Robert Rivkin :
Date: 28 August 2007
Subject: my article: Bush Embraces Stab in the Back Myth
Just in case you're too calm these waning days of summer, here's another little reminder of just how low the cabal that runs the country can go.
It's in my article, "Bush Embraces Stab in the Back Myth," published today.
from Paul Craig Roberts :
Date: 23 August 2007
Subject: More War on the Horizon
America's hegemonic hubris is a sickness. A country that tolerates a war criminal while he openly plans to attack yet another country is definitely not a light unto the world.
More War on the Horizon
by Paul Craig Roberts
-No pullout from Iraq while Im president, declares George W. Bush.
-On to Iran, declares Vice President Cheney.
-Israel is a peace-seeking state that needs $30 billion of US taxpayers money for war, declares State Department official Nicholas Burns.
-The Democratic Congress, if not fully behind the Iraqi war, at least no longer is in the way of it.
-Nor are the Democrats in the way of the Bush regimes build up for initiating war with Iran.
The Bush regime says it is going to designate part of Irans military--the Revolutionary Guards--a terrorist organization, whose bases and facilities Bush intends to bomb along with Irans nuclear energy sites. Three US aircraft carrier strike forces are deployed off Iran. B-2 Stealth Bombers are being fitted to carry 30,000 pound bunker-buster bombs to use against hardened sites. Politicized US generals assert that Iran is providing arms and aid to the Iraqi resistance to the US occupation. The media is feeding the US population the same propaganda about nonexistent Iranian weapons of mass destruction that they fed us about nonexistent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. A former CIA Middle East field officer, Robert Baer, has written in Time magazine that the Bush regime has decided to attack the Revolutionary Guards within the next 6 months. Remember the cakewalk war? Well, this time the neocons think that an attack on the Revolutionary Guards will free Iran from Islamic influence and cause Iranians to back the US against their own government.
Lies, unprovoked aggression, and delusional expectations--the same ingredients that produced the Iraq catastrophe--all over again. The entire Bush regime and both political parties are complicit, along with the media and US allies.
According to Baer, the Bush regime has given no consideration to whether Irans response to a US attack might be different than to welcome it as liberation. What if Iran really were to arm the Iraqi resistance and/or to sink our aircraft carriers? How can any government, even one as incompetent, delusional and unaccountable as the Bush regime, initiate war without any thought to the consequences?
The Bush regimes planned war against Iran casts light on the large increase in military armaments that the US is supplying to Israel. With Iraq in chaos and civil war, an attack on Iran leaves as opposition to Israel only Syria and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Israel cannot finish off the Palestinians until Hezbollah is destroyed. An Israeli attack on Syria while the US attacks Iran would leave Hezbollah without supplies in the face of a new Israeli attack.
The agenda unfolding before our eyes may be the neoconservative/ Israeli/Cheney plan to rid the Middle East of any check to Israeli territorial expansion.
Nicholas Burns said that the $30 billion in military aid was not conditional on any Israeli concessions or progress toward resolving the conflict with the Palestinians. Israels ghettoizing and ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian West Bank proceeds apace.
Meanwhile in America, while more money is poured into more war, condemned bridges collapse killing Americans who trusted their government to provide safe infrastructure. Devastated residents of New Orleans remain unaided. Financial difficulties deepen for more Americans as falling home prices and jobs lost to offshoring push more Americans into desperate straits. The US dollar continues to fall as the governments war debts build up abroad.
Except for the armaments industry, where is the gain to America in Bushs wars? Before Bush invaded Afghanistan, the Taliban had stamped out drug production. The US invasion has brought it back.
On August 22 Bush told the Veterans of Foreign Wars that US troops are the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known. Tell that to the 650,000 dead Iraqis and the 4 million displaced Iraqis, and the tens of thousands of slaughtered Afghans, and the coming civilian deaths in Iran. Tell that to all the bombed civilians from Serbia to Africa who are blown to pieces in order that a US president can make a point. Bush goes far beyond George Orwells Newspeak in his novel, 1984, when Bush equates US hegemony with liberation.
Americas hegemonic hubris is a sickness. A country that tolerates a war criminal while he openly plans to attack yet another country is definitely not a light unto the world.
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.
from Information Clearing House :
Date: 24 August 2007
Subject: The Raw Story: CIA said to step up operations against Iran as hawks seek to tie Iraq bombs to Tehran.
In an effort to build congressional and Pentagon support for military options against Iran, the Bush administration has shifted from its earlier strategy of building a case based on an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program to one invoking improvised explosive devices (IEDs) purportedly manufactured in Iran that are killing US soldiers in Iraq.
The Great Iraq Swindle
by Rolling Stone Magazine
[How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury]