Posts Tagged ‘American media’

Corporate American Media and Israel’s 2008-09 Gaza Invasion

December 15, 2009

by Steven Salaita, Dissident Voice,  December 14th, 2009

The following piece is an excerpt from a talk Salaita gave at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, on December 7, 2009.

I’m starting on the assumption that we’re all aware of Israel’s brutality in the Gaza Strip and that we all find it unconscionable, as does the vast majority of the world. I assume as well that we’re aware of the brutality preceding and following Israel’s military assault nearly a year ago. I’d like to examine how corporate media in the United States presented coverage of Israel’s invasion, and how discourses of justification for Israel are built into the foundation of that coverage.

Continues >>

What It Would Take to Mend Fences with Islam

April 10, 2009

By Patrick Goodman | Counterpunch, April 9, 2009

The start of the Iraq war in 2003 marked a crucial break between the US and almost all the states of the region. “None of Iraq’s neighbors, absolutely none, were pleased by the American occupation of Iraq,” says the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari. Long-term US allies like Turkey astonished the White House by refusing to allow US troops to use its territory to invade Iraq.

Barack Obama, who made his first official visit to the country on Tuesday, is now trying to disengage from Iraq without appearing to scuttle or leave anarchy behind.

He is trying to win back old allies, and, as he made clear in a speech in Ankara on Monday, to end the confrontation between the US and Islam which was president Bush’s legacy.

It is not easy for Mr Obama to reverse the tide of anti-Americanism or bring to an end the wars which Mr Bush began. For all the Iraqi government’s claim that life is returning to normal in Baghdad the last few days have seen a crescendo of violence. The day before the President arrived, six bombs exploded in different parts of Baghdad, killing 37 people.

And as much as Mr Obama would like to treat the Iraq war as ancient history, the US is still struggling to extricate itself. The very fact that the Democratic President had to arrive in Iraq by surprise for security reasons, as George Bush and Tony Blair invariably did, shows that the conflict is refusing to go away.

The Iraqi Prime Minister and President remain holed up in the Green Zone most of the time. The American President could not fly into the Green Zone by helicopter because of bad weather but the airport road is still unsafe and Baghdad remains one of the most dangerous countries in the world. The Iraqi political landscape too was permanently altered by the US invasion and it will be difficult to create a stable Iraqi state which does not depend on the US. Opinion polls in Iraq show that most Iraqis believe that it is the US and not their own government which is in control of their country.

One change which is to Mr Obama’s advantage is that the American media have largely stopped reporting the conflict because they no longer have the money to do so and a majority of Americans think the,  war was won. But the danger for the President is that if there is a fresh explosion in Iraq, he may be blamed for throwing away a victory that was won by his predecessor.

The rhetoric with which the US conducts its diplomacy is easier to change than facts on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. Mr Obama’s speech to the Turkish parliament in Ankara was a carefully judged bid to reassure the Muslim world that the US is not at war with Islam.
Everything he said was in sharp contrast to George Bush’s bellicose threats post 9/11 about launching a “crusade” and to the rhetoric of neo-conservatives attacking “Islamo-fascism” or claiming that there was a “clash of civilizations.”

The leaders of states with Muslim majorities appreciate the different tone of US pronouncements, but wonder how far Mr Obama will be able to introduce real change.

Turkish students at a meeting with Mr Obama in Istanbul voiced scepticism that American actions in future would be much different from what they were under Mr Bush. Reasonably enough, Mr Obama replied that he should be given time and “moving the ship of state is a slow process.” But he also cited the US withdrawal from Iraq as a sign that he would match actions to words.

Istanbul, on the boundaries of Europe and Asia, is a good place for the US leader to display a more conciliatory attitude towards Islam. The city is filled with grandiose monuments to Christianity and Islam, though religious tolerance was more in evidence under the Ottoman empire than since the foundation of the modern Turkish state in 1923. Mr Obama paid visits to the great Byzantine church of Hagia Sophia and was shown the splendors of the Blue Mosque by turbaned clerics.

But the women students wearing short skirts and without headscarves asking Mr Obama questions in fluent English give a misleading impression of the balance between the secular and the religious in modern-day Turkey.

The reality is that secularism is dying away in Turkey’s rural hinterland and is on the retreat even in Istanbul itself. Butchers selling pork are few compared to 20 years ago. Obtaining alcohol is quietly being made more difficult, except for foreign tourists, by high taxes on wine and expensive liquor licenses for restaurants.

The old middle class, particularly in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir may be resolute in their defense of the secular state. But the so-called “Anatolian Tigers”, the new companies which have led Turkey’s spectacular economic growth, are generally owned and run by more conservative families where the women wear headscarves.
“Socially Turkey is becoming far more Islamic,” said one expert on Turkey yesterday, “although the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is moving cautiously.”

Mr Obama’s effort to make a U-turn in American policy towards the Islamic world will ultimately depend on how far he changes US policy towards Israel and the Palestinians, the occupation of Iraq, the confrontation with Iran and Syria and the war in Afghanistan.

The Iranians, for instance, note that despite Mr Obama’s friendlier approach to them the US official in Washington in charge of implementing sanctions against them is a hold-over from the Bush administration.

The American confrontation with Islam post 9/11 always had more to do with opposition to foreign intervention and occupation than it did with cultural differences; the most ideologically religious Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia supported the US and it is doubtful how far al-Qa’ida fighters were motivated primarily by religious fanaticism.
The chief US interrogator in Iraq, Major Mathew Alexander, who is credited with finding out the location of the al-Qa’ida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, says that during 1,300 interrogations he supervised, he came across only one true ideologue. He is quoted as saying that “I listened time and time again to foreign fighters, and Sunni Iraqis, state that the No 1 reason they had decided to pick up arms and join al-Qa’ida was the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the authorized torture and abuse at Guantanamo Bay.”

This diagnosis by Major Alexander is confirmed by the history of Islamic fundamentalism across the Muslim world over the past 30 years.

It was the success of the Iranian revolution against the Shah in 1978/79 which began an era when political Islam was seen as a threat by the West, but Ayatollah Khomeini’s appeal to Iranians always had a strong strain of nationalism and his exiling by the Shah in 1964 was because of his vocal opposition to extra-territorial rights for US military personnel in Iran.

The success of political Islam over secular nationalism in the Arab world has largely been because of the former’s ability to resist the enemies of the community or the state. In Egypt the nationalism of Nasser was discredited by humiliating defeat in the 1967 war with Israel. In Iraq, for all his military bravado, Saddam Hussein was a notably disastrous military leader. All the military regimes espousing nationalism and secularism in the Arab world began or ended up turning into corrupt and brutal autocracies. In contrast, political Islam has been able to go some way towards delivering its promises of defending the community.

In Lebanon, Hizbollah guerrillas were able to successfully harass Israeli forces in the 1990s where Yasser Arafat’s commanders had abandoned their men and fled.

In Gaza this year, Hamas was able to portray itself as the one Palestinian movement committed to resisting Israel.

In Iraq, al-Qa’ida got nowhere until it could present itself as the opposition to the US occupation and as an ally, though a supremely bigoted and murderous one, of Iraqi nationalism.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban has the advantage of fighting against foreign occupation.

Secularism in the Arab world and in Afghanistan, on the other hand, has the problem that it is seen as being at the service of foreign intervention. It is why secularism and nationalism are ultimately stronger in Turkey than in almost all other Islamic countries.

Kemal Ataturk and the Turkish nationalists successfully defended the Turkish heartlands from foreign attack between 1915 and 1922. This gave secularism and nationalism a credibility and a popularity in Turkey which they never had in Iraq, Egypt or Syria.

Mr Obama’s aim of ending the confrontation between the US and the Muslim world is both easier and more difficult than it looks. It is easier because the confrontation is not primarily over religion or clashing cultures. But the confrontation is over real issues such as the fate of the Palestinians, the future of Iraq and the control of Afghanistan. And even if Mr Obama wanted to change the US political relationship with Israel, it is not clear that he has the political strength at home to do so.

If these concrete issues are not resolved then America’s confrontation with the Muslim world may remain as confrontational and difficult as it was under Mr Bush.

Patrick Cockburn is the author of ‘The Occupation: War, resistance and daily life in Iraq‘, a finalist for the National Book Critics’ Circle Award for best non-fiction book of 2006. His new book ‘Muqtada! Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia revival and the struggle for Iraq‘ is published by Scribner

Hell Hath No Fury Like an Imperialist Scorned

March 7, 2009

By William Blum | Information Clearing House, March 5, 2009

Hugo Chávez’s greatest sin is that he has shown disrespect for the American Empire. Or as they would say in America’s inner cities — He’s dissed the Man. Such behavior of course cannot go unpunished lest it give other national leaders the wrong idea. Over the years, the United States has gotten along just fine with brutal dictators, mass murderers, torturers, and leaders who did nothing to relieve the poverty of their population — Augusto Pinochet, Pol Pot, the Greek Junta, Ferdinand Marcos, Suharto, Duvalier, Mobutu, the Brazil Junta, Somoza, Saddam Hussein, South African apartheid leaders, Portuguese fascists, etc., etc., terrible guys all, all seriously supported by Washington at one time or another; for none made it a regular habit, if ever, to diss the Man.

The latest evidence, we are told, that Hugo Chávez is a dictator and a threat to life as we know it is that he pushed for and got a constitutional amendment to remove term limits from the presidency. The American media and the opposition in Venezuela often make it sound as if Chávez is going to be guaranteed office for life, whereas he of course will have to be elected each time. Neither are we reminded that it’s not unusual for a nation to not have a term limit for its highest office. France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, if not all of Europe and much of the rest of the world, do not have such a limit. The United States did not have a term limit on the office of the president during the nation’s first 162 years, until the ratification of the 22nd Amendment in 1951. Were all American presidents prior to that time dictators?

In 2005, when Colombian President Alvaro Uribe succeeded in getting term limits lifted, the US mainstream media took scant notice. President Bush subsequently honored Uribe with the American Presidential Medal of Freedom. But in the period leading up to the February 15 referendum in Venezuela, the American media were competing with each other over who could paint Chávez and the Venezuelan constitutional process in the most critical and ominous terms. Typical was an op-ed in the Washington Post the day before the vote, which was headlined: “Closing in on Hugo Chávez”. Its opening sentence read: “The beginning of the end is setting in for Hugo Chávez.”12

For several years now, the campaign to malign Chávez has at times included issues of Israel and anti-Semitism. An isolated vandalism of a Caracas synagogue on January 30th of this year fed into this campaign. Synagogues are of course vandalized occasionally in the United States and many European countries, but no one ascribes this to a government policy driven by anti-semitism. With Chávez they do. In the American media, the lead up to the Venezuelan vote was never far removed from the alleged “Jewish” issue.

“Despite the government’s efforts to put the [synagogue] controversy to rest,” the New York Times wrote a few days before the referendum vote, “a sense of dread still lingers among Venezuela’s 12,000 to 14,000 Jews.”13

A day earlier, a Washington Post editorial was entitled: “Mr. Chávez vs. the Jews – With George W. Bush gone, Venezuela’s strongman has found new enemies.”14 Shortly before, a Post headline had informed us: “Jews in S. America Increasingly Uneasy – Government and Media Seen Fostering Anti-Semitism in Venezuela, Elsewhere”15

So commonplace has the Chávez-Jewish association become that a leading US progressive organization, Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) in Washington, DC, recently distributed an article that reads more like the handiwork of a conservative group than a progressive one. I was prompted to write to them as follows:

Dear People,

I’m very sorry to say that I found your Venezuelan commentary by Larry Birns and David Rosenblum Felson to be remarkably lacking. The authors seem unable, or unwilling, to distinguish between being against Israeli policies from anti-semitism. It’s kind of late in the day for them to not have comprehended the difference. They are forced to fall back on a State Department statement to make their case. Is that not enough said?

They condemn Chávez likening Israel’s occupation of Gaza to the Holocaust. But what if it’s an apt comparison? They don’t delve into this question at all.

They also condemn the use of the word “Zionism”, saying that “in 9 times out of 10 involving the use of this word in fact smacks of anti-Semitism.” Really? Can they give a precise explanation of how one distinguishes between an anti-Semitic use of the word and a non-anti-semitic use of it? That would be interesting.

The authors write that Venezuela’s “anti-Israeli initiative … revealingly transcends the intensity of almost every Arabic nation or normal adversary of Israel.” Really. Since when are the totally gutless, dictator Arab nations the standard bearer for progressives? The ideal we should emulate. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan are almost never seriously and harshly critical of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians. Therefore, Venezuela shouldn’t be?

The authors state: “In a Christmas Eve address to the nation, Chávez charged that, ‘Some minorities, descendants of the same ones who crucified Christ … took all the world’s wealth for themselves’. Here, Chávez was not talking so much about Robin Hood, but rather unquestionably dipping into the lore of anti-Semitism.” Well, here’s the full quote: “The world has enough for all, but it turns out that some minorities, descendants of the same ones who crucified Christ, descendants of the same ones who threw Bolivar out of here and also crucified him in their own way at Santa Marta there in Colombia …” Hmm, were the Jews so active in South America?

The ellipsis after the word “Christ” indicates that the authors consciously and purposely omitted the words that would have given the lie to their premise. Truly astonishing.

After Chávez won the term-limits referendum with about 55% of the vote, a State Department spokesperson stated: “For the most part this was a process that was fully consistent with democratic process.” Various individuals and websites on the left have responded to this as an encouraging sign that the Obama administration is embarking on a new Venezuelan policy. At the risk of sounding like a knee-reflex cynic, I think this attitude is at best premature, at worst rather naive. It’s easy for a State Department a level-or-so above the Bushies, i.e., semi-civilized, to make such a statement. A little more difficult would be accepting as normal and unthreatening Venezuela having good relations with countries like Cuba, Iran and Russia and not blocking Venezuela from the UN Security Council. Even more significant would be the United States ending its funding of groups in Venezuela determined to subvert and/or overthrow Chávez.

You’ve got to be carefully taught

I’ve been playing around with a new book for awhile. I don’t know if I’ll find the time to actually complete it, but if I do it’ll be called something like “Myths of U.S. foreign policy: How Americans keep getting fooled into support”. The leading myth of all, the one which entraps more Americans than any other, is the belief that the United States, in its foreign policy, means well. American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may lie, they may even on the odd occasion cause more harm than good, but they do mean well. Their intentions are honorable, if not divinely inspired. Of that most Americans are certain. And as long as a person clings to that belief, it’s rather unlikely that s/he will become seriously doubtful and critical of the official stories.

It takes a lot of repetition while an American is growing up to inculcate this message into their young consciousness, and lots more repetition later on. Think of some of the lines from the song about racism from the Broadway classic show, “South Pacific” — “You’ve got to be taught” …

You’ve got to be taught
from year to year.
It’s got to be drummed
in your dear little ear.
You’ve got to be taught
before it’s too late.
Before you are 6 or 7 or 8.
To hate all the people
your relatives hate.
You’ve got to be carefully taught.

The education of an American true-believer is ongoing, continuous. All forms of media, all the time. Here is Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military officer in the United States, writing in the Washington Post recently:

“We in the U.S. military are likewise held to a high standard. Like the early Romans, we are expected to do the right thing, and when we don’t, to make it right again. We have learned, after seven years of war, that trust is the coin of the realm — that building it takes time, losing it takes mere seconds, and maintaining it may be our most important and most difficult objective. That’s why images of prisoner maltreatment at Abu Ghraib still serve as recruiting tools for al-Qaeda. And it’s why each civilian casualty for which we are even remotely responsible sets back our efforts to gain the confidence of the Afghan people months, if not years. It doesn’t matter how hard we try to avoid hurting the innocent, and we do try very hard. It doesn’t matter how proportional the force we deploy, how precisely we strike. It doesn’t even matter if the enemy hides behind civilians. What matters are the death and destruction that result and the expectation that we could have avoided it. In the end, all that matters is that, despite our best efforts, sometimes we take the very lives we are trying to protect. … Lose the people’s trust, and we lose the war. … I see this sort of trust being fostered by our troops all over the world. They are building schools, roads, wells, hospitals and power stations. They work every day to build the sort of infrastructure that enables local governments to stand on their own. But mostly, even when they are going after the enemy, they are building friendships. They are building trust. And they are doing it in superb fashion.”16

How many young servicemembers have heard such a talk from Mullen or other officers? How many of them have not been impressed, even choked up? How many Americans reading or hearing such stirring words have not had a lifetime of reinforcement reinforced once again? How many could even imagine that Admiral Mullen is spouting a bunch of crap? The great majority of Americans will swallow it. When Mullen declares: “What matters are the death and destruction that result and the expectation that we could have avoided it”, he’s implying that there was no way to avoid it. But of course it could have been easily avoided by not dropping bombs on the Afghan people.

You tell the true-believers that the truth is virtually the exact opposite of what Mullen has said and they look at you like you just got off the Number 36 bus from Mars. Bill Clinton bombed Yugoslavia for 78 days and nights in a row. His military and political policies destroyed one of the most progressive countries in Europe. And he called it “humanitarian intervention”. It’s still regarded by almost all Americans, including many, if not most, “progressives”, as just that.

Now why is that? Are all these people just ignorant? I think a better answer is that they have certain preconceptions; consciously or unconsciously, they have certain basic beliefs about the United States and its foreign policy, most prominent amongst which is the belief that the US means well. And if you don’t deal with this basic belief you’ll be talking to a stone wall.

Notes

· Washington Post, February 14, 2009, column by Edward Schumacher-Matos

· New York Times, February 13, 2009

· Washington Post, February 12, 2009

· Washington Post, February 8, 2009

· Washington Post, February 15, 2009, p. B7

William Blum is the author of:

  • Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
  • Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
  • West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
  • Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Paul Craig Roberts: America’s Shame

January 12, 2009


By Paul Craig Roberts | Information Clearing House, January 8, 2009

Why does Israel have a right to exist, but Palestine doesn’t?

This is the question of our time.

For sixty years Israelis have been stealing Palestine from Palestinians. There are maps available on the Internet and in Israeli publications showing the shrinkage over time of what was once Palestine into what Palestine is today–a small number of unconnected ghettos or bantustans.

Palestine became “the occupied territory” from which Palestinians were ejected and Israeli settlements built for “settlers.” Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are full of refugee camps in which Palestinians driven off their lands by Israeli force have been living for decades.

Driving people off their land is strictly illegal under international law, but Israel has been getting away with it for decades.

Gaza is a concentration camp of 1.5 million Palestinians who were driven from their homes and villages and collected in the Gaza Ghetto.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency was created 60 years ago in
1949 to administer refugee camps for Palestinians driven from their lands by Israel. As of 2002, the registered Palestinian refugee population was 3.9 million.

Caterpillar Tractor makes a special bulldozer for Israel that is designed to knock down Palestinian homes and to uproot their orchards. In 2003 an American protester, Rachel Corrie, stood in front of one of these Caterpillars and was run over and crushed.

Nothing happened. The Israelis can kill whomever they want whenever they want.

They have been doing so for 60 years, and they show no sign of stopping.

Currently they are murdering women and children in the ghetto that they have created for Palestinians in Gaza. The entire world knows this. The Red Cross protests it. But the Israelis brazenly claim that they are killing “Hamas terrorists who are a threat to Israel’s existence.”

The American media knows that this is a lie, but does not say so.

Israel has been able to slowly exterminate a people for sixty years without provoking sufficient outrage to stop it.

The United States, “Christian America,” has been Israel’s greatest enabler in its long-term murder of the Palestinian people. Millions of “evangelical Christians” endorse Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

The rest of the world condemns the Israeli military attack on the Gaza Ghetto. Last week the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution requiring a ceasefire and the withdrawal of the Israeli SS from Gaza.

The United States abstained.

While the rest of the world condemns Israel’s inhumanity, the US Congress–I should say the US Knesset–rushed to endorse the Israeli slaughter of the Palestinians in Gaza.

The US Senate endorsed Israel’s massacre of Palestinians with a vote of 100-0.

The US House of Representatives voted 430-5 to endorse Israel’s massacre of Palestinians.

The resolutions endorsed by 100% of the US Senate and 99% of the House were written by AIPAC, as were the speeches praising Israel for its inhumanity.

The US Congress was proud to show that it is Israel’s puppet even when it comes to murdering women and children.

The President of the United States was proud to block effective action by the UN Security Council by ordering the Secretary of State to abstain.

Be a Proud American. Swagger and strut. Pretend that you are not besmirched by the shame that your government has heaped upon you. Take refuge in your ignorance, fostered by 60 years of Israeli lies, that the murder of Palestinians and the theft of their lands is “Israel’s right of self-defense.”

Are You Ready For Nuclear War?

August 20, 2008

By Dr Paul Craig Roberts |Information Clearing House, August 19, 2008

Pervez Musharraf, the puppet installed by the US to rule Pakistan in the interest of US hegemony, resigned August 18 to avoid impeachment. Karl Rove and the Diebold electronic voting machines were unable to control the result of the last election in Pakistan, the result of which gave Pakistanis a bigger voice in their government than America’s.

It was obvious to anyone with any sense–which excludes the entire Bush Regime and almost all of the “foreign policy community”–that the illegal and gratuitous US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and Israel’s 2006 bombing of Lebanon civilians with US blessing, would result in the overthrow of America’s Pakistani puppet.

The imbecilic Bush Regime ensured Musharraf’s overthrow by pressuring their puppet to conduct military operations against tribesmen in Pakistani border areas, whose loyalties were to fellow Muslims and not to American hegemony. When Musharraf’s military operations didn’t produce the desired result, the idiotic Americans began conducting their own military operations within Pakistan with bombs and missiles. This finished off Musharraf.

When the Bush Regime began its wars in the Middle East, I predicted, correctly, that Musharraf would be one victim. The American puppets in Egypt and Jordan may be the next to go.

Back during the Nixon years, my Ph.D. dissertation chairman, Warren Nutter, was Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. One day in his Pentagon office I asked him how the US government got foreign governments to do what the US wanted. “Money,” he replied.

“You mean foreign aid?” I asked.

“No,” he replied, “we just buy the leaders with money.”

It wasn’t a policy he had implemented. He inherited it and, although the policy rankled with him, he could do nothing about it. Nutter believed in persuasion and that if you could not persuade people, you did not have a policy.

Nutter did not mean merely third world potentates were bought. He meant the leaders of England, France, Germany, Italy, all the allies everywhere were bought and paid for.

They were allies because they were paid. Consider Tony Blair. Blair’s own head of British intelligence told him that the Americans were fabricating the evidence to justify their already planned attack on Iraq. This was fine with Blair, and you can see why with his multi- million dollar payoff once he was out of office.

The American-educated thug, Saakashkvili the War Criminal, who is president of Georgia, was installed by the US taxpayer funded National Endowment for Democracy, a neocon operation whose purpose is to ring Russia with US military bases, so that America can exert hegemony over Russia.

Every agreement that President Reagan made with Mikhail Gorbachev has been broken by Reagan’s successors. Reagan’s was the last American government whose foreign policy was not made by the Isreali-allied neoconservatives. During the Reagan years, the neocons made several runs at it, but each ended in disaster for Reagan, and he eventually drove the modern day French Jacobins from his government.

Even the anti-Soviet Committee on the Present Danger regarded the neocons as dangerous lunatics. I remember the meeting when a member tried to bring the neocons into the committee, and old line American establishment representatives, such as former Treasury Secretary Douglas Dillon, hit the roof.

The Committee on the Present Danger regarded the neocons as crazy people who would get America into a nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The neocons hated President Reagan, because he ended the cold war with diplomacy, when they desired a military victory over the Soviet Union.

Deprived of this, the neocons now want victory over Russia.

Today, Reagan is gone. The Republican Establishment is gone. There are no conservative power centers, only neoconservative power centers closely allied with Israel, which uses the billions of dollars funneled into Israeli coffers by US taxpayers to influence US elections and foreign policy.

The Republican candidate for president is a warmonger. There are no checks remaining in the Republican Party on the neocons’ proclivity for war. What Republican constituencies oppose war? Can anyone name one?

The Democrats are not much better, but they have some constituencies that are not enamored of war in order to establish US world hegemony. The Rapture Evangelicals, who fervently desire Armageddon, are not Democrats; nor are the brainwashed Brownshirts desperate to vent their frustrations by striking at someone, somewhere, anywhere.

I get emails from these Brownshirts and attest that their hate-filled ignorance is extraordinary. They are all Republicans, and yet they think they are conservatives. They have no idea who I am, but since I criticize the Bush Regime and America’s belligerent foreign policy, they think I am a “liberal commie pinko.”

The only literate sentence this legion of imbeciles has ever managed is: “If you hate America so much, why don’t you move to Cuba!”

Such is the current state of a Reagan political appointee in today’s Republican Party. He is a “liberal commie pinko” who should move to Cuba.

The Republicans will get us into more wars. Indeed, they live for war. McCain is preaching war for 100 years. For these warmongers, it is like cheering for your home team. Win at all costs. They get a vicarious pleasure out of war. If the US has to tell lies in order to attack countries, what’s wrong with that? “If we don’t kill them over there, they will kill us over here.”

The mindlessness is total.

Nothing real issues from the American media. The media is about demonizing Russia and Iran, about the vice presidential choices as if it matters, about whether Obama being on vacation let McCain score too many points.

The mindlessness of the news reflects the mindlessness of the government, for which it is a spokesperson.

The American media does not serve American democracy or American interests. It serves the few people who exercise power.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, the US and Israel made a run at controlling Russia and the former constituent parts of its empire. For awhile the US and Israel succeeded, but Putin put a stop to it.

Recognizing that the US had no intention of keeping any of the agreements it had made with Gorbachev, Putin directed the Russian military budget to upgrading the Russian nuclear deterrent. Consequently, the Russian army and air force lack the smart weapons and electronics of the US military.

When the Russian army went into Georgia to rescue the Russians in South Ossetia from the destruction being inflicted upon them by the American puppet Saakashvili, the Russians made it clear that if they were opposed by American troops with smart weapons, they would deal with the threat with tactical nuclear weapons.

The Americans were the first to announce preemptive nuclear attack as their permissible war doctrine. Now the Russians have announced the tactical use of nuclear weapons as their response to American smart weapons.

It is obvious that American foreign policy, with is goal of ringing Russia with US military bases, is leading directly to nuclear war. Every American needs to realize this fact. The US government’s insane hegemonic foreign policy is a direct threat to life on the planet.

Russia has made no threats against America. The post-Soviet Russian government has sought to cooperate with the US and Europe. Russia has made it clear over and over that it is prepared to obey international law and treaties. It is the Americans who have thrown international law and treaties into the trash can, not the Russians.

In order to keep the billions of dollars in profits flowing to its contributors in the US military-security complex, the Bush Regime has rekindled the cold war. As American living standards decline and the prospects for university graduates deteriorate, “our” leaders in Washington commit us to a hundred years of war.

If you desire to be poor, oppressed, and eventually vaporized in a nuclear war, vote Republican.

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is a former Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, a 16-year columnist for Business Week, and a columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service and Creator’s Syndicate in Los Angeles. He has held numerous university professorships, including the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by the President of France and the US Treasury’s Silver Medal for “outstanding contributions to the formulation of US economic policy.”

Forget the Surge — Violence Is Down in Iraq Because Ethnic Cleansing Was Brutally Effective

July 30, 2008

By Juan Cole, JuanCole.com. Alternet, July 29, 2008.

The bloodbath in Baghdad has resulted in fewer ethnically mixed neighborhoods, leading to the recent drop in violence.

Editor’s note: John McCain’s latest stumble in discussing Iraq — in which he muddled the timeline of the so-called “surge” — was treated by most of the press as an unfortunate gaffe, rather than further proof that the aspiring commander in chief does not know what he’s talking about when it comes to the war and occupation. (One CNN report actually ran the headline: “McCain Broadens Definition of the Surge.”) Meanwhile, the Republican nominee’s recent attacks on Barack Obama for failing to admit the success of the “surge” was widely reported by the same members of the media, whose dominant and uncritical narrative has long been that, as McCain and Bush contend, the “surge” has been an unqualified success. “Why can’t Obama bring himself to acknowledge the surge worked better than he and other skeptics thought that it would?” a USA Today editorial asked last week.

In the article below, Juan Cole takes a closer look at the “surge,” weighing the troop increase alongside the numerous other contributing factors to the decline in violence. At the same time, he reminds us that, regardless of the relative decrease in bloodshed — and what may be behind it — the country is still a frightfully unstable place for Iraqis. “Most American commentators are so focused on the relative fall in casualties that they do not stop to consider how high the rates of violence remain,” he writes. Few people would consider Afghanistan, where last year an average of 550 people were killed per month, a safe place. Yet, “that is about the rate recently (in Iraq), according to official statistics.” — AlterNet War on Iraq editor Liliana Segura

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I want to weigh in as a social historian of Iraq on the controversy over whether the “surge” “worked.” The New York Times reports:

Mr. McCain bristled in an interview with the CBS Evening News on (July 22) when asked about Mr. Obama’s contention that while the added troops had helped reduce violence in Iraq, other factors had helped, including the Sunni Awakening movement, in which thousands of Sunnis were enlisted to patrol neighborhoods and fight the insurgency, and the Iraqi government’s crackdown on Shiite militias.

“I don’t know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened,” Mr. McCain told Katie Couric, noting that the Awakening movement began in Anbar Province when a Sunni sheik teamed up with Sean MacFarland, a colonel who commanded an Army brigade there.

“Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others,” Mr. McCain said. “And it began the Anbar Awakening. I mean, that’s just a matter of history.”

The Obama campaign was quick to note that the Anbar Awakening began in the fall of 2006, several months before President Bush even announced the troop escalation strategy, which became known as the surge.

And Democrats noted that the sheik who helped form the Awakening, Abdul Sattar Buzaigh al-Rishawi, was assassinated in September 2007, after the troop escalation began.

But several foreign policy analysts said that if Mr. McCain got the chronology wrong, his broader point — that the troop escalation was crucial for the Awakening movement to succeed and spread — was right. “I would say McCain is three-quarters right in this debate,” said Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The problem with this debate is that it has few Iraqis in it.

It is also open to charges of logical fallacy. The only evidence presented for the thesis that the “surge” “worked” is that Iraqi deaths from political violence have declined in recent months from all-time highs in the second half of 2006 and the first half of 2007. (That apocalyptic violence was set off by the bombing of the Askariya shrine in Samarra in February 2006, which helped provoke a Sunni-Shiite civil war.) What few political achievements are attributed to the troop escalation are too laughable to command real respect.

Proponents are awfully hard to pin down on what the “surge” consisted of or when it began. It seems to me to refer to the troop escalation that began in February 2007. But now the technique of bribing Sunni Arab former insurgents to fight radical Sunni vigilantes is being rolled into the “surge” by politicians such as McCain. But attempts to pay off the Sunnis to quiet down began months before the troop escalation and had a dramatic effect in al-Anbar Province long before any extra U.S. troops were sent to al-Anbar (nor were very many extra troops ever sent there). I will disallow it. The “surge” is the troop escalation that began in the winter of 2007. The bribing of insurgents to come into the cold could have been pursued without a significant troop escalation, and was.

Aside from defining what proponents mean by the “surge,” all kinds of things are claimed for it that are not in evidence. The assertion depends on a possible logical fallacy: post hoc ergo propter hoc. If event X comes after event Y, it is natural to suspect that Y caused X. But it would often be a false assumption. Thus, actress Sharon Stone alleged that the recent earthquake in China was caused by China’s crackdown on Tibetan protesters. That is just superstition, and callous superstition at that. It is a good illustration, however, of the very logical fallacy to which I am referring.

For the first six months of the troop escalation, high rates of violence continued unabated. That is suspicious. What exactly were U.S. troops doing differently from September than they were doing in May, such that there was such a big change? The answer to that question is simply not clear. Note that the troop escalation only brought U.S. force strength up to what it had been in late 2005. In a country of 27 million, 30,000 extra U.S. troops are highly unlikely to have had a really major impact, when they had not before.

Continued . . .


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