16 August, 2006

Israel/Palestine/Hizbollah/Lebanon -- Austin, Texas defends Chomsky (and the truth)

Point Austin: Oppel vs. Chomsky

On seeing the world through blood-drenched eyes

by Michael King

As my headline inevitably suggests an unarmed man charging into a battle of wits, I briefly considered leaving it at that, knowing that regular Statesman readers would understand it immediately, enjoy a quick laugh, and move on. But those of you who aren't blessed with such strong stomachs might just be puzzled, so I'll try to fill in the blanks. Not once, but twice during recent weeks Our Hometown Editor decided to demonstrate he knows more about the Middle East than Noam Chomsky. The results were predictable.

The exchange actually began with a letter from local Palestinian-American and activist Sylvia Shihadeh, who wrote to Oppel with the complaint that reporting from the Middle East in the U.S. press in general and the Statesman in particular tends unfairly to favor Israel. Oppel reduced the charge to a claim of "censorship" of reporting and stoutly denied the charge: "We don't put a pro-Israeli slant on things." ("Tracking down claims of bias in Middle East reporting," July 23, Austin American-Statesman) In his heart of hearts, I'm sure Oppel believes that, because he conceives of "slant" as something carefully slathered on copy during the production process, like oil-based paint. Yet anyone looking for evidence that mainstream editors (and too many reporters) see the Middle East exclusively through U.S./Israeli foreign-policy spectacles will be able to cite these two Oppel columns as undeniable evidence.

Oppel's direct dispute with Shihadeh focused on whether Cox Newspapers' Middle East bureau reporters experience editorial "censorship" when their reports are too critical of Israeli policies. Satisfied by the reporters (notably Larry Kaplow) that they experience no such thing – only that "space is not inexhaustible" – Oppel rejected the charge of censorship as well. That is, if there's no direct censorship, there's no bias.

Chomsky entered the argument secondhand, as Shihadeh cited his statement (on the Democracy Now! radio and television program, July 14) that the latest violence in Gaza (and subsequently Lebanon) was not simply – as it has been largely portrayed in the U.S. press – a righteous, defensive Israeli response to the June 25 abduction of an Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, by Gaza militants, followed two weeks later by a similar capture on the Lebanese border of two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah. Chomsky noted in the radio interview that the situation has been especially volatile since the January democratic election of a Hamas majority to the Palestinian parliament and the violent U.S./Israeli rejection of that outcome. And then he pointed out something more specific: that the capture (or "kidnapping," as it's usually described) of Shalit was in fact preceded the day before by the quite literal kidnapping of two Gaza civilians by Israeli soldiers.

As reported briefly in the Israeli press, the IDF announced the Gaza abduction that day, calling it an "arrest" of suspected "Hamas militants" who were allegedly "planning a major terror attack in the coming days." (No evidence needed or supplied.) Yet it was the first such incursion into Gaza by Israeli forces in months, and Chomsky cited it primarily for the Western media response – effectively none. "Israel abducted two Gaza civilians, a doctor and his brother. We don't know their names. You don't know the names of victims. They were taken to Israel, presumably, and nobody knows their fate.

"The next day, something happened, which we do know about, a lot. Militants in Gaza, probably Islamic Jihad, abducted an Israeli soldier across the border. That's Corporal Gilad Shalit. And that's well known; first abduction is not. Then followed the escalation of Israeli attacks on Gaza, which I don't have to repeat. It's reported on adequately." That is, there had been a few passing press mentions of the IDF abduction, unquestioning of the Israeli justification; by contrast, the capture of Shalit and the other soldiers has been a major story for weeks, and (until the subsequent Hezbollah missile barrages) seen as explaining and justifying the entire Israeli military offensive against Lebanon.

Chomsky's simple point, virtually a truism, is that military actions by Israel are generally treated by Western sources as self-explanatory and self-justifying, indeed barely worth mentioning; similar actions by Israel's enemies (even military captures of uniformed soldiers) are unspeakable outrages justifying unlimited Israeli offensive response.

"Cynical Fraud"

Oppel asked Chomsky for his sources on the Gaza episode, and Chomsky supplied them. Oppel's response was stunning. In his July 23 editorial, he suggested the event never happened, dismissing what he called "commentary articles on leftist web sites," though the published sources he acknowledged include Israeli dailies, The Baltimore Sun, and The Los Angeles Times. And he called Chomsky's "acknowledgment" that some reports were "marginal, understated and brief" as somehow confirming that the kidnapping was not worth reporting. (As Oppel put it with a shrug, "Israeli intelligence and armed forces have made it a practice to abduct Palestinians from their homes and from the street without warrant or probable cause in the way that we understand these things.") Chomsky's point was precisely the opposite, of course, as he wrote Oppel in demanding a retraction: "It is not an 'acknowledgment,' but a condemnation. I assumed it would be so obvious that I would not have to spell it out to you."

Bostonian Chomsky might be forgiven for overestimating Our Hometown Editor, but alas, Oppel wasn't finished. In his second column, ("Agreeing on the facts of the story, but not on the conclusions," Aug. 3), he apologized for misinterpreting Chomsky's "acknowledgment" – and then did it again. In response to Chomsky noting that the IDF routinely describe the abducted civilians as "terrorists" is not self-confirming ("Reports by armies engaged in military actions," Chomsky wrote, "do not become 'True' because they are on 'our side'"), Oppel responded, "I see that as an attack by Chomsky on the credibility of the sources that he chooses to cite." The IDF says they're "terrorists," reporters write that down, and if that's not good enough for Chomsky, he's acknowledging that his "sources" are weak. (Longtime Austinites will recognize that familiar circular logic from the opposite side of the editorial page.)

Finally, while explicitly justifying Israeli military responses to Hamas' "provocations," Oppel attributed arguments to Chomsky that he didn't make, specifically that "the Israeli abduction of the two civilians touched off the Hamas attack." Other observers have suggested that possibility, but Chomsky specifically was reacting only to the Western media response to the two parallel events, and in his angry letter to Oppel he characterized that response quite bluntly. "What all of this reveals, clearly, is utter lack of concern over kidnapping when it is carried out by a U.S. client," Chomsky wrote. "Some gave it marginal, understated, and brief mention, again revealing the same lack of concern.

"The conclusions are obvious," Chomsky continued. "Whether suppression of the undisputed facts or casual concession, the performance demonstrates that the pretended outrage over capture of soldiers is pure, cynical fraud. Those who suppressed the story, and those who gave it marginal mention, are telling us, loud and clear, that they care nothing about even the far more serious crime of kidnapping civilians. The timing is particularly dramatic and impossible to miss: IDF kidnapping of civilians on June 24, Hamas capture of a soldier the next day, then the huge U.S.-Israeli escalation of attacks on Gaza ... then the kidnapping of soldiers by Hezbollah, then the U.S.-Israeli destruction of most of Lebanon, justified by the pretense of outrage over kidnapping, which is – to repeat – is demonstrated, conclusively, to be cynical fraud."

Terrorists vs. Surgeons

Oppel is clearly stung by Chomsky's harsh charges against the U.S. media – "moral depravity" really sticks in his craw – but Chomsky is only characterizing, in quite traditional moral terms, a very old lesson. I'll cite just the classic source on double standards: "Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother's eye" (Matthew 7:5). The broad pattern of U.S. media coverage of the Middle East, from Iraq to Palestine, is institutionally hypocritical in just this way. If "their" side attacks, it's a ("terrorist") outrage deserving any extreme of military response; if "our" side attacks, it's a regrettable but necessary ("surgical") response to unbearable provocations.

Oppel's own editorials are squarely in this tradition. Consider his inability even to conceive (let alone admit) the possibility that the Israeli military perspective on events might not be the only credible version. He can't (or won't) understand Shihadeh's and then Chomsky's complaints, because that would require him, if only for a moment, to see the Israeli Defense Forces as they might be seen from the wrong end of the gun. Even more striking is his lachrymose but unreflective adoption of the Bush administration's imperial perspective as his own: "U.S. influence in the Middle East has declined as our efforts to build a democracy in Iraq have disintegrated into sectarian violence" (my emphasis). When this insane Iraq adventure began, the Statesman (like virtually all U.S. papers) enthusiastically endorsed the colossally criminal "shock and awe" hunt for "WMD." Now, when that always transparent rationale has been repeatedly exposed as a massive fraud, Oppel adopts the ludicrous alternative of "democracy-building," which has somehow, passively, "disintegrated" – due, of course, to those unmanageably "sectarian" Iraqis.

Since he's abundantly earned it, I'll give Chomsky the last word, summing up Oppel's most recent performance. "This is not just awful journalism. It's real cowardice."

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posted by u2r2h at Wednesday, August 16, 2006 1 comments

10 August, 2006

Iraq Covert Operations -- US planting bombs to fuel civil war?

The Four-Frontal War: Covert Operations Escalate in Middle East and the Horn of Africa

by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed


See this page for links to articles on OpEdNEws that articulate both sides on the issues in the middle east. It is the goal of OpEdNews to air opinions from both sides to stretch the envelope of discussion and communication. Hate statements are not accepted. Discussions of issues and new ideas for solutions are encouraged.

Civil War Looms in Iraq

"US Generals forsee Iraqi partition" was the unnerving headline penned by Guardian journalists Julian Borger, Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton Taylor yesterday. They quote the leaked memo to Prime Minister Tony Blair written by William Patey, Britain's outgoing Ammbassador to Iraq, which revealed that "a low intensity civil war and a de facto division of Iraq" is currently more probable than the stabilization of the country. His comments were shockingly confirmed by General John Abizaid, the head of US Central Command, and General Peter Pace, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, both of whom warned of the imminent probability of Iraq's slide to civil war.

While the media debate has shifted onto whether or not a civil war is imminent in Iraq -- and it's obvious from the comments of the above informed observers that it is -- unnnoticed and barely reported is the compelling evidence that some sectarian violence has been deliberately fostered and orchestrated by US and British military intelligence. When Iraqi police found "explosives and a remote-control detonator... in the car of the two SAS special forces men" disguised as Arabs, last year in September, veteran war correspondent John Pilger in the New Statesman was one of the few to note the odd details. "What were they planning to do...?" with the explosives, he wondered: "Although reported initially by the Times and the Mail, all mention of the explosives allegedly found in the SAS men's unmarked Cressida vanished from the news. ... the SAS men, disguised as al-Sadr's followers, were planning an attack on Basra ahead of an important religious festival."

Orchestrating the Terrorist Insurgency?

I had written in some detail about this event at the time last year -- the only news outlet that would touch the story was the progressive online newsmagazine Raw Story. But this was not the only event suggesting that American and British military intelligence operatives have been playing a double-game in Iraq. Iraqi nuclear scientist Dr. Imad Khudduri, who worked with the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission from 1968 to 1998 when he left the country, reports that a driver in Baghdad had his license confiscated by US army officers at a check-point. They told him "to report to an American military camp near Baghdad airport for interrogation" to retrieve his license. When he got to the camp, he was questioned for 30 min before being released. As for his license, the US army officers told him it had been sent for processing to al-Khadimiya police station, where he had to hurry to pick it up before the responsible officer left his shift. "The driver did leave in a hurry, but was soon alarmed with a feeling that his car was driving as if carrying a heavy load", reports Dr. Khudduri.

"... he also became suspicious of a low flying helicopter that kept hovering overhead, as if trailing him. He stopped the car and inspected it carefully. He found nearly 100 kilograms of explosives hidden in the back seat and along the two back doors. The only feasible explanation for this incident is that the car was indeed booby trapped by the Americans and intended for the al-Khadimiya Shiite district of Baghdad. The helicopter was monitoring his movement and witnessing the anticipated 'hideous attack by foreign elements'.

"The same scenario was repeated in Mosul, in the north of Iraq. A car was confiscated along with the driver's license. He did follow up on the matter and finally reclaimed his car but was told to go to a police station to reclaim his license. Fortunately for him, the car broke down on the way to the police station. The inspecting car mechanic discovered that the spare tire was fully laden with explosives."

Going back to my own research on this, in my Raw Story report just under a year ago, I noted two important points:

1. Press reports as well as official statements from al-Qaeda in Iraq suggested that al-Qaeda had teamed up with Saddam Hussein's old Ba'ath Party loyalists. Iraqi intelligence and US military officials have known for years that al-Qaeda operatives from outside Iraq had "formed an alliance with former intelligence agents of Saddam Hussein".

2. Pakistani military sources told the Asia Times in February 2005 that the US has "resolved to arm small militias backed by US troops and entrenched in the population," consisting of "former members of the Ba'ath Party". In other words, al-Qaeda's latest Ba'athist recruits undergoing what the London Times called "Al-Qaeda-style training, such as how to make remote-controlled bombs" were getting themselves "entrenched" in the civilian environment while also being covertly armed and supported by elements of the US military. The US had procured "Pakistan-manufactured weapons, including rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, ammunition, rockets and other light weaponry." A Pakistani military analyst noted that the "arms could not be destined for the Iraqi security forces because US arms would be given to them." It is difficult to avoid the conclusions that US military intelligence has actively implemented a series of covert operations designed to manipulate and arm the terrorist insurgency, thus contributing to the deterioration of security.

Neo-Con Plan: The Dissolution of Iraq

But why? The dissolution of Iraq has long been an essential feature of hardline Israeli strategic thinking. In 1982, the Hebrew journal Kivunim -- the official organ of the World Zionist Organization -- published an article by former Israeli Foreign Ministry official Oded Yinon, who observed that:

"Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel's targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria... In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel... Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi'ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north."

The fragmentation of Iraq, in other words, is an integral part of Zionist grand strategy, a strategy that is staunchly supported by the neoconservatives in the White House.

Sources close to the incumbent Iraqi government fear that the drastic deterioration of security in Iraq will be exploited by the Anglo-American coalition to dissolve the fragile parliament and declare a state of emergency, thus permanently sealing the occupation. It is difficult to discern whether this specific scenario is plausible, but there can be no doubt that policymakers in Washington and London want to manipulate the situation to ensure long-term control over Iraqi oil reserves.

Nuclear-ization of Mid-East War

As covert operations to fracture Iraq are escalating, the humanitarian crisis in Lebanon is deepening. Evidence mounts that Israel is planning a wider regional war using nuclear weapons. As ceasefire negotiations continued last week, the Israeli Committee for a Middle East Free from Atomic, Biological & Chemical Weapons reported (5.8.06) that:

"The Government of Israel has recently purchased from the United States bunker-busting bombs (GBU-28), for use in its war in Lebanon. These bombs contain depleted uranium -- a carcinogenic substance that spreads in the form of a toxic and radioactive dust, which enters the lungs and bones and is especially harmful to babies and young children."

The invention of bunker-busting bombs are a brazen attempt to make nuclear devices a viable weapons of warfare without automatically implying Mutually Assured Destruction. In late May 2003, at President Bush's insistence, Congress voted to end the 10-year ban on the development of tactical nuclear weapons -- also known as 'mini-nukes' or 'bunker-busting' bombs - that range up to a third the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The new nuclear devices are designed to "produce small amounts of radiation, earth-penetrating weapons to attack underground bunkers, larger devices with greater radiation effects and weapons to destroy chemical and biological agents." These measures conflict with US treaty obligations -- the US is a signatory to both the comprehensive test ban treaty (although has not ratified it) and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Despite being designed to concentrate the impact in order to limit the nuclear fallout to the intended target, tactical nuclear weapons remain extremely dangerous and inherently indiscriminate -- and of course far more devastating for civilian populations than conventional weapons. For example, according to Council on Foreign Relations scientist Robert Nelson in Physics Today, "anyone within the roughly 3W0.6 km2 area covered by the base surge would receive a fatal dose of radiation. (W is the explosive energy yield in kilotons of TNT.)." Estimating a typical third-world urban population density of 6000/km2, this implies that a single "1-kt weapon would kill tens of thousands", whereas a single more powerful "100-kt weapon would kill hundreds of thousands of people."

Nukes, in other words, are still nukes.

Have No Doubt: They Want War... on Four Fronts

Israeli's acquirement of tactical nuclear weapons within the last few days is therefore of urgent concern, and indicates that the regime is stepping-up its planning for an impending wider regional conflict. It must be remembered that Israel has long planned this war. The "clean break" strategy advocated a decade ago by Vice President Dick Cheney's Middle East adviser David Wurmser -- which "is progressing as planned" according to Pentagon whistleblower Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatowski PhD -- sees a conflict with Lebanon as an integral dimension of a war to expand Israeli influence over Syria and Iran: "An effective approach, and one with which American can sympathize, would be if Israel seized the strategic initiative along its northern borders by engaging Hizballah, Syria, and Iran, as the principal agents of aggression in Lebanon."

As the US, UK, and other powers scuttle around shouting for a ceasefire agreement, according to former senior advisor to President Clinton Sidney Blumenthal, neither the US nor Israel want peace:

"The National Security Agency is providing signal intelligence to Israel to monitor whether Syria and Iran are supplying new armaments to Hezbollah ... neoconservatives on Vice President Dick Cheney's national security staff and Elliott Abrams, the neoconservative senior director for the Near East on the National Security Council, are prime movers behind sharing NSA intelligence with Israel, and they have discussed Syrian and Iranian supply activities as a potential pretext for Israeli bombing of both countries... The neoconservatives are described as enthusiastic about the possibility of using NSA intelligence as a lever to widen the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah and Israel and Hamas into a four-front war."

The ceasefire rhetoric is being used deliberately by Anglo-American and Israeli officials to manufacture a justification for opening multiple theatres of war in the region. As Robert Fisk at the Independent observes, the draft resolution is absurdly pro-Israel, failing to even call on Israeli troops to withdraw from Lebanon, and guaranteed to be rejected by Hizbullah as merely an exercise in imperial hubris.

Carving Lebanon?

Meanwhile, US efforts are currently designed to facilitate the political divisions in Lebanon. While supporting Israel's invasion of Lebanon, and condemning Hizbullah's resistance, the Bush administration is simultaneously planning "to help train and equip the Lebanese army so it can take control of all of the nation's territory". The plan is motivated by Hizbollah's growing popularity as the only force in Lebanon capable of attempting to defend its people.

Indeed, the strategic planning behind the "clean break" onslaught now in motion was already in place in the 1980s and is mentioned in the Kivunim article cited previously, which advises that: "Lebanon's total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track." Moreover, this is part of a broader process of reconfiguration of the entire Middle East. "The entire Arabian peninsula is a natural candidate for dissolution due to internal and external pressures, and the matter is inevitable especially in Saudi Arabia", the article continues.

"Low Intensity Warfare" in Iran and Somalia

It should not come as a surprise then to learn that the War on Iran has, in fact, already begun -- as early as June 2005. Former US marine and chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, Scott Ritter, revealed citing confidential sources secret US military flights in Iran "using pilotless drones and other, more sophisticated, capabilities." The CIA's Directorate of Operations was financing and directing the Mujahadeen el-Khalq (MEK), the notorious Iranian opposition group (formerly run by Saddam Hussein's intelligence services) still categorized by the State Department as a "terrorist organization." CIA-sponsored MEK terrorist operations currently include "remote bombings in Iran of the sort that the Bush administration condemns on a daily basis inside Iraq." Additionally, the US military had prepared a base of operations in neighbouring Azerbaijan "for a massive military presence" designed to facilitate a "major land-based campaign" to conquer Tehran. CIA paramilitary operatives and US Special Operations units are training with Azerbaijan forces to form special units capable of "operating inside Iran for the purpose of intelligence gathering, direct action, and mobilizing indigenous opposition to the Mullahs in Tehran."

Covert operations are escalating in other potentially oil-rich regions. In February this year, CIA planes reportedly "delivered large amounts of money and guns" to three warlords in Somalia who dominated Mogadishu. "They named themselves the Alliance for the Restoration of Peace and Counter-Terrorism" and began fighting against the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), a loose legal federation of Somali clans supported "by local businessmen, to restore order by using religious law to settle disputes and punish criminals. Each clan's court has jurisdiction only over its own clan members, but it was a start on rebuilding a law-abiding society." The BBC describes the UIC as "a grassroots movement" which has "become increasingly popular among city residents and the business community desperate to see an end to the rule of the gun." An initiative that Washington was not happy with. In late July this year, the US "let Ethiopia send troops in to protect the isolated 'Interim Government' in Baidoa. That probably means renewed war, and across borders this time... Just when Somalia was about to escape from its long nightmare, a new and worse one has appeared: the prospect of a war that would consume the entire Horn of Africa."

Although Somali clan leaders have expressed the desire to cooperate with Washington's demands on alleged al-Qaeda terrorists, Washington suddenly seems less interested in tangible peaceful solutions. UIC clan elders reportedly "met with US Ambassador William Bellamy in Nairobi, Kenya and promised to cooperate in the hunt for al-Qaeda terrorists."
They even "signed an agreement with the US ambassador that if they tell us exactly where these men are in Somalia, our clan militia will go and capture them and turn them over." Since then, the US has been surprisingly silent about the location of the alleged terrorists -- but still wants to ignite a war that could engulf the whole Horn of Africa. A spokesperson for the US embassy had "no comment" on the meetings.

US interests in Somalia are rather familiar, and have remained much the same since the 1992 Bush Snr. invasion called "Operation Restore Hope". At that time the Los Angeles Times revealed: "Far beneath the surface of the tragic drama of Somalia, four major US oil companies are quietly sitting on a prospective fortune in exclusive concessions to explore and exploit tens of millions of acres of the Somali countryside. That land, in the opinion of geologists and industry sources, could yield significant amounts of oil and natural gas if the US led military mission can restore peace to the impoverished East African nation." As the Independent adds, "The oil giants' exclusive concessions to explore and drill [are] worthless in the absence of a viable government to enforce their claims." The UIC, as an increasingly popular, largely Islamic Sufi federation, fundamentally threatens to permanently prevent the retrieval of these exclusive concessions to US oil corporations.

Concluding Comment

It seems that the War Machine is now in full-swing. US covert operations to control strategic resources are exploding in Iraq, Iran and Somalia. Western diplomatic, military, intelligence and financial maneuverings are carefully positioning Israeli policy to fracture the conflict with Lebanon in a conflict on four (or more) fronts. Tactical nukes are being prepared for imminent use, increasing the probability of a full-scale regional conflagaration.

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney is still hiding somewhere in his bunker, and Western leaders continue to promise us that they only want peace.

Orwell must be spinning in his grave.


Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is the author of The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry (London: Duckworth, 2006). He teaches courses in International Relations at the School of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, University of Sussex, Brighton, where he is doing his PhD studying imperialism and genocide. Since 9/11, he has authored three other books revealing the realpolitik behind the rhetoric of the "War on Terror", The War on Freedom, Behind the War on Terror and The War on Truth. In summer 2005, he testified as an expert witness in US Congress about his research on international terrorism

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posted by u2r2h at Thursday, August 10, 2006 0 comments

Noam Chomsky on Israel, Lebanon and Palestine

MIT professor Noam Chomsky, one of the leading intellectuals of our time and a vocal critic of US foreign policy in the Middle East, spoke with Kaveh Afrasiabi of Global Interfaith Peace this week about Israel's two-front war in Gaza and Lebanon.

Do you agree with the argument that Israel's military offensive in Lebanon is "legally and morally justified?"

Noam Chomsky: The invasion itself is a serious breach of international law, and major war crimes are being committed as it proceeds. There is no legal justification.

The "moral justification" is supposed to be that capturing soldiers in a cross-border raid, and killing others, is an outrageous crime. We know, for certain, that Israel, the United States and other Western governments, as well as the mainstream of articulate Western opinion, do not believe a word of that. Sufficient evidence is their tolerance for many years of US-backed Israeli crimes in Lebanon, including four invasions before this one, occupation in violation of Security Council orders for 22 years, and regular killings and abductions. To mention just one question that every journal should be answering: When did Nasrallah assume a leadership role? Answer: When the Rabin government escalated its crimes in Lebanon, murdering Sheikh Abbas Mussawi and his wife and child with missiles fired from a US helicopter. Nasrallah was chosen as his successor. Only one of innumerable cases. There is, after all, a good reason why last February, 70% of Lebanese called for the capture of Israeli soldiers for prisoner exchange.

The conclusion is underscored, dramatically, by the current upsurge of violence, which began after the capture of Corporal Gilad Shalit on June 25. Every published Western "timeline" takes that as the opening event. Yet the day before, Israeli forces kidnapped two Gaza civilians, a doctor and his brother, and sent them to the Israeli prison system where they can join innumerable other Palestinians, many held without charges -- hence kidnapped. Kidnapping of civilians is a far worse crime than capture of soldiers. The Western response was quite revealing: a few casual comments, otherwise silence. The major media did not even bother reporting it. That fact alone demonstrates, with brutal clarity, that there is no moral justification for the sharp escalation of attacks in Gaza or the destruction of Lebanon, and that the Western show of outrage about kidnapping is cynical fraud.

Much has been said about Israel's right to defend itself from its enemies who are taking advantage of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, thus causing the latest chapter in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Do you agree?

NC: Israel certainly has a right to defend itself, but no state has the right to "defend" occupied territories. When the World Court condemned Israel's "separation wall," even a US Justice, Judge Buergenthal, declared that any part of it built to defend Israeli settlements is "ipso facto in violation of international humanitarian law," because the settlements themselves are illegal.

The withdrawal of a few thousand illegal settlers from Gaza was publicly announced as a West Bank expansion plan. It has now been formalized by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with the support of Washington, as a program of annexation of valuable occupied lands and major resources (particularly water) and cantonization of the remaining territories, virtually separated from one another and from whatever pitiful piece of Jerusalem will be granted to Palestinians. All are to be imprisoned, since Israel is to take over the Jordan valley. Gaza, too, remains imprisoned and Israel carries out attacks there at will.

Gaza and the West Bank are recognized to be a unit, by the United States and Israel as well. Therefore, Israel still occupies Gaza, and cannot claim self-defense in territories it occupies in either of the two parts of Palestine. It is Israel and the United States that are radically violating international law. They are now seeking to consummate long-standing plans to eliminate Palestinian national rights for good.

The United States has refused to call for an immediate cease-fire, arguing that this would mean a return to the status quo ante, yet we are witnessing a "back to the past" re-occupation of parts of Lebanon, and Lebanon's rapid decline to political chaos by the current conflict. Is the US policy correct?

NC: It is correct from the point of view of those who want to ensure that Israel, by now virtually an offshore US military base and high-tech center, dominates the region, without any challenge to its rule as it proceeds to destroy Palestine. And there are side advantages, such as eliminating any Lebanese-based deterrent if US-Israel decide to attack Iran.

They may also hope to set up a client regime in Lebanon of the kind that Ariel Sharon sought to create when he invaded Lebanon in 1982, destroying much of the country and killing some 15-20,000 people.

What will be the likely outcome of this "two-pronged" crisis in Lebanon and the occupied territories, in the near and long-term?

NC: We cannot predict much. There are too many uncertainties. One very likely consequence, as the United States and Israel surely anticipated, is a significant increase in jihadi-style terrorism as anger and hatred directed against the United States, Israel, and Britain sweep the Arab and Muslim worlds. Another is that Nasrallah, whether he survives or is killed, will become an even more important symbol of resistance to US-Israeli aggression. Hezbollah already has a phenomenal 87% support in Lebanon itself, and its resistance has energized popular opinion to such an extent that even the oldest and closest US allies have been compelled to say that "If the peace option is rejected due to the Israeli arrogance, then only the war option remains, and no one knows the repercussions befalling the region, including wars and conflict that will spare no one, including those whose military power is now tempting them to play with fire." That's from King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who knows better than to condemn the United States directly.

What steps do you recommend for the current hostilities to be brought to an end and a lasting peace established?

NC: The basic steps are well understood: a cease-fire and exchange of prisoners; withdrawal of occupying forces; continuation of the "national dialogue" within Lebanon; and acceptance of the very broad international consensus on a two-state settlement for Israel-Palestine, which has been unilaterally blocked by the United States and Israel for thirty years. There is, as always, much more to say, but those are the essentials.

Noam Chomsky is Professor of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He is the author of numerous books, and his latest is Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy (2006).

Kaveh Afrasiabi is the founder and director of Global Interfaith Peace, and a former political science professor at Tehran University. He is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran's Foreign Policy (Westview Press).
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posted by u2r2h at Thursday, August 10, 2006 0 comments

09 August, 2006

Television hurts, STOP STOP STOP

Jon Stewart on Crossfire: "Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America."

On October 15, Jon Stewart, host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with
Jon Stewart appeared on CNN's Crossfire.

JON STEWART: ... And I made a special effort to come on the show
today, because I have privately, amongst my friends and also in
occasional newspapers and television shows, mentioned this show as being


PAUL BEGALA: We have noticed.

STEWART: And I wanted to -- I felt that that wasn't fair and I
should come here and tell you that I don't -- it's not so much that it's
bad, as it's hurting America.


TUCKER CARLSON: But in its defense...


STEWART: So I wanted to come here today and say...


STEWART: Here's just what I wanted to tell you guys.




STEWART: Stop, stop, stop, stop hurting America.



STEWART: And come work for us, because we, as the people...

CARLSON: How do you pay?

STEWART: The people -- not well.


BEGALA: Better than CNN, I'm sure.

STEWART: But you can sleep at night.


STEWART: See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're
helping the politicians and the corporations. And we're left out there
to mow our lawns.

BEGALA: By beating up on them? You just said we're too rough on them
when they make mistakes.

STEWART: No, no, no, you're not too rough on them. You're part of
their strategies. You are partisan, what do you call it, hacks.


CARLSON: Wait, Jon, let me tell you something valuable that I think
we do that I'd like to see you...


STEWART: Something valuable?



STEWART: I would like to hear it.

CARLSON: And I'll tell you.

When politicians come on...


CARLSON: It's nice to get them to try and answer the question. And
in order to do that, we try and ask them pointed questions. I want to
contrast our questions with some questions you asked John Kerry


CARLSON: ... up on the screen.

STEWART: If you want to compare your show to a comedy show, you're
more than welcome to.


CARLSON: No, no, no, here's the point.


STEWART: If that's your goal.

CARLSON: It's not.

STEWART: I wouldn't aim for us. I'd aim for "Seinfeld." That's a
very good show.

CARLSON: Kerry won't come on this show. He will come on your show.


CARLSON: Let me suggest why he wants to come on your show.

STEWART: Well, we have civilized discourse.


CARLSON: Well, here's an example of the civilized discourse.

Here are three of the questions you asked John Kerry.


CARLSON: You have a chance to interview the Democratic nominee. You
asked him questions such as -- quote -- "How are you holding up? Is it
hard not to take the attacks personally?"


CARLSON: "Have you ever flip-flopped?" et cetera, et cetera.


CARLSON: Didn't you feel like -- you got the chance to interview the
guy. Why not ask him a real question, instead of just suck up to him?

STEWART: Yes. "How are you holding up?" is a real suck-up. And I
actually giving him a hot stone massage as we were doing it.


CARLSON: It sounded that way. It did.

STEWART: You know, it's interesting to hear you talk about my

CARLSON: I felt the sparks between you.

STEWART: I didn't realize that -- and maybe this explains quite a

CARLSON: No, the opportunity to...


STEWART: ... is that the news organizations look to Comedy Central
for their cues on integrity.



STEWART: So what I would suggest is, when you talk about you're
holding politicians' feet to fire, I think that's disingenuous. I think

CARLSON: "How are you holding up?" I mean, come on.


STEWART: No, no, no. But my role isn't, I don't think...

CARLSON: But you can ask him a real question, don't you think,
instead of saying...


STEWART: I don't think I have to. By the way, I also asked him,
"Were you in Cambodia?" But I didn't really care.


STEWART: Because I don't care, because I think it's stupid.

CARLSON: I can tell.


STEWART: But my point is this. If your idea of confronting me is
that I don't ask hard-hitting enough news questions, we're in bad shape,
fellows. [LAUGHTER]

CARLSON: We're here to love you, not confront you.


CARLSON: We're here to be nice.

STEWART: No, no, no, but what I'm saying is this. I'm not. I'm here
to confront you, because we need help from the media and they're hurting
us. And it's -- the idea is...



BEGALA: Let me get this straight. If the indictment is -- if the
indictment is -- and I have seen you say this -- that...


BEGALA: And that CROSSFIRE reduces everything, as I said in the
intro, to left, right, black, white.


BEGALA: Well, it's because, see, we're a debate show.

STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great.

BEGALA: It's like saying The Weather Channel reduces everything to a
storm front.

STEWART: I would love to see a debate show.

BEGALA: We're 30 minutes in a 24-hour day where we have each side
on, as best we can get them, and have them fight it out.

STEWART: No, no, no, no, that would be great. To do a debate would
be great. But that's like saying pro wrestling is a show about athletic


CARLSON: Jon, Jon, Jon, I'm sorry. I think you're a good comedian. I
think your lectures are boring.


CARLSON: Let me ask you a question on the news.

STEWART: Now, this is theater. It's obvious. How old are you?


CARLSON: Thirty-five.

STEWART: And you wear a bow tie.



CARLSON: Yes, I do. I do.

STEWART: So this is...

CARLSON: I know. I know. I know. You're a...


STEWART: So this is theater.

CARLSON: Now, let me just...


CARLSON: Now, come on.

STEWART: Now, listen, I'm not suggesting that you're not a smart
guy, because those are not easy to tie.

CARLSON: They're difficult.


STEWART: But the thing is that this -- you're doing theater, when
you should be doing debate, which would be great.

BEGALA: We do, do...


STEWART: It's not honest. What you do is not honest. What you do is
partisan hackery. And I will tell you why I know it.

CARLSON: You had John Kerry on your show and you sniff his throne
and you're accusing us of partisan hackery?

STEWART: Absolutely.

CARLSON: You've got to be kidding me. He comes on and you...


STEWART: You're on CNN. The show that leads into me is puppets
making crank phone calls.


STEWART: What is wrong with you?

[APPLAUSE] CARLSON: Well, I'm just saying, there's no reason for you
-- when you have this marvelous opportunity not to be the guy's butt
boy, to go ahead and be his butt boy. Come on. It's embarrassing.

STEWART: I was absolutely his butt boy. I was so far -- you would
not believe what he ate two weeks ago.



STEWART: You know, the interesting thing I have is, you have a
responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably.

CARLSON: You need to get a job at a journalism school, I think.

STEWART: You need to go to one.

The thing that I want to say is, when you have people on for just
knee-jerk, reactionary talk...

CARLSON: Wait. I thought you were going to be funny. Come on. Be

STEWART: No. No. I'm not going to be your monkey.


BEGALA: Go ahead. Go ahead.

STEWART: I watch your show every day. And it kills me.

CARLSON: I can tell you love it.

STEWART: It's so -- oh, it's so painful to watch.


STEWART: You know, because we need what you do. This is such a great
opportunity you have here to actually get politicians off of their
marketing and strategy.

CARLSON: Is this really Jon Stewart? What is this, anyway?

STEWART: Yes, it's someone who watches your show and cannot take it


STEWART: I just can't.

CARLSON: What's it like to have dinner with you? It must be
excruciating. Do you like lecture people like this or do you come over
to their house and sit and lecture them; they're not doing the right
thing, that they're missing their opportunities, evading their

STEWART: If I think they are.


CARLSON: I wouldn't want to eat with you, man. That's horrible.

STEWART: I know. And you won't. But the thing I want to get to...

BEGALA: We did promise naked pictures of the Supreme Court justices.

CARLSON: Yes, we did. Let's get to those.


BEGALA: They're in this book, which is a very funny book.

STEWART: Why can't we just talk -- please, I beg of you guys,

CARLSON: I think you watch too much CROSSFIRE.

We're going to take a quick break.

STEWART: No, no, no, please.

CARLSON: No, no, hold on. We've got commercials.


STEWART: Please. Please stop.

CARLSON: Next, Jon Stewart in the "Rapid Fire."

STEWART: Please stop.


STEWART: So I don't worry about it in that respect.

But let me ask you guys, again, a question, because we talked a
little bit about, you're actually doing honest debate and all that. But,
after the debates, where do you guys head to right afterwards?

CARLSON: The men's room.

STEWART: Right after that?


STEWART: Spin alley.


STEWART: No, spin alley.

BEGALA: What are you talking about? You mean at these debates?

STEWART: Yes. You go to spin alley, the place called spin alley.
Now, don't you think that, for people watching at home, that's kind of a
drag, that you're literally walking to a place called deception lane?


STEWART: Like, it's spin alley. It's -- don't you see, that's the
issue I'm trying to talk to you guys...

BEGALA: No, I actually believe -- I have a lot of friends who work
for President Bush. I went to college with some of them.

CARLSON: Neither of us was ever in the spin room, actually.


BEGALA: No, I did -- I went to do the Larry King show.

They actually believe what they're saying. They want to persuade
you. That's what they're trying to do by spinning. But I don't doubt for
a minute these people who work for President Bush, who I disagree with
on everything, they believe that stuff, Jon. This is not a lie or a
deception at all. They believe in him, just like I believe in my guy.


STEWART: I think they believe President Bush would do a better job.

And I believe the Kerry guys believe President Kerry would do a
better job. But what I believe is, they're not making honest arguments.
So what they're doing is, in their mind, the ends justify the means.


BEGALA: I don't think so at all.


CARLSON: I do think you're more fun on your show. Just my opinion.


CARLSON: OK, up next, Jon Stewart goes one on one with his fans...


STEWART: You know what's interesting, though? You're as big a dick
on your show as you are on any show.


CARLSON: Now, you're getting into it. I like that.


CARLSON: OK. We'll be right back.

(video clip http://mediamatters.org/items/200410160003 )

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posted by u2r2h at Wednesday, August 09, 2006 0 comments

9/11 TV Fakery

Re: Socalled NO PLANE research. There is some evidence that THE SECOND IMPACT into the SOUTH TOWER was NOT CAUSED BY A Boeing 767, the pictures we all saw, were FAKE. Marcus Icke's Flight Simulator research shows other evidence. BTW, the FIRST IMPACT is also fishy.

But lets hear Nico Haupt:

On Sunday July 23, 2006 http://911tvfakery.blogspot.com presented their findings at HOPE6 on apparent evidence, that the footage of the second attack on the South Tower on Sep11th, 2001 was doctored and included a CGI (Computer Generated Image).

The findings conclude, that if the evidence shows that footage was doctored, yet another notion could be concluded: No plane hit the South Tower.

2 live broadcasts (FOX5 vs. ABC7, picked up by FOXNEWS, CNN and others) conflict each other with conflicting simulated flight paths of an incoming black aircraft silhouette.

The live footage was filmed with a WESCAM (since 2002 L-3 Communications) equipped unidentified helicopter crew and unidentified camera operators.

FOX5_rightangle_bfzoom.jpg WABC_908_WESCAM.jpg

The findings at http://911tvfakery.blogspot.com furthermore show other irregular behavior of other aircraft silhouettes in not live aired footage.

The apparent CGIs are changing their shape, do not shrink or grow though zooms are used, rotate suddenly, loose wings in the air at one moment, entering into the tower object with different size conflicting other 'footage', contradict each other with other simulated flight paths, do not crumble the walls or break apart but buttering into the South Tower and showing other unrealistic behavior which violates laws of physics.

The findings at 911tvfakery.blogspot are facing extreme hostility within the 9/11 'truth' movement but also triggered rising support of veteran 9/11 researchers and 'newbies'. The findings of 911TVFakery haven't been addressed in US Mainstream media yet, while all other so called smoking guns attracted attention at CNN, FOX, NY Times, Washington Post, MAXIM, Vanity Fair and many other outlets. The most popular 9/11 video, "Loose Change" decided not to address the findings of 911TVFakery.blogspot.com

The (9/11 research- and activism) bio of the author of the blog, Nico Haupt aka ewing2001 is available at http://911closeup.com/nico/911bio.html He's also still with another research team http://www.team8plus.org and was co-founder of the 9/11 Science and Justice Alliance (2002-2006). The findings of the 9/11SCAJA inspired David Ray Griffin for his first book and triggered the popularity of the evidence for 'controlled demolition' of the Twin Towers and WTC7.

Haupt aka ewing2001, a veteran 9/11 researcher since the morning of Sep11th, also occasionally addresses the infiltration of the 9/11 Truth Movement but also the media manipulation and infiltration itself, also on the Internet. http://team8plus.org/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?3223 He's also addressing the growing power of private- and military contractors like SAIC etc... http://team8plus.org/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?1664 and the real role of the NSA regarding 9/11. http://team8plus.org/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?2890

Questions about who faked the 9/11-footage, why did the perps find it necessary to fake it and who has the power to cover it up, are so far unchallenged from popular 9/11 groups like 911truth.org or 9/11 Scholars (st911.org), though many 9/11 scholars are supportive of the debate on these findings.

A collection of other related articles is also located at http://911closeup.com/nico Furthermore supportive of the issue is http://covertoperations.blogspot.com

The conflicting footage of the 2nd attack can be compared at http://killtown.911review.org/2nd-hit.html

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posted by u2r2h at Wednesday, August 09, 2006 0 comments

07 August, 2006

Chomsky interview 4th August 2006

Prof. Chomsky, you claimed that the provocation and counter-provocation all serve as a distraction from the real issue. What does it mean?

"I assume you are referring to John Berger’s letter (which I signed, among others). The “real issue” that is being ignored is the systematic destruction of any prospects for a viable Palestinian existence as Israel annexes valuable land and major resources, leaving the shrinking territories assigned to Palestinians as unviable cantons, largely separated from one another and from whatever little bit of Jerusalem is to be left to Palestinians, and completely imprisoned as Israel takes over the Jordan valley.

"This program of realignment cynically disguised as “withdrawal,” is of course completely illegal, in violation of Security Council resolutions and the unanimous decision of the World Court (including the dissenting statement of US Justice Buergenthal). If it is implemented as planned, it spells the end of the very broad international consensus on a two-state settlement that the US and Israel have unilaterally blocked for 30 years – matters that are so well documented that I do not have to review them here.

"To turn to your specific question, even a casual look at the Western press reveals that the crucial developments in the occupied territories are marginalized even more by the war in Lebanon. The ongoing destruction in Gaza – which was rarely seriously reported in the first place - has largely faded into the background, and the systematic takeover of the West Bank has virtually disappeared.

"However, I would not go as far as the implication in your question that this was a purpose of the war, though it clearly is the effect. We should recall that Gaza and the West Bank are recognized to be a unit, so that if resistance to Israel’s destructive and illegal programs is legitimate within the West Bank (and it would be interesting to see a rational argument to the contrary), then it is legitimate in Gaza as well."

You claim that the world media refuses to link between what's going on in the occupied territories and in Lebanon?

"Yes, but that is the least of the charges that should be leveled against the world media, and the intellectual communities generally. One of many far more severe charges is brought up in the opening paragraph of the Berger letter.

"Recall the facts. On June 25, Cpl. Gilad Shalit was captured, eliciting huge cries of outrage worldwide, continuing daily at a high pitch, and a sharp escalation in Israeli attacks in Gaza, supported on the grounds that capture of a soldier is a grave crime for which the population must be punished.

"One day before, on June 24, Israeli forces kidnapped two Gaza civilians, Osama and Mustafa Muamar, by any standards a far more severe crime than capture of a soldier. The Muamar kidnappings were certainly known to the major world media. They were reported at once in the English-language Israeli press, basically IDF handouts. And there were a few brief, scattered and dismissive reports in several newspapers around the US.

"Very revealingly, there was no comment, no follow-up, and no call for military or terrorist attacks against Israel. A Google search will quickly reveal the relative significance in the West of the kidnapping of civilians by the IDF and the capture of an Israeli soldier a day later.

"The paired events, a day apart, demonstrate with harsh clarity that the show of outrage over the Shalit kidnapping was cynical fraud. They reveal that by Western moral standards, kidnapping of civilians is just fine if it is done by “our side,” but capture of a soldier on “our side” a day later is a despicable crime that requires severe punishment of the population.

"As Gideon Levy accurately wrote in Ha’aretz, the IDF kidnapping of civilians the day before the capture of Cpl. Shalit strips away any “legitimate basis for the IDF's operation,” and, we may add, any legitimate basis for support for these operations.

"The same elementary moral principles carry over to the July 12 kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers near the Lebanon border, heightened, in this case, by the regular Israeli practice for many years of abducting Lebanese and holding many as hostages for long periods.

Truly disgraceful

"Over the many years in which Israel carried out these practices regularly, even kidnapping on the high seas, no one ever argued that these crimes justified bombing and shelling of Israel, invasion and destruction of much of the country, or terrorist actions within it. The conclusions are stark, clear, and entirely unambiguous – hence suppressed.

"All of this is, obviously, of extraordinary importance in the present case, particularly given the dramatic timing. That is, I suppose, why the major media chose to avoid the crucial facts, apart from a very few scattered and dismissive phrases, revealing that they consider kidnapping a matter of no significance when carried by US-supported Israeli forces.

"Apologists for state crimes claim that the kidnapping of the Gaza civilians is justified by IDF claims that they are 'Hamas militants' or were planning crimes. By their logic, they should therefore be lauding the capture of Gilad Shalit, a soldier in an army that was shelling and bombing Gaza. These performances are truly disgraceful."

You are talking first and foremost about acknowledging the Palestinian nation, but will it solve the "Iranian threat"? Will it push Hizbullah from the Israeli border?

"Virtually all informed observers agree that a fair and equitable resolution of the plight of the Palestinians would considerably weaken the anger and hatred of Israel and the US in the Arab and Muslim worlds – and far beyond, as international polls reveal. Such an agreement is surely within reach, if the US and Israel depart from their long-standing rejectionism.

"On Iran and Hizbullah, there is, of course, much more to say, and I can only mention a few central points here.

"Let us begin with Iran. In 2003, Iran offered to negotiate all outstanding issues with the US, including nuclear issues and a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The offer was made by the moderate Khatami government, with the support of the hard-line “supreme leader” Ayatollah Khamenei. The Bush administration response was to censure the Swiss diplomat who brought the offer.

"In June 2006, Ayatollah Khamenei issued an official declaration stating that Iran agrees with the Arab countries on the issue of Palestine, meaning that it accepts the 2002 Arab League call for full normalization of relations with Israel in a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus. The timing suggests that this might have been a reprimand to his subordinate Ahmadenijad, whose inflammatory statements are given wide publicity in the West, unlike the far more important declaration by his superior Khamenei.

"Of course, the PLO has officially backed a two-state solution for many years, and backed the 2002 Arab League proposal. Hamas has also indicated its willingness to negotiate a two-state settlement, as is surely well-known in Israel. Kharazzi is reported to be the author of the 2003 proposal of Khatami and Khamanei.

"The US and Israel do not want to hear any of this. They also do not want to hear that Iran appears to be the only country to have accepted the proposal by IAEA director Mohammed ElBaradei that all weapons-usable fissile materials be placed under international control, a step towards a verifiable Fissile Materials Cutoff Treaty.

"ElBaradei’s proposal, if implemented, would not only end the Iranian nuclear crisis but would also deal with a vastly more serious crisis: The growing threat of nuclear war, which leads prominent strategic analysts to warn of 'apocalypse soon' (Robert McNamara) if policies continue on their current course.

"The US strongly opposes a verifiable FMCT, but over US objections, the treaty came to a vote at the United Nations, where it passed 147-1, with two abstentions: Israel, which cannot oppose its patron, and more interestingly, Blair’s Britain, which retains a degree of sovereignty. The British ambassador stated that Britain supports the treaty, but it “divides the international community”. These again are matters that are virtually suppressed outside of specialist circles, and are matters of literal survival of the species, extending far beyond Iran.

"It is commonly said that the 'international community' has called on Iran to abandon its legal right to enrich uranium. That is true, if we define the “international community” as Washington and whoever happens to go along with it. It is surely not true of the world. The non-aligned countries have forcefully endorsed Iran’s “inalienable right” to enrich uranium. And, rather remarkably, in Turkey, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, a majority of the population favor accepting a nuclear-armed Iran over any American military action, international polls reveal.

"The non-aligned countries also called for a nuclear-free Middle East, a longstanding demand of the authentic international community, again blocked by the US and Israel. It should be recognized that the threat of Israeli nuclear weapons is taken very seriously in the world.

"As explained by the former Commander-in-Chief of the US Strategic Command, General Lee Butler, “it is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East, one nation has armed itself, ostensibly, with stockpiles of nuclear weapons, perhaps numbering in the hundreds, and that inspires other nations to do so.” Israel is doing itself no favors if it ignores these concerns.

"It is also of some interest that when Iran was ruled by the tyrant installed by a US-UK military coup, the United States – including Rumsfeld, Cheney, Kissinger, Wolfowitz and others - strongly supported the Iranian nuclear programs they now condemn and helped provide Iran with the means to pursue them. These facts are surely not lost on the Iranians, just as they have not forgotten the very strong support of the US and its allies for Saddam Hussein during his murderous aggression, including help in developing the chemical weapons that killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians.

Peaceful means

"There is a great deal more to say, but it appears that the “Iranian threat” to which you refer can be approached by peaceful means, if the US and Israel would agree. We cannot know whether the Iranian proposals are serious, unless they are explored. The US-Israel refusal to explore them, and the silence of the US (and, to my knowledge, European) media, suggests that the governments fear that they may be serious.

"I should add that to the outside world, it sounds a bit odd, to put it mildly, for the US and Israel to be warning of the “Iranian threat” when they and they alone are issuing threats to launch an attack, threats that are immediate and credible, and in serious violation of international law, and are preparing very openly for such an attack. Whatever one thinks of Iran, no such charge can be made in their case. It is also apparent to the world, if not to the US and Israel, that Iran has not invaded any other countries, something that the US and Israel do regularly.

"On Hizbullah too, there are hard and serious questions. As well-known, Hizbullah was formed in reaction to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and its harsh and brutal occupation in violation of Security Council orders. It won considerable prestige by playing the leading role in driving out the aggressors.

"The 1982 invasion was carried out after a year in which Israel regularly bombed Lebanon, trying desperately to elicit some PLO violation of the 1981 truce, and when it failed, attacked anyway, on the ludicrous pretext that Ambassador Argov had been wounded (by Abu Nidal, who was at war with the PLO). The invasion was clearly intended, as virtually conceded, to end the embarrassing PLO initiatives for negotiation, a “veritable catastrophe” for Israel as Yehoshua Porat pointed out.

Shameful pretexts

"It was, as described at the time, a “war for the West Bank.” The later invasions also had shameful pretexts. In 1993, Hizbullah had violated “the rules of the game,” Yitzhak Rabin announced: these Israeli rules permitted Israel to carry out terrorist attacks north of its illegally-held “security zone,” but did not permit retaliation within Israel. Peres’s 1996 invasion had similar pretexts. It is convenient to forget all of this, or to concoct tales about shelling of the Galilee in 1981, but it is not an attractive practice, nor a wise one.

"The problem of Hezbollah’s arms is quite serious, no doubt. Resolution 1559 calls for disarming of all Lebanese militias, but Lebanon has not enacted that provision. Sunni Prime Minister Fuad Siniora describes Hizbullah’s military wing as “resistance rather than as a militia, and thus exempt from” Resolution 1559.

"A National Dialogue in June 2006 failed to resolve the problem. Its main purpose was to formulate a “national defense strategy” (vis-à-vis Israel), but it remained deadlocked over Hizbullah’s call for “a defense strategy that allowed the Islamic Resistance to keep its weapons as a deterrent to possible Israeli aggression,” in the absence of any credible alternative. The US could, if it chose, provide a credible guarantee against an invasion by its client state, but that would require a sharp change in long-standing policy.

"In the background are crucial facts emphasized by several veteran Middle East correspondents. Rami Khouri, now an editor of Lebanon’s Daily Star, writes that “the Lebanese and Palestinians have responded to Israel’s persistent and increasingly savage attacks against entire civilian populations by creating parallel or alternative leaderships that can protect them and deliver essential services.”

You are not referring in your letter to the Israeli casualties. Is there differentiation in your opinion between Israeli civic casualties of war and Lebanese or Palestinian casualties?

"That is not accurate. John Berger’s letter is very explicit about making no distinction between Israeli and other casualties. As his letter states: “Both categories of missile rip bodies apart horribly - who but field commanders can forget this for a moment.”

"You claimed that the world is cooperating with the Israeli invasion to Lebanon and is not interfering in the events Gaza and Jenin. What purpose does this silence serve?

"The great majority of the world can do nothing but protest, though it is fully expected that the intense anger and resentment caused by US-Israeli violence will – as in the past – prove to be a gift for the most extremist and violent elements, mobilizing new recruits to their cause.

"The US-backed Arab tyrannies did condemn Hizbullah, but are being forced to back down out of fear of their own populations. Even King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Washington’s most loyal (and most important) ally, was compelled to say that "If the peace option is rejected due to the Israeli arrogance, then only the war option remains, and no one knows the repercussions befalling the region, including wars and conflict that will spare no one, including those whose military power is now tempting them to play with fire."

"As for Europe, it is unwilling to take a stand against the US administration, which has made it clear that it supports the destruction of Palestine and Israeli violence. With regard to Palestine, while Bush’s stand is extreme, it has its roots in earlier policies. The week in Taba in January 2001 is the only real break in US rejectionism in 30 years.

"The US also strongly supported earlier Israeli invasions of Lebanon, though in 1982 and 1996, it compelled Israel to terminate its aggression when atrocities were reaching a point that harmed US interests.

"Unfortunately, one can generalize a comment of Uri Avnery’s about Dan Halutz, who “views the world below through a bombsight.” Much the same is true of Rumsfeld-Cheney-Rice, and other top Bush administration planners, despite occasional soothing rhetoric. As history reveals, that view of the world is not uncommon among those who hold a virtual monopoly of the means of violence, with consequences that we need not review."

What is the next chapter in this middle-eastern conflict as you see it?

"I do not know of anyone foolhardy enough to predict. The US and Israel are stirring up popular forces that are very ominous, and which will only gain in power and become more extremist if the US and Israel persist in demolishing any hope of realization of Palestinian national rights, and destroying Lebanon. It should also be recognized that Washington’s primary concern, as in the past, is not Israel and Lebanon, but the vast energy resources of the Middle East, recognized 60 years ago to be a “stupendous source of strategic power” and “one of the greatest material prizes in world history.”

"We can expect with confidence that the US will continue to do what it can to control this unparalleled source of strategic power. That may not be easy. The remarkable incompetence of Bush planners has created a catastrophe in Iraq, for their own interests as well. They are even facing the possibility of the ultimate nightmare: a loose Shi’a alliance controlling the world’s major energy supplies, and independent of Washington – or even worse, establishing closer links with the China-based Asian Energy Security Grid and Shanghai Cooperation Council.

"The results could be truly apocalyptic. And even in tiny Lebanon, the leading Lebanese academic scholar of Hizbullah, and a harsh critic of the organization, describes the current conflict in “apocalyptic terms,” warning that possibly “All hell would be let loose” if the outcome of the US-Israel campaign leaves a situation in which “the Shiite community is seething with resentment at Israel, the United States and the government that it perceives as its betrayer.

"It is no secret that in past years, Israel has helped to destroy secular Arab nationalism and to create Hizbullah and Hamas, just as US violence has expedited the rise of extremist Islamic fundamentalism and jihad terror. The reasons are understood. There are constant warnings about it by Western intelligence agencies, and by the leading specialists on these topics.

"One can bury one’s head in the sand and take comfort in a “wall-to-wall consensus” that what we do is “just and moral” (Maoz), ignoring the lessons of recent history, or simple rationality. Or one can face the facts, and approach dilemmas which are very serious by peaceful means. They are available. Their success can never be guaranteed. But we can be reasonably confident that viewing the world through a bombsight will bring further misery and suffering, perhaps even 'apocalypse soon.'"

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posted by u2r2h at Monday, August 07, 2006 0 comments

04 August, 2006

USA: Massive right wing TV propaganda -- yet people vote centrist

FROM http://www.wegoted.com/polls/index.asp

Do you believe the US Government attacked itself on 9-11?


CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS? Even if we allow for some internet-phenomenon, that means that MANY people in the USA think their rulers did a most heinous crimes TO THEMSELVES .. and are not punished 5 years after it happened?

Do you believe there can ever be a sustained cease fire between Israel and Hezbollah?

Israel violating countless UN security council resolutions. US vetos in ALL other resolutions that call for Israel to behave and honour agreements (Israel broke EVERY agreement!). Free US high-tech weapons. US support for extrajudicial killings, MORE OCCUPATION. No wonder the people of the USA lost all hope.

Do you think that the U.S. should negotiate with State Department declared terrorist organizations?
Not Sure13%

House and Senate Democrats are calling for Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki to condemn Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Do you agree?

Which American could best help bring Peace to the Middle East?
Condi Rice4%
Colin Powell 5%
Bill Clinton64%
Jimmy Carter27%

What should the US do about the military action between Israel and Hezbollah?
Pass a resolution of support for Israel in Congress 9%
Demand a cease fire by Israel30%
Keep America out of it and them fight it out over there19%
Call in the UN35%

Is the Israeli military action inside Lebanon justified?

As of 7-14-06, who is more environmentally friendly, Ed Schultz or Al Gore?
Ed Schultz25%
Al Gore75%

Do you support Israel's current military action in Lebanon?

Gen. Casey says terrorists and death squads are responsible for the surge in killings in Iraq and there might be a need for more American troops in the Baghdad. Do you support more troops in Iraq?

Sen. Dick Durbin has called for the shutting down of Guantanamo Bay. Do you agree?

Should Japan take a pre-emptive strike on North Korea's missile bases?

Should the US have direct talks with North Korea?

President Bush has not attended a military funeral. Should the president be attending military funerals?

Do the North Korea missile tests worry you?

Do you agree with Norm that the leadership of the Democratic Party are a bunch of spineless weenies?

Are you planning to shoot fireworks for the 4th of July?

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posted by u2r2h at Friday, August 04, 2006 0 comments

01 August, 2006

Empire, war and propaganda - PILGER

Empire, war and propaganda

July 28, 2006
New Statesman

The National Museum of American History is part of the celebrated Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Surrounded by mock Graeco-Roman edifices with their soaring Corinthian columns, rampant eagles and chiselled profundities, it is at the centre of Empire, though the word itself is engraved nowhere. This is understandable, as the likes of Hitler and Mussolini were proud imperialists, too: on a "great mission to rid the world of evil", as President Bush has also said.

One of the museum's exhibitions is called "The Price of Freedom: Americans at war". In the spirit of Santa's Magic Grotto, this travesty of revisionism helps us understand how silence and omission are so successfully deployed in free, media-saturated societies. The shuffling lines of ordinary people, many of them children, are dispensed the vainglorious message that America has always "built freedom and democracy" - notably at Hiroshima and Nagasaki where the atomic bombing saved "a million lives", and in Vietnam where America's crusaders were "determined to stop communist expansion", and in Iraq where the same true hearts "employed air strikes of unprecedented precision".

The words "invasion" and "controversial" make only fleeting appearances; there is no hint that the "great mission" has overseen, since 1945, the attempted overthrow of 50 governments, many of them democracies, along with the crushing of popular movements struggling against tyranny and the bombing of 30 countries, causing the loss of countless lives. In central America, in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan's arming and training of gangster-armies saw off 300,000 people; in Guatemala, this was described by the UN as genocide. No word of this is uttered in the Grotto. Indeed, thanks to such displays, Americans can venerate war, comforted by the crimes of others and knowing nothing about their own.

In Santa's Grotto, there is no place for Howard Zinn's honest People's History of the United States, or I F Stone's revelation of the truth of what the museum calls "the forgotten war" in Korea, or Mark Twain's definition of patriotism as the need to keep "multitudinous uniformed assassins on hand at heavy expense to grab slices of other people's countries". Moreover, at the Price of Freedom Shop, you can buy US Army Monopoly, and a "grateful nation blanket" for just $200. The exhibition's corporate sponsors include Sears, Roebuck, the mammoth retailer. The point is taken.

To understand the power of indoctrination in free societies is also to understand the subversive power of the truth it suppresses. During the Blair era in Britain, precocious revisionists of Empire have been embraced by the pro-war media. Inspired by America's Messianic claims of "victory" in the cold war, their pseudo-histories have sought not only to hose down the blood slick of slavery, plunder, famine and genocide that was British imperialism ("the Empire was an exemplary force for good": Andrew Roberts) but also to rehabilitate Gladstonian convictions of superiority and promote "the imposition of western values", as Niall Ferguson puts it.

Ferguson relishes "values", an unctuous concept that covers both the barbarism of the imperial past and today's ruthless, rigged "free" market. The new code for race and class is "culture". Thus, the enduring, piratical campaign by the rich and powerful against the poor and weak, especially those with natural resources, has become a "clash of civilisations". Since Francis Fukuyama wrote his drivel about "the end of history" (since recanted), the task of the revisionists and mainstream journalism has been to popularise the "new" imperialism, as in Ferguson's War of the World series for Channel 4 and his frequent soundbites on the BBC. In this way, the public is "softened up" for the rapacious invasion of countries on false pretences, including a not unlikely nuclear attack on Iran, and the ascent in Washington of an executive dictatorship, as called for by Vice-President Cheney. So imminent is the latter that a supine Congress will almost certainly reverse the Supreme Court's recent decision to outlaw the Guantanamo kangaroo courts. The judge who wrote the majority opinion - in a high court Bush himself stacked - sounded his alarm through this seminal quotation of James Madison: "The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether her editary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

The catastrophe in the Middle East is a product of such an imperial tyranny. It is clearly a US-ordained operation, with the long-planned assault on Gaza and the destruction of Leba non pretexts for a wider campaign with the goal of installing American puppets in Lebanon, Syria and eventually Iran. "The pay-off time has come," wrote the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe; "now the proxy should salvage the entangled Empire."

The attendant propaganda - the abuse of language and eternal hypocrisy - has reached its nadir in recent weeks. An Israeli soldier belonging to an invasion force was captured and held, legitimately, as a prisoner of war. Reported as a "kidnapping", this set off yet more slaughter of Palestinian civilians. The seizure of two Palestinian civilians two days before the capture of the soldier was of no interest. Neither was the incarceration of thousands of Palestinian hostages in Israeli prisons, and the torture of many of them, as documented by Amnesty. The kidnapped soldier story cancelled any serious inquiry into Israel's plans to reinvade Gaza, from which it had staged a phoney withdrawal. The fact and meaning of Hamas's self-imposed 16-month ceasefire were lost in inanities about "recognising Israel", along with Israel's state of terror in Gaza - the dropping of a 500lb bomb on a residential block, the firing of as many as 9,000 heavy artillery shells into one of the most densely populated places on earth and the nightly terrorising with sonic booms.

"I want nobody to sleep at night in Gaza," declared the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, as children went out of their minds. In their defence, the Palestinians fired a cluster of Qassam missiles and killed eight Israelis: enough to ensure Israel's victimhood on the BBC; even Jeremy Bowen struck a shameful "balance", referring to "two narratives". The historical equivalent is not far from that of the Nazi bombardment and starvation of the Jewish Warsaw Ghetto. Try to imagine that described as "two narratives".

Watching this unfold in Washington - I am staying in a hotel taken over by evangelical "Christians for Israel" apparently seeking rapture - I have heard only the crudest colonial refrain and no truth. Hezbollah, drone America's journalistic caricatures, is "armed and funded by Syria and Iran", and so they beckon an attack on those countries, while remaining silent about America's $3bn-a-day gift of planes and small arms and bombs to a state whose international lawlessness is a registered world record. There is never mention that, just as the rise of Hamas was a response to the atrocities and humiliations the Palestinians have suffered for half a century, so Hezbollah was formed only as a defence against Ariel Sharon's murderous invasion of Lebanon in 1982 which left 22,000 people dead. There is never mention that Israel intervenes at will, illegally and brutally, in the remaining 22 per cent of historic Palestine, having demolished 11,000 homes and walled off people from their farmlands, and families, and hospitals, and schools. There is never mention that the threat to Israel's existence is a canard, and the true enemy of its people is not the Arabs, but Zionism and an imperial America that guarantees the Jewish state as the antithesis of humane Judaism.

Government silence

The epic injustice done to the Palestinians is the heart of the matter. While European governments (with the honourable exception of the Swiss) have remained craven, it is only Hezbollah that has come to the Palestinians' aid. How truly shaming. There is no media "narrative" of the Palestinians' heroic stand during two uprisings, and with slingshots and stones most of the time. Israel's murders of Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall have left them utterly alone. Neither is the silence of governments all that is shocking. On a major BBC programme, Maureen Lipman, a Jew and promoter of selective good causes, is allowed to say, without serious challenge, that "human life is not cheap to the Israelis, and human life on the other side is quite cheap actually . . ."

Let Lipman see the children of Gaza laid out after an Israeli bombing run, their parents petrified with grief. Let her watch as a young Palestinian woman - and there have been many of them - screams in pain as she gives birth in the back seat of a car at night at an Israeli roadblock, having been wilfully refused right of passage to a hospital. Then let Lipman watch the child's father carry his newborn across freezing fields until it turns blue and dies.

I think Orwell got it right in this passage from Nineteen Eighty-Four, a tale of the ultimate empire:

"And in the general hardening of outlook that set in . . . practices which had been long abandoned - imprisonment without trial, the use of war prisoners as slaves, public executions, torture to extract confessions . . . and the deportation of whole populations - not only became common again, but were tolerated and even defended by people who considered themselves enlightened and progressive."

John Pilger's new book, "Freedom Next Time", is published by Bantam Press

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posted by u2r2h at Tuesday, August 01, 2006 0 comments

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