Monday, May 29, 2006

War Crimes in Guatemala

I've begun reading a fascinating book, Blowback by Chalmers Johnson, first published in 2000. Although updated in mid-2003, its analysis of the American empire is essentially unrelated to the exploits of the current Bush administration. I'm reminded of a conversation I had in early 2003, before the invasion of Iraq, with a friend from Belize. "What George W. Bush is doing," I said to her, "is unmasking America." One paragraph from the book follows.

Blowback : The Costs and Consequences of American Empire (Second Edition) (Paperback)

Guatemala is a particularly striking example of American imperial policies in its own "backyard." In 1954, the Eisenhower administration planned and the CIA organized and funded a military coup that overthrew a Guatemalan president whose modest land reform policies were considered a threat to American corporations. Blowback from this led to a Marxist guerrilla insurgency in the 1980s and so to CIA- and Pentagon-supported genocide against Mayan peasants. In the spring of 1999, a report on the Guatemalan civil war from the U.N.-sponsored Commission for Historical Clarification made clear that "the American training of the officer corps in counter-insurgency techniques" was a "key factor" in the "genocide....Entire Mayan villages were attacked and burned and their inhabitants were slaughtered in an effort to deny the guerrillas protection." According to the commission, between 1981 and 1983 the military government of Guatemala--financed and supported by the U.S. government--destroyed some four hundred Mayan villages in a campaign of genocide in which approximately two hundred thousand peasants were killed. José Pertierra, an attorney representing Jennifer Harbury, an American lawyer who spent years trying to find out what happened to her "disappeared" Guatemalan husband and supporter of the guerrillas, Efraín Bámaca Velásquez, writes that the Guatemalan military officer who arrested, tortured, and murdered Bámaca was a CIA "asset" and was paid $44,000 for the information he obtained from him.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

American Atrocities in Iraq Just Aren't News

Iraqis numb to killings probe that shocks US

Word that U.S. Marines may have killed two dozen Iraqi civilians in "cold-blooded" revenge after an insurgent attack has shocked Americans but many Iraqis shrug it off as an every day fact of life under occupation.

Leaders of the Sunni minority are more critical but say the Haditha incident is only part of a pattern of U.S. behavior in the Sunni heartlands north and west of Baghdad: "The American soldier has become an expert in killing," said Abdel Salam al- Qubaisy, spokesman for the Sunni Muslim Scholars Association.

Imad Mohammed, a teenager selling newspapers at a Baghdad intersection, said he had not seen Haditha on any front page and said it simply was not news: "The Americans see a Muslim go into a mosque and just assume he is a terrorist.

"They either arrest him or blow it up."

Sunday, May 21, 2006

FEMA's Flying Tuna Cans

Tom Engelhardt has a new article by Chad Heeter about FEMA's "preparedness" for the coming hurricane season:

The New Hurricane Season on the Mississippi Coast
By Chad Heeter

I'm standing on the coast, staring not at the Gulf of Mexico but inland, into the nothingness that used to be Waveland, Mississippi. Where once homes, a library, and the city hall stood, there's only rubble, ghostly slabs of concrete, sun-bleached pants, nightgowns, and curtains eerily draped high in the trees, and a single, green minivan crumpled like an aluminum can. Oh yes, and then there are the "travel trailers" -- FEMA supplied -- that sit on the tombstone-like slabs and house many of the residents who remain in this small seaside town.

Gusts of 50 miles per hour lasting more than three seconds can damage mobile homes. From March 2003 to April 2005, thirteen storms with winds of at least 58 mph -- the low-end of a severe storm -- blew through Waveland and surrounding communities according NOAA's online database. At that strength, such a storm wouldn't even qualify as a Category-1 Hurricane.

Having put over 100,000 Mississippi residents in 38,000 trailers, how has FEMA addressed this issue? Its website essentially dumps the problem in the laps of the trailerized, suggesting that it's their responsibility to closely monitor weather patterns, as in the event of a tropical storm or a Category-1 hurricane they would have to be the first -- in some cases, the only people -- to evacuate. Oh, and they'll need to leave the trailers behind. It's illegal to move the FEMA trailers.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Da Vinci Code Movie Review

John and I like going to the movies. Unfortunately, there hasn't been much playing in our neighborhood lately that sounds interesting--and he refuses to watch V For Vendetta a fourth time. (I could watch it for weeks.) Last week we saw Silent Hill, and I've already completely forgotten it.

So we went to The Da Vinci Code. It's good for Americans to see anything that reminds them of history, which is no longer taught in American schools. There are fine actors in the film. But it's more than four hours long, and John kept yawning loudly, which was very annoying. Then when we left the theater there were a few protestors with signs. One sign said something about the wrath of God.

John (laughing): It's just not compelling enough to make God angry.
Vicky: You're completely out of touch.
John: You mean because my mother was a Rosicrucian?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pentagon Plan to Attack Iran

US spells out plan to bomb Iran

IAN BRUCE, Defence Correspondent
May 16 2006

THE US is updating contingency plans for a non-nuclear strike to cripple Iran's atomic weapon programme if international diplomacy fails, Pentagon sources have confirmed.

Strategists are understood to have presented two options for pinpoint strikes using B2 bombers flying directly from bases in Missouri, Guam in the Pacific and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.

RAF Fairford in Gloucester also has facilities for B2s but this has been ruled out because of the UK's opposition to military action against Tehran.

North Carolina 'Researchers' Fear The Daily Show

The Daily Show affects young voters

"According to a recent study published in the May issue of SAGE Publications' journal, American Politics Research, researchers conclude that young Americans' political views are negatively impacted by watching the popular The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, which airs late night on Comedy Central as a 'fake-news program.' "

'If young Americans learn about candidates via Jon Stewart,' the researchers conclude in the article, 'it is possible that unfavorable perceptions of both parties' nominees could form, ultimately keeping more youth from the polls. These implications for political participation should be explored further.' "

What utter hogwash. Young people too apathetic to vote do not watch Jon Stewart.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Karl Rove Indictment - May 14, 2006

It appears that everything is over but the public announcement.

Karl Rove Indicted on Charges of Perjury, Lying to Investigators

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald spent more than half a day Friday at the offices of Patton Boggs, the law firm representing Karl Rove.

During the course of that meeting, Fitzgerald served attorneys for former Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove with an indictment charging the embattled White House official with perjury and lying to investigators related to his role in the CIA leak case, and instructed one of the attorneys to tell Rove that he has 24 hours to get his affairs in order, high level sources with direct knowledge of the meeting said Saturday morning.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Bush Still Planning to Bomb Iran?

Larisa Alexandrovna writes that an air strike on Iran is still being planned. She doesn't mention the nuclear option, so one can assume that it really is 'off the table'. Despite the opposition in the military, this scenario doesn't seem far-fetched to me. It could be done with only the Air Force, which is the branch of the military most sympathethic to Bush's aims.

US military, intelligence officials raise concern about possible preparations for Iran strike

"Concern is building among the military and the intelligence community that the US may be preparing for a military strike on Iran, as military assets in key positions are approaching readiness, RAW STORY has learned.

'I would expect two or three aircraft carriers would be moved into the area,' Gardner said, describing what he thinks is the best way air strikes could be carried out without disengaging assets from US fronts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Two air-craft carriers are already en route to the region, RAW STORY has found. The USS Abraham Lincoln, which recently made a port call in Singapore, and the USS Enterprise which left Norfolk, Virginia earlier this month, are headed for the Western Pacific and Middle East. The USS Ronald Reagan is already operating in the Gulf."

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Gore vs. Jeb Bush in 2008?

NewsMax reports that Ann Coulter is delighted at the prospect of Gore being the Democrats' choice in 2008. (I shouldn't read anything she says - it fills my heart with too many bad feelings.) And W. announces that his brother Jeb would make a great President. That is a candidacy to delight the heart of any progressive - unfortunately, the Republicans aren't that stupid, and know that the Bush name in any future campaign would be the kiss of death.

Ann Coulter supports an Al Gore candidacy for the White House in 2008.

"Yes, you read that correctly.

The conservative firebrand author and columnist, appearing Monday on Fox News Channel, said Gore is just the right ticket for Democrats in the next race for the White House. [Editor’s Note: Get Ann Coulter's blockbuster new book "Godless: The Church of Liberalism" for an unbeatable price.]

'He is the perfect Democratic candidate,' Coulter said. 'The environmental crazies are really leading the pack in the Democratic Party. It used to be the abortion ladies, but the enviros are about to heave them off the boat because they haven’t helped them win elections.' "

Brother Jeb would make 'great' US president: Bush

ORLANDO, United States (AFP) -
President George W. Bush praised his brother, Florida governor Jeb Bush, as an "excellent" leader who would make a "great president" of the United States, according to news accounts.

"I think Jeb would be a great president. But it's up to Jeb to make a decision to run," Bush told reporters at a roundtable interview here with several Florida newspapers.

"I would like to see Jeb run at some point in time, but I have no idea if that's his intention or not," said the president, in comments published in the St Petersburg Times, and other dailies.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Tim Russert, Guardian of Beltway Civility

Glenn Greenwald dissects the Washington mentality with acid wit:

Investigations are so very rude and distasteful

"The national media has plainly embraced the idea that Congressional investigations of The President -- based on some sort of raucous and crazed notion that he did something wrong or that he's not a real good guy -- is just out-of-bounds, something that could be designed only to feed the rabid Leftist hatemongers and/or to seek vengeance, and is clearly not something that serious, mainstream, responsible national political figures could endorse.

The ironies here -- not to mention the hypocrisies -- abound. One of the principal reasons why investigations are so desperately needed into the various lawbreaking and corruption scandals is precisely because the media, with rare exception, have profoundly failed in its central function -- to serve as an aggressive adversarial check against the Government.

For the media to take this sort of etiquette-based stance against investigations -- to actually see investigations as some sort of uncouth breach of etiquette, an upsetting disruption (exactly how they saw Stephen Colbert's criticisms of the President) -- is just staggering. The media doesn't exist to do anything other than investigate and exert skepticism over the Government's statements and actions. They barely do that anymore, which is why we know so little about what this administration has done. The media is supposed to be inherently pro-investigation. It's intended to be an investigative body, to subject government conduct to aggressive scrutiny and be devoted to the exposure of information which the Government is attempting to conceal from its citizens. To listen to these media stars effetely condemn investigations as though they're something which only hateful, rabble-rousing radicals would want to pursue tells you all you need to know about how fundamentally broken the national media is."

Karl Rove Indictment News

MSNBC reporter: 'I am convinced that Karl Rove will, in fact, be indicted'

MSNBC's David Shuster:

Well, Karl Rove's legal team has told me that they expect that a decision will come sometime in the next two weeks. And I am convinced that Karl Rove will, in fact, be indicted. And there are a couple of reasons why. First of all, you don't put somebody in front of a grand jury at the end of an investigation or for the fifth time, as Karl Rove testified a couple, a week and a half ago, unless you feel that's your only chance of avoiding indictment. So in other words, the burden starts with Karl Rove to stop the charges. Secondly, it's now been 13 days since Rove testified. After testifying for three and a half hours, prosecutors refused to give him any indication that he was clear. He has not gotten any indication since then. And the lawyers that I've spoken with outside of this case say that if Rove had gotten himself out of the jam, he would have heard something by now. And then the third issue is something we've talked about before. And that is, in the Scooter Libby indictment, Karl Rove was identified as 'Official A.' It's the term that prosecutors use when they try to get around restrictions on naming somebody in an indictment. We've looked through the records of Patrick Fitzgerald from when he was prosecuting cases in New York and from when he's been US attorney in Chicago. And in every single investigation, whenever Fitzgerald has identified somebody as Official A, that person eventually gets indicted themselves, in every single investigation. Will Karl Rove defy history in this particular case? I suppose anything is possible when you are dealing with a White House official. But the lawyers that I've been speaking with who know this stuff say, don't bet on Karl Rove getting out of this.

Letter to George W. Bush from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

La lettre de Mahmoud Ahmadinejad à George W. Bush

Ahmadinejad's letter to Bush is an extraordinary document. CNN is presenting it as a "translation" Ahmadinejad’s letter to Bush, which is nonsense. It was clearly written in English by a man whose English is good, but not perfect. Here is the entire text:

Mr George Bush, President of the United States of America

For sometime now I have been thinking, how one can justify the undeniable contradictions that exist in the international arena -- which are being constantly debated, specially in political forums and amongst university students. Many questions remain unanswered. These have prompted me to discuss some of the contradictions and questions, in the hopes that it might bring about an opportunity to redress them.

Can one be a follower of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the great Messenger of God,

Feel obliged to respect human rights,

Present liberalism as a civilization model,

Announce one's opposition to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and WMDs,

Make War on Terror his slogan,

And finally, Work towards the establishment of a unified international community – a community which Christ and the virtuous of the Earth will one day govern,

But at the same time,

Have countries attacked;

The lives, reputations and possessions of people destroyed and on the slight chance of the … of a … criminals in a village city, or convoy for example the entire village, city or convey set ablaze.

Or because of the possibility of the existence of WMDs in one country, it is occupied, around one hundred thousand people killed, its water sources, agriculture and industry destroyed, close to 180,000 foreign troops put on the ground, sanctity of private homes of citizens broken, and the country pushed back perhaps fifty years.

At what price? Hundreds of billions of dollars spent from the treasury of one country and certain other countries and tens of thousands of young men and women – as occupation troops – put in harms way, taken away from family and love ones, their hands stained with the blood of others, subjected to so much psychological pressure that everyday some commit suicide ant those returning home suffer depression, become sickly and grapple with all sorts of aliments; while some are killed and their bodies handed of their families.

On the pretext of the existence of WMDs, this great tragedy came to engulf both the peoples of the occupied and the occupying country. Later it was revealed that no WMDs existed to begin with.

Of course Saddam was a murderous dictator. But the war was not waged to topple him, the announced goal of the war was to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction. He was toppled along the way towards another goal, nevertheless the people of the region are happy about it. I point out that throughout the many years of the … war on Iran Saddam was supported by the West.

Mr President,

You might know that I am a teacher. My students ask me how can theses actions be reconciled with the values outlined at the beginning of this letter and duty to the tradition of Jesus Christ (PBUH), the Messenger of peace and forgiveness.

There are prisoners in Guantanamo Bay that have not been tried, have no legal representation, their families cannot see them and are obviously kept in a strange land outside their own country. There is no international monitoring of their conditions and fate. No one knows whether they are prisoners, POWs, accused or criminals.

European investigators have confirmed the existence of secret prisons in Europe too. I could not correlate the abduction of a person, and him or her being kept in secret prisons, with the provisions of any judicial system. For that matter, I fail to understand how such actions correspond to the values outlined in the beginning of this letter, i.e. the teachings of Jesus Christ (PBUH), human rights and liberal values.

Young people, university students and ordinary people have many questions about the phenomenon of Israel. I am sure you are familiar with some of them.
Throughout history many countries have been occupied, but I think the establishment of a new country with a new people, is a new phenomenon that is exclusive to our times.

Students are saying that sixty years ago such a country did no exist. The show old documents and globes and say try as we have, we have not been able to find a country named Israel.

I tell them to study the history of WWI and II. One of my students told me that during WWII, which more than tens of millions of people perished in, news about the war, was quickly disseminated by the warring parties. Each touted their victories and the most recent battlefront defeat of the other party. After the war, they claimed that six million Jews had been killed. Six million people that were surely related to at least two million families.

Again let us assume that these events are true. Does that logically translate into the establishment of the state of Israel in the Middle East or support for such a state? How can this phenomenon be rationalised or explained?

Mr President,

I am sure you know how – and at what cost – Israel was established : Many thousands were killed in the process. Millions of indigenous people were made refugees. Hundred of thousands of hectares of farmland, olive plantations, towns and villages were destroyed. This tragedy is not exclusive to the time of establishment; unfortunately it has been ongoing for sixty years now.

A regime has been established which does not show mercy even to kids, destroys houses while the occupants are still in them, announces beforehand its list and plans to assassinate Palestinian figures and keeps thousands of Palestinians in prison. Such a phenomenon is unique – or at the very least extremely rare – in recent memory.

Another big question asked by people is why is this regime being supported? Is support for this regime in line with the teachings of Jesus Christ (PBUH) or Moses (PBUH) or liberal values? Or are we to understand that allowing the original inhabitants of these lands – inside and outside Palestine – whether they are Christian, Muslim or Jew, to determine their fate, runs contrary to principles of democracy, human rights and the teachings of prophets? If not, why is there so much opposition to a referendum?

The newly elected Palestinian administration recently took office. All independent observes have confirmed that this government represents the electorate. Unbelievingly, they have put the elected government under pressure and have advised it to recognise the Israeli regime, abandon the struggle and follow the programs of the previous government.

If the current Palestinian government had run on the above platform, would the Palestinian people have voted for it? Again, can such position taken in opposition to the Palestinian government be reconciled with the values outlined earlier? The people are also saying why are all UNSC resolutions in condemnation of Israel vetoed?

Mr President,

As you are well aware, I live amongst the people and am in constant contact with them --many people from around the Middle East manage to contact me as well. They do not have faith in these dubious policies either. There is evidence that the people of the region are becoming increasingly angry with such policies.

It is not my intention to pose to many questions, but I need to refer to other points as well.

Why is it that any technological and scientific achievement reached in the Middle East regions is translated into and portrayed as a threat to the Zionist regime? Is not scientific R&D one of the basic rights of nations.

You are familiar with history. Aside from the Middle Ages, in what other point in history has scientific and technical progress been a crime? Can the possibility of scientific achievements being utilised for military purposes be reason enough to oppose science and technology altogether? If such a supposition is true, then all scientific disciplines, including physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine, engineering, etc. must be opposed.

Lies were told in the Iraqi matter. What was the result? I have no doubt that telling lies is reprehensible in any culture, and you do not like to be lied to.

Mr President,

Don't Latin Americans have the right to ask, why their elected governments are being opposed and coup leaders supported? Or, why must they constantly be threatened and live in fear?

The people of Africa are hardworking, creative and talented. They can play an important and valuable role in providing for the needs of humanity and contribute to its material and spiritual progress. Poverty and hardship in large parts of Africa are preventing this from happening. Don't they have the right to ask why their enormous wealth – including minerals – is being looted, despite the fact that they need it more than others?

Again, do such actions correspond to the teachings of Christ and the tenets of human rights?

The brave and faithful people of Iran too have many questions and grievances, including : the coup d'etat of 1953 and the subsequent toppling of the legal government of the day, opposition to the Islamic revolution, transformation of an Embassy into a headquarters supporting, the activities of those opposing the Islamic Republic (many thousands of pages of documents corroborates this claim), support for Saddam in the war waged against Iran, the shooting down of the Iranian passenger plane, freezing the assets of the Iranian nation, increasing threats, anger and displeasure vis-à-vis the scientific and nuclear progress of the Iranian nation (just when all Iranians are jubilant and collaborating their country's progress), and many other grievances that I will not refer to in this letter.

Mr President,

September Eleven was a horrendous incident. The killing of innocents is deplorable and appalling in any part of the world. Our government immediately declared its disgust with the perpetrators and offered its condolences to the bereaved and expressed its sympathies.

All governments have a duty to protect the lives, property and good standing of their citizens. Reportedly your government employs extensive security, protection and intelligence systems – and even hunts its opponents abroad. September eleven was not a simple operation. Could it be planned and executed without coordination with intelligence and security services – or their extensive infiltration? Of course this is just an educated guess. Why have the various aspects of the attacks been kept secret? Why are we not told who botched their responsibilities? And, why aren't those responsible and the guilty parties identified and put on trial?

All governments have a duty to provide security and peace of mind for their citizens. For some years now, the people of your country and neighbours of world trouble spots do not have peace of mind. After 9.11, instead of healing and tending to the emotional wounds of the survivors and the American people – who had been immensely traumatised by the attacks – some Western media only intensified the climates of fear and insecurity – some constantly talked about the possibility of new terror attacks and kept the people in fear. Is that service to the American people? Is it possible to calculate the damages incurred from fear and panic?

American citizen lived in constant fear of fresh attacks that could come at any moment and in any place. They felt insecure in the streets, in their place of work and at home. Who would be happy with this situation? Why was the media, instead of conveying a feeling of security and providing peace of mind, giving rise to a feeling of insecurity?

Some believe that the hype paved the way – and was the justification – for an attack on Afghanistan. Again I need to refer to the role of media. In media charters, correct dissemination of information and honest reporting of a story are established tenets. I express my deep regret about the disregard shown by certain Western media for these principles. The main pretext for an attack on Iraq was the existence of WMDs. This was repeated incessantly – for the public to, finally, believe – and the ground set for an attack on Iraq.

Will the truth not be lost in a contrive and deceptive climate? Again, if the truth is allowed to be lost, how can that be reconciled with the earlier mentioned values? Is the truth known to the Almighty lost as well?

Mr President,

In countries around the world, citizens provide for the expenses of governments so that their governments in turn are able to serve them.

The question here is what has the hundreds of billions of dollars, spent every year to pay for the Iraqi campaign, produced for the citizens?

As your Excellency is aware, in some states of your country, people are living in poverty. Many thousands are homeless and unemployment is a huge problem. Of course these problems exist – to a larger or lesser extent – in other countries as well. With these conditions in mind, can the gargantuan expenses of the campaign – paid from the public treasury – be explained and be consistent with the aforementioned principles?

What has been said, are some of the grievances of the people around the world, in our region and in your country. But my main contention – which I am hoping you will agree to some of it – is : Those in power have specific time in office, and do not rule indefinitely, but their names will be recorded in history and will be constantly judged in the immediate and distant futures. The people will scrutinize our presidencies.

Did we manage to bring peace, security and prosperity for the people or insecurity and unemployment? Did we intend to establish justice, or just supported especial interest groups, and by forcing many people to live in poverty and hardship, made a few people rich and powerful – thus trading the approval of the people and the Almighty with theirs'? Did we defend the rights of the underprivileged or ignore them? Did we defend the rights of all people around the world or imposed wars on them, interfered illegally in their affairs, established hellish prisons and incarcerated some of them? Did we bring the world peace and security or raised the specter of intimidation and threats? Did we tell the truth to our nation and others around the world or presented an inverted version of it? Were we on the side of people or the occupiers and oppressors? Did our administration set out to promote rational behaviour, logic, ethics, peace, fulfilling obligations, justice, service to the people, prosperity, progress and respect for human dignity or the force of guns. Intimidation, insecurity, disregard for the people, delaying the progress and excellence of other nations, and trample on people's rights? And finally, they will judge us on whether we remained true to our oath of office – to serve the people, which is our main task, and the traditions of the prophets – or not?

Mr President,

How much longer can the world tolerate this situation? Where will this trend lead the world to? How long must the people of the world pay for the incorrect decisions of some rulers? How much longer will the specter of insecurity – raised from the stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction – hunt the people of the world? How much longer will the blood of the innocent men, women and children be spilled on the streets, and people's houses destroyed over their heads? Are you pleased with the current condition of the world? Do you think present policies can continue?

If billions of dollars spent on security, military campaigns and troop movement were instead spent on investment and assistance for poor countries, promotion of health, combating different diseases, education and improvement of mental and physical fitness, assistance to the victims of natural disasters, creation of employment opportunities and production, development projects and poverty alleviation, establishment of peace, mediation between disputing states and distinguishing the flames of racial, ethnic and other conflicts were would the world be today? Would not your government, and people be justifiably proud? Would not your administration's political and economic standing have been stronger? And I am most sorry to say, would there have been an ever increasing global hatred of the American governments?

Mr President, it is not my intention to distress anyone. If prophet Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Ishmael, Joseph or Jesus Christ (PBUH) were with us today, how would they have judged such behaviour? Will we be given a role to play in the promised world, where justice will become universal and Jesus Christ (PBUH) will be present? Will they even accept us?

My basic question is this: Is there no better way to interact with the rest of the world? Today there are hundreds of millions of Christians, hundreds of millions of Moslems and millions of people who follow the teachings of Moses (PBUH). All divine religions share and respect one word and that is monotheism or belief in a single God and no other in the world.

The holy Koran stresses this common word and calls on all followers of divine religions and says: [3.64] Say: O followers of the Book! Come to an equitable proposition between us and you that we shall not serve any but Allah and (that) we shall not associate aught with Him and (that) some of us shall not take others for lords besides Allah, but if they turn back, then say: Bear witness that we are Muslims. (The Family of Imran).

Mr President,

According to divine verses, we have all been called upon to worship one God and follow the teachings of divine prophets. To worship a God which is above all powers in the world and can do all He pleases. The Lord which knows that which is hidden and visible, the past and the future, knows what goes on in the Hearts of His servants and records their deeds. The Lord who is the possessor of the heavens and the earth and all universe is His court. Planning for the universe is done by His hands, and gives His servants the glad tidings of mercy and forgiveness of sins. He is the companion of the oppressed and the enemy of oppressors. He is the Compassionate, the Merciful. He is the recourse of the faithful and guides them towards the light from darkness. He is witness to the actions of His servants, He calls on servants to be faithful and do good deeds, and asks them to stay on the path of righteousness and remain steadfast. Calls on servants to heed His prophets and He is a witness to their deeds. A bad ending belongs only to those who have chosen the life of this world and disobey Him and oppress His servants. And a good and eternal paradise belong to those servants who fear His majesty and do not follow their lascivious selves.

We believe a return to the teachings of the divine prophets is the only road leading to salvation. I have been told that Your Excellency follows the teachings of Jesus (PBUH), and believes in the divine promise of the rule of the righteous on Earth.

We also believe that Jesus Christ (PBUH) was one of the great prophets of the Almighty. He has been repeatedly praised in the Koran. Jesus (PBUH) has been quoted in Koran as well; [19,36] And surely Allah is my Lord and your Lord, therefore serves Him; this is the right path, Marium.

Service to and obedience of the Almighty is the credo of all divine messengers.

The God of all people in Europe, Asia, Africa, America, the Pacific and the rest of the world is one. He is the Almighty who wants to guide and give dignity to all His servants. He has given greatness to Humans.

We again read in the Holy Book: The Almighty God sent His prophets with miracles and clear signs to guide the people and show them divine signs and purify them from sins and pollutions. And He sent the Book and the balance so that the people display justice and avoid the rebellious.

All of the above verses can be seen, one way or the other, in the Good Book as well.

Divine prophets have promised: The day will come when all humans will congregate before the court of the Almighty, so that their deeds are examined. The good will be directed towards Haven and evildoers will meet divine retribution. I trust both of us believe in such a day, but it will not be easy to calculate the actions of rulers, because we must be answerable to our nations and all others whose lives have been directly or indirectly effected by our actions.

All prophets, speak of peace and tranquillity for man – based on monotheism, justice and respect for human dignity.

Do you not think that if all of us come to believe in and abide by these principles, that is, monotheism, worship of God, justice, respect for the dignity of man, belief in the Last Day, we can overcome the present problems of the world – that are the result of disobedience to the Almighty and the teachings of prophets – and improve our performance?

Do you not think that belief in these principles promotes and guarantees peace, friendship and justice?

Do you not think that the aforementioned written or unwritten principles are universally respected?

Will you not accept this invitation? That is, a genuine return to the teachings of prophets, to monotheism and justice, to preserve human dignity and obedience to the Almighty and His prophets?

Mr President, History tells us that repressive and cruel governments do not survive. God has entrusted The fate of man to them. The Almighty has not left the universe and humanity to their own devices. Many things have happened contrary to the wishes and plans of governments. These tell us that there is a higher power at work and all events are determined by Him.

Can one deny the signs of change in the world today? Is this situation of the world today comparable to that of ten years ago? Changes happen fast and come at a furious pace.

The people of the world are not happy with the status quo and pay little heed to the promises and comments made by a number of influential world leaders. Many people around the world feel insecure and oppose the spreading of insecurity and war and do not approve of and accept dubious policies.

The people are protesting the increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots and the rich and poor countries.

The people are disgusted with increasing corruption. The people of many countries are angry about the attacks on their cultural foundations and the disintegration of families. They are equally dismayed with the fading of care and compassion. The people of the world have no faith in international organisations, because their rights are not advocated by these organisations.

Liberalism and Western style democracy have not been able to help realize the ideals of humanity. Today these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ideology and thoughts of the liberal democratic systems.

We increasingly see that people around the world are flocking towards a main focal point – that is the Almighty God. Undoubtedly through faith in God and the teachings of the prophets, the people will conquer their problems. My question for you is : Do you not want to join them?

Mr President,

Whether we like it or not, the world is gravitating towards faith in the Almighty and justice and the will of God will prevail over all things.

Vasalam Ala Man Ataba'al hoda
Mahmood Ahmadi-Najad President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Problem Is Loyalty

Cut and Run? You Bet.

Lt. Gen. William E. Odom, professor at Yale and director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988, argues that a civil war in Iraq began weeks after U.S. forces toppled Saddam; that we are doomed to pay the price of encouraging the terrorists, whether we leave or stay, because our invasion made Iraq safe for them; that withdrawal would improve U.S. credibility around the world; that invading Iraq was not in the interests of the United States - but it was in the interests of Iran and al Qaeda. And much more.

"Before U.S. forces stand down, Iraqi security forces must stand up.

The problem in Iraq is not military competence. The problem is loyalty. To whom can Iraqi officers and troops afford to give their loyalty? The political camps in Iraq are still shifting. So every Iraqi soldier and officer risks choosing the wrong side. As a result, most choose to retain as much latitude as possible to switch allegiances. All the U.S. military trainers in the world cannot remove that reality. But political consolidation will. Political power can only be established via Iraqi guns and civil war, not through elections or U.S. colonialism by ventriloquism."

America Is Very Heavy

On Bombing Iran and Other Fantasies of American Power
"This Is Our Destiny"
By Tom Engelhardt

"Consider the embassy we're building inside Baghdad's Green Zone. It's the size of Vatican city, will have its own apartment buildings (six of them) for its staff of perhaps 5,500 (all that diplomatic heavy-lifting), its own electricity, well-water, and waste-treatment facilities to guarantee '100 percent independence from city utilities,' not to speak of the 'swimming pool, gym, commissary, food court and American Club, all housed in a recreation building.' And unlike just about every other reconstruction project in the country, it's going up efficiently and on schedule.

In fact, reports the London Times' Daniel McGrory, it drives Baghdad residents wild to watch what they call, in mock-honor of Saddam Hussein's famously self-glorifying building projects, 'George W's palace,' as it rises on the banks of the Tigris River, while their lives crumble around them. It will be bermed, 'hardened,' and have its own defense force (just like the Vatican!). A citadel inside a citadel, this one is clearly meant for the ages. Talk about preponderant! Talk about signaling who we think is in command in Iraq! How sensible to establish our diplomatic position in relation to our Iraqi 'partner' by erecting the ziggurat of ziggurats. Imagine, as Iraq disintegrates, our soldiers (and their attendant KBR workers) living in blissful, Pizza-Hut isolation on our little, well-fortified American islands. Do you really think that's likely to last long?"

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Foreign Policy in Tehran

This high-octane rocket-rattling against Tehran is unlikely to succeed

The Bush administration appears to be psyching itself up for a safe strike against Iran either by itself or via the Israelis, whose new leaders have referred to the Iranian president as a psychopath and a new Hitler. Why has Washington manufactured this crisis? The hypocrisy of Bush, Blair, Chirac or Olmert - their own states armed with thousands of nuclear weapons - making a casus belli of what are, by all accounts, primitive gropings on Iran's part towards the technology necessary for the lowest grade of nuclear self-defence, hardly needs to be spelled out. So long as these powers are allowed to enlarge their nuclear armouries unimpeded, why should Tehran not?

The country is not only ringed by atomic states (India, Pakistan, China, Russia, Israel), it also faces a string of American bases with potential or actual nuclear stockpiles in Qatar, Iraq, Turkey, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. Nuclear-armed US aircraft carriers and submarines patrol the waters off its southern coast. Historically, Iran has every reason to fear outside threats. Its elected government was overthrown with covert Anglo-American aid in 1953, and the secular opposition destroyed. From 1980 to 1988, the western powers abetted Saddam Hussein's onslaught, in which hundreds of thousands of Iranians died. More than 300 Iraqi missiles were launched at Iranian cities and economic targets, especially the oil industry. In the war's final stages, the US destroyed nearly half the Iranian navy in the Gulf and, for good measure, shot down a crowded civilian passenger plane.

The Truthiness Hurts

The Truthiness Hurts

The best analysis I've read of Stephen Colbert's Saturday night performance at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner is by Michael Scherer, at Salon.com.

"A day after he exploded his bomb at the correspondents dinner, Colbert appeared on CBS's '60 Minutes,' this time as himself, an actor, a suburban dad, a man without a red and blue tie. The real Colbert admitted that he does not let his children watch his Comedy Central show. 'Kids can't understand irony or sarcasm, and I don't want them to perceive me as insincere,' Colbert explained. 'Because one night, I'll be putting them to bed and I'll say ... 'I love you, honey.' And they'll say, 'I get it. Very dry, Dad. That's good stuff.' '

His point was spot-on. Irony is dangerous and must be handled with care. But America can rest assured that for the moment its powers are in good hands. Stephen Colbert, the current grandmaster of the art, knows exactly what he was doing.

Just don't expect him to be invited back to the correspondents dinner. "

Ricardo Sanchez Ordered Detainees "Broken"

US general urged "outer limits" Iraq interrogation

According to a 35-page May 19, 2004 Defense Intelligence Agency document obtained by the ACLU, Lt General Ricardo Sanchez ordered interrogators to "break the detainees."

"The DIA inspector general's office document, marked 'secret,' described an interview in which an officer, whose name was redacted, expressed 'knowledge of incidents relating to Iraq prison situation.'

It was written three weeks after the first pictures of U.S. forces abusing detainees at Abu Ghraib -- including beating them, stacking naked men in a pyramid and menacing them with snarling dogs -- became public in April 2004.

The officer, who headed a team of three to four interrogators, described a 35-page document detailing 'rules of engagement' for interrogators questioning prisoners in Iraq.

'The people were encourage (sic) to go to the outer limits to get information from the detainees by people who wanted the information,' the document stated.

It said Sanchez saw a 'desperate need' to get intelligence from the prisoners, adding that 'HQ (headquarters) wanted the interrogators to break the detainees.' "

Stephen Colbert Flees Washington

The Colbert Blackout

According to Lisa de Moraes in The Washington Post: "Comedy Central's faux news show host Stephen Colbert stupidly delivered a stingingly satirical speech about President Bush and those who cover him at Saturday's White House Correspondents' Association Dinner because 'he was under the impression they had hired him to do the thing he does on TV every night,' Jon Stewart quipped last night on his 'Daily Show.' "

Those terrific guys are still laughing:

"At this annual black-tie dinner, Stewart explained to his viewers, the White House and the correspondents who cover it 'consummate their loveless marriage.' . . .

"Colbert called it 'the greatest weekend of my entire life.' What some reported as a tepid reception to his patter was actually 'very respectful silence,' Colbert joked on his show last night. 'The crowd practically carried me out on their shoulders' -- albeit before he was ready to leave, he added."

Stewart also said he had "never been prouder" of Colbert, for delivering what he called "a 20 minute keynote address that I can only describe as balls-alicious."

When Colbert made his regular appearance on Stewart's show to promote his own, Stewart congratulated him on an "amazing weekend."

Colbert: "Thank you, Jon, I'm sure you are talking about all the weight I lost."

Stewart: "Is that because you had to run from Washington?"

Colbert: "It's like an ultramarathon, about 250 miles. In wing tips."

War On The World

Speaking of alliteration, here's a really good bit:

"We Americans have never outgrown the narcissistic notion that the rest of the world wants (or should want) to emulate us."

Tom Engelhardt has Exporting the American Model, Markets and Democracy by Chalmers Johnson on his blog today.

"We Americans have never outgrown the narcissistic notion that the rest of the world wants (or should want) to emulate us. In Iraq, bringing democracy became the default excuse for our warmongers -- it would be perfectly plausible to call them 'crusaders,' if Osama bin Laden had not already appropriated the term -- once the Bush lies about Iraq's alleged nuclear, chemical, and biological threats and its support for al Qaeda melted away. Bush and his neocon supporters have prattled on endlessly about how 'the world is hearing the voice of freedom from the center of the Middle East,' but the reality is much closer to what Noam Chomsky dubbed 'deterring democracy' in a notable 1992 book of that name. We have done everything in our power to see that the Iraqis did not get a 'free and fair election,' one in which the Shia majority could come to power and ally Iraq with Iran. As Noah Feldman, the Coalition Provisional Authority's law advisor, put it in November 2003, 'If you move too fast the wrong people could get elected.' "

This should be required reading for anyone still naive enough to believe that the Bushies invented American imperialism.

Interesting lists of United States military operations (Afghanistan and Iraq not included): I count 187 from 1882 to 2005. The names have changed from matter-of-fact (Siberia Expedition, Beirut Expedition, Smyrna Expedition) to creative (Nimrod Dancer, Praying Mantis, Blast Furnace) to bullshitty (Resolute Response, Noble Response, Present Haven):
US Military Operations

Personal Trivia

This morning while I was walking Chelsea, our 15-year-old, incontinent, arthritic and irresistible dog, she stopped to sniff at an unremarkable patch of grass. As usual. I remembered a hymn from childhood, and wanted to sing it aloud. Changed the words: "Onward polytheist soldiers, marching but for peace..." (I know, it sucks. But look at the alliteration!)