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"We don't seek empires. We're not imperialistic. We never have been. I
can't imagine why you'd even ask the question." Donald Rumsfeld,
questioned by an al-Jazeera correspondent, April 29, 2003.
"No one can now doubt the word of America," George W. Bush, State of
the Union, January 20, 2004.
February 14, 2:05
Human Rights Watch has weighed in
on the campaign to overthrow the Haitian government by violence. Their
press release quotes the Executive Director of the Americas division
saying "President Aristide must take immediate, constructive steps to
reestablish the rule of law and rebuild the country’s democratic
institutions" -- as if to suggest that the opposition-driven breakdown
of the rule of law is Aristide's fault.
The release also says, "Under international standards, the intentional
use of lethal force by
law enforcement officials is permissible only when strictly unavoidable
to protect life." This is a laudable standard, but one that no
government will abide by when there is a danger of armed insurrection
-- yes, perhaps if the government allowed the thugs to take over
without resisting, there would be no immediate loss of life, but
democracy would have gone right out the window.
So Human Rights Watch, in the face of a U.S.-engineered destruction of
Haitian order and attempted regime change, comes up with criticism only
of Aristide and his government. Not even a word to say about whether
U.S. intervention to fund and create the opposition is a violation of
Haitians' civil and political rights.
On the other hand, HRW did mention very clearly in its 2004 World
Report that the war on Iraq
was not a humanitarian intervention
1:30 pm EST.
According to the Associated Press, the resistance staged
a major raid
in Fallujah against a security compound, killing 20
members of the Iraqi security forces and freeing 100 prisoners. This is
the kind of attack that could quickly increase the popular base of the
resistance, unlike killing people standing in lines waiting for jobs or
gunning down cleaning women. It's even possible that a few
raids like this could catalyze mass action. Expect severe
collective-punishment-type reprisals from the U.S. occupying forces.
4:00 am EST.
A stunning revelation, from the LA Times -- Ex-Halliburton
Workers Allege Rampant Waste
. Halliburton's standard military
contracts are cost-plus -- and the plus is a percentage of the cost --
so they actually have a positive incentive to increase costs.
Ex-employees told of renting cars and truck for almost four times the
going rate, wasting money on monogrammed towels, and much more. Some
particularly striking examples:
The procurement supervisor mentioned other examples.
He said Halliburton had purchased several fire engines for $750,000
whose hose mountings did not match the hoses available in Kuwait. As a
result, a building burned down when firefighters could not connect a
hose to the fire engine, he said.
In another incident, the procurement supervisor said that Halliburton
had purchased 25 tons of nails that were too long for a construction
project. The nails were dumped in a fenced enclosure in the desert.
Imagine that: buildings burning down because there were no hoses to
attach to the extremely expensive firetrucks. It's the rare corrupt,
feckless Third World government that can match that level of absurdity.
It's pretty clear that the Iraqi people, if given a fraction of the
money Halliburton is being given for "reconstruction," could do a far
Lakhdar Brahimi, recently appointed U.N. special envoy to
with the United States that elections by June 30 are
not feasible. Interestingly, Ahmad Chalabi, favorite of the
neoconservatives, disagrees and his spokesman, Entifadh Qanbar, has
said that the Iraqi National Congress will prove that elections are
doable by then.
Of course, there is no technical impediment to having elections by
then. Countries with worse levels of internal violence routinely have
elections. On the other hand, it's definitely not a great idea to
have the elections, since there is no chance for a political process to
develop that will make elections meaningful while the occupation
continues. Furthermore, it should be understood that no Iraqi
government that comes to power under a U.S. occupation has any
pretension to legitimacy. U.S. control of the process would be far to
great for any pretense of fairness.
What's interesting is that the United States doesn't want to hold
artificial elections and try to take the easy path to legitimacy.
Apparently, this administration is not ready to take even the slightest
chance on elections anywhere. Perhaps the real reason they claim there
isn't enough time for elections in Iraq is that there isn't enough time
ChoicePoint to scrub
Iraq's voter rolls or to get Katherine Harris
chosen as Secretary of State by the Erbil caucus.
Israel has just decided
not to defend itself before the International Court of Justice on the
case of the apartheid wall. It claims that the ICJ has no jurisdiction
because the wall is a matter of internal security. This is laughable,
because, of course, the wall does not follow the internationally
recognized pre-1967 boundary of Israel, but cuts through the occupied
territories. If the ICJ has no jurisdiction here, then it should have
none on any international case.
Israeli intransigence here. bad as it is, is not as bad as that of the
United States, which since the 1986 decision on U.S. v. Nicaragua
(which found the United States guilty and ordered it to pay $17 billion
in damages) has refused to recognize that the ICJ has any jurisdiction
over the United States, period. When a case was brought against the
NATO nations over the Yugoslavia war, the ICJ didn't even issue a
ruling on the case against the United States.
I've just posted a new article, Bush
-- Cracks in the Ice?
, about the signs of a new political
opening, about Bush's vulnerability, and about what a re-emergent mass
should be doing. Public opinion is even more open to a new point of
view about U.S. foreign policy than it was before the war.
Bush seems to be newly vulnerable. A few signs:
- A new Washington
Post-ABC News poll shows approval for the war at 48%, Bush's job
approval at 50%, and belief that Bush lied or exaggerated about WMD at
- Alan Greenspan, for three years Bush's favorite
Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, has broken
with the administration and is calling for limits on tax cuts.
- The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence
to expand the purview of the new independent commission to include,
in an extremely limited way, administration deception. The Pentagon's
Office of Special Plans will be investigated, but ways the
administration used its material will not. Published statements of
administration officials can be viewed, but the commission doesn't have
subpoena power. Still, given that the Republicans
control the Senate, this is not insignificant.
Intriguing signs, although Bush has not yet begun to counterattack
This just in. The Bush administration is moving into the
endgame on its Haitian regime-change operation. That old staple of
foreign policy reporting, the senior State Department official speaking
on condition of anonymity, is reported
in the New York Times as saying, "When we talk about undergoing change
in the way Haiti is governed, I
think that could indeed involve changes in Aristide's position."
The reporting on Haiti has been enormously misleading and readers of
the mainstream U.S. media can be forgiven for not understanding that
the issue is of a coup against a democratically elected government with
significant popular support by a gang of brutal thugs who represent the
interests of the traditional Haitian elite. Aristide's government would
have even stronger support among the mass of Haitian poor had it not
been for the preconditions levied by the Clinton administration on his
1994 restoration, which included wholesale acceptance of IMF-style
structural adjustment and neoliberal "reform."
Virtually unreported in the media here is the fact that the thuggish
opposition has been put together largely by the International Republican Institute
Republican Party's portion of the National Endowment for Democracy
the 2002 Venezuela coup attempt).
There are allegations that Aristide supporters have committed
atrocities as well, although nothing on the scale of any past Haitian
government (all other recent ones were U.S.-supported). And, of course,
to put down a violent coup attempt, the government has to use violence.
Kevin Pina has written an excellent series of articles on the subject
for The Black Commentator.
am EST. Thirteen
in an Israeli invasion of the Gaza strip today.
When these things happen, they get reported. The larger underlying
story, however, the complete breakdown of life and even the basic
humanitarian situation, in the occupied territories, goes generally
unreported. The report
over the summer by Jean Ziegler, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right
of Access to Food, paints a horrific picture: the Israeli policy of
"closures" has resulted in a Palestinian population with over 60% in
poverty, two-thirds unemployed, 50% of families subsisting on one meal
a day, over 50% completely dependent on international food aid. Check
out the earlier Bertini
as well, which in the year after it was released was covered
once in a major newspaper in the United States.
Interestingly, the U.S. policy in Iraq of destroying the government and
putting in military search-and-destroy missions in its place (plus a
few cosmetic programs on the side) has led to 60% unemployment in Iraq,
althought the food situation is better.
February 10, 8:15
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is much in the
again because U.S. forces allegedly found a document written
by him in which he proposes to senior al-Qaeda leaders a massive
campaign to cause sectarian strife in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi, you may
remember, is a Jordanian militant who spent some time before the war in
Baghdad, getting his leg amputated, and was mentioned in Colin Powell's
famous February 5 presentation to the Security Council.
The reasoning was that since al-Zarqawi was allegedly a member of Ansar
al-Islam, an Islamist group operating in northern Kurdistan (outside of
Saddam's control) and since he had gone to a hospital in Baghdad,
therefore the Iraqi government had been planning the 9/11 attacks with
al-Qaeda -- even though Ansar's head, Mullah Krekar (living untouched
in Norway) denied any connection between al-Qaeda and Ansar.
Well, if these claims are true, we have one more self-fulfilling
prophecy. Before the war, al-Zarqawi was apparently unable to do much
operating in Iraq, and hadn't been involved in any attacks against
"U.S. interests." Now that the United States is occupying Iraq, he has
apparently been involved in numerous gruesome attacks, including the
attack on U.N. humanitarian headquarters in Baghdad and the
assassination of Grand Ayatollah Bakir al-Hakim at the Imam Ali mosque
(killing roughly 100 others in the process) -- and he's allying with
A stunning, and predictable, success of the "war on terror."
February 10, 8:30
More on Science Applications International Corporation,
from an article
in the New Yorker:
It is unclear what special expertise S.A.I.C. brings
to several of its contracts. One company executive, who asked not to be
named, said that its chief credential for setting up what was supposed
to be an independent media for Iraq, modelled on the BBC, was military
work in “informational warfare”—signal jamming, “perception
management,” and the like.
I think that says it all. Their qualification to set up something like
the BBC was experience in denying the enemy (read the people of Iraq)
information. There's an excellent
in the Guardian from a month back that explores this theme
further. A quote from that article:
Achieving information dominance according to American
military experts, involves two components: first, "building up and
protecting friendly information; and degrading information received by
your adversary". Seen in this context, embedding journalists in Iraq
was a clear means of building up "friendly" information. An
MoD-commissioned commercial analysis of the print output produced by
embeds shows that 90% of their reporting was either "positive or
neutral". The second component is "the ability to deny, degrade,
destroy and/or effectively blind enemy capabilities". "Unfriendly"
information must be targeted. This is perhaps best illustrated by the
attack on al-Jazeera's office in Kabul in 2001, which the Pentagon
justified by claiming al-Qaida activity in the al-Jazeera office. As it
turned out, this referred to broadcast interviews with Taliban
officials. The various attacks on al-Jazeera in Kabul, Basra and
Baghdad should also be seen in this context.
Of course, that "information dominance" approach is being applied
quite consistently here as well (absent the bombing of unfriendly
sources, but with severe pressure on some of them to recant). For
proof, I refer you to the transcript
of Bush's brilliant exercise in information denial on NBC's Meet the
This idea, if you take it seriously (and remember that in the
much-touted "full spectrum dominance" that the military types are going
for, the full spectrum refers to land, sea, air, space, and
information) explains the Soviet-style crudity of the administration's
February 9, 5:00
Here's a call
from MoveOn.org and
TrueMajority.com to, I kid you not, have Congress "censure President
for misleading the country
about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction."
MoveOn is apparently returning to its roots; it was founded in 1998
around the call to have Congress "censure President Clinton and move
on." So let's get this straight: Clinton engages in sexual harassment
and lies about it and MoveOn thinks he should be censured (in fact, he
was impeached), and Bush lies repeatedly and consistently for two years
to take the country into a blatantly illegal war and he deserves the
With enemies like this, Bush doesn't need friends.
February 8, 9:40
More on Science Applications International Corporation,
which failed so spectacularly in its attempt to create an Iraqi TV
station that would be notably different from Saddam's state TV. Apparently
it held 60% of Intesa, the "public-private" enterprise that runs
computerization and automation for PDVSA, Venezuela's national oil
company. During the strike by the
in late 2002 and early
2003, it is alleged, Intesa deliberately
the operations of the oil company by crashing the
Not surprising in a company with such luminaries as ex-US Secretaries
of Defense William Perry and Melvin Laird,
ex-directors of the CIA John Deutsch and Robert Gates, and former
Admiral Bobby Ray
Inman (ex-director of the National Security Agency) on its board.
February 8, 1:00
Got this from Joshua
: if you read the executive
creating the new WMD commission, you can see that the
commission's entire brief is to investigate the nonexistent
"intelligence failures" (as well as to look into similar issues for
Libya, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, etc.). There is to be no
investigation of administration pressure on the CIA, lies and
distortions of existing intelligence, etc. So the commission starts out
as a whitewash. And, to add insult to injury, it doesn't report until
vs. Dean SOU
2004: Myth and