Friday, September 28, 2007

A Letter from Iran

Here, courtesy of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks and offered as a contrast to what we see on popular news programs, is a letter from Iran to Columbia University’s president Lee Bollinger. They writers ask some interesting questions that will surely never be answered, but which shed light on the true nature of the conflict the U.S. is fomenting with Iran.
Iranian University Chancellors Ask Bollinger 10 Questions

TEHRAN (Fars News Agency)- Seven chancellors and presidents of Iranian universities and research centers, in a letter addressed to their counterpart in the US Colombia University, denounced Lee Bollinger's insulting words against the Iranian nation and president and invited him to provide responses for 10 questions of the Iranian academicians and intellectuals. The following is the full text of the letter.

Mr. Lee Bollinger
Columbia University President

We, the professors and heads of universities and research institutions in Tehran , hereby announce our displeasure and protest at your impolite remarks prior to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent speech at Columbia University.

We would like to inform you that President Ahmadinejad was elected directly by the Iranian people through an enthusiastic two-round poll in which almost all of the country's political parties and groups participated. To assess the quality and nature of these elections you may refer to US news reports on the poll dated June 2005.

Your insult, in a scholarly atmosphere, to the president of a country with a population of 72 million and a recorded history of 7,000 years of civilization and culture is deeply shameful.

Your comments, filled with hate and disgust, may well have been influenced by extreme pressure from the media, but it is regrettable that media policy-makers can determine the stance a university president adopts in his speech.

Your remarks about our country included unsubstantiated accusations that were the product of guesswork as well as media propaganda. Some of your claims result from misunderstandings that can be clarified through dialogue and further research.

During his speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad answered a number of your questions and those of students. We are prepared to answer any remaining questions in a scientific, open and direct debate.

You asked the president approximately ten questions. Allow us to ask you ten of our own questions in the hope that your response will help clear the atmosphere of misunderstanding and distrust between our two countries and reveal the truth.

1- Why did the US media put you under so much pressure to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from delivering his speech at Columbia University? And why have American TV networks been broadcasting hours of news reports insulting our president while refusing to allow him the opportunity to respond? Is this not against the principle of freedom of speech?

2- Why, in 1953, did the US administration overthrow the Iran's national government under Dr Mohammad Mosaddegh and go on to support the Shah's dictatorship?

3- Why did the US support the blood-thirsty dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iraqi-imposed war on Iran, considering his reckless use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers defending their land and even against his own people?

4- Why is the US putting pressure on the government elected by the majority of Palestinians in Gaza instead of officially recognizing it? And why does it oppose Iran 's proposal to resolve the 60-year-old Palestinian issue through a general referendum?

5- Why has the US military failed to find Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden even with all its advanced equipment? How do you justify the old friendship between the Bush and Bin Laden families and their cooperation on oil deals? How can you justify the Bush administration's efforts to disrupt investigations concerning the September 11 attacks?

6- Why does the US administration support the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) despite the fact that the group has officially and openly accepted the responsibility for numerous deadly bombings and massacres in Iran and Iraq? Why does the US refuse to allow Iran 's current government to act against the MKO's main base in Iraq?

7- Was the US invasion of Iraq based on international consensus and did international institutions support it? What was the real purpose behind the invasion which has claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives? Where are the weapons of mass destruction that the US claimed were being stockpiled in Iraq?

8- Why do America's closest allies in the Middle East come from extremely undemocratic governments with absolutist monarchical regimes?

9- Why did the US oppose the plan for a Middle East free of unconventional weapons in the recent session of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors despite the fact the move won the support of all members other than Israel?

10- Why is the US displeased with Iran's agreement with the IAEA and why does it openly oppose any progress in talks between Iran and the agency to resolve the nuclear issue under international law?

Finally, we would like to express our readiness to invite you and other scientific delegations to our country. A trip to Iran would allow you and your colleagues to speak directly with Iranians from all walks of life including intellectuals and university scholars. You could then assess the realities of Iranian society without media censorship before making judgments about the Iranian nation and government.

You can be assured that Iranians are very polite and hospitable toward their guests.

I think they could have come up with a few tougher, more revelatory questions, but perhaps their politeness got in the way. The question about our long running support for Saddam Hussein is one that I have often posed myself and to which I have never received anything like a satisfactory answer. Our support for whichever brutal dictator would say he was anti-communist or pro-American has always been and will always be despicable and definitely knocks us off our self-perceived moral high ground in the eyes of the rest of the world. And now to that ugly reputation we have added a new dimension –
pre-emptive war. Will we ever learn?

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Do you ever wonder just exactly what our national strategy is? A good way to begin answering that question is to examine the location of our military bases. They provide a pretty clear map of our intentions. For a meaningfully revealing discussion of the subject, you can hardly do better than to study the work of Chalmers Johnson. (If you've ever had any doubts as to whether America has designs on world control, this will be an eye opener.)

For an introduction to him, his research and his thinking, give this link a shot: It will take you to his article "America's Empire of Bases", a most informative essay.

From there, you might want to just Google the man and get into his many books. This is a well studied and thoughtful man with a solid understanding of America's goals and aspirations. Enjoy! (And learn!!)

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

A Fine Mess You've Gotten US Into

Over the past few days, I’ve been offering contrasts to General Patraeus’ report to Congress. Given that only 31% of the American people believe him and BushCo when they say the surge is working and we need to hold the course, it seems that Congress should be willing to put a stop to it.

So why don’t they?

I think you can lay it at the feet of political complacency. The Congress is made up of men and women who believe in the system. After all, the system got them to what they perceive as the top. If, they must ask themselves, the system is functional enough to recognize my greatness and put me in this position, how could you possibly find fault with it?

So, in the same way as so many of the still supportive citizens (though with much better personal reasons), they refuse to take action in the belief that since the system put this president into office, they owe their allegiance to him and his administration.

Our political parties have done a great job of instilling the notion that failure to support a war is unpatriotic, and that the government knows what is good for the people
better than the people know, that far too many people truly believe that the only way to be a good citizen is to shut up and salute.

The only way Congress will ever take action against this administration is if huge numbers of citizens take to the streets in protest of the horribly, wastefully bloody decisions dick and W make every day.

Is that going to happen? As Molly used to say to Fibber, “’Taint likely McGee.”

It’s too bad Iran’s Ahmedinejad is such a fool. If he didn’t continually blow it with his exaggerations and side-slipping comments he would be in an excellent position to have had an impact by speaking frankly to the UN as he did yesterday. It is obvious to everyone but the hardest of the hard liners that dick and W would love to take Iran out and that a lot of what he said is true. No one will act on his word, though, because he has blown his political capital with idiotic statements about the holocaust never happening and his refusal to deal openly with the UN about nuclear development.

It seems to me that the world is as badly in need of good leadership as are the U.S. and Iran because any solid world leader would stand up and denounce them both and then maybe they could be reined in. In the meantime all us little folks can do is rant and rave and rail against them in the hope that the Demorats might find some backbone.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nobody Believes Patraeus

Controversy continues to rage over the Patraeus Report between those who contend that as his is the official word and that of the military, it should be accepted, respected and acted upon and those who contend that the General has sold his allegiance to the president’s war to the detriment of his allegiance to his troops and his country.

The big question to me about the power of Patraeus’ report is how the American people respond to it. A recent CBS poll found that after Petraeus's testimony, the percentage of Americans who believe escalation is working fell from 35 to 31. An overwhelming majority of Americans favor a withdrawal from Iraq.

The popular media gives the public plenty of reports of what BushCo and Patraeus say. That’s why, for the past few issues of this blog, I have offered opinions and reports from the dissenting side, and today, I have another. This one comes from the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations more commonly known as the Unitarian Church. He wrote a letter to the U.S. Congress that you can read by following this link:

The thing that made his letter stand out to me, though, was the “Moral Balance Sheet” he attached to it. I think it has great impact.
The True Cost of War: A Moral Balance Sheet
One Day in Iraq

To date, more than 3,100 American military members have been killed in Iraq, and another 400 have been killed in Afghanistan. On average, another college-aged soldier (between the ages of 18 and 22) is killed every day.
The money the US spends on average in just one day in Iraq, $259 million, could have provided 22,615 college-aged students with a full year’s tuition or enrolled 35,500 three- and four-year-olds a full year in Head Start pre-school programs.
One Week in Iraq
The toll of the war on Iraqi civilians has been devastating. Estimates of the number of Iraqi dead range up to half a million.
As many as 3.8 million Iraqis have already fled their homes, and an additional 10,500 civilians become refugees on average every week.
The money spent in one week in Iraq could have provided three meals a day for nearly an entire year for 6 million children, the same number that dies from hunger and malnutrition every year.
One Month in Iraq
In addition to the tens of thousands of injuries American service members have sustained in fighting in Iraq, more than 500 have undergone “major amputations” – the loss of arms or legs. In the four years of fighting in Iraq, that totals ten servicemen and women losing a limb every month (or one every three days).
For less than the amount spent in one month in Iraq, New Orleans’ neighborhoods could be completely rebuilt and improved to meet standards that would better protect them against another hurricane.
One Year in Iraq
More than 34,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in Iraq in 2006 alone. That is equivalent to 93 civilians killed every day.
The money spent in Iraq in one year could have paid the health insurance premiums for half of all uninsured Americans, including all uninsured American children.
Four years in Iraq
More than 3,100 American service members have been killed since the invasion, and more than 23,500 soldiers have been wounded. As many as 300,000 veterans have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, two-thirds of whom are not being treated.
What could we have purchased with $400 billion, had our national priorities matched our moral potential?
We could have funded full American compliance in the Kyoto Protocol, which is estimated to cost $75 billion less than what we’ve already spent in Iraq.
We could have purchased life-giving treatment, including costly antiretroviral drugs, for every person in the world infected with HIV/AIDS. For almost six full years.
The Years Ahead
Even if it ends tomorrow, we will be paying for this war for decades to come. When we factor in the future costs of veterans’ medical care, disability payments, and the price of rebuilding our depleted military, the total cost could exceed $1.2 trillion.
Imagine what our world might look like in a few years if we had focused those resources on making the world healthier, wealthier, better educated, and safer.
As Americans, it is our duty to hold ourselves and our government accountable for any decision to spend American lives and money on a futile war. These are moral choices, and they have moral consequences.

As usual, Congress spent its time in political posturing instead of taking meaningful action in accord with the wishes of the people. From the Center for American Progress Action Fund ( )comes this little blurb (and the poll quote above):
IRAQ -- RIGHT WING CONTINUES TO OBSESS OVER MOVEON AD, OBSTRUCTS EFFORTS TO END WAR: While U.S. troop deaths in Iraq creep toward 4,000, conservatives are using MoveOn's recent Gen. David Petraeus ad to obstruct progress in ending the war. Last week, the Senate voted to approve Sen. John Cornyn's (R-TX) bill criticizing the ad. The "sense of the Senate" resolution "strongly" condemned the "personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus." But the senators who supported Cornyn's bill have previously chastised the Senate for engaging in "empty" and "meaningless resolutions." "We have just seen a procedure in the last 24 hours that was a colossal waste of time," said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) in July. Last week, President Bush used the opportunity to attack Democrats, stating, "Most Democrats are afraid of irritating a left-wing group like, or more afraid of irritating them than they are of irritating the United States military. That was a sorry deal." On CNN's Late Edition yesterday, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) responded, "Well, I thought it was pretty sorry when his campaign attacked Senator Kerry's record of service, and I thought it was pretty sorry when the Republicans attacked Senator Cleland. I don't condone attacks by anyone on the patriotism and service of our military." In the meantime, conservatives helped block the Levin-Reed amendment that would call for a withdrawal from Iraq.

Please keep poking your Congressmen and Senators with letters and calls to remind them of their duty to follow the will of the people. Why not send them a copy of te Moral Balance Sheet? This senseless and costly war must stop.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Monday, September 24, 2007

Patraeus or Betray Us?

Regular readers might remember an earlier blog in which I asserted that we ought to keep an eye on Basra because the British pull-out set up a test case for an American withdrawal.

This week-end I saw a report from David Enders whose work is being published by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting which has funded a project in which Enders, working with Richard Rowley, will produce a photojournalistic report on the state progress in Iraq. Enders appears to me have taken an in-depth look at the situation in Iraq in general, but one question focused on Basra specifically. He traveled there especially to assess the present state of security since the British withdrawal. So what did he find?

His visit was sanctioned and hosted by the governor of the region. Although Enders’ focus is photojournalism, he got no pictures because he was unable to go outside the governor’s house for the entire four days he was there. It was too dangerous to be on any street in Basra. In fact, he said, it was also too dangerous to film in Baghdad.

His overall picture of the state of the union in Iraq, in spite of U.S. reports – notably that of General Patraeus – was dismal. Asked what he expected the situation to be like in six months he said, “More of the same.” He felt this way, he said, because what he saw was militias fighting for control of whatever resources remain. He asserted that the central government had little control over anything. Instead, splintered sects control whatever they can win from other sects.

To top all this off, the U.S. is fanning the flames by arming any sect that will fight along side our troops. Since those fights shift from fighting with one sect to another based on which is in ascendancy in the fight for resources, we end up arming everybody. The picture he painted was one of insanity. Complete breakdown of central authority in Iraq exacerbated by American arms being handed out like candy.

In the meantime, the U.S. Congress has failed to act in any way to curb the BushCo expansion of this insane war. In fact, the strongest piece of legislation they produced last week was a condemnation of for placing an ad that called General Patraeus “General Betray Us”. Given the contrast between what Enders reported and what Patraeus says, I’d say that MoveOn wasn’t off base at all.

As long as the American a people continue to believe that problems can be solved by breaking out the six-shooters, we and the world will be faced with the kind of insanity our Congress continues to support in Iraq. It will be our children and grandchildren who pay the ultimate price for our blind support for BushCo’s attack on the Middle East. Hopefully something will stop them from taking us into war with Iran, but there are no good signs of that. Please help your neighbors to understand how that would devastate us, let alone the Middle East.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Leahy Amendment Fails

The vote was 56-43, short of the 60 ayes needed to cut off debate. The result is that detainees in military prisons are denied the right to protest that detention in federal court. What really gets me is the argument BushCo and the far right put up against the measure which is that habeas corpus has to be banned “. . . to stem the tide of legal protests flooding civilian courts.” – Springfield News-Leader, Nation/World Thursday, September 20, 2007 p. 9A

So . . ., we have arrested so many people that to grant them habeas corpus would flood the courts, therefore we can’t grant them habeas corpus. Now there’s a great line of reasoning - we have created a problem too big to solve, so we won’t apply the solution.

Never mind that they might be innocent. Never mind that they have served over five years without charges or trial.

Maybe we should apply that principle more broadly. As the good Republicans that we are, why don’t we officially (as opposed to the present tacit policy) declare that we have created so many poor people that we can no longer offer them any more social services? Or with regard to unemployment, we could declare that we have so many people out of work that we must abolish unemployment compensation and close down the state employment agencies.

Okay. Following that reasoning, why don’t we refuse to provide more funding for weapons development on the grounds that we already have enough to blow the world to smithereens? Or maybe we could cut off funding for the Iraq war on the grounds that escalation is the administration’s preferred approach and we can’t recruit enough soldiers to avoid having to station people in the war zone without a break?

Oh no, we can’t use that one. We just voted down a measure that would have required us to give people as much time in the states as we demand that they serve in Iraq, so if it’s okay that they have to serve 15 months for every 12 months off, we’ll just start leaving them there for the duration.

The issue is not national security, it is morality. If the U.S. cannot bring charges, it must release prisoners. Things are rarely that black and white, but in this case they are. We should not allow our nation to be a place in which people’s liberty can be taken away with no legal basis.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Supreme Gall

Recently, Terri Gross interviewed Jeffrey Tubin, CNN legal analyst and New York Times reporter, on her radio show “Fresh Air”. He has just released his book, “The Nine”, about the American Supreme Court.

I know Republicans get sick and tired of people like me going back through the entire history of the Bush Administration and dredging up all the muck, but this discussion made me remember once again why I have had my back up about BushCo since day one and not only that, but provided tons of justification for my feelings. His discussion of the process involved in the Gore v Bush decision was revealing and revolting.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy was visiting Florida to look at the voting process there when the question arose as to whether or not the Supreme Court would accept and hear Bush v Gore. He was adamant that the case would be heard.

The court did hear the case, and Justice Roberts issued the majority opinion in Bush’s favor. The nature of the decision? It hinged on, of all things, affirmative action with the decision being that W’s rights had been infringed upon because the voting process varies from place to place. Huh??! To top it off the last sentence, which absolutely enraged Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, declared that this was the only instance in which this finding would apply. In other words, the only possible recipient of the benefits of this decision was one person – George W. Bush. And that’s how W came into power. It’s enough to make you spit nails.

Another interesting anecdote was about Justice Sandra Day O’Connor who was initially a Bush supporter but ultimately came to despise the man and his administration. She was repulsed by John Ashcroft and the Iraq war. Some of her protestations were silenced for a day when the administration declared that she was on the wrong track about their attitude toward torture. She was assured that they would never condone or allow torture. That was the day before the Abu Ghraib story broke. It was also the day that she lost all respect for W. Sadly, she resigned her seat on the court to care for her husband who had come down with Alzheimers. Even more sadly, he soon passed into a condition beyond her ability to help him and she was left to watch him deteriorate and to watch powerlessly as BushCo continued to amass inappropriate executive power, abuse and torture prisoners and appoint Justices Alito and Roberts to the Supreme Court.

I hope I live long enough to see W and dick pay for their crimes against this nation and the world and to see the Supreme Court once again become a body that decides cases without regard to political loyalties.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Senator Leahy is Right

Today’s Senate agenda contains an item put forward by Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont that is extremely important to America’s standing in the world, the problem is that it could be presented in a better package.

Senator Leahy has made it his mission to restore Habeas Corpus to the American justice system. People detained in Guantanamo Bay and a few lesser known sites around the world by the U.S. as enemy combatants have been denied the right of Habeas Corpus – i.e. the right to have representation and hear the charges against them.

Proponents of holding prisoners the way we have at Gitmo say that our enemies don’t deserve due process, and that the U.S. has never extended Habeas to such prisoners during wartime. As NPR’s Morning Edition pointed out today, this is not true. America did extend Habeas to German saboteurs captured during WWII. Then after the war, acting against the wishes of people like Winston Churchill who advocated summary execution rather than trial, the United States wanted the opportunity to demonstrate to the world the power of fair justice and insisted on holding the Nuremberg Trials. The result was the same, but allowing the defendants to hear the charges against them and state their defense gave the trial judges the high moral ground over defendants who had summarily executed so many innocent victims. By the time the trials were over, the entire world knew that the defendants were guilty.

By contrast, the hundreds of prisoners held in Gitmo today have not been charged with nor proven guilty of anything other than the blanket accusation that they are enemies of the United States of America. Many if not most of those prisoners have been held there for over five years without charges.

In a nation which holds other nation’s feet to the fire for human rights violations, this is unconscionable. Colin Powell has spoken out even more harshly than Leahy, saying that he would close Guantanamo Bay immediately.

Senator Leahy’s desire to obtain justice for these prisoners and thus to begin to restore America’s standing as a nation that believes in the rights of man is laudable and should be supported. The problem comes when you realize that he amendment he put forward to achieve this goal is attached to a bill to fund support for the men and women we have stationed in Iraq, and President Bush has said he will veto that bill if the amendment is attached.

In my view, the military has plenty of money in its “black” budget to provide whatever support our troops need, so the bill ought to be presented to Bush with the amendment attached. Let Bush be the one who denies the funds to the troops. Let Bush be the one standing alone in defense of inhumane treatment of prisoners held by America. Let Bush continue to show his *** to the world while the rest of us try to rein him in.

If you agree, call or email your Senators today and tell them so. If there are valid reasons to hold these people in prison, then let’s hold them, but let’s not do so without proving that our reasons are valid. Otherwise we are no better than the Nazis or the Communists who imprisoned so many people without justification in earlier times. The America I believe in would not do that for one minute, let alone five years. I think that’s the America all true patriots believe in, and it’s high time we reinstated our national dignity and honor. Reinstating Habeas Corpus for these prisoners is just the first step.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

U,S, Foreign Policy in One Word

Before we get into the meat of today's edition, just a bit more from Alan Greenspan. In addition to his criticisms of BushCo, he stated yesterday that the current crop of candidates' call for universal health care is irresponsible in the face of economic reality.

He's may be right in the face of the massive debt created by this amazingly wasteful war and BushCo's corporation friendly tax cuts, but when BushCo took over we had a surplus that could have helped finance some domestic imrovements. One of the ways Clinton was able to bring us to surplus status was by reducing military expenditures, and it is high time we examined our national paranoia in order to get over the habit of handing our "protectors" blank checks backed by tax dollars. This country so far outspends every other nation on earth that we have been able to become the world's bully. It is time we stopped.

Here's an idea for Congress. How about passing a law to put a list of national budget expense headings on the tax return so that each taxpayer can designate the percentage of his/her money to be spent on each category? Now that would be true democracy.


Once in a while, a good friend from Minnesota sends out jewels of political writing he comes across. They are often satirical, but this one is a straight essay that puts the finger on one of our most visible national traits. I hope you'll enjoy:


by Syl Jones
Published: September 17, 2007

We are large; we contain multitudes -- of ugly examples.

The winner of the Most Arrogant Nation In The World award is clearly the United States of America. We are arrogant in our dealings with sovereign nations like Iraq. We are arrogant toward our own citizens. We are arrogant in assuming that we have a special place in history. We are arrogant in believing that all nations want and need our kind of democracy. So, let's all reach around and pat ourselves on the back. We've won. "Arrogance Is U.S.," and the whole world knows it.

We insisted on putting our massive footprint in the heart of the Middle East, where we don't belong. Arrogance. We lied to the world about WMDs, about a link between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein and about our real purpose in Iraq, for political reasons. Arrogance. We proclaimed that we'd be welcomed as liberators. Arrogance. We told the world that we were fighting them "over there" so we don't have to fight them "over here." More arrogance.

We sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan without the needed armaments and equipment. We told soldiers who spilled their blood on foreign soil that, "You go to war with the Army you have, not the Army you want." Supreme arrogance. We disbanded the Iraqi army and put 100,000 armed men out of work, further destabilizing the nation. Incompetence and arrogance.

Far from following the advice of those on the ground, as President Bush has repeatedly claimed, we ignored and vilified Gen. Eric Shinseki for saying that we needed at least 250,000 troops to stabilize Iraq. Total arrogance. We didn't start planning an interim government for Iraq until 50 days before the invasion. We allowed sacred and historic sites in Iraq to be looted while our troops stood by and watched. Unforgivable arrogance.

Everywhere we look in this war, the United States is on the defensive not because the enemy is overwhelmingly strong but because we were unprepared. Now, the president has announced modest troop withdrawals in order to buy time for himself and for his failed policy of converting Iraq into a democracy on the backs of American soldiers. No, scratch that. The goal keeps changing. We'll settle for a brokered cessation of hostilities between the rival militias and movement toward a functional coalition government. Absolute arrogance.

Furthermore, we have no intention of leaving Iraq -- ever. We are building the largest embassy in the history of the world in Baghdad. We will maintain a military foothold there even after the militias have been subdued because our geopolitical interests are underneath the ground: oil. With friends like us, who needs enemies? We pedal arrogance 24/7 -- it's who we are.

Not that the American people are bad -- heavens, no. We don't want people to suffer. But we're willing to abdicate moral responsibility for military adventurism to leaders who don't have a clue, Republicans and Democrats alike. The terrorist masterminds of 9/11 aren't in Iraq. They are in Pakistan and Afghanistan, operating with the protection of the simple peasant folk who hide them. What malady other than arrogance would make us think that the misdirection in which we are engaged in Iraq will help us capture Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice?

Finally, the misappropriation of language, a hallmark of totalitarianism, is another sign of our arrogance. Starting now, I'm taking the language back from its abusers. The "surge" is an escalation of an ill-fated, badly planned and executed war. The "homeland" -- a vaguely melodramatic term straight out of the Nazi Dictionary of Manipulative Phrases -- means the nation in which we happen to live. "Vietnam" is a war we fought to prop up an anticommunist dictatorship, and it took over 50,000 American lives. "AWOL" is where Bush resided during part of that war. "Five deferments" refers to Dick Cheney's ticket out of the Vietnam War. And "Mission Accomplished" means we didn't do our homework.

The fact that we do not seem to grasp these concepts does, indeed, make us look like the most arrogant nation on earth. If that assessment proves to be true, then the outcome will be more tragedy, less safety at home and abroad, and a resurgence of international scorn.

Syl Jones, of Minnetonka, is a journalist, playwright and communications consultant.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Monday, September 17, 2007

Greenspan Speaks Out

More and more right wingers are speaking out about their dissatisfaction with the Bush Administration. I quoted some last week, but over the past few days one of the true Republican heavyweights spoke out loud and clear.

Alan Greenspan, out hawking his new book,"The Age of Turbulence", is telling the nation that he was appalled by the administration's refusal to phase out the tax cuts that have added so much to our drastically deepening deficits. Making it clear that he remains a conservative and a Republican - though the press seems dedicated to shifting his loyalties to Libertarian - Greenspan also told 60 Minutes that, in spite of the Lewinski mess, he had come to admire the presidency of Bill Clinton who's excellent management brought the nation to a budget surplus and who's quest for knowledge lent great flexibility to his statesmanship. The contrast of that attribute to the narrow stubbornness of W was unspoken, but loud enough to shatter glass.

Greenspan wasn't entirely silent on dick Cheney, though. His disgust for that particular cretin was clearly stated,

Even the blathering Repulsicans on the hill have begun pulling away from the president and his idiocies. Could it be that even our local righties will ever see and declare their distaste for the greedy fools that they have insisted on supporting over the past seven years?

At some point, everyone who seriously considers national affairs must come to see how much damage this crew has done both to the U.S. and to the world. And if so, then what? Where do we go from here?

It seems to me that the silver lining in the cloud we've been living under since 2000 is that when the greed and evil become so clearly apparent, people tend to act to prevent its return. Hitler did that for the world. Joe McCarthy did it for America. My great hope is that George W. Bush and dick Cheney have done it again.

Let us do all that we can to help shift the nation's focus from world dominance to cooperative world peace. Let us shift the nation's focus from securing control of petroleum resources to securing control of ourselves and our gluttony; to creating new levels of conservation; and to creating new sources of sustainable energy and commerce. Let us shift the political focus from the idea that one party or another should have total dominance to the idea that we can identify mutual goals and work together to achieve them. And let us shift our personal focus from the individual quest for wealth and comfort to mutual respect and community security by shifting our national focus from amassing power and military might to caring for the needs of all of our own citizens. From that communal comfort could come true patriotic fervor - not support for America to be the biggest bully on the block, but support for the well-being of all peoples.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Continuing Drums of War on Iran

Continuing Drums of War on Iran

I suppose I should be talking about Bush's speech of last night, but he just said what we all knew he would. Yada, yada, yada. At least he was honest enough to reveal his desire to commit us to another 50 or 60 years there.

You won’t often get links to FOX news on this site, but this one is too important to pass by. Combine it with the others on this page, think it all through and then take some kind of action. PLEASE!!

U.S. Officials Begin Crafting Iran Bombing Plan:

A recent decision by German officials to withhold support for any new sanctions against Iran has pushed a broad spectrum of officials in Washington to develop potential scenarios for a military attack on the Islamic regime, FOX News confirmed Tuesday.,2933,296450,00.html

Some folks have been working against this for a long time:

Don't Let The Dogs Out! Don't Bomb Iran! :

Bush has 14 months to go, and it appears that he wants to start World War III.:

Others have been sneaking around trying to look like thinkers:

US Senator asks for Iran invasion :

"Is it time to give you authority, in pursuit of your mission in Iraq, to pursue those Iranian Quds Force operations in Iranian territory, in order to protect American troops in Iraq," Lieberman asked at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

And others have figured out what this is all about. (Many people don’t know it, but Saddam was pushing hard for the world to accept the Euro as the world currency for the oil trade.)

Analysis: Iran moves to ditch U.S. dollar:

Faced with U.S. economic sanctions and a weak dollar, Tehran is demanding foreign energy companies do business in yen and euros, despite increasingly desperate need for investment.

Thanks to Dave Davison of the Peace Network of the Ozarks for grouping these articles in such meaningful fashion. Vigilance like this is what it takes to get the big picture, and this really paints it in full color.

Will the day ever come when Washington, D.C. is not dominated by madmen whose lust for the economic dominance outweighs their humanity?

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Changing American Politics

Just a quick further word about Patreaus’ testimony before Congress. A little quirk in all the discussion struck me, but I haven’t heard it discussed by anyone, so thought I’d throw it out here.

Quite a lot of emphasis has been put on the idea that Iraq would become an Al Qaida training ground or even stronghold if we pull out. However, people who said that, whether they were questioners or witnesses, also pointed out that part of the progress made in Anbar Province was due to local Sheiks deciding to side with American troops against Al Qaida. Question: If local leaders don’t want Al Qaida, why should we assume that Al Qaida will be accepted if we leave? It may be the mutual enemy that could unite the various sects of Iraqis if they had a target other than us.

Are you sick enough of the double-talk to vote them all out next fall? If so, you really ought to explore Unity08.

Here’s a link to a report on a very interesting and well constructed survey circulated by Unity08. I have been a member of Unity08 since its inception and took the survey thinking that probably most members tended toward the liberal end of the scale.

This survey reveals that I was wrong. In fact most of those who completed the survey leaned toward the Republican side of things. The results just go to show that, if the two sides could just sit down and quietly discuss things, we would all find that we are not very far apart in our opinions of how things are going.

Please take a look and, if you think it has merit, route this survey around to friends on both sides of the aisle. It just might generate some discussions that will turn out to be valuable.

Also, please consider signing up for Unity08. They really are breaking new ground and it has promise. They might even be able to field a choice we could vote for in ’08.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Corrections to the People's Report

I received the following in relation to the reference I gave you in this morning's blog.

We found a few mistakes in the documents we sent you on Monday: Iraq - The People's Report. Those mistakes have been corrected and are available on the UFPJ web site through these links:

As we explained before, there are two versions available in order to help faciliate the downloading and copying of this report. One version is 4 sides, each one on an 8 1/2x11" sheet of paper and the other one is 2 sides (this you will have to staple), each on an 11x17 sheet of paper (this you will just need to fold).

With two days of testimony from Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker we are hoping that more and more people will be anxious to get the kind of information include in this People's Report. There is, of course, a great deal more to say, but this document includes information about the impact of the U.S. war and occupation on the lives of the Iraqi people, as well as the impact for us here at home.

We encourage you to reproduce this piece and distribute it as widely as possible. Feel free to also pass it along via the internet. And we apologize for any inconvenience offering these corrected versions might create for you.


Leslie Cagan
National Coordinator, UFPJ

Patraeus' Report or People's Report?

General Patraeus is busy on Capitol Hill testifying about the progress he says is being made in Iraq. Meanwhile, the group United for Peace has put together their picture of the “progress” being made there under the title, “The People’s Report”. If you haven’t seen it, please follow this link (

The contrasts are pretty stark. Which picture do you believe? What will you do about it?

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

BushCo Police State in the Works?

Here’s one I’ve been saving up for you. I hear more about this kind of stuff all the time from the liberal coal-mine canaries among the emailers I hear from. I don’t fully discount this stuff though, because I wouldn’t put anything past Bush-Cheney, and when an old timer like Roberts speaks out like this, maybe we would all do well to listen and be ready to hit the streets if this stuff begins to look more like reality. I decided to post it as a way of saying that given the history of BushCo, we should all be alert to the possibility that they might take the kind of drastic action described here.

Old-line Republican warns 'something's in the works' to trigger a police state
Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday July 19, 2007

Thom Hartmann began his program on Thursday by reading from a new Executive Order which allows the government to seize the assets of anyone who interferes with its Iraq policies.
He then introduced old-line conservative Paul Craig Roberts -- a former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan who has recently become known for his strong opposition to the Bush administration and the Iraq War -- by quoting the "strong words" which open Roberts' latest column: "Unless Congress immediately impeaches Bush and Cheney, a year from now the US could be a dictatorial police state at war with Iran."
"I don't actually think they're very strong," said Roberts of his words. "I get a lot of flak that they're understated and the situation is worse than I say. ... When Bush exercises this authority [under the new Executive Order] ... there's no check to it. It doesn't have to be ratified by Congress. The people who bear the brunt of these dictatorial police state actions have no recourse to the judiciary. So it really is a form of total, absolute, one-man rule. ... The American people don't really understand the danger that they face."
Roberts said that because of Bush's unpopularity, the Republicans face a total wipeout in 2008, and this may be why "the Democrats have not brought a halt to Bush's follies or the war, because they expect his unpopular policies to provide them with a landslide victory in next year's election."
However, Roberts emphasized, "the problem with this reasoning is that it assumes that Cheney and Rove and the Republicans are ignorant of these facts, or it assumes that they are content for the Republican Party to be destroyed after Bush has his fling." Roberts believes instead that Cheney and Rove intend to use a renewal of the War on Terror to rally the American people around the Republican Party. "Something's in the works," he said, adding that the Executive Orders need to create a police state are already in place.
"The administration figures themselves and prominent Republican propagandists ... are preparing us for another 9/11 event or series of events," Roberts continued. "Chertoff has predicted them. ... The National Intelligence Estimate is saying that al Qaeda has regrouped. ... You have to count on the fact that if al Qaeda's not going to do it, it's going to be orchestrated. ... The Republicans are praying for another 9/11."
Hartmann asked what we as the people can do if impeachment isn't about to happen. "If enough people were suspicious and alert, it would be harder for the administration to get away with it," Roberts replied. However, he added, "I don't think these wake-up calls are likely to be effective," pointing out the dominance of the mainstream media.
"Americans think their danger is terrorists," said Roberts. "They don't understand the terrorists cannot take away habeas corpus, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution. ... The terrorists are not anything like the threat that we face to the Bill of Rights and the Constitution from our own government in the name of fighting terrorism. Americans just aren't able to perceive that."
Roberts pointed out that it's old-line Republicans like himself, former Reagan associate deputy attorney general Bruce Fein, and Pat Buchanan who are the diehards in warning of the danger. "It's so obvious to people like us who have long been associated in the corridors of power," he said. "There's no belief in the people or anything like that. They have agendas. The people are in the way. The Constitution is in the way. ... Americans need to comprehend and look at how ruthless Cheney is. ... A person like that would do anything."
Roberts final suggestion was that, in the absence of a massive popular outcry, "the only constraints on what's going to happen will come from the federal bureaucracy and perhaps the military. They may have had enough. They may not go along with it."
The full audio of Thom Hartmann's interview with Paul Craig Roberts can be found here.

"Well, basically Russia and China, as well as France and the United Kingdom, will "provide immediate assistance" to Iran if it "is a victim of an act, or an object of a threat of, aggression in which nuclear weapons are used." Interesting, eh? So if Bush-Cheney bomb Iran, the other NPT members are required under international law TO DEFEND IRAN. That might be worth a follow-up to see if they honor that commitment.

Enjoy this story? Get headlines instantly with RSS.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Is This the Freedom Our Troops are Fighting For?

Regular readers will remember a few blogs I wrote about Adam Kokesh, an Iraq war veteran who was subject to military hearings for protesting the war.

Adam is back at the forefront this week on a YouTube video taken of his arrest while legally posting a notice of the September 15 march to take place in Washington, D.C. and around the country (including Springfield) in an attempt to show the national lack of acceptance of the BushCo version of the Patraeus report due that day.

It is already public knowledge (At least to NPR listeners) that Patraeus is not going to be allowed to present his own report. Even though it is largely supportive of the BushCo position, it wasn’t strong enough for BushCo, so they are rewriting it and presenting it to Congress themselves.

The event on the tape was an announced press conference in a public space so the event and the actions taken there were vetted by lawyers to ensure that nothing that was actually illegal would be taking place. The police reaction to it is extraordinary. Please watch this video (be patient, it takes a while for it to get up and running) and become even more aware of how free speech is suppressed in our country. Is this the freedom people say our soldiers are fighting for?

A similar reaction was put forward by the editors of the Springfield News-leader in the last week when they pointed the finger of shame at the three protesters from Code Pink who raised the impeach sign at the ball game. They were protesting the acts of our president, but the connection between patriotism and war is so close in peoples' minds that they immediately equated the protest with disrespect for the veterans present and villified the protesters even though their intent had nothing to do with the veterans. The protesters could undoubtedly have picked a better night to do this at the ballpark, but they were ultimately only exercising their rights of free speech. Is this the freedom we are told our troops are fighting for?

A march will be held in Springfield on September 15, as part of the effort Kokesh was arrested for. It will start at 9:00 am at Phelps Grove Park and proceed to the National Cemetery at Glenstone and Seminole. Due to a prior obligation, I will not be able to be there, but my spirit will. Please attend if it is possible for you to do so.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Friday, September 7, 2007

Withdraw or Increase the Surge?

News reports bounce back and forth between vilifying and supporting the idea of continuing the president’s surge in Iraq. During his Iraq visit, President Bush touted the reduced violence in Anbar Province as proof that the surge is working. Of course, he ignored the fact that while increased troops in Anbar have reduced violence by ½, violence has increased fivefold in Diala Province.

Additionally, the claim of decreased violence anywhere is questionable at best. That claim is carefully worded so that the count of deaths and casualties by only includes “sectarian” violence. The Army doesn’t count deaths by suicide and car bombers as sectarian violence so the count they are touting didn’t include little items like the 500 deaths in a single August bombing.

Increasing our troops in one area or another always causes a bulge in violence somewhere else. It happened with Fallujah and it happened with Baghdad. When we focus our attention on one area, insurgents simply move their base of operations to areas where our troop strength is thinner.

Well, you say, isn’t that an argument for increasing our troop strength to cover all of Iraq? The answer is yes it is, but it is only an effective argument if you accept two assumptions: one, that the U.S. has the troops available to increase strength all over Iraq to the levels the surge placed in Anbar Province and two, that an extremely large, permanent American force in Iraq is desirable. In my opinion, neither of these conditions is possible, let alone desirable.

No one seems to be talking about another obvious problem with Mr. Bush’s idea of continuing the surge and that is that as long as our ground troops are engaged in Iraq they are not available to protect us here at home. One of the war supporters’ catch phrases is, “Better to fight them there than to fight them here.”, but the fact is that Iraq never threatened us here. The foreign threat to America comes from expatriated Saudis who are now primarily located in Pakistan. We probably also have some home-grown terrorists who are more likely to blow up some public utilities or venues than to launch another 9-11 style attack. (See “Homegrown radicals emerging as threat”)

It appears to me that we should give troop reductions in Iraq serious consideration in order to 1) assure Iraqis that we really are not there as occupiers, 2) relieve the unholy pressure we have put on our troops by holding undefined tours of duty over their heads like Damocles’ sword, and 3) free up our National Guard to do the job for which they were formed. i.e. protect the nation.

It is high time to recognize that the surge is really a splurge in which our national resources (including that most precious resource the lives and well-being of our military men and women) are being thrown into the black hole of unnecessary war.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Nature of American Imperialism

By and large, Americans are unaware of our imperialistic policies. Just a few years ago a young friend I had watched grow from a boy of 12 to an amazingly talented military officer, husband and father, took such umbrage with my characterization of our policies as imperial that I have not heard from him since. That hurts deeply. I will always miss contact with Mike, but I can’t ignore the truth of the situation the way he can.

We have never had an American Napoleon or Richelieu – though I wonder if we do now – but we have always used our military to advance our economic policies in a very imperialistic way. Here is a rather extensive, but clear discussion of how and where we have done that.

America's Empire of Bases
by Chalmers Johnson

As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize -- or do not want to recognize -- that the United States dominates the world through its military power. Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire -- an empire of bases with its own geography not likely to be taught in any high school geography class. Without grasping the dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can't begin to understand the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order.

Our military deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other nations. To dominate the oceans and seas of the world, we are creating some thirteen naval task forces built around aircraft carriers whose names sum up our martial heritage -- Kitty Hawk, Constellation, Enterprise, John F. Kennedy, Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carl Vinson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, John C. Stennis, Harry S. Truman, and Ronald Reagan. We operate numerous secret bases outside our territory to monitor what the people of the world, including our own citizens, are saying, faxing, or e-mailing to one another.

Our installations abroad bring profits to civilian industries, which design and manufacture weapons for the armed forces or, like the now well-publicized Kellogg, Brown & Root company, a subsidiary of the Halliburton Corporation of Houston, undertake contract services to build and maintain our far-flung outposts.

One task of such contractors is to keep uniformed members of the imperium housed in comfortable quarters, well fed, amused, and supplied with enjoyable, affordable vacation facilities. Whole sectors of the American economy have come to rely on the military for sales. On the eve of our second war on Iraq, for example, while the Defense Department was ordering up an extra ration of cruise missiles and depleted-uranium armor-piercing tank shells, it also acquired 273,000 bottles of Native Tan sunblock, almost triple its 1999 order and undoubtedly a boon to the supplier, Control Supply Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and its subcontractor, Sun Fun Products of Daytona Beach, Florida.

At Least Seven Hundred Foreign Bases

It's not easy to assess the size or exact value of our empire of bases. Official records on these subjects are misleading, although instructive. According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and HAS another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require at least $113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases -- surely far too low a figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most countries -- and an estimated $591,519.8 million to replace all of them. The military high command deploys to our overseas bases some 253,288 uniformed personnel, plus an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense civilian officials, and employs an additional 44,446 locally hired foreigners. The Pentagon claims that these bases contain 44,870 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and that it leases 4,844 more.

These numbers, although staggeringly large, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally. The 2003 Base Status Report fails to mention, for instance, any garrisons in Kosovo -- even though it is the site of the huge Camp Bondsteel, built in 1999 and maintained ever since by Kellogg, Brown & Root. The Report similarly omits bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan, although the U.S. military has established colossal base structures throughout the so-called arc of instability in the two-and-a-half years since 9/11.

For Okinawa, the southernmost island of Japan, which has been an American military colony for the past 58 years, the report deceptively lists only one Marine base, Camp Butler, when in fact Okinawa "hosts" ten Marine Corps bases, including Marine Corps Air Station Futenma occupying 1,186 acres in the center of that modest-sized island's second largest city. (Manhattan's Central Park, by contrast, is only 843 acres.) The Pentagon similarly fails to note all of the $5-billion-worth of military and espionage installations in Britain, which have long been conveniently disguised as Royal Air Force bases. If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases in other people's countries, but no one -- possibly not even the Pentagon -- knows the exact number for sure, although it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years.

Our "Footprint" on the World

Of all the insensitive, if graphic, metaphors we've allowed into our vocabulary, none quite equals "footprint" to describe the military impact of our empire. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers and senior members of the Senate's Military Construction Subcommittee such as Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are apparently incapable of completing a sentence without using it. Establishing a more impressive footprint has now become part of the new justification for a major enlargement of our empire -- and an announced repositioning of our bases and forces abroad -- in the wake of our conquest of Iraq. The man in charge of this project is Andy Hoehn, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy. He and his colleagues are supposed to draw up plans to implement President Bush's preventive war strategy against "rogue states," "bad guys," and "evil-doers." They have identified something they call the "arc of instability," which is said to run from the Andean region of South America (read: Colombia) through North Africa and then sweeps across the Middle East to the Philippines and Indonesia. This is, of course, more or less identical with what used to be called the Third World -- and perhaps no less crucially it covers the world's key oil reserves.

Hoehn contends, "When you overlay our footprint onto that, we don't look particularly well-positioned to deal with the problems we're now going to confront."

Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by counting up colonies. America's version of the colony is the military base. By following the changing politics of global basing, one can learn much about our ever larger imperial stance
and the militarism that grows with it. Militarism and imperialism are Siamese twins joined at the hip. Each thrives off the other.
Already highly advanced in our country, they are both on the verge of a quantum leap that will almost surely stretch our military beyond its capabilities, bringing about fiscal insolvency and very possibly doing mortal damage to our republican institutions. The only way this is discussed in our press is via reportage on highly arcane plans for changes in basing policy and the positioning of troops abroad -- and these plans, as reported in the media, cannot be taken at face value.

Marine Brig. Gen. Mastin Robeson, commanding our 1,800 troops occupying the old French Foreign Legion base at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti at the entrance to the Red Sea, claims that in order to put "preventive war" into action, we require a "global presence," by which he means gaining hegemony over any place that is not already under our thumb. According to the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, the idea is to create "a global cavalry" that can ride in from "frontier stockades" and shoot up the "bad guys" as soon as we get some intelligence on them. (BR Comment – It is also enlightening to note that a great many of our bases are located along oil pipelines – particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq,)

"Lily Pads" in Australia, Romania, Mali, Algeria . . .

In order to put our forces close to every hot spot or danger area in this newly discovered arc of instability, the Pentagon has been proposing -- this is usually called "repositioning" -- many new bases, including at least four and perhaps as many as six permanent ones in Iraq. A number of these are already under construction -- at Baghdad International Airport, Tallil air base near Nasariyah, in the western desert near the Syrian border, and at Bashur air field in the Kurdish region of the north. (This does not count the previously mentioned Anaconda, which is currently being called an "operating base," though it may very well become permanent over time.) In addition, we plan to keep under our control the whole northern quarter of Kuwait -- 1,600 square miles out of Kuwait's 6,900 square miles -- that we now use to resupply our Iraq legions and as a place for Green Zone bureaucrats to relax.

Other countries mentioned as sites for what Colin Powell called our new "family of bases" include: In the impoverished areas of the "new" Europe -- Romania, Poland, and Bulgaria; in Asia -- Pakistan (where we already have four bases), India, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and even, unbelievably, Vietnam; in North Africa -- Morocco, Tunisia, and especially Algeria (scene of the slaughter of some 100,00 civilians since 1992, when, to quash an election, the military took over, backed by our country and France); and in West Africa -- Senegal, Ghana, Mali, and Sierra Leone (even though it has been torn by civil war since 1991). The models for all these new installations, according to Pentagon sources, are the string of bases we have built around the Persian Gulf in the last two decades in such anti-democratic autocracies as Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

Most of these new bases will be what the military, in a switch of metaphors, calls "lily pads" to which our troops could jump like so many well-armed frogs from the homeland, our remaining NATO bases, or bases in the docile satellites of Japan and Britain. To offset the expense involved in such expansion, the Pentagon leaks plans to close many of the huge Cold War military reservations in Germany, South Korea, and perhaps Okinawa as part of Rumsfeld's "rationalization" of our armed forces. In the wake of the Iraq victory, the U.S. has already withdrawn virtually all of its forces from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, partially as a way of punishing them for not supporting the war strongly enough. It wants to do the same thing to South Korea, perhaps the most anti-American democracy on Earth today, which would free up the 2nd Infantry Division on the demilitarized zone with North Korea for probable deployment to Iraq, where our forces are significantly overstretched.

In Europe, these plans include giving up several bases in Germany, also in part because of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's domestically popular defiance of Bush over Iraq. But the degree to which we are capable of doing so may prove limited indeed. At the simplest level, the Pentagon's planners do not really seem to grasp just how many buildings the 71,702 soldiers and airmen in Germany alone occupy and how expensive it would be to reposition most of them and build even slightly comparable bases, together with the necessary infrastructure, in former Communist countries like Romania, one of Europe's poorest countries. Lt. Col. Amy Ehmann in Hanau, Germany, has said to the press "There's no place to put these people" in Romania, Bulgaria, or Djibouti, and she predicts that 80% of them will in the end stay in Germany. It's also certain that generals of the high command have no intention of living in backwaters like Constanta, Romania, and will keep the U.S. military headquarters in Stuttgart while holding on to Ramstein Air Force Base, Spangdahlem Air Force Base, and the Grafenwöhr Training Area.

One reason why the Pentagon is considering moving out of rich democracies like Germany and South Korea and looks covetously at military dictatorships and poverty-stricken dependencies is to take advantage of what the Pentagon calls their "more permissive environmental regulations." The Pentagon always imposes on countries in which it deploys our forces so-called Status of Forces Agreements, which usually exempt the United States from cleaning up or paying for the environmental damage it causes. This is a standing grievance in Okinawa, where the American environmental record has been nothing short of abominable. Part of this attitude is simply the desire of the Pentagon to put itself beyond any of the restraints that govern civilian life, an attitude increasingly at play in the "homeland" as well. For example, the 2004 defense authorization bill of $401.3 billion that President Bush signed into law in November 2003 exempts the military from abiding by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

While there is every reason to believe that the impulse to create ever more lily pads in the Third World remains unchecked, there are several reasons to doubt that some of the more grandiose plans, for either expansion or downsizing, will ever be put into effect or, if they are, that they will do anything other than make the problem of terrorism worse than it is. For one thing, Russia is opposed to the expansion of U.S. military power on its borders and is already moving to checkmate American basing sorties into places like Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. The first post-Soviet-era Russian airbase in Kyrgyzstan has just been completed forty miles from the U.S. base at Bishkek, and in December 2003, the dictator of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, declared that he would not permit a permanent deployment of U.S. forces in his country even though we already have a base there.

By far the greatest defect in the "global cavalry" strategy is that it accentuates Washington's impulse to apply irrelevant military remedies to terrorism. As the prominent British military historian, Correlli Barnett, has observed, the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq only increased the threat of al-Qaeda. From 1993 through the 9/11 assaults of 2001, there were five major al-Qaeda attacks worldwide; in the two years since then there have been seventeen such bombings, including the Istanbul suicide assaults on the British consulate and an HSBC Bank.

Military operations against terrorists are not the solution. As Barnett puts it, "Rather than kicking down front doors and barging into ancient and complex societies with simple nostrums of 'freedom and democracy,' we need tactics of cunning and subtlety, based on a profound understanding of the people and cultures we are dealing with -- an understanding up till now entirely lacking in the top-level policy-makers in Washington, especially in the Pentagon."

In his notorious "long, hard slog" memo on Iraq of October 16, 2003, Defense Ssecretary Rumsfeld wrote, "Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror." Correlli-Barnett's "metrics" indicate otherwise. But the "war on terrorism" is at best only a small part of the reason for all our military strategizing. The real reason for constructing this new ring of American bases along the equator is to expand our empire and reinforce our military domination of the world.

Chalmers Johnson's latest book is ' The Sorrows of Empire:
Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic' (Metropolitan).
His previous book, 'Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of
American Empire,' has just been updated with a new introduction.

‘Nuff said.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Are We Going to War with Iran?

Several months ago I did a little presentation on BushCo’s drive to go to war with Iran. At the time, there was plenty of circumstantial evidence to support the existence of that drive, but I was pretty well convinced that even BushCo wasn’t nuts enough to go through with it.

Since that time, though, I have seen too many articles about “evil Iran” in the newspapers and on television to completely discount the idea that they might still be planning to bomb Iran. Now come the articles below to stir up those fears once again. I don’t know David Swanson, but I do know Ray McGovern, and I trust what he says. He has been on this story like a bulldog from the beginning, and now that BushCo is nearing the end of its reign and its influence it may be that they will act in desperation. Please give these stories a careful read and reach your own conclusions.

Report: US Has Plans to Attack Iran
Posted on - By David Swanson

Detailed Pentagon plans for a military attack on Iran are far more extensive than has been reported in the U.S., according to top British military analysts. There have been occasional news reports on various strategic bombing options - both conventional and nuclear - but this is the first comprehensive look at the full range of Pentagon plans.

A new report obtained by concludes that the United States has made major preparations to attack Iran, and that such an attack will likely target much more than just weapons or nuclear facilities.

Raw Story's article breaking this story and including expert responses to the report is HERE.

The report as a PDF is HERE.

The authors are Dr Dan Plesch and Martin Butcher. Dr Plesch is Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies’ Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy. Martin Butcher is an international consultant on security politics.


The study concludes that the US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours of President George W. Bush giving the order. The US is not publicizing the scale of these preparations to deter Iran, tending to make confrontation more likely. The US retains the option of avoiding war, but using its forces as part of an overall strategy of shaping Iran’s actions.

Any attack is likely to be on a massive multi-front scale but avoiding a ground invasion. Attacks focused on WMD facilities would leave Iran too many retaliatory options, leave President Bush open to the charge of using too little force and leave the regime intact.

• US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours.
• US ground, air and marine forces already in the Gulf, Iraq, and Afghanistan can devastate Iranian forces, the regime and the state at short notice.
• Some form of low level US and possibly UK military action as well as armed popular resistance appear underway inside the Iranian provinces or ethnic areas of the Azeri, Balujistan, Kurdistan and Khuzestan. Iran was unable to prevent sabotage of its offshore-to-shore crude oil pipelines in 2005.
• Nuclear weapons are ready, but most unlikely, to be used by the US, the UK and Israel. The human, political and environmental effects would be devastating, while their military value is limited.
• Israel is determined to prevent Iran acquiring nuclear weapons yet has the conventional military capability only to wound Iran’s WMD programmes.

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Think this is impossible? Read Ray McGovern’s analysis of the likelihood of war in Iran: Springfield area readers will remember when Sue Skidmore brought Ray to Springfield to speak and debate with Joe Passinise and Vince Jericho at the Library Center a year ago. Ray is a very credible, ex-CIA analyst whose depth of understanding of the inner workings of our government is immense.

Finally, here is a story that corroborates all that has been referenced above. Some prominent people are already taking decisive action. Should some of us less significant others do the same? | August 27 , 2007
Steve Watson

A group of former government officials along with current Congressional candidates, authors and activists has issued an urgent
warning that a faction of the US government allied with Dick Cheney is planning to stage a terror event or provocation as a pretext for launching military attacks against Iran and implementing emergency powers in America.

Former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, along with former US Diplomat and Colonel in the US Army reserve Ann Wright have put their names to an open letter warning that massive evidence points to an upcoming event.

Current Congressional candidates Cindy Sheehan and Craig Hill are also among the signatories to the letter.

Here is the letter in full:

To the American people, and to peace loving individuals everywhere:

Massive evidence has come to our attention which shows that the backers, controllers, and allies of Vice President Dick Cheney are determined to orchestrate and manufacture a new 9/11 terror incident, and/or a new Gulf of Tonkin war provocation over the coming weeks and months. Such events would be used by the Bush administration as a
pretext for launching an aggressive war against Iran, quite possibly with nuclear weapons, and for imposing a regime of martial law here in the United States. We call on the House of Representatives to proceed immediately to the impeachment of Cheney, as an urgent measure for avoiding a wider and more catastrophic war. Once impeachment has begun, it will be easier for loyal and patriotic military officers to refuse illegal orders coming from the Cheney faction. We solemnly warn the people of the world that any terrorist attack with weapons of mass destruction taking place inside the United States or elsewhere in the immediate future must be considered the prima facie responsibility of the Cheney faction. We urge responsible political leaders everywhere to begin at once to inoculate the public opinion of their countries against such a threatened false flag terror operation.

(Signed) A Group of US Opposition Political Leaders Gathered in
Protest at the Bush Compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, August 24-25,


The letter was signed by the group at an anti war protest this weekend which saw four thousand march near the Bush family residence on Walker's Point in Kennebunkport.

The warning comes on the heels of a spate of recent news stories and reports indicating that "chatter" about a terror event is at an all time high.

Further evidence that some form of event is imminent has emerged with strange stock market activity occurring just as did in the weeks and days preceding 9/11.

A mystery trader risks losing around $1 billion dollars after placing 245,000 put options on the Dow Jones Eurostoxx 50 index, leading many analysts to speculate that a stock market crash preceded by a new 9/11 style catastrophe could take place within the next month.

The Kennebunkport group have demanded the immediate impeachment of dick Cheney in order to prevent any such activities coming to fruition.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

A Test of Troop Withdrawal

The controversy rages on whether to pull our troops out of Iraq or to stay the course. Planning to stay the course will turn the surge into the splurge with more and more of our tax dollars going to keep our young soldiers in great danger and Iraq in turmoil.

While the argument rages in America, the British have taken a step that will shed some light on what the results of withdrawing the troops would be. They are pulling their troops out of Basra where they claim to have restored order to the point that the Iraqis can manage the area themselves. As the ability of the Iraqis to manage themselves has always been put forward by BushCo as the criterion for American withdrawal, the British retreat can be seen as a test case.

If local authorities are able to stabilize Basra after the Brits are gone, it will bolster the argument that our military involvement could result in a stable Iraq. If the insurgents move in and generate more chaos in the region, American troops will not only be required to move there to restore quiet, but will be faced with the reality that if we pull out arbitrarily the country will descend into militaristic chaos. On the other hand, there is a possibility that withdrawal itself might calm things. It may be that our presence is what keeps them fighting.

If the result is that sectarian separations deepen, both sides of the withdrawal argument will be strengthened. Those who want out now will say that the chaos proves that staying will only commit our limited troops to longer and longer tours of duty that will never actually achieve peace in the country. Those who want to stay the course will argue that the chaos proves the need for our presence as a buffer to keep the country from falling into the hands of the insurgents.

BushCo, of course, will argue for staying the course even to the point of holding our troops hostage to Congressional efforts to defund the war. For a complete discussion of this point, check out this link:
The American Tragedy of Our Troops Held Hostage

Neither side will examine an alternative course such as troop withdrawal in conjunction with funding for reconstruction through the existing Iraqi government at war expenditure levels, but I believe that to be a viable alternative to continued fighting. Each step our troops take to quell insurgency through military action only sinks us deeper into the quagmire.

To get involved with a group that is pushing politicians to examine the options is SODaPOP Occupation. They are organizing an effort to influence the Iowa Caucuses this January. To learn more, Google them and follow the link to I’ll try and get you more information in the near future.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR