Saturday, October 28, 2006

Israel Bombed Lebanon with Uranium

By Kurt Nimmo

"Meanwhile, as the corporate media attempts to scare us into believing Iran will have nukes by the time I finish typing this sentence, the possibility Israel used uranium in Lebanon receives next to no coverage.

The Independent is reporting “that scientists were studying samples of Lebanese soil after Israeli bombing during the July-August war showed high radiation levels, suggesting that uranium-based munitions had been used. Samples taken from two Israeli bomb craters in the Lebanese villages of Khiam and aL-Tiri have been sent to the Harwell laboratory in Oxfordshire, southern England, for further analysis.”

According to the International Middle East Media Center, the “damage caused by such weapons inflict vicious wounds, which will burst into flames when exposed to air, even after the initial infliction. The threat does not end there as the particles of uranium released from the weapon remain in the land and air causing cancer for years to come.” In addition, notes IMEMC, there is “suspicion that Israel is also using illegal weapons in Gaza, during its ‘Summer Rains Operation’; the injuries that are being sustained by the weapons being used, according to the Rafah hospitals’ Director, are injuries that must be inflicted by a new weapon as he has not seen injuries like this before. They leave the victims torn apart and covered in burns, he stated.” A recent Italian “television report aired last week made a similar claim, raising the possibility that Israel had used a weapon in the Gaza Strip in recent months, causing especially serious physical injuries, such as amputated limbs and severe burns,” reports WAFA, the Palestinian News Agency.

Regardless, Israel’s use of a possible new uranium bomb in Lebanon, and its use of mysterious weapons in the Occupied Territories, indicate the small outlaw state will go to new and frightening lengths to kill its enemies, who are mostly women, children, and non-combatant men."

Israel may allow PLO's Badr Brigade into Gaza

"Israeli officials on Saturday were deliberating over Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' request to grant Jordan-based Palestine Liberation Organization troops entry into the Gaza Strip.

Abbas made his request two weeks ago, in hopes of beefing up his loyalist forces, as rival Palestinian factions bolstered their ranks in anticipation of a feared civil war.

Israel has objected in the past to letting members of the Jordan-based Badr Brigade enter Palestinian areas. But with clashes intensifying between Abbas' Fatah Party and forces loyal to the Palestinians' militant Hamas government, Israeli officials said they would consider allowing them in.

The Badr Brigades are composed of several thousand Palestinians, mostly long-time PLO activists.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz's office said in a statement on Saturday that Abbas' request is under consideration, but Israel has not yet come to a decision on the matter.

Abbas, elected separately last year, is nominally the supreme commander of all seven Palestinian security branches, and most security personnel were hired by Fatah, which controlled the Palestinian Authority for more than a decade. But after Hamas swept Fatah out of office in January elections, it set up a militia of its own, which now numbers 5,700 armed men, and has announced plans to recruit an additional 1,500 forces in the West Bank, Fatah's stronghold.

The rival security forces have clashed frequently in the Gaza Strip in recent weeks as political tensions between the two sides grow. The violence has left more than a dozen dead and stoked fears of a bloody showdown.

The threat of heightened unrest led Palestinian officials from both sides to increase police presence on Saturday.

In Gaza, police in blue-and-white camouflage uniforms deployed around the parliament building, and in the West Bank town of Ramallah, security personnel were posted outside parliament, the Prime Minister's office and the Education Ministry.

In an attempt to ease tensions, a coordinating committee for all Palestinian factions, including Fatah and Hamas, met on Friday night in Gaza, and agreed to remove all their non-uniformed gunmen from the streets.

The confrontations have heated up amid Abbas' efforts to ease crippling international sanctions by persuading Hamas to moderate its anti-Israel stance and ally with Fatah in a coalition government."


Is this not sweet and touching? Jordan and Israel working together to help an American puppet in trouble.

The Palestinians are looking more and more like the rest of the Arab world, with puppet dictators protected by "security forces" whose job is not the security of the people, but suppressing them instead.

Report:Inside Egypt

By Chris Hedges

Editor’s note: In this article, the former New York Times Middle East bureau chief spends 10 days living with a lower-middle-class Egyptian family to expose the side of Egypt off-limits to most tourists—one made desperate by poverty and kept fearful by the omnipresent threat of state security officials.

"There are two Egypts. One is crushed by poverty and groaning under the weight of an autocratic regime that has been in place for nearly three decades. This Egypt is increasingly desperate, as the country’s population growth soars, and its economy, burdened by corruption and a stifling state bureaucracy, stagnates. Out of the bowels of this Egypt have come mounting anti-government street demonstrations, anger, frustration and renewed acts of terrorist violence by Islamic militants. The second Egypt, the one on view to foreign visitors, bears little in common with the first Egypt. It is a manicured and heavily guarded Egypt of air-conditioned hotels, Nile cruises, majestic archeological sites, afternoons by swimming pools, evenings in disco clubs, posh restaurants and shops crammed with copies of statues of Horus and Nefertiti and glass jewelry cases filled with silver and gold hieroglyphic pendants.

But the clash between these two Egypts is mounting. It has left tourists, confined to these islands of privilege, caught in the middle, seen as symbols of all that is denied to most Egyptians. And once again, as they were a decade ago, foreigners are being targeted and killed by armed militants as the government of President Hosni Mubarak promises reforms, including presidential and parliamentary election reform that Mubarak’s critics dismiss as cosmetic.

My van, after about 20 minutes, pulls off the road at a police checkpoint. An arrow on the sign in front of us points left to the city of Qus. The police, who check the passports, match the names to the list they hold in front of them. The convoy, speeding along the road, disappears ahead of us. All foreigners are required by Egyptian authorities to travel on the roads in the south with armed escorts. They are banned from wandering into the impoverished villages outside of Luxor or Aswan. I am permitted to depart from the city only with the convoy and have been required to pick up a policeman to travel to Qus.

“This gentleman is from the general police,” Ahmed says, turning to the uniformed officer. “This gentleman is from state security,” he says, turning to the man with the shirt. “And this gentleman ...” and here Ahmed stumbles, not sure what to say, until he hastily adds “ also from the police.”

So my first foray into this Egypt is to buy phone cards so my host can report on my movements, my conversations and my plans for the day. He has been told to relay this information to a variety of state security officials from Qus to Cairo. His confrontation with the layers of state security that we, and probably he as well, did not know existed in President Mubarak’s Egypt is leaving him nervous and jumpy.

The third-class train is how most of the country’s 2.8 million train passengers travel, moving from city to city and village to village along the 4,900 kilometers of track that run like a ribbon along the Nile. President Mubarak, when he boards a train, takes the opulent carriages that once made up the personal train of the deposed King Farouk. Tourists are required to travel in special tourist trains that have no third-class carriages attached. Reza and I, although we entered Qus in a van with an armed escort, have asked to depart on the third-class train to Cairo, although the safety record of the third-class trains is dismal. Dozens of Egyptians over the past decade have died on the rails in head-on collisions, as well as in accidents with vehicles at railroad crossings. But for most Egyptians, who do not own cars, this is the only way to travel. And it is most Egyptians who interest us.

The dearth of jobs thrusts young Egyptians back onto their families, who will at least make sure they remain housed and fed. Those that head to the teaming slums that have made Cairo one of the most densely populated and impoverished cities in the world leave behind this safety net. It is the disintegration of these kinship ties—a disintegration directly related to the faltering economy—which has proved to be the powerful wedge used by militant Islam to reach young, dislocated Egyptians. No longer able to depend on family for support, they find in militant Islam a kind of traditional, cultural and emotional reassurance that holds out the promise of something better and a replacement community. Traditional Islam, a powerful force in village life, mutates in the slums into something deadly.

“I searched for a job,” he says, “but there are no jobs. I am angry. A job is very important.” He tells me he has never been to Cairo, but he may have to go there to seek work. He began to attend the mosque and do his five daily prayers about six years ago. And then he lays out a new vision for Egypt, one that lurks not far beneath the surface of the secular Mubarak regime. “When there are Islamic laws governing our lives, things will be better,” he says. “There will be more work. Everyone will fear Allah. This will make a change. If you fear Allah there is no corruption. This will make it better for us.” He watches as I write down his words. “Please omit my name,” he says softly, glancing at Ahmed, who stands a few feet away with his back to us. I cross his name out in my notebook. He looks at the black lines through his name and asks me to continue to blot out his name.

On the way home we are told that our request to visit the elementary school where Ahmed’s small daughter is a student has been denied. We decide to visit the offices of the Ministry of Education in Qus to get them to reconsider the request. When we arrive we find the director, Rushdi Abu el-Safa’, behind a large desk. He is smoking, flicking the ash on the floor. He oversees the 180 schools in the district, which has 87,000 students. He promises to pass on our request. Ahmed, who receives a call later that day, is told we will not be allowed in any schools, nor can we visit the local factories. When we get home we find Ahmed’s wife nervous and silent. The constant phone calls, the long reports Ahmed has to fax each day on our activities, have cast a pall over the house. The strains of our visit show in the darting looks, whispers and uncomfortable gaps in conversation where we had once laughed and joked.

A young man had let us into his home during the previous visit and his father begins to yell and curse him and us. “Why did you let them into the house?” he shouts at his son. “They will report about the whole temple to the government and all the houses will be destroyed.” Curse words begin to fly. We back away. Three uniformed police swiftly arrive and hustle us to the van, shouting at the small mob to get back.

It is only at midnight on our last day that we are told we will not be allowed on the third-class train. We will be put, we are told, into a first-class car to Cairo. We will not be allowed to speak to anyone on the train. We enter the train with escorts, including uniformed police with assault rifles. When we attempt to walk into the second-class car we are abruptly pushed back by a policeman between the two cars. “No foreigners,” we are told. When the train pulls into the Shohaj station security men enter our car. They check the documents of the few Egyptians seated in our car and frisk them. The Egyptians are asked to leave our compartment. We become, in a matter of minutes, as hermetically sealed off from the Egypt we sought to reach as the tourists in the lumbering buses whose convoy we had joined a few days before. We sit on the long ride to Cairo and watch the other Egypt glide past us."


A long and revealing report that peers into the police state of Husni Mubarak who is strongly supported by Washington.


Do you think that the Maliki government in Iraq is capable of keeping its security commitments?

With 1,100 people responding so far, here are the results:




The point of departure

Saturday October 28, 2006
The Guardian

"Close to its end, just as at its beginning and all through its execution, the occupation of Iraq has been shaped by miscalculation, haste and deceit. An ill-judged invasion fought on a misleading premise gave way to a chaotic aftermath that placed theory ahead of reality, with consequences that the world will have to endure for decades. For a time, however, even for those who opposed the war, including this paper, real hope lay in the promise of recovery, a slow imposition of order underpinned by a form of democracy that could have allowed western forces to leave Iraq gradually, and without disgrace. The case for running away was never strong while that hope remained.

Now, although they dare not say it, even the war's architects in Washington and London know that there will be no honourable departure. They are preparing to scuttle. Military reality and political expediency are blowing away all talk of patience, reconstruction, "staying the course" and "getting the job done" - the desperate expectation that somehow, despite all the violence and disorder, a better destination would be found for Iraq. The language is still heard, more now from Tony Blair than President Bush. But it has become nothing more than passing cover for a retreat from western engagement that is already under way, a thin disguise draped over defeat.

The years ahead will provide many chances to rake over what went wrong and to challenge those responsible. This has already begun in the US, where the midterm elections are forcing the pace. But the need is not for retribution at home, but a truthful account of how things stand and an assessment of how best the country can be pulled up from the black depths into which it is plunging. There is no cure for wounds that will bleed for many years. What can be hoped for is a salvage operation.

Yet it is happening already - and since withdrawal is inevitable, the question is how best chaos can be restricted when it is completed. Total collapse of the elected government can only be averted if order is brought to Baghdad, something the US has failed to achieve. It will require less contentious outside forces to achieve that. Money now spent on the war - the economist Joseph Stiglitz, estimates that staying on another four years would take the total cost to the US of the war to $1trillion - should pay for an international force, of limited duration, made up of troops from largely Muslim states such as Indonesia. American and British money and material must also be used to sustain Iraqi forces during the transition. But western disengagement must not be followed by an expansion of the 25,000 mercenary force.

That may not work, just as other well-meaning ideas for reconstruction funds and the restoration of heritage sites may be nothing more than sedatives to calm British and American consciences over the demon that has been created. Whatever happens now, there will be continuing violence, widespread human rights abuses, and an Iraqi government that will be focused primarily on survival. The country is in ruins, its economy shattered and its population terrified and fleeing. But Britain staying on much longer is not going to stop that."

All must play their roles

Europe cannot pick and choose who it is willing to talk to in the quest for peace in the Middle East

Azzam Tamimi
Saturday October 28, 2006
The Guardian

"During his recent visit to the Middle East, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana met Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Yisroel Beitenu party, which advocates the forced expulsion of the Palestinians from their land. Solana told reporters after the meeting that he disagreed with everything Lieberman said but that "we have to talk to everybody".
But this "everybody" clearly does not strictly mean everybody, because it continues to exclude the elected Hamas-led government of the Palestinian people. Although Solana disagreed with Lieberman, he nevertheless met him without preconditions. He did not find it necessary, for instance, to insist that Lieberman should first recognise the right of the Palestinian people to exist in their homeland or that he should abandon his racist anti-Arab position.

The Quartet, which consists of the US, the EU, Russia and the UN, is adamant that sanctions imposed on the Palestinian people should not be lifted until Hamas fulfils three conditions. It has first to recognise Israel's right to exist on land from which the Palestinians were driven by force and to which their right to return continues to be denied. Secondly, the Hamas government must renounce "violence", or the right to resist occupation and struggle for the liberation of the Palestinian people's stolen land and homes. Thirdly, they would have to consent to all the agreements signed between the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and Israel since the peace process started more than a decade ago, despite the fact that most of these agreements have only added to the suffering and deprivation of the Palestinians.
But should Hamas remain in government and refuse to accept these conditions then the embargo will go on and the Palestinians will continue to be collectively punished. It would be naive to expect the Quartet to play the role of an honest broker in a bid to resolve the conflict between the Palestinian and the Israelis. As long as the Israelis, irrespective of their policies and ideological positions, are accorded preferential treatment by western governments or international bodies it is doubtful that any peacemaking will succeed.

The Palestinians have not forgotten that it was European powers a century ago that opened this deep wound in the Arab and Muslim psyche, a wound that continues to bleed since it was decided that the European "Jewish problem" be resolved by espousing the cause of Zionism to establish a Jewish home in Palestine. However, the Palestinians have always been willing to forgive on the day that later generations of European policymakers admit their historical responsibility and embark on an effort to repair the damage. Unfortunately there seems to be no sign of this happening yet.

What Solana did, and not what he said, is what really matters on this occasion. The willingness on the part of such a senior EU official to meet an Israeli leader who wishes to see no more Arabs in Palestine, along with those who are generally considered by the European Union to be"mainstream", plays into the widespread belief among Palestinians that all Israeli politicians are the same."

Mystery of Israel's secret uranium bomb

Alarm over radioactive legacy left by attack on Lebanon

By Robert Fisk
The Independent

"Did Israel use a secret new uranium-based weapon in southern Lebanon this summer in the 34-day assault that cost more than 1,300 Lebanese lives, most of them civilians?

We know that the Israelis used American "bunker-buster" bombs on Hizbollah's Beirut headquarters. We know that they drenched southern Lebanon with cluster bombs in the last 72 hours of the war, leaving tens of thousands of bomblets which are still killing Lebanese civilians every week. And we now know - after it first categorically denied using such munitions - that the Israeli army also used phosphorous bombs, weapons which are supposed to be restricted under the third protocol of the Geneva Conventions, which neither Israel nor the United States have signed.

But scientific evidence gathered from at least two bomb craters in Khiam and At-Tiri, the scene of fierce fighting between Hizbollah guerrillas and Israeli troops last July and August, suggests that uranium-based munitions may now also be included in Israel's weapons inventory - and were used against targets in Lebanon. According to Dr Chris Busby, the British Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, two soil samples thrown up by Israeli heavy or guided bombs showed "elevated radiation signatures". Both have been forwarded for further examination to the Harwell laboratory in Oxfordshire for mass spectrometry - used by the Ministry of Defence - which has confirmed the concentration of uranium isotopes in the samples.

Dr Busby's initial report states that there are two possible reasons for the contamination. "The first is that the weapon was some novel small experimental nuclear fission device or other experimental weapon (eg, a thermobaric weapon) based on the high temperature of a uranium oxidation flash ... The second is that the weapon was a bunker-busting conventional uranium penetrator weapon employing enriched uranium rather than depleted uranium." A photograph of the explosion of the first bomb shows large clouds of black smoke that might result from burning uranium.

Enriched uranium is produced from natural uranium ore and is used as fuel for nuclear reactors. A waste productof the enrichment process is depleted uranium, it is an extremely hard metal used in anti-tank missiles for penetrating armour. Depleted uranium is less radioactive than natural uranium, which is less radioactive than enriched uranium.

Israel has a poor reputation for telling the truth about its use of weapons in Lebanon. In 1982, it denied using phosphorous munitions on civilian areas - until journalists discovered dying and dead civilians whose wounds caught fire when exposed to air.

American and British forces used hundreds of tons of depleted uranium (DU) shells in Iraq in 1991 - their hardened penetrator warheads manufactured from the waste products of the nuclear industry - and five years later, a plague of cancers emerged across the south of Iraq.

Initial US military assessments warned of grave consequences for public health if such weapons were used against armoured vehicles. But the US administration and the British government later went out of their way to belittle these claims. Yet the cancers continued to spread amid reports that civilians in Bosnia - where DU was also used by Nato aircraft - were suffering new forms of cancer. DU shells were again used in the 2003 Anglo-American invasion of Iraq but it is too early to register any health effects.

Chris Bellamy, the professor of military science and doctrine at Cranfield University, who has reviewed the Busby report, said: "At worst it's some sort of experimental weapon with an enriched uranium component the purpose of which we don't yet know. At best - if you can say that - it shows a remarkably cavalier attitude to the use of nuclear waste products.""

Hamad: Solana proves his bias by meeting Lieberman, avoiding PA government officials

Gaza - Spokesman of the PA government Dr. Ghazi Hamad has accused Javier Solana, the coordinator of EU foreign policy, of displaying the EU bias against the Palestinian people by meeting "extremist" Israeli MP Avigdor Lieberman, and avoiding PA cabinet members.

In a statement he issued Saturday, Hamad said, "Lieberman is an Israeli fanatic leader known for his extremist stands against Arabs, and calls for exterminating Palestinians in the 1948-occupied Palestinian lands. Such a terrorist mentality should have prompted Solana to deal with him as a terrorist according to the international laws".

Yet, Hamad added, Solana has proven beyond reasonable doubt that the EU is biased against the Palestinian people for agreeing to meet with "terrorist" Lieberman, and refusing to meet with PA government officials.

"Solana's act displays the non-seriousness of the EU stands against the cruel IOF troops' crimes against the Palestinian people on daily basis that reaped many Palestinian lives and still is", Hamad charged.

He further underlined that Solana should have paid attention to the suffering of the Palestinian people spurred by the unjust sanctions imposed by the EU on the PA government and the Palestinian people it rules.

"He (Solana) had previously hailed the Palestinian democracy that brought Hamas to power through transparent and honest elections, and hence, he should have started to correct the big mistake of the EU of imposing an embargo on a democratically elected government", Hamad further underscored.

The PA spokesman, moreover, urged the EU to rethink its "hostile" stand against the PA government, stressing, "The EU insistence to ignore the PA elected government would not achieve stability and peace in the region, but will rather complicate matters".

"The EU must take the initiative in demanding an end to the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands", Hamad emphasized.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Breaking the Silence: Fmr. Israeli Soldier Tours U.S. to Expose Abuse of Palestinians by Israeli Military

With Amy Goodman

"A leading Israeli human rights organization accused Israel on Thursday of breaking international humanitarian law by holding thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israel.
According to B'Tselem, international law prohibits the transfer of civilians, including prisoners, from the occupied territories to Israel.

On Thursday B'Tselem issued a 53-page report outlining how Israel's prison policies has made it nearly impossible for Palestinians to regularly visit relatives in jail.

Meanwhile, a former Israeli soldier named Yehuda Shaul has just begun a tour of the United States to give an inside look at how the Israeli military treats Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

Shaul is a co-founder of Breaking the Silence - a group of former Israeli soldiers committed to exposing human rights abuses by the Israeli military.

Last year the group revealed that Israel soldiers had been ordered to open fire on unarmed Palestinians. The group has also gathered photographic evidence that proved Israeli soldiers have abused Palestinian corpses.

AMY GOODMAN: Could you talk to us a little bit about what you're hoping to accomplish on your tour?

YEHUDA SHAUL: I’m here in the United States, because, I would say, we in Breaking the Silence see the act of breaking the silence as an act of taking responsibility. As ex-Israeli soldiers, who’ve served as combat soldiers in the Occupied Territories and were there and committed all what we’re talking about, we're part of the occupation. After we were discharged and realized what we were doing and what was going on around us, there was only two options, as I see it. There’s or to lock ourselves in the room, cry and ask forgiveness, or to stand up and take responsibility and demand from others to take responsibility.

So, in my eyes, breaking the silence, standing up and telling the stories and trying to bring people to know and to realize and to understand what it means, occupation, on a daily basis, through these testimonies that we publish and the pictures that we had in the exhibition, is demanding from Israeli society to take responsibility for it, for what is being done in their behalf.

And in my eyes, in our eyes, responsibility doesn't end with ex-soldiers who served there or with Israelis, or the idea if our army as Israelis is doing all these things. Responsibility is to every human being in the world, and for sure for Americans, because in the end of the day for all what Israel does, there is only one country in the world that, you know, the chief of staff and the prime minister of Israel has to report in the end of the day, and that's the United States of America. For that reason, I think that people of America must know what's going on there and must break their own silence and take civil responsibility, human responsibility, to what is being done there.

JUAN GONZALEZ: I’d like to ask you about all of these thousands of Palestinian prisoners. From your perspective, as someone who's obviously had to participate in the capturing and imprisonment of some of these Palestinian civilians, what is this doing to Palestinian society, to have so many people locked up for such a long period of time under Israeli control?

YEHUDA SHAUL: I have no idea. I’m not a Palestinian. Just, you know, looking from the outside, seems like breaking all the family structure. I don't know, just trying to think of, you know, all the people that we arrested, bumping in the middle of the night through the windows, through the doors, through the roofs, waking up the family, taking people. No one knows when they're going to get back, why they were taken. You know, this is -- just, you know, almost every night in the Occupied Territories, you do an arrest operation. Every night you come back with what we saw in the pictures before, or you see now, of handcuffed, blindfolded Palestinians, who are just, you know, were now arrested, waiting to be taken to interrogations at the secret services.

But also, there's another kind of Palestinians, as you see now in the picture, and that's kind of what we call in Hebrew, or I will translate it, what we called “dry outs,” or if I would professionally translate it, “detainees.” And these are Palestinians, you know, when you stand in the checkpoint and you ask from all the Palestinians to stand in a very nice one line, and suddenly one of them starts screaming or leaves the line, so you must educate him, right? They must know who’s the boss. So you detain the man aside. You took him, handcuff, blindfold -- five, six, seven hours, it could be more, it could be less. Or you call a Palestinian in the checkpoint, you ask from him his ID. He smiles too much. You must educate them.

And all the system is built on fear. It's built of just oppressing, I don't know, of not being able to treat Palestinians as equal human beings to you, because the job is to do things that you don't do to equal human beings, you know, to bump in the middle of the night to a family from the roof and wake up all the family, separate men from women and just search all the house. It's something that you don't do to an equal human being to you. It's something that I never done in Israel, but in the Occupied Territories, as a combat soldier, as an occupier, that's my daily job, 24/7, house after house."

Read The Rest of The Transcript of Today's Interview

Bush's Mea Culpa Speech, First Draft

A Modest Proposal


""Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan," President John F. Kennedy said as he accepted blame for the Bay of Pigs fiasco. I, too, accept blame, for invading Iraq and compounding that error by not formulating a coherent Middle East policy aimed at stabilizing the region. I selected advisers I felt comfortable with, but not those who gave me sound counsel.

They told me to say in my 2002 State of the Union Address that Iraq, Iran and North Korea were an "axis of evil." This phrase now haunts me. My policies have not defeated evil. I could say 'give 'em time.' But I understand that I have built a dangerous "axis of uncertainty." North Korea has probably tested a nuclear weapon. I must ask myself: did my hard line policy lead to that dreaded event?

In my arrogant mode, I would have dismissed those good for nothing Ba'athist stooges! (giggles) But upon reflection and a series of consultations with the Lord, I see it did not make sense to threaten Syria with more sanctions, order it like a naughty child to stop supporting Hamas and Hezbollah. Darn, we even sent that Canadian-Syrian fella, Maher Arrar, to get tortured there in Damascus just as I was criticizing Syria for violating human rights. I offer my apologies to Mr. Arrar.

I want to say I'm sorry for what Condi said when she referred to the war in Lebanon between Israel and Hezbollah as part of the 'birth pangs of a new Middle East.' Even some of my old drinking buddies got uncomfortable with that one.

Admitting mistakes is one thing; making peace is another. After we withdraw our forces and bases from Iraq, which we must do before more American blood gets spilled, I will face the Syria-Israel, Israel-Palestine issue. American and Iraqi epidemiologists reported on October 11 that 655,000 Iraqis have died since March 2003. Add to that almost 3,000 Americans and maybe 20,000 wounded and some walking wounded. I made a terrible mistake. May God forgive me.

I know I said repeatedly we won't cut and run. But you men out there understand that kind of macho talk. The facts are clear. Iraq is a dead end for us. I only hope Iraqis can put Humpty Dumpty together again after I pushed him off the wall. I ask for their forgiveness as well.

I have not forgotten the plight of the Palestinians. I admit Iraq has distracted me from focusing on my promise of U.S. support for a viable, contiguous, independent Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 war borders. Palestinians and Israelis living side by side with Israel! Hey, that sounds good. Jerusalem's status, the return of Palestinian refugees, who gets how much water ­ heck, these big problems will get negotiated as well, not swept under the table like the 1993 Oslo Accords did.

In fact, I'm sending Condi back to the Middle East next week to talk to all the affected parties -- not just our reliable guys in Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia like the last time (what good that did!), but to the leader of Hamas and the Syrians. Hamas must recognize Israel, as I've said all along. But the U.S. must also recognize Hamas, since those guys did win a free and fair election -- exactly what I've been calling for in the Middle East. It doesn't mean we have to agree with them, though."

Read Bush's Greatest Speech Ever, Here

War Support Among Evangelicals Collapses

Bush Incompetence Said to Delay Second Coming

By Juan Cole

"In the past 30 days, support for the Iraq War among white evangelicals has fallen from 70 percent to 58 percent.

These numbers matter because evangelicals are a quarter of the people who actually bother to vote, and 78 percent of them voted Republican 2 years ago. Only 58 percent say they are satisfied with the party now, and Iraq and the Foley scandal are driving the discontent.

A more colorful manifestation of the evangelicals disillusionment than the poll is the sermons of Houston-based evangelical preacher K.A. Paul. Here are some of the things he is running around the country saying about Iraq:

' The Houston-based preacher said he believes that the Bush administration has delayed the second coming because U.S. foreign policy has blocked Christian missionaries from working in Iraq, Iran and Syria. . . "Somebody needs to say enough is enough," he said to worshippers who stood, waved and called out in support. . . Paul, who claimed to support conservative political leaders in the past, is launching "a crusade to save America from the wrath of God and Republicans abusing their power," according to his press materials. . . "God is mad at this country," Paul told the congregation. He described the war in Iraq as "unnecessary genocide."

Can you say, "amen!" and "halleluja!"?

The only explanation of which I can think for the general collapse of this pillar of War party is that the political contests in mid-Atlantic and Southern states are generating television ads, candidate appearances and debates that highlight the catastrophe that is Iraq--and it is getting through to the church-goers at long last."

Rumsfeld tells war critics to 'back off'


Ascendancy of Avigdor Lieberman Is Not an Israeli Internal Affair


By Nicola Nasser
(Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist in Kuwait, Jordan, UAE and Palestine. He is based in Ramallah, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories)

"The absence of a proportionate Palestinian reaction to the ascendancy of Israel’s far right leader, Avigdor Lieberman, into the mainstream strategic decision-making in Tel Aviv has indicated of how dangerously the inter-Palestinian divide is overshadowing the Israeli threats and encouraged the visiting European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, to legitimize with a public meeting the only man who could abort not only the mission of his visit but all prospects of regional peace.

According to Israeli media on the eve and in the wake of the ominous deal, that has yet to be endorsed by the Knesset, Israeli politicians and commentators described Lieberman as a “strategic threat,” “the most dangerous politician in our political history,” “the most unrestrained and irresponsible man around,” a hawk, a hardliner, Israel's far right leader, extreme and ultra right-winger, a “fascist” and a leader of a “fascist party,” a “detestable racist,” “unguided missile” and a “loose cannon,” etc.

Hebrew University political science professor Zeev Sternhell, said Lieberman may be “the most dangerous politician in our political history” because of his “cocktail of nationalism, authoritarianism and dictatorial mentality” and because, unlike previous extreme-right figures he was not “marginalized.” Professor Sternhell added: “I cannot forget that Mussolini came to power with only 30 members of parliament.”

In 2004 he published his book “My Truth,” a call to draw Israel's borders to exclude Arab citizens and include illegal Israeli colonial settlements Israel built on occupied Palestinian West Bank territory; he himself lives with his family in the colony of Nokdim. Earlier he spoke of “transfer” of Arab citizens, Gershom Gorenberg wrote in the Jewish daily Forward on October 20, 2006. “The problem with the Arabs inside Israel must come before the Palestinian problem,” he said.

When he served as minister of transport in a previous government, Lieberman called for all Palestinian prisoners, now more than ten thousand, held by the Israeli occupation authorities to be drowned in the Dead Sea and offered to provide the buses, Ha'aretz reported on July 11, 2002.

However, instead of mobilizing its media and diplomatic corps to alert the world on the looming threat, the PLO kept absorbed by the internal divide and obsessed with plans on how to bring the elected Hamas to accept the U.S.-adopted Israeli dictates or squeeze it out of power, except for a rare statement that offhandedly shrugged Lieberman’s ascendancy as an Israeli “internal affair”!

“At the end of the day, what we hoped for is to have a partner in Israel who is willing to revive a meaningful peace process that will end this miserable situation between our two peoples,” said Saeb Erekat, who heads the PLO’s negotiations department, whose mission has been confined recently to educating Hamas and the Palestinian people on how to better understand the “realpolitics” of the US and EU-backed Israeli dictates.

Lieberman’s ascendancy could in no way be dealt with by whoever Palestinian is in the driving seat neither as an internal Israeli affair nor as a threat that could be frivolously shrugged off with levity; this would take irresponsibility too far to be justified, regardless of whatever pretexts might be cited.

This lenient PLO reaction would only weaken its already fragile internal status and encourage Israelis to deal with the matter similarly; if the Palestinians don’t care why should Israelis and if the PLO doesn’t set on the alarm why should the world care too! May be the PLO should be reminded of Israel’s reaction to the electoral victory of Austria's far right leader Jörg Haider in 1999 to entice it into action?

Lieberman’s inclusion into Israel’s mainstream decision-making is -- by premeditation or by coincidence -- pre-empting Palestinian, regional and international efforts to capitalize on the indecisive Lebanon war to either revive the old peace process or to initiate a new one, or in the best of optimistic scenarios to initiate a fundamental change in the regional peace-making from conflict management to conflict resolution.

Solana did meet Lieberman without at least balancing his move with a similar encounter with Hamas, thus legitimizing him and empowering his agenda with an EU engagement and bolstering his credentials with EU prestige. Solana also bypassed the democratically elected representative government of the Palestinian people. In both cases he was indirectly encouraged by PLO’s leniency vis-à-vis Lieberman and militancy vis-à-vis Hamas."


By Carlos Latuff.
(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

On Thursday, Bush Signed a Bill Authorizing the Construction of a Separation Wall Between the U.S. and Mexico.

Fiasco Then, Fiasco Now

by Tom Engelhardt

"So think of Tuesday's dog-and-pony show as "the light at the end of the tunnel" news conference. And think of Prime Minister Maliki as a poor stand-in for the recalcitrant-to-American-wishes South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, assassinated in a U.S.-backed military coup in 1963, after which it was all downhill.

No longer was he the plodding, "stay the course" George Bush; now, he was the maestro of "change," a darting, dashing Wile E. Coyote of a president, zipping off a cliff while saying things like: "We're constantly changing. The enemy changes, and we change. The enemy adapts to our strategies and tactics, and we adapt to theirs. We're constantly changing to defeat this enemy."

Unlike the president, Ambassador Khalilzad and Gen. Casey undoubtedly know that they are putting on an act for the TV screens back home, that this is a moment to say whatever a desperate administration considers necessary to bring voters back into the fold. This is policy as vaudeville, a farce for everyone except those "martyrs," the Americans dying in Iraq, and, of course, millions of Iraqi civilians who are unlikely to feel mollified by Gen. Casey's lame reassurance.

Think of it this way: With the help of the Vietnam experience, our top generals are already beginning to create their own exit-strategies from this war. Along Vietnam lines, their tale will be simple enough: We won. They (still to be defined but leading candidates include Donald Rumsfeld and Pentagon civilian bosses, the media, and the American public) lost. We wuz betrayed! Talk about incipient "martyrs."

Let me suggest to the non-generals among us two Vietnam analogies that have yet to arise but couldn't be more relevant. Think of them as "the bloodbath" and "the non-withdrawal withdrawal" analogies.

The Iraqi future bloodbath happens to go by the name of "civil war." Of course, an actual civil war is underway there, but the claim has long been that, whatever blood is now being spilled, it will be nothing compared to what might happen if the U.S. military, the last bulwark between bloody-minded Sunni, Shi'ite, and Kurdish enemies, were withdrawn.

As the pressure for timetables and some form of phased withdrawal ratchets up in Iraq, you will certainly see the same sort of thing – "withdrawal" plans, like the one former State Department official Richard Armitage recently suggested, that will take endless (reversible) years to complete. A five-year withdrawal plan is not a withdrawal plan. It's a pacification plan for the "home front," a way to keep on keeping on.

These are among the possible endgame Vietnam analogies that are likely to arise. Unfortunately, that endgame could take a while. After all, if the Tet Offensive was the "turning point" in the Vietnam War, the war itself lasted almost as long after Tet as before, with almost as many American casualties."

50 Years After Suez, US Hegemony Ebbing Fast

By Jim Lobe

"As the Middle East prepares to mark the 50th anniversary on Oct. 29 of the Suez Crisis that effectively ended European colonialism, a half century of U.S. hegemony in the region also appears to be coming to an end, according to a growing number of analysts.

"American foreign policy in the Middle East is approaching a very serious crisis," noted Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser under former President Jimmy Carter, at a dinner this week in which he noted the imminence of the 1956 crisis that he said marked "the beginning of [Washington's] domination of the region." "We are facing the possibility of literally being pushed out of the Middle East," he warned.

"The age of U.S. dominance in the Middle East has ended and a new era in the modern history of the region has begun," wrote Richard Haass, president of the influential Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and a top Middle East adviser to the George H.W. Bush administration, in a remarkably downbeat article in the latest edition of Foreign Affairs journal.

That this "New Middle East," as Haass titled his article, should be dawning 50 years after the Suez Crisis is particularly poignant, according to longtime observers of the region who note that, more than any other event, it was Washington's role in the crisis that boosted its image as a force for liberation and positioned it as an honest broker between Arabs and Israel.

To most historians, the crisis – and the humiliation inflicted on the invading powers – spelled the effective end of western European colonialism in the region and the advent of U.S. preeminence, a preeminence that was successively enhanced by the aftermath of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the 1978 Camp David accords, and the end of the Cold War a decade later.

Fifty years later, however, both U.S. soft power and its status as an honest broker – the two greatest achievements of the Suez crisis – are at their lowest ebb and, in Toensing's words, "sinking ever lower."

"The U.S. has come to be seen as the quintessential colonial power, and, if anything, worse than the old [European] ones, because they were viewed as having an economic agenda – resource extraction – while the U.S. is seen as having both a resource-extraction and an ideological agenda," according to Toensing."

A Jewish Hitler?

The rise of Avigdor Lieberman

By Justin Raimondo

"With the entry of Avigdor Lieberman into the government as deputy minister for "strategic threats" – essentially in charge of preparing for war with Iran – Israel makes a qualitative step toward a regime that increasingly resembles, in all its essentials, a rogue state, and, I might add, potentially a very dangerous one.

Lieberman's portfolio as minister in charge of strategic threats allowed the editors of Ha'aretz to quip "Lieberman is a strategic threat!" Here, after all, is a man who has threatened to bomb Tehran, the Aswan Dam, and Beirut. His entry into the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, in coalition with Kadima and Labor, marks an ominous shift in the stance of the Jewish state.

Yet the line that separated Lieberman, the Jewish equivalent of David Duke, from the Israeli "mainstream" has been increasingly hard to discern for quite some time. As Arthur Neslen put it in the Guardian recently: "The most worrying thing about Lieberman is not that his ideas exist on a plane outside Israel's political continuum but that, in many ways, they are close to its dead center. The proposal to transfer 'the triangle,' an area around Um al-Fahm where 250,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel currently live, was first brought into the press spotlight at the end of 2000 at Israel's most prestigious annual policy-making forum, the Herzliya conference."

Yet here we are, confronted with the specter of Avigdor Lieberman, the would-be Hitler, currently the second most popular politician in the running for prime minister, right behind Benjamin Netanyahu. That a gangster of Lieberman's ilk is now a serious contender for the post of prime minister and his fascist party is rising in popularity are measures of how the Israeli settler colony, originally designed along left-wing Zionist-utopian lines, has hardened into a national socialist Sparta.

In any case, the War Party in the U.S. is likely to find him very useful: Lieberman's fiery rhetoric is sure to set off sparks in a very volatile region of the world, one that is just waiting to explode.

Finally, it must be remembered that Israel is a member of the nuclear club, with at least 400 nukes and perhaps more at its disposal. The chilling question is this: do we really want to see Israel's nukes fall into the hands of a madman like Lieberman?

If the Israeli government is going extremist, the moral and strategic implications of our continued assistance are grave: will we be complicit as Israel "transfers" hundreds of thousands of Arabs, many of them Israeli citizens? As hard-right ideologues embark on a campaign of aggression aimed at creating a "Greater Israel," will U.S. tax dollars continue to fuel the Israeli war machine?

Yet his entry into the government is quite significant, for Israel and for the world, in that it marks the end of the honeymoon era in relations between Israel and the West, particularly the United States. Israel and its Western amen corner have always insisted that the Jewish state is part of the West, yet the rise of Lieberman tells us something quite different."


By Steve Bell, The Guardian
(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Is Mahmoud Abbas planning a coup?

Jerusalem Post

"Hamas has instructed its followers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to be on high alert following unconfirmed reports that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party are planning a coup against the Hamas government on Saturday.

Sources close to Hamas told The Jerusalem Post that the Islamic movement was taking these reports seriously and that hundreds of Hamas militiamen would be deployed in strategic areas in the Gaza Strip to foil any attempt to overthrow the Hamas government.

Hamas's "Executive Force" in the Gaza Strip has also been placed on high alert and security around top Hamas officials has been beefed up, the sources revealed.

According to the sources, Hamas leaders have expressed fear that Fatah gunmen and PA policemen loyal to Abbas would try to occupy a number of PA ministries and institutions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Saturday. "Hamas is convinced that Abbas is planning a coup," the sources added. "It could happen as early as this weekend."

On Thursday afternoon, Abbas summoned four Hamas ministers to his office in Ramallah and assured them that he was not planning a coup against the Hamas government. Abbas also phoned PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to deny the reports.

"President Ababs strongly denied the rumors about a coup and said they were completely untrue," said PA Deputy Prime Minister Nasser Eddin Shaer, one of the ministers who attended the meeting. "He reiterated his keenness on the sovereignty of the law and his respect for the results of the parliamentary elections."

Earlier this week, Abbas reportedly ordered the deployment of thousands of Fatah gunmen and PA policemen in the streets of the Gaza Strip in anticipation of a major confrontation with Hamas.

Senior PA officials told the Post they were unaware of immediate plans to topple the Hamas government, but pointed out that thousands of policemen protesting unpaid salaries were planning to escalate their campaign on Saturday.

"It's possible that Hamas is afraid of these protests," said one official. "The policemen are planning a series of protests throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip and we don't rule out the possibility that they might try to occupy a number of government buildings as they have done before."

On Thursday, a group of PA policemen in Ramallah and Gaza City said they were planning to torch the offices of the PA Finance Ministry if they did not receive their full salaries within the next 48 hours.

The reports about a purported coup coincide with increased efforts by some Arab countries, including Qatar, Egypt, Syria and Jordan to resolve the Hamas-Fatah crisis. Representatives of the two parties are expected to meet in Cairo soon for urgent talks aimed at avoiding an all-out confrontation that could spill over into civil war.

However, some Fatah leaders said they were not enthusiastic about the planned meeting "because Hamas has not changed its position regarding the political platform of the proposed national unity government."

They said Abbas was expected to deliver an "important" speech to the Palestinians in the coming days about the crisis with Hamas, adding that he may renew his call for a referendum on the unity government idea."

Book Review: The Persistence of the Palestinian Question

Sally Bland, The Electronic Intifada, 26 October 2006

Joseph A. Massad: THE PERSISTENCE OF THE PALESTINIAN QUESTION: Essays on Zionism and the Palestinians (Routledge, London/New York, 2006 - ISBN 0415770106)

"Comprising essays published in various scholarly journals between 1993 and 2005, "The Persistence of the Palestinian Question" is a painfully honest book.

The author, who grew up in Amman and is now associate professor of modern Arab politics and intellectual history at Columbia University, does not mince words or cut corners. He addresses the question of Palestine from a number of new angles, covering a broad spectrum of fields in which history is made -- official politics, sexual politics, popular resistance, national and social struggle, demography, ideology and state repression.

The book is extremely timely since Massad's incisive critique of the false premises on which the "peace process" was conducted helps explain the dismal situation in which Palestinians find themselves today. It serves to remind that the problem didn't begin with the cut-off of international aid to the Hamas government.

Throughout the 1990s, the Palestinians were urged to be realistic and pragmatic, to learn how to speak to the West -- all the while Israel's colonialism and insistence on maintaining Jewish racial supremacy went unchallenged.

Taking stock over a decade later, it is obvious that the pragmatic approach was not at all pragmatic, for it failed miserably. Far from ushering in peace, the Oslo accords paved the way for Israel to grab more land and tighten its control over Palestinian lives.

Massad doesn't waste time bemoaning this outcome, but rather seeks the roots of the problem, delving into awkward corners that most prefer to ignore.

At the heart of Massad's analysis are Israel's colonial nature, its aim of transforming the weak diaspora Jew into the new, invincible Israeli and its violent switching of places with the Palestinians.

In a bizarre reversal of roles, the Palestinian has been transformed into "the disappearing European Jew", against whom Zionist Israel practises anti-Semitism.

In the face of Zionism's rewriting of Palestinian and Jewish history, Massad's book stands as an important contribution to revisiting history in order to learn from it, pointing to the role intellectuals should play in society."

Barred from Contact: Violation of the Right to Visit Palestinians Held in Israeli Prisons

Four-year-old boy travels alone to visit his father imprisoned in Israel. (B'Tselem)

Report, B'Tselem, 26 October 2006

"Israel holds in prison more than 9,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The vast majority are held in prisons situated inside Israel's sovereign territory, and not in the Occupied Territories.

Holding these prisoners and detainees in Israel flagrantly breaches international humanitarian law, which prohibits the transfer of civilians, including detainees and prisoners, from the occupied territory to the territory of the occupying state. Israel's disregard for this prohibition is one of the main reasons that the prisoners and their families are unable to exercise their right to visits in a reasonable manner.

This report sheds light on the many difficulties and the suffering faced by the prisoners' families, residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in their efforts to visit their relatives imprisoned in Israel.

Although Israel has the obligation to enable residents of the Occupied Territories to exercise their right to visit their relatives imprisoned in Israel, the task has been performed, since 1969, by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Relatives from the Occupied Territories who want to visit can do so only on the designated visiting days and on the transportation that the ICRC organizes, provided they received the relevant permit from the Israeli military authorities.

Because of the obstacles entailed in obtaining a permit to enter Israel, many Palestinians are able to visit their imprisoned relatives only once every few months. Many others are denied a permit and are thus unable to visit at all. In addition, the visit itself entails a grueling journey that can take almost 24 hours because of the checks and delays.

Israel's arbitrary and disproportionate policy not only infringes the right to family visits, it also results in violation of other rights and principles of international humanitarian and human rights law, as well as domestic Israeli law. Another consequence of the policy is the large number of minors, some of them only four or five years old, who make the visit alone, without an adult accompanying them. The visit, usually held behind a reinforced glass wall that does not allow any physical contact between the visitors and their imprisoned relatives, is a difficult experience in itself. The prohibition on physical contact also applies to all minors, age six and above, that are visiting their parents or siblings.

In light of the report's findings, B'Tselem urges the government of Israel to transfer all Palestinian prisoners to detention facilities inside the Occupied Territories. If the transfer requires the building of new facilities, Israel must ensure that it constructs the facilities while respecting the rights of the residents of the Occupied Territories, in particular their property rights.
Also, so long as Palestinians are held inside Israel, B'Tselem calls on the government of Israel to:

* ease the granting of permits to enter Israel for family visits;

* increase the speed and efficiency of issuing permits;

* take measures to shorten the travel time to and from the prison, and ease the hardships entailed in the visits;

* refrain from imposing a sweeping restriction on all minor children from making physical contact with the prisoners, and improve the conditions in which the prisoners and their relatives communicate with each other during the visits."

Islamic Fascisms?

Inflammatory Ironies

(professor of economics at Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa. He is the author of the newly published book, The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism)

"President George W. Bush and the neoconservative handlers of his administration have added a new bogeyman to their long and evolving list of enemies: "Islamic fascism," also called "Islamofascism." This wonton flinging of the word "fascism" in reference to radical movements and leaders of the Muslim world, however, is not only inaccurate and oxymoronic, but it is, indeed, also ironic. Of course, it is also offensive and inflammatory and, therefore, detrimental to international understanding and stability.

Fascism is a specific category or concept of statecraft that is based on specific social and historical developments or phenomena. It cannot be conjured up by magic or portrayed by capricious definitions. It arises under conditions of an advanced industrialized economy, that is, under particular historical circumstances. It is a product of big business that is brought about by market or profitability imperatives. It is, in a sense, an "emergency" instrument (a metaphorical fire fighter, if your will) in the arsenal of powerful economic interests that is employed during crisis or critical times in order to remove or extinguish "obstacles" to unhindered operations of big business.

When profitability expectations of giant corporations are threatened or not met under ordinary economic conditions, powerful corporate interests resort to extraordinary measures to meet those expectations. To this end, they mobilize state power in order to remove what they perceive as threats to unrestricted business operations. Therefore, as the 1928 Encyclopedia Italiana puts it, "Fascism should more appropriately be called 'corporatism' because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

While some researchers have attributed this classic definition of fascism to the Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile[1], others believe that it came directly from the horse's mouth, Bonito Mussolini, the prototypical fascist.[2]

While it is important to identify and to warn against the signs of latent or embryonic fascism in and around the Bush administration, it is also necessary to point to the emergence or proliferation of a number of hopeful signs and forces that are evolving to counter the fascistic tendencies of neoconservatism. What are those counteracting forces?"

Afghan skull abuse rocks Germany

"PHOTOGRAPHS of German soldiers holding up a bleached skull, apparently of an Afghan fighter, sparked outrage across Berlin yesterday as the Government debated the scope of future deployments overseas.

Reaction to the pictures, published in the mass-circulation newspaper Bild, could tip the public mood against further German military missions abroad.
The cabinet was due to hold a special session to discuss the evolving role of the German army in an attempt to strike a balance between defence of the homeland, NATO membership and overseas missions. But the meeting was overshadowed by the images of the German soldiers desecrating human remains.

One picture shows the skull balanced on the headlight of an armoured car.

In another, two soldiers are sitting on the bonnet of a Mercedes jeep with the skull jammed on to a cable-cutting device.

Most shocking is the image of a soldier holding his penis next to the mouth of the skull.

"We are investigating this as a matter of urgency," said Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung.

"It is obvious that this kind of behaviour cannot be tolerated from a German soldier."

The photographs appear to have been taken three years ago. The fact that they were leaked now - at a moment when the Afghan mandate is to be renewed by a parliamentary vote - suggests a political motive.

The skull is assumed to be that of an Afghan, perhaps retrieved from a mass grave.

"This is something that could be used by the Taliban or other groups as a hate device to stir up sentiment against our troops."

There are 2730 German soldiers in Afghanistan. Their mission is to protect the reconstruction of wells, roads and schools and to guard public buildings.

The Germans have, however, been under pressure to do more. But there is a growing resistance in parliament even to renewing the current Afghan mission.

Germans are worried that the missions abroad are brutalising the army. There are about 9000 troops overseas in Afghanistan, Kosovo and Congo - although there are none in Iraq.

For the past 60 years, German soldiers - wanting to underline the difference with the Nazi years - have been regarded as the least warrior-like in NATO. Now there is a new toughness and Germans are not really sure they approve."

U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Worst in a Year

"BAGHDAD, Iraq Oct 26, 2006 (AP)— The number of American troops killed in Iraq in October reached the highest monthly total in a year Thursday after four Marines and a sailor died of wounds suffered while fighting in the same Sunni insurgent stronghold.

The U.S. military said 96 U.S. troops have died so far in October, the most in one month since October 2005, when the same number was killed. The spike in deaths has been a major factor behind rising anti-war sentiment in the United States, fueling calls for President Bush to change tactics.

The deadliest month for U.S. forces in Iraq was November 2004, when military offenses primarily in the then-insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, 40 miles west of Baghdad, left 137 troops dead, 126 of them in combat. In January 2005, 107 U.S. troops were killed.

Polls show a majority of Americans are opposed to Bush's handling of Iraq, and at a news conference in Washington on Wednesday, Bush indicated he shared the public's frustration even as he pushed back against calls for troop withdrawals. "

Villagers walk next to their livestock killed during a NATO warplanes attack late Tuesday in Panjwayi district of Kandahar Province, south Afghanistan, Thursday, Oct 26, 2006. NATO warplanes killed more than 60 civilians, mainly women and children, in bombing earlier in the week in southern Afghanistan, Afghan officials and witnesses said Thursday. (AP Photo/Allauddin Khan)

The Charnel House of Baghdad

The War is Lost, But the Killing Continues


"There are three things wrong with the current policy in Iraq.

Occupation, occupation and occupation.

More important, we must recognize where we are now in a conflict that is progressively intensifying and will not let up until the occupation ends.

Will we destroy the city to liberate it? How many doors will be kicked in? How many buildings will be reduced to rubble? How many innocent people will be dragged off to interrogation-centers and filthy prisons? How many tens of thousands of people will be killed?

There is no "government" under occupation, just foreign-military rule. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has no power and he governs nothing beyond the walls of America's the Green Zone.

If we are serious about concluding the war in Iraq, we must deal directly with the leaders of the Iraqi resistance, many of whom were part of the former Ba'athist regime. There are rumors that talks are currently taking place in Amman, Jordan between representatives of the resistance and American officials, but there is no solid confirmation of this.

This is what really concerns western elites who, up until a few months ago, fully supported the Bush agenda. The attention devoted to Iraq is loosening America's grip on the rest of the empire, and our influence around the world is in sharp decline. As we become further mired in an unwinnable war; there is growing sense that we may have already turned the corner and are headed for an impending tragedy.

As the criticism continues to mount, the administration gets more embattled and mistrustful. Bush equates pigheadedness with steely-resolve, and remains impervious to reason. He is still in the clutches of his key advisors, Cheney and Rumsfeld who refuse to entertain the notion of early withdrawal. They have already indicated that the recommendations of the James Baker "Iraq Survey Group" will be ignored. There stubbornness paves the way for an even greater tragedy in the very near future.

What happens when the war is lost but the fighting continues?

We are about to find out."

No Winners in This Factional Conflict

No one can predict the security, political and social consequences if the elected Palestinian government was overthrown by a US backed junta.

By Dr. Daud Abdullah
(senior researcher a the Palestinian Return Centre, London)

"Without the excessive foreign interference and meddling in their internal affairs Palestinians would not have got to this stage. Unfortunately for them the age-old tactic of ‘divide and rule’ is having its effect here. A mere five months after the Palestinian parliamentary elections Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert confirmed that he approved the transfer of arms and ammunition to Mahmud Abbas’ Presidential Guard in the West Bank in order to strengthen him against Hamas (Ha'aretz, 6/14/06). Additional arms shipments were received from Europe, Egypt, and Jordan, during the past months (Reuters, 10/4/06). Meanwhile, the US, on its part, sent forces to train Abbas’ Presidential Guard. Some reports suggest that Abbas expanded his Presidential Guard by roughly 70% since the elections and established new training camps for them in Gaza and the West Bank. (Reuters, 10/4/06).

Given his staunch opposition to the ‘militarization’ of the Intifada it is strange that Abbas is now the recipient of foreign arms shipments. More absurd is the fact that the generous suppliers of these weapons are the same governments that imposed crippling economic sanctions against the elected government in Palestine because it refuses to dismantle its military infrastructure. How cynical that western democracies should prefer to supply guns to a starving people instead of food. On the streets many deprived Palestinians argue that if the president really wants to bring money into the territories he is capable of doing it. He apparently has his own reasons and calculations for not to do so.

Not surprisingly a growing number of Palestinians are becoming increasingly mistrustful of their president and his Fateh movement. Instead of displaying the impartiality that goes with his office he has become a partisan to the extent of opposing his own government. Needless to say that it is quite unusual for a president to go against his government. After the events of recent weeks and his poor handling of the crisis with his government many are now viewing Abbas himself as an obstacle and would rather see him resign.

In the absence of any clear political or constitutional means to depose the Hamas-led government the only option left, it seems, is military force. This is dangerous. As a resistance movement Hamas has paid a heavy price for its ideology and practice. A movement that withstood the military wrath of Israel for almost two decades and which sacrificed its most accomplished leaders for its cause would not walk away in the face of agent provocateurs or putschists.

Despite strong denials from Fateh of any collusion with the US and Israel many in the OT believe where there is smoke there is fire. Though, as a movement which dominated the Palestinian political scene for decades Fateh is not seriously regarded as an alternative to Hamas. Not only is its record of governance poor but more importantly it is today paralyzed by internal divisions and disputes.

In military terms, it is very unlikely that either faction, Fateh or Hamas, would be able to defeat the other. Even if Fatah does prevail militarily, it is highly unlikely that this would lead to a political breakthrough. Inevitably the Palestinian people would themselves question the legitimacy of such a government because it would be seen as a puppet of the Occupying Power. This is a charge the movement has always had to fend off since the signing of the Oslo accords. At the same time it would lack the constitutional authority to govern.

Crippling the Hamas government is one thing. Toppling it is another. No one can predict the security, political and social consequences if the elected Palestinian government was overthrown by a US backed junta. Wherever such coups occurred they turned out to be costly affairs that resulted in brutal dictatorships."


(Click on cartoon to enlarge)


By Daryl Cagle.
(Click on cartoon to enlarge)

Rogue President

by Michael Carmichael

"The president seems confused. After making a curious remark observing that the war in Iraq was placing a strain on the psyche of America, President Bush has become the primary focus of concerns about a strained psyche.

Later in another interview – President Bush stunned America with his pronouncement that he had never said that the US would, “Stay the course,” in Iraq. After recovering several verbatim transcripts of the president’s use of the exact phraseology that he now believes he never uttered, American pundits are puzzled by this expanding enigma enveloping the president’s personal discourse. What will he say next?

From that point in his White House talk, the President veered off into a rambling statement that quite simply defies definition. President Bush said that he would stay in Iraq until the, “job is done,” and, “we cannot allow our dissatisfaction to turn into disillusionment about our purpose in this war,” followed by an order aimed at the American people to disbelieve what he described as, “enemy propaganda.” From that mystifying turn of phrase, President Bush assured his audience in the White House, “I know the American people understand the stakes in Iraq. They want to win. They will support the war as long as they see a clear path to victory.”

America is a young nation, but an aging democracy. While America has suffered through rogue presidencies in its past: Pierce; Polk; Buchanan; Grant; McKinley; Harding; Coolidge; Hoover; Nixon and Reagan – it has never suffered quite as horribly; quite as tragically; quite as fatefully or quite as expensively as it is now suffering under the presidency of George W. Bush.

This conundrum affects President Bush most of all. From the president’s perspective, the world appears to be distorted as if he is witnessing events through a macabre prism twisting and contorting reality into a nightmarish illusion that defies his admittedly meagre powers to discern the true state of things.

That this story was leaked when it was – ie. two weeks before a crucial election - reveals the deep concerns of the Republican seniority over what appeared to be nothing less than a Bush-Cheney plan to launch World War W – by attacking Iran in the final days prior to the dreaded midterm elections in America.

When Kim Jong-Il hit the streets of Dodge City to face off against George W. Bush, George W. Bush and his backers decided it was time to get out of Dodge.

The walls are closing in on the presidency of George Walker Bush. His old enemy, Gerhard Schroder, has just launched his book decrying the Bush presidency. Schroder reported that meetings with President Bush bordered on the impossible as his sanctimonious staff repeatedly assured his guests that the president was a, “god-fearing” man. Needless to say, Shroder records that it was difficult to do business, to meet or to negotiate with such a head of state, one that clearly fancied himself to be a divine right monarch straight out of the pages of medieval history rather than the head of the world’s sole superpower."

'Stability First': Newspeak for rape of Iraq

By Pepe Escobar
Asia Times

"Iraq is not simply a US electoral issue. It's a human tragedy of biblical proportions. Hence the urge at this point to situate the tragedy in a historical context.

Baghdad had been under siege by the Assyrians and later by Cyrus the Great from Persia. But it was only in 1258 that Baghdad was sacked for the first time by what was then the equivalent of Desert Storm - the Mongols riding their lightning-quick horses under the command of Hulagu, Genghis Khan's grandson. Legend has it that he erected a pyramid of 700,000 skulls out of his victims.

In 1401, another foreign invader, the Turco-Mongol Tamerlan ("Timur the Lame"), devastated Baghdad yet again. In 2003, after the devastation of "shock and awe", came the Christian armies of President George W Bush. From the beginning the comparisons with Hulagu and Tamerlan were vivid in the popular imagination. Over time, Baghdadis - Sunni or Shi'ite - were saying, we will dictate our rhythm and impose ourselves over the occupiers. This is already happening.

This logic of extermination of a society and culture was inbuilt in the process since March 2003. In fact, the systematic annihilation of 2-3% of the entire Iraqi population, according to a study by The Lancet, not to mention the 1 million people displaced since March 2003, follow the more than 500,000 children who died during the 1990s as victims of United Nations sanctions. Iraq has been systematically destroyed for more than 15 years, non-stop. And it gets worse, because for the Bush administration all this death and destruction is just a minor detail in the "big picture".

World public opinion must switch to red alert. The real, not virtual, future of Iraq will be decided in December. The whole point is a new oil law - which is in fact a debt-for-oil program concocted and imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This is the point of the US invasion - a return on investment on the hundreds of billions of dollars of US taxpayers' money spent. It's not war as politics by other means; it's war as free-market opening by other means - full US access to the epicenter of the energy wars and the perfect geostrategic location for "taming", in the near future, both Russia and China.

No wonder: the Green Zone US Embassy colossus has always made sure that the US controls - via well-paid Iraqi servants - the Petroleum Ministry, as well as all key management posts in key Iraqi ministries. The draft hydrocarbon law was reviewed by the IMF, reviewed by Bodman and reviewed by Big Oil executives. It was not and it will not be reviewed by Iraqi civil society: that was left to the fractious Iraqi parliament - which can be largely bought for a fistful of dinars.

No matter what happens in the US mid-term elections next month, this is the post-December scenario: Iraq enslaved by the IMF; Big Oil signing mega-lucrative production sharing agreements (PSAs); "partial" troop withdrawal; relentless guerrilla warfare; further disintegration; open road to partition.Surrealism in international relations would reach new highs (or lows) with the US ordering by decree that a sovereign nation must dismember itself.

Another reading is more ominous. It spells the Bush administration and its attached elites losing control - of everything. And that's how they can become even more dangerous. On October 19, Vice President Dick Cheney once again stated that the only way out in Iraq was "total victory". A recent historical parallel is nothing but gloomy. When the US was confronted with defeat in Vietnam, it did not "Redeploy and Contain": on the contrary, death and destruction were extended to Laos and Cambodia. Baker's "Stability First" might contain undisclosed subtexts.

In sum: a "Coalition of the Drilling" secured by the Pentagon's Long War apparatus. It's up to ancient and proud Baghdad to spoil the party. Baghdad survived and buried Hulagu. Baghdad survived and buried Tamerlan. Baghdad may as well survive and bury George W Bush. "

Abu Khosa’s bodyguard one of the Kidnappers

Gaza - The bodyguard of Tawfik Abu Khosa, the Fatah spokesman in the Gaza Strip, is one of the kidnappers of the AP photographer who was released one day after his abduction at the hands of armed men in front of his residence in Gaza city on Tuesday, well informed Palestinian sources revealed.

They identified the kidnappers as Salman Abu Amra, Abu Khosa’s bodyguard, and Sa’eed Abu Amra, the bodyguard of Mohammed Joda one of the senior officials in the PA chief’s office in Gaza and Mohammed Filfil, affiliated with the PA police force, which is under the direct command of the PA chief.

A source close to the PA government expressed surprise at the news, questioning whether those elements were acting on their own.

Observers did not rule out that the kidnap was an attempt to foil the expected meeting between Fatah and Hamas leaders in Damascus under Syrian-Qatari-Spanish auspices.

The meeting aims at finding a way out of the current political impasse in the Palestinian arena after the PA chief, Mahmoud Abbas, refused the formation of a unity government based on the national document and insisted on his idea of forming a government of technocrats.

If we miss this last chance, then our soldiers will have died in vain

The intervention in Iraq that was intended to make the world safer for democracy has only made it more dangerous

Timothy Garton Ash
Thursday October 26, 2006
The Guardian

"'They died in vain." Four words that are unbearable for the mother of a dead soldier and shaming for the politicians who sent them to their deaths. So our leaders say "they did not die in vain". But who now believes them?
Contemplating the scale of the American-British failure in Iraq, I have been struggling to see if there are any future circumstances, any lines of long-term strategic action, which would one day enable us honestly and credibly to say to the mother of a soldier who died in Iraq: "Your son did not die in vain." At the moment, that seems nearly impossible.

Oh yes, and there's the cost. The Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has estimated that the total, eventual costs of the Iraq war, "including the budgetary, social and macroeconomic costs, are likely to exceed $2 trillion" - that's $2,000,000,000,000. That would be $2,000 a head for each of the world's poorest billion people, who live (and die) on less than $1 a day.

It's not too soon to suggest that the American-British invasion and occupation of Iraq has proved to be the greatest strategic blunder of our time. So what can we honestly say to that grieving mother or father? "Your son (or daughter) died in vain"? Brooding on this, my thoughts have strayed to the Hungarian revolution of 1956, the 50th anniversary of which we mark this week. Both stories started with joyous crowds celebrating round the toppled statue of a tyrant (Stalin in Budapest, Saddam in Baghdad). In both places, celebration had turned within weeks to bloodshed and misery.

Of course the cases of Hungary and Iraq are quite different in all sorts of ways. Unlike British and American soldiers in Iraq, the Hungarians were fighting directly for the freedom of their own country. But the point of the comparison is simply that our judgment of such dramatic events will change over decades, depending on their long-term consequences - but also on our own policies. Given a fortunate turn of history, and if democracies can learn from their mistakes, committing themselves more intelligently to a long-term struggle, even a defeat can be a milestone on the path to victory."


I disagree with the basic premise of this comment. The Iraq invasion was never intended to "make the world safe for democracy." The writer tries to discredit the Lancet estimate of 655,000 Iraqis killed. There was no wide-spread rejoicing by the Iraqis initially as he claims. The toppling of Saddam's statue was a staged affair by the US army.

The comparison to Hungary in 1956 is ridiculous. And look at this: "if democracies can learn from their mistakes, committing themselves more intelligently to a long-term struggle, even a defeat can be a milestone on the path to victory." So, the whole thing was just an honest mistake from which the benevolent Anglo-American hegemon will hopefully learn and ultimately achieve "victory!"

This comment is an example of the mendacious nature of some of the apologists for this horrendous rape of a nation; in the Guardian none the less.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"I will only leave this house in a coffin"

Palestinian father-of-four Ahmed Salim fears for his family's lives after his father, brother, sister and two nephews were killed.

Report, IRIN, 25 October 2006
(UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)

"BAGHDAD - Palestinians living in Iraq have increasingly come under threat since the US-led occupation of the country began in 2003, according to a recent report by the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.

The report said that Palestinians, who are predominantly Sunni Muslims, have become targets of Shi'ite death squads because of resentment towards them for their perceived support of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's government, which was also Sunni and which sympathised with their cause. This targeting has forced thousands of Palestinians to flee their homes, UNHCR says.

In the popular Palestinian neighbourhood of al-Baladiya in the capital, Baghdad, the Palestinian population has dropped from 8,000 before 2003 to fewer than 4,000 now. IRIN spoke to two Palestinian residents there.

Ahmed Salim (42)
"Iraqis want us to leave their country. Militias started to target us and force us out from our houses accusing us of being Saddam's followers. Sometimes I work as a vegetable seller to get some money since I lost my job and my family needs to eat.

"I am desperate and do not have a choice and don't know where to go. We urge the government to look after us. We are Muslims, Arabs and not animals to be left to be killed like that.

"They [militias] killed my father, brother, sister and two nephews because they refused to leave their home and I am sure that soon they will come after me. What will I do having four children to look after, without a job and without money? God bless us, the landless Palestinians."

Umm Muhammad (56)
"They [militias] are monsters, they killed my two sons in front of my house and later shouted saying that we Palestinians are like pigs [because] we rely on what people can give us. This is not human; they [her sons] were the only good thing I had in my life and now they have gone leaving behind their seven children to their unemployed widows to look after.

"I saw the head of my son being blown apart with bullets and in the eyes of those cowards I could see just happiness and excitement from doing that. Justice should be done and we have to be protected.

"We are human and every human being has the right to live. We have been warned to leave our house in a week but I think it will be my last day in life because I will only leave this house in a coffin.""

Stealing the Midterms and the Power of Myth

By Mike Whitney

"“The masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim”. Gustave Le Bon;”The Crowd”

In researching the Bush administration’s manipulation of public perceptions, I came across an interesting summary of the State Department’s Philip Zelikow, who was Executive Director on the 9-11 Commission, that greatest of all charades. According to Wikipedia:

“Prof. Zelikow’s area of academic expertise is the creation and maintenance of, in his words, ‘public myths’ or ‘public presumptions’ which he defines as ‘beliefs (1) thought to be true ( although not necessarily known with certainty) and (2) shared in common within the relevant political community.’ In his academic work and elsewhere he has taken a special interest in what he has called ‘searing’ or ‘molding’ events (that) take on transcendent’ importance and therefore retain their power even as the experiencing generation passes from the scene….He has noted that ‘a history’s narrative power is typically linked to how readers relate to the actions of individuals in the history; if readers cannot make the connection to their own lives, then a history may fail to engage them at all.” (“Thinking about Political History” Miller center Report, winter 1999, p 5-7)

Isn’t that the same as saying there is neither history nor truth; that what is really important is the manipulation of epochal events so they serve the interests of society’s managers? Thus, it follows that if the government can create their own “galvanizing events”, then they can write history any way they choose.

If that’s the case, then perhaps the entire war on terror is cut from whole cloth; a garish public relations maneuver devoid of meaning.

Wikipedia adds this about Zelikow which may help to clarify this point:

“In the Nov-Dec 1998 issue of Foreign Affairs he (Zelikow) co-authored (with the former head of the CIA) an article entitled “Catastrophic Terrorism” in which he speculated that if the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center had succeeded ‘the resulting horror and chaos would have exceeded our ability to describe it. Such an act of catastrophic terrorism would be a watershed event in American history. It could involve loss of life and property unprecedented in peacetime and undermine America’s fundamental sense of security, as did the Soviet atomic bomb test in 1949. Like Pearl Harbor, the event would divide our past and future into a before and after. The United States might respond with draconian measures scaling back civil liberties, allowing wider surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects and use of deadly force.” (

That was written in 1998!?!

As Zelikow presciently implies, the post 9-11 world depends entirely on “public myths”; fairy tales invented by society’s supervisors which perpetuate the illusion of democracy, freedom and the rule of law.

So, how does this apply to Karl Rove?

There are only two weapons in the imperial tool-chest; force and deception. I expect that the anticipated Democratic landslide will be preempted by massive voter fraud accompanied by some type of “searing event”; that way the fantastical outcome of a GOP victory can be neatly folded into a larger and all-pervasive “myth”.

As we have been reminded many times: Reality no longer matters; only the perception of reality. The power of myth reigns supreme. "