Archive for July, 2006

Israel set war plan more than a year ago

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

07-21) 04:00 PDT Jerusalem — Israel’s military response by air, land and sea to what it considered a provocation last week by Hezbollah militants is unfolding according to a plan finalized more than a year ago.

In the years since Israel ended its military occupation of southern Lebanon, it watched warily as Hezbollah built up its military presence in the region. When Hezbollah militants kidnapped two Israeli soldiers last week, the Israeli military was ready to react almost instantly.

“Of all of Israel’s wars since 1948, this was the one for which Israel was most prepared,” said Gerald Steinberg, professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University. “In a sense, the preparation began in May 2000, immediately after the Israeli withdrawal, when it became clear the international community was not going to prevent Hezbollah from stockpiling missiles and attacking Israel. By 2004, the military campaign scheduled to last about three weeks that we’re seeing now had already been blocked out and, in the last year or two, it’s been simulated and rehearsed across the board.”

More than a year ago, a senior Israeli army officer began giving PowerPoint presentations, on an off-the-record basis, to U.S. and other diplomats, journalists and think tanks, setting out the plan for the current operation in revealing detail. Under the ground rules of the briefings, the officer could not be identified.

In his talks, the officer described a three-week campaign: The first week concentrated on destroying Hezbollah’s heavier long-range missiles, bombing its command-and-control centers, and disrupting transportation and communication arteries. In the second week, the focus shifted to attacks on individual sites of rocket launchers or weapons stores. In the third week, ground forces in large numbers would be introduced, but only in order to knock out targets discovered during reconnaissance missions as the campaign unfolded. There was no plan, according to this scenario, to reoccupy southern Lebanon on a long-term basis.

US Rushes Bombs to Israel
WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is rushing a delivery of precision-guided bombs to Israel, which requested the expedited shipment last week after beginning its air campaign against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, American officials said Friday.

The decision to quickly ship the weapons to Israel was made with relatively little debate within the Bush administration, the officials said. Its disclosure threatens to anger Arab governments and others because of the appearance that the United States is actively aiding the Israeli bombing campaign in a way that could be compared to Iran’s efforts to arm and resupply Hezbollah.

The munitions that the United States is sending to Israel are part of a multimillion dollar arms sale package approved last year that Israel is able to draw on as needed, the officials said. But Israel’s request for expedited delivery of the satellite and laser-guided bombs was described as unusual by some military officers, and as an indication that Israel had a long list of targets in Lebanon still to strike.

Rice sees bombs as ‘birth pangs’
Condoleezza Rice has described the plight of Lebanon as a part of the “birth pangs of a new Middle East” and said that Israel should ignore calls for a ceasefire.

“This is a different Middle East. It’s a new Middle East. It’s hard, We’re going through a very violent time,” the US secretary of state said.

The Beauty of the System

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

…Still, it’s not easy being an upscale suburban white middle class American. There is a certain amount of guilt involved. (Cut to forty million black Americans laughing hysterically.) Waking up to suburban life’s true global cost is like finding out that you have a hundred slaves in some unseen place on the other side of the world making your clothing, working in your mines and harvesting your Gevalia coffee. It’s more than a conundrum. It’s a moral confrontation with real justice and values. Jefferson had the same conflict about his slave ownership. He never came to grips with it either. Old Tom never freed that piece of side action, Sally Hemmings. Nor are we about to demand freedom for the sweatshop slaves who turn endangered nyatoh rainforest trees into Sears ‘classic and timeless patio furniture.’ Who is gonna turn down an Everyday Martha Stewart Stockbridge 5-Piece Bistro set for a hundred and fifty bucks? ‘Fuck the eco-kooks, what they need is a good bath and a character-building hitch in the Marines, preferably in Iraq.’ Of course we never say such things. We never even think them. We don’t think at all when the in-laws are coming in from the West Coast and we need that patio set for entertaining. The renunciation of earthly goods is no easy thing if your father-in-law fought his way across Italy in the Big War, then came home to work 70 hours a week building up a business so you could ‘have it better than we had it,’ and is damned proud of the way his kids and grandkids are flourishing in what he considers a consumer paradise of goods and opportunities. What’s to renounce? Life is good here in Brambleton. ‘Hell, why don’t you kids get a Hummer? You have the children’s safety to think of, you know.’ ‘Yes dad, we thought about a Hummer, but we’re holding off for GM’s new Huey commuter model helicopter gunship.’

Gloom descends on Iraqi leaders as civil war looms

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

BAGHDAD, July 21 (Reuters) – Iraqi leaders have all but given up on holding the country together and, just two months after forming a national unity government, talk in private of “black days” of civil war ahead.

Signalling a dramatic abandonment of the U.S.-backed project for Iraq, there is even talk among them of pre-empting the worst bloodshed by agreeing to an east-west division of Baghdad into Shi’ite and Sunni Muslim zones, senior officials told Reuters.

Tens of thousands have already fled homes on either side.

“Iraq as a political project is finished,” one senior government official said — anonymously because the coalition under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki remains committed in public to the U.S.-sponsored constitution that preserves Iraq’s unity.

One highly placed source even spoke of busying himself on government projects, despite a sense of their futility, only as a way to fight his growing depression over his nation’s future.

Cheney re-enlists wounded soldier at rally for troops

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

FORT STEWART, Ga. – During a rally for more than 8,000 Georgia troops, Vice President Dick Cheney administered the re-enlistment oath Friday to a 24-year-old Army gunner determined to remain in the ranks after losing his left leg last year to a bomb blast in Iraq.

Flanked by risers crowded with his fellow 3rd Infantry Division troops, Cpl. Jerrod Fields of Chicago raised his right hand before Cheney and pledged to serve another four years. The Army approved Fields to remain in his cavalry unit after he passed his physical fitness test with flying colors, including running 2 miles in 14 minutes, 9 seconds with a prosthetic leg.

“I wasn’t going to let the bad guys, the enemy, affect a decision I’d already made,” said Fields, who was wounded by a roadside bomb while driving a Bradley armored vehicle near Rustamayah, Iraq, in February 2005.

Fields opted to have his leg amputated below the knee to improve his chances of returning to active duty. He said Cheney offered words of personal praise offstage.

“He just told me job well done,” Fields said. “He was happy that I decided to stay in and said just to keep pushing.”

Bush – Stoned? Drunk? Medicated? Retarded? Presidential Tester for the Pharmaceutical Industry? You Decide……..

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

Bush is fried. He’s either drinking, smoking pot, medicated, or some combination of all of them. Either that or the man has taken a one-way trip to crazy town.

Watch his gibberish at the G8, especially the bizarre stuff about how long the plane flights to various countries are. If you take out the comments of the other leaders (because they actually sound intelligent and not like drunken bar talk) and just read what Bush says, he sounds just like someone who is more than half looped.

“Gotta go home. Gotta do sumthin tonight. Get ona plane. Go home. It’s a long flight. How long is your flight? That’s a long flight. Your country is big. His country is big too.” Retarded or stoned, you decide.

This is the kind of mindless bar drivel that drunks who can’t shut up drone on with. They just keep running their mouths, totally disconnected from the non-verbal clues of the people around them.

Watch the press conference where Bush couldn’t stop talking about the pig roast. It didn’t matter what anyone asked him, he just kept saying whatever his addled brain was looping on, in this case, the pig. Typical stoned behavior. It reminded me of the time Bush went to Canada and couldn’t get off the subject of the mouth one of the Canadian Prime Minister’s staff members! “You’ve got a purty mouth.” Not once but several times. “You’ve sure got a purty mouth.” And, “Your mouth is prettier than my Scott’s mouth.” (The poor guy’s name was Scott.) Who does this? Outside of bars or institutions, I mean.

Ethiopian troops enter central Somalia

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

MOGADISHU, Somalia – Hundreds of Ethiopian troops in armored vehicles rolled into Somalia on Thursday to protect their allies in this country’s virtually powerless government from Islamic militants who control the capital.

The move could give the U.S.-backed Somali government its only chance of curbing the Islamic militia’s increasing power. But Ethiopia’s incursion could also be just the provocation the militia needs to build public support for a guerrilla war.

‘We will declare jihad if the Ethiopian government refuses to withdraw their troops from Somalia,’ a top Islamic official, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed, told The Associated Press.

Gee, Ethiopia prompted by the US maybe?

Galloway:Israel launches barbaric action against the people of Lebanon

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

Imagine if Lebanon destroyed every bridge in Israel, blew up the international airport, blockaded the ports, severed every arterial road, ordered people to leave their homes and then bombed them to pieces when they did… Do you think any Western leader would utter the words ‘Lebanon has a right to defend itself’?

This is the basic truth that every news bulletin seems designed to obscure. It is the reality that is enraging hundreds of millions of people across the globe as Israel launches its barbaric action against the people of Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.

And it is not just Israel, of course. Barely commented on in the British media is the fact that it was Britain and the US that prevented the G8 summit from calling for a ceasefire.

Tony Blair and his ministers were again instrumental on Monday in preventing the European Union from issuing a condemnation of Israel’s aggression. No one should be in any doubt why – George Bush and Blair want Israel to continue its assault on Lebanon.

Israel angry, US wary as Annan peace plan calls for ceasefire
…A UN source said there was a sense of depression at the organisation’s headquarters. “There is a game of rhetoric in New York versus bullets and bombs in Lebanon and Gaza. The Israelis want time to eliminate Hizbullah. They do not care how long it takes.”

The US has delayed diplomatic action. John Bolton, the US ambassador to the UN, agreed yesterday that it was time for the security council to start formulating a response, but repeated his assertion that it was not practical to agree “a ceasefire with a group of terrorists”.

But Israel was ceding no ground. Dan Gillerman, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, said his country’s operation in Lebanon “will take as long as it takes”, and “a cessation of terrorism” had to precede any “cessation of hostilities”.

Mr Gillerman said “something very important was missing” from Mr Annan’s speech: any mention of terrorism. Hizbullah were “ruthless indiscriminate animals”, he told reporters. “We must first address the core and the root cause of why these hostilities started in the first place, and who started them … If there’s a ceasefire while this cesspool continues to fester, we’ll leave Hizbullah with the capability to do time and time again what they’ve done this time.”

A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm
Following is a report prepared by The Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies’ “Study Group on a New Israeli Strategy Toward 2000.” The main substantive ideas in this paper emerge from a discussion in which prominent opinion makers, including Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser participated.

Dahiyeh sports terrible scars from merciless bombardment
DAHIYEH, Lebanon: Rubble, smoke and tangled webs of dangling electrical cables now reside in an area that formerly housed over 500,000 Lebanese, the aftermath of Israeli air strikes that have ravaged Beirut’s southern suburbs and show no sign of ending.

“Only civilians lived here,” said a Hizbullah spokesperson as he led journalists through what he called a “tour of the terror by Israel” in the once densely populated neighborhood.

The scene included the usual debris of twisted metal, shattered glass and chunks of cement that follows bomb and rocket blasts, along with personal items, including abandoned toys, scorched mattresses and dusty books and photos.

Before the tour, the spokesperson warned journalists that if he ordered them to evacuate, they “must obey” and do it immediately as Israeli fighter-bombers and warships have been sporadically bombarding the area. Within an hour of the tour, Israeli helicopters attacked again.

“Israel always invents pretexts and excuses for its attacks,” said the guide. “Instead of cowardly bombs on civilian areas, come and face the actual Hizbullah fighters in combat along the borders.”

He denied persistent statements by journalists that Israel is only targeting Hizbullah headquarters and the residences of its fighters and officials.

“People live here and some may be supporters of Hizbullah but that doesn’t make them fighters,” he added as he pointed to a demolished “Hizbullah media center” building and a convenience store nearby where a cash register and some merchandise survived.

“Israel keeps releasing statements that it destroyed 50 percent of Hizbullah’s force, which is all false as [the force] is growing stronger by the day and will fight until the end,” said the spokesperson, adding that on Thursday over 30 rockets were launched at the Israeli Army.

Hezbollah, Hamas and Israel: Everything You Need To Know
As the tv networks give unlimited airtime to Israel’s apologists, the message rolls out that no nation, least of all Israel, can permit bombardment or armed incursion across its borders without retaliation.

The guiding rule in this tsunami of drivel is that the viewers should be denied the slightest access to any historical context, or indeed to anything that happened prior to June 28, which was when the capture of an Israeli soldier and the killing of two others by Hamas hit the headlines, followed soon thereafter by an attack by a unit of Hezbollah’s fighters.

Memory is supposed to stop in its tracks at June 28, 2006.

Let’s go on a brief excursion into pre-history. I’m talking about June 20, 2006, when Israeli aircraft fired at least one missile at a car in an attempted extrajudicial assassination attempt on a road between Jabalya and Gaza City. The missile missed the car. Instead it killed three Palestinian children and wounded 15.

Back we go again to June 13, 2006. Israeli aircraft fired missiles at a van in another attempted extrajudicial assassination. The successive barrages killed nine innocent Palestinians.

Now we’re really in the dark ages, reaching far, far back to June 9, 2006, when Israel shelled a beach in Beit Lahiya killing 8 civilians and injuring 32.

That’s just a brief trip down Memory Lane, and we trip over the bodies of twenty dead and forty-seven wounded, all of them Palestinians, most of them women and children.

Israel regrets… But no! Israel doesn’t regret in the least. Most of the time it doesn’t even bother to pretend to regret. It says, ‘We reserve the right to slaughter Palestinians whenever we want. We reserve the right to assassinate their leaders, crush their homes, steal their water, tear out their olive groves, and when they try to resist we call them terrorists intent on wrecking the “peace process”‘.

The Spanish Civil War, 70 Years On: The Deafening Silence on Franco’s Genocide

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

The Spanish Civil War , launched by the military Fascist coup, on July 18, 1936 was the first act of World War II. The cast of characters that shaped and appeared in World War II first came together in Spain. The Civil War, like World War II, was a war between progressive forces and the axis of evil of that day–fascism, Nazism, and reaction. Interestingly, though, in the Spanish war the Western democracies stood to one side or, even worse, indirectly assisted on the fascist side. Why?

…With the victory of fascism in 1939, a nightmare of repression began. In just five years, nearly 200,000 people were assassinated (according to the Minister of Justice in Franco’s government, assassinations were recorded as executions or deaths in concentration camps). The fascists knew that the majority of the Spanish people opposed them and openly called for what they called ‘healthy terrorism.’ Indeed, it took three years for the heavily armed fascist forces to defeat the popular resistance led by the Republican government, which had few armaments at its disposal. (On some fronts, the Republicans had just one rifle for every two soldiers.) The fascist generals spoke openly of the need to terrorize a population that they knew opposed them. According to Edward Malefakis, professor of European history at Columbia University, for every assassination committed by Mussolini, Franco committed 10,000. The terror was even greater than that carried out in Chile by Pinochet, a student of Franco at the Spanish military academy. (Even today, Franco’s statue presides over the entrance to the academy.)

The cruelty reached unheard-of dimensions, such as the killing of parents so that the assassins could adopt their young children. The brutality and bestiality of the fascist forces was well illustrated by the response of the head of the Spanish Foreign Legion, General Millan Astray, to a critical speech by Miguel de Unamuno, President of Salamanca University (the oldest university in Europe), in a meeting that Astray attended. Unamuno was a liberal intellectual who had supported the fascist coup because he was afraid of the working-class mobilizations. The brutal repression by the fascist forces, however, had shocked and disillusioned him. He denounced the repression by Franco’s forces, with the famous statement, ‘You will win but you will not convince because even though you have the brutal force, you don’t have the reason.’ General Astray responded by yelling at him, ‘Long live death! Down with intelligence!’ This became the slogan of a fascist regime that was responsible for genocide of overwhelming brutality.

And all this was done with the active involvement of the Catholic Church. In every village, town, and city, it was the Spanish Church hierarchy (which had called for a military coup during the Republican government) and the priests who prepared the lists of people to be executed. A primary target of the repression was teachers, considered major enemies by the Church. Its active opposition to the popular reforms by the Spanish republican governments, and its calling on the Army to rebel against the popularly elected government, explains the fury felt by large sectors of the working class, led by anarcho-syndicalists, toward the Church. The day after Franco’s coup, large numbers of people decided to take justice into their own hands, burning churches and killing priests. These violations took place against the wishes of the democratic state, which actively opposed such actions. Terror was never a policy of the Republic. It was, however, part and parcel of the fascist state.

…Religious fundamentalism is isolating the Church in Spain. According to a recent poll, 80% of young people in Spain distrust the Church, even more than they distrust NATO or the business community. The proportion of youngsters who define themselves as Catholics has declined from 77% ten years ago to 49% today. Meanwhile, the Spanish Church, Opus Dei, and the Legionnaires of Christ (whose founder was a child abuser) are funding a statue of the Pope in Madrid–which is being created, incidentally, by the same sculptor–Juan de Avalos–who made the fascist monument, the Valley of the Fallen, outside Madrid.

Venezuela enters Mercosur trade bloc

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

CORDOBA, Argentina – Venezuela formally entered Mercosur Friday, increasing the South American trade bloc’s economic might and vowing to transform the once-sleepy policy organization into a force for profound social change.

President Nestor Kirchner welcomed the “historic” addition of oil-rich Venezuela, the continent’s No. 3 economy after Brazil and Argentina, launching a round of speeches by Latin America’s leading leftists, who asserted the region’s independence from a Washington model many of their citizens see as a failure.

Anti-U.S. crusader Hugo Chavez immediately urged Mercosur to put aside internal squabbles and stand against the U.S.-backed free-market policies he says “enslaved” the region in debt to the International Monetary Fund.

“Latin America has all it needs to become a great world power. Let’s not put any limits on our dreams. Let’s make them reality,” the Venezuelan leader declared.

The addition of Venezuela gives Mercosur a combined market of 250 million people and a combined output of $1 trillion in goods and services annually, said Brazil’s president, Luis Ignacio Lula da Silva.

NAFTA, combining the markets of the United States, Canada and Mexico, has 450 million consumers and a combined gross product of about $14 trillion.

Still, Silva said “no one’s talking anymore” about the U.S.-backed Free Trade of the Americas proposal blocked by Venezuela and the Mercosur nations last year.

The Iraq War is a Huge Success

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

…The hidden agenda of the US government in Iraq has been three-fold. Firstly, to take control of the world’s second largest oil reserves, thereby seizing one of the key oil spigots of competitors like Japan, China and the EU. Secondly, to prevent the dollar-based world oil market from transacting in Euros, something Iran, Iraq and Venezuela were attempting since 2002, when the Euro was launched. Thirdly, the establishment of permanent US military bases in the strategic heart of the world. (The US has built the world’s largest embassy, employing 5000 people, in Baghdad).

In all three respects, the war has been a resounding success. US oil companies have taken charge of Iraqi oil. In the future it is through them that Japan, China, EU and any other competitors will have to buy oil from the region, something that gives the US formidable leverage. The oil market continues to transact in dollars, fragile as it is as a global reserve currency. Iranian experiments with the Euro Bourse have not taken off.

The war has also achieved some other remarkable, unmentionable goals for Washington. Firstly, it has managed to demonstrate the ‘credibility’ of its military intentions of gaining full — spectrum dominance in the post Cold War world. It has been, as one journalist puts it, a successful ‘global experiment in behaviour modification.’ Secondly, the war industry has made huge profits as military orders have grown, Bush repeatedly asking Congress for more, almost $ 0.3 trillion having already been spent on the war. Nobel-Laureate Joseph Stiglitz estimates the war to cost (and the weapons manufacturers to get) between $1 and 2 trillion over the next several years. Thirdly, firms from the reconstruction industry have been having a field day, the costs of reconstruction (which are effectively benefits for the US corporations, at the expense of the Iraqi public: ‘we destroy, we rebuild, you pay’) are estimated at somewhere between $10 and $60 billion over the next several years, most of it to be levied, with typically imperial justice, on the tax-paying public of Iraq, the punishment for enduring a CIA- installed dictator for decades.