Archive for February, 2007

Neocon Imperialism, 9/11, and the Attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

by David Ray Griffin

[This is a crucial essay, meticulously documented. Most of what we all need to know.]

One way to understand the effect of 9/11, in most general terms, is to see that it allowed the agenda developed in the 1990s by neoconservatives-often called simply ‘neocons’—to be implemented. There is agreement on this point across the political spectrum. From the right, for example, Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke say that 9/11 allowed the ‘preexisting ideological agenda’ of the neoconservatives to be ‘taken off the shelf . . . and relabeled as the response to terror.’1 Stephen Sniegoski, writing from the left, says that ‘it was only the traumatic effects of the 9/11 terrorism that enabled the agenda of the neocons to become the policy of the United States of America.’2

What was this agenda? It was, in essence, that the United States should use its military supremacy to establish an empire that includes the whole world–a global Pax Americana. Three major means to this end were suggested. One of these was to make U.S. military supremacy over other nations even greater, so that it would be completely beyond challenge. This goal was to be achieved by increasing the money devoted to military purposes, then using this money to complete the ‘revolution in military affairs’ made possible by the emergence of the information age. The second major way to achieve a global Pax Americana was to announce and implement a doctrine of preventive-preemptive war, usually for the sake of bringing about ‘regime change’ in countries regarded as hostile to U.S. interests and values. The third means toward the goal of universal empire was to use this new doctrine to gain control of the world’s oil, especially in the Middle East, most immediately Iraq.

In discussing these ideas, I will include recognitions by some commentators that without 9/11, the various dimensions of this agenda could not have been implemented. My purpose in publishing this essay is to introduce a perspective, relevant to the debates about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, that thus far has not been part of the public discussion.


Monday, February 26th, 2007

Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?

In the past few months, as the situation in Iraq has deteriorated, the Bush Administration, in both its public diplomacy and its covert operations, has significantly shifted its Middle East strategy. The ‘redirection,’ as some inside the White House have called the new strategy, has brought the United States closer to an open confrontation with Iran and, in parts of the region, propelled it into a widening sectaria n conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

…’We are not planning for a war with Iran,’ Robert Gates, the new Defense Secretary, announced on February 2nd, and yet the atmosphere of confrontation has deepened. According to current and former American intelligence and military officials, secret operations in Lebanon have been accompanied by clandestine operations targeting Iran. American military and special-operations teams have escalated their activities in Iran to gather intelligence and, according to a Pentagon consultant on terrorism and the former senior intelligence official, have also crossed the border in pursuit of Iranian operatives from Iraq.

…Still, the Pentagon is continuing intensive planning for a possible bombing attack on Iran, a process that began last year, at the direction of the President. In recent months, the former intelligence official told me, a special planning group has been established in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged with creating a contingency bombing plan for Iran that can be implemented, upon orders from the President, within twenty-four hours.

In the past month, I was told by an Air Force adviser on targeting and the Pentagon consultant on terrorism, the Iran planning group has been handed a new assignment: to identify targets in Iran that may be involved in supplying or aiding militants in Iraq. Previously, the focus had been on the destruction of Iran’s nuclear facilities and possible regime change.

Two carrier strike groups–the Eisenhower and the Stennis–are now in the Arabian Sea. One plan is for them to be relieved early in the spring, but there is worry within the military that they may be ordered to stay in the area after the new carriers arrive, according to several sources. (Among other concerns, war games have shown that the carriers could be vulnerable to swarming tactics involving large numbers of small boats, a technique that the Iranians have practiced in the past; carriers have limited maneuverability in the narrow Strait of Hormuz, off Iran’s southern coast.) The former senior intelligence official said that the current contingency plans allow for an attack order this spring. He added, however, that senior officers on the Joint Chiefs were counting on the White House’s not being ‘foolish enough to do this in the face of Iraq, and the problems it would give the Republicans in 2008.’

new yorker

This is a chilling article, particularly for the mainstream press. Funneling money basically to alQaeda to wreak havoc in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, all under the radar like Iran-Contra and Afghanistan, presumably with money off the pallets in Iraq. A certain airstrike on Iran. A Gulf of Tonkin-type set-up in the Straits of Hormuz. A scenario so insane, even Negroponte wants nothing to do with it. Presuming Cheney is not mentally retarded, what’s the REAL plan? Nuclear holocaust? Why not? That way you get rid of all the bastards at once, including the Israelis, presumably.

Bush to Warn Pakistan’s Leader on Aid
WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 President Bush has decided to send an unusually tough message to one of his most important allies, President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, warning him that the newly Democratic Congress could cut aid to his country unless his forces became far more aggressive in hunting down operatives with Al Qaeda, senior administration officials say.

And I assume this is in response to the Hersh article. How pathetic. Using the Pakistanis to pay al Qaeda operatives to f-around with Iran and then scolding them for not hunting al Qaeda down. Bad cinema. Lying liars.

Israel Seeks All-Clear for Iran Air Strike

Sunday, February 25th, 2007

Israel is negotiating with the United States for permission to fly over Iraq as part of a plan to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, The Daily Telegraph can reveal.

To conduct surgical air strikes against Iran’s nuclear programme, Israeli war planes would need to fly across Iraq. But to do so the Israeli military authorities in Tel Aviv need permission from the Pentagon.

A senior Israeli defence official said negotiations were now underway between the two countries for the US-led coalition in Iraq to provide an “air corridor” in the event of the Israeli government deciding on unilateral military action to prevent Teheran developing nuclear weapons.

“We are planning for every eventuality, and sorting out issues such as these are crucially important,” said the official, who asked not to be named.

“The only way to do this is to fly through US-controlled air space. If we don’t sort these issues out now we could have a situation where American and Israeli war planes start shooting at each other.”

As Iran continues to defy UN demands to stop producing material which could be used to build a nuclear bomb, Israel’s military establishment is moving on to a war footing, with preparations now well under way for the Jewish state to launch air strikes against Teheran if diplomatic efforts fail to resolve the crisis.

The pace of military planning in Israel has accelerated markedly since the start of this year after Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, provided a stark intelligence assessment that Iran, given the current rate of progress being made on its uranium enrichment programme, could have enough fissile material for a nuclear warhead by 2009.

Last week Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, announced that he had persuaded Meir Dagan, the head of Mossad for the past six years and one of Israel’s leading experts on Iran’s nuclear programme, to defer his retirement until at least the end of next year.

Mr Olmert has also given overall control of the military aspects of the Iran issue to Eliezer Shkedi, the head of the Israeli Air Force and a former F-16 fighter pilot.

The international community will increase the pressure on Iran when senior officials from the five permanent of the United Nations Security Council and Germany meet at an emergency summit to be held in London on Monday.

Iran ignored a UN deadline of last Wednesday to halt uranium enrichment. Officials will discuss arms controls and whether to cut back on the $25 billion-worth of export credits which are used by European companies to trade with Iran.

A high-ranking British source said: “There is a debate within the six countries on sanctions and economic measures.”

British officials insist that this “incremental” approach of tightening the pressure on Iran is starting to turn opinion within Iran. One source said: “We are on the right track. There is time for diplomacy to take effect.”

The Last King of Scotland

Saturday, February 24th, 2007

I made a bad mistake. I went to see The Last King of Scotland. I mean I really should have known: a Hollywood movie about Idi Amin. I don’t know what I expected. I guess I was taken in by all the media-hype about Forest Whitaker’s performance. Two nights before the Oscars, I was swept into the frenzy, myself and a packed theater in a white white white Vermont town.

We were treated to what the movie said was a story “based on actual events.” As the horror unfolded, as the young and stupid and careless Scottish doctor becomes part of Amin’s inner circle and slowly realizes Amin’s insanity and his own terrible complicity, I kept thinking, “Could this guy have really existed? He must have, because who would have the cojones to concoct him? I mean, wasn’t what Amin did all on his own bad enough without inventing a sidekick who spurred the madman on to fictional atrocities?”

Alas, this is Hollywood, folks, and the white West. You can’t present Africa without some white dude on-board to interpret. But he didn’t just interpret, this fictional Scottish doctor. No. He fictionally slept with Amin’s wife, and thus inadvertently caused her hideous fictional murder, but inadvertently, innocently, the Innocents Abroad, you know. By the time we get to Entebbe airport, we are really in la la land. An ad hoc torture/ crucifixion/Lakota Sundance in the duty-free shop? Twenty feet away from the Israeli hostages? Where were the news crews? At the ending credits I incredulously muttered “I think I hated that movie,” meeting with hostile looks from nearby movie-goers. I was too stunned to know how I felt in the moment. The lobby was all abuzz about the “intensity” of the film, and Whittaker’s “amazing” performance.

My partner said in misery, “This is the picture of Africa they always have in their minds.” Noble white missionary/doctors, suffering natives, beautiful landscape though, such a waste, such a shame…

We went home and asked Jeeves, and sure enough, there was no such Scot.

Apart from a couple of sinister Brits and Amin’s mention of belonging to the King’s Rifles in Uganda, viewers are given little indication that in the actual person of Idi Amin it is possible for the West to see itself refracted, to see the Heart of Darkness that goes far to create such horrors and then after the fact clucks regretfully at Africa’s hopeless misery. For Amin was a creature of the no-man’s land between Europe and Africa, plucked as a starving feral child off the streets of colonial Kampala, raised in violence, and groomed for his terrible brand of statesmanship, beholden to the West and enamored of its decadence. In trying to constitute some feeling of safety and home for himself, his paranoia and narcissism led him to crush any real or imagined opposition. Britain and Israel were happy to feed him weapons until Entebbe, in order to slaughter his own people, as long as he remained “our man”, like Mobutu in Congo/Zaire, like the Shah of Iran, like Duvalier in Haiti, like Saddam Hussein…

And Whitaker’s performance? The interminable close-ups where you can see every sweating pore? The sustained hysteria? “African savage” indeed. The movie has the beaten-up Scot in the duty-free shop whisper to Amin in smiling revelation: “You’re a child! That’s what makes you so fucking scary.” I have no right to ask, but I do: what self-respecting black man would read such a script and consent to take such a role? When I say I think this film should never have been made, I imagine how preposterous it would be to make a film that concocted a sidekick for Hitler, his “top advisor”, an innocent who happened into the snake-pit and found himself collaborating in the murder of a nation. But we can take those liberties when we make films about African despots, and that’s the point. Africa continues to be for us what we decide she is, and we do not find it outrageous in the least to view such twisted takes on all-too-real events.

Films have been made about Idi Amin. He was a truly outrageous character, and many of his antics on the world-stage were actually quite comic and even brilliant in their own awful way, if anybody remembers. The Last King of Scotland shows none of this, aside from the tossed-off comment during a press-conference that Queen Elizabeth should really consider sleeping with him. Amin actually gathered a bunch of whites for an ornate ceremony in which they were made to bow down to him: but such a scene would have been unacceptable for viewers in our “post-racial”, Obama atmosphere. If a film considered all the elements that went into making Amin, that would be a film worth seeing. Of course in such a film, whites would have to view their own complicity.

Cheney hints at Iran strike

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

US Vice-President Dick Cheney has raised the possibility of military action to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

He has endorsed Republican senator John McCain’s proposition that the only thing worse than a military confrontation with Iran would be a nuclear-armed Iran.

In an exclusive interview with The Weekend Australian, Mr Cheney said: “I would guess that John McCain and I are pretty close to agreement.”

The visiting Vice-President said that he had no doubt Iran was striving to enrich uranium to the point where they could make nuclear weapons.

He accused Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of espousing an “apocalyptic philosophy” and making “threatening noises about Israel and the US and others”.
au herald sun

Well Dick, if there’s one thing you know all about, it’s ‘apocalyptic philosophy.’

Israeli leader draws hard line against Syria, Iran, Palestinians
Israel’s prime minister said peace would only come with recognition of its right to exist and an end to the support of violence.

Israel’s ‘right to exist’…what a ridiculous non-issue: like Hamas or Syria have anything to say about it…as if Israel has not rebuffed numerous overtures from the Arabs since 1948…as if Israel is interested in peace. I finally figured it out: virtually everyone who lived in Israel and suffered any moral pangs about its aggression has LEFT. Duh. All that remains is religious wing-nuts and Zionists so rabid they even have Ben-Gurion rolling in his grave…

Amnesty International’s Track Record in Haiti

Friday, February 23rd, 2007

The coup that ousted Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide on February 29, 2004 led very predictably to the worst human rights disaster in the Western Hemisphere over the following two years.[1] It is worth reviewing how the world’s most famous human rights group, Amnesty International, responded.

Aristide was twice elected President (in 1990 and in 2000). His first government was overthrown in a coup in 1991. The outcome of the 1991 coup was horrific and well documented. Thousands were murdered; tens of thousands were raped and tortured; hundreds of thousands were driven into hiding. The victims were overwhelmingly supporters of Aristide and his Lavalas movement. The 1991 and 2004 coups were both the work of the US government, Haiti’s elite and their armed servants. Canada and France collaborated extensively with the planning and execution of the second coup.[2]

By mid April of 2004, three organizations had sent delegations to Haiti to investigate the aftermath of the coup: the Quixote Center based in Maryland, the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) and the Ecumenical Program on Central America and the Caribbean (EPICA). All drew very similar conclusions.[3]

They uncovered a massive terror campaign waged by the de facto government in collaboration with the UN forces in Haiti (later to be known as MINUSTAH) against Lavalas partisans. They reported that some Haitian human rights groups in particular the National Coalition for Haitian Rights (NCHR) were unreliable due to their hostility towards Lavalas. The NLG and Quixote Center delegations observed “wanted” posters in NCHR offices which identified Aristide and other Lavalas officials as criminals. Both delegations reported that NCHR refused to carry out investigations in Lavalas strongholds such as Cite Soleil. Even at this early stage the NLG uncovered evidence in the state morgue of the huge death toll that was being exacted on Lavalas supporters. The state morgue reported that 1000 bodies had been disposed of a month after the coup – most obvious victims of violence. The morgue typically disposed of only 100 bodies a month.

The EPICA delegation suggested that people contact Amnesty to alert them of the unreliability of NCHR. It was a good suggestion because Pierre Esperance, NCHR’s director, had boasted in 2002 that

“I am a primary source of information for international human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Most recently, I was invited to address the US State Department in a roundtable forum to discuss the human rights situation in Haiti.”[4]

His statement does not seem to have been much of an exaggeration. During the first four months after the coup Amnesty failed to call attention to the evidence that a massive assault on Lavalas was well underway. Amnesty’s statements suggested equivalence between armed Lavalas partisans and their opponents.

Friday, February 16th, 2007

A group with “links to al Qaeda” means our friends the Pakistanis, who created both al Qaeda and the Taliban for us back in the day. This multi-pronged ‘approach’ to the ‘Iran Problem’ is heading straight to war. Some day soon now we’ll awaken to the news from Bush that he had ‘no choice’: some kind of Gulf of Tonkin crap, I’ll bet. Maybe even in the Persian Gulf.

Police, insurgents clash after Iran bomb

Police and insurgents clashed after a bombing in southeastern Iran late Friday near the site where an explosion killed 11 members of the elite Revolutionary Guards this week, Iranian news agencies reported. “Minutes ago, the sound of a bomb explosion was heard in one of Zahedan’s streets,” the state-run news agency IRNA said, without giving more details. The semiofficial Fars news agency said clashes broke out between Iranian police and armed insurgents after the explosion.

Fars quoted the governor of Zahedan, Hasan Ali Nouri, as saying the blast was a “sound bomb explosion”_ a device that creates a loud boom but that usually does not cause casualties.

Nouri said there was gunfire heard but that it was late at night and that police had cordoned off the area.

On Wednesday, a car bomb blew up a bus carrying Revolutionary Guards, killing 11, in Zahedan, capital of Sistan-Baluchestan province, which sits on the border with Pakistan.

A Sunni Muslim militant group called Jundallah, or God’s Brigade, which has been blamed for past attacks on Iranian troops, has claimed responsibility for the Wednesday bombing.

Iran has accused the United States of backing militants to destabilize the country. Tensions between Tehran and Washington are growing over allegations of Iranian involvement in attacks on U.S. troops in Iraq, and over Iran’s nuclear activities.

Fars said the Friday explosion was at a school in Zahedan.

“The insurgents began shooting at people after the explosion. Clashes are continuing between police and the armed insurgents. Police have cordoned off the area,” the Fars agency said.

IRNA quoted an unnamed “responsible official” late Friday as saying that one of those arrested on charges of involvement in Wednesday’s bombing, identified as Nasrollah Shanbe Zehi, has confessed that the attacks were part of alleged U.S. plans to provoke ethnic and religious violence in Iran.

The confessions by Zehi helped police detain an unspecified number of Jundallah members and confiscate weapons and documents from the group in a raid Thursday in Zahedan, IRNA also said.

A majority of Iran’s population are Shiite Muslims but minority Sunnis live in southeastern Iran.

Friday’s blast came just hours after the funeral of the 11 Revolutionary Guardsmen in the capital.

Iran’s state-run television showed footage of Zahedan residents marching in the streets with the coffins of the killed Guardsmen. The crowd chanted, “death to hypocrites,” in a reference to the insurgents.

The blasts are a sharp flare-up of violence, but the remote southeast corner of Iran, near Pakistan and Afghanistan, has long been plagued by lawlessness. The area is a key crossing point for opium from Afghanistan and often sees clashes between police and drug gangs.

Jundallah, which is believed by some to have links to al-Qaida, has waged a low-level insurgency in the area and is led by Abdulmalak Rigi, a member of Iran’s ethnic Baluchi minority, a community that is Sunni Muslim and also can be found in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Rigi has said his group is fighting for the rights of impoverished Sunnis under Iran’s Shiite government.

Fars said that Rigi appeared on a station run by an opposition group known as the People’s Mujahedeen, which is based in Iraq, minutes before Friday’s explosion. The People’s Mujahedeen has long sought to overthrow the Iranian government by force.

Iranian officials have often raised concerns that Washington could incite members of Iran’s many ethnic and religious minorities against the Shiite-led government in Tehran.

Iran has faced several ethnic and religious insurgencies that have carried out occasionally deadly attacks in recent years Ń though none have amounted to a serious threat to the government.

In December, Jundallah claimed responsibility for kidnapping seven Iranian soldiers in the Zahedan region, threatening to kill them unless group members were freed from Iranian prisons. The seven were released a month later, apparently after negotiations through tribal mediators.

In March 2006, gunmen dressed as security forces killed 21 people on a highway outside Zahedan in an attack authorities blamed on “rebels,” though Jundallah was never specifically named.

Obama shows his stripes

Saturday, February 10th, 2007

It’s appropriate that Barak Obama announced his presidential candidacy in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln and Obama, 150 years apart, typify the delusional myths of which the U.S. is so fond.

What do schooldchildren learn about Lincoln? Why, he freed the slaves! What are they taught was the purpose of the American Civil War? Why, to end slavery, of course.

They are not taught that slavery was already done as a viable economic strategy. The Brits had already figured that out, and banned the trade in 1838. They are not taught that, despite or perhaps because of this fact, Lincoln was not much concerned with slavery at all, and that he, like most of his peers, considered blacks a hopelessly inferior and genetically servile species of human.

Schoolchildren are taught that Lincoln was a simple self-taught frontier lawyer. Well, kids, Abraham Lincoln was a prototype of the corporate shark, a lawyer for the railroads, in whose interests (among others) that catastrophic, ghastly, and yes, illegal war was conceived and fought. The issue was state sovereignty, and the Union victory made the country safe for eminent domain and other such, and created a top-heavy federal government wedded till death do us part to corporate interests.

Obama is actually being termed the ‘post-racial’ candidate. Post-racial. Yup folks, we have risen above all that race business; it’s a nasty thing of the past we don’t need to think about anymore. A black presidentƒwell, not really black: that’s the beauty of him. He’s not one of those scary black men: clean, not like Jesse or Al–his father is African, and thus did not transmit that pesky African-American anger to his kid, that particularly peculiarly American-engendered rage. Liberals are so so pleased to be able to support him without…well, fear. They are pleased as preening pussy-cats with a mouse’s tail hanging out of their mouths. ‘We’ are ‘ready’ for a black president, the pundits declare. He’s an ‘outsider’, a refreshing change from the status quo. He’s going to change how things are done.

Yeah right. Obama is Joe Lieberman’s protege, for heaven’s sake! Think AIPAC. Wake up, people. There is nothing refreshing or new about Obama. And even if there actually were, there’s mischief afoot. As ‘post-racial’ or ‘non-racial’ or ‘beyond racial’ as Obama might be, this great nation is absolutely not ‘past all that’, and the ones who ought to know know this very well. He’s unelectable. So is Hilary Clinton. So what’s the scam? Why has no high-profile Republican declared yet? Will our next prez be Jeb Bush? That’s my guess.

Lincoln, ‘the great uniter’ sent 600,000 men to their grisly deaths. If the issue were slaves, why did he wait three years before declaring them free? Americans’ capacity for self-delusion on the issue of race is boundless. Obama’s candidacy is just the latest permutation.

Obama Ties ’08 Bid to Lincoln’s Legacy

“The life of a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer tells us that a different future is possible,” Obama said. “He tells us that there is power in words. He tells us that there is power in conviction. That beneath all the differences of race and region, faith and station, we are one people. He tells us that there is power in hope.”

Blah blah blah. I guess it’s fitting, the newest corporate shill standing in the shadow of an old one.