Monday, November 20, 2006

The end of the Colombian blood letting could begin in Washington

An Open Letter to the People and Government of the US - (And a Reply to the FARC)

By James Petras

On a November 9, 2006, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-Peoples Army, (FARC-EP) sent an “Open Letter to the People of the United States”. It was specifically addressed to several Hollywood producers and actors (Michael Moore, Denzel Washington and Oliver Stone) as well as three leftist academics (James Petras, Noam Chomsky and Angela Davis) and a progressive politician (Jessie Jackson). The purpose of the open letter was to solicit our support in facilitating an agreement between the US and Colombian governments and the FARC-EP on exchanging 600 imprisoned guerrillas (including 2 on trial in the US) for 60 rebel-held prisoners including 3 US counter-insurgency experts. FARC-EP:

Terrorist Band or Resistance Movement?

Contrary to the US government position characterizing the FARC-EP as a ‘terrorist organization’, it is the longest standing, largest peasant-based guerrilla movement in the world today. Founded in 1964 by two dozen peasant activists, as a means for defending autonomous rural communities from the violent depredations of the Colombian military and paramilitary, the FARC-EP has grown into a highly organized 20,000 member guerrilla army with several hundred thousand local militia and supporters, highly influential in over 40% of the country. Up until September 11, 2001, the FARC-EP was recognized as a legitimate resistance movement by most of the countries of the European Union, Latin America and for several years was in peace negotiations with the Colombian government headed by President Andrés Pastrana. Prior to 9/11 FARC leaders met with European heads of state to exchange ideas on the peace process. Numerous prominent business leaders from Wall Street, City of London and Bogotá and notables like Queen Noor of Jordan met with FARC leaders in the demilitarized zone during the aborted peace negotiations (1999-2002).

Under heavy pressure from the White House, particularly its leading spokespersons, the right-wing extremists like the notorious Otto Reich, Roger Noriega and, John Bolton, the Pastrana regime abruptly broke off negotiations and in less than 24 hours sent the Colombian Army into the demilitarized area, in an attempt to capture the FARC leaders engaged in negotiations. The ‘surprise’ attack failed but did set the stage for the escalation of the conflict.

US Role in Conflict

Beginning with President Clinton in 2000 and continuing with Bush, the US has poured over $4 Billion dollars in military aid to the Colombian regime in order to destroy the guerrilla army and its suspected social base among peasants, urban trade unions and professionals (especially teachers, lawyers, human rights activists and intellectuals). Washington vigorously pushes a military solution by subverting any peace negotiations, through a substantial number of military advisers, contracted mercenaries, Drug Enforcement operatives, CIA agents, Special Forces commandos and a host of other undercover personnel. Between the early 1980’s to the late 1990’s, Washington maintained the fiction that its military programs were part of an anti-narcotic campaign, though it failed to explain why it concentrated most of its efforts in FARC-influenced regions and not in the vast coca-growing areas controlled by the Colombian military and paramilitary forces. With the launching of Plan Colombia in 2000, Washington explicitly underlined the counter-insurgency nature of its military aid and presence. Profoundly disturbed by President Pastana’s acceptance of peace negotiations and the advances of the social and guerrilla movements, Washington backed a rightwing politician with a history of ties to Colombia’s death squads for President, Álvaro Uribe. His electoral victory inaugurated one of the bloodiest extermination campaigns in the violent history of Colombia.

US military officials and their Colombian counterparts funded a 31,000 strong death squad force which ravaged the country, killing thousands of peasants in regions where the FARC was influential. Hundreds of trade unionists were assassinated by hired killers (sicarios) in broad daylight in the towns and cities occupied by the military. Human rights workers, journalists and academics who dared to report on the impunity of the military involved in village massacres were kidnapped, tortured and killed; not infrequently they were decapitated or disemboweled to sow even greater terror. Over 2 million peasants were forced off their land into squalid urban slums, their lands seized by prominent paramilitary chiefs or large landowners. The ‘class cleansing’ of the countryside was right out of the counter-insurgency manuals of the Pentagon, instructing the Colombian military to destroy the ‘social infrastructure’ of the guerrilla movements – especially the FARC which had longstanding and extensive family, community and social ties with the peasants.

President Uribe embodied the classical authoritarian South American ruler: At the throat of the poor and on his knees before his Washington patron. His perpetual large-scale offensive campaigns decimated the countryside but failed to weaken the guerrillas or even capture any of the FARC general command. After six years of massive and costly extermination campaigns, top US and most Colombian military officials conceded that a military victory over the FARC was highly improbable. The best that could ensue, military strategists argued, was a severe weakening of the FARC, forcing them to negotiate a ‘peace agreement’ favorable to the regime. Peace Negotiations:

A Brief History

During the Presidency of Belisario Betancourt (in the mid 1980’s), the FARC agreed to a cease-fire and many joined the electoral process. Thousands of guerrillas, their sympathizers and many independent leftists formed a political party, the Patriotic Union (Unión Patriótica) and ran candidates at all levels of government. In less than 5 years, 5000 activists, candidates and elected officials were murdered by the military and their death squads, including two presidential candidates, several congresspeople, scores of mayors, hundreds of city councilors and local party leaders. The survivors rejoined the guerrillas, fled into exile or went underground. Contrary to claims by the government, Colombia was not a ‘democracy’ in the usual sense, but a ‘death squad democracy’ in which the most elementary conditions for electoral campaigning and political norms were absent. Less than two decades later, when the FARC had extended its influence within 40 miles from the capital Bogotá, the government of Andrés Pastrana agreed to another round of ‘peace negotiations’ in an extensive demilitarized region under FARC influence.

While the negotiations proceeded, hundreds of ‘visitors’ from all sectors of Colombian society as well as foreign political and business notables participated in public forums. Open debates organized by the FARC covered fundamental social, economic and political issues. For the first time in recent memory, issues of land reform, public investment in job creation programs, foreign investment and public ownership, economic alternatives to coca farming, education and health were debated without fear of death squad reprisals. The image of the FARC as a ‘militarist narco-guerrilla force’ was challenged; many former hostile observers from Europe, Latin America and North America, while not necessarily agreeing with some of the FARC’s proposed reforms, nevertheless came away with the impression that they could be negotiated with and agreements could be reached to end the civil war.

The radicalization of the Bush regime following September 11, 2001 served as a pretext to force a break in the peace negotiations. Subsequently with the election of Álvaro Uribe, the FARC was included in the list of ‘terrorist’ organizations. The European Union, which had publicly met and consulted with the same FARC leaders, followed the US lead. Soon afterward, FARC negotiators and international representatives were arrested in Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela and Ecuador. The latter two countries handed FARC representatives over to the notoriously brutal Colombian political police (DAS). Under cover of Washington’s ‘War on Terrorism’, President Uribe proceeded to severely repress trade union general strikes and massive rural protests by the major agricultural organizations against his signing of a ‘free trade’ agreement with the US.

In the midst of government-sponsored carnage, the FARC pursued a strategy of tactical withdrawal to its jungle and mountain strongholds and issued offers for mutual prisoner release as a ‘confidence building’ step toward future peace negotiations.

The FARC held over 60 Colombian politicians and military officers prisoner, including a former presidential candidate, Ingrid Betancourt and three US self-described ‘military contractors’ engaged in an intelligence collecting mission. The Colombian government holds over 600 guerrillas. The US currently holds 2 FARC members. The FARC proposed a meeting to arrange a prisoner exchange in a demilitarized zone. The families of the FARC prisoners were naturally unanimously in favor of the proposal as were most civil society organizations, humanitarian, church and human rights groups. The US has opposed any prisoner exchange and Uribe echoed his master, at least during his first term of office. Their slogan was that through military action they would liberate the prisoners. No prisoners have been ‘liberated’ in the past five years. On the contrary in a recent failed military incursion, 10 prisoners were killed, including an ex-minister of defense, a governor and 8 military officers. Under enormous pressure from Colombian civil society, the European Union and most Latin American governments, President Uribe declared, on his re-election, that he would be willing to enter negotiations for an exchange. Within a month, however, he reneged using as a pretext a bomb set off in a military installation, which he attributed to the FARC despite its denials. Experts suspect this was a covert operation by Colombia’s secret service to undermine any move toward a prisoner exchange.

Prospects for Peace Negotiations

Outside of Washington and President Uribe’s immediate entourage, everyone agrees that the beginning of any peace process should begin with confidence building measures, specifically the prisoner exchange.

Immediately complicating those negotiations, the US extradited two FARC prisoners held by the Colombian government on December 31, 2004 and has confined them to solitary confinement, shackled 23 hours a day. On October 16, 2006, one of the FARC political prisoners, Ricardo Palmera – whose better known ‘nom de guerre’ is Simon Trinidad – was put on trial for ‘drug trafficking’ and ‘terrorism’ as well as ‘kidnapping’. This is a classic ‘political show trial’ in which an illegal seizure, fabricated evidence and prejudicial judicial procedures have been mounted to secure a guilty verdict.

The most suspicious aspect of this political charade is the characterization of Trinidad’s role in the FARC. He was their principal peace negotiator, as was evident when he was recognized as the FARC’s principal interlocutor with Colombian President Andrés Pastrana during the peace negotiations of 1999-2002. There are numerous photographs, news reports and interviews in the Colombian and European media of the time clearly identifying Trinidad as a key peace negotiator. Equally important, Trinidad was the principal FARC peace intermediary dealing with United Nations Human Rights representative, James Lemoyne, appointed by the US Government and a former New York Times journalist based in Latin America.

Recognizing that Trinidad’s status as a FARC peace negotiator concerned mainly with diplomatic missions severely compromised Washington’s case, the Federal prosecutor modified the charges from direct involvement in the ‘kidnapping’ of three US counter-insurgency officers held as prisoners of war by the FARC, to ‘association’ with kidnappers and ‘conspiracy’ to commit the crime of ‘hostage taking’. The Federal prosecutor has taken advantage of the language of the new anti-terrorism legislation passed by Presidents Clinton and Bush to indict Trinidad. This legal framework has been denounced by all leading US civil liberties organizations and the American Bar Association as violating the US Constitution.

The charge of ‘association’ is based on the unsubstantiated charges that Trinidad ‘met’ with the three US counter-insurgency officers, subsequent to their capture, an accusation which lacks any concrete proof – the Prosecution has neither witnesses nor documents of such a meeting, not does it specify time, date or place of the alleged meeting. In fact, Trinidad was in another province directing a FARC educational program at the time. The charge of ‘conspiracy’ is based on Trinidad’s membership in the FARC, which was labeled a ‘terrorist organization’ by President Clinton in 1997, a characterization which was rejected by the European Union which played host to a touring group of FARC leaders and peace negotiators shortly thereafter. Moreover Colombian President Pastrana, who was engaged in peace negotiations with the FARC between 1999-2002, rejected the ‘terrorist label’ considering Trinidad a legitimate interlocutor.

The long political history of the FARC, its historic ties with a large segment of the Colombian countryside, its political program of social reforms, its targeted use of force in its conflict with the armed forces of the Colombian state, its continued pursuit of peace negotiations based on reforming society and the military are in strong opposition to any and all definitions of a ‘terrorist’ organization.

The entire notion of ‘kidnapping’ three US intelligence or military personnel engaged in a military surveillance operation in a combat area against an insurgency targeted by the US is absurd. As captured combatants, they are, by the definition of the Geneva Conventions, prisoners of war and, as such, subject to possible prisoner of war exchanges if the warring parties should agree. The Federal Prosecutor charged that Trinidad was engaged in the prisoner exchange when he was illegally seized in Ecuador and transferred to Colombia and later extradited to the US. In court Trinidad rebutted that allegation by demonstrating that he was in Ecuador to set up a meeting between Lemoyne and a top guerrilla leader. The prosecution presented no written or taped evidence linking Trinidad to any ‘prisoner exchange’. The Illegal Seizure and Arrest of Simon Trinidad

Any juridical process worthy of its name would throw out the prosecution’s case on the most elementary basis of wrongful arrest. In late December 2003 Trinidad traveled to Quito, Ecuador to contact James Lemoyne about possible peace negotiations with the Colombian government, beginning with confidence building, humanitarian measures related to prisoners and captives. During the earlier peace negotiation Lemoyne had been a decent peace mediator, rejecting pressure from the US Embassy to scuttle the proceedings. Given the massive military escalation undertaken by President Uribe, there was no opportunity for Trinidad to meet with Lemoyne in Colombia. Word reached the FARC that Lemoyne would be available for conversations in Quito.

Under CIA direction, a joint Colombian-Ecuadorian squad illegally seized Trinidad. The entire operation violated Ecuadorian sovereignty, judicial procedures and the rights of political appeal. Extra-territorial seizures of opposition leaders and their transfer to imperial courts resemble the practices of the Roman Empire and not contemporary international law.

While in captivity, Trinidad has been denied access to translations, documents and writing materials. He was manacled in an isolation cell for 23 hours a day for over 21 months without access to legal counsel. The Federal Judge, Thomas Hogan, and Federal Prosecutor have acted to prejudice the trial even before its start. Over 30 armed police in a caravan of police vehicles accompanied by helicopters bring the chained Trinidad to court. He has been denied any selection of attorney and assigned a team of court-appointed lawyers. When his attorneys attempted to provide a relevant historical context including the FARC’s attempts to participate in electoral politics and the subsequent massacre of 5000 activists and candidates, including 2 presidential candidates, the Prosecution objected. The Prosecution also objected to the defense’s description of the massive, sustained State violence in Colombia and the role of the US counterinsurgency forces in alliance with the paramilitary groups.

In this Kafkaesque nightmare of a courtroom, the judge was asked by the Prosecutor to withhold the names of the jurors to protect them from ‘retaliation from Trinidad’s ‘terrorist organization’ (deep in the Colombian jungle) – further prejudicing an already frightened jury and biased judge.

The court-appointed defense attorneys have failed to challenge the most elementary prejudicial statements by the Prosecution’s key witness, a Colombian Army Colonel, who referred to Trinidad as a ‘terrorist’ despite the obvious fact that he has yet to be convicted. Judge Hogan has refused to allow jurors to take their notebooks containing trial notes from the court and denied them access to transcripts, preventing them from rationally evaluating the evidence.

Trinidad’s refutation of the Prosecutor’s chief Colombian witness and the outrageous nature of this political show trial were evident from the first day the jury reported to the judge. The jury declared that they were deeply divided on all charges and asked the court to declare a mistrial. After 18 days of highly charged prosecution, demagogy and inflammatory political rhetoric, the jurors spent a little over seven hours deliberating before reporting that they were deadlocked. A note from the jurors to US District Judge Thomas Hogan stated: “We believe our differences based on deep thought are irresolvable.” Judge Hogan rejected Trinidad’s request for a mistrial and told the jurors to keep deliberating, stating he would declare a mistrial if the jurors repeated their declaration of a deadlock a second time. Conclusion

The ‘political show trial’ of Simon Trinidad is a striking example of the threats to constitutional freedoms, which we and the citizens of the world face before the unbridled power of the American President to overrule all the rights of sovereign states and their citizens, international law and constitutional freedoms.

Equally important is the current reality of ‘extraterritorial, lawless seizures, abductions and kangaroo proceedings at the service of bloody imperial policies and client rulers whose actions have devastated Colombian society. More than 2.5 million Colombian peasants and urban slum dwellers have been displaced by the savage counter-insurgency program called ‘Plan Colombia; the number of displaced persons is second only to Afghanistan. The counterinsurgency programs, variously called ‘Plan Colombia’, ‘Plan Patriótica’ and ‘Democratic Security’ are financed and directed by the United States and promoted by its client President Álvaro Uribe. The US AFL-CIO documents over 4,000 trade unionists assassinated between 1986-2002; the Colombian government has only investigated 376 of which only 5 cases led to a conviction of the killer. According to Colombian human rights groups, between 2003-2006 Uribe’s military and paramilitary allies have murdered nearly a thousand more trade unionists. Over the past 5 years, 30,000 peasants, rural teachers, and peasant and indigenous leaders have been killed with impunity. State repression (‘Democratic Security’) has been directed at weakening trade union resistance to the US-Colombian Free Trade Agreement, not at countering guerrilla armies. With over 68% of the Colombian people living under the poverty line of $2 dollars a day, and land seizures by paramilitary leaders, cattle barons and military officers concentrating land ownership to an unprecedented level, it is no wonder that the guerrilla resistance is recruiting and successfully countering Government-sponsored military campaigns, each bearing a triumphalist title and all ending in abysmal failure. Without fundamental political and social reforms and lacking an economic model that integrates the millions displaced, terrorized and excluded, there is no military strategist or strategy, no matter how well funded and directed by Washington which will end the civil conflict.

The first step toward a resolution of this half-century conflict is the recognition that Colombia is in the midst of a civil war, not a ‘war on terror’. The second is to release the protagonists of the peace process, Simon Trinidad and his comrade ‘Sonia’ as a concrete move toward a humanitarian prisoner exchange and confidence building measure opening the way to full-scale peace negotiations.

Paradoxically, the end of the Colombian blood letting could begin in Washington, in a Federal Courtroom, or possibly in the US Congress with the recognition that the US is an armed party in Colombia’s civil war, that their combatants are prisoners of war and that their ultimate release depends on recognizing the limits of US military power (and that of its Colombian client) and that a diplomatic, negotiated agreement is the only realistic option.

I look forward to joining with such artists and intellectuals as Denzel Washington, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky and Angela Davis, named in the FARC appeal in a common effort to pressure the US government to agree to exchanging imprisoned guerrillas (both here and in Colombia) for rebel-held prisoners, including the three American combatants.

James Petras' latest book is "The Power of Israel in the United States" (Clarity Press, 2006). He can be reached at

Just when you thought you'd seen it all on racist Israel...

Last update - 19:54 20/11/2006

New IDF rule bars Palestinians without permits from Israeli cars

By Haaretz Service

The Israel Defense Forces this week introduced new regulations limiting Palestinians without valid permits from traveling in Israeli vehicles in the West Bank and Jordan Valley.

GOC Central Command Yair Naveh issued the regulations "due to repeated attempts [at times successful] by Palestinian terror organizations to exploit Israeli vehicles in order to infiltrate Israeli population centers and carry out terror attacks against Israeli civilians," the IDF said in a statement.

The warrant, signed on Sunday, states that only Palestinians with permits can travel in vehicles bearing Israeli registration plates. The new regulations will come into effect in mid-January.

Permits recognizable by the new regulations include: Palestinians traveling with a family member with Israeli citizenship; Palestinians with entry permits into Israel or into Israeli communities in the West Bank; Palestinian holding a certificate verifying employment in an international, medical or governmental services; and Palestinians traveling on an Israeli bus which holds a permit from the Civil Administration to operate bus services in the West Bank and Jordan Valley.

Just watch. The Military won't give anyone permits. Catch-22

Palestinians blocked Israeli air raid? No way!

Part of Haitham's adventure in Palestine, Media, Terrorism, Breaking News, Zionism, War Crimes

19. November 2006

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed that the raid had been called off because of the protest.
“The attack plan was canceled because of the people there. We differentiate between innocent people and terrorists,” he said. [Aljazeera]

No they did not! The Palestinians could not be the reason or the force to block the the terrorist army of Israel if they wanted to carry on the raid. Do you want to tell me that they didn’t kill innocent civilians before? How graceful they are.

(Ben Heine © Cartoons)

Who killed the Beit Hanoun sleeping families?

Who killed these and these and these and these and these and these and these and these and these and these and these and… all of these innocent civilians, children, women and elders, who killed them?

Who killed Huda’s family?

Who killed the civilians in this massacre, and this, and this, and this…?

Who killed Iman?

Who killed prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque?

Who killed children, women and elders in Sabra and Shatila and Qana?

Who killed the thousands of villagers in Qibya, Safsaf and al-Dawayima, and Kafr Qasim, and…?
Who killed and killed and killed…? Thousands and thousands of innocent Palestinians were killed by the Zionist throughout the history of Palestinian resistance!

Israel always claimed that Palestinian civilians die during Israeli terrorist army operations because they (Palestinians) use civilians as human shields. So, what’s new this time? Nothing. It’s not because the Palestinian formed a human shield to protect a Palestinian resistance man that Israeli terrorist machine stopped. It’s all a PR show and a brainwash to try to cover their recent massacres.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media has a very short memory.
From today news:

An Israeli aircraft has attacked a car carrying two Hamas fighters in Gaza City, wounding at least 10 people.

Hamas said two of its fighters were in the car but escaped unharmed on Sunday. Medical workers said the men were wounded, along with three passersby - two children and an elderly man. [Aljazeera]

So, these two children and the elderly men are not innocent civilians? And what about yesterday’s civilians killing? And day before, and day before, and week before…
Yesterday the UN resolution condemned Israeli terrorists and their crimes (156 countries, including the 25-member European Union, voted in favour of the non-binding resolution, introduced by Qatar on behalf of Arab states. Seven - including the US, Israel and Australia - voted against while six abstained). But, so what? Did anyone blink? When did a UN resolution stop Israel from conducting more crimes? Never! In fact in the same day, two Palestinians were killed.

It’s shame to watch the world doing nothing but few words of condemnation here and there, but no actions when things relate to Israel.

Ultimately, this world is not controlled by force but by our minds. The world has become a behavior modification laboratory. “Believe what you are told not your common sense or intuition,” and this is what Israel is playing well. Gradually, the world is transformed into better slaves by the education system or into slugs or demons by the mass media. The Zionist mass media is nothing but a malevolent occult force that controls the world with lies. They play a great role in this process and in manipulating and suppressing the truth and replacing it with their lies (a.k.a. truth, their truth).

Palestinians in Unprecedented Act of Defiance

Unprecedented Act of DefianceHat tip: Editerette

Send in the Subpoenas

By Ron Suskind
Sunday, November 19, 2006; B01

Senate Foreign Relations Committee aides debated last Tuesday whether to call deposed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to the hearing table for a public flogging. The decision was no -- at least for now. Later that day, I bumped into the incoming committee chairman, presidential hopeful Joseph R. Biden Jr. He said that while there was "extraordinary malfeasance" born of the Iraq crisis, he was planning to stay clear of all that. "That's looking backward," he said. "I'm in the 'action plan' department."

Biden expressed concern about the inquisitorial zeal of some of his "friends in the House," stressing that the key for both chambers will be "attaching all investigations to the broadest public purpose."

The new Democratic Congress may well come down to a series of confrontations between the competing urges to investigate and to lead. Between delving into past wrongdoings and building consensus on how to proceed in Iraq. Between, in a sense, the Democratic Party's show horses and its pit bulls.

Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), the soon-to-be chairman of the Government Reform Committee, is a classic pit bull. He has dreamed of subpoenas -- issuing them, and placing witnesses under oath -- for

12 years. Biden, meanwhile, is an unabashed show horse. The Delaware Democrat has dreamed of the Oval Office even longer. Both must exist within the new, mandate-infused Democratic Congress, and must figure out a way to survive together.

It's not as easy as it may seem, especially for Democrats. They say they've learned from the long run of Republican rule, but their efforts to adopt the GOP playbook may propel them into an identity crisis. Republicans, after all, are all about hierarchy and top-down decision-making. If everyone on the field uses a different playbook, they like to say, then you lose.

Democrats should be able to both investigate and lead, but it will take an embrace of Republican-style discipline (hardly a Democratic strong suit), an appreciation for deferred gratification (think inauguration day, January 2009) and a shrewd division of labor between pit bulls and show horses.

Here, then, is a playbook for the Democrats -- one that keeps the show horses preening, lets the pit bulls attack, helps the party figure out how to use its new subpoena power to maximum effect and encourages the sort of reality-based disclosures that all citizens, regardless of party, deserve.

First, the Democrats must broker a separation of powers. The show horses are their putative candidates for president, especially in the Senate, and the party's leadership in both chambers. Keep them above the fray, focusing on proposals for the future and the new "action plans," especially in foreign policy. But unleash the pit bulls: the committee chairs, their seconds and investigators who will dig relentlessly, identify targets and thus, inevitably, leave themselves vulnerable in their next reelection campaigns.

I've spent the past several years investigating various aspects of the Bush administration -- including economic policy and the battle against terrorism -- so I know there are so very many targets for the Democrats to choose from. However, there is not unlimited public patience for such efforts. The Democrats should therefore start with the freshest data: Exit polls from the midterm elections showed that concern about Iraq was matched by broader concerns about terrorism and, surprisingly, government corruption.

Indeed, the Bush administration's ability to remain scandal-free until last year's meltdown over lobbyist Jack Abramoff was, in large measure, a triumph of one-party rule over congressional oversight. While lobbyists for energy, health care and the automotive industry have walked through the Bush years in a state of near bliss, congressional watchdogs were defunded and career inspectors general of various departments were replaced by political appointees.

The vast U.S. energy industry may be the ripest target for a corruption investigation. When Vice President Cheney's energy task force was meeting in early 2001 -- meetings whose secrecy Cheney has managed to protect against legal challenge -- the goal of U.S. energy independence was barely an afterthought. Now, with the United States mired in the affairs of petro-dictatorships in the Middle East, even the president has emphasized the need to cure our addiction to oil.

Studied inaction on this front stems from the coziness between the administration and big oil -- a relationship that affects the global warming debate, Iraq, gas prices and oil company profits. Investigations into that relationship are a sure win for the Democrats. Just lining up oil company executives under the hot lights -- much like the seven tobacco company chief executives were lined up in 1994, looking like gray-suited deer -- creates the image, if not necessarily the fact, of activist government. (Suggested witnesses: Lee Raymond, chief executive of Exxon Mobil until this year; Spencer Abraham, former energy secretary; Cheney; and David Addington, Cheney's deputy on many energy matters.)

While some inquests set the table for responsible policy -- much as hearings on pollution helped spur 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act -- most are designed to strengthen accountability and deter future perfidy. The administration's repeated practice of strong-arming experts who stray off message makes for a bevy of high-intensity witnesses. They include global warming experts in various departments as well as Richard Foster, the Health and Human Services accountant who was threatened with dismissal for trying to alert Congress about the deceptive cost estimates on the Medicare prescription drug program. Hearings would show who gave the order to mislead the public on these issues of pressing concern -- a proper investigation for any Congress. (Suggested witnesses: Tom Scully, Foster's boss; James Hansen of NASA; Rick Piltz, formerly of the U.S. Global Change Research Program; and former Environmental Protection Agency director Christine Todd Whitman.)

All this comes before the Democrats even get to Iraq and the manipulation of prewar intelligence, the botched postwar planning and the myriad mistakes made after the invasion.

Oddly, Iraq may be the last place that Democratic investigators want to go, precisely because it is the arena from which the party's key above-the-fray "action plan" must emerge. So much is known from this year's host of Iraq books and stream of media disclosures that hearings would mostly unearth common knowledge -- a patience-trying prospect for a war-fatigued public.

Some Republicans would disagree. The goal of an investigation, and public hearings, they argue, is to destroy the targets. Ruin them, and whatever public purpose they champion is ruined as well. You have to make it personal. That's what people understand -- and that's what will create a public "moment" at a hearing table, one that will echo forward, even if the events in question are long passed.

Over in the people's chamber, some House investigators are quite clear on how to make things personal: Force administration officials to say that they lied or to take the Fifth Amendment. Two areas of modest public purpose, but fierce public passions, are the rescue of Army Pfc. Jessica Lynch and the death of NFL star-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman. In both cases, government officials willfully distributed false information. To show how that sort of thing happens -- who crafted and authorized the release -- would lead to the question of whether the practice is part of approved policy, an issue that drives at the very character of this administration. (Suggested witnesses: Jim Wilkinson, deputy national security adviser from 2003 to 2005 and spinmeister for the Iraq war; Dan Bartlett, special assistant to Bush for communications; and Gen. John P. Abizaid, chief of the U.S. Central Command.)

Indeed, the results of the midterm elections suggest that people's eyes are adjusting to the Bush administration's message management innovations. Recent polls show that public concerns over how the government is handling the terrorism threat now surpass concerns over the handling of the Iraq war, which may mean that the administration's overall credibility problems are bleeding into what was once an area of relative strength for the president. Add the foiled terrorist attacks in London in August, and Americans can quite naturally be wondering what we're not being told on the terrorism front.

Unfortunately, as I've encountered repeatedly in my own reporting, discernible reality in the war on terrorism is mostly locked in a vault marked "classified." There is no realm in which more misinformation has been passed to the public, a result of the creative license that a largely secret war affords this -- or any -- government.

A mission of the Democratic Congress that would please both the gods of politics and of public purpose (they don't always intersect) may be to drag that war from the shadows. But it will be difficult. Though members of the Senate and House Intelligence Committees know from interrogation and wiretap scandals that they are ill-equipped to oversee such wide swaths of classified activities, the administration's position on keeping secrets secret is strong. Virtually no one now in the government advocates disclosure -- the default setting is to classify everything.

Democratic-run congressional committees could push for some modicum of transparency in public hearings. Start with whether any Americans who are clearly uninvolved in terrorist activities have been, or are being, wiretapped. The list is long, and addressing it would encourage judicial oversight of that program -- as well as various financial surveillance programs -- rather than keeping it caught in partisan gridlock between executive and legislative branches. (Suggested witnesses: Michael V. Hayden, formerly National Security Agency director, now head of the CIA; Robert S. Mueller III, FBI director; and Charles T. Fote, former chief executive of First Data Corp.)

The list of areas crying out for inquiry is quite long as well. The "war on terror" is a vast undiscovered country. The erosion of global U.S. human intelligence assets since the start of the Iraq war, for example, is harrowing. The fraying threads of international cooperation (as anti-Americanism becomes a path to political success throughout the world) correspond to a dizzying growth of self-activated terrorist cells. And it gets worse. A September 2003 meeting of all pertinent top officials in government, including the president and vice president, discussed how suspected terrorists, identified by the CIA, were lost by the FBI once they entered the United States -- even after the 9/11 attacks. The heated exchanges that day, and numerous similar ones over the past three years, suggest a breakdown in process that will surely be discussed by some commission after the next terrorist attack. (Suggested witnesses: Cheney, Mueller and FBI counterterrorism chief Phil Mudd, formerly at the CIA.)

And while all this proceeds, what about those show horses? Well, they'll steer clear of the hearings and, as one senator recently quipped, "stay away from past-tense words like 'woulda, coulda, or shoulda' " as they develop their action plans. But once the 2008 campaign season heats up, they'll choose among the coming year's subpoena fest for the sharpest disclosures, and wield them in electoral battle.

Or so the playbook reads.

Ron Suskind is author of "The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of its Enemies Since 9/11" (Simon and Schuster).

Robert Gates’ Islamofascism Connection

by Michael Gaddy

In a few short weeks, Americans will have a solid indicator on the actual results of their November 7th repudiation of the Iraq war through the voting process. It will be clear whether the wishes of the American people will be taken seriously by the politicians of either party, or whether it will be business as usual in Babylon on the Potomac.

Just exactly how Senate Democratic members Reid, Clinton, Feinstein, Boxer, Schumer, Kerry, Republican presidential hopeful, John McCain, and others handle the upcoming confirmation hearing of Robert Gates, who as assistant CIA director in the late 1970’s was responsible for administering a 500 million dollar dose of growth-hormone to the then fledgling Militant Muslim movement will be insightful. Gates readily admitted his support of this effort in his 1996 memoir, From The Shadows.

Will we finally hear Washington criticism of the Pakistani Inter-Services-Intelligence (ISI) operations? ISI has been linked to training and funding of the perpetrators of 9/11, the London, Madrid, Bali, and Delhi bombers, and was the alleged conduit for monetary support from Gates and the CIA to what would become al-Qaeda, even before the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.

Although a pretty face can be painted on this intrusion into the affairs of other nations by claiming it led to the downfall of the Soviet Union (using the language of the CIA), the "blow-back" from this event has evolved into an F5 tornado.

That those in Washington believed, and possibly still believe, giving aid and support to Militant Muslims was the right thing to do is revealed in this excerpt from a 1998 interview of Zbigniew Brezezinski, President Jimmy Carter’s National Security Advisor.

"Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [From the Shadows], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?

Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?

B: It isn't quite that. We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

Q: When the Soviets justified their intervention by asserting that they intended to fight against a secret involvement of the United States in Afghanistan, people didn't believe them. However, there was a basis of truth. You don't regret anything today?

B: Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the break-up of the Soviet empire.

Q: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

B: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Q: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

B: Nonsense! It is said that the West had a global policy in regard to Islam. That is stupid. There isn't a global Islam. Look at Islam in a rational manner and without demagoguery or emotion. It is the leading religion of the world with 1.5 billion followers. But what is there in common among Saudi Arabian fundamentalism, moderate Morocco, Pakistan militarism, Egyptian pro-Western or Central Asian secularism? Nothing more than what unites the Christian countries.

Obviously, the initial funding of Militant Islam by the CIA under the leadership of Robert Gates, and the idiocy of the unprovoked invasion of Iraq have united these "stirred up Moslems" into a force that Bush, Cheney, et al., say requires a never ending pre-emptive wars, as well as the removal of all of our liberties guaranteed in the Bill-of-Rights in our Constitution.

The immediate announcement of Rumsfeld’s departure as Secdef and Gates’ appointment to succeed him after the Democratic victory was a well-planned event. Bush wanted to get the Gates confirmation secured in the lame duck session while the Republicans still controlled the Senate.

During this confirmation hearing we will see if the politicians have learned anything from the election of November 7. My guess is there will be no change; our so-called representatives owe their soul and their financial futures to the Military/Industrial Complex and care nothing for the American Citizen. George Wallace was right in 1968 when he told us there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two parties; and Carroll Quigley was right when he said in his book Tragedy and Hope,

"The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one perhaps of the Right, and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can 'throw the rascals out' at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.... [E]ither party in office becomes in time corrupt, tired, unenterprising, and vigorless. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same policies" Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope: a History of the World in Our Time (New York : MacMillan, 1966), p.1248. (emphasis added)

November 20, 2006

Michael Gaddy [send him mail], an Army veteran of Vietnam, Grenada, and Beirut, lives in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest.

Copyright © 2006

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Gaza suffering "massive" rights violations - U.N.

Mon 20 Nov 2006 6:33 AM ET
By Nidal al-Mughrabi

BEIT HANOUN, Gaza, Nov 20 (Reuters) - A senior United Nations official described Gaza as suffering "massive" human rights violations during a visit to the territory on Monday and urged all sides to be bold in trying to end the violence.

"The violation of human rights I think in this territory is massive," Louise Arbour, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, told reporters during a visit to Beit Hanoun, a town the Israeli army shelled earlier this month, killing 19 civilians.

"The call for protection has to be answered. We cannot continue to see civilians, who are not the authors of their own misfortune, suffer to the extent of what I see."

Arbour, on a five-day trip to the region, spent time at the house of a family who had lost more than a dozen members in a shelling on Nov. 8, when Israel says a mistake led to the barrage of artillery shells hitting the neighbourhood.

Her visit, the first she has made to the region since becoming commissioner, comes days after the U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution that "deplored" Israel's shelling of Gaza and called for an immediate cessation of violence.

Asked what she planned to do about the rights violations, Arbour said: "I will help to keep the conscience of the many who care about what happens in this part of the world alive.

"I will speak to the Palestinian Authority about their responsibility to enforce the law, to create an environment in which people can seek protection of the law and, of course, I will also speak to the Israeli authority.

"We need to collectively call on leaders, political, military and militia leaders, to have the courage to break the cycle of violence to ensure the well-being of civilians."


More than 350 Palestinians, almost half of them civilians according to Palestinian doctors and human rights workers, have been killed since Israel launched an offensive in Gaza in late June, following the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier.

The offensive was designed not only to try to trace the captured soldier, who was seized by militants including members of the governing Palestinian faction Hamas, but also to stop militants firing rockets into Israeli territory from Gaza.

Israeli authorities say militants have fired more than 300 of the homemade rockets into southern Israel this year, targeting towns like Sderot, just across the frontier from Gaza.

Last week, a woman resident of Sderot was killed, the first death from a rocket attack since July 2005. Others have been wounded and scores are treated each week for shock.

Residents of Beit Hanoun turned out to see Arbour as she toured the town, where many buildings are scarred by shrapnel, but were not hopeful her visit would achieve any results.

"It will not do anything," said Majdi al-Athamna, 37, who lost his son and three brothers in the shelling.

"This visit will not achieve anything unless the world pressures Israel to engage in a real peace process because as Palestinians we are paying the price of the false peace."

A Prescription for Peace

Nov 20, 2006

Teaching Tommy During an Era of Fascism

By Doug Soderstrom

In looking back at that of my own education, I have come to the conclusion that much of what I learned was a matter of propaganda. And I am sorry to say that it wasn’t until “that sorrowful day in September” that I decided to take a serious look at the history of our country, and it was that which has made all the difference, that which no doubt changed my life. As a result, I began to understand the sacrosanct privilege of being a citizen of a democratic republic, what it means to suffer “the swift retaliation” of those incapable of understanding the irrefragable duty to question one’s country, what has no doubt become a determined need to challenge the insanity of a nation having apparently gone mad in an outrageously absurd rush to war.

Then, after having spent forty years as a psychologist teaching at the college level, my sentiments have not changed; we, as teachers, have done a terrible thing. We have chosen to mislead our students. We have led them to believe things that are simply not true. Rather than educating them, arming them with the knowledge necessary to understand “the realities of the life,” we have inadvisably placed an inordinate emphasis upon preparing youth for the workplace, essentially training them to become robot-like cogs in the machinery of mankind. Rather than vesting them with the power to think for themselves, the power to reason in a critical manner, the sagacity to understand the complex nature of the moral dilemmas set before us, we have, through the power of propaganda, chosen to domesticate our youth, deciding that it is preferable that they become flag-waving patriots, loyalists, apologists chauvinistically pledging their allegiance to the Fatherland. This, paired with a combat-contingent reinstatement of the military draft (H.R. 4752: Universal National Service Act of 2006) coupled with President Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act (Section 9528) that has apparently given military recruiters (who quite often do not tell our kids the truth) the nearly unprecedented right to roam the halls of our public schools demanding the name, address, and telephone number of each and every student in the country….…. and we may well be looking at a lead-up to that which occurred in the 1930’s as Adolph Hitler “brown-shirted” the youth of Germany assuring there would be a ready supply of soldiers to serve in combat.

Decidedly, such is no way to raise children unless we, as a people, have decided that we do not want our children to possess the soundness of mind, the skills, necessary to carry out the astonishingly difficult task of maintaining the cumbersome complexities of a democratic republic.

Consequently, as a counterbalance to the many myths (fictions, fantasies, and fabrications) taught in our public schools, I am proposing that youth be taught to respect the wonderful elegance of peace, love, and justice, that our children understand the terrible dreadfulness of war, hate, and injustice, that they appreciate the gravity, the paramount import, of facing the reality of the world in which they live, that they develop the character, even the wisdom, to realize that:

Every human being is sacred, that regardless of one’s sex, race, status, economic condition, creed, color, nationality, religion, or sexual orientation, nothing is of greater value than that of protecting the right for everyone to be treated with respect.

Each and every human being is first, and foremost, a valued member of the human family, and then, and only then, a citizen of any particular nation, that reversing the order of these will, without exception, distort one’s relationship with his fellowman leading to an increased likelihood of mutual misunderstanding, conflict, and, in the long run, war.

Peace is a far better thing than war, that each of us, as human beings, has a moral responsibility to use our energy and talents to move the world toward peace, love, and justice, and thus away from that of war, hate, and injustice.

From the very beginning our country has been enmeshed in violence. First, there was the decision to go to war with the British Empire. Then a near-genocidal attempt to destroy the American Indian, the original inhabitants of our country, followed by a centuries-long exploitation of the Black race. Along with this, our country has a time-honored tradition of conflict with a multitude of others: threatening to destroy our adversaries (nations unwilling to align themselves with that of our interests) through the use of an arsenal of deadly (many of them nuclear) weapons; willingly participating in the overthrow of numerous popularly elected governments unwilling to abide by our rules; demanding that other countries allow us the right to exploit their natural resources in order to maintain our own standard of living; has been, and perhaps still is, involved in the trafficking of drugs around the world; assassinates foreign leaders, aids terrorists, and supports “death squads;” has committed a multitude of crimes against humanity; has allowed the CIA, an organization much like that of the Mafia, to terrorize the world; kidnaps suspects and tortures prisoners; imprisons more of its own people than any other country in the world; is the only nation in the West that kills it’s own people through the use of the death penalty; is an international pariah, a true maverick, refusing to work with the rest of the world in order to resolve problems confronting humanity; has a long and varied history of aligning itself with a rather vicious assortment of dictators, tyrants, and despots willing to do our bidding at the expense of their own people; and, as such, is increasingly beginning to resemble the fascist movements of Adolph Hitler in his nascent 1930’s attempt to take over the world.

Capitalism, an economic system in which it is assumed that self-interest (exclusive concern for one’s own family and personal welfare) is an undeniable good, that greed can (and perhaps should) be tolerated, that one ought to be allowed (and perhaps even encouraged) to make as much money as possible, that the right to own property is inalienable, and that equality (the relatively equal distribution of goods among folks) is, for the most part, of little or no value, and that capitalism, as an economic arrangement, is in no way preferable to that of socialism, an economic system that cherishes a relatively high degree of equality amongst its citizens (the right for everyone to share in and to have access to “the basics of life”), while simultaneously encouraging individuals to overcome the temptation to be indolent (lazy and/or unproductive) by mandating that each has a moral responsibility to share with others, as indicated by Karl Marx’s aphorism, “From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs,” the early Christian communist (communalist) expectation that each share his/her belongings with others, along with the prophet Jesus’ (Mark 10:17-27) advice to “the Rich Young Ruler” concerning what must be done in order to be saved, what one must do in order to inherit eternal life…… “Go and sell all of your possessions, and give the proceeds to the poor, and then, and only then, will it be possible for you to be saved,” but, as we are told, since the Rich Young Ruler had great possessions, he (like many of us no doubt would) in fact did leave with a saddened and grievous heart……. much like that of “the camels of antiquity;” it is a very difficult thing for those with money to humble themselves to the point of crawling on bare knees through the “proverbial eye of a needle!”

From the very beginning, the United States has been a class-based society in which the government, for all practical purposes, has served the interests of the rich, and more or less been forced to tolerate the poor, while allowing those of the middle class, those who happen to work for a living (sometimes referred to as “wage slaves”), to remain eternally nervous out of a deeply-ingrained fear of losing their jobs thus enabling those in power to maintain control over workers, folks with seemingly little, or no, concern for those at the bottommost levels of society, those (the indigent poor, those of color, others “down on their luck,” Viet Nam and Iraq War veterans, and those who are mentally ill) with little or no opportunity to make it to the top….… no matter how hard they try.

The United States of America, as well as Israel, by virtue of their eagerness to go to war, their apparent willingness to plunder and pillage other lands have, without question, become the most hated of nations in the world, and that the President of our country, George Walker Bush, due to having formulated a preemptive military policy (one that mandates a right to destroy any nation threatening our right to control the world) paired with that of a foreign policy that shows very little respect for that of other nations, has become the most hated man on Earth.

The citizens of our country ought to be ashamed of having allowed the phrase, “In God We Trust,” to have been placed upon our coins, the very emblem expressing an assiduous craving to consume, even to devour, more and more things, a hypocritical tendency to say one thing, but to do another, the fact that our nation has, for all practical purposes, never placed its faith in God, but rather in something much more tangible; an unrestrained need to generate more and more wealth (that of an increasingly large gross national product), individual and corporate assets protected by a military arsenal ready and willing to destroy any nation audacious enough to interfere.

Organized religion has become an astonishingly complex problem for nearly every nation, that, along with the good, it is rather evident that religion has become one of the primary, if not the primary, cause of war, violence, and death, that it would be much better if individuals were less inclined to be religious, less inclined to regard themselves as “masters of the universe,” folks so ethnocentrically predisposed that they seem to have little doubt that they have received the divine right to determine who it is that will go to Heaven versus who it is that needs to be punished in Hell, a people so terribly arrogant that their lot in life would be much improved if they were willing to relinquish such piety, replacing it with something much more genuine such as an authentic interest in serving the legitimate needs of the human family.

The rights of citizens, as indicated in The Bill of Rights, were not given to the people, rather such rights have always been earned, essentially taken from the firm grip of a government never inclined to give freedom to its people, either through the power of the law or through an unrelenting willingness of folks to engage in acts of civil disobedience, suggesting that teachers have a responsibility to make sure that students not only understand the principles of civil disobedience, but that they might have an extended opportunity to learn how to implement (to carry out in an effective and efficient manner) well-intentioned acts of civil disobedience.

It is important that one be honest, that one be honest with God, himself, as well as with others, that one summon the courage to tell the truth, a realization that veracity must not be compromised, a rather simple recognition that the most dangerous thing one can do is to tell the truth, to say that which nobody wants to hear, a resolute willingness to be a maverick (even that of a whistle blower), to be one who can be counted on to tell the truth regardless of the consequences.

It is important that one be a man or woman of integrity, one who is governed by one’s conscience, the rudder of one’s soul, that which empowers the human spirit, impels an individual to live in such a way that one’s values affirm the sacredness of life, that which directs an individual to treat others in a manner that one would like to be treated, that which sets in motion an empathic resolve to make sure that “the least of us” are treated with respect, a precondition for that of self-respect.

It is important that one have humility, an inner power manifested by those who understand that they are no better than anyone else, a rather calm and unpretentious realization that one’s accomplishments are of no special significance, no doubt the only known cure for those shackled by the chains of conceit so terribly central to that of arrogance.

It is important that one have the faith to doubt, a simple recognition that no one, no human being, has “a direct pipeline to God,” that no one can authoritatively tell another what he or she must believe, that, like it or not, no human being has the capacity to comprehend “the truth of God,” that, as a human being, one has no choice but to face the fact of “ontological uncertainty,” the fact that truth (the perfect knowledge of God) is necessarily “off limits” to man, that although one has an existential responsibility to search for truth, one must do so realizing that what is searched for will never (can never) be found, leaving one with little choice but to accept the fact that whatever one is able to find will emerge only if one has the fearlessness to question anything and everything (God, one’s church, one’s parents, one’s nation, the law, society, others, but, most importantly, that of one’s self), that nothing should be taken for granted, that skepticism (the willingness to question) should rule the day, that answers, in and of themselves, are of little value, whereas the great questions of life represent the engine of knowledge, that if one is to muster the courage to search for truth, it is essential that one appreciate the perilous nature of such a journey, realize that such a trek requires the absolute courage of one’s convictions, the sureness of self, the existential capacity to confront “the incredible incomprehensibility of eternity.”

It is important that one become self-reliant, that one develop the skills necessary for self-governance, that one develop the capacity to think things out for one’s self accompanied by a firm resolution that one must never allow one’s self to become a servile slave of the status quo, that one must resist the temptation to go along with the crowd, to become “a good ole boy,” an organizational man, or that of a team player.

It is important that one develop the defiant power of the human spirit, a tenacious, absolutely indefeasible, willingness to overcome any and all odds, an inexorable unwillingness to allow anything or anyone to “keep one down,” an ontological resolve to surmount the “tough times of life,” a courageous commitment to respond to tragedy by saying “yes to life.”

It is important that one find meaning in life, an ontological reason for which to live, an existential willingness to move beyond the superficial pleasures of life such as that of money, power, reputation, status, success, and the acquisition of things, an effort to acquire a transpersonal interest, a willingness to give one’s life for something greater than one’s self, a resolve to live one’s life for God, for one’s children, a beneficent cause (such as that of Martin Luther King’s commitment to civil rights), or perhaps even a career that might enable one to serve the best interests of mankind.

It is important that one develop an empathic concern for others, the willingness to place one’s self into “the shoes” of another person, the capacity to view the world from the perspective of folks unlike one’s self, even those of a foreign nation, a resolve to overcome the narrow-minded confines of one’s own cultural conditioning demanding that we glorify the deeds of our own nation, while simultaneously damning those of our enemy, a blind presumption that we, as a nation, are always right whereas our enemy is, without question, always wrong, a programming that has taught us to live our lives according to the Lex Talionis (red in tooth and claw) Law of Retribution, that there is nothing wrong with that of hating one’s enemy, that during a time of war we should be proud of a willingness to kill the enemy, that any effort to place ourselves in the shoes of an enemy (to want to understand, and therefore forgive, him as a human being who is in no way different from that of ourselves) has become equated with that of having become an apostate, a turncoat, a traitor, a disloyal American willing to collaborate with the enemy, an arrogance so profoundly ignorant that we, as citizens, seem to be left with little choice but to follow the Machiavellian edict to simply “do away with” those we have been taught to hate.

It is important that we develop an appreciation for the fact of death, the fact that each and everyone of us will one day die, an existential reminder that if we are to be good stewards of our lives, we must live each day as if it was our last day on Earth, that, because we have only a limited amount of time to get done “what must be done,” we must take seriously the imperative that we live a good and decent life, for without such an inclination, we will certainly miss the mark, miss the existential responsibility to make the most of our lives.

Finally, it is necessary that we comprehend our responsibility in regards to the future, in regards to those who will populate the planet once we die, the mandate that we respect, that we have a true reverence for, life, that we honor and respect the needs of those who will follow in our footsteps, that we be willing to defend the Earth from the awful onslaught of progress, that we, as a people, be willing to live with less, that we put an end to the practice of plundering and pillaging our planet, that we understand that anything less than this may well lead to the decimation, perhaps even the annihilation of, the human race.

Clearly then, a partisan approach to anything results in children having little choice but to believe what they have been told, what has more or less been collectively “crammed down their throats,” effectively depriving them of an opportunity to know “the facts,” the facts, of course, being the essential ingredients, no doubt the bedrock, of truth. Even though Christians (primarily those of the religious right/the fundamentalists) have done a great deal to muddy the “waters of truth,” the prophet Jesus (in John 8:32) promised that “the truth will set us free,” that an awareness of the facts, an informed understanding of the way things are, a thorough “sifting of the chaff from the wheat,” will provide a solid foundation from which to launch a search for truth, a place from which to begin, a progressive opportunity to figure out what should be discarded, what ought to be retained, and what needs to be added in order that youth might be educated in an objective and honest manner.

Rather than allowing ourselves to be filled with fear, the fear of loosing our jobs, afraid that someone might be a bit upset by what we say or do; let’s reverse course. Why not strive to “upset a few apple carts,” strive to teach the things that nobody wants to hear, demonstrate the courage of our convictions, risk the consequences of telling students “the truth.” Otherwise, if we choose not to do such a thing, we will be forced to face the fact that we have become “partners in crime,” willing participants in having chosen to lead our sons and daughters down the “yellow brick road” of arrogance, which leads to inhumanity, war, and then to death. Thus, I believe that we must demand that we teach our students “the truth,” demand that we teach each and every side of each and every issue, enabling students to transcend, to move beyond, the bondage of personal and collective bias, to move beyond a self-inclined willingness to bask in the twilight of social and cultural ignorance, demand that we do our best to set humanity free from the shackles of self and society in order that we, as a people, might one day thirst after righteousness, that we might be more inclined to love God, our neighbor, and perhaps even that of our enemy, placing us on the firmest of ground, the freshly prepared path of peace leading to the promise land of life, liberty, and justice, not just for us, but for all of mankind.

No doubt something for all of us to consider since it is our very own children, that of the next generation, who will one day inherit the future, and thus govern our nation. Accordingly, it is imperative that we ask who will be most qualified, most able, to take the reigns of leadership; statesmen eager to build a democracy committed to peace, love, and justice, or another bunch of thugs anxiously awaiting their turn to rule the world with the “shock and awe” of their most recently developed weapons of death?

Go Duh

MSNBC response to Pentagon 3 Iraq options report: 'Go Duh'


Pentagon Iraq Plans: 'go big, go long or go home'


Pentagon May Suggest Short-Term Buildup Leading to Iraq Exit

By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff WriterMonday, November 20, 2006; A01

CDT Identifies Threats to the Internet and Civil Liberties in the Lame Duck Congress

CDT Releases "Lame Duck" Internet Watch List

CDT on Monday issued a special lame duck edition of its "Internet Watch List," which identifies seven legislative efforts that threaten the Internet and fundamental civil liberties in the waning days of the 109th Congress. Unfortunately bills that would greatly expand the authority to wiretap innocent Americans; stifle socially valuable speech online; and limit access to worthwhile social networking tools remain very much in play despite the short legislative calendar. CDT is urging lawmakers, journalists and activists to remain vigilant to ensure that none of these misguided measures becomes law. November 20, 2006

Internet Watch List - Lame Duck Edition November 20, 2006

Press Release November 20, 2006

Our Own Abu Ghraibs

By Matthew Rothschild

November 18, 2006

With all the attention on U.S. torture and abuse of prisoners overseas, we’ve been neglecting to pay attention to one haunting fact: Our country treats some prisoners here at home in a similar way.

Dogs are used on prisoners.

Sexual abuse is commonplace.

Prisoners are held in isolation for months at a time.

Prisoners are shocked with tasers and stun guns while they are handcuffed or even while they are in restraint chairs.

Prisoners, including mentally ill ones, are left in restraint chairs or are shackled to the floor for hours and sometimes days at a time, left to urinate and defecate on themselves.

Two judges in recent days have cast a spotlight on these horrors.

In Michigan, Judge Richard Alan Enslen ordered the state to stop using nonmedical restraints in cells after a twenty-one-year-old mentally ill prisoner, Timothy Joe Souders, died naked and shackled to the cement floor lying in his own urine for four days.

The judge said Souders’s treatment amounted to torture, and he castigated prison officials.

“You are not coat racks who collect government paychecks while your work is taken to the sexton for burial,” he said.

In another case, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that a Wisconsin supermax prison resembled a Soviet “gulag” if the conditions described in a case about inmate Nathan Gillis were accurate.

“Stripped naked in a small prison cell with nothing except a toilet; forced to sleep on a concrete floor or slab; denied any human contact; fed nothing but ‘nutri-loaf’; and given just a modicum of toilet papers—four squares—only a few times. Although this might sound like a stay at a Soviet gulag in the 1930s, it is, according to the claims in this case, Wisconsin in 2002.”

The treatment of our own prisoners should shock the conscience not just of judges but of all of us. We have versions of our own Abu Ghraibs here at home, as Anne-Marie Cusac wrote about in The Progressive in a July 2004 article entitled “Abu Ghraib, USA.”

“When we tolerate abuse in U.S. prisons and jails,” she wrote, “it should not surprise us to find U.S. soldiers using similar methods in Iraq.”

Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the ACLU, among others, have documented this abuse time and time again.

We must bring it to a stop.

Bush's Desire for a Conflict With Iran Is A Crisis Made in Israel

One must recognize the role that the Holocaust plays on the psyche of Israel to understand why it would never tolerate a nuclear Iran.

By Scott Ritter, Nation Books
November 20, 2006

The following is an excerpt from Scott Ritter's new book "Target Iran: The Truth About the White House's Plans for Regime Change" (Nation Books, 2006).

To understand Israel's present stance on Iran, perhaps the best place to begin is at Yad Vashem, Israel's main Holocaust museum and memorial. It is at Yad Vashem that Israelis reflect on the very reason there is a modern Israeli state, namely because of the genocidal forces that brought so much suffering upon the Jewish people in the past century. Modern Israelis are also reminded here of the political forces that continue to seek the elimination of not only the Jews, but also Israel itself.

Recognizing the powerful influence that the Holocaust plays on the psyche of Israel is not just important in terms of understanding why Israel would never tolerate the existence of forces opposed to its survival, but also how an issue of such emotional depth has the potential to poison an environment, to the point that Israel and its supporters can support policies that can end up being exploited for purposes that are detrimental to the long-term survival and prosperity of the Israeli state.

Anyone who has visited Israel as an official guest, as I have done a number of times, has been provided a tour of that tiny nation, and as such can sense Israel's perceived vulnerability. There is a certain paranoia that dominates the Israeli psyche, one that is not without some merit. The high number of suicide attacks bears witness to the reality that there are in fact organizations and people "out there" who seek to do harm to the state of Israel and the Israeli people.
It should come as no surprise then that senior Israeli politicians chose Yad Vashem as the place from which to make clear the Israeli policy regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions. On this year's Holocaust Remembrance Day two Iranian-born Jews delivered these remarks. "I call on the Western world to not stand silently in the face of the nations that are trying to acquire nuclear weapons and [who] preach the destruction of the State of Israel," Israeli President Moshe Katsav remarked during prepared remarks made at Yad Vashem. On the same day, at the opening of the Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University, outgoing Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz highlighted Israel's contention that Iran had funded terror groups operating inside the Palestinian territories with close to $10 million in financial assistance since the start of 2006. Mr. Mofaz went on to say that the Israeli policy should be focused on seeking the demise of the current regime in Tehran.

However, there is an element of hypocrisy inherent in the Israeli position. Israel possesses nuclear weapons capabilities that were acquired surreptitiously, and fields a force of modern ballistic missiles capable of firing nuclear warheads into not only Iran, but also every other nation in the region. The irony of Israel, a nation born of the Holocaust and alone among Middle Eastern nations in possessing the holocaust-generating power of nuclear weapons, condemning Iran for its rhetoric while itself espousing the demise of the Iranian government, is lost on few outside of Israel and the United States, and for a large part explains why the legitimacy of the Israeli concerns about Iran to a large extent fall on deaf ears.

The reality of the Holocaust (from an historical perspective) and the concept of the Holocaust (regarding Israel's future) dominate the national security thinking of the Israeli state. It is wrong to characterize the emotions and beliefs of over five million people in the person of a single individual, especially when it comes to the issue of Israel's national security, Iraq and Iran. However, there is one man who has so dominated these issues for over the past decade that it is impossible to speak of these issues without referring to his name over and over again -- Amos Gilad.

When meeting Amos Gilad, it is at first hard to imagine such serious matters being rolled up into the personage of such a man. He is medium height, with a thinning shock of white hair, possessing a soft, pudgy frame, and pale skin reflective of a career indoors, rummaging through papers and sitting through briefings; one would be hard pressed equating the physical impression of the man with the near-mythological status he holds as one of Israel's premier spymasters. But when the man speaks, and in doing so exposes his intellect to his audience, the physical no longer matters as the sharp insights and analytical capacity of Amos Gilad becomes clear. Whether one agrees with his assessments or not, there is no escaping the fact that with his soft but firm voice and direct presentation, Amos Gilad projects confidence.
This confidence is born of an adult lifetime spent in the service of the Israel Defense Force, serving as an officer within the Aman, or Military Intelligence. Born in 1954 to a father who immigrated from Czechoslovakia to Israel in 1939, and a mother who was a survivor of the Holocaust, Amos Gilad had the history of the persecution and near-extermination of Europe's Jews seared into his being from youth. The legend of Amos Gilad tells of how he wrote a paper on Auschwitz which involved research so detailed that it enabled the young Amos to correct any errors in stories told by camp survivors. A serious student, he enlisted in the Officer's Candidate Academic Studies Program upon graduating from high school, allowing him to earn a Master's Degree in Political Science from the University of Haifa before going on active duty.

With his advanced degree and sharp intellect, Gilad was a natural for assignment to Military Intelligence. He entered military service in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and as such joined an intelligence branch stinging from the embarrassment of failed analysis, a process which has taken on the shameful title of "konseptsia," from the Hebrew word for conception, a derogatory reference to the pre-1973 assessment of the head of Israeli Military Intelligence at the time, Eli Za'ira, who "conceived" that Egypt would not launch an attack against Israel, ignoring a huge amount of intelligence the contrary. In the aftermath of Eli Za'ira's konseptsia, the Aman put in place analytical checks and balances throughout the military intelligence system in order to make sure that never again would Israel fall victim to assessments void of fact.
The rigorous training in the art of intelligence paid off. In 1978, as a junior officer, Amos Gilad made a name for himself when he accurately predicted a PLO terror attack along the Israeli seacoast. In 1982, by now a major, he became embroiled in Israel's invasion of Lebanon. Assigned to the Aman's research branch, Gilad was very critical of Israel's close ties with the Lebanese Christian Phalangist militias. Major Gilad predicted that Israel's decision to allow the Phalangist militia into the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila would result in the massacre of the civilian population. On the night of September 16, 1982, Amos Gilad arrived at a forward command post near Beirut, and started immediately to send warnings of an impending slaughter back to his higher headquarters. His warnings were ignored, largely because analysts in the rear headquarters believed that Gilad was responding to a gut feeling, rather than hard fact?

The official investigation into the role of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) in Sabra and Shatila revealed that Major Gilad was acting on far more than gut feeling; he had overheard conversations between Israeli officers that indicated that a massacre was underway. The horrible events at Sabra and Shatila left a mark on Amos Gilad, making him not only more cognizant of the soundness of his analytical thinking, but the absolute requirement to press this analysis home in the face of doubters or bureaucratic inaction. Gilad worked his way through various assignments within the Aman, until fate had him, by this time a Colonel, serving as the head of the Iraq desk on the eve of the escalation of tensions with Iraq over its nuclear program, Saddam's subsequent threat to "burn half of Israel" with a chemical weapon, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and the American build-up in Saudi Arabia in response. As the head of the Iraq desk, Amos Gilad monitored Iraqi military developments continuously, and would brief his findings to the Director of Military Intelligence, and more often than not, to the Defense Minister and Prime Minister.

At the time of Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, the United States, through the Department of Defense, maintained an intelligence sharing program with the IDF, which operated under the code name Ice Castle. While the history of modern U.S.-Israeli intelligence sharing programs have as their genesis the tumultuous period surrounding the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the specifics of the Ice Castle program were tied to the crisis of Spring 1990, when Israeli intelligence detected a resurgence of activity within Iraq related to nuclear matters, prompting Israeli politicians to publicly speculate about a repeat of the 1982 attack by Israel on the Osirak nuclear reactor outside of Baghdad, an action that many today believe retarded Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions by over a decade.

Iraq, for its part, put Israel on notice that any such attack by Israel would result in an Iraqi counterattack, including the use of chemical weapons that would, according to Saddam Hussein, "burn half of Israel." The Ice Castle program revolved around Israel's concerns relating to Iraqi capabilities to launch such an attack, and U.S. intelligence data, specifically satellite photographs of western Iraq, was provided to Israel (via Israeli liaison officers dispatched to Washington, D.C.) to help detect any suspicious Iraqi activity in the deserts of western Iraq. Of specific concern for the Israelis were Iraqi SCUD missiles, armed with chemical warheads, which when operating from locations in western Iraq would be able to range all of Israel. In the period of heightened tensions between Israel and Iraq that followed into the summer of 1990, the Ice Castle cooperation detected a surge of ballistic missile related activity in western Iraq on the part of the Iraqi military, including the establishment of numerous fixed-arm missile launchers oriented toward Israel, and the survey of missile launch sites for Iraq's mobile SCUD launchers.
Theory quickly became reality when, following Iraq's August 1990 invasion of Kuwait, the Iraqi military deployed nearly a dozen chemical warhead-tipped SCUD missiles to the deserts of western Iraq. Even as U.S. forces surged into the Middle East in the months following the Iraqi invasion, Israel pushed the United States for more information on the Iraqi missile threat. However, the U.S. planning priority had shifted away from dealing with an Israeli-centric issue revolving around missile threats in western Iraq, to a larger matter of assembling a large, multi-national coalition comprising many key Arab allies, which would not only defend the eastern oil fields of Saudi Arabia from the threat of expanded Iraqi incursions, but also launch a counterattack designed to liberate Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. Israel's concerns were no longer America's concerns, so much so that Ice Castle imagery was diverted to U.S. military planners (myself included), while Israeli liaison officers sat empty handed in Pentagon briefing rooms.

Israeli military and political leaders grew increasingly irritated by the lack of U.S. sensitivity regarding what they viewed as a serious threat to Israeli security. Many in Israel talked of an Israeli preemptive strike on Iraq, but were pressured by the United States to stand down so as to do nothing that could be detrimental to the Arab-heavy coalition being assembled in Saudi Arabia to confront Iraq. On January 13, 1991, a U.S. delegation led by Assistant Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger went so far as to guarantee that after the second day of military action against Iraq, no Iraqi missiles would ever impact on Israeli soil.

This lack of American attention took on considerable political consequence when, in January 1991, Iraq fired SCUD missiles from western Iraq into Israeli cities following the initiation of military action on the part of a U.S.-led coalition designed to liberate Kuwait. In the early morning hours of January 17, the Israeli seaport of Haifa was struck, in rapid succession, by three Iraqi SCUD missiles. Two missiles impacted in the sea off the city proper, exploding on contact with the water. The third missile struck a shopping mall under construction, located near the checkpoint for the northern entrance to Haifa. Fortunately, the shopping mall was empty, most people had left their apartments for bomb shelters, and there were no casualties.
Shortly after the missile attack in Haifa, five more SCUD missiles struck Tel Aviv. The first missile exploded in the air over the suburb of Afeka, spreading debris over the trajectory flight path. The second missile struck a civilian factory structure in Azur, destroying that building. The third missile impacted in the Ezra quarter of Tel Aviv, completely destroying seventy-six housing apartments, and damaging nearly 1,000 more. It was this missile which caused most of the damage and all of the casualties in this first wave of missile attacks, wounding sixty-eight people, several seriously. Two more missiles fell over Tel Aviv that morning, one crashing into an orchard in Rishon Letzion, and the other exploding in the sky above Ganei Tikva.
But the damage had been done. For the first time in its post-1948 history, the heartland of Israel had been struck a heavy blow by the means of a deliberate attack by Arab military forces. Denied through American diplomacy the traditional Israeli defensive tactic of preemptive strike, and now facing the specter of dozens of wounded Israelis being rushed to hospitals amid the debris of their destroyed or damaged homes, all eyes in Israel turned to their military for swift and effective retribution.

Watch Amy Goodman interview Scott Ritter on this subject, HERE.

Scott Ritter served as chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 until his resignation in 1998. He is the author of, most recently, Target Iran: The Truth About the White House's Plans for Regime Change (Nation Books, 2006) and Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the U.N. and Overthrow Saddam Hussein (Nation Books, 2005).

© 2006 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.View this story online at:

The Rise and Decline of the Neoconservatives

The Rise and Decline of the Neoconservatives

Jim Lobe & Michael Flynn Nov 17, 2006

Summary: Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States, an influential, neoconservative-led pressure group called the Project for the New American Century issued a letter to the president calling for a dramatic reshaping of the Middle East as part of the war on terror. Although many of the items on the neoconservatives' agenda, including ousting Saddam Hussein, were eventually adopted by the George W. Bush administration, the group's remarkable string of successes has gradually given way to a steady decline, culminating most recently in the president's decision after the November midterm elections to replace Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, an important erstwhile ally of the neoconservatives, with Robert Gates. This essay examines the rise and decline of the neoconservatives and their post-Cold War agenda. We conclude that although the neoconservatives and their allied aggressive nationalists, such as Vice President Dick Cheney, retain sufficient weight to hamper efforts to push through major reversals in U.S. foreign policy, the increasing isolation of this political faction coupled with recent political events in the United States point to the potential emergence of a more cautious, realist-inspired agenda during the final two years of the Bush presidency.



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'Cut and run' must be first step in Iraq


William Eldridge Odom - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


By William E. Odom
November 18, 2006

The United States upset the regional balance in the Mideast when it invaded Iraq. Restoring it requires bold initiatives, but "cutting and running" must precede them all. Only a withdrawal of all U.S. troops - within six months and with no preconditions - can break the paralysis that enfeebles our diplomacy. And the greatest obstacles to cutting and running are the psychological inhibitions of our leaders and the public.

Our leaders do not act because their reputations are at stake. The public does not force them to act because it is blinded by the president's conjured set of illusions: that we are reducing terrorism by fighting in Iraq, creating democracy there, preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, making Israel more secure, not allowing our fallen soldiers to have died in vain, and others.

But reality no longer can be avoided. It is beyond U.S. power to prevent sectarian violence in Iraq, the growing influence of Iran throughout the region, the probable spread of Sunni-Shiite strife to neighboring Arab states, the eventual rise to power of the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr or some other anti-American leader in Baghdad, and the spread of instability beyond Iraq.

These realities get worse every day that our forces remain in Iraq. They can't be wished away by clever diplomacy or by leaving our forces in Iraq for several more years.

The administration could recognize that a rapid withdrawal is the only way to overcome our strategic paralysis, although that appears unlikely. Congress could force a stock-taking. Failing this, the public, sooner or later, will see through all of the White House's double talk and compel a radical policy change. The price for delay, however, will be more lives lost in vain.

Some lawmakers are ready to change course but are puzzled as to how to leave Iraq. The answer is four major initiatives to provide regional stability and calm in Iraq. They will leave the U.S. less influential in the region. But it will be the best deal we can get.

• First, the U.S. must concede that it has botched things, cannot stabilize the region alone and must let others have a say in what's next. As U.S. forces begin to withdraw, Washington must invite its European allies, as well as Japan, China and India, to make their own proposals for dealing with the aftermath. Russia can be ignored because it will play a spoiler role in any case.

Rapid troop withdrawal and abandoning unilateralism will have a sobering effect on all interested parties. Al-Qaida will celebrate but find that its only current allies, Iraqi Baathists and Sunnis, no longer need or want it. Iran will crow but soon begin to worry that its Kurdish minority may want to join Iraqi Kurdistan and that Iraqi Baathists might make a surprising comeback.

Although European leaders will probably try to take the lead in designing a new strategy for Iraq, they will not be able to implement it. This is because they will not allow any single European state to lead, the handicap they faced in trying to cope with Yugoslavia's breakup in the 1990s. Nor will Japan, China or India be acceptable as a new coalition leader. The U.S. could end up as the leader of a new strategic coalition - but only if most other states invite it to do so.

• The second initiative is to create a diplomatic forum for Iraq's neighbors. Iran, of course, must be included. Washington should offer to convene the forum but be prepared to step aside if other members insist.

• Third, the U.S. must informally cooperate with Iran in areas of shared interests. Nothing else could so improve our position in the Middle East. The price for success will include dropping U.S. resistance to Iran's nuclear weapons program. This will be as distasteful for U.S. leaders as cutting and running, but it is no less essential. That's because we do share vital common interests with Iran. We both want to defeat al-Qaida and the Taliban (Iran hates both). We both want stability in Iraq (Iran will have influence over the Shiite Iraqi south regardless of what we do, but neither Washington nor Tehran wants chaos). And we can help each other when it comes to oil: Iran needs our technology to produce more oil, and we simply need more oil.

Accepting Iran's nuclear weapons is a small price to pay for the likely benefits. Moreover, its nuclear program will proceed whether we like it or not. Accepting it might well soften Iran's support for Hezbollah and it will definitely undercut Russia's pernicious influence with Tehran.

• Fourth, real progress must be made on the Palestinian issue as a foundation for Mideast peace. The invasion of Iraq and the U.S. tilt toward Israel have dangerously reduced Washington's power to broker peace or to guarantee Israel's security. We now need Europe's help. And good relations with Iran would help dramatically. No strategy can succeed without these components. We must cut and run tactically in order to succeed strategically. The U.S. needs to restore its reputation so that its capacity to lead constructively will cost us less.