Tuesday, November 28, 2006

How war losses are attributed to "stab in the back" anti-war activists

Nov 28, 2006

The stab in the back in Europe 1918, China 1949, Vietnam, and Iraq

Everyone in Germany in 1918 knew that they had the best army in the world. Everyone in Germany knew that peace with Russia would release thousands of soldiers to the Western Front. Everyone in Germany knew that the Americans had too small an army to make a difference. Then Germany was defeated, her armies in full retreat, her homeland threatened with invasion. The only reason that made sense was treachery at home. The mighty invincible German military was "stabbed in the back" by pacifists, defeatists, Communists, and Jews at home. (The fact was that the German army was bled white and had no way to repulse the fresh American troops who went "over the top" and because they didn't know the German army was the best in the world, beat it.)

When China was taken over by Mao and the Communists in 1949, everyone in the US knew that the only way our policy could have lost and our ally Chiang Kai-Shek defeated was by treachery at home. Our policy-makers were the best and brightest in the world, we had just won World War II, and so Communists, pinkos, and fellow-travelers had to have sabotaged our efforts. (The face was that the Chinese preferred their own brand of dictatorship rather than one supported by foreign powers, and it wasn't long before China broke with the USSR's supervision.)

Current myth-making about the war in Vietnam has been expressed by GW Bush when he said, "We will win unless we quit." After General Westmoreland's strategy of American dominance in the war seemed to have failed, Vietnamization was the order of the day. This meant supporting the efforts of the government and army of South Vietnam to fight their own battles and win their own war. But just as we were on the verge of victory, defeatists at home sabotaged this effort and we ended up withdrawing our troops, assuring a Communist victory. (The fact is we won every battle, including the Tet offensive, but nevertheless could not win the war. The Vietnamese had been struggling for independence at least since 1918 when Ho Chi Minh as a student in Paris was turned down at the Versailles peace meetings for self-rule for Vietnam, and weren't about to give in now).

We see this same thing happening with regard to Iraq, that we can just win if we hang on and don't listen to the negative thinkers who actually are undermining our troops' morale and efforts. But consider this: We won the war against Saddam, but we are losing the peace. To win the peace we need to declare victory in the war and withdraw our troops. Our presence in Iraq cannot help the situation and can only hurt it. Primum non nocere (First, do no harm).

--By ceratotherium

Litvinenko kept a number of dodgy friends and associates tied to the Russian-Israeli mob(e.g. Berezovsky),Chechen guerrillas, and Ahmad Chalabi

November 27, 2006 -- The poisoning death of former Russian KGB and Federal Security Service (FSB) colonel Alexander Litvinenko, a critic of the Russian government of Vladimir Putin, is being blamed on the Russian-Israeli Mafia by a number of Russian officials. The Russian officials point out that Litvinenko, described as a Russian-Israeli "double agent," was the perfect choice to set up for a false flag assassination just as Putin was attending a Russia-European Union summit in Helsinki.

Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya of the liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta and a fierce critic of Putin was assassinated a few days before Putin was due to make an important visit to Germany. Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who is a shareholder of Novaya Gazeta along with billionaire Alexander Lebedev, wrote an editorial in the paper in which he correctly noted that, "those who killed Anna Poltikovskaya wanted to hit Putin."

One Russian official told The Sunday Times of London, "If you ask the question who had the most to gain from all this, the answer can only be Berezovsky, a man who by his own admission is out on a campaign to discredit Putin and the Kremlin."

Litvinenko's assassination from poisoning with Polonium 210, a radioactive isotope, was quickly blamed on Putin by Russian-Israeli mafia figure Boris Abramovich Berezovsky. Litvinenko claimed he was sent by Moscow to London to assassinate Berezovsky but refused to carry out his orders. Litvinenko defected to Britain via Turkey, the latter a major trans-shipment nexus for radioactive materials -- including cesium-137, radium, iridium, strontium-90, uranium, thorium, and plutonium-239 -- sold by the Russian-Israeli Mafia to the highest bidders.

It is also no coincidence that Turkey is the home to a major support network for the Chechen guerrillas and that one of their leaders, Ahmed Zakayev, is a close associate of Berezovsky and was also linked to Litvinenko.

Litvinenko reportedly passed classified information damaging to Russian leaders to Russian-Israeli businessman Leonid Nevzlin, the former chief executive officer of Yukos Oil who is the subject of a Russian government arrest warrant for murder, embezzlement, and tax evasion. Nevzlin, a former head of the Russian Jewish Congress, is currently living in Tel Aviv under the protection of the Israeli government. Nevzlin's exiled Russian-Israeli comrades include Vladimir Dubov, a major Yukos shareholder and wanted oligarch Vladimir Gusinsky. The wanted ex-Yukos officials have also been linked to wealthy British businessman Jacob Rothschild.

Nevzlin's former boss at Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, is in a Russian prison for tax evasion. The assassination of Litvinenko to embarrass Putin is similar to the false flag assassinations carried out by Russian-Israeli Mafia figures of Lebanese politicians in order to lay blame on Syria (as previously reported by WMR).

Litvinenko's dodgy association with leading Russian-Israeli mafia figures, most of whom are wanted by Russia for looting and misappropriating the the assets of the Soviet Union, likely made him a convenient target for an exotic gangland-style hit. His reported role as a Russian-Israeli double agent, selling secrets to the highest bidders, also shortened his life expectancy. Litvinenko also was problematic for a number of criminal syndicate leaders especially considering the fact that his special operations task in the FSB was the targeting of foreign businessmen -- many of whom are leading figures in the global Russian-Israeli Mafia and some with direct links to the White House. Litvinenko, therefore, knew many of the secrets about the Russian-Israeli Mafia -- secrets that may have cost him his life.

"Sasha" Litvinenko kept a number of dodgy friends and associates tied to the Russian-Israeli mob and Chechen guerrillas.

Britain is under tremendous financial pressure from the Kremlin to extradite Berezovsky to Moscow to stand trial. The assassination of Litvinenko and the blame placed by the neo-con media on Russia as the culprit buys Berezovsky some British sympathy and a little time.

The involvement of Litvinenko with Israeli organized crime bosses was reported at the same time the Washington Post reported on the counterfeiting of U.S. $100 bills by a South Ossetia-based organized crime ring operating with Russian-Israeli mobsters based in the Republic of Georgia and Israel.

On October 27, 2004, a courier for the counterfeit ring, Hazki Hen, met with an undercover Secret Service agent at a hotel in Linthicum, Maryland near Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Hen, who had just arrived from Tel Aviv, offered to exchange $230,000 in counterfeit Ben Franklin notes for $80,000 in real currency. Hen also agreed to supply an additional $1.5 million in counterfeit hundred dollar notes and discussed the potential of delivering as much as $100 million on counterfeit bills in the future. Hen was not charged by the Federal government until November 2005 and then, after he claimed he was too ill to stand trial, was permitted by federal prosecutors to return to Israel.

Russian-Israeli mobsters are also reported to be counterfeiting U.S. Postal money orders and American Express Traveler's Checks in Eastern Europe.

The Hen case is yet another example of the U.S. government failing to fully prosecute Israeli criminals, spies, and other threats to U.S. national security. The same scenario has played out with "Al Qaeda" financier Yehuda Abraham, a New York U.S-Israeli diamond dealer who was laundering money for the Russian-Israeli mob and a Malaysian linked to Al Qaeda affiliate Jemaah Islamiya; Asher Karni, a South African-Israeli who was shipping nuclear triggers from the United States to the A. Q. Khan network in Pakistan; and various Israeli spies caught around sensitive U.S. facilities posing as art students, movers, and tourists.

Note: The screenwriters of the new James Bond film, Casino Royale, are on to the real life mobsters. Not only is a Montenegro-based mob ring (Montenegro is one of the centers for the Russian-Israeli syndicate) featured as engaging in international terrorism in order to manipulate the stock market, but there is a reference by "M" (Judi Dench) that a similar mob ring engaged in stock "put" options before the 9/11 attacks in order to make tons of money on the world markets. It would seem that fictional spies know more about the threat from international mobsters than do their real life counterparts.

"M" (left) gets the threat, FBI's Robert Mueller (right) does not.


November 23-26, 2006 -- The notorious "muscle" for the global neocons, the Russian Viktor Bout, who has provided air logistics services and weapons for the Taliban, Al Qaeda, the US military occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israeli diamond smugglers, and various African and Middle Eastern despots, was a very busy man in the years prior to the 911 attacks. According to aviation records obtained by WMR, Bout's charter companies were flying a number of suspicious flights from Ras al Khaimah and Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.

From 1998 to 2000, while Bout was supplying air services for the Taliban and Al Qaeda, including supplying Ariana Afghan Airlines and the Taliban Air Force with parts and training, he was busy ferrying cargo and passengers throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa. Bout's Air Cess (Equatorial Guinea) Ilyushin 18s, registered in Swaziland, flew between Sharjah and Aktyubinsk, Kazakhstan; Aktau, Kazakhstan; Astana, Kazakhstan; Karaganda, Kazakhstan; Shimkent, Kazakhstan; Atyrau, Kazakhstan; and Uralsk, Kazakhstan. The flights to Kazakhstan are odd considering the fact that the Kazakh government of Nursultan Nazarbayev was, at the time, strongly opposed to the Taliban regime and, along with Russia, Iran, and France, were aiding the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance. Bout had previously flown weapons for the Northern Alliance before switching sides to the Taliban.

During the same 1998-2000 time period, Bout's Air Cess (Swaziland, Liberia, Central African Republic), Tashkent Aircraft Production Corporation (Uzbekistan), Qeshm Air (Iran), Centrafrican Airlines (CAR), Ariana Afghan Airlines (Afghanistan), Yuzmashavia (Ukraine), Caravan Air (Mauritania), TPR flight 5004 from Ras al Khaima to Bishkek (oddly, TPR is the registration for Taxis Aereos De Parra of Mexico) flew to and from Ras al Khaima. Air Cess' stops included the Civil Airport in Khartoum, Sudan; Harare, Zimbabwe; Polokwane, South Africa; Lanseria, South Africa; Luanda, Angola; Shimkent, Kazakhstan; Salalah, Oman; Mukalla, Yemen; Usiminas, Brazil; Bourgas, Bulgaria; Bangui, Central African Republic; Dubai, UAE; Indira Gandhi International, New Delhi; Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan; Sofia, Bulgaria; Gheshm, Iran; Istanbul, Turkey (October 4, 2000); Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (October 7, 2000), Nikolaev, Ukraine; Sharjah, UAE; Mikkeli, Finland (MIK) (stated destination for ACS Flight 202 [3D-RTD] Antonov 32 from Ras al Khaima, 2 crew, no declared cargo or passengers, 11:25 departure time from RAK, July 9, 1998); Sana'a, Yemen; Ekaterinburg, Russia; Kigali, Rwanda; Aden, Yemen; Tashkent, Uzbekistan; Entebbe, Uganda; and Athens, Greece.

What was the chief airline for the Taliban and Al Qaeda doing at airports like Athens (above) prior to 911? Did the 911 Commission ever bother to ask? Why does the Bush administration continue to protect Viktor Bout?

The fact that Bout's aircraft were landing in major international airports at the same time his firms were supporting the Taliban and Al Qaeda casts a new light on international airport security prior to 911.


November 28, 2006 -- Ecuador's newly-elected President Rafael Correra is already facing U.S. and international banking syndicate Psyops designed to weaken his administration. Correa, an avowed opponent of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and other global financial elite contrivances, is already being blamed by such "news" organizations as Bloomberg for driving down Ecuador's bond prices.

Other dubious global media outlets tied to the financial elites, particularly the Washington Post and the Associated Press, are claiming that Correa will not be able to govern Ecuador since the Ecuadorian Congress is in the hands of his political opposition.

Usual suspects wasting no time in attacking and undermining Ecuador's President-elect Correa.

And in the most obvious Psyops strategy, Correa is being linked by various neo-con "think tank" and private intelligence operations in the United States to the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC), the guerrilla group that has been battling the Colombian oligarchy for decades. The U.S. right has attempted to link both Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morlaes of Bolivia to the FARC.

Correa's threat to close the U.S. "drug interdiction" airbase at Manta, Ecuador has also resulted in the U.S. right accusing him of links to drug dealers. In fact, Manta is a US Special Operations "forward operating location" used to provide military assistance to oligarchies in Colombia and Peru to fight populist insurgents and right-wing paramilitaries in Bolivia and Venezuela to topple progressive governments.


November 28, 2006 -- In addition to Russian-Israeli Mafia, Litvinenko radiation poisoning now linked to Iraqi oil business and military occupation. British police have discovered traces of polonium 210, the radioactive substance sued to kill former Russian FSB and KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, in the office of wanted Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky. London sources confirmed that traces of the radioactive substance were found at 7 Down Street in London's Mayfair district, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper.

An Internet search shows that the Interpark House office building at 7 Down Street also houses the headquarters of the coal, oil, and energy hedge fund firm Starsupply Tullett Energy; offices of Metro International, the global media firm; Nichiei, Ltd., a Japanese consulting firm; and Capital Corporation plc, which owns three London casinos, Crockfords and the Colony Club in Mayfair and the Cromwell Mint in Kensington.

The Litvinenko murder grows murkier with ties discovered to Ahmad Chalabi-connected security firm.

Although British police were on guard at Berezovsky's office, the Russian-Israeli businessman who is wanted for a variety of crimes in Russia, told the Guardian, "I don't know anything about police at my office," and refused any further comment on the case. Berezovsky was a colleague of Litvinenko and were working jointly to topple the administration of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Russian President has made it a hallmark of his administration to crack down on the Russian mobsters and oligarchs who looted the Soviet and Russian treasuries, consorted with Chechen terrorists and engaged in "true flag" bombings involving Chechens in Moscow and other Russian cities, and then fled to Israel.

One tycoon who did not escape Putin is former Yukos chief Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was jailed for tax evasion.

Scotland Yard has also found traces of polonium at an office building in London's West End that houses the business intelligence firm, Titon International Ltd., and Erinsys UK Ltd., a private military contractor that is operating in Iraq. ABC News reported that an Erinsys spokesman confirmed that Litvinenko vicited the Erinsys office on a "matter totally unrelated" to the poisoning but declined to provide any details.

WMR previously reported on Erinsys' ties to the Iraqi agent of influence Ahmad Chalabi:

October 16, 2006 -- With the Iraqi bloodbath against civilians and policemen continuing, it is interesting to note the comments made by the the Iraqi Interior Minister about the parties that he claims are principally responsible for the massacres. Jawad al-Bolani, in a Friday press conference in Baghdad, rejected neo-con Bush administration claims that most of the deaths in Iraq are caused by insurgents who infiltrated the military and police. al-Bolani laid responsibility for the deaths, including gruesome beheadings of civilians, at the feet of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA)-inspired Facilities Protection Service (FPS), an unregulated force of 150,000 foreign and Iraqi private security contractors. 14,000 of the Iraqi security personnel are from the Iraqi Free Forces, a militia loyal to neocon Iraqi shill Ahmad Chalabi. The remainder are drawn from paramilitary forces with some of the worst human rights records in the world: South Africa's apartheid regime security forces; Colombian, Salvadoran, and Chilean anti-guerrilla paramilitaries; and other special forces from the United Kingdom, United States, Israel, Nepal, Fiji, and the Philippines. Beheadings, such as those seen in Iraq, are a hallmark of the Nepalese Gurkhas, some of whom are working as private contractors in Iraq.

The chief private contractor involved in the FPS is Erinsys Ltd., which received a sole source contract from the CPA to provide security for the "oil infrastructure" in Iraq. Only in Bush's Iraq, is the oil infrastructure deserving of greater importance than the protection of human life. Erinsys is connected to Chalabi through its partnership with northern Virginia-based Nour USA Ltd., incorporated in May 2003 by Aboul Huda Farouki, a Jordanian-American who has been the recipient of a number of Department of Defense contracts. Darouki's seed money for his business, HAIFinance, originated in the 1980s from Petra International Banking Corporation, a Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) Jordanian affiliate, which was managed by Mohammed Chalabi, a nephew of Ahmad Chalabi. Erinsys Iraq's counsel is Salam Chalabi, another nephew of Ahmad Chalabi, and a business partner of Douglas Feith's Jerusalem-based law partner, Marc Zell (Feith & Zell [FANZ]).

A full circle indeed: Boris Berezovsky, Alexander Litvinenko, Ahmad Chalabi, Aboul Huda Farouki, Mohammed Chalabi, Salam Chalabi, Marc Zell, and Douglas Feith. While in exile, Ahmad Chalabi was a high-flying London resident and known as the "Savile Row Shi'ite." We can begin to see who the real perpetrators of America's disastrous decision to invade and occupy Iraq. And now the neo-cons are trying to distance themselves from their heinous actions and policies.


Chalk another one up for the neocons

Philip Zelikow, the prominent aide to Condoleezza Rice who advocated:

Bush Administration efforts in achieving Israeli-Palestinian peace (and worse, connecting such peace to American success in Iraq);
closing secret CIA prisons;
negotiating with the North Koreans; and
talking to Iran;

has, needless to say, been forced to resign (or saw the writing on the wall, and decided to quit). Zelikow, who also was the only prominent Bush Administration official to point out the stunningly obvious fact that the attack on Iraq was done for Israel (or here), marred his otherwise stellar record with his involvement in the 9/11 cover-up commission.

I raise this in case you thought the neocons were finished. On the contrary, with total control of Congress – something they never had in the first six years of Bush’s reign – they are now more powerful than ever.

posted at 1:55 AM permanent link


Litvinenko: Polonium detected at Berezovsky's office


Dead Russian Spy was Israeli Double Agent
Murdered Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko passed documents to Berezovsky in Israel months before his death

Polonium detected at Berezovsky's office

Sandra Laville and Tania Branigan
Tuesday November 28, 2006
The Guardian

Detectives have found traces of polonium 210 at the London offices of the exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, it was revealed last night. Officers were searching 7 Down Street, Mayfair, after the discovery of the radioactive substance that killed Mr Berezovsky's friend and former employee, Alexander Litvinenko.

A uniformed officer and at least one plain clothes policeman were stationed inside the lobby of the property last night. Outside another 15 officers were on standby in two marked police vans and the area was cordoned off.

Sources confirmed that traces of polonium 210 had been found at the address. Mr Berezovsky, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, refused to comment yesterday on the revelations. "I don't want to comment anything about it," he told the Guardian. "I don't know anything about police at my office."

Mr Berezovsky, a former maths professor, made his millions in the 1990s when he bought stakes in the Russian car, oil and media industries, many of which he sold off for enormous profits. He lives with his fourth wife in a Surrey mansion but has an office at the Mayfair address.

Detectives were also searching the offices of a security and risk management company in Grosvenor Street, in the West End of London, where traces of polonium 210 have been found. A spokesman for the company, Erinys, said it had alerted police because Mr Litvinenko had visited its offices on a "totally unrelated" matter some time before he was admitted to hospital. He added: "None of our staff with whom he had contact have suffered any ill effects."

The development came as the Health Protection Agency (HPA) said three people had been referred for further radiation tests at a special clinic after contacting NHS Direct in the past few days. They were among 18 people referred to the HPA for possible further examination since the radiation alert was issued on Friday.

In the past four days around 500 people have contacted NHS Direct saying they were concerned they may have been contaminated after visiting the Piccadilly restaurant Itsu or the Millennium Hotel in Grosvenor Square on November 1, the day Mr Litvinenko first became ill.

Dr Pat Troop, the chief executive of the HPA, said people referred to the specialist clinic would undergo urine tests for radioactivity over the next couple of days. The decision to refer them for tests was taken on "a very precautionary basis", she stressed. Further tests might be carried out if police identified other locations of concern.

Dr Troop said the HPA had not precisely identified when and where Mr Litvinenko ingested the poison. Working out the time of poisoning on the basis of radioactivity found in his body was "not a precise calculation", she said.

In a statement to the House of Commons, the home secretary, John Reid, stressed that police had yet to open a murder inquiry. He warned against any speculation about the death and said the police were not yet saying that Mr Litvinenko had been unlawfully killed. "The police have been very careful in the words they have used; they are dealing with a suspicious death," he said. "We are not yet at the stage that there is definitely a third party involved."

Mr Reid's statement came in response to an urgent question from the shadow home secretary, David Davis, who said in the House of Commons that there were grounds to suspect that this was a "a particularly cruel, protracted and unpleasant assassination".

Mr Davis said the apparent use of polonium 210 raised "a number of issues" over how such material had been obtained, how it was transported and delivered undetected, and who had the knowledge to use it.

Mr Reid said there were 130 premises in England and Wales with a known use of polonium 210, each regulated and controlled by the Environment Agency. "There has been no recent report of the loss or theft of polonium 210 in England and Wales," he said.

Mr Reid drew back from Peter Hain's outspoken criticism of the Kremlin at the weekend. The Northern Ireland secretary had strained Britain's relations with Moscow further by accusing President Putin of "huge attacks" on liberty and democracy.

Tony Blair and President Putin are due to meet this week at the Nato summit in Riga, Latvia. A spokesman for Mr Blair said yesterday: "The prime minister and other ministers have repeatedly underlined our concerns about some aspects of human rights in Russia. In terms of this particular case, however, we do have to proceed carefully."

Mr Litvinenko, an ex-KGB officer and vocal opponent of Mr Putin, died last Thursday night. A large dose of alpha radiation from the isotope polonium 210 was found in his urine. A statement he composed before he died blamed Mr Putin, a claim denied by the Kremlin.

The inquest into the death is expected to open on Thursday at St Pancras coroner's court, north London. It will be adjourned until a later date. Dr Andrew Reid, London's inner north district coroner, has to decide if and when to conduct a postmortem examination.


Howard Zinn on The Uses of History and the War on Terrorism

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Listen to Segment Download Show mp3 Watch 128k stream Watch 256k stream
Howard Zinn is one of this country's most celebrated historians. His classic work "A People's History of the United States" changed the way we look at history in America. First published a quarter of a century ago, the book has sold over a million copies and is a phenomenon in the world of publishing - selling more copies each successive year. [includes rush transcript]

After serving as a bombardier in World War II, Howard Zinn went on to become a lifelong dissident and peace activist. He was active in the civil rights movement and many of the struggles for social justice over the past 40 years.
He taught at Spelman College, the historically black college for women, and was fired for insubordination for standing up for the students. He was recently invited back to give the commencement address.
Howard Zinn has written numerous books and is professor emeritus at Boston University. He recently spoke in Madison, Wisconsin where he was receiving the Haven Center's Award for Lifetime Contribution to Critical Scholarship. We bring you his lecture, "The Uses of History and the War on Terrorism."


HOWARD ZINN: Madison is a very special place. I always have a special feeling when I come here. I have a feeling I am in a different country. And I’m glad, you know. Some people get disgusted of the American policy, and they go to live in some other country. No. Go to Madison.

So, now I’m supposed to say something. I am glad you’re there, whoever you are, and this light is shining in my eyes to wake me up.

Well, do you get the feeling sometime that you’re living in an occupied country? Very often that’s a feeling I get when I wake up in the morning. I think, “I’m living in an occupied country. A small group of aliens have taken over the country and are trying to do with it what they will, you know, and really are.” I mean, they are alien to me. I mean, those people who are coming across the border from Mexico, they are not alien to me, you see. You know, Muslims who come to this country to live, they are not alien to me, you see. These demonstrations, these wonderful demonstrations that we have seen very recently on behalf of immigrant rights, say, and you’ve seen those signs saying, you know, “No human being is alien.” And I think that’s true. Except for the people in Washington, you see.

They’ve taken over the country. They’ve taken over the policy. They’ve driven us into two disastrous wars, disastrous for our country and even more disastrous for people in the Middle East. And they have sucked up the wealth of this country and given it to the rich, and given it to the multinationals, given it to Halliburton, given it to the makers of weapons. They’re ruining the environment. And they’re holding on to 10,000 nuclear weapons, while they want us to worry about the fact that Iran may, in ten years, get one nuclear weapon. You see, really, how mad can you be?

And the question is, how has this been allowed to happen? How have they gotten away with it? They’re not following the will of the people. I mean, they manufactured a will of the people for a very short time right after the war started, as governments are able to do right after the beginning of an armed conflict, in order to able to create an atmosphere of war hysteria. And so for a short time, they captivated the minds of the American people. That’s not true anymore. The American people have begun to understand what is going on and have turned against the policies in Washington, but of course they are still there. They are still in power. The question is, you know, how did they get away with that?

So, in trying to answer the question, I looked a little at the history of Nazi Germany. No, it’s not that we are Nazi Germany, but you can learn lessons from everybody and from anybody’s history. In this case, I was interested in the ideas of Hermann Göring, who, you may know, was second in command to Hitler, head of the Luftwaffe. And at the end of World War II, when the Nazi leaders were put on trial in Nuremberg, Hermann Göring was in prison along with other of the leaders of the Nazi regime. And he was visited in prison by a psychologist who was given the job of interviewing the defendants at Nuremberg.

And this psychologist took notes and, in fact, a couple of years after the war, wrote a book called Nuremberg Diary, in which he recorded -- put his notes in that book, and he recorded his conversation with Hermann Göring. And he asked Göring, how come that Hitler, the Nazis were able to get the German people to go along with such absurd and ruinous policies of war and aggression?” And I happen to have those notes with me. We always say, “We happen to have these things just, you know, by chance.”

And Göring said, “Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war? But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy. The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. All you have to do is tell them they’re being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism. It works the same way in any country.”

I was interested in that last line: “It works the same way in any country.” I mean, here, these are the Nazis. That’s the fascist regime. We are a democracy. But it works the same way in any country, whatever you call yourself. Whether you call yourself a totalitarian state or you call yourself a democracy, it works the same way, and that is, the leaders of the country are able to cajole or coerce and entice the people into war by scaring them, telling them they’re in danger, and threatening them and coercing them, that if they don’t go along, they will be considered unpatriotic. And this is what really happened in this country right after 9/11. And this is happened right after Bush raised the specter of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and got for a while the American people to go along with this.

But the question is, how did they get away with it? What about the press? What about the media? Isn’t it the job of the press, isn’t it the job of the media, isn’t it the job of journalism to expose what governments do? Don’t journalists learn from I.F. Stone, who said, “Just remember two words,” he said to young people who were studying journalism, he said, “Just remember two words: governments lie”? Well, but the media have not picked up on that. The media have gone along, and they embraced the idea of weapons of mass destruction. You remember when Colin Powell appeared before the United Nations just before the onset of the Iraq war and laid out to the UN this litany of weaponry that Iraq possessed, according to him, and gave great details in how many canisters of this and how many tons of this, and so on and so forth. And the next day, the press was just aglow with praise. They didn’t do their job of questioning. They didn’t do their job of asking, “Where? What is your evidence? Where did you get this intelligence? Who did you talk to? What are your sources?”

Isn’t this what you learn as a freshman in college? “Hey, what are your sources? Where are your footnotes?” No, no. They were just -- the Washington Post said, “It is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.” And the New York Times, you know, it was just beside themselves with admiration for Colin Powell. Of course, it all turned out to be untrue, all turned out to be lies. But the press did not do its job, and as a result, the American people, watching television, reading the newspapers, had no alternative source of information, no alternative opinion, no alternative critical analysis of what was going on.

And the question is, why still did the people believe what they read in the press, and why did they believe what they saw on television? And I would argue that it has something to do with a loss of history, has something to do with, well, what Studs Terkel called “national amnesia,” either the forgetting of history or the learning of bad history, the learning of the kind of history that you do get, of Columbus was a hero, and Teddy Roosevelt is a hero, and Andrew Jackson is a hero, and all these guys who were presidents and generals and industrialists, and so on. They are the great -- they are the people who made America great, and America has always done good things in the world. And we have had our little problems, of course -- like slavery, for instance, you know -- but we overcome them, you know, and, you know. No, not that kind of history.

If the American people really knew history, if they learned history, if the educational institutions did their job, if the press did its job in giving people historical perspective, then a people would understand. When the President gets up before the microphone, says we must go to war for this or for that, for liberty or for democracy, or because we’re in danger, and so on, if people had some history behind them, they would know how many times presidents have announced to the nation, we must go to war for this reason or that reason. They would know that President Polk said, “Oh, we must go to war against Mexico, because, well, there was an incident that took place on the border there, and our honor demands that we go to war.”

They would know, if they knew some history, how President McKinley took the nation into war against Spain and Cuba, saying, “Oh, we’re going in to liberate the Cubans from Spanish control.” And in fact, there was a little bit of truth to that: we did go in, we fought against Spain, we got Spain out of Cuba, we liberated them from Spain, but not from ourselves. And so, Spain was out, and United Fruit was in, and then the American banks and the American corporations were in.

And if people knew their history, they would know, you know, that President McKinley said, when -- as the American army was already in the Philippines and the American navy was already in the Philippines, and Theodore Roosevelt, one of our great presidential heroes, was lusting for war, then people would know that McKinley, who did not know where the Philippines were, but very often now presidents need to be briefed and told where something is. You know, George Bush, “This is Iraq is,” you know. Lyndon Johnson, “This is where the Gulf of Tonkin is.” You know, they need it.

And president -- they would know, if they knew history, that President McKinley said, “We’re going into the Philippines to civilize and Christianize the Filipinos.” And if they knew their history, if the history books spent some time on the war in the Philippines in the early part of the 20th century, instead of, as history books do -- they spend a lot of time on the Spanish-American War, which just lasted three months -- they spend virtually no time on the war on the Philippines, a bloody war which lasted, oh, seven years, and which involved massacres and the extermination of populations. That history doesn’t appear. You know, we had civilized and Christianized the Filipinos and established our control.

They would know, if they heard the President say, “We are going to bring democracy to the Middle East,” they would know how many times we brought democracy to other countries that we invaded. They would know if we brought democracy to Chile, when we overthrew a democratically elected government in Chile in 1973. They would know how we brought democracy to Guatemala when we overthrew, again, a democratically elected -- oh, we love democratic elections, we love free elections, except when they go the wrong way. And then we send either our army in or the CIA in or secret agents in to overthrow the government.

If people knew that history, they would never for a moment believe President Bush, when he says, oh, we’re going into Iraq, you know, because of this reason and that reason and liberty and democracy, and they’re a threat, you know. I mean, it takes -- yeah, it takes some historical understanding to be skeptical of the things that authorities tell you.

When you know history, you know that governments lie, as I.F. Stone said. Governments lie all the time. Well, not just the American government. It’s just in the nature of governments. Well, they have to lie. I mean, governments in general do not represent the people of the societies that they govern. And since they don’t represent the people and since they act against the interest of the people, the only way they can hold power is if they lie to the people. If they told people the truth, they wouldn’t last very long. So history can help in understanding deception and being skeptical and not rushing to embrace whatever the government tells you.

And if you know some history, you would understand something which is even more basic, perhaps, than the question of lying about this war or lying about this invasion, lying about this intervention, something more basic, if you knew some history: you would understand a sort of fundamental fact about society, and including our society, that the interests of the government and the interests of the people are not the same.

It’s very important to know this, because the culture tries very hard to persuade us that we all have a common interest. If they use the language “national interest” -- there’s no national interest. There’s their interest and our interest. National security -- now, whose security? National defense, whose defense? All these words and phrases are used to try to encircle us all into a nice big bond, so that we will assume that the people who are the leaders of our country have our interests at heart. Very important to understand: no, they do not have our interests at heart.

You will hear a young fellow who is going off to Iraq. I remember hearing the same thing when a young fellow went off to Vietnam. And a reporter goes up to the young fellow and says, “You know, young man, you’re going off, and what are your thoughts and why are you doing this?” And the young man says, “I’m doing this for my country.” No, he’s not doing it for his country. And now, she’s not doing it for her country. The people who go off to war are not doing fighting for their country. No, they’re not doing their country any good. They’re not doing their families any good. They’re certainly not doing the people over there any good. But they’re not doing it for their country. They’re doing it for their government. They’re doing it for Bush. That would be a more accurate thing to say: “I’m going off to fight for George Bush. I’m going off to fight for Cheney. I’m going off to fight for Rumsfeld. I’m going off to fight for Halliburton.” Yeah, that would be telling the truth.

And, in fact, you know, to know the history of this country is to know that we have had conflict of interest in this country from the very beginning between the people in authority and the ordinary people. We were not one big happy family that fought the American Revolution against England. I remember, you know, in school, that’s how it seemed, you know: they’re the patriots, and there’s all of us, working, fighting together at Valley Forge and Bunker Hill, and so on, against the Redcoats and the British, and so on. It wasn’t that way at all. It wasn’t a united country.

Washington had to send generals down south to use violence against young people to force them into military service. Soldiers in the revolutionary army mutinied against Washington, against officers, because there was class conflict in the army, just as there had been class conflict all through the colonies before the Revolutionary War. Well, anybody who knows the military, anybody who’s been in the military, knows that the military is a class society. There are the privates, and there are the officers. And in the Revolutionary War, the privates were not getting shoes, and they were not getting clothes and not getting food, and they were not getting paid. And the officers were living high in resplendence. And so, they mutinied, thousands of them.

I don’t remember ever learning about that when I studied history in school, because the myth comes down: oh, we’re all one big happy family. You mean, including the black slaves? You mean, including the Native Americans, whose land we were taking from them, mile by mile by mile by mile? We’re all one big happy family? The women, who were left out of all of this, were -- no, very important to understand that fundamental fact: those people who run the country and we, our interests are not the same.

So, yes, history is useful for that, for understanding -- understanding that we are a nation like other nations, for understanding that we are not, as again we are taught from early on, we are the greatest, we are number one, we are the best. And what -- it’s called American exceptionalism in the social sciences. The United States is an exception to the rule of nations. That is, the general rule of nations is they’re pretty bad. But the United States, our country, we are good. We do good in the world.

Not long ago, I was on a radio program, interviewed by -- this was sort of a regular commercial station. I like to be interviewed on regular commercial stations, where the guy really doesn’t know who he’s invited, you see. And he says, “Professor Zinn, don’t you think America has, in general, been a force for good in the world?” “No, no, no.” Why not ask me, “Do you think the British Empire was a force for good in Africa, or the Belgians were a force for good in the Congo, or the French were a force for good in Indochina? You think the United States was a force for good when they sent the Marines into Central America again and again and” -- no.

But there’s this notion of, you know, we are different. We are the great -- I mean, sure, there are very great things about America, but that’s not what we did to other countries, not what we did to black people, not what we did to Native Americans, not what we did to working people in this country who suffered twelve-hour days until they organized and rebelled and rose up. No, we have to be honest with ourselves.

This is a very hard thing to do: be honest about ourselves. I mean, but, you know, you’re brought up and you say, “I pledge allegiance,” you know, etc., etc., “liberty and justice for all,” “God bless America.” Why us? Why does God blessing us? I mean, why is He singling us out for blessing? You know. Why not, “God bless everybody”? If indeed, you know -- but, you know, we’re brought up -- if we were brought up to understand our history, we would know, no, we’re like other nations, only more so, because we are bigger and have more guns and more bombs, and therefore are capable of more violence. We can do what other empires were not able to do to such an extent. You know, we are rich. Well, not all of us. Some of us are, you see? But, no, we have to be honest.

Don’t people join Alcoholics Anonymous so that they can stand up and be honest about themselves? Maybe we ought to have an organization called Imperialists Anonymous, you know, and have the leaders of the country get up there on national television and say, “Well, it’s time, you know -- time to tell the truth.” It would be -- I don’t expect it to happen, but it would be refreshing.

And then, if we knew this history, we would understand how often fear has been used as a way of getting people to act against their own interests to work up hysteria and to get people to do terrible things to other people, because they’ve been made afraid. Wasn’t it fear and hysteria that motivated lynch mobs in the South? Wasn’t there created fear of black people, hysteria about black people, that led white people to do some of the most atrocious things that have been done in our history? And isn’t it today -- isn’t it fear, fear of Muslims, not just terrorists, in general? Of course, fear of terrorists, especially fear of Muslims, you see? A very ugly kind of sentiment to inculcate on the American people, and creating a kind of hysteria, which then enables them to control the population and enable them to send us into war after war and to threaten, you know, still another war.

And if we knew some history, we would know about the hysteria that accompanied the Cold War, the hysteria about communism. It’s not that communism didn’t exist, just as terrorism does exist, yes. It’s not that communism -- communism existed, and there was a Soviet Union, and it was repressive to its own people, and it did control Eastern Europe, but there was an enormous exaggeration of the Soviet threat to the point where -- oh, it’s not just that they’re in Eastern Europe. It’s, they’re going to invade Western Europe.

By the way, no evidence of that. CIA analysts who were specialists in the Soviet Union in recent years came forth and said there was never any evidence that the Soviet Union were going to invade Western Europe. But against that, NATO was created. Against that, the United States built up an enormous nuclear arsenal.

The Soviets were always behind the United States. They built up the Soviets as a threat, but after all, who had the atom bomb first? And who had more atom bombs than anybody? And who was the only country that actually dropped atomic bombs on ordinary people in two cities in Japan? And so, we who use the atomic bomb, we who accumulate the atomic bomb, we create a hysteria about countries that are desperately trying to catch up. Of course, Iran will never catch up, and North Korea will never catch up. The Soviet Union tried to catch up. But in creating this monster threat, we took trillions of dollars of the wealth of this country and expended it on military budgets.

And the hysteria about communism reached the point where -- and I’m not just talking about school kids hiding under their desks, you know, because the Soviets were going to drop an atomic bomb. There was no evidence the Soviets were going to drop an atomic bomb. By the way, there is evidence that the joint chiefs of staff, the people high up in the American government, at various, various times proposed preventive war, dropping nuclear weapons on the Soviet Union. But we created a threat so ominous, so omnipresent, that kids were, yeah, hiding under their desks, and also so that anything that happened anywhere in the world that was not to the liking of the United States became part of the world communist threat.

And so, to deal with that, we could go into any country in Latin America that we wanted. And because it was a communist threat, we would send an army over to Vietnam, and several million people would die, because Vietnam became the symbol of the communist threat in the world. When you think about how absurd it was to worry that Vietnam, already divided into a communist north and anti-communist south, to worry that, oh, now half of this tiny country is going to become communist, and just to the north a billion people had turned to communism. And there’s something a little bizarre.

But, you know, bizarre thinking is possible when you create fear and hysteria. And we’re facing, of course, that situation today with this whole business of terrorism. And if you added up all the times in speeches of George Bush and his Cabinet and all the times they used the word “terrorism” and “terror,” it’s a mantra they have created to frighten the American people.

I think it’s wearing off. You know, when you -- I think there’s beginning to be some recognition, and that accounts for the fact that public opinion has turned against the war. People no longer believe that we’re fighting in Iraq in order to get rid of terrorism, you know, because the evidence has become so overwhelming that even the mainstream media has reported it -- you know, the National Intelligence Estimate. And this is the government’s own intelligence agencies saying that the war in Iraq has caused a growth of terrorist groups, has increased militancy and radicalism among Islamic groups in the Middle East.

But terrorism has supplanted communism as an attempt to get people to do things against their own interests, to do things that will send their own young people to war, to do things that will cause the depletion of the country’s wealth for the purposes of war and for the enrichment of the super-rich. It doesn’t take much thought about terrorism to realize that when somebody talks about a war on terrorism, they’re dealing with a contradiction in terms. How can you make war on terrorism, if war itself is terrorism? Because -- so you respond to terrorism with terrorism, and you multiply the terrorism in the world.

And, of course, the terrorism that governments are capable of by going to war is on a far, far greater scale than the terrorism of al-Qaeda or this group or that group or another group. Governments are terrorists on an enormously large scale. The United States has been engaging in terrorism against Afghanistan, against Iraq, and now they’re threatening to extend their terrorism to other places in the Middle East.

And some history of the use of fear and hysteria and some history of the Cold War and of the anti-communist hysteria would be very useful in alerting people to what we are going through today. I mean, with Iran, for instance, it’s shameful, and the media have played such a part in this, of the Iran nuclear weapon. They want a nuclear weapon. They don’t say they have a nuclear weapon. They want a nuclear weapon. So do I. Yeah, it’s easy to want a nuclear weapon. And small countries that face enormous military powers and who cannot possibly match the military power of these enormous countries, they are following what was the strategy of the United States: the United States said, “We must have a deterrent.” How many times have you heard, when you ask, “Why do we have 10,000 nuclear weapons?” “We must have a deterrent.” Well, they want a deterrent: one nuclear weapon. You know.

Not that situation with Iraq. I mean, you know, Condoleezza Rice: “a mushroom cloud.” We were the only ones who created mushroom clouds, over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Iraq was in no position to create a mushroom cloud. All the experts on the Middle East and atomic weapons said, you know, Iraq was five-ten years away from developing a nuclear weapon, but we were creating, you know, hysteria about nuclear weapons.

Now we’re doing the same thing with Iran. And the International Atomic Energy group of the UN flatly contradicts a congressional report which talks about the danger of Iran’s nuclear weapons, and the international group, which has conducted many, many inspections in Iran, says, well, you know, you need to -- and they give the American people a kind of half-education. That is, they say, they use the phrase, “They’re enriching uranium.” Well, that scares me. You know, they’re enriching uranium. I don’t really know what it means, you see, but it’s scary. And then you read the report of the International Atomic Energy group, and you see, well, yes, they are. They’ve enriched uranium to the point of 3.5%. In order to have one nuclear weapon, they have to enrich it to 90%. They’re very, very far from even developing one nuclear weapon, but the phrase “enriched uranium” is, you know, repeated again and again, you know.

And so, yes, we need some historical understanding, yeah, just remembering back to Iraq, just remembering back to the hysteria around Vietnam. My god, a communist might take over South Vietnam! And then what? Just a short hop to San Francisco. No, some of you may remember that when Reagan was supporting the Contras in Nicaragua, he was saying, “You know, you see where Nicaragua is? It wouldn’t take much for them to get to Texas.” I wondered about that, you see? And then I wondered, why would the Nicaraguans want to get to Texas? And this is no slur on Texas, but -- and once they got to Texas, what would they do? Take a United Airlines flight to Washington. What would they -- but really, it’s very important to know some of that history to see how hysteria absolutely cripples consciousness about what is going on.

I would suggest something else. I’m getting worried about how much time I have taken. Well, actually, I’m not getting worried about how much time I’ve taken. I don’t care. I’m looking at my watch to pretend that I care. And since I don’t know when I started, I can’t figure out how long I’ve been talking.

But at some point the war in Iraq will come to an end. At some point, the United States will do in Iraq what it did in Vietnam, after saying, “We will never leave. We will never leave. We will win. We will stay the course. We will not cut and run.” At some point, the United States is going to have to cut and run from Iraq, you see. And they’re going to do it because the sentiment is going to grow and grow and grow in this country and because more and more GIs are going to come back from Iraq and say, “We’re not going back again,” and because they’re going to have more and more trouble supplying the armed forces in Iraq, and because the parents of young people are going to say more and more, “We are not going to allow our young people to go to war for Bechtel, you know, and Halliburton. We’re not going to do that.” So at some point, yes, at some point we are going to do what they say we mustn’t do: cut and run.

We don’t have to cut and run. Cut and walk. Cut and swim. Cut, but get out, as fast as you can, because we’re not doing any good there. We’re not helping the situation. We’re not bringing peace. We’re not bringing a democracy. We’re not bringing stability. We’re bringing violence and chaos. We’re provoking all of that, and people are dying every day. When a Democratic leader says, “Well, I think we ought to withdraw by May 14th, 2000-and-whatever.” You know, yeah, every day from now until then more people will die, and more people will lose arms or legs or become blinded. And so, that is intolerable. And so, we have to do everything we can.

And in the case of Vietnam, at a certain point the government realized it could not carry on the war. The GIs were coming back from Vietnam and turning against the war. They couldn’t bring people to join the ROTC. Too many people were running to Canada. Too many people were not signing up for the draft. Finally, it had to do away with the draft. They were losing the support of the population. They were losing support of the military. And at a certain point, no.

And something like that is going to happen. And the sooner we help it happen, of course, the better. The more we go into the high schools -- you know, there’s a very practical thing, very practical thing that everybody can do, and that is, go to their local high schools and make sure that all the parents and all the kids in high schools understand that they don’t have to give their information to the military recruiters, you see, as, you know. And more and more have teams of people who will counter the propaganda of the military recruiters.

You know, they are having trouble. They’re getting desperate about recruiting for the military, going to all sorts of lengths and, or course, they’re concentrating -- they send their military recruiters into the poorest schools, because they know that the working class kids are the most vulnerable, the most needy, the ones who, you know -- they need an education, they need a skill, and so. And so, they’re trying to prey on the working class. Eugene Debs said -- if you don’t mind my quoting Eugene Debs -- but Eugene Debs said in a speech during World War I, which landed him in jail, “The master class has always started the wars. The working class has always fought the wars.” And, of course, that has been true all the way. So we will at some point get out of Iraq.

But I want to suggest one thing: we have to think beyond Iraq and even beyond Iran. We don’t want to have to struggle against this war and then against that war and then against the next war. We don’t want to have an endless succession of antiwar movements. It gets tiring. And we need to think and talk and educate about the abolition of war itself, you see.

I was talking to my barber the other day, because we always discuss world politics. And he’s totally politically unpredictable, as most barbers are, you see. He said, “Howard,” he said, “you know, you and I disagree on many things, but on one thing we agree: war solves nothing.” And I thought, “Yeah.” It’s not hard for people to grasp that.

And there again, history is useful. We’ve had a history of war after war after war after war. What have they solved? What have they done? Even World War II, the “good war,” the war in which I volunteered, the war in which I dropped bombs, the war after which, you know, I received a letter from General Marshall, general of generals, a letter addressed personally to me, and to 16 million others, in which he said, “We’ve won the war. It will be a new world.” Well, of course, it wasn’t a new world. It hasn’t been a new world. War after war after war.

There are certain -- I came out of that war, the war in which I had volunteered, the war in which I was an enthusiastic bombardier, I came out of that war with certain ideas, which just developed gradually at the end of the war, ideas about war. One, that war corrupts everybody who engages in it. War poisons everybody who engages in it. You start off as the good guys, as we did in World War II. They’re the bad guys. They’re the fascists. What could be worse? So, they’re the bad guys, we’re the good guys. And as the war goes on, the good guys begin behaving like the bad guys. You can trace this back to the Peloponnesian War. You can trace it back to the good guy, the Athenians, and the bad guys, the Spartans. And after a while, the Athenians become ruthless and cruel, like the Spartans.

And we did that in World War II. We, after Hitler committed his atrocities, we committed our atrocities. You know, our killing of 600,000 civilians in Japan, our killing of probably an equal number of civilians in Germany. These, they weren’t Hitler, they weren’t Tojo. They weren’t -- no, they were just ordinary people, like we are ordinary people living in a country that is a marauding country, and they were living in countries that were marauding countries, and they were caught up in whatever it was and afraid to speak up. And I don’t know, I came to the conclusion, yes, war poisons everybody.

And war -- this is an important thing to keep in mind -- that when you go to war against a tyrant -- and this was one of the claims: “Oh, we’re going to get rid of Saddam Hussein,” which was, of course, nonsense. They didn’t -- did our government care that Saddam Hussein tyrannized his own people? We helped him tyrannize his people. We helped him gas the Kurds. We helped him accumulate weapons of mass destruction, really.

And the people you kill in a war are the victims of the tyrant. The people we killed in Germany were the victims of Hitler. The people we killed in Japan were the victims of the Japan Imperial Army, you know. And the people who die in wars are more and more and more people who are not in the military. You may know this about the different ratio of civilian-to-military deaths in war, how in World War I, ten military dead for one civilian dead; in World War II, it was 50-50, half military, half civilian; in Vietnam, it was 70% civilian and 30% military; and in the wars since then, it’s 80% and 85% civilian.

I became friends a few years ago with an Italian war surgeon named Gino Strada. He spent ten years, fifteen years doing surgery on war victims all over the world. And he wrote a book about it, Green Parrots: Diary of a War Surgeon. He said in all the patients that he operated on in Iraq and Afghanistan and everywhere, 85% of them were civilians, one-third of them, children. If you understand, and if people understand, and if you spread the word of this understanding, that whatever is told to you about war and how we must go to war, and whatever the threat is or whatever the goal is -- a democracy or liberty -- it will always be a war against children. They’re the ones who will die in large numbers.

So, war -- well, Einstein said this after World War I. He said, “War cannot be humanized. It can only be abolished.” War has to be abolished, you know. And it’s -- I know it’s a long shot. I understand that, but you have to -- when something’s a long shot, but it has to be done, you have to start doing it. Just as the ending of slavery in this country in the 1830s was a really long shot, but people stuck at it, and it took 30 years, but slavery was done away with. And we can see this again and again. So, we have a job to do. We have lots of things to do.

One of the things we can learn from history is that history is not only a history of things inflicted on us by the powers that be. History is also a history of resistance. It’s a history of people who endure tyranny for decades, but who ultimately rise up and overthrow the dictator. We’ve seen this in country after country, surprise after surprise. Rulers who seem to have total control, they suddenly wake up one day, and there are a million people in the streets, and they pack up and leave. This has happened in the Philippines, in Yemen, all over, in Nepal. Million people in the streets, and then the ruler has to get out of the way. So, this is what we’re aiming for in this country.

Everything we do is important. Every little thing we do, every picket line we walk on, every letter we write, every act of civil disobedience we engage in, any recruiter that we talk to, any parent that we talk to, any GI that we talk to, any young person that we talk to, anything we do in class, outside of class, everything we do in the direction of a different world is important, even though at the moment they seem futile, because that’s how change comes about. Change comes about when millions of people do little things, which at certain points in history come together, and then something good and something important happens.

Thank you.


CFR: US Dominance of the Middle East Has Ended

The New Middle East
By Richard N. Haass
From Foreign Affairs
, November/December 2006

Summary: The age of U.S. dominance in the Middle East has ended and a new era in the modern history of the region has begun. It will be shaped by new actors and new forces competing for influence, and to master it, Washington will have to rely more on diplomacy than on military might.

Richard N. Haass is President of the Council on Foreign Relations.


Just over two centuries since Napoleon's arrival in Egypt heralded the advent of the modern Middle East -- some 80 years after the demise of the Ottoman Empire, 50 years after the end of colonialism, and less than 20 years after the end of the Cold War -- the American era in the Middle East, the fourth in the region's modern history, has ended. Visions of a new, Europe-like region -- peaceful, prosperous, democratic -- will not be realized. Much more likely is the emergence of a new Middle East that will cause great harm to itself, the United States, and the world.

All the eras have been defined by the interplay of contending forces, both internal and external to the region. What has varied is the balance between these influences. The Middle East's next era promises to be one in which outside actors have a relatively modest impact and local forces enjoy the upper hand -- and in which the local actors gaining power are radicals committed to changing the status quo. Shaping the new Middle East from the outside will be exceedingly difficult, but it -- along with managing a dynamic Asia -- will be the primary challenge of U.S. foreign policy for decades to come.

The modern Middle East was born in the late eighteenth century. For some historians, the signal event was the 1774 signing of the treaty that ended the war between the Ottoman Empire and Russia; a stronger case can be made for the importance of Napoleon's relatively easy entry into Egypt in 1798, which showed Europeans that the region was ripe for conquest and prompted Arab and Muslim intellectuals to ask -- as many continue to do today -- why their civilization had fallen so far behind that of Christian Europe. Ottoman decline combined with European penetration into the region gave rise to the "Eastern Question," regarding how to deal with the effects of the decline of the Ottoman Empire, which various parties have tried to answer to their own advantage ever since.

The first era ended with World War I, the demise of the Ottoman Empire, the rise of the Turkish republic, and the division of the spoils of war among the European victors. What ensued was an age of colonial rule, dominated by France and the United Kingdom. This second era ended some four decades later, after another world war had drained the Europeans of much of their strength, Arab nationalism had risen, and the two superpowers had begun to lock horns. "[He] who rules the Near East rules the world; and he who has interests in the world is bound to concern himself with the Near East," wrote the historian Albert Hourani, who correctly saw the 1956 Suez crisis as marking the end of the colonial era and the beginning of the Cold War era in the region.

During the Cold War, as had been the case previously, outside forces played a dominant role in the Middle East. But the very nature of U.S.-Soviet competition gave local states considerable room to maneuver. The high-water mark of the era was the October 1973 war, which the United States and the Soviet Union essentially stopped at a stalemate, paving the way for ambitious diplomacy, including the Egyptian-Israeli peace accord.

Yet it would be a mistake to see this third era simply as a time of well-managed great-power competition. The June 1967 war forever changed the balance of power in the Middle East. The use of oil as an economic and political weapon in 1973 highlighted U.S. and international vulnerability to supply shortages and price hikes. And the Cold War's balancing act created a context in which local forces in the Middle East had significant autonomy to pursue their own agendas. The 1979 revolution in Iran, which brought down one of the pillars of U.S. policy in the region, showed that outsiders could not control local events. Arab states resisted U.S. attempts to persuade them to join anti-Soviet projects. Israel's 1982 occupation of Lebanon spawned Hezbollah. And the Iran-Iraq War consumed those two countries for a decade.


The end of the Cold War and the demise of the Soviet Union brought about a fourth era in the region's history, during which the United States enjoyed unprecedented influence and freedom to act. Dominant features of this American era were the U.S.-led liberation of Kuwait, the long-term stationing of U.S. ground and air forces on the Arabian Peninsula, and an active diplomatic interest in trying to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict once and for all (which culminated in the Clinton administration's intense but ultimately unsuccessful effort at Camp David). More than any other, this period exemplified what is now thought of as the "old Middle East." The region was defined by an aggressive but frustrated Iraq, a radical but divided and relatively weak Iran, Israel as the region's most powerful state and sole nuclear power, fluctuating oil prices, top-heavy Arab regimes that repressed their peoples, uneasy coexistence between Israel and both the Palestinians and the Arabs, and, more generally, American primacy.

What has brought this era to an end after less than two decades is a number of factors, some structural, some self-created. The most significant has been the Bush administration's decision to attack Iraq in 2003 and its conduct of the operation and resulting occupation. One casualty of the war has been a Sunni-dominated Iraq, which was strong enough and motivated enough to balance Shiite Iran. Sunni-Shiite tensions, dormant for a while, have come to the surface in Iraq and throughout the region. Terrorists have gained a base in Iraq and developed there a new set of techniques to export. Throughout much of the region, democracy has become associated with the loss of public order and the end of Sunni primacy. Anti-American sentiment, already considerable, has been reinforced. And by tying down a huge portion of the U.S. military, the war has reduced U.S. leverage worldwide. It is one of history's ironies that the first war in Iraq, a war of necessity, marked the beginning of the American era in the Middle East and the second Iraq war, a war of choice, has precipitated its end.

Other factors have also been relevant. One is the demise of the Middle East peace process. The United States had traditionally enjoyed a unique capacity to work with both the Arabs and the Israelis. But the limits of that capacity were exposed at Camp David in 2000. Since then, the weakness of Yasir Arafat's successors, the rise of Hamas, and the Israeli embrace of unilateralism have all helped sideline the United States, a shift reinforced by the disinclination of the current Bush administration to undertake active diplomacy.

Another factor that has helped bring about the end of the American era has been the failure of traditional Arab regimes to counter the appeal of radical Islamism. Faced with a choice between what they perceived as distant and corrupt political leaders and vibrant religious ones, many in the region have opted for the latter. It took 9/11 for U.S. leaders to draw the connection between closed societies and the incubation of radicals. But their response -- often a hasty push for elections regardless of the local political context -- has provided terrorists and their supporters with more opportunities for advancement than they had before.

Finally, globalization has changed the region. It is now less difficult for radicals to acquire funding, arms, ideas, and recruits. The rise of new media, and above all of satellite television, has turned the Arab world into a "regional village" and politicized it. Much of the content shown -- scenes of violence and destruction in Iraq; images of mistreated Iraqi and Muslim prisoners; suffering in Gaza, the West Bank, and now Lebanon -- has further alienated many people in the Middle East from the United States. As a result, governments in the Middle East now have a more difficult time working openly with the United States, and U.S. influence in the region has waned.


The outlines of the Middle East's fifth era are still taking shape, but they follow naturally from the end of the American era. A dozen features will form the context for daily events.

First, the United States will continue to enjoy more influence in the region than any other outside power, but its influence will be reduced from what it once was. This reflects the growing impact of an array of internal and external forces, the inherent limits of U.S. power, and the results of U.S. policy choices.

Second, the United States will increasingly be challenged by the foreign policies of other outsiders. The European Union will offer little help in Iraq and is likely to push for a different approach to the Palestinian problem. China will resist pressuring Iran and will seek to guarantee the availability of energy supplies. Russia, too, will resist calls to sanction Iran and will look for opportunities to demonstrate its independence from the United States. Both China and Russia (as well as many European states) will distance themselves from U.S. efforts to promote political reform in nondemocratic states in the Middle East.

Third, Iran will be one of the two most powerful states in the region. Those who have seen Iran as being on the cusp of dramatic internal change have been wrong. Iran enjoys great wealth, is the most powerful external influence in Iraq, and holds considerable sway over both Hamas and Hezbollah. It is a classic imperial power, with ambitions to remake the region in its image and the potential to translate its objectives into reality.

Fourth, Israel will be the other powerful state in the region and the one country with a modern economy able to compete globally. The only state in the Middle East with a nuclear arsenal, it also possesses the region's most capable conventional military force. But it still has to bear the costs of its occupation of the West Bank and deal with a multifront, multidimensional security challenge. Strategically speaking, Israel is in a weaker position today than it was before this summer's crisis in Lebanon. And its situation will further deteriorate -- as will that of the United States -- if Iran develops nuclear weapons.

Fifth, anything resembling a viable peace process is unlikely for the foreseeable future. In the aftermath of Israel's controversial operation in Lebanon, the Kadima-led government will almost certainly be too weak to command domestic support for any policy perceived as risky or as rewarding aggression. Unilateral disengagement has been discredited now that attacks have followed Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon and Gaza. There is no obvious partner on the Palestinian side who is both able and willing to compromise, further hindering the chances of a negotiated approach. The United States has lost much of its standing as a credible and honest broker, at least for the time being. Meanwhile, Israel's settlement expansion and road building will continue apace, further complicating diplomacy.

Sixth, Iraq, traditionally a center of Arab power, will remain messy for years to come, with a weak central government, a divided society, and regular sectarian violence. At worst, it will become a failed state wracked by an all-out civil war that will draw in its neighbors.

Seventh, the price of oil will stay high, the result of strong demand from China and India, limited success at curbing consumption in the United States, and the continued possibility of supply shortages. The price of a barrel of oil is far more likely to exceed $100 than it is to fall below $40. Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other large producers will benefit disproportionately.

Eighth, "militiazation" will continue apace. Private armies in Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestinian areas are already growing more powerful. Militias, both a product and a cause of weak states, will emerge wherever there is a perceived or an actual deficit of state authority and capacity. The recent fighting in Lebanon will exacerbate this trend, since Hezbollah has gained by not suffering a total defeat, while Israel has lost by not realizing a total victory -- a result that will embolden Hezbollah and those who emulate it.

Ninth, terrorism, defined as the intentional use of force against civilians in the pursuit of political aims, will remain a feature of the region. It will occur in divided societies, such as Iraq, and in societies where radical groups seek to weaken and discredit the government, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Terrorism will grow in sophistication and remain a tool used against Israel and the presence of the United States and other nonindigenous powers.

Tenth, Islam will increasingly fill the political and intellectual vacuum in the Arab world and provide a foundation for the politics of a majority of the region's inhabitants. Arab nationalism and Arab socialism are things of the past, and democracy belongs in the distant future, at best. Arab unity is a slogan, not a reality. The influence of Iran and groups associated with it has been reinforced, and efforts to improve ties between Arab governments and Israel and the United States have been complicated. Meanwhile, tensions between Sunnis and Shiites will grow throughout the Middle East, causing problems in countries with divided societies, such as Bahrain, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia.

Eleventh, Arab regimes are likely to remain authoritarian and become more religiously intolerant and anti-American. Two bellwethers will be Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Egypt, which accounts for roughly one-third of the Arab world's population, has introduced some constructive economic reforms. But its politics have failed to keep up. On the contrary, the regime seems intent on repressing what few liberals the country has and presenting the Egyptian people with a choice between traditional authoritarians and the Muslim Brotherhood. The risk is that Egyptians will one day opt for the latter, less because they support it outright than because they have grown weary of the former. Alternatively, the regime might take on the colors of its Islamist opponents in an effort to co-opt their appeal, in the process distancing itself from the United States. In Saudi Arabia, the government and the royal elite rely on using large energy proceeds to placate domestic appeals for change. The problem is that most of the pressure they have responded to has come from the religious right rather than the liberal left, which has led them to embrace the agenda of religious authorities.

Finally, regional institutions will remain weak, lagging far behind those elsewhere. The Middle East's best-known organization, the Arab League, excludes the region's two most powerful states, Israel and Iran. The enduring Arab-Israeli rift will continue to preclude the participation of Israel in any sustained regional relationship. The tension between Iran and most Arab states will also frustrate the emergence of regionalism. Trade within the Middle East will remain modest because few countries offer goods and services that others want to buy on a large scale, and advanced manufactured goods will have to continue to come from elsewhere. Few of the advantages of global economic integration will come to this part of the world, despite the pressing need for them.


Although the basic features of this fifth era of the modern Middle East are largely unattractive, this should not be a cause for fatalism. Much is a matter of degree. There is a fundamental difference between a Middle East lacking formal peace agreements and one defined by terrorism, interstate conflict, and civil war; between one housing a powerful Iran and one dominated by Iran; or between one that has an uneasy relationship with the United States and one filled with hatred of the country. Time also makes a difference. Eras in the Middle East can last for as long as a century or as little as a decade and a half. It is clearly in the interest of the United States and Europe that the emerging era be as brief as possible -- and that it be followed by a more benign one.

To ensure this, U.S. policymakers need to avoid two mistakes, while seizing two opportunities. The first mistake would be an overreliance on military force. As the United States has learned to its great cost in Iraq -- and Israel has in Lebanon -- military force is no panacea. It is not terribly useful against loosely organized militias and terrorists who are well armed, accepted by the local population, and prepared to die for their cause. Nor would carrying out a preventive strike on Iranian nuclear installations accomplish much good. Not only might an attack fail to destroy all facilities, but it might also lead Tehran to reconstitute its program even more covertly, cause Iranians to rally around the regime, and persuade Iran to retaliate (most likely through proxies) against U.S. interests in Afghanistan and Iraq and maybe even directly against the United States. It would further radicalize the Arab and Muslim worlds and generate more terrorism and anti-American activity. Military action against Iran would also drive the price of oil to new heights, increasing the chances of an international economic crisis and a global recession. For all these reasons, military force should be considered only as a last resort.

The second mistake would be to count on the emergence of democracy to pacify the region. It is true that mature democracies tend not to wage war on one another. Unfortunately, creating mature democracies is no easy task, and even if the effort ultimately succeeds, it takes decades. In the interim, the U.S. government must continue to work with many nondemocratic governments. Democracy is not the answer to terrorism, either. It is plausible that young men and women coming of age would be less likely to become terrorists if they belonged to societies that offered them political and economic opportunities. But recent events suggest that even those who grow up in mature democracies, such as the United Kingdom, are not immune to the pull of radicalism. The fact that both Hamas and Hezbollah fared well in elections and then carried out violent attacks reinforces the point that democratic reform does not guarantee quiet. And democratization is of little use when dealing with radicals whose platforms have no hope of receiving majority support. More useful initiatives would be actions designed to reform educational systems, promote economic liberalization and open markets, encourage Arab and Muslim authorities to speak out in ways that delegitimize terrorism and shame its supporters, and address the grievances that motivate young men and women to take it up.

As for the opportunities to be seized, the first is to intervene more in the Middle East's affairs with nonmilitary tools. Regarding Iraq, in addition to any redeployment of U.S. troops and training of local military and police, the United States should establish a regional forum for Iraq's neighbors (Turkey and Saudi Arabia in particular) and other interested parties akin to that used to help manage events in Afghanistan following the intervention there in 2001. Doing so would necessarily require bringing in both Iran and Syria. Syria, which can affect the movement of fighters into Iraq and arms into Lebanon, should be persuaded to close its borders in exchange for economic benefits (from Arab governments, Europe, and the United States) and a commitment to restart talks on the status of the Golan Heights. In the new Middle East, there is a danger that Syria might be more interested in working with Tehran than with Washington. But it did join the U.S.-led coalition during the Persian Gulf War and attend the Madrid peace conference in 1991, two gestures that suggest it might be open to a deal with the United States in the future.

Iran is a more difficult case. But since regime change in Tehran is not a near-term prospect, military strikes against nuclear sites in Iran would be dangerous, and deterrence is uncertain, diplomacy is the best option available to Washington. The U.S. government should open, without preconditions, comprehensive talks that address Iran's nuclear program and its support of terrorism and foreign militias. Iran should be offered an array of economic, political, and security incentives. It could be allowed a highly limited uranium-enrichment pilot program so long as it accepted highly intrusive inspections. Such an offer would win broad international support, a prerequisite if the United States wants backing for imposing sanctions or escalating to other options should diplomacy fail. Making the terms of such an offer public would increase diplomacy's chances of success. The Iranian people should know the price they stand to pay for their government's radical foreign policy. With the government in Tehran concerned about an adverse public reaction, it would be more likely to accept the U.S. offer.

Diplomacy also needs to be revived in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is still the issue that most shapes (and radicalizes) public opinion in the region. The goal at this point would be not to bring the parties to Camp David or anywhere else but to begin to create the conditions under which diplomacy could usefully be restarted. The United States should articulate those principles it believes ought to constitute the elements of a final settlement, including the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines. (The lines would have to be adjusted to safeguard Israel's security and reflect demographic changes, and the Palestinians would have to be compensated for any losses resulting from the adjustments.) The more generous and detailed the plan, the harder it would be for Hamas to reject negotiation and favor confrontation. Consistent with this approach, U.S. officials ought to sit down with Hamas officials, much as they have with the leaders of Sinn Féin, some of whom also led the Irish Republican Army. Such exchanges should be viewed not as rewarding terrorist tactics but as instruments with the potential to bring behavior in line with U.S. policy.

The second opportunity involves the United States' insulating itself as much as possible from the region's instability. This would mean curbing U.S. oil consumption and U.S. dependence on the Middle East's energy resources, goals that could best be achieved by reducing demand (by, say, increasing taxes at the pump -- offset by tax reductions elsewhere -- and promoting policies that would accelerate the introduction of alternative sources of energy). Washington should also take additional steps to reduce its exposure to terrorism. Like vulnerability to disease, vulnerability to terrorism cannot be entirely eliminated. But more can and should be done to better protect the U.S. homeland and to better prepare for those inevitable occasions when terrorists will succeed.

Avoiding these mistakes and seizing these opportunities would help, but it is important to recognize that there are no quick or easy solutions to the problems the new era poses. The Middle East will remain a troubled and troubling part of the world for decades to come. It is all enough to make one nostalgic for the old Middle East.


The truth is that the enemy has been created by US and Coalition Forces

November 18, 2006 By Alex, To Veterans Against The Iraq War

The enemy is not someone who was waiting when we invaded.

He was not wearing a uniform, carrying military issued weapons or equipment....he was at home with his family when our bombs first dropped on Iraqi soil.

We've killed his family friends, trashed his house, kicked his door in, and taken the last bit of freedom that they had. And most people thought that Saddam ruled with an iron fist!


14 Articles of Impeachment for Bush, Cheney

Fourteen rock-solid LEGAL reasons to impeach the dastardly duo. . .

If we are to impeach, we must impeach both Bush and Cheney. It will not do any good for us to impeach Bush and have Cheney take the Oval Office and pick someone just as radical as he is.
It will also not do any good for us to impeach just Cheney and allow Bush to groom John "I'm not knowledgeable" McCain for the 2008 election.

Therefore, we must simultaneously impeach both of them so that the 3rd person in succession, Nancy Pelosi, would become the next President of the United States.
What a ghastly thought!

Let's see, that would take us from israel first to . . . israel first - seamless transition!
Nevertheless, the 14 Articles of impeachment outlined in this Dkos diary are well worth reading, memorizing, and passing on to everyone you know.
Kudos to Eternal Hope!

Posted in Submitted by qrswave on Tue, 2006-11-28 17:52.qrswave's blog add new comment



At risk from the flames that are engulfing Iraq

Leading article

Published: 28 November 2006

President Bush is tacking a rather unusual destination on to his two-day sojourn in Latvia for the Nato summit. He is flying to Jordan to meet the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and others may be on the guest list. The hope is that the scene could be set for some grand diplomacy at a time when grand diplomacy is sorely needed.

The choice of Jordan makes two points about the Bush administration's failures in the Middle East. The first is that the US now considers Iraq too dangerous for Mr Bush to risk even a fleeting visit. At the weekend, the Iraqi president had to postpone a trip to Iran because of security concerns. There can be no question of the US President being exposed to similar risks.

The second is that, at present, Jordan is probably the only country in the immediate region where a US president will be welcome and where it is relatively safe for him to stay. Security concerns, however, are crowding in. King Abdullah warned yesterday that without urgent international action no fewer than three civil wars could break out on Jordan's doorstep.

It is not easy to gainsay the King's pessimism. Lebanon has just witnessed its second high-profile assassination in two years. The government is disintegrating. This summer Israel and Hizbollah waged war on its territory. Pro- and anti-Syrian factions are at loggerheads. One more killing could tip it into war.

Iraq, for its part, looks already beyond the point of no return. The insurgency has fragmented as local militias fight each other for ascendancy. Corruption and bootlegged oil sustain the warring factions. The police, newly armed and trained by the invaders, have reverted to their earlier tribal and religious loyalties. It is questionable how much power, if any, the heavily protected central government exerts.

The third area of concern is the one source of better news. A ceasefire has just been agreed in Gaza, which may be extended to the West Bank. Whether it will hold, is another matter. With a weak government in Israel, a still more fragile one in Lebanon and Syria sending conflicting signals about its intentions, the landscape even here is not greatly consoling. It is a cheap observation, but telling. Until Israel and the Palestinians began talking to each other secretly in Oslo, Jordan was the regional power broker: a relatively agreeable haven in a dangerous neighbourhood. The present King's father, King Hussein, had perfected the diplomatic balancing act. He constituted the pivotal regional power.

Jordan fulfils few of President Bush's one-time ambitions for his greater Middle East. It is not by any manner of means a democracy; civil rights are restricted. It is one of the countries that obliged Washington by receiving prisoners under the programme of "extraordinary rendition". At times like these, however, Jordan is useful: geographically central, politically stable, cosmopolitan in its make-up, it is unique.

Jordan's return to the international stage is one illustration of how regional diplomacy is going back to the future. Another is the revived focus on the Palestinians, described by King Abdullah as "the core" that links all the other disputes. There are rumours that while in Amman, Mr Bush will meet, as well as Mr al-Maliki, the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. Might there also be a representative from Syria. Dare one speculate, even, an envoy from Iran?

The flames from Iraq must be prevented from consuming the Middle East as a whole. It is a time for grand designs to be broached and all options to be explored. If there is to be any prospect of a solution anchored in the region, Jordan is the obvious place to start.

President Bush is tacking a rather unusual destination on to his two-day sojourn in Latvia for the Nato summit. He is flying to Jordan to meet the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, and others may be on the guest list. The hope is that the scene could be set for some grand diplomacy at a time when grand diplomacy is sorely needed.

The choice of Jordan makes two points about the Bush administration's failures in the Middle East. The first is that the US now considers Iraq too dangerous for Mr Bush to risk even a fleeting visit. At the weekend, the Iraqi president had to postpone a trip to Iran because of security concerns. There can be no question of the US President being exposed to similar risks.

The second is that, at present, Jordan is probably the only country in the immediate region where a US president will be welcome and where it is relatively safe for him to stay. Security concerns, however, are crowding in. King Abdullah warned yesterday that without urgent international action no fewer than three civil wars could break out on Jordan's doorstep.

It is not easy to gainsay the King's pessimism. Lebanon has just witnessed its second high-profile assassination in two years. The government is disintegrating. This summer Israel and Hizbollah waged war on its territory. Pro- and anti-Syrian factions are at loggerheads. One more killing could tip it into war.

Iraq, for its part, looks already beyond the point of no return. The insurgency has fragmented as local militias fight each other for ascendancy. Corruption and bootlegged oil sustain the warring factions. The police, newly armed and trained by the invaders, have reverted to their earlier tribal and religious loyalties. It is questionable how much power, if any, the heavily protected central government exerts.

The third area of concern is the one source of better news. A ceasefire has just been agreed in Gaza, which may be extended to the West Bank. Whether it will hold, is another matter. With a weak government in Israel, a still more fragile one in Lebanon and Syria sending conflicting signals about its intentions, the landscape even here is not greatly consoling. It is a cheap observation, but telling. Until Israel and the Palestinians began talking to each other secretly in Oslo, Jordan was the regional power broker: a relatively agreeable haven in a dangerous neighbourhood. The present King's father, King Hussein, had perfected the diplomatic balancing act. He constituted the pivotal regional power.

Jordan fulfils few of President Bush's one-time ambitions for his greater Middle East. It is not by any manner of means a democracy; civil rights are restricted. It is one of the countries that obliged Washington by receiving prisoners under the programme of "extraordinary rendition". At times like these, however, Jordan is useful: geographically central, politically stable, cosmopolitan in its make-up, it is unique.

Jordan's return to the international stage is one illustration of how regional diplomacy is going back to the future. Another is the revived focus on the Palestinians, described by King Abdullah as "the core" that links all the other disputes. There are rumours that while in Amman, Mr Bush will meet, as well as Mr al-Maliki, the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. Might there also be a representative from Syria. Dare one speculate, even, an envoy from Iran?

The flames from Iraq must be prevented from consuming the Middle East as a whole. It is a time for grand designs to be broached and all options to be explored. If there is to be any prospect of a solution anchored in the region, Jordan is the obvious place to start.