Thursday, January 11, 2007

Biden Threatens "Constitutional Confrontation" re Iran

Thursday, 11 January 2007

Sen. Joe Biden just informed Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice that, should the Bush administration attempt to cross over into Iran without Congressional approval, such action will provoke a "constitutional confrontation."

Sen. Biden is the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

(I am listening to the Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing on Iraq, via C-Span3. I think it's about to conclude. I thought his remark so significant you needed to know right away, rather than wait for a news story to appear.)

Sen. Biden further told Secretary Rice that Bush's escalation plan is a "tragic mistake." Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) inserted a remark that the Marines have already been told that their stays in Iraq will be extended. Sen. Biden reiterated that every senator supports the troops and is amazed by the "overwhelming commitment" of the troops.



I'm adding the contact info I posted a few days ago. You know the drill.

Chair: Joe Biden (D-DE)
Phones: 202-224-3953 (majority) | 202-224-4651 (minority)
Faxes: 202-224-5011 (majority) | 202-224-0836 (minority)
Dirksen Senate Office Building 450, Washington, D.C. 20510

Via VISI.COM: A full list of all current members of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, and their contact information, including e-mail forms.

See new articles also at the other blog


U.S. hypocrisy on Palestine

Published Jan 10, 2007 11:33 PM

The U.S., France and other imperialist powers claim to be “appalled” over fighting between the Palestinian groups Fatah and Hamas. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s recent call for a halt to the fighting, however, is sheer hypocrisy. Washington, Tel Aviv and the European imperialist powers have used every weapon in their arsenal to exacerbate tensions between Fatah and Hamas.

In January 2006, the Palestinian people overwhelmingly voted in legislative elections for Hamas, a group known for determined struggle against occupation. Neither U.S. finance capital nor its clients in Tel Aviv accepted the Palestinian people’s choice, and have waged a most brutal campaign for “regime change” ever since.

For the last year, Israel, the U.S. and European imperialists have waged economic war on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to render it ineffective. The U.S. and Europe have withheld promised funds, and U.S. banks have imposed a financial blockade on PA banks, denying the PA funds from Arab League countries or anyone else. Israel has held back the $55 million in PA tax monies it collects monthly. These funds account for a third of the PA’s budget and pay the wages of the PA’s 160,000 civil servants, including the security forces involved in current clashes. A third of the Palestinian population depends on this money to survive.

At the same time, Israeli occupation forces—bankrolled and armed by the U.S.—have laid siege to Gaza and the West Bank, continue daily military incursions, bombings, arrests, huge land confiscations and destruction of homes, and are building the apartheid wall. Some call these assaults the most serious in the entire history of the Palestinian struggle.

It is within the context of this brutal imperialist economic squeeze, military onslaught and truly untenable situation for the Palestinian people that tensions have risen between Fatah and Hamas.

Imperialism is trying to use the weapon of “divide and conquer” to disrupt the struggle in Palestine, just as it is used to “Balkanize” Iraq. Washington and Tel Aviv now clearly favor Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, who is the PA president, over Hamas, which controls the PA cabinet and legislature. Before Hamas became part of the PA government, however, Israel vilified Abbas and refused to speak with him.

In the name of “peace,” the U.S. and Israel are waging war against the PA and the people who have elected Hamas. But the real goal is to destroy every attempt by the Palestinian people to assert true self-determination and build a sovereign Palestine. Palestinian sovereignty provides the only hope for true peace.

This is one of the most difficult times in the history of the Palestinian resistance. International support is needed more than ever to lift the siege on this heroic national liberation struggle. The anti-war movement here can be most helpful by renewing the fighting to get U.S. imperialism out of the Middle East, and to stop all U.S. aid to Israel.

Free from the bone-crushing burden of foreign interference and U.S.-financed Israeli domination, the Palestinian people can and will resolve peacefully any differences among them on how to best liberate and run their country.

Articles copyright © 1995-2007 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Support independent news

POLITICS-IRAN: Ratcheting up the Nuclear Ante

Analysis by Praful Bidwai

NEW DELHI, Jan 11 (IPS) - The stunning story by the London ‘Sunday Times' alleging that Israel has drawn up plans to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities with nuclear weapons has focused attention on the growing global nuclear danger and on the worsening situation in the Middle East.

It also raises many questions of critical importance. Is the Israeli plan credible, akin to its 1981 attack which destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor? Does it have the tacit backing of the United States, and at least represent a common approach shared by Tel Aviv and neocons in the United States? What will be the impact of such an attack on the Middle East? And what does the possibility of a nuclear strike mean for the prospect of ridding the world of these terror weapons?

Expert opinion is divided on the first. Israel has trashed the ‘Sunday Times' story that appeared Jan. 7. But ‘The New Yorker' also carried a story last April by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, alleging that Washington was considering an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Such denial fits in cosily with Israel's policy of nuclear ambiguity (it neither admits nor denies it has nuclear weapons), as well as the often-used tactic of deception.

The ‘Sunday Times' in 1986 first published photographs of Israel's uranium enrichment plant at Dimona, and revealed its substantial nuclear arsenal. The paper's source was technician Mordechai Vannunu, who was soon abducted by Israeli agents and tried and sentenced in Israel to 18 years in jail for disclosing state secrets.

Vannunu's punishment only confirmed what was long known: Israel has had a nuclear weapons programme since the 1950s. It is the sixth nation in the world, and the first in the Middle East, to acquire a nuclear-weapons capability -- as early as in 1966.

"This leak-followed-by-denial is part of an Israeli pattern", says Qamar Agha, an independent New Delhi-based expert associated with Jamia Millia Islamia University. "Israel has repeatedly said it won't tolerate Iran's nuclear programme. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says it's ‘an existential threat' and Israel will use any means to eliminate it."

"It seems perfectly plausible, indeed likely," adds Agha, "that Israel, on its own, or jointly with the U.S., will use the military option against Iran to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear capability."

The ‘Sunday Times' alleged that Israel has plans to attack three sites, Natanz, Arak, and Isfahan, possibly with tactical nuclear weapons. These are the locations, respectively, of Iran's uranium enrichment plant, heavy water reactor, and a uranium gas-conversion facility.

The paper also says that Israeli Air Force pilots have flown to Gibraltar in recent weeks to train for the 2,000-mile round trip to the Iranian targets. When asked whether the Air Force was training for an attack against Iranian facility, the Israeli Army declined comment.

But former Air Force Commander Eitan Ben Eliyahu is quoted as saying that "the defence establishment is prepared for all possibilitiesà It would be an irresponsible, criminal neglect if a certain country presents a high-likelihood threat à without us preparing for it." Ben Eliyahu also said that the Air Force has been preparing for long-range strikes for many years.

These reported preparations are backed at the policy level by statements of Israeli officials, including deputy defence minister Ephraim Sneh who said in November that he wouldn't rule out a military option against Iran as "a last resort."

In other reports, Israeli General Oded Tira is quoted as saying: "President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran. As an American strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help him pave the way"à. Israel's part is to "prepare an independent military strike by coordinating flights in Iraqi airspace with the U.S. à"

There seems to be significant support for this approach in the U.S. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported that President George W Bush says he would understand if Israel chose to attack Iran.

According to some commentators, the Neoconservatives (neocons)are "long-time allies of Israel's Right-wing à and the Israel Lobby in the U.S." Many neocons have called for an extended war against radical Islam, including Islamic Iran.

Some analysts see Bush's recent cabinet reshuffle and his new war plans for Iraq as signalling a hardline position on Iran.

They cite the removal of Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte. Negroponte was known for his sober assessment of Iran's nuclear enrichment capacity and played down threats from it.

Last April, Negroponte said: "Our assessment is that the prospects of an Iranian weapon are still a number of years off, and probably into the next decade." Many neocons, including leading figures in the Project for the New American Century, demanded he be sacked.

Bush has executed an operational shift in Iraq by inducting more troops and going on the offensive against hostile operations by Iran and Syria in Iraq. A key element in this is to "counter Iranian and Syrian action that threatens the coalition forces."

"Whether the Bush administration launches attacks on Iran's nuclear facilities or not, it's unlikely to restrain Israel from doing so," says Achin Vanaik, professor of international relations at Delhi University. "It is desperate, confused and without a strategy. It could easily drift towards dangerously extending the war to Iran precisely because it's not winning it in Iraq."

Adds Vanaik: "Even if the Sunday Times story is untrue, all this ratchets up pressure on Iran and lowers the threshold for military options. That's playing with fire. Besides, it will further erode the resistance that Russia and China have offered to tough measures against Iran."

Early last year, Russia and China were reluctant to get the International Atomic Energy Agency to report Iran to the United Nations Security Council for an unclear case of non-compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But last month, they did not use their veto against a Western resolution (1737) calling for tough sanctions against Iran.

A military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities will have a devastating impact. "The attacks won't be confined to nuclear installations," says Agha. "They must target military facilities too to ensure that Iran cannot retaliate with missiles and air strikes against Israel and U.S. troops and installations in the Middle East. This will cause extensive destruction."

The Oxford Research Group estimates that even a non-nuclear strike will cause 10,000 deaths, mainly of civilians. The number will shoot up if nuclear weapons are used. Besides, historic heritage sites like Isfahan will be destroyed.

The consequences would be even graver once the civilian nuclear reactor being built at Bushehr with Russian assistance is loaded with fuel, scheduled for the end of 2007. Bombing it after it has gone critical would cause another Chernobyl, with devastating global effects.

Even more important would be the breaching of a taboo against the use of nuclear weapons since 1945. "It is frightening even to think that nuclear weapons, whether tactical, or strategic arms which are 15 to 100 times more destructive, can be used in the 21st century," says Vanaik.

The overall human consequences of an attack on Iran will be catastrophic. These are likely to invite a strong retaliation through an accelerated Iranian nuclear weapons programme and military attacks on Israeli and U.S. targets.

"This will precipitate a conflagration in the Middle East," argues Agha. "That will tend to unite Muslims across the board. The only way the US and Israeli can deal with this is by provoking a Shia-Sunni sectarian divide, just as in Iraq. This will have further damaging global consequences and will make the fight against terrorism far more difficult. The world will become a far more dangerous place."

(The writer is a founder of the Movement in India for Nuclear Disarmament and a member of the International Network of Engineers and Scientists against Proliferation).

Palestine 2007: Genocide in Gaza, Ethnic Cleansing in the West Bank

Ilan Pappe, The Electronic Intifada, 11 January 2007

A general view of Har Homa settlement, built on the land of West Bank city of Bethlehem, and considered by Israel to be part of 'Greater Jerusalem', 29 November 2006. (MaanImages/Magnus Johansson)

On this stage, not so long ago, I claimed that Israel is conducting genocidal policies in the Gaza Strip. I hesitated a lot before using this very charged term and yet decided to adopt it. Indeed, the responses I received, including from some leading human rights activists, indicated a certain unease over the usage of such a term. I was inclined to rethink the term for a while, but came back to employing it today with even stronger conviction: it is the only appropriate way to describe what the Israeli army is doing in the Gaza Strip.

On 28 December 2006, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem published its annual report about the Israeli atrocities in the occupied territories. Israeli forces killed this last year six hundred and sixty citizens. The number of Palestinians killed by Israel last year tripled in comparison to the previous year (around two hundred). According to B'Tselem, the Israelis killed one hundred and forty one children in the last year. Most of the dead are from the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli forces demolished almost 300 houses and slew entire families. This means that since 2000, Israeli forces killed almost four thousand Palestinians, half of them children; more than twenty thousand were wounded.

B'Tselem is a conservative organization, and the numbers may be higher. But the point is not just about the escalating intentional killing, it is about the trend and the strategy. As 2007 commences, Israeli policymakers are facing two very different realities in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In the former, they are closer than ever to finishing the construction of their eastern border. Their internal ideological debate is over and their master plan for annexing half of the West Bank is being implemented at an ever-growing speed. The last phase was delayed due to the promises made by Israel, under the Road Map, not to build new settlements. Israel found two ways of circumventing this alleged prohibition. First, it defined a third of the West Bank as Greater Jerusalem, which allowed it to build within this new annexed area towns and community centers. Secondly, it expanded old settlements to such proportions so that there was no need to build new ones. This trend was given an additional push in 2006 (hundreds of caravans were installed to mark the border of the expansions, the planning schemes for the new towns and neighborhoods were finalized and the apartheid bypass roads and highway system completed). In all, the settlements, the army bases, the roads and the wall will allow Israel to annex almost half of the West Bank by 2010. Within these territories there will be a considerable number of Palestinians, against whom the Israeli authorities will continue to implement slow and creeping transfer policies -- too boring as a subject for the western media to bother with and too elusive for human rights organizations to make a general point about them. There is no rush; as far as the Israelis are concerned, they have the upper hand there: the daily abusive and dehumanizing mixed mechanisms of army and bureaucracy is as effective as ever in contributing its own share to the dispossession process.

The strategic thinking of Ariel Sharon that this policy is far better than the one offered by the blunt 'transferists' or ethnic cleansers, such as Avigdor Liberman's advocacy, is accepted by everyone in the government, from Labor to Kadima. The petit crimes of state terrorism are also effective as they enable liberal Zionists around the world to softly condemn Israel and yet categorize any genuine criticism on Israel's criminal policies as anti-Semitism.

On the other hand, there is no clear Israeli strategy as yet for the Gaza Strip; but there is a daily experiment with one. Gaza, in the eyes of the Israelis, is a very different geo-political entity from that of the West Bank. Hamas controls Gaza, while Abu Mazen seems to run the fragmented West Bank with Israeli and American blessing. There is no chunk of land in Gaza that Israel covets and there is no hinterland, like Jordan, to which the Palestinians of Gaza can be expelled. Ethnic cleansing is ineffective here.

The earlier strategy in Gaza was ghettoizing the Palestinians there, but this is not working. The ghettoized community continues to express its will for life by firing primitive missiles into Israel. Ghettoizing or quarantining unwanted communities, even if they were regarded as sub-human or dangerous, never worked in history as a solution. The Jews know it best from their own history. The next stages against such communities in the past were even more horrific and barbaric. It is difficult to tell what the future holds for the Gaza population, ghettoized, quarantined, unwanted and demonized. Will it be a repeat of the ominous historical examples or is a better fate still possible?

Creating the prison and throwing the key to the sea, as UN Special Reporter John Dugard has put it, was an option the Palestinians in Gaza reacted against with force as soon as September 2005. They were determined to show at the very least that they were still part of the West Bank and Palestine. In that month, they launched the first significant, in number and not quality, barrage of missiles into the Western Negev. The shelling was a response to an Israeli campaign of mass arrests of Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists in the Tul Karem area. The Israelis responded with operation 'First Rain'. It is worth dwelling for a moment on the nature of that operation. It was inspired by the punitive measures inflicted first by colonialist powers, and then by dictatorships, against rebellious imprisoned or banished communities. A frightening show of the oppressor's power to intimidate preceded all kind of collective and brutal punishments, ending with a large number of dead and wounded among the victims. In 'First Rain', supersonic flights were flown over Gaza to terrorize the entire population, succeeded by the heavy bombardment of vast areas from the sea, sky and land. The logic, the Israeli army explained, was to create pressure so as to weaken the Gaza community's support for the rocket launchers. As was expected, by the Israelis as well, the operation only increased the support for the rocket launchers and gave impetus to their next attempt. The real purpose of that particular operation was experimental. The Israeli generals wished to know how such operations would be received at home, in the region and in the world. And it seems that instantly the answer was 'very well'; namely, no one took an interest in the scores of dead and hundreds of wounded Palestinians left behind after the 'First Rain' subsided.

The bar set continually higher: Palestinians pass by a pool of blood after the Israeli shelling of a residential area in Beit Hanoun in the northern of Gaza Strip in which at least 18 people were killed, 8 November 2006. (MaanImages/Wesam Saleh)

And hence since 'First Rain' and until June 2006, all the following operations were similarly modeled. The difference was in their escalation: more firepower, more causalities and more collateral damage and, as to be expected, more Qassam missiles in response. Accompanying measures in 2006 were more sinister means of ensuring the full imprisonment of the people of Gaza through boycott and blockade, with which the EU is still shamefully collaborating.

The capture of Gilad Shalit in June 2006 was irrelevant in the general scheme of things, but nonetheless provided an opportunity for the Israelis to escalate even more the components of the tactical and allegedly punitive missions. After all, there was still no strategy that followed the tactical decision of Ariel Sharon to take out 8,000 settlers whose presence complicated 'punitive' missions and whose eviction made him almost a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, the 'punitive' actions continue and become themselves a strategy.

The Israeli army loves drama and therefore also escalated the language. 'First Rain' was replaced by 'Summer Rains', a general name that was given to the 'punitive' operations since June 2006 (in a country where there is no rain in the summer, the only precipitation that one can expect are showers of F-16 bombs and artillery shells hitting people of Gaza).

'Summer Rains' brought a novel component: the land invasion into parts of the Gaza Strip. This enabled the army to kill citizens even more effectively and to present it as a result of heavy fighting within dense populated areas, an inevitable result of the circumstances and not of Israeli policies. With the close of summer came operation 'Autumn Clouds' which was even more efficient: on 1 November 2006, in less than 48 hours, the Israelis killed seventy civilians; by the end of that month, with additional mini operations accompanying it, almost two hundred were killed, half of them children and women. As one can see from the dates, some of the activity was parallel to the Israeli attacks on Lebanon, making it easier to complete the operations without much external attention, let alone criticism.

From 'First Rain' to 'Autumn Clouds' one can see escalation in every parameter. The first is the disappearance of the distinction between civilian and non-civilian targets: the senseless killing has turned the population at large to the main target for the army's operation. The second one is the escalation in the means: employment of every possible killing machines the Israeli army possesses. Thirdly, the escalation is conspicuous in the number of casualties: with each operation, and each future operation, a much larger number of people are likely to be killed and wounded. Finally, and most importantly, the operations become a strategy -- the way Israel intends to solve the problem of the Gaza Strip.

A creeping transfer in the West Bank and a measured genocidal policy in the Gaza Strip are the two strategies Israel employs today. From an electoral point of view, the one in Gaza is problematic as it does not reap any tangible results; the West Bank under Abu Mazen is yielding to Israeli pressure and there is no significant force that arrests the Israeli strategy of annexation and dispossession. But Gaza continues to fire back. On the one hand, this would enable the Israeli army to initiate more massive genocidal operations in the future. But there is also the great danger, on the other, that as happened in 1948, the army would demand a more drastic and systematic 'punitive' and collateral action against the besieged people of the Gaza Strip.

A source of satisfaction for Israel: Palestinians inspect a burnt vehicle belonging to Colonel Mohammad Ghareeb, the deputy chief of preventive security in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. The vehicle was burnt during factional clashes between Fatah and Hamas. (MaanImages/Wesam Saleh)

Ironically, the Israeli killing machine has rested lately. Even relatively large number of Qassam missiles, including one or two quite deadly ones, did not stir the army to action. Though the army's spokesmen say it shows 'restraint', it never did in the past and is not likely to do so in the future. The army rests, as its generals are content with the internal killing that rages on in Gaza and does the job for them. They watch with satisfaction the emerging civil war in Gaza, which Israel foments and encourages. From Israel's point of view it does not really mater how Gaza would eventually be demographically downsized, be it by internal or Israeli slaying. The responsibility of ending the internal fighting lies of course with the Palestinian groups themselves, but the American and Israeli interference, the continued imprisonment, the starvation and strangulation of Gaza are all factors that make such an internal peace process very difficult. But it will take place soon and then with the first early sign that it subsided, the Israeli 'Summer Rains' will fall down again on the people of Gaza, wreaking havoc and death.

And one should never tire of stating the inevitable political conclusions from this dismal reality of the year we left behind and in the face of the one that awaits us. There is still no other way of stopping Israel than besides boycott, divestment and sanctions. We should all support it clearly, openly, unconditionally, regardless of what the gurus of our world tell us about the efficiency or raison d'etre of such actions. The UN would not intervene in Gaza as it does in Africa; the peace noble laureates would not enlist to its defense as they do for causes in Southeast Asia. The numbers of people killed there are not staggering as far as other calamities are concerned, and it is not a new story -- it is dangerously old and troubling. The only soft point of this killing machine is its oxygen lines to 'western' civilization and public opinion. It is still possible to puncture them and make it at least more difficult for the Israelis to implement their future strategy of eliminating the Palestinian people either by cleansing them in the West Bank or genociding them in the Gaza Strip.

Ilan Pappe is senior lecturer in the University of Haifa Department of political Science and Chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies in Haifa. His books include, among others, The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (London and New York 1992), The Israel/Palestine Question (London and New York 1999), A History of Modern Palestine (Cambridge 2003), The Modern Middle East (London and New York 2005) and his latest, Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006).

Ilan Pappé - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Related Links
  • BY TOPIC: Israel attacks Gaza: "Operation Autumn Clouds" (1 Nov 2006- )
  • BY TOPIC: Massacre in Beit Hanoun (8 November 2006)
  • BY TOPIC: Israel invades Gaza: "Operation Summer Rain" (27 June 2006)
  • BY TOPIC: Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions
  • A rare voice: An interview with author Ilan Pappe, Christopher Brown (11 December 2006)
  • New Iraq Commander Spoke Up for Judith Miller

    January 11, 2007 Edition > Section: National
    BY JOSH GERSTEIN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
    January 11, 2007

    The military commander President Bush is counting on to rescue Iraq from chaos, Lieutenant General David Petraeus, once came to the defense of an American reporter caught up in one of Washington's most intense legal battles.

    In 2005, when Judith Miller of the New York Times was facing the possibility of jail for refusing to name one of her sources in front of a grand jury, General Petraeus wrote to a federal judge to discourage him from imprisoning her.

    "Judith demonstrated a deep commitment to her work and values as an American citizen," the general wrote. "Based on my interaction with her, I find it unlikely that Judith would compromise on those values, to include betraying information gained in confidence from her sources. ... Judith is clearly a highly professional journalist, one who has demonstrated to me that she will keep her word."

    Ms. Miller's lawyers filed the letter with Judge Thomas Hogan in a bid to convince him that the veteran reporter was so committed to protecting the confidentiality of her sources that a jail term would have no impact on her willingness to testify. The plea apparently fell on deaf ears, as Judge Hogan ordered Ms. Miller confined at a Virginia lock-up.

    General Petraeus's letter raised some eyebrows at the time because the politically sensitive investigation involved claims that top White House officials leaked the name of a covert CIA operative, Valerie Plame, in order to lash back at her war critic husband, Joseph Wilson. By writing to the judge, the general was, in effect, undermining the demand of the special prosecutor in the case, Patrick Fitzgerald, that Ms. Miller be sent to jail. However, the general did not write on military letterhead and he made clear in his short letter that he was offering only his "personal views."

    In an interview, Ms. Miller, who left the Times in late 2005 amid some contention, was effusive about the general. "I am not neutral about General Petraeus," she said. "He's enormously talented and we are damn lucky that he's going to take on a mission that some are calling ‘Mission Impossible.'"

    Asked if the general can pacify Iraq, Ms. Miller said, "I don't know if it will work, but the fact that David Petraeus will be in charge of it has given me more optimism than I otherwise would have."

    Ms. Miller got to know General Petraeus in 2003, while she was embedded with a special military team seeking Iraq's stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. A story in the Washington Post said she came to enjoy such influence with the general that at one point she persuaded him to help rescind orders to pull back the reconnaissance unit. Yesterday, Ms. Miller called that account "totally wrong in many, many respects."

    The author of the Post piece, Howard Kurtz, defended it yesterday as "accurate in every detail." He also faulted Ms. Miller for refusing to comment before the story was published.

    Ms. Miller spent 85 days in jail before she testified, citing renewed contact with her source that convinced her she had his permission to testify. The source she was protecting turned out to be Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, though Mr. Libby's attorneys later insisted he always wanted her to testify and was shocked to find out that he was the source that prompted her decision to go to jail.

    Mr. Libby subsequently was indicted for lying to investigators and obstructing justice when he denied disclosing Ms. Plame's employment to the press. Prosecutors allege that Mr. Libby discussed the CIA employee with Ms. Miller on three occasions. Mr. Libby, who resigned the same day he was charged, has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled to go on trial next week.

    The Israel Lobby Silences Google


    An explanation of our search results.

    If you recently used Google to search for the word "Jew," you may have seen results that were very disturbing. We assure you that the views expressed by the sites in your results are not in any way endorsed by Google. We'd like to explain why you're seeing these results when you conduct this search.

    A site's ranking in Google's search results is automatically determined by computer algorithms using thousands of factors to calculate a page's relevance to a given query. Sometimes subtleties of language cause anomalies to appear that cannot be predicted. A search for "Jew" brings up one such unexpected result.

    If you use Google to search for "Judaism," "Jewish" or "Jewish people," the results are informative and relevant. So why is a search for "Jew" different? One reason is that the word "Jew" is often used in an anti-Semitic context. Jewish organizations are more likely to use the word "Jewish" when talking about members of their faith. The word has become somewhat charged linguistically, as noted on websites devoted to Jewish topics such as these:

    Someone searching for information on Jewish people would be more likely to enter terms like "Judaism," "Jewish people," or "Jews" than the single word "Jew." In fact, prior to this incident, the word "Jew" only appeared about once in every 10 million search queries. Now it's likely that the great majority of searches on Google for "Jew" are by people who have heard about this issue and want to see the results for themselves.

    Our search results are generated completely objectively and are independent of the beliefs and preferences of those who work at Google. Some people concerned about this issue have created online petitions to encourage us to remove particular links or otherwise adjust search results. Because of our objective and automated ranking system, Google cannot be influenced by these petitions. The only sites we omit are those we are legally compelled to remove or those maliciously attempting to manipulate our results.

    We apologize for the upsetting nature of the experience you had using Google and appreciate your taking the time to inform us about it.

    The Google Team

    p.s. You may be interested in some additional information the Anti-Defamation League has posted about this issue at In addition, we call your attention to Google's search results on this topic.

    ©2007 Google - Google Home - About Google

    Editor's Note: I am moving over to the other blog


    Different Set of Rules for Neolibs, Israel Firsters

    Wednesday January 10th 2007, 8:15 am

    Once again, we are served up an object lesson on who runs things in Washington.

    “A major loophole in the Democrats’ recently unveiled ethics package will allow non-profit arms of controversial lobbying organizations to fund travel excursions for members of Congress,” reports Raw Story.

    And who benefits from this “ethics exemption”?

    AIPAC, of course.

    “All-expense-paid tours to Israel are among the most common overseas trips made by members of Congress and their aides,” writes the Jewish Daily Forward. “Watchdog groups, using data from congressional filings, have reported that Israel is the leading destination for privately sponsored congressional trips.”

    I have referred to these “trips” as “walking tours” that produce stepfordized pro-Israelites, returning to America and Congress in prime shape to vote for whatever outrage the political establishment in Israel have in mind, from pushing for an attack against Iran to continued brutality against the Palestinians.

    According to AIPAC’s Josh Block, these walking tours are “substantive, educational, and valuable,” that is to say they serve well the Israel First agenda, so a Mack truck sized loophole will be provided under the 501(c)(3) ruse, designed for “educational trips for private citizens and public officials.” According to Raw Story, “organizations with that designation do not conduct lobbying directly and therefore are allowed to fund travel for members.” How AIPAC, the largest and most pernicious “lobbying group” in Washington, falls under this designation remains a mystery.

    Incidentally, the other organization exempt from the ethics bill is the Aspen Institute, a pet project of the Carnegie Corporation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the Ford Foundation, a ruling elite cabal dedicated to “fostering enlightened leadership, the appreciation of timeless ideas and values, and open-minded dialogue on contemporary issues,” that is to say pushing the Neolib World Order agenda outside of ethical boundaries that apply to the rest of us, mere commoners.

    Lest you think the Aspen neolibs are simply east coast banksters, consider they count as members “Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, former Vice President Al Gore, Clinton Secretary of State Madeline Albright, and former New York Times reporter Judith Miller,” a regular rogue’s gallery of war criminals, neocons, One World free traders, and quislings.

    This “loophole” should serve as an example that our political system is a rigged game, a fixed horse race, no matter who is in office. Of course, examples are worthless if they are ignored, and the corporate media has dutifully ignored this story, as should be expected.

    Not only did the Democrat Queen of AIPAC, Nancy Pelosi, decline to comment, so did Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Both understand well what side of the bread gets the butter.

    In short, there is nothing to see here, so move on. Naturally, this story, not even registering on the corporate media radar screen, will dissipate soon enough, swept aside by more important news, for instance the paparazzi feeding frenzy over Prince William and his girlfriend and the introduction of the iPhone.

    Bush Plagiarized LBJ's Speech on Why The U.S Needed To Send More Troops To Vietnam

    E-Day": It was 40 years ago today

    This comes with a huge hat tip to a good Friend of Attytood who was born 40 years ago on this date -- Happy Birthday, dude! -- and as a result is more up to speed on what happened on January 10, 1967, than the rest of us.

    The big news story that night? President Lyndon B. Johnson's State of the Union address.

    The topic that dominated all others: Vietnam.

    I'm going to guide you to some excerpts of that address -- exactly 40 years ago tonight. See how it compares to some of the excerpts from President Bush's speech that were just released minutes ago:

    LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: We have chosen to fight a limited war in Vietnam in an attempt to prevent a larger war--a war almost certain to follow, I believe, if the Communists succeed in overrunning and taking over South Vietnam by aggression and by force. I believe, and I am supported by some authority, that if they are not checked now the world can expect to pay a greater price to check them later.

    GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Tonight in Iraq, the Armed Forces of the United States are engaged in a struggle that will determine the direction of the global war on terror – and our safety here at home. The new strategy I outline tonight will change America's course in Iraq, and help us succeed in the fight against terror.

    LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: I wish I could report to you that the conflict is almost over. This I cannot do. We face more cost, more loss, and more agony. For the end is not yet. I cannot promise you that it will come this year--or come next year. Our adversary still believes, I think, tonight, that he can go on fighting longer than we can, and longer than we and our allies will be prepared to stand up and resist.

    GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Our past efforts to secure Baghdad failed for two principal reasons: There were not enough Iraqi and American troops to secure neighborhoods that had been cleared of terrorists and insurgents. And there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.

    LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: Our South Vietnamese allies are also being tested tonight. Because they must provide real security to the people living in the countryside. And this means reducing the terrorism and the armed attacks which kidnaped and killed 26,900 civilians in the last 32 months, to levels where they can be successfully controlled by the regular South Vietnamese security forces. It means bringing to the villagers an effective civilian government that they can respect, and that they can rely upon and that they can participate in, and that they can have a personal stake in. We hope that government is now beginning to emerge.

    GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Only the Iraqis can end the sectarian violence and secure their people. And their government has put forward an aggressive plan to do it.

    LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: This forward movement is rooted in the ambitions and the interests of Asian nations themselves. It was precisely this movement that we hoped to accelerate when I spoke at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore in April 1965, and I pledged "a much more massive effort to improve the life of man" in that part of the world, in the hope that we could take some of the funds that we were spending on bullets and bombs and spend it on schools and production.

    GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: A successful strategy for Iraq goes beyond military operations. Ordinary Iraqi citizens must see that military operations are accompanied by visible improvements in their neighborhoods and communities. So America will hold the Iraqi government to the benchmarks it has announced.

    LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: We have chosen to fight a limited war in Vietnam in an attempt to prevent a larger war--a war almost certain to follow, I believe, if the Communists succeed in overrunning and taking over South Vietnam by aggression and by force. I believe, and I am supported by some authority, that if they are not checked now the world can expect to pay a greater price to check them later.

    GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: The challenge playing out across the broader Middle East is more than a military conflict. It is the decisive ideological struggle of our time…In the long run, the most realistic way to protect the American people is to provide a hopeful alternative to the hateful ideology of the enemy – by advancing liberty across a troubled region.

    LBJ, Jan. 10, 1967: A time of testing--yes. And a time of transition. The transition is sometimes slow; sometimes unpopular; almost always very painful; and often quite dangerous. But we have lived with danger for a long time before, and we shall live with it for a long time yet to come. We know that "man is born unto trouble." We also know that this Nation was not forged and did not survive and grow and prosper without a great deal of sacrifice from a great many men.

    GWB, Jan. 10, 2007: Victory will not look like the ones our fathers and grandfathers achieved. There will be no surrender ceremony on the deck of a battleship…A democratic Iraq will not be perfect. But it will be a country that fights terrorists instead of harboring them – and it will help bring a future of peace and security for our children and grandchildren.

    Not much to add here -- the words of Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush pretty much speak for themselves.

    Two things, though. First of all, only 7,917 American troop had died in Vietnam through the end of 1966, or ten days before Johnson's speech. From the beginning of 1967 though the end of the war, an addition 50,285 -- more than six times as many -- Americans would lose their lives.

    Also, and we're not endorsing this action by any means, then or now, but it is interesting to note that in that 1967 SOTU, LBJ also called for a 6 percent surcharge on personal and corporate income taxes to pay for the cost of the war. That's a level of responsibility -- and yes, sacrifice -- for war that our current president is unwilling to take.

    Posted on January 10, 2007 7:24 PM | TrackBack

    Defiance and delusion

    Thursday January 11, 2007
    The Guardian

    George Bush's announcement last night that he is going to pour more troops into Iraq was the last throw of the dice in a misconceived enterprise that has dragged his country, this country and the Middle East into a nightmare. The package includes 17,500 more combat troops for Baghdad and 4,000 more marines for Anbar province, the cockpit of the Sunni insurgency. Over $1bn will be spent in economic aid. In return the Iraqis are to promise to crackdown on insurgents, regardless of sect or religion.

    In opting for a troop surge, Mr Bush has ignored the message of the mid-term elections, the Iraq Study Group, Congress, his own top generals and most world opinion. US generals have difficulty enough maintaining current levels of combat-ready troops and are not convinced that more troops will make any difference. Rather than listen to them, Mr Bush has turned to the right, to those who argue that honour and the America's national interests require fighting on. One senses that "honour" is the more important of the two.

    Back on Earth - where on Tuesday 1,000 American and Iraqi troops were battling Sunni insurgents with helicopters and warplanes for the control of a three-mile stretch of road running through the centre of Baghdad - any plan for Iraq is predicated on the ability of Nouri al-Maliki's government to disarm the Shia militias. Only then can the police force and army be rebuilt, Sunnis included in a settlement and control re-established over wide areas of the country. The task of regaining Iraq is no longer just about containing an insurgency; it is about staunching the flames of a civil war.

    Thus far, al-Maliki's record has not been good. He has been unable or unwilling to confront the main Shia warlord, Moqtada al-Sadr, on whom he depends for parliamentary support. His government cannot fight sectarianism, if entire ministries are working for the Shia militias. This was demonstrated by the execution of Saddam Hussein. On Tuesday alone, 40 bodies were found in Baghdad, the presumed work of the death squads.

    Back at home, the president is almost alone. Only senator John McCain, the leading Republican candidate to replace Mr Bush, and Joe Lieberman, on the right of the Democrats, support his plan. Queuing up to oppose him, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, and senator Edward Kennedy have all said that they intend to hold symbolic votes on the plan. They cannot overrule a decision by the commander-in-chief, but they can isolate him. There could be as many as 10 Republican defections in the Senate. The Democrats have turned up the volume of their moral outrage, presumably because they think Mr Bush will not be able to hold the line with the latest announcement. In most people's minds, the argument for withdrawal, however gradual, has already been won. The only issue that remains is how quickly it happens.

    Tony Blair was also having difficulty in the commons yesterday, with Sir Menzies Campbell pressing him on whether Britain will mirror Mr Bush's deepening of engagement. Mr Blair maintained that Basra was in a bubble of its own, unaffected by the troubles that beset Baghdad. He said that once the current operation against militia infiltration of the Basra police was complete, Iraqis would take over control over their own affairs.

    The claim peace is returning to Basra is as unreal as Mr Bush's hope that order can be brought to Baghdad. Surrounded by the wreckage of the disaster they created, both men still hope, against all reality, that somehow the pieces can be put back together again. But their project is dead. A few more troops, or a few more months, will not restore it. Both men are on their way out. By stringing the war along without admitting defeat, it will become the business of another British prime minister and another American president to end it.

    Why 21,500 wrongs won't make it right


    The United States' new commander in Iraq, Lieutenant-General David Petraeus, has written definitively - and correctly - about how the US military should conduct its counterinsurgency strategy. Bolstered with a promised 21,500 extra troops from President George W Bush, expect the military to run this doctrine up the flagpole, salute it, and then prosecute the war exactly as before, relying on force, not foresight. - Julian Delasantellis (Jan 11, '07)

    Serial war criminal Bush must be stopped’

    Pip Hinman

    [Socialist Alliance media release Thursday, January 11, 2007]

    US President George Bush’s decision to escalate the war of occupation in Iraq by sending in another 21,500 US troops is “the desperate act of a serial war criminal”, said Ms Pip Hinman, Socialist Alliance anti-war spokesperson today at a rally in Sydney marking the fifth anniversary of the US detention camp in Guantanamo Bay.

    The rally also called on the Howard government to demand the release of David Hicks, the only Australian remaining at the prison camp.

    “Just over a week into 2007 and the US has committed two new war crimes: an escalation of the illegal war in Iraq and the illegal air attacks on Somalia in support of the US-backed Ethiopian invasion to hand that country back to murderous warlords.

    “This alone makes him a serial war criminal.”

    Ms Hinman added that PM John Howard’s all-the-way-with-Bush approach makes him and his Attorney-General Philip Ruddock war criminals too.

    “They have the blood of more than 655,000 Iraqi people on their hands, most of whom are innocent civilians”, she said.

    “The US and all other occupying powers, including Australia, should immediately and unconditionally withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and pay reparations for the horrendous death and destruction they have caused.

    “The US detention and torture camp at Guantanamo should be closed immediately and all those detained there without trial, including David Hicks, should be immediately released.

    “Then George Bush, John Howard, Tony Blair and their partners-in-crime should be brought before an international war crimes tribunal to answer for their monstrous actions.”

    Ms Hinman, a leading anti-war activist with the Sydney Stop the War Coalition, said that President Bush can expect large and angry demonstrations when he comes to Australia later this year for the APEC summit in Sydney.

    “The anti-war movement is organising a protest convergence on Sydney and there will be days of protest. Bush, the world’s No. 1 terrorist and war criminal is not welcome here!”

    For more information contact Pip Hinman 0412 139 968

    Palestinian Children Under Israeli Occupation

    Israeli soldier searches a Palestinian child in the center of Hebron (Reuter 20 Nov. 2005)

    Bethlehem -- Palestinian man arrested, handcuffed, and blindfolded while his two children are watching. (AFP, Al-Quds newspaper, 21 July 2005)

    Bethlehem -- Palestinian man arrested, handcuffed, and blindfolded while his two children are watching. (AFP, Al-Quds newspaper, 21 July 2005)

    As Palestinians start a new school year, curfews, roadblocks,

    and closures are making it difficult and, in some cases,

    prevent students and teachers from reaching their schools

    A Palestinian man escorting his two children to school in Ramallah

    An Israeli soldier shows a victory sign to a member of the official international observer group

    Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), as he detains

    a Palestinian student in the West Bank city of Hebron.

    Palestinian teachers held for two hours by Israeli soldiers

    at the Hawara checkpoint on their way to schools in the area

    45,000 teachers have problems getting to school

    Schoolgirls stand in front of their closed school after the Israeli army

    re-imposed curfew in the West Bank city of Nablus

    Six-year-old Palestinian boy Mahmoud Abu Mayialeh holds a

    Palestinian flag on the first day of the 2002-2003 school year in Hebron

    Student raises the Palestinian flag marking the first day at the

    Ramallah Girls High School in Ramallah

    Schoolboys run to see bodies of Palestinians killed by Israeli soldiers

    before the funeral in the West Bank village of Shioukh near Hebron

    Schoolgirls in their classroom in Ramallah

    Pupils from the El Khahira Primary School crowd into a private minibus

    at the end of the first day of school in Gaza City

    School teacher from Nablus is helped after she collapsed in the heat

    after a two-hour wait at the Hawara checkpoint on her way to schools in the area

    Palestinian schoolgirls running away after Israeli soldiers threw tear gas near their school

    An Israeli soldier questioning Palestinian schoolgirls during a curfew

    School children run in front of an Israeli soldier in Hebron near a military

    check-point during a curfew in Hebron, September 29, 2002

    Schoolboys run to take cover while an Israeli armored personnel carrier opens fire

    while blocking the road at Beit Lahia, Gaza, Sept 5, 2002

    Wounded schoolboy is carried into Shifa hospital in Gaza City after

    Israeli missile attack on a security building in Gaza, Tuesday Dec. 4, 2001

    Israeli soldier questions a mother and her children

    on their way from school at Qalandiya checkpoint

    Little Samir's school bag being searched by Israeli soldiers

    at Qalandiya checkpoint

    Young school girls detained by an Israeli soldier

    Surging toward the holy oil grail

    If a new oil law friendly to Western business is passed in Iraq, the chances of Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army joining the Sunni resistance will increase dramatically. Hence the preemptive, two-pronged escalation by President George W Bush on the war front - against both Muqtada and nationalist Sunnis.


    By Pepe Escobar

    "I see the imminent death of 20,000 men,
    That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,
    Go to their graves like beds ...
    O, from this time forth,
    My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth."
    Hamlet, Act IV; according to White House spin part of reading-adverse President George W Bush's book list during the summer of 2006.

    And so, after a tsunami surge of spin, US President George W Bush is heading toward escalation, summoning his 21,500 men, supported by barely 11% of Americans. Escalation in Iraq is the name of the president's game, and that also applies to Somalia - the new Afghanistan.

    In far from accidental timing, the good old "war on terror" is back from the grave (nobody really related to the "long war" newspeak). After all, the galleries had to be reminded that there's a Pentagon-concocted "arc of instability" running from the Horn of Africa to the Middle East and then to the Caucasus, Central Asia and the Himalayas. The "war on terror" has expanded to the business of killing Africans, now afforded membership of the ever-expanding "axis of evil".

    Bush, in front of a stack of books he never reads, blamed al-Qaeda in Iraq, the Sunni Arab resistance and "Shi'ites supported by Iran" for his failures; committed five more brigades to Baghdad and 4,000 extra troops to guerrilla and al-Qaeda-controlled al-Anbar province. As if these shock troops will be enough to pursue the "fight against terror". Bush's plan ultimately breaks down to a slightly bulkier US militia in Iraq capable of killing more Arabs.

    Taking the bull by the Horn
    With some aplomb, the White House/Pentagon axis has managed to turn Somalia into the new Afghanistan, in more ways than one and just in time for Bush's announcement of his escalation-tainted "new way forward". The Pentagon maintained it had "credible" intelligence before it decided to strike alleged al-Qaeda-infested villages in southern Somalia. This is highly suspect.

    The intelligence was provided by unsavory, corrupt Ethiopian dictator Meles Zenawi - who came up with the clever plot of concocting a fictitious jihad conducted by "neo-Taliban" in Somalia and selling it handsomely to the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pentagon. He's now posing as a prime US ally in the "war on terror", just as Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov did in the autumn of 2001.

    Zenawi's US-trained Ethiopian troops, the ones who invaded Somalia, are infested with CIA operatives and Special Forces - all of them flown in from the strategic US-controlled (since September 11, 2003) Camp Le Monier in Djibouti.

    Arab media are having a field day reporting that Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf, a reconverted warlord "elected" by fellow warlords (all armed by the US) and then legitimized by the United Nations, told African journalists in Mogadishu that the US had the right to bomb "anywhere in the world". According to the Kenyan newspaper The Daily Nation, this new US campaign of targeted assassinations has in fact killed scores of civilians.

    But with the help of Ethiopia's dictatorship - whose soldiers it trained - Washington is being rewarded with one more client regime, and a crucial foothold in the Horn of Africa, right on the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea, very close to the Red Sea and literally next door to Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

    Or is it that simple? Somalia, 75% pastoral with six major clans and hundreds of sub-clans, is now in civil-war mode. Millions of Somalis live in neighboring Kenya, and support the deposed, moderate Islamic Union Courts. Kenya will be convulsed. Blowback will be inevitable - and bloody. "Long war" marketers and profiteers could not but rejoice.

    The bull in the carpet shop
    As the Somali Osama bin Laden slouches toward Kenya to be born, there is only one new Saddam Hussein strong enough to "save" the US in Iraq. His name is Abu Deraa. But there is a slight problem: he is a Shi'ite warlord, and head of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army.

    The Iraqi media have been wildly speculating that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki could be the victim of a US-engineered white coup, the likely replacement candidates being two certified Washington puppets, current Vice President Adil Abdul Mahdi from the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), an enthusiast of a proposed new Iraqi oil law, and former interim prime minister, former Ba'athist and "butcher of Fallujah", Iyad Allawi.

    But just when Washington and the Green Zone in Baghdad were abuzz with talk of regime change, Bush told Republican senators this week that his escalation and "new way forward" policies were basically designed by none other than Maliki, widely condemned for his support of Shi'ite death squads. It is astonishing that Maliki might actually have managed to convince Bush that he will frontally take on the militias of his ally Muqtada.

    High on the White House wishful-thinking list is that Muqtada be isolated in the Iraqi Parliament as the US-trained Iraqi army, on Maliki's orders and helped by the Pentagon, crushes the Mehdi Army. Shi'ites killing Shi'ites? Now that's an extremely tall order. Yet this would lead, runs the scenario, to the mollifying of the Sunni Arab resistance. Sunnis would increase their voice in the government - supposing they were convinced there would be no more militia-conducted ethnic cleansing. The scenario completely "forgets" the SCIRI's Badr Organization, whose militias, much more organized and well trained than the Mehdi Army, are operating right from inside the Interior Ministry.

    Nothing of the White House's laundry list, of course, is going to happen. What could happen, though, is indiscriminate US-conducted civilian killings, thus generating another martyr, Muqtada, even more powerful for legions of Shi'ites than Saddam has become for Sunni Ba'athists.

    The basic fact remains that Bush's escalation is designed to smash Muqtada's Mehdi Army. That can only mean, in practice, a mini-genocide of vast masses of unruly, extremely dispossessed Shi'ites: the coming battle of Sadr City, which the Pentagon has been itching to launch since the spring of 2004. The Pentagon is actually declaring war on no fewer than 2.2 million (poor) people. A sinister symmetry still applies: the Pentagon will attack dispossessed Shi'ite masses - just as the Israeli Defense Forces attacked dispossessed Shi'ite masses in southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

    There's more. Bush's escalation, according to his own speech, will ensure there will actually be two major battles on two different fronts: the battle of Sadr City, against Shi'ites, and the Great Battle of Baghdad, as the Sunni Arab muqawama (resistance) has been dubbing it. A tangential taste of this second front was provided this week by the day-long fight in Haifa Street between coalition and Iraqi forces against militants.

    Muhammad al-Askari, the military adviser to Maliki, justified the bombing of Haifa Street as crucial to the killing of "50 terrorists". Anyone familiar with the Sunni Arab resistance knows they would never be dumb enough to concentrate 50 top fighters in a single Baghdad street in full view of US firepower. The battle of Haifa Street actually fits into Maliki's preferred developing pattern: systematic ethnic cleansing of Sunni areas by the heavily militia-infiltrated, and US-trained, Iraqi army.

    Bush's escalation is also certain to incinerate the stars of counterinsurgency ace Lieutenant-General David Petraeus, currently spun as the new military messiah who will "save" Iraq for the US. After all, he is the co-author of the new US Army counterinsurgency field manual. But according to Petraeus' own doctrine, the Pentagon would need at least 120,000 combat troops to have a shot at winning the counterinsurgency game in Baghdad. The US currently has no more than 70,000 combat troops in the whole of Iraq. It controls not even a hectare of al-Anbar province - which is practically on the way to becoming an Islamic emirate. The US controls the Green Zone - and that's it. So in essence Bush's 21,500 extra men are doomed to total irrelevance - not to mention raising their odds of returning home in a body bag, courtesy of the upcoming resistance surge.

    Grabbing those oil fields by the horn
    Washington's successive divide-and-rule tactics - facilitating a possible genocide of Sunnis, contemplating a mass slaughter of Shi'ites, betting on a regional Sunni/Shi'ite war - never for a second lose sight of the riches of Iraqi. For Big Business, an Iraq eaten alive by Balkanization is the ideal environment for the triumph of Anglo-American petrocracy.

    A new Iraqi oil law will most likely be voted on in Parliament in the next few weeks, before the arrival of Bush's 21,500 men, and it should be in effect in March. The law is Anglo-American Big Oil's holy grail: the draft has been carefully scrutinized by Washington, Big Oil and the International Monetary Fund, but not by Iraqi politicians. The profit-sharing agreements enshrined by the law are immensely profitable for Big Oil. And crucially, the law prevents any Iraqi government from nationalizing the oil industry - as the majority of Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) member states did. In essence, it's a game of "if you nationalize, we invade you - again". So the law fulfills the early-2003 neo-con boast of "we are the new OPEC".

    Iraq's petrodollars will turn to mush - or rather, as with Saudi Arabia, be recycled back to US banks. Security company Blackwater will make a killing "protecting" Iraqi pipelines. Bechtel and Halliburton will get myriad fat contracts to rebuild everything the US has bombarded since 1991.

    But what's the use of an oil law in a 100-cadavers-a-day hellhole? Enter the escalation as a way of providing "stability". Whichever way the coming surge goes - ethnic cleansing of Sunnis, the battle of Sadr City - what matters is not the piling up of Arab Muslim (or American) bodies, but how much less cumbersome is the path toward the holy oil grail. Big Business will make a deal with anyone that facilitates the passing of the oil law, be it Maliki's Da'wa Party, the SCIRI, or - in a wildest-dream version - the Sadrists or al-Qaeda in Iraq.

    The overwhelming majority of Iraqis, Sunni and Shi'ite, want the US out, and as soon as possible. A rape of Iraq's oil wealth enshrined by a Parliament-approved oil law would certainly lead to national unrest. For the moment it's fair to assume the US is taking no chances in its backroom deals, as the SCIRI's support for the new law, via Vice President Adil Abdul Mahdi, is practically assured. Da'wa must be in the process of being bribed to death.

    But Muqtada is another story. He is close to some Sunni factions. They are getting closer. And crucially, they agree on being Iraqi nationalists who want the Americans out. There's a very strong possibility of the Sadrists joining the muqawama in the event the oil law is approved. Thus the preemptive, two-pronged Bush escalation on the war front - against both Muqtada and nationalist Sunnis.

    The ever-expanding killing fields
    Stenographers of the "clash of civilizations" may rejoice. But what really matters is what 1.5 billion people of the Muslim ummah are seeing. They see, on a given day, apart from made-in-USA bombs over Palestine, the US bombarding Arab Muslims in Iraq, Central Asian Muslims in Afghanistan, black Muslims in Somalia. Soon, perhaps, Persian Muslims will be included. Blowback is assured.

    Referring to the hearings on Capitol Hill last month on the Lancet study compiling 655,000 civilian deaths provoked by the war on Iraq, University of Michigan Professor Juan Cole wrote in his blog that the US government "has committed cliocide" - after the Greek muse Clio, who watched over the course of human history. Cliocide will of course continue.

    In Iraq, there are only two stark, inevitable options for the White House: cliocide, as in mass slaughter (of Sunnis and Shi'ites alike); or defeat (which is all but assured). Bush has chosen the first option. The upcoming battle of Sadr City will signal the descent of Iraq into absolute, abysmal, irreversible chaos. Bush, in imperial-Rome mode, can then call the desolation victory, and retire. Provided, of course, the oil law is in the bag.

    Copyright 2007 Asia Times Online Ltd.

    Enough of the Terrorism Canard

    Wednesday, 10 January 2007

    by Larry C Johnson

    George Bush still does not get it. The war in Iraq is not and never has been about terrorism. The attacks, the vast majority of attacks carried out against U.S. troops and Iraqis, are not the work of foreign jihadists operating under the direction of Osama Bin Laden. The facts on the ground do not support it.

    Although U.S. forces have killed the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Zarqawi, violence has soared unabated. The reason is simple and the solution complex. The U.S. presence in Iraq has unleashed a sectarian war that pits Sunni against Shia. The United States now finds itself confronted with equally unpalatable choices: 1) Back the Sunnis and piss of the Shias, or 2) Back the Shias and piss off the Sunnis.

    Bush tonight signals that we are going to pitch our tent with the Shias except we also are going to fight the one Shia, Moktada al Sadr and his Mahdi Army militia, who are the most anti-iranian of the Shia. Great! The one group of Shias not closely aligned with Iran are the ones we will attack. This is madness.

    Bush also has ignored the recent National Intelligence Estimate, which says that the U.S. presence in Iraq is fueling terrorism not diminishing it. Putting more U.S. troops into Baghdad who will be killing more Iraqis will simply embitter more Iraqis and speed recruitment of aspiring terrorists.

    In casting our lot with Iraqi police we are supporting a Shia force that is the main mover behind the death squads. The Sunnis get that message loud and clear and will hold us responsible. That means more attacks against American soldiers.

    The Army also is largely Shia. This is not a deal that the Sunnis can live with. Meanwhile, by going after Moktada al Sadr we are opening the door to SCIRI and its principals, such as Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, who are in bed with Iran. We will also increase the likelihood that Moktada and his forces will step up their attacks against U.S. forces. Unlike the Sunnis, Moktada and his followers can shutdown the U.S. supply line that keeps our troops watered and fed. At the end of the day, the U.S. position in the region will be weakened and diminished. Mission accomplished?

    At the very moment that Bush wants to isolate Iran we are taking steps to strengthen the very elements in Iraq most closely aligned with Iran. At the same time we are stepping up our efforts to destroy the Iraqi elements least sympathetic to Iran. What is Bush trying to do?

    War With Syria and Iran = Peace With Iraq?

    William M. Arkin on National and Homeland Security

    Seek out and destroy.

    If there's anything in the President Bush's remarks tonight that we didn't already know or didn't anticipate him saying militarily about Iraq, it is his evident willingness to go to war with Syria and Iran to seek peace.

    Speaking about the two countries tonight, the president said that the United States wiill "seek out and destroy" those who are providing material support to our enemies.

    It is only a threat. But it is a far cry from the diplomatic proposals floated just last month for making Syria and Iran part of the solution. Can the president really be saying that we are willing to risk war with the two countries, and even attack elements inside them, to achieve peace in Iraq?

    In his speech to the nation, the president announced that he would send 21,500 additional U.S. soldiers and Marines to Iraq, a force that he said will deliver the necessary punch needed to quell sectarian violence in Baghdad and western Iraq, as well as signal to the Iraqi government that this is really, really the last chance.

    Failure in Iraq would be a "disaster" for the United States, President Bush said, adding that success there would determine the direction of the global war on terror.

    The Iraqi government, the president said, will work with the U.S. to regain control of Baghdad, acknowledge and put pressure on both Sunni and Shi'a parties, intensify its effort to build a politically neutral security force, reform its Ministry of Interior and police force, and "plan and fund" the demobilization of independent militias. U.S. and Iraqi forces meanwhile will continue counter-terror operations against al Qaeda and counter-insurgency operations against Sunni and Shi'a outliers.

    On the ground, U.S. commanders will be given more flexibility and more resources to build up "moderate" elements to take on extremists. In Baghdad and Al Anbar province, which includes the combat zones of Fallujah and Ramadi, the United States will accelerate reconstruction spending to speed economic activity.

    In the pesident's speech and in fact sheets, background briefings, and Power Point presentations on the administration's new Iraq "strategy," the tone is one of hope and promise. Everyone, the U.S. included, is committing to the program and redoubling their efforts. One doesn't have to be too cynical to note the definite feel-good element to it all.

    The list of things that the U.S. is going to do - some partially borrowed from the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group - sound eminently reasonable. Take "vigorously engage Arab states." It's a good idea to vest Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan and others in stability in Iraq. (Oh, Turkey is included in the strategy too, in the U.S. pledge to increase its effort to counter the PKK, the Kurdish separatist/terrorist organization that operates in a virtual sanctuary in northern Iraq).

    As for the specifics of the new troop deployment, the President is committing five additional U.S. combat brigade teams to Baghdad. Iraq will then add three army brigades, bringing the Baghdad total to nine Army brigades and nine Iraqi national police brigades, as well as local police. Two additional Marine Corps battalions (about 4,000 troops) will also augment the U.S.-dominated effort in Al Anbar province.

    The new plan and strategy will "change America's course in Iraq," President Bush said. With sufficient boots on the ground, the U.S. and Iraq will be able to clear AND hold neighborhoods -- including Shi'a neighborhoods U.S. and Iraqi forces currently do not operate.

    Eighty percent of the sectarian violence in Iraq, the President said, occurs within a 30-mile radius of Baghdad. A lot of time and energy has gone into the command structure and operating procedures for the augmented forces. The entirety of the success rests with Baghdad, pure and simple.

    Some of the fine print: The additional U.S. forces will only move into theater, the White House says, over time. The Iraqis will deploy their three additional brigades to Baghdad within a little more than a month. The U.S. will deploy one additional brigade by February 1st, two more by February 15th. That's the addition of about one division-equivalent (presumably the 3rd Infantry Division from Georgia) within about 30 days. The other two brigades will deploy in March and April.

    "There is no indefinite commitment to [the] U.S. presence in Iraq," a senior official said this morning, briefing the plan.

    The missing element here, of course, is how Iraq will respond to all of this: How will the shaky government and an unreliable military and police force respond, how will moderates and normal citizens respond, how will Sunni and Shi'a militias respond, how will extremists, terrorists, foreign fighters and criminals respond.

    And how will Syria and Iran react? President Bush implicitly accused the two of providing sanctuary and material support for violent elements in Iraq. There is an ominous element here: When the President pledged to "seek out and destroy the networks supporting our enemies in Iraq," to me, that means the threat of strikes on targets in those two countries.

    The President giveth peace and he taketh away.

    By William M. Arkin | January 10, 2007; 9:55 PM ET | Category: Iraq

    Promising Troops Where They Aren’t Really Wanted

    January 11, 2007

    BAGHDAD, Jan. 10 — As President Bush challenges public opinion at home by committing more American troops, he is confronted by a paradox: an Iraqi government that does not really want them.

    The Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has not publicly opposed the American troop increase, but aides to Mr. Maliki have been saying for weeks that the government is wary of the proposal. They fear that an increased American troop presence, particularly in Baghdad, will be accompanied by a more assertive American role that will conflict with the Shiite government’s haste to cut back on American authority and run the war the way it wants. American troops, Shiite leaders say, should stay out of Shiite neighborhoods and focus on fighting Sunni insurgents.

    “The government believes there is no need for extra troops from the American side,” Haidar al-Abadi, a Parliament member and close associate of Mr. Maliki, said Wednesday. “The existing troops can do the job.”

    It is an opinion that is broadly held among a Shiite political elite that is increasingly impatient, after nearly two years heading the government here, to exercise power without the constraining supervision of the United States. As a long-oppressed majority, the Shiites have a deep-seated fear that the power they won at the polls, after centuries of subjugation by the Sunni minority, will be progressively whittled away as the Americans seek deals with the Sunnis that will help bring American troops home.