Saturday, January 20, 2007

Quote of the Day

Party politics played a role in decisions over whether to take federal control of Louisiana and other areas affected by Hurricane Katrina, former FEMA director Michael Brown said Friday. "Unbeknownst to me, certain people in the White House were thinking 'We had to federalize Louisiana because she's a white, female Democratic governor and we have a chance to rub her nose in it," he said.

President Carter accused of anti-Semitism

PMWATCH - January 20, 2007 -- The campaign to demonize, silence, and make an example of former President Jimmy Carter for daring to write a book that points out that Palestinians are living in a state worse than South African Apartheid, continues unabated.

Predictably enough, the attacks have now shifted from wild accusations that Mr. Carter is turning a blind eye to terrorism to insinuations that he is a latent anti-Semite, with the attacks clearly heading towards open accusations that President Carter is indeed anti-Semitic and an equal of David Duke.

The op-ed below, published today in the Washington Post, is the latest offering from this vicious campaign to destroy the reputation of a man who has for decades enjoyed the respect and admiration of many people across the spectrum of political opinion.

The writer casts President Carter as willfully ignoring Jewish suffering and minimizing the Holocaust. Evidence that the man has repeatedly demonstrated through his words and deeds that he deeply cares for the establishment of peace for both Jews and non-Jews in the Holy Land and that he is not anti-Semitic, is not only dismissed off-hand but used as evidence that along the way, something must have gone terribly wrong with the former president.

Sure, the writer mentions in passing, President Carter "signed the legislation creating the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum." But instead of taking that piece of evidence as reason to pause and reconsider the validity of her accusations, she flips reality over its head and uses that fact as more reason to be perplexed about Mr. Carter's intentions.

Such attacks will continue and will have their intended effect unless we mobilize, one letter to the editor at a time, to counter them.

Please take a few moments to read the op-ed below and to write a letter to the editor.

Letters must be 250 words and can be sent to:

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Palestine Media Watch
(866) DIAL-PMW



Jimmy Carter's Jewish Problem

By Deborah Lipstadt
Saturday, January 20, 2007; A23

It is hard to criticize an icon. Jimmy Carter's humanitarian work has saved countless lives. Yet his life has also been shaped by the Bible, where the Hebrew prophets taught us to speak truth to power. So I write.

Carter's book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," while exceptionally sensitive to Palestinian suffering, ignores a legacy of mistreatment, expulsion and murder committed against Jews. It trivializes the murder of Israelis. Now, facing a storm of criticism, he has relied on anti-Semitic stereotypes in defense.

One cannot ignore the Holocaust's impact on Jewish identity and the history of the Middle East conflict. When an Ahmadinejad or Hamas threatens to destroy Israel, Jews have historical precedent to believe them. Jimmy Carter either does not understand this or considers it irrelevant.

His book, which dwells on the Palestinian refugee experience, makes two fleeting references to the Holocaust. The book contains a detailed chronology of major developments necessary for the reader to understand the current situation in the Middle East. Remarkably, there is nothing listed between 1939 and 1947. Nitpickers might say that the Holocaust did not happen in the region. However, this event sealed in the minds of almost all the world's people then the need for the Jewish people to have a Jewish state in their ancestral homeland. Carter never discusses the Jewish refugees who were prevented from entering Palestine before and after the war. One of Israel's first acts upon declaring statehood was to send ships to take those people "home."

A guiding principle of Israel is that never again will persecuted Jews be left with no place to go. Israel's ideal of Jewish refuge is enshrined in laws that grant immediate citizenship to any Jew who requests it. A Jew, for purposes of this law, is anyone who, had that person lived in Nazi Germany, would have been stripped of citizenship by the Nuremberg Laws.

Compare Carter's approach with that of Rashid Khalidi, head of Columbia University's Middle East Institute and a professor of Arab studies there. His recent book "The Iron Cage" contains more than a dozen references to the seminal place the Holocaust and anti-Semitism hold in the Israeli worldview. This from a Palestinian who does not cast himself as an evenhanded negotiator.

In contrast, by almost ignoring the Holocaust, Carter gives inadvertent comfort to those who deny its importance or even its historical reality, in part because it helps them deny Israel's right to exist. This from the president who signed the legislation creating the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Carter's minimization of the Holocaust is compounded by his recent behavior. On MSNBC in December, he described conditions for Palestinians as "one of the worst examples of human rights deprivation" in the world. When the interviewer asked "Worse than Rwanda?" Carter said that he did not want to discuss the "ancient history" of Rwanda.

To give Carter the benefit of the doubt, let's say that he meant an ongoing crisis. Is the Palestinians' situation equivalent to Darfur, which our own government has branded genocide?

Carter has repeatedly fallen back -- possibly unconsciously -- on traditional anti-Semitic canards. In the Los Angeles Times last month, he declared it"politically suicide" for a politician to advocate a "balanced position" on the crisis. On Al-Jazeera TV, he dismissed the critique of his book by declaring that "most of the condemnations of my book came from Jewish-American organizations." Jeffrey Goldberg, who lambasted the book in The Post last month, writes for the New Yorker. Ethan Bronner, who in the New York Times called the book "a distortion," is the Times' deputy foreign editor. Slate's Michael Kinsley declared it "moronic." Dennis Ross, who was chief negotiator on the conflict in the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, described the book as a rewriting and misrepresentation of history. Alan Dershowitz teaches at Harvard and Ken Stein at Emory. Both have criticized the book. Because of the book's inaccuracies and imbalance and Carter's subsequent behavior, 14 members of the Carter Center's Board of Councilors have resigned -- many in anguish because they so respect Carter's other work. All are Jews. Does that invalidate their criticism -- and mine -- or render us representatives of Jewish organizations?

On CNN, Carter bemoaned the "tremendous intimidation in our country that has silenced" the media. Carter has appeared on C-SPAN, "Larry King Live" and "Meet the Press," among many shows. When a caller to C-SPAN accused Carter of anti-Semitism, the host cut him off. Who's being silenced?

Perhaps unused to being criticized, Carter reflexively fell back on this kind of innuendo about Jewish control of the media and government. Even if unconscious, such stereotyping from a man of his stature is noteworthy. When David Duke spouts it, I yawn. When Jimmy Carter does, I shudder.

Others can enumerate the many factual errors in this book. A man who has done much good and who wants to bring peace has not only failed to move the process forward but has given refuge to scoundrels.

The writer teaches at Emory University. Her latest book is "History on Trial: My Day in Court With David Irving."

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you may have proven Carter's point"

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Arabic edition of War Crimes Report published: English edition also here

Download Arabic edition here. - PDF

Download English edition here.-PDF

Please download, print and distribute these reports and forward these links.

A message from Sunny Miller, Traprock’s Executive Director:

“Some may be concerned that translating these realities into Arabic will increase hostilities. In fact people in Iraq know these things and our admitting to them and objecting to them with transparency can increase understanding. Most importantly, addressing these wrongs through legal and nonviolent action increases hope that one day soon the corporate plunder and military mayhem will end! Soldiers can return to their sworn duty to uphold the constitution, rather submit to illegal orders. In the wake of Martin Luther King’s birthday I have to speak truth to power. I urge you to print the War Crimes Report and take it with you. It’s our duty to all the children of this Earth. When we recognize reality, we can begin to change it. Veterans, parents, students, teachers, doctors, nurses, … all of us are needed to right these wrongs!”


JANUARY 17, 2006

CONTACTS: Nick Mottern, Director of Consumers for Peace
Karen Parker, President of Association of Humanitarian Lawyers

“U.S. War Crimes in Iraq and Mechanisms for Accountability” - published on October 11, 2006 by ten organizations concurrently, has now been translated into Arabic. The report is now fully accessible by Iraqis and other Arabic speakers in the Middle East.

“We are making ‘U.S. War Crimes in Iraq and Mechanisms for Accountability’ available in Arabic because we want to increase its accessibilty to the people of Iraq so that they may have knowledge of the scope and illegality of certain U.S. conduct there,” said Nick Mottern, Director of “We hope that this will assist the Iraqi people in preventing further war crimes and in getting reparations for what has been done.”

We thank Dahr Jamail for coordinating the translation, which includes all references in his extensively researched report.

Adobe Reader for pdf files is installed on most computers, or available for free at

The English language edition had been prepared by Consumers for Peace - -
with the advice of Karen Parker, noted lawyer in human rights and humanitarian law. Ms. Parker is President of the San-Francisco-based Association of Humanitarian Lawyers and Chief Delegate to the United Nations for the Los Angeles-based International Educational Development/Humanitarian Law Project (IED/AHL), an accredited non-governmental organization on the U.N. Secretary-General’s list.

Endorsements from the forward:
Howard Zinn, a historian, playwright, and social activist, is perhaps best known for A People’s History of the United States, which presents American history through the eyes of those he feels are outside of the political and economic establishment. He writes:

This report on the war crimes of the current administration is an invaluable resource, with a meticulous presentation of the evidence and an astute examination of international law.

Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Non-Violence and three-time Noble Peace Prize nominee, has visited Iraq 28 times in the last 15 years. She writes:

“After spending four days in the fortified and secure Green Zone, in Iraq, during September ’06, former Secretary of State James Baker III assured that the investigative panel he led had not spent any time “wringing our hands over what mistakes might or might not have been created in the past.” (NYT, September 20, 2006). The “Consumers for Peace” report on war crimes committed in Iraq helps us understand our responsibility not to wring our hands but rather to demand accountability from elected representatives by delivering this report to them and to local media. How many people killed? How many families torn apart? How many homes destroyed? How many livelihoods gone? How many lives ruined? How many cities sacrificed? We bear responsibility to end the war in Iraq, insist on just reparations for suffering caused, and promote careful, legal scrutiny of the crimes committed. This report beckons all who read it to stop collaborating with illegal, immoral warmongers who recklessly afflict Iraq.”

Dahr Jamail, noted independent journalist who spent more than eight months reporting from occupied Iraq, writes the following about the report:

“I cannot endorse strongly enough this report prepared by Karen Parker regarding U.S. war crimes in Iraq. Having witnessed much of what is so well documented in this report, it is a clear and encompassing indictment of the Bush Administration for the war crimes they are directly responsible for in Iraq. Until evidence such as this begins to see the light of day in a court of law and the perpetrators brought to justice, the world remains unsafe and unstable from an administration determined to rule the world. After witnessing what they are capable of in Iraq, I have no doubt these people will not stop in their quest for world domination. Instead, they must be stopped. And the only way to do that is bring the guilty to justice. This document will help achieve that goal.”

Neil MacKay, multi-award winning Home Affairs and Investigations Editor of the Sunday Herald (Scotland), writes:

“What has happened in Iraq is a great sin and a great crime. The invasion and occupation have stained the concepts of democracy, freedom and liberty; and disgraced the good name of the people of both the United States of America and Great Britain. As a journalist who has investigated the roots of this war, and the on-going horror of what is happening in Iraq, I fully commend this report to readers. It is an important reminder of the blood which is on the hands of our leaders, and the shame that the governments of the UK and the USA have brought to the British and American people by perpetrating a criminal war in our name.”

Ann Wright, 29 year US Army veteran who retired as a Colonel and US diplomat who resigned in March, 2003 in opposition to the war in Iraq commented on the War Crimes Report:

“While in the US Army at Ft Bragg, NC, I taught to US military officers and non-commissioned officers the responsibilities of military forces under the Geneva Convention and the Law of Land Warfare, as well as the obligations of an Occupying Power.

The War Crimes Report is an extraordinarily comprehensive and important presentation of international law that governs the conduct of nations and their military forces. The Report documents the blatant violations of international and domestic law by the Bush administration and US military forces including the use of illegal military tactics and illegal weapons.

Because of a huge media failure in the United States, many Americans do not realize how many times the Bush administration has violated international law. But, the rest of the world knows very well the extent of these crimes.

As a retired military officer, I know that accountability is one of the foundation elements of the US military. The Bush administration has undercut the professionalism of our military forces by encouraging and condoning the violation of international and domestic war in treatment of detainees, torture and use of illegal tactics and weapons. For the sake of our own military we must demand accountability from civilian leaders, as well as our military forces. This report provides specific mechanisms for much-needed accountability of criminal behaviour by Bush administration policy makers and by US military forces.”

Charles Jenks, human rights attorney (1981), Past President of Traprock Peace Center (1998-2005) and Chair of its Advisory Board, and consultant to Consumers for Peace writes:
This war crimes report accurately and succinctly states the case that US officials in the Executive Branch and military have committed grievous war crimes in Iraq. Of course, this is not to say that US culpability stops at the Executive Branch and military. It was the US Congress that authorized the Bush Administration to go to war against Iraq and that has funded the war through every request made by the Executive Branch.

In addition to the fact that this was an illegal war to begin with, the war has been conducted in myriad ways that violate international humanitarian law, including the use of uranium munitions, chemical weapons (white phosphorus), cluster bombs, torture, the indiscriminate killing of civilians and laying waste to cities and the land.

No treatment of crimes, criminals or atrocities could completely describe the wrongs of this tragic conflict. This war crimes report strikes a balance. It manages to be concise at 37 pages, yet has sufficient scope, factual detail and exposition on the law to be useful in both considering the war crimes committed, and the grounds and theories of prosecution for those crimes. Further, it is a treasure trove of resources, with 120 notes and references.

Consumers for Peace

Professor says America seeks Afghanistan Oil Deal

Saturday 20. Jan 2007

Is Stephen Harper's Conservative minority government supporting another Oil War? This would yield enormous profits for greed-driven investors, and the atmosphere will continue to dangerously heat from the increasing use of those fossil fuels.

by David Michael Smith

In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President Bush declared that the United States would launch a "War on Terrorism." In early October, U.S. airplanes began bombing Afghanistan and providing assistance to the Northern Alliance and other groups opposed to the Taliban regime. Within a few months, U.S. troops and their Afghan allies had succeeded in ousting the Taliban and installing a new regime. Although Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants apparently escaped, U.S. officials proclaimed that a significant blow had been dealt to the al-Qa'ida network.

Traumatized and outraged by the horrific events of September 11, the majority of Americans supported the war in Afghanistan. Most people believed the U.S. Commander-in-Chief when he said that the replacement of the Taliban regime was required to safeguard our country against another catastrophic attack by al-Qa'ida forces. Even Princeton Professor Richard Falk, a longtime anti-war activist, wrote in The Nation ("Defining a Just War," Oct. 29, 2001) that the war in Afghanistan was "the first truly just war since World War II." But was it?

Since last October, thousands of people have participated in anti-war rallies, marches, and teach-ins in New York City, Washington, San Francisco, Houston, and other cities. People opposed to the war have made clear that they condemn the atrocity of September 11. But they also condemn the U.S. role in the deaths of thousands of Afghan people who had nothing to do with the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

In the British Guardian ("The innocent dead in a coward's war," Dec. 20, 2001), journalist Seumas Milne estimated that about ten thousand Afghan soldiers may have died in the war and cited University of New Hampshire Professor Marc Herold's estimate that about four thousand civilians have also died.

Moreover, anti-war activists and progressive writers argue that the war in Afghanistan has been, in large part, another "oil war." The September 11 attacks provided a compelling pretext for military action against the al-Qa'ida forces in Afghanistan. But a growing body of research by journalists and scholars reveals that the Bush Administration's decision in favour of a regime change and all-out war in Afghanistan was significantly influenced by the desire to install a new government that would be more sympathetic to U.S. economic interests in Central Asia.

Has Prime Minister Harper risked the lives of Canadians for an "Oil War" in Afghanistan under the guise of a "War on Terrorism"?

Although Afghanistan itself has no significant oil or natural gas reserves, it is strategically located in a region which does. As Eric Margolis observed in the Toronto Sun ("The U.S. is Determined to Dominate the World's Richest New Source," Jan. 13, 2002), Central Asia's Caspian Basin, over which sit the former Soviet states of Uzbekistan, Tajikstan, Kyrgystan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, is the world's "richest new source of oil." In the Jurist ("The Deadly Pipeline War," Dec. 8, 2001), Marjorie Cohn noted that some analysts have estimated the potential value of Caspian oil and natural gas reserves at four trillion dollars. Phil Gasper recalled in the Socialist Worker ("The Politics of Oil," Jan. 25, 2002) that the Middle East Economic Digest editors have described Central Asia as "the Middle East of the twenty-first century."

Even if this latter projection proves overly optimistic, Martha Hamilton concluded in a Washington Post article ("The Last Great Race For Oil Reserves," April 26, 1998) that the "largely untapped subterranean treasure" in the Caspian Basin may be "the third-largest reserve in the world, after the Persian Gulf and Siberia."

This planned pipeline would carry $3-5 trillion in oil and natural gas from the Caspian Sea basin via Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, where ships docked in Arabian Sea ports.

As Hamilton wrote, "The possibility of bringing those huge energy reserves to market has touched off a scramble by international oil and gas companies to get in on what may be one of the world's last great energy plays." As Cohn pointed out in "The Deadly Pipeline War," Dick Cheney, then chief executive officer of the energy company Halliburton, told a meeting of oil industry leaders in 1998: "I can't think of a time when we've had a region emerge as suddenly to become as strategically significant as the Caspian."

U.S. government officials and energy company executives have been anxious to exploit what Daniel Yergin, renowned energy expert and author of The Prize (1993), has called "the number-one prize in world oil." However, the transportation of oil and natural gas extracted from the region has posed a serious challenge for them. The Caspian Pipeline Consortium, led by the Chevron Corporation, opened a new oil pipeline from Kazakhstan to Russia in October, 2001. But, as George Monbiot reported in the Guardian ("America's pipe dream," Oct. 23, 2001), policymakers in Washington have generally opposed the construction of pipelines through Russia or Iran. This is why U.S. energy companies and government officials have been so interested in Afghanistan. As Ahmed Rashid explained in his book, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil, and Fundamentalism in Central Asia (2001), U.S. policy toward Afghanistan during the past decade has been largely driven by corporate interests in the region's resources. Rashid noted that in 1995, the California-based UNOCAL Corporation began negotiating with the government of Turkmenistan to build oil and gas pipelines from that country through Afghanistan to Pakistani ports on the Arabian Sea. Soon after the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in 1996, UNOCAL executives initiated discussions with them in order to secure the pipeline agreement.

According to Rashid, the Taliban's religious fundamentalism and harsh repression precluded normal diplomatic relations at the time but did not pose an insurmountable obstacle to a potential business deal. Strikingly, neither did the relocation of Osama bin Laden and numerous al-Qa'ida fighters to Afghanistan in 1996 and 1997. As Rashid recounted, UNOCAL Vice President Marty Miller and other company executives even wined and dined Taliban representatives in Houston in November 1997. Mullah Mohammed Ghaus and his Afghan colleagues stayed at an expensive hotel and visited the Houston Zoo and the NASA Space Center during their visit. Miller offered the Taliban representatives a lucrative contract and thought a formal agreement was imminent.

The Clinton Administration quietly supported UNOCAL's efforts, but these negotiations eventually failed. Taliban leaders finally decided against the pipeline deal, and Washington's willingness to do business with them ended after the al-Qa'ida bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. President Clinton ordered cruise missile attacks on al-Qa'ida training camps in Afghanistan and even authorized efforts to assassinate bin Laden. At the same time, the U.S. tried to persuade Taliban officials to surrender bin Laden. As Monbiot has noted, notwithstanding these developments, U.S. business executives and government officials remained deeply interested in the potential of oil and gas pipelines through Afghanistan.

In May 2001, the mainstream media widely reported that the new U.S. Bush Administration had awarded the Taliban regime forty-two million dollars to support the eradication of opium production in Afghanistan. Less well known is the fact that, shortly after taking office, the Bush Administration had quietly resumed negotiations with the Taliban. In an important new book, Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth (2001), French authors Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie have revealed that the Bush Administration worked long and hard to "decouple" bin Laden from the Taliban and lay the foundations for U.S. diplomatic recognition and pipelines for oil and natural gas.

Brisard and Dasquie have drawn on numerous sources, including discussions with John O'Neill, the former FBI Deputy Director who retired in July 2001. Ironically, O'Neill then became security director for the World Trade Center, where he died in the September 11 attacks. According to the authors, O'Neill resigned from the FBI because the State Department had continually blocked his investigation into al-Qa'ida's roots in Saudi Arabia. The authors report that O'Neill bitterly complained about the ability of the U.S. oil companies and their State Department allies to thwart an investigation that might offend the Saudi royal family and jeopardize U.S. economic interests in that country.

Brisard and Dasquie's account of the negotiations between the Bush Administration and the Taliban between February and August 2001, provides a helpful framework for understanding the eventual U.S. decision to topple the Afghan regime after the tragedy of September 11. The authors have explained that Washington saw the Taliban as a potential partner who could provide stability in Afghanistan and benefit from the construction of pipelines by U.S. corporations. But, in a series of meetings in Washington, Islamabad, and Berlin, U.S. officials demanded that the Taliban surrender bin Laden and invite other Afghan political forces to join their government.

When the Taliban equivocated over and eventually refused these demands, U.S. officials threatened to take military action against them. As Brisard revealed in an interview in Paris, at one point in the negotiations, these officials told the Taliban, "Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs." As Jonathan Steele and his colleagues reported in the Guardian ("Threat of US strikes passed to Taliban weeks before NY attack," Sept. 22, 2001), U.S. representatives told Russian, Iranian, and Pakistani diplomats at a mid-July meeting in Berlin that Washington was seriously contemplating this option. Although these U.S. officials have since denied making such a threat, former Pakistan Foreign Minister Niaz Naik, who was present at the meeting, confirmed their remarks in an interview with the Guardian reporters. Is it a coincidence that the deadliest terrorist attacks in U.S. history occurred just several weeks after negotiations with the Taliban broke down? Perhaps. But Brisard and Dasquie have speculated that the prospect of U.S. military action against Afghanistan may have led bin Laden to approve the massive assault on New York City and Washington. Similarly, Steele and his colleagues have raised the possibility that bin Laden "was launching a preemptive strike in response to what he saw as U.S. threats." Other analysts have suggested that bin Laden may have authorized such a "preemptive strike" because he feared that the Taliban might finally accede to Washington's demands and try to force him to leave Afghanistan.

Although such speculation cannot be confirmed, it seems clear that long-standing U.S. economic interests in pipeline construction played a major role in the U.S. government's decision in favor of a regime change and all-out war in Afghanistan. Notably, as Shaun Casey emphasized in the Boston Globe ("Ethics of This War Have Yet to be Spelled Out," Oct. 11, 2001) and Stephen Zunes pointed out in the San Jose Mercury News (" U.S. Military Response is Wrong -- And It Won't Work," Oct. 12, 2001), there has never been any evidence of the Taliban regime's involvement in the attacks on the U.S. As John Pilger remarked in the British Daily Mirror ("Hidden Agenda Behind War on Terror," Oct. 29, 2001), the Bush Administration knew well before the Pentagon's first bombs began falling on Afghanistan that the attacks of September 11 were planned in Britain and the United States, and that none of the actual perpetrators were Afghan nationals.

As Howard Zinn observed in The Progressive ("A Just Cause, Not a Just War," December 2001), the U.S. government rejected the alternative of turning to international law, diplomacy, and limited multinational military action in order to bring al-Qa'ida forces to justice. As Zinn has noted, the U.S. government also rejected the Taliban regime's offer to surrender bin Laden for trial in a third country after receiving evidence of his involvement in the September 11 atrocity. As Phil Gasper wrote in the International Socialist Review ("Afghanistan, the CIA, bin Laden, and the Taliban," November-December 2001), the Bush Administration's refusal to seriously consider these options revealed that the overthrow of the Taliban and the installation of a new, more business-friendly regime had already been designated as primary objectives of the impending war. In his book Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict (2002), Professor Michael Klare of Hampshire College has acknowledged that one purpose of "Operation Enduring Freedom" was to "capture and punish those responsible for the September 11 attacks." But Klare has explained that a second objective was "to consolidate U.S. power in the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea area, and to ensure continued flow of oil." As Klare has emphasized, while this latter objective "may get far less public attention than the first, this does not mean it is any less important."

In a report released just days before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the U.S. Energy Information Administration described Afghanistan as a significant "potential transit route for oil and natural gas exports from Central Asia to the Arabian Sea." However, the report noted that the potential construction of oil and natural gas pipelines has "been undermined by Afghanistan's instability." As Monbiot has written, "Given that the U.S. government is dominated by former oil industry executives, we would be foolish to suppose that such plans no longer figure in its strategic thinking." Indeed, the way in which the Bush Administration sought to "capture and punish" the al-Qa'ida forces in Afghanistan was significantly influenced by its commitment to promoting U.S. economic interests and power in the region.

Gore Vidal argues in his book entitled, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace (2002), that the drive for profits and power are central to the Bush Administration's so-called "War on Terrorism." Vidal writes, "We need Afghanistan because it's the gateway to Central Asia, which is full of oil and natural gas... That's what it's all about. We are establishing our control over Central Asia."

Many Americans may not want to believe that such economic motives could play so important a role in U.S. foreign policy. But developments in the aftermath of the war in Afghanistan make it difficult to deny journalists Jim Hightower and Phillip Frazer's observation that "War is politics by other means, and politics is business, and oil is very big business."

As Hightower and Frazer concluded in their book The Hightower Lowdown (January, 2002), the tragedy of September 11 and the subsequent war in Afghanistan "put the U.S. pipeline plans back on track." Hightower and Frazer cited a remarkable article in the Pakistani Frontier Post (Oct. 10, 2001). This article reported that, though the U.S. war against the Taliban had barely begun, U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlain had already informed the Pakistan government that, "in view of recent geopolitical developments," the negotiations for a pipeline through Afghanistan would be revived.

After the Taliban regime collapsed, the Bush Administration hand-picked Hamid Karzai to head the new Afghan government and named Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan-American, as its new special envoy to the Karzai government. As Richard Neville pointed out in the Australian Sydney Morning Herald ("Beyond Good and Evil," April 15, 2002), both Karzai and Khalilzad are former consultants to UNOCAL. Eric Margolis has disclosed in the Toronto Sun ("America's New War: A Progress Report," Dec. 9, 2001) that Karzai is also a former "asset" for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. As Salim Muwakkil wrote in the Chicago Tribune ("Pipeline Politics Taint U.S. War," March 18, 2002), the "rise to power" of these two former UNOCAL employees will "make things even smoother" for the resumption of the pipeline project in Afghanistan. As Daniel Fisher reported in Forbes Magazine (Feb. 4, 2002), "It has been called the pipeline from hell, to hell, through hell" but "now, with the collapse of the Taliban, oil executives are suddenly talking again about building it." To be sure, the giant U.S. energy corporations are unlikely to make major investments in the project until the new Afghan regime proves able to suppress the outbreaks of violence among the various warlords' forces and any military challenge from resurgent Taliban fighters. This is certainly one reason why U.S. and British troops in Afghanistan are struggling to piece together a viable Afghan national army that can defend the new regime.

In the meantime, Karzai has already made clear that his government fully intends to work closely with neighboring countries and U.S. oil companies to reap the immense profits from the transport of Caspian Basin oil and natural gas. On Feb. 8, 2002, Karzai visited Pakistan and joined with General Pervez Musharraf in pledging "mutual brotherly relations" and cooperation "in all spheres of activity." As the Irish Times reported on Feb. 11, 2002, Karzai announced that he and Musharraf had discussed the proposed Central Asian pipeline project "and agreed that it was in the interest of both countries."

The mounting U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries may enable Chevron, Exxon-Mobil, UNOCAL, and other giant corporations to lay claim to "the number-one prize in world oil." But the extension of U.S. military power and economic domination into this region comes with very grave risks. As hundreds of millions of people in Central Asia and the Middle East watch their oil and natural gas being extracted and transported for the profit of Western companies, the prospects for a massive, violent backlash against the U.S. and its client regimes are likely to grow. As horrific as the September 11 attacks were, they may only be the beginning.

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About the Author:

David Michael Smith is a professor of government at the College of the Mainland in Texas City, Texas , in the United States.

Was Iraq War a `Blunder' or Was It Treason?

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dave Lindorff

New Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), is calling President Bush's invasion of Iraq a "stark blunder" and says that his new scheme to send 21,500 more troops into the mess he created is just digging the hole deeper.

I wonder though.

It seems ever more likely to me that this whole mess was no blunder at all.

People are wont to attribute the whole thing to lack of intelligence on the president's part, and to hubris on the part of his key advisers. I won't argue that the president is a lightweight in the intellect department, nor will I dispute that Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and that whole neocon gang have demonstrably lacked the virtues of reflection and humility. But that said, I suspect that the real story of the Iraq War is that Bush and his gang never really cared whether they actually would "win" in Iraq. In fact, arguably, they didn't really want to win.

What they wanted was a war.

If the war they started had ended quickly with the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, that would have served their purposes, at least for the short term. Bush would have emerged from a short invasion and conquest a national hero, would have handily won re-election in 2004, and would have gone on to a second term as a landslide victor. But if it went badly, as it has, they figured he would still come out ahead. He would be a wartime president, and he'd make full use of that role, expansively misdefining his "commander in chief" title to imply authority over the Congress and the courts, to grab power heretofore unheard of for a president.

This, I suspect, was the grand strategy underlying the attack on Iraq.

If I'm right, there may have been method to the madness of not building up enough troops for the invasion to insure that U.S. forces could occupy a destroyed Iraq and help it rebuild, method to the madness of allowing looters free sway to destroy the country's remaining post-invasion infrastructure, method to the madness, even, of allowing remnant forces of Hussein's to gather up stockpiles of weapons and even of high-density explosives, so they could mount an effective resistance and drag out the conflict.

So many apparently stupid decisions were made by people who should clearly have been too smart to make them, from leaving hundreds of tons of high explosives unguarded to cashiering all of Iraq's army and most of the country's civil service managers, that it boggles the mind to think that these could have been just dumb ideas or incompetence. (L. Paul Bremer, for instance, who made the "dumb" decision about dismantelling the Iraqi army, prior to becoming Iraq's occupation viceroy, had headed the nation's leading risk assessment consultancy, and surely knew what all the risks were of his various decisions.)

I mean, we expect a measure of idiocy from or elected leaders and their appointees, but not wholesale idiocy!

This disaster has been so colossal, it almost had to have been orchestrated.

If that's the case, Congress should be taking a hard look at not just the latest installment of escalation, but at the whole war project, beginning with the 2002 campaign to get it going. Certainly throwing 21,500 new troops into the fire makes no sense whatever. If 140,000 of the best-equipped troops in the world can't pacify Iraq, 160,000 aren't going to be able to do it either. You don't need to be a general to figure that out. Even a senator or representative ought to be able to do it. So clearly Congress should kill this plan.

Since it's not about "winning" the war, it has to be about something else. My guess would be it's about either dragging things out until the end of 2008, so Bush can leave office without having to say he's sorry. But of course, it could also be about something even more serious: invading Iran.

We know Bush is trying mightily to provoke Iran. He has illegally attacked an Iranian consulate in Iraq (an act of war), taking six protected consular officials there captive. He is sending a second aircraft carrier battle group into the Persian Gulf, and is setting up Patriot anti-missile missile bases along Iran's western border. This buildup has all the earmarks of a pre-invasion. All that's needed now is a pretext--a real or faked attack on an American ship, perhaps, ala the Gulf of Tonkin "incident" that launched America into the Vietnam War.

The way I see it, either way the president is committing treason, because he is sending American troops off to be killed for no good reason other than for aggrandizing power he shouldn’t have, and/or simply covering his own political ass.

Treason is the number one impeachable crime under the Constitution, and we're at a point where Congress is going to have to act or go down in history as having acquiesced in the worst presidential crime in the history of the nation.

12:01 pm pst

The Authoritarians

John Dean consulted Altemeyer for his newest book.
The Demise of Conservatism, and The Rise of Authoritarianism: A Review of John Dean's Conservatives Without Conscience
FindLaw's Writ - John Dean
Bob Altemeyer's - The Authoritarians

Introduction (Pdf version)

Chapter 1 - 01/15/2007 (PDF version)
Chapter 2 - 01/22/2007

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