Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Attack against Iran to Trigger Terror Tsunami - Report


World in Brief: 5 February 2007, Monday.

Military action against Iran would be disastrous, warns a British alliance report as tensions between Washington and Iran are escalating. In the report, entitled Time to Talk: The Case for Diplomatic Solutions on Iran, the alliance of charities, faith groups and other organisations argue that the Government should be trying to secure face-to-face talks between the US and Iran. "Military action is not likely to be a short, sharp engagement but could have a profound effect on the region, with shock waves felt far beyond," the report says, as cited by the Guardian. The report warns that military action could further destabilise the region and provoke retaliatory attacks against British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. It could also undermine the war on terror by fuelling anti-western sentiments, while strikes against nuclear facilities risks unleashing radioactive contamination. Other signatories to the report include charities Oxfam, the Unison, GMB and Amicus unions, the Muslim Parliament and Christian Solidarity Worldwide.

Editor's note: Also see new articles at the other blog

The other blog.

The Great Dollar Crash of ‘07

Feb 6, 2007

By Mike Whitney

The massive equity bubbles which arose from artificially low interest rates and the deliberate destruction of the dollar by reckless increases in the money supply have shifted trillions of dollars from working class Americans to the predatory aristocrats at the top of the economic food chain. The gulf between rich and poor has grown so wide that it now poses a direct threat to our increasingly fragile democracy.

“Whatever future developments may prove to be, my best guess is that the US will continue to maintain a fa├žade of Constitutional government and drift along until financial bankruptcy overtakes it.” Chalmers Johnson, “Empire V. Democracy: Why Nemesis is at our Door”

02/06/07 "ICHBlog" -- - Every time a US Dollar is traded, a check is issued on an account that is overdrawn by $8.6 trillion. (That is the present size of the national debt) It is, without question, the biggest swindle in history. Flimsy sheets of faded-green scrip are eagerly exchanged for costly goods and services without any regard for the real value of the currency.

And, the real value of the currency is absolutely nothing!

How is it that this scam persists when people appear to be aware of the massive debt and deficits which underwrite the dollar? Do they still believe in that puerile fairy tale about “the full faith and credit” of the United States backing up every greenback? Or are they pacified by the wizened graybeards, like Alan Greenspan and Hank Paulson, who soothingly bray about the “strong dollar policy”?

What gibberish.

In truth, the dollar rests on the crumbling foundation of consumerism and oil. The American consumer’s gluttonous appetite for spending has kept the greenback flying high for decades. Economists marvel at America’s lust for electronic gadgetry, the latest fashions, and useless knick-knacks. They call our profligate spending “the engine for global growth”; and indeed it is. No other country in the world is nearly as addicted to binge-spending as the US consumer. As long as he can beg, borrow or steal his way into the shopping mall; the orgy of spending is bound to continue. (Consumer spending is 70% of GDP)

Regrettably, there are signs that the US consumer is beginning to buckle from the weight of personal debt. The Associated Press reported just this week that “people are saving at the slowest rate since the Great Depression… and the Commerce Dept stated that the nation’s personal savings rate for 2006 was a negative 1%, the worst showing in 73 years.”

Additionally, credit card debt has skyrocketed, which is an indication that homeowners are no longer able to siphon easy-money from their home-equity. The nose-diving real estate market has slowed refinancing to a dribble; cutting off the additional $825 billion of cash which was extracted from home-equity just last year.

Clearly, the well is running dry; the housing bubble is hang-gliding into the abyss and there’s nothing Fed-master Bernanke can do to save it from its inevitable crash-landing.

The central banks around the world are now watching for any sign that the American consumer is about to give up the ghost. As soon as that happens, bank managers everywhere will swing into action, ditch their U.S.Dollars and head for the exits. When the “global engine” sputters to a halt; it’ll be curtains for the greenback.

The Oil-extortion Racket

The dollar’s link to oil has helped to keep it afloat but, in truth, it’s just another dismal rip-off. More than 70% of the world’s oil is denominated in USD; a virtual monopoly for the USA. Until last year, even Russia was using dollars in its oil transactions with Germany. Imagine a comparable deal, like the US purchasing oil from Canada in rubles?!?

It’s lunacy; and yet this is the system the US hopes to preserve so it can maintain its unique status as the world’s “reserve currency” and keep expanding its debt into perpetuity. It explains why the Federal Reserve has been able to increase the money supply by a whopping 15% for the last 6 years! Trillions of dollars are now circulating in the oil trade keeping the value of the dollar high by creating artificial demand.

The other reason the dollar hasn’t succumbed to hyperinflation is because the current account deficit is running at roughly $800 billion per year. The Asian giants (China and Japan) and the oil exporting countries are mopping up more than $700 billion of our red ink every year!

The dollar’s link to oil forces central banks to maintain humongous stockpiles of USD to pay the steadily rising price of oil that keeps their industries and vehicles running. Otherwise they would have chucked the flaccid greenback years ago and converted to the more steadfast euro.


The so-called ‘global economic system’ has nothing to do with competition, free markets or private enterprise; that’s just public relations gobbledygook. In practice, it is the world’s biggest extortion racket, wherein, the “Godfather”-- Uncle Sam-- holds a gun to the heads of his subjects and forces them to use our fiat-paper to purchase the oil that lubricates their economies.

Why would anyone accept a personal check from a nation that owes the bank more than $8.6 trillion dollars?

Why, indeed?

It’s blackmail, pure and simple; and yet, the Chinese, Japanese etc. continue to play along knowing full-well that we neither have the inclination nor the resources to pay them back in kind?

It’s madness.

Every so often, a rebel nation will try to break the shackle of greenback-tyranny and operate outside the US-run system?

For example, Saddam Hussein switched to euros 6 months before he was carpet-bombed in Shock and Awe. His defiance only hastened his ultimate downfall.

Now Iran and Venezuela are threatening to convert to euros. Is it any surprise that they are both on Bush’s axis-of-evil hit list?

Russia has already made the conversion to euros and rubles (and has considerably depleted his supplies of USD) but, of course, regime change is more difficult when a state has nuclear weapons. Instead, the mainstream media is conducting an impressive “Swift Boat” campaign against Putin, smearing him as a “Russian autocrat” who is “rolling back democracy”. At the same time, the Bush administration is threatening to deploy missile systems in Eastern Europe and ratcheting up the pressure in the former Soviet republics.

Bush would rather restart the Cold War than abandon the supremacy of the greenback.

But, why? Is Dollar-primacy really that crucial to our economy?

The greenback is the baling wire that keeps the global economy in the hands of the doddering old misers at the Federal Reserve. It’s the cornerstone of the whole wretched system; a system which now includes torture, extraordinary rendition, and myriad other war crimes.

The young Muslim men who are abducted off the streets of Europe and Asia and taken to CIA Black Sites where they are waterboarded or stacked in naked pyramids; are tortured in defense of the crumpled piece of green paper we carry in our pants pockets.

Think I’m kidding?

Just look at Bush’s budget for 2007-2008; $700 billion for foreign wars?!? There’s no way the US can pay off that debt through the normal means of increasing exports. In fact, Bush has already said that he plans to preserve his unfunded tax cuts whether they produce massive deficits or not.

What Bush plans to do is force the foreign central banks to hold more dollar-based assets, thus, thrusting our gigantic debt onto our trading partners. According to Bob Chapman of The International Forecaster, “US debt was up 10.1% to $4.085 trillion and accounts for 58.8% OF ALL THE CREDIT ISSUED GLOBALLY LAST YEAR. The US is producing more debt than the rest of the world combined.

As long as foreign lenders are willing to take our paper, Bush will keep expanding our debt. As Chalmers Johnson opined, “We are dependent on ‘the kindness of strangers’”. (The Blanche Dubois economy)

Of course, if the central banks grow tired of this pyramid-scheme and dump the dollar; the world can get on with the business of addressing global warming, poverty, AIDs, Peak Oil, nuclear proliferation etc. That won’t happen as long as the dollar reigns supreme and a small cadre of unelected racketeers at the Fed continue Gerry-rig the system.

Economic justice and equitable distribution of wealth begin with greater parity among the currencies. That requires “regime change” for the greenback and a loosening of its tyrannical grip on the system.

Sleepwalking in the Weimar U.S.A.

The good news is that the Bush administration is pushing the dollar towards extinction anyway. Another few years of $800 billion trade deficits, lavish unfunded tax cuts for the mega-rich, and a Pentagon budget of $700 billion-plus; and the old greenback will be going the way of the Dodo. Jim Willie of GoldenJackass.com summarized it this way:

“Never in the history of central bankers has the hidden coordination, influenced pressure, gargantuan money creation, doctored statistics, and interference with financial markets been so broad, so deep, and so profound. My allegation is clear, that we now live in Weimar times, as has been warned for two years worth of scribbles. Collectively, they have abused the privilege of printing money, and in doing so, have guaranteed a gold bull market. … The more heavily the counterfeit press dispenses electronic dollars, devoted to operations, to credit, to consumer spending, to military adventures, to good old fashioned fraud, the gold bull benefits from ample new oxygen and blood flow”.

Willie is right; the system is rotten to the core. Once the dollar crashes, other currencies rush in to fill the void generating greater competition between the energy and manufacturing giants. A new paradigm will emerge distributing power more equitably among the states. It’s a way to resuscitate a system that is currently held together through force of arms.

Besides, how long will China and Japan continue to abet Washington’s war-mongering adventurism? My guess is that the daggers have already been sharpened in Beijing, Caracas, Delhi and Moscow. Everyone is just waiting for Bush to cross that invisible line in the sand before they fling their greenbacks into the jet-stream and wait for Goliath to tumble.

That “invisible line in the sand” is Iran.

The world is at a crossroads and everyone who can fog a mirror knows it. The superpower model of global governance has failed miserably. We need more responsible stewardship of the planet and its resources.

How can we build our economies when a handful of western plutocrats control the spigot for quickly dwindling oil reserves? How can we attack climate change when those same blinkered reprobates employ pseudo-scientists to dispute global warming? How can we address nuclear proliferation when neocon militarists believe in “useable” low-yield, bunker-busting warheads?

The model is hopelessly shattered. We’d be better off boarding-up the White House and the Federal Reserve and starting from Square One.

The world needs a break from Washington’s wasteful spending and unprovoked wars. At the same time, foreign creditors are increasingly reluctant to keep financing America’s extravagant consumption. And, no one is hoodwinked by Bush’s “war on terror” scam; a conflict that was clearly concocted to assert control over the world’s remaining resources.

The world is realigning according to mutual interests and a shared vision of the future. The rise of energy alliances in Latin America and Asia (particularly the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which now controls most new oil deposits and output) signals the waning of western influence and the ascendancy of a new energy paradigm. Power is progressively shifting away from Washington.

That’s bad news for the greenback which depends on its linkage to oil to sustain its enormous debt.

The dollar now faces challenges from all directions. Western elites have savaged the country’s economic base by hollowing out our manufacturing base in order to destroy the American labor movement.

Free trade has transformed the US into the biggest creditor nation in history. The country exports nothing but bombs and misery.

Also, as Congressman Ron Paul notes, “Most knowledgeable people assume that inflation of the money supply is not only going to continue, but accelerate. This anticipation, plus the fact that many new dollars have been created over the past 15 years that have not been fully discounted, guarantees the further depreciation of the dollar.”

Eventually, the markets will catch on, foreign lenders will stop buying our Treasuries, and the dollar will fall through the floor.

The laws of gravity apply to economics as well as science.

Red flags are going up everywhere. China’s central bank issued a warning in December about the risks of the weakening dollar:

“If external capital stops flowing into the US, a significant drop in the dollar may occur with consumption and investment shrinking, interest rates rising, and financial markets experiencing turbulence, endangering global financial and economic stability. There could be adjustments to how European private capital, Asian foreign exchange reserves and oil export proceeds are invested.”

Yes, of course, a complete economic meltdown with capital fleeing the United States to foreign countries and the American economy collapsing in a heap.

The Chinese central bank statement adds:

“If the US current account deficit continues to grow faster than GDP, then the investment value of US assets may be subject to doubts and challenges and the willingness of investors to continue holding and buying US financial products may weaken. This could cause changes in capital flows, the exchange rates of major currencies, and the value of foreign exchange assets.”

The Chinese bank is giving the Bush Team a chapter out of Econ. 101: “If you keep spending more than you are taking in; the stock market will fall, the dollar will plummet, and the US economy will tank”.

What could be clearer than that?

The administration, however, chooses to ignore the basic laws of economics and pursue a madcap plan to wage aggressive war across the planet and pilfer the world’s oil reserves.

So far, the results have been less than reassuring.

The Decline of U.S. Sovereignty; blame it on the Fed

The United States set off on the road to perdition when it transferred the power to create money to the privately-owned Federal Reserve. It’s been downhill ever since.

The man who can set interest rates and create money is more powerful than the man who can move armies and change laws. By conferring that authority on the Federal Reserve we have assured that the policies that govern our economy are decided by unelected members of the ruling elite whose choices will naturally reflect the interests of their class.

The wealth gap that has opened up like a yawning chasm between rich and poor in America originated with the class-based policies of the Fed. The massive equity bubbles which arose from artificially low interest rates and the deliberate destruction of the dollar by reckless increases in the money supply have shifted trillions of dollars from working class Americans to the predatory aristocrats at the top of the economic food chain. The gulf between rich and poor has grown so wide that it now poses a direct threat to our increasingly fragile democracy. That’s why Thomas Jefferson said:

“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of our currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and the corporations that will grow up will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing of power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.”

Free people cannot control their own destiny unless they control their own currency. The Federal Reserve must be abolished.

Wrong war, wrong time

Milt Bearden
Tuesday, February 6, 2007

WASHINGTON

As the drumbeat for war with Iran grows more insistent, the search for a "casus belli" compelling enough to calm a newly assertive Congress and convince an increasingly questioning American public intensifies. Themes of justification for such a war fluctuate between fears of a nuclear-armed Tehran and the "smoking gun" of Iranian involvement in America's misadventure in Iraq.

But before Americans get sent off to a third war in a Muslim country, it is worth recalling that in the past century, no nation that has started a major war has ended up winning it. Moreover, in the last 50 years, no nationalist-based insurgency against a foreign occupation has lost — a lesson that I learned personally when, beginning in 1986, I found myself in Pakistan, managing the CIA effort to aid Afghan resistance fighters battling Soviet troops.

--MORE--

"A mythical and historical narrative"

Saturday, February 03, 2007

When Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. national security adviser, talks about the Middle East and US Foreign Policy, people ought to listen. His prognosis for the region is more than grim, its ominous and very alarming. "Testifying before the Senate foreign relations committee Thursday, Brzezinski skewered U.S. administration policy as driven by "imperial hubris" and a disaster on historic, strategic and moral grounds." [full article]

Israel prepares for Gaza massacre - report

Israel prepares for possible Gaza incursion - report

JERUSALEM: Israel has stepped up preparations for a possible military incursion into Gaza over concerns that fighting between Palestinian factions may lead to renewed attacks on Israel, a newspaper has reported.

The Haaretz daily quoted senior military sources as saying that such a raid was not an immediate possibility but part of a contingency plan in case the violence escalated further.

More than 80 Palestinians have been killed in fighting that has erupted between rival factions Fatah and Hamas after unity government talks stalled and President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah called for new elections.

The fighting continued on Saturday despite a new ceasefire deal.

Asked about the Haaretz report, Israeli Foreign Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramovitch said "there is no doubt we are in a difficult period".

He said Israel was watching the violence and was concerned at continued weapons smuggling into Gaza as well as sporadic rocket fire at Israel despite a November 26 truce.

"It is very important to us to be able to achieve dialogue rather than a military confrontation with the Palestinians. This is what Israel and the international community aim for and I hope this is the line that triumphs," Abramovitch said.

The quartet of Middle East peace negotiators on Friday reaffirmed an international aid embargo on the Hamas-ruled Palestinian government. The sanctions were imposed to pressure the militant group to renounce violence, recognise Israel and abide by interim peace deals.

The quartet, comprising the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia, also voiced "deep concern" at the continued fighting between Fatah and Hamas.

Washington has plans to expand its assistance to bolster Abbas' security forces.

Documents obtained by Reuters on Saturday show an $US86 million US programme will provide support to 8500 of Abbas' national security forces and to his nearly 4000-member presidential guard.

How Washington has helped spark chaos in Gaza, and why

Palestine, Bush's Other Civil War

Seth Ackerman

February 06, 2007

Seth Ackerman is a contributing writer to Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting. His piece for the October issue of Fair's magazine Extra!, "Mixed Signals," covers the history of misrepresentation of the Hamas government's stance towards negotiations and peaceable co-existence with Israel.

One year after Hamas won a surprise victory in the Palestinian legislative elections, Palestinian politics are in chaos and the occupied territories stand on the brink of civil war. Hamas's increasingly moderate tendencies, heavily on display early last year, have since then run into a formidable wall of obstacles—most of all, Washington and Jerusalem’s staunch refusal to accept the will of Palestine’s voters.

Hamas, then only five years old, was the most potent of the anti-Oslo groups. As Israeli settlement-building accelerated and Arafat’s corruption spread, Hamas was able to exploit growing Palestinian disillusionment with Oslo and Arafat to attract support for its Islamist politics. But ironically, the stronger Hamas grew, the less tenable its stance of uncompromising militancy became. As a political power in its own right, Hamas was now expected by Palestinians to propose solutions instead of simply undermining the old regime. Its rejection of electoral politics looked increasingly pointless and even many Islamists began to see its grisly suicide bombings as counterproductive.

The decision to participate in last year’s vote represented a major shift for a group that had previously boycotted the Palestinian political system entirely. Hamas’ political turn was accompanied by quietly adjusting its stance on the conflict to bring it into line with the Palestinian mainstream. Although Hamas would not talk to Israel, it would support talks led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. While ruling out recognizing Israel itself, in the wake of its victory Hamas declared that recognition was a question for the Palestinian people to decide, and senior Hamas officials signaled that they would accept the results of a referendum on the matter if it came with a negotiated peace agreement.

But on one point, Hamas was firm: It refused to go back to the Oslo procedure of piecemeal talks under Washington’s auspices unless the ultimate terms of a peace deal were spelled out in advance—the borders of a Palestinian state, the refugee issue, the status of Jerusalem and so on. The problem was that Washington would not allow a mere election to interfere with the system it had so painstakingly constructed since the early 1990s.

Faced with the system’s collapse, Washington set to work constructing an international firewall. It corralled the European Union and Russia (through the mechanism of the Quartet) into a policy of isolating the new Palestinian government via an aid embargo and a cutoff of diplomatic contacts. Despite being freely elected, the new Hamas government would remain a pariah until it accepted three conditions that few expected it to meet: unconditional recognition of Israel, acceptance of the Oslo agreements and a renunciation of armed action.

For Abbas’ defeated Fatah movement, the choices were stark. Its pro-Oslo stance had failed to win an independent state and the corruption of its old guard had deeply eroded its popularity. One option was to work with Hamas to force the West into recognizing the new political reality by forming a joint government and presenting the world with a united front. The alternative was to join with the Bush administration in a campaign to force Hamas out of power despite its clear electoral victory. Advisors to the indecisive Abbas pushed both options.

Through much of the spring and summer, Abbas focused his attention on the prospects for a unity government. Despite the capture of an Israeli soldier by Hamas militants in July, such an agreement seemed to be sight by September. Two factors led to the breakthrough. First, Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh agreed to accept the 2002 Arab League peace plan—which calls for recognition of Israel—as the basis for the new government. Secondly, European diplomats, fed up with Washington’s hardline stance, threatened to recognize a Palestinian unity government whether the U.S. agreed or not.

But in a private White House meeting on September 19, Bush vetoed the deal, threatening to cut off all contact with Abbas’ party if the Palestinian leader joined a government with Hamas that did not embrace the three conditions. Underscoring the extent to which Fatah had been reduced to a U.S. client regime, Abbas dutifully insisted the next day in public that any joint government would have to be based on Washington’s terms.

This was the start of the disintegration of Palestinian politics. Seeing no prospect for working with Hamas, Fatah moved closer to Washington’s plan to oust the elected government. Three weeks after Bush’s veto of the unity government, his Middle East security envoy, Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton presented a plan to arm and train Fatah militias in advance of a conflict with Hamas.

Ha’aretz reported that the administration was “certain that the sanctions against Hamas will inevitably result in a violent confrontation between Hamas and Fatah, and in such a scenario, they would prefer to strengthen the ‘good guys.’” Although desultory closed-door talks on a unity government continued, by December it was clear that no one expected them to yield an agreement. Hamas seemed to have repudiated the Arab League peace formula and Abbas was now talking openly of dissolving the parliament and calling new elections. (Whether he has the authority to do so is not clear.)

It was in this context that clashes between Fatah and Hamas militias began escalating. Last Thursday, Hamas Interior Ministry forces in Gaza interdicted a shipment of weapons from Israel destined for Fatah militias. Assassination attempts against officials of the two movements have been almost daily occurrences. Even more ominously, U.S.-allied Fatah elements seem to be trying to paint the conflict as part of a broader regional struggle between the U.S. and the Sunni client regimes on the one hand and Shiite Iran and Hezbollah and Sunni Hamas on the other. Cries of “Shia! Shia!” were heard at anti-Hamas demonstrations in recent weeks, while Fatah sources claimed (with no evidence) that Iranian weapons experts had been found at a Hamas stronghold in Gaza.

Israel has been conspicuously quiet about the turmoil, but clearly many Israeli officials see the fighting as a sign that the U.S.-Israeli strategy is paying off. Last month, Israel’s foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, once again urged Abbas not to make a deal with Hamas. As Ha’aretz reported, she warned the Palestinian leader that “should he reach a compromise with Hamas, that would send the diplomatic process into a deep freeze.”

An even clearer indication came from Israel’s muted reaction to the suicide bombing at Eilat last week, which killed three bystanders at a bakery. Hamas was uninvolved in the attack, which was carried out jointly by Islamic Jihad and an offshoot of Fatah. But, as Ha’aretz explained, Jerusalem knew better than to respond: “When Fatah and Hamas are so good at killing each other, why should Israel intervene and spur them to close ranks against the common enemy?”

But chaos in the occupied territories will only serve to torpedo the chances for peace. As civil war looms in Gaza, it looks as if the Bush administration is making good on his pledge to export his Iraq model to the rest of the Middle East.

Israel's Bomb, Iran's Pursuit of the Bomb and U.S. War Preparations

(Part One)

Posted 5 February 2007

BOOKS DISCUSSED IN THIS ARTICLE

Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan, by Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, Harvard University Press, 2005, $29.95

Five Days in August: How World War II Became a Nuclear War, by Michael D. Gordin, Princeton University Press, 2007, $24.95.

The Bomb in the Basement: How Israel Went Nuclear and What that Means for the World, by Michael Karpin, Simon & Schuster, 2006, $26.00.

Target Iran: The Truth About the White House's Plans for Regime Change, by Scott Ritter, Nation Books, 2006, $25.95.

_______________________________

PART ONE

Four years ago today, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell played a major role in persuading a gullible, stupefied and craven American news media and public - but not a cynical world - to support the Bush administration's illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq. He did so by presenting a panoply of lies, false statements and exaggerations about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda terrorists.

Four years later, as both United States and Israel prepare their populations for an illegal, immoral preventive war against Iran -- allegedly to disrupt, if not destroy, the secret nuclear weapons program that both insist (without evidence) is well under way there -- Americans might do well to avoid being duped again. Thus, they might contemplate not only the allegations against Iran, but also the sins of the United States and Israel when it comes to developing, using and brandishing their own nuclear weapons.

The sins of the United States are quite well known. Acting on the advice of Albert Einstein, who feared that Nazi Germany might obtain nuclear weapons, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized a crash program, the Manhattan Project, to develop the bombs that would be dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In Five Days in August, Michael D. Gordin asserts: "Military men in particular considered the decision to drop the bomb as a given from the moment development shaded into a deliverable weapon" [p. 11] Moreover, "By the time the Americans began to consider the potential utility of the atomic bomb, they had already for years experienced increasing brutality, bloodshed, mayhem, and dehumanization, and experienced them routinely." [pp. 7-8] Thus, the United States dropped the bombs on Japan as if they were just tactical weapons, but as part of a "'shock strategy' to compel the Japanese government to accept surrender." [p. 13].

Truman, however, soon believed otherwise. As Tsuyoshi Hasegawa writes in his meticulously researched book, Racing the Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan, "Truman had read the Magic Diplomatic Summary reporting that the atomic bomb on Hiroshima had killed 100,000 people." "He didn't like the idea of killing… 'all these kids,'" Admiral William Leahy wrote in his diary. [p 202]

Thus, on August 10, 1945 - a day after Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki and the very day that the Japanese government sent a letter to the Swiss legation to the United States government protesting the use of atomic bombs as a crime against humanity [ibid. p. 299] - "Truman announced that he had given an order to stop further atomic bombing without his authorization." [Ibid, p. 202]

In addition to Truman, the bomb quickly awed war-weary Americans, thanks, in part, to the propaganda about the technological marvel and ultimate weapon that "journalist" William Leonard Laurence aimed at both Japanese and American audiences. Not only did Americans naturally, but mistakenly, assume that the bomb was responsible for Japan's abrupt surrender, they also experienced "visions and fears of total annihilation [which] emerged almost immediately upon Japanese surrender." [Gordin, p. 131]

Actually, it was the Soviet Union's entry into the war against Japan, not the two atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki alone, that prompted Japan's surrender. According to Professor Hasegawa: "Without the Soviet entry into the war, the Japanese would have continued to fight until numerous atomic bombs, a successful allied invasion of the home islands, or continued aerial bombardments, combined with a naval blockade, rendered them incapable of doing so." [Hasegawa, p.298]

According to Hasegawa, "Americans still cling to the myth that the atomic bombs…provided the knockout punch to the Japanese government…The myth serves to justify Truman's decision and ease the collective American conscience." [Ibid, pp. 298-99] "Until his death, Truman continually came back to this question and repeatedly justified his decision, inventing a fiction that he himself later came to believe." [Ibid, p. 299]. Hasegawa might have added that America's collective conscious also was eased by a widespread faith that such an indisputable demonstration of America's technological prowess once again indicated that God had assigned the U.S. an "exceptional" role in His plans for mankind.

Thus, Americans deluded themselves twice. First, about their own guilt. Second, about the efficacy of the bomb. Which explains why, "a year after the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, U.S. strategy proposed dropping fifty atomic bombs on twenty separate Soviet cities." [Gordin, p. 130] Some (sick) Americans even advocated a preemptive nuclear strike on the Soviet Union, lest it break America's nuclear monopoly.

Additionally, as Joseph Gerson has observed: "Unlike any other nation, on more than thirty occasions since the A-bombing of Nagasaki every U.S. president has prepared or threatened to initiate first strike nuclear attacks during crises…Since 1950, the U.S. has threatened North Korea with nuclear attack at least eight times. Nearly a dozen such threats have been made during Middle East wars and crises. Since the end of the Cold War, Iraq, Iran, North Korea and Libya have been threatened with U.S. nuclear attacks. And, the 2002…Bush-Cheney Nuclear Posture Review named seven nations as primary U.S. nuclear targets: Iraq, Iran, North Korea, China, Russia, Libya and Syria." [Gerson, "Preventing Nuclear War in Korea," Znet Oct. 18, 2006]

Making matters worse, on March 15, 2005, the Department of Defense released a policy paper, "'Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations,'…which made permissible the employment of nuclear weapons by the United States preemptively, in non-nuclear environments, either to defeat overwhelming conventional opposition, or simply to assure U.S. victory." [Ritter, Target Iran, p. 179]

How such a U.S. willingness to use the bomb would discourage other countries from pursuing their own nuclear deterrent is difficult to imagine -- especially after the Bush administration's whimsical invasion of "brittle," nuke-less Iraq.

Moreover, the sole country to ever to use the bomb also continues to brandish it and upgrade it in bad faith and in violation of Article VI of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Article VI stipulates: "Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."

Yet, now, the hypocritical and reckless Bush administration is accusing Iran of deceit and lies regarding its nuclear program and has gone so far as to demand that Iran - a signatory to the NPT -- even forego rights legally available to it under the NPT. The Bush administration is being prodded by Israel, another hypocritical and rogue nuclear power that refuses to be bound by the NPT

According to Scott Ritter, writing in his recent book, Target Iran, "the conflict currently underway between the United States and Iran is, first and foremost, a conflict born in Israel. It is based upon an Israeli contention that Iran poses a threat to Israel, and defined by Israeli assertions that Iran possesses a nuclear weapons program. None of this has been shown to be true, and indeed much of the allegations made by Israel against Iran have been clearly demonstrated as being false." [p. 208]

Yet, given Israel's own dishonorable record of deceit and lies attending the building of its own bomb, everyone should readily understand why Israel's rulers today remain suspicious about Iran's nuclear program. After all, how could any Israeli possibly believe that Iran's leaders today are less dishonorable than their own leaders were?

It's that very pattern of deceit and lies behind Israel's bomb, which will be examined in Part Two of this article.


Walter C. Uhler is an independent scholar and freelance writer whose work has been published in numerous publications, including The Nation, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Journal of Military History, the Moscow Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. He also is President of the Russian-American International Studies Association (RAISA).


waltuhler@aol.com


Israel May Attack Iran, With or Without The US's Help

February 06, 2007

Liam Bailey

Like everybody on the Haaretz mailing list, I received an e-mail from them with the subject line: Stand up to Ahmadinejad. Inside was an advertising banner with the subject line above a picture of an exuberant Ahmadinejad speaking into a microphone. The banner linked to a two minute video by Aish.com.

It is really a slideshow starting with a picture of Adolf Hitler. Followed by a gruesome picture of tens of undernourished adult males, one standing, the rest lying in what I can only describe as a wall of pigeon-hole bunks. Some are peering at the camera. I assume it was taken in a liberated concentration camp. The narrator says: "Imagine you could have stopped Hitler in 1938." another wall of pigeon holes, this time much smaller filled with human skulls. "Imagine you could have stopped him, but didn't."

Showing Ahmadinejad above the quote, "Israel must be wiped off the map," the narrator announces: "Today a new Hitler is on the world stage calling for the destruction of the state of Israel." The narrator falls silent for the display of two more pictures of Ahmadinejad above the quotes: "The Zionist regime is a dried up and rotten tree which will be annihilated with one storm" and: "The Elimination of the Zionist regime will be smooth and simple."

The first quote about Israel being wiped off the map is a matter of international debate. Some analysts say Ahmadinejad has never made such a statement, that it is an intentional mistranslation by Israel or their supporters to overstate the danger from Iran. If they are right and only the latter two quotes can be accredited to Ahmadinejad, he is not alone in wanting Zionism to be eliminated, which doesn't necessarily mean exterminating Jews or obliterating Israel. In my recent interview with Israeli author and academic Ilan Pape, he said: "Israel has to be de-Zionised to a point before any genuine reconciliation can be attempted." He was talking about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Whether Ahmadinejad said "Israel must be wiped off the map" or not, the comparison to Hitler and the holocaust is a blatant misrepresentation of one of the world's most horrific acts. In 1938 the world was a different place, not least in the perception of Jews. 1938 was in an era when stereotypes were treated as fact and taught to children. Discrimination was accepted, in some cases even expected of people. Jews were stereotypically evil, greedy and devious and persecuted because of it.

When Hitler's views began emerging, for those who didn't hate Jews, such entrenched stereotypes made them indifferent. In short the Jews had no friends in the world capable of or willing to stop Hitler. Today the situation is very different.

The holocaust was a horrific and tragic occurrence. The world not even attempting to stop it pre-emptively was a disgrace. However, the world's guilt over not stopping the holocaust, even if only indirectly, led to the partitioning of Palestine for a Jewish homeland.

In its infancy Israel faced threats from the Arab countries surrounding it, who really did want to carry out a second holocaust, who really did want, and try to wipe Israel off the map. As Egypt's President announced before the Sinai war: "Egypt has decided to dispatch her heroes, the disciples of pharaoh and the sons of Islam and they will cleanse the Land of Israel....There will be no peace on Israel's border because we demand vengeance, and vengeance is Israel's death." The U.S began supporting Israel militarily in the sixties and rescued Israel from the brink of defeat by airlifting military supplies during the Yom Kippur war, the aggressors Egypt and other neighboring Arab states learned that the U.S wasn't going to let Israel be defeated.

Since then and currently Israel faces a very small threat from neighboring countries, some have signed peace accords. The others are reduced to funding internal resistance groups against Israel's occupation, none of which is anywhere near capable of wiping Israel off the map.

In any case, the developed world is a different place, an era of equal rights for all. With equal access in the media and satellites beaming different cultures to western television, stereotypes are no longer people's first reference. Persecution is a crime no matter the victim, and children are being brought up to treat everyone the same.

Let's assume Ahmadinejad does want Israel wiped off the map.

Far away from having no friends in the world, Israel is now in the "in" crowd, among the most powerful friends in the world, the U.S., U.K. and any other states wanting to stay in America's favor. With the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), perhaps the most powerful lobby in America, America's world influence and massive nuclear arsenal, Israel is one of the best protected countries in the world. If this support wasn't enough to deter anyone considering an attack, or "the destruction of Israel", the Jewish state having another of the world's largest nuclear arsenals certainly should be.

What's more Israeli officials know that there is no such "second holocaust" threat from a nuclear Iran. As Gareth Porter reported in the Electronic Intifada:

An article in the online journal of a hard-line think-tank, the Ariel Centre for Policy Research, in August 2004 revealed that "one of the options that has been considered should Iran publicly declare itself to have nuclear weapons is for Israel to put an end to what is called its policy of 'nuclear ambiguity' or 'opacity'.

The author, Shalom Freedman, said that in light of Israel's accumulation of "over 100 nuclear weapons" and its range of delivery systems for them, even if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons within a few years, the "tremendous disproportion between the strength of Israel and an emergent nuclear Iran should serve as a deterrent."

Returning to the Aish.com slideshow, after the Hitler comparisons displaying the existential threat to Israel from Iran, it goes on with yet more groundless scaremongering: "This is a war" (a war?) "not only against Israel, but against the west as well." The picture shows angry Muslims burning an American flag with the quotation. I warn the great powers [who] fan the flames of Muslim rage, [we] will annihilate them all. The narrator continues: "Iran is close to developing the technology needed to build nuclear weapons. Iran's Shahab 3 missile can carry nuclear warheads to a range of 2000km capable of reaching Europe, Israel and American forces in the Middle East."

As yet, Iran hasn't built a nuclear warhead, therefore nobody knows what size or weight it will be, and therefore nobody can speculate whether the Shahab 3 will carry it, let alone how far.

You may be wondering why Israelis would want to create mass hysteria on the basis of lies, the same reason it denies Palestinian right of return, and is building a great wall around the Jewish state... Zionism's greatest fear, Israel becoming predominantly Arab.

You may be confused, Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh explained in an interview with the Jerusalem Post, saying that under the threat from a nuclear Iran: "most Israelis would prefer not to live here; most Jews would prefer not to come here with their families; and Israelis who can live abroad will. People are not enthusiastic about being scorched." Thus the danger, Sneh elaborated, is that Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would "be able to kill the Zionist dream without pushing a button. That's why we must prevent this regime from obtaining nuclear capability at all costs."

Therefore, the fear is not over the existence of Israel, but over how Israel exists.

I suspect Washington's war planners know the existential threat is non-existent, but have their own reasons for failing to dispel the myth. America does not want allied Israel's Middle East hegemony to end, especially not in favor of an enemy as staunch as Iran.

Israel putting such weight on their lies taking hold in the world media, has guaranteed their fears will be a reality should Iran successfully enrich uranium to weapons grade. That is why you can rest assured, if diplomacy and sanctions fail to stop Iranian enrichment, Israel will attack with or without U.S help. There is a distinct possibility that the attack will involve the use of nuclear weapons, therefore Iran is more in danger of a nuclear holocaust from Israel.


Liam Bailey is a freelance writer from the U.K. He runs the War Pages blog, where you can view his expanding port-folio. You can contact him by E-mail.

The American Way of Life

February 06th 2007 Posted to General

While most Americans have no difficulty reciting the flattering components of the “American way” – the routine stuff of political speeches such as life, liberty, justice – far fewer seem willing to identify as “American” unflattering, complementary components of our national ethos.

For instance, George W. Bush claims we are a peaceful nation. He says it a lot. On military bases, to the VFW, at West Point. Of course, we are not now, nor were we ever, peaceful. Pacifists have never had an easy time with the American government, and in point, the term itself is used as pejorative. Not far behind is “passive”.

We behold the world not as a habitat suited for peaceful coexistence but as a bad neighborhood in need of control. Recent Pentagon figures (DoD Base Structure Report, FY 2006) list 2,965 military bases in all 50 states and 7 territories. In addition, it lists 766 bases in 40 foreign countries. Beyond that, we have active duty military personnel (some of it quite small) in about 150 foreign countries (DoD Personnel and Procurement Statistics, June 30, 2006). That’s not all the countries in the world. We missed some.

The DoD describes itself as one of the world’s largest “landlords”, with a physical plant consisting of more than 571,200 facilities (buildings, structures, and utilities) located on nearly 30 million acres. To give that acres figure perspective, DoD bases would fill, in entirety, the states of New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, and Hawaii.

And it’s not just land. There’s the United States Space Command. Positioning themselves as “stewards” for military space they stake out a vision to exploit the advantages of the space medium featuring this bold headline: “US Space Command – dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment . Integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict.” (Vision for 2020 Report). The term “investment” is used without apparent embarrassment. Noticeably absent are the platitudes about life, liberty, and justice.

All this has grown out of a past that ravaged red, brown, and black skin. This past century has been a rolling of imperialism and state violence to secure resources and markets to feed our economy, while at the same time snuffing out independence movements around the world before they had a chance to set a “good example”, that is, by making it on their own. Our military has won for us great national wealth and, now, unrivalled and unchallenged power.

Our “peaceful” president has taken perhaps a million Iraqi lives and limbs (counting closely is not in the national interest), and thousands of the same for Americans, and no amount of yellow ribbons will bring back a single one of them, or make a single loss worthwhile. This, we must recognize, is part of the American way. In particular, we must first recognize it if we are ever going to change it.

What about rugged individualism? Is that a distinctive American trademark? If so, it doesn’t extend to independence of mind. We are a people steeped in orthodoxy – religious, governmental, military, educational – and orthodoxy must always be followed. We can be sold anything and we don’t know it. We can be lied to repeatedly and we don’t know it. Services can be stripped away from us and we don’t know that either because it’s in order to serve us better. Our privacy is suddenly important to large businesses in the public trust now that it is lost. Gullibility is American.

So is tolerance, seemingly without limit when it comes to our quasi-permanent political class. No amount of puffery and hypocrisy from the get-elected-and-stay-elected can completely alienate us. We submissively watch their political fortunes rise from “God bless this District”, to “God bless this State”, to “God bless this Nation” as they ascend, with God, in humble service to this republic.

Do Americans root for the underdog? Not if by “Americans” we mean national domestic and foreign policy. At a time when income inequality has reached unheard of levels in this country, bankruptcy law was “reformed” making it more difficult for individuals to file. It may be noted that poor individuals are more likely to find themselves in this position than rich individuals.

Corporations have double rights – those of corporations and those of individuals – including the rights to entice the poor into bankruptcy by questionable and deceptive lending schemes. Or eliminating 500 jobs at the bottom, instead of a single one at the top, and transferring the “savings” to the bottom line of the statement of income. Yes, the stock market is at an all-time high, thanks in part to the 500 here and the 500 there sacrificed on the alter of economic “progress”.

The President’s tax cuts, campaigned on in 2000, were widely criticized as a giveaway to the rich, but this did not seem to trouble the electorate. Protecting the minority of the opulent from the tyranny of the majority continues as long-standing tradition.

Since we can count scores of interventions into the affairs of foreign countries in this past half-century, we should be able to find some examples where we just happened to take the side of the underdogs – the peasants, the croppers, the indigenous, those most in need. But, of course, it’s not their needs that concern us when we intervene. It’s our needs, and the underclass can offer us nothing because they control nothing.

Maybe our love for the underdog is manifested in policies that guarantee their number will never decrease. Or could it be that we just find repressive dictators and autocrats impossible to resist? That’s meant to sound funny, but it’s true. We do find them impossible to resist because they’re good for business and that’s what we do with them. We do business.

The “American way of life” of popular understanding first came in our mother’s milk, and has since been drip-fed to us by those whose successes depend upon telling us what we wish to hear. We are susceptible to this propaganda because the inoculation (denying it) seems to deprive us of some of our exceptionality. Expectedly, though, the basic features of American life differ little from human life in other parts of the world, as there is no appreciable difference within the species.

All forms of governance rely on at least an implicit message to the people it means to control. Do as you are told and accept all compliments. Perhaps the President is not far off when he says we are peaceful. Considering his difficulties with language, he may have meant docile.


James Rothenberg, writer/activist - jrothenberg@taconic.net

LIFE BEHIND THE WALL - A GLIMPSE AT APARTHEID

The New Walls of Jerusalem

Part 1 - 12/19/06
Part 2 - 12/20/06
Part 3 - 12/21/06

Most agree: Housing crunch isn't over yet

Updated 2/4/2007 11:32 PM ET
WASHINGTON — Housing is proving to be one of the biggest wild cards in the economy in 2007 as analysts are deeply divided about whether the worst in the downturn is over or there is much more pain to go.

Only 9% of economists say the housing decline ended in 2006, according to a USA TODAY survey of 55 economists taken Jan. 18-24. Another 42% said the downturn will end in the first half of the year, and 45% said housing will bottom out in the second half.

"This is one of those hot-button issues," says Christopher Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi. He estimates the downturn ended last year. "I don't know why people are so pessimistic."

When housing bottoms out is key for the economy. Thus far, the fallout has been small. The economy grew at a faster pace in 2006 than in 2005 even though sales of previously owned homes fell 8.2%, the biggest drop in 17 years, the National Association of Realtors says.

But the economy may not be able to shrug off further declines, A.G. Edwards & Sons chief economist Gary Thayer says. Lower energy prices and a strong job market have thus far helped consumers weather the housing downturn. But going forward, those two factors may not be big enough to offset further weakening, Thayer says.

"Seeing things stabilize and hearing reports that housing is stabilizing is good for consumer confidence," he says.

The NAR's index of pending home sales, which is adjusted for seasonal variations, rose in December at the fastest pace since March 2004. The level of unsold homes on the market appeared to have peaked in July, the group says.

But Wachovia senior economist Mark Vitner says although recent housing data have been upbeat, they have been skewed by warmer-than-usual weather.

"That brought out a few more buyers and allowed for more building in the Northeast," he says. Vitner says the warm weather "pulled sales forward." Come spring, housing activity will be slower than normal, he says.

"I haven't met a home builder yet who thinks things have bottomed out," he says.

Economist Tucker Hart Adams says the housing market won't stabilize in 2007. The combination of resetting adjustable-rate mortgages, homeowners unable to keep up with payments on so-called exotic mortgages such as interest-only loans, and other debt will lead to higher foreclosure rates and more homes on the market, she says. "It's really optimistic to think that it just took a little adjustment and everything is fine," she says. "It's one time I would like to be wrong."

Contributing: Barbara Hansen, Noelle Knox

1,000 rally for Lt. Watada at Ft. Lewis during court martial


Image
Recent Iraq War vets join all-day rally for Lt. Watada, Ft. Lewis WA. 2/5/07
Courage to Resist. February 5, 2007

Over a thousand people and giant puppets rallied at the gates of Fort Lewis, Washington today in support of Lt. Ehren Watada. Formed for the occasion, the “Tacoma Puppetistas” visually dominated the mass rally by putting the war on trial via huge puppet theater. Meanwhile Iraq Veterans Against the War and families of military resisters led chants and marches from rallies in a nearby park to the base gates.

On Fort Lewis, supporters of Lt. Watada lined up at the visitors station beginning at 5:00 am in order to gain entry to the court proceedings. Many were turned away, but about 50 civilians were eventually allowed to view the proceedings from a viewing room with an audio/video feed.

As Lt. Watada’s mother Carolyn Ho entered the legal building at 8:30 am, dozens of supporters, lined up across the street, erupted into cheers. This is probably not something that happens on Fort Lewis often.

'To all those for whom these villages were home and to their descendants'

Sunday, February 04, 2007




Amr Abu Daeb and family. Israelis demolished their house in East Jerusalem two weeks ago.
According to Ma'an News: "The director of the cartographic department in the society for Arab Studies, Khalil Toufakji, has warned of an ethnic cleansing operation against some 24,000 Palestinians in the old city of Jerusalem."
"Rubble from village houses" in Al-Mansura. Al-Mansura was ethnically cleansed in mid-November, 1948 when "Israel decided to empty the Israeli side of the Israeli-Lebanese border of its Arab villages." According to Walid Khalidi in All That Remains, "The people of al-Mansura were ordered to leave; some crossed into Lebanon but most were taken in trucks to the village of al-Rama, to the south." The villagers have sought to return home to Al-Mansura for many years, but to no avail, as Israel, in violation of UN Resolution 194 and Article 13, Section 2, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, refuses their inalienable right to return home because they are not Jewish.

The Zionists have razed all the houses in the village. In 1944/45, 26,619 dunums of land were owned by Arabs. Jews owned nothing. "The only village structure that still stands is the church of Mari Yohanna."

Khalidi, Walid. All That Remains: The Palestinan Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948. Institute for Palestine Studies: Washington, D.C., 1991.
Khalidi's Dedication: "To all those for whom these villages were home and to their descendents."

The Iraq War Hits Hawai'i: The Stryker Brigade and the Watada Case

February 3 / 4, 2007

By TIMOTHY J. FREEMAN

Two great volcanoes comprise most of the Big Island of Hawai'i. Mauna Loa, measured by volume, is the largest mountain in the world, and Mauna Kea, if measured from the sea floor, would rank as the tallest. Both peaks are considered sacred, the realm of the gods (wao akua), not just for Hawai'ians, but throughout all of Polynesia.

In October of 2002, the first of a series of protests against the imminent U.S. attack against Iraq took place at the Mo'oheau Bandstand on the Hilo Bayfront. As I drove down to Hilo, I was struck by the majestic and stunning presence of Mauna Kea rising 13,792 ft. above Hilo-so unusually clear on a rare cloudless morning. It was a day that was startling in its beauty even for Hawai'i, and as I listened to the various speakers call our attention to the horrors of what seemed about to take place in Iraq, my gaze often drifted to the tranquil bay and the waves softly rolling down on the sands below. The contrast couldn't have been sharper between the peaceful setting of Hilo Bay and the looming war in Iraq. If it weren't for the voices of the Hawai'ian rights activists-reminding us of the illegal overthrow of the Hawai'ian nation-I might have thought only of the profound difference between these beautiful islands and the war-torn country of Iraq. In fact, what was taking place a world away in Iraq was really not that far away at all and is, indeed, deeply connected to what happened and was still taking place in Hawai'i. I was reminded of the "infinite extent of our relations" as Thoreau once put it, and from this perspective, the connections between the war in Iraq, the overthrow of the Hawai'ian nation, and the continuing controversy surrounding the military's presence in Hawai'i become more and more clear.

The Stryker in Hawai'i

Hawai'i senior Senator Daniel Inouye apparently doesn't see these connections as is evident in a recent editorial in the Honolulu Advertiser in support of the Army's plan to transform the 2nd Brigade in Hawai'i into a Stryker Combat Brigade.[1] The Army's plan would involve basing about 300 Stryker vehicles at Schofield Barracks on Oahu and also expanding the Army's Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island which the brigade will use for training. The Army's project to bring a Stryker brigade to Hawai'i has met strong resistance for the last several years from native Hawai'ian groups as well as environmental and peace activists. In October of 2006 a federal appellate court, in response to a lawsuit filed by the nonprofit environmental group Earthjustice acting on behalf of three native Hawai'ian groups, found that the Army had violated environmental laws in not adequately considering alternatives to locating the brigade in Hawai'i.[2]

The decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco reversed an April 2005 decision by U.S. District Judge David Ezra allowing the Army to proceed with its plans to bring the Stryker brigade to Hawai'i. The Army must now complete a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement assessing the feasability of alternative locations for the brigade. The appellate court decision ultimately sent the case back to Honolulu and U.S. District Judge Ezra in order to determine what an injunction must cover. On the eve of Judge Ezra's decision Senator Inouye's editorial appeared in which he argued that for the safety of our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan "we must allow the training to resume while the Army completes the supplemental environmental study." Not surprisingly, Judge Ezra's decision allows for the Army's plans to go forward while the SEIS is conducted.[3] Live fire training of the Stryker brigade is expected to commence at Pohakuloa on the Big Island in February.

The Pohakuloa Training Area is already the largest live-fire military training area in the Pacific. It consists of approximately 109,000 acres of land that have been used for the last 60 years as a live-fire area and bombing range for an assortment of military weapons. The Strykers will come to the Big Island on the new Hawai'ian Superferry, offloading at Kawaiihae Harbor and then traveling up to Pohakuloa via a newly constructed military road. It is partly for the construction of this access road, and also to increase the training area for the Strykers, that the military's plans include the expansion of the Pohakuloa Training Area by approximately 23,000 acres of land recently purchased from the Parker Ranch.

Pohakuloa sits between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. Even the Army acknowledges, in its Environmental Impact Statement, that "the entirety of Mauna Kea, whose southwestern slopes form part of PTA's base, is considered holy." Mauna Kea (The White Mountain) is associated with Poli'ahu, the snow goddess of the summit, while Mauna Loa (The Long Mountain), last erupting as recently as 1984, is associated with Pele, the goddess of volcanic fires. The area between the two sacred mountains, considered to be a site of conflict between Poli'ahu and Pele, is called "Pohakuloa" (The Veil that Covers the Spiritual Realm). Within the Pohakuloa Training Area there are seven stone shrines and a reported 291 archeological sites.

By the Army's own admission in the EIS, Pohakuloa is "spiritually and historically one of the most important places in Hawai'ian tradition and history...It is difficult to describe the emotional and spiritual link that exists between Native Hawai'ians and the natural setting. Hawai'ians generally believe that all things in nature have mana, or a certain spiritual power and life force. A custodial responsibility to preserve the natural setting is passed from generation to generation, and personal strength and spiritual well being are derived from this relationship. Because of this belief, Mauna Kea may be the most powerful and sacred natural formation in all Hawai'i." [4] The EIS acknowledges that there will be "significant unavoidable adverse biological impacts" upon the environment at Pohakuloa. The PTA is said, by former area commander Lt. Col. Dennis Owen, to have "the highest concentration of endangered species of any Army installation in the world." The negative impacts will come from fires that result from live-fire training, as well as from off-road maneuvers by the Stryker vehicles that will adversely affect sensitive species and habitat. The Army also acknowledges significant negative impacts on air quality (caused by wind erosion by the off-road maneuvers of the Strykers), soil loss and soil contamination from training activities, lead and asbestos contamination caused by the construction and demolition of buildings, and destructive impacts on such cultural, historic, and archeological resources such as the Ke'amuku Village and sacred sites such as the Pu'ukohola Heiau.

The Army also proposes an increase in live-fire training. This poses a significant risk, according to the EIS, to workers and army personnel from unexploded ordnance. Environmentalists have drawn attention to the danger from unexploded ordnance that litters many former military sites in Hawai'i, as well as the military's poor record of cleaning up these sites. The EIS states that "only simulated biological agents" will be used and that hazardous materials do not pose a significant impact. There is also some concern about the potential toxic contamination from depleted uranium since the primary armament on Stryker vehicles is the Stryker Mobile Gun System which uses ammunition made from depleted uranium. The Army has claimed that depleted uranium weapons will not be used in training at Pohakuloa, but this has hardly eased the concerns of local residents.

While the military promises to do what it can to limit the adverse impacts from the training at Pohakuloa, it states that there is a practical limit to mitigation measures. The bottom line is that these adverse impacts and potential dangers are considered acceptable by the military.

The issue that always looms large in the background of this controversy is the very presence of the U.S. military in Hawai'i. For Hawai'ian sovereignty activists, the proposed expansion of the Pohakuloa Training Area is only the latest issue in a long history of U.S. military acquisitions of Hawai'ian lands-going back most notably to the 1875 "Treaty of Reciprocity" that ceded control of Pearl Harbor to the U.S. Navy. The military now controls 5 percent of land in Hawai'i, 22 percent of O'ahu (85,000 acres), and 4 percent of the Big Island (110,000 acres). Moreover, the proposed 23,000 acre expansion of the Pohakuloa Training Area is only about a quarter of the projected acquisition for the further development of the PTA.[5]

It's a sad irony that this latest land acquisition is almost the size of Kaho'olawe (28,766 acres), the "Target Isle" used for bombing practice for nearly 50 years after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Navy finally officially ceded control of Kaho'olawe on November 11, 2003, after over two decades of protests by peace and Hawai'ian sovereignty activists. That campaign cost the lives of two Hawai'ian leaders, George Helm and Kimo Mitchell, who were lost at sea in 1977 in an effort to reach the island to protest the Navy's occupation and bombing of the island. Their deaths became an emotional turning point in the struggle for Hawai'ian rights. Now, just as the Navy finally cedes control of Kaho'olawe, the Army takes control of a similar-sized piece of land on the sacred slopes of Mauna Kea. It would be the largest military acquisition in Hawai'i since WWII.

For Hawai'ian sovereignty activists, Hawai'i is an occupied country, and the lands in question are "stolen lands." Though most Americans are either blissfully unaware or couldn't care less, the sovereignty activists appear to have international law on their side. For its part, the United States government has already admitted to the illegal overthrow of the Hawai'ian nation, by issuing a formal apology by joint resolution of Congress in November of 1993 in acknowledgment of the 100th anniversary of the coup that dethroned Queen Lili'uokalani. Although the United States was the first nation to formally recognize the sovereignty of the Hawai'ian nation in 1842, it was the U.S. Navy that provided the force that enabled American business interests to dethrone the Queen in January of 1893. In recent years, experts in international law have called into question the legitimacy of "statehood" and American military occupation of Hawai'ian lands by pointing out that there is no known record of the Hawai'ian Kingdom ever relinquishing its sovereignty.

Lessons from the war in Iraq

Since that cloudless Hilo day in October of 2002, the war in Iraq has unfolded in its all-too-easily predictable catastrophe. As the violence spirals out of control and any remaining vestige of a fraudulent justification of the invasion evaporate-that Iraq is better off from having been 'liberated' from a despotic dictator or that the world is safer from the threat of global terrorism-the American people have slowly come to the realization that it was all a terrible mistake. It reminds me of a story I read in the paper a number of years ago when I was living in San Francisco about a jumper who had somehow managed to survive his plunge from the Golden Gate. As I remember it the hapless one said his first thought after his ill-conceived leap was "Oops, that was a mistake." That's about where we are today as a nation after failing to heed the warnings of so many experts and hundreds of thousands of protestors around the world and instead following the Fox News and New York Times propaganda that cheered on the Bush Administration's leap into the abyss that is now the war in Iraq. All the head-scratching about what to do now, including the proposals of the Iraq Study Group, are nothing but the desparate flailings of one grasping at thin air after the ground has fallen away. The Bush Administration, of course, can only 'stay the course' and thus, with their sights now firmly set on 'surging' in Iraq and even more insanely on expanding the war into Iran, seems hell-bent on plunging the nation only further into the abyss.We've come to our "Oops" moment as a nation but we are still far from realizing just how devastating a mistake it was to launch this war.

Senator Inouye's editorial in support of the Stryker brigade in Hawai'i illustrates this point. The Senator writes: "Our country is at war. With the pace of operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, our Army is stretched thin. We simply cannot afford to stand down any of our forces right now." After reminding us that he voted against the Iraq war, the Senator concludes that the "issue on the Stryker brigade should not be a referendum on the Iraq war." Perhaps it's the other way around, however, and that the Iraq war should be a referendum on the Stryker brigade.

Our country is at war-but it is a war that was completely unnecessary. The United States has the most powerful military force in the world, spending more on the military than all the other nations of the world combined; and yet the United States has demonstrated a propensity to use that great military force irresponsibly and that is one of the underlying causes and certainly not the solution to the problem of terrorism. We cannot defeat the problem of terrorism by participating in terrorism and that is certainly what we are doing when we engage in unnecessary wars of aggression. Perhaps the lesson that should be drawn from the war in Iraq is that it is time to stand down all of our forces right now. The best hope for a peaceful world is for the United States to pull out of Iraq, stand down its military force, and recommit itself to the rule of law among nations.

The United States needs to overcome its addiction to war and a good place to start would be to pull out of Iraq and to shut down the Army's plan to base a Stryker brigade in Hawai'i. As Kyle Kajihiro, program director of the American Friends Service Committee, puts it: "The Stryker Brigade in Hawai'i is an illegal and catastrophic project meant for use in an illegal and catastrophic war. The bitter history of the U.S. military in Hawai'i has demonstrated that if the military gets an inch, it will take a mile, or in this case, 25,000 acres of land. We refuse to allow our sacred 'aina to be used to perpetuate wars of aggression against other countries and peoples, or to let politicians send our loved ones to kill or be killed in such immoral and illegal wars."[6]

Perhaps a concern for the safety of our troops is not the primary reason behind Inouye's support for the Stryker brigade. Obviously any training that needs to be done before the troops are withdrawn can be done at existing facilities elsewhere. Kajihiro continues: "The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said that the Army failed to answer the question 'Why Hawai'i?' and ordered the Army to complete a supplemental environmental impact statement (EIS) that considered alternatives. But it is unlikely that another EIS will be able to honestly answer such a question that is essentially political. Stryker Brigades are in Hawai'i and Alaska because of the power of Hawai'i's and Alaska's Senators to secure 'military pork'. Politicians cannot claim to be against the war while promoting the military expansion that drives wars."[7]

Perhaps the war in Iraq should be a referendum on the Stryker brigade in Hawai'i for there is a deep connection after all between the war in Iraq and the U.S. military's presence in Hawai'i-the war in Iraq is really only the latest symptom of the same problem that led to the overthrow of the Nation of Hawai'i in 1893. Time and again U.S. military power has been used not really for the defense of 'freedom' but for the expansion of corporate global interests.

War, if ever justified, should be an absolutely last resort. All peaceful means of resolving a conflict should be exhausted before resorting to war. There is every indication that the Bush Administration, acting to extend those corporate global interests, did everything they could to avoid any peaceful solution and manufacture a reason for war.

Perhaps the problem is that it is far too easy for the United States with its overpowering military force to go to war. There obviously needs to be some greater force of restraint that would make it much harder for the nation to engage in war. Part of the problem is that too few Americans really feel the cost of war. I imagine that if professional sports were banned while the nation was at war, our leaders would make every effort to find a peaceful solution. It might seem a ridiculous suggestion to make, but obviously if it is important enough to go to war then sacrificing professional sports should be no big deal. Conversely, if it is not worth sacrificing professional sports, then it is obviously not worth going to war. Can one imagine just how long the Vietnam War would have lasted if there could be no World Series while the nation is at war? Would the nation so easily have accepted the fraudulant arguments for war and leapt off the cliff into the hell that is Iraq if there could be no Super Bowls while the nation is at war?

The Watada Case

Unfortunately, as Americans love their bread and circuses so much, the only hope for any restraint on the reckless militarism of the United States might be in the example set by the rare courage of the soldier from Hawai'i, Lt. Ehren Watada, who faces court martial for refusing deployment to Iraq. The military judge presiding over the court martial has, however, denied the attempt by Lt. Watada's defense to 'put the war on trial.' The ruling by military circuit judge Lt. Col. John M. Head on January 16 denied the defense motion for a hearing on the "Nuremburg defense" thus preventing Watada's defense from presenting evidence on the legality of the war. The highest ranking soldier to refuse deployment to Iraq, Lt. Watada has argued in his defense that according to the Nuremberg Principles and U.S. military regulations he was under oath to follow only "lawful orders" and that the war on Iraq is illegal under international treaties and under Article Six of the U.S. Constitution. Lt. Watada's trial at Fort Lewis, Washington is set to begin on February 5. [8]

The ruling by Judge Head conflicts with the statement by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal, that the United States must be bound by the same rule of law used to prosecute the Germans: "If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."[9] The Nuremberg trials established that soldiers are not immune from prosecution for war crimes just because they were following orders. The judgement at Nuremberg means that the common view held by Judge Head and apparently many Americans that "soldiers like Lt. Watada can't pick and choose when to fight" is just flat out wrong. In denying the "Nuremberg defense" the military is simply setting aside the judgement at Nuremberg and ignoring Justice Jackson's explicit statement.

Lt. Watada's refusal to deploy to Iraq should call to mind Thoreau's startling words about the three ways one can serve one's country:

"The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies. They are the standing army, and the militia, jailers, constables, posse comitatus, &c. In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or of the moral sense; but they put themselves on a level with wood and earth and stones; and wooden men can perhaps be manufactured that will serve the purpose as well. Such command no more respect than men of straw of a lump of dirt. They have the same sort of worth only as horses and dogs. Yet such as these even are commonly esteemed good citizens. Others, -as most legislators, politicians, lawyers, ministers, and officer-holders; -serve the state chiefly with their heads; and as they rarely make any moral distinctions, they are as likely to serve the Devil, without intending it, as God. A very few, as heroes, patriots, martyrs, reformers in the great sense, and men, serve the state with their consciences also, and so necessarily resist it for the most part; and they are commonly treated as enemies by it." (Henry David Thoreau, "On the Duty of Civil Disobedience", 1848.)

Thoreau is clearly right that it is plainly wrong to think that the highest service one can give to one's country is to serve blindly with one's body, even if it means giving one's life. To serve without conscience, as a mere weapon of war, is really to forsake what is highest and most human within us. To force our soldiers to surrender their conscience is not only to ignore the judgement at Nuremberg, it is also treating our soldiers like horses and dogs. Sending our troops into an unnecessary and immoral war is in fact treating them far worse than horses and dogs.

The nation would be stronger not weaker if it recognized Lt. Watada's right to refuse deployment to an illegal war. If Lt. Watada's action is recognized as right, the nation would be far less prone to engage in unnecessary and immoral wars. In refusing deployment to Iraq Lt. Watada is serving the country with his conscience, and in so doing, is giving the highest service. If Lt. Watada goes to prison, as seems now very likely, he will be a powerful symbol of the injustice of the nation and its shame in ignoring the judgement at Nuremberg and refusing to remember Justice Jackson's counsel.

Timothy J. Freeman teaches philosophy at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo. He can be reached at freeman@hawaii.edu

Notes

1. U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, "Don't fence them in," Commentary, The Honolulu Advertiser, Sunday, December 17, 2006.

2. " Stryker base here is found illegal," The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Friday, October 6, 2006.

3. "Judge Allows Stryker training to resume," The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Saturday, December 30, 2006.

4. Army Transformation Environmental Impact Statement, Section 8:11 Cultural Resources, p.4.

5. See Haunani-Kay Trask, "Stealing Hawai'i: The war machine at work," The Honolulu Weekly, July 17, 2002.

6. Kyle Kajihiro, "Aloha 'Aina Statement on Proposed Stryker Training," DMZ-Hawai'i, December 18, 2006.

7. See also Jeffrey St. Clair, "The General, GM, and the Stryker," Counterpunch, April 22/23, 2006.

8. David Krieger, "The Iraq War Goes on Trial," Peace Journalism, January 17, 2007.

9. Robert Jackson, Minutes of Conference Session of July 23, 1945, International Conference on Military Trials : London, 1945.

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