Friday, March 2, 2007

GOP House Minority Whip To Aid Group Seeking Nuclear War, Holocaust

Bruce Wilson: "Christians United For Israel" leader gets promise of red carpet visit in DC from Roy Blunt.
By Bruce Wilson
Posted on March 1, 2007

US House minority whip Roy Blunt flew to San Antonio, last week, to pay tribute to Texas Pastor and apocalyptic nuclear war advocate John Hagee. In a "Christians United For Israel" [CUFI] mailing sent February 26th, Hagee wrote:

I am delighted to announce that Roy Blunt is a strong supporter of Israel and following our conversation about CUFI has offered to gather groups of Congressmen in his office any time I come to Washington D.C. in the future.

Blunt is not the only politician to have courted Hagee, who had a private meeting with Senator John McCain in late January to discuss Israel and "other matters." McCain has recently said, of US tensions with Iran, that the situation could be "armageddon"

John Hagee, one of several alleged religious influences on George W. Bush, has characterized liberal Jews who do not agree with his political views as "poisoned" and is a strong proponent for a "preemptive" ( or unprovoked ) US and Israeli nuclear attack against Iran. In "Jerusalem Countdown," Hagee's latest book that has so far sold over 1.1 million copies, Hagee says the Holocaust and historical persecution of the Jews is a divine punishment for the "disobedience and rebellion of the Jews, as is antisemitism... Their own rebellion [against God] had birthed the seed of anti-Semitism that would arise and bring destruction to them for centuries to come." ( Jerusalem Countdown, pages 92 and 93, paperback edition ).

[image: The Holocaust, part of divine plan ?]
The Holocaust also served as a divine mechanism, suggests Hagee in the book, to scare Jews into moving to Israel where he seems to feel they properly belong, as a necessary, magical human precondition that must be in place before the Rapture, that will grant Christians physical immortality in Heaven, can occur. In Hagee's view, after Christians are "Raptured" to Heaven, Israeli Jews will be mostly killed in the End-Time apocalyptic conflict the Texas pastor has also formed a lobbying group to -- apparently -- encourage.

Texas Megachurch Pastor John HageeIn a recent Charisma Magazine issue John Hagee, in a piece entitled "The Coming Holy War," wrote : "Israel and America must confront Iran's nuclear ability and willingness to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons."

On July 19, 2006, at a CUFI sponsored Washington DC event called "A Night to Honor Israel," with GOP Party head Ken Mehlman and US GOP Senators Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum, John Cornyn, and Kay Bailey-Hutchinson ( President George W. Bush sent recorded greetings to the event ) , Pastor John Hagee declared:

"The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God's plan for both Israel and the West... a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation [...] and [the] Second Coming of Christ."

As recounted by Terje Langeland, reporting for the Colorado Springs Independent in 2003, one of Pastor John Hagee's CUFI board members, George Morrison, expresses his sense of how Israeli and Israeli Jews will fare in the apocalytpic scenario Hagee and others long for:

"Morrison, whose casual, folksy manner belies his apocalyptic beliefs, already sees signs that the End is approaching. The European Union, he says, might be the alliance of nations that according to prophecy will join the Arabs to wage war against Israel during the final days.

"Great wars will begin to take place" Morrison says in a matter-of-fact voice. "Those wars are going to involve nukes."

The extent of the destruction will prompt Jesus to return in order to stop it, Morrison believes. Unfortunately, he says, many Jews will be killed.

"It's another Holocaust, if you will" Morrison says. "

drawing of Hiroshima

[image, above : Hiroshima survivor's drawing of the bombing's aftermath, from the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum]

Many Christian Premillenial Dispensationalists -- the theological persuasion Pastor John Hagee belongs to -- believe that the majority of the Jews currently living in Israel will be killed in the period of warfare that follows the "Rapture," when "believing" Christians ( fundamentalist Christians, that is ) are bodily transported up to safety in heaven. The standard interpretation is that 2/3 or more of Israeli Jews will be slaughtered during this period but that a righteous "remnant", who have realized the error of their ways and converted to Christianity, will survive what Christian Zionists often call the "final Holocaust" or the "second Holocaust." Writings and statements made by CUFI board member Jerry Falwell, made in 1984, sum up such views:

Falwell said, in a December 2, 1984 sermon: "Millions of Jews will be slaughtered at this time but a remnant will escape and God will supernaturally hide them for Himself for the last three and a half years of the Tribulation, some feel in the rose-red city of Petra. I don't know how, but God will keep them because the Jews and the Chosen People of God." (December 2, 1984 sermon)"

From a pamphlet by Jerry Falwell entitled “Armageddon and the Coming War with Russia." :"the stage is rapidly being set, even today in the Middle East, for the final conflict. Russia will invade Israel, communism will be defeated, the antichrist will appear and the 'final holocaust' at Armageddon will consume the Earth." ( as quote by the The Oakland Tribune, October 23, 1984 )

In "Jerusalem Countdown", Pastor Hagee writes, in reference to passages from the Bibles Book Of Isaiah 10:22, 22:

"Who is this remnant [those who will survive] ?

First, it's obvious that all of that remnant is Jewish.....

God promises that by his sovereign grace a "remnant" would be saved by the grace of God, a group of survivors who have the opportunity to receive Messiah, who is a rabbi known to the world as Jesus Christ." ( Jerusalem Countdown, paperback edition, pages 192 and 194 )

This is a continuation of a running series on Pastor John Hagee and his new "apocalypse lobby," CUFI. For the last installment, see:

What Secret "Other Matters" Did McCain Discuss With "Apocalypse Now" Hagee ?

and also these stories:

footnote: What is CUFI ?

Max Blumenthal : Israel, the US, and the Christian Right: The Menage a Trois From Hell

Bill Berkowitz : Holy Warriors Set Sights

on Iran

Esther Kaplan : Christian Zionism all juiced up

Richard Bartholomew : Armey: Bush Believes in Tribulation, but not Trying to Make it Happen

Bruce Wilson : Dick Armey Denies Bush Administration Trying To Provoke "End Times"

Sarah Posner: Lobbying For Armageddon

"As Bush's War Strategy Shifts to Iran, Christian Zionists Gear Up for the Apocalypse"

"Apocalyptic preacher John Hagee says McCain is 'on target'"

"Can Giuliani Be the Armageddon Candidate?"

Bruce Wilson writes for Talk To Action, a blog specializing in faith and politics.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online

Thomas Friedman's Pure Racist Oped: The New York Times should fire him immediately


The Silence That Kills: THOMAS FRIEDMAN

Replace the word "Arab" with "Jew" and you'll see what I mean.
Commentary on today's Friedman article

Friedman Comes Alive

Posted at 22:03 by Gavin M.

All along, we thought that Tom Friedman was an overentitled globalist Babbitt whose endlessly-shifting rationales for supporting wars in the Middle East reflected the self-dealing priorities of the elite pundit class.

Well, that’s where thinking will get you. Today we find out that Tom Friedman just has a bit of a problem with Arabs:

The Silence That Kills


Occasionally an honest voice rises, giving you a glimmer of hope that others will stand up. The MEMRI translation Web site ( just posted a poem called “When,” from a Saudi author, Wajeha al-Huwaider, that was posted on Arab reform sites like

See The Guardian* for an article on MEMRI as an ‘impartial translation service.’ (The National Review, on the other hand, praises it unreservedly.) The column continues:

When you cannot find a single garden in your city, but there is a mosque on every corner — you know that you are in an Arab country.

When you see people living in the past with all the trappings of modernity — do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country.

When religion has control over science — you can be sure that you are in an Arab country.

When clerics are referred to as “scholars” — don’t be astonished, you are in an Arab country.

When you see the ruler transformed into a demigod who never dies or relinquishes his power, and nobody is permitted to criticize — do not be too upset, you are in an Arab country.

When you find that the large majority of people oppose freedom and find joy in slavery — do not be too distressed, you are in an Arab country.

When you hear the clerics saying that democracy is heresy, but seizing every opportunity provided by democracy to grab high positions — do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country.

When you discover that a woman is worth half of what a man is worth, or less — do not be surprised, you are in an Arab country.

When land is more important than human beings — you are in an Arab country. …

When fear constantly lives in the eyes of the people — you can be certain you are in an Arab country.

It seems we’ve heard this song before…

The Great Arab Unraveling

by Rami G. Khouri Released: 28 Feb 2007

BEIRUT -- New Yorker magazine investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has sparked fresh debate with his latest article alleging that Washington’s new policy to confront Iran in the region sees it sending American money and other assistance to extremist Sunni groups, sometimes via the Lebanese and Saudi governments, in order to confront and weaken Hizbullah, Syria and Iran.

Do not pity or jeer Washington alone, for every single player in this tale -- the United States, Hizbullah, the Lebanese government, Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia -- wriggles uncomfortably in the mess they collectively created through their shortsighted policies of recent years. I suspect this mirrors something much bigger: We are at a potentially historic moment when the modern Arab state order that was created by the Europeans in 1920 has started to fray at its edges and its core, perhaps in what we might call the Great Arab Unraveling.

Shattered Iraq is the immediate driver of this possible dissolution and reconfiguration of Arab states that had held together rather well for nearly four generations. It is only the most dramatic case of an Arab country that wrestles with its own coherence, legitimacy and viability. Lebanon and Palestine have struggled with statehood for half a century; Somalia has quietly dropped out of this game; Kuwait vanished and quickly reappeared; Yemen split, reunited, split, fought a war, and reunited; Sudan spins like a centrifuge, with national and tribal forces pushing away from a centralized state; Morocco and the Western Sahara dance gingerly around their logical association; and internal tensions plague other Arab countries to varying degrees.

A learned British friend reminded me this week of the mixed legacy of Euro-manufactured countries, in three states that were created at the Paris Peace Conference after World War I: Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia and Iraq. Not an inspiring record. The Anglo-American war to change the Iraqi regime has triggered wider regional tensions, by unleashing powerful and often antagonistic forces of ethnic, religious and tribal identities, most of which have formed their own militias. All militias thrive on Arab, Iranian and Western support. It is no surprise that Washington now may be indirectly assisting Sunni fundamentalist radicals of the ilk who attacked the United States in recent years. America, welcome to the Middle East. The Middle East is not Orange County, California, and the militias' trucks with anti-tank rockets and other killing machines do not drive around with government-issued EZ Passes to get through checkpoints.

The United States obviously decided several months ago to shift into fallback position and plan B on Iraq. The surge in U.S. troops to Iran probably camouflages the American retreat to more defensible lines in the Arab world, where it can fight against Iran and its mostly Islamist, but also Syrian government, Baathist friends, allies, and surrogates. Washington and its friends are desperate to control the genie they unleashed in Iraq, but they are wrong to see the threat primarily as a Shiite-Iranian one. Those are core elements of the groups that fight the United States, Israel and some allied Arab regimes. It is more useful to recognize that the driving force for the anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli loose coalition of forces in the region is, precisely, U.S. and Israeli policies in the region.

The Middle East has suffered so much homegrown internal tyranny and sustained external assaults that it has become a dangerous pressure cooker, given that the majority of citizens live with enormous and still growing dissatisfactions in their economic, social, ethnic, religious or national lives. If the pressure is not relieved by allowing the region and its states to define themselves and their governance values, the whole pot will explode. I suspect we are witnessing both things happening together these days.

On the one hand, Islamist, ethnic, sectarian and tribal movements grow and flourish all over the Middle East -- and are aided by Iran -- in a dramatic example of collective self-assertion. On the other hand, massive external pressure, led by the United States, some Europeans, Israel, and some Arab governments, fights back, hoping to keep the lid on a region trying to define itself and liberate itself from the modern legacy of Anglo-American-Israeli armies.

The pervasive incoherence of this bizarre picture makes it perfectly routine for Arab monarchies to support Salafist terrorists, for Western democracies to ignore the results of Arab free elections, for Iranians and Arabs, and Shiites and Sunnis, to work hand in hand and also fight bitter wars, for Islamist and secular Arab revolutionaries to join forces, for freedom lovers in London and Washington to support seasoned Arab autocrats and the occasional loveable tyrant, for Western and Arab rule of law advocates to sponsor militias, and for Israel and the United States to perpetuate Israeli policies that exacerbate rather than calm security threats and vulnerabilities for all in the region.

Short-term panic, medium-term confusion and long-term directionlessness have long defined policies by Americans, British, Arabs, Israelis, and Iranians alike in this region. They have only become more obvious these days, as confrontation, defiance and war in the Middle East interact to signal the end of an era and the start of a new one. This spectacle, which includes but transcends the Great Arab Unraveling, is in its very early days. Harrowing things are yet come.

Rami G. Khouri is an internationally syndicated columnist, the director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut, editor-at-large of the Beirut-based Daily Star, and co-laureate of the 2006 Pax Christi International Peace Award.

Copyright ©2007 Rami G. Khouri / Agence Global

U.S. Army secretary resigns in hospital scandal's wake

White House Puts Man Responsble for Many of the Problems in Charge of Walter Reed
The "new' guy

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer 19 minutes ago

Army Secretary Francis J. Harvey abruptly stepped down Friday as the Bush administration struggled to cope with the fallout from a scandal over substandard conditions for wounded Iraq soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

The surprise move came one day after Harvey fired the two-star general in charge of the medical center in response to disclosures of problems at the hospital compound.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Harvey had resigned. But senior defense officials speaking on condition of anonymity said Gates had asked Harvey to leave. Gates was displeased that Harvey, after firing Maj. Gen. George Weightman as the head of Walter Reed, chose to name as Weightman's temporary replacement another general whose role in the controversy was still in question.

"I am disappointed that some in the Army have not adequately appreciated the seriousness of the situation pertaining to outpatient care at Walter Reed," Gates said in the Pentagon briefing room. He took no questions from reporters.

The revelations about shoddy facilities and wounded soldiers enduring long waits for treatment have embarrassed the Army and the Bush administration at a time when the White House is scrambling to shore up eroding support for the Iraq war. It has prompted numerous calls in Congress for more information, and sullied the reputation of what is supposed to be one of the world's foremost medical facilities.

Gates said a permanent replacement for Weightman would be announced by the Army later Friday.

The defense secretary indicated he was unhappy with the way Army leaders had responded to the Walter Reed disclosures.

"Some have shown too much defensiveness and have not shown enough focus on digging into and addressing the problems," Gates said. "Also I am concerned that some do not properly understand the need to communicate to the wounded and their families that we have no higher priority than their care, and that addressing their concerns about the quality of their outpatient experience is critically important. Our wounded soldiers and their families have sacrificed much and they deserve the best we can offer."

Before Gates' announcement, President Bush ordered a comprehensive review of conditions at the nation's network of military and veteran hospitals in the wake of the Walter Reed disclosures.

The White House said the president would name a bipartisan commission to assess whether the problems at Walter Reed exist at other facilities. Last week Gates created an outside panel to review the situation at Walter Reed and the other major military hospital in the Washington area, the National Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, Md.

The actions come after The Washington Post documented squalid living conditions for some outpatient soldiers at Walter Reed and bureaucratic problems that prevented many troops from getting adequate care.

Harvey has been Army secretary since November 2004. Gates said Harvey will depart March 9. Gates said the Army under secretary, Pete Geren, will become acting secretary until Bush nominates a permanent replacement.

Harvey is the second consecutive Army secretary to be removed abruptly from office. In April 2003, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld fired Thomas White, who had engaged in public disputes with Rumsfeld.


On the Net:

Defense Department:

BBC tries yet again to extricate itself from the mess

Posted Mar 2, 2007 12:32 PM PST
Category: 911

This latest excuse-o-gram from Richard Porter amounts to a "they were all doing it" justification for their premature report, perhaps in the hope we mean old bloggers will go pick on someone else.

But Porter has simply reiterated what we already knew, EVERYONE got a report that the building was going to come down ahead of time. That is not the point. The point is that in a 100 year history of skyscraper construction., no steel-framed building had ever collapsed from fire prior to 9-11. So, WHO was telling the news media that the Saloman Brothers Building, aka WTC-7, was about to collapse when there was zero historical precedent for it?

I don't care what Richard Porter says to get BBC off the hook for this. What Richard Porter needs to tell us all is WHO was planting the story of the impending collapse of WTC-7 with all the media?

Editor's note: The question remains for BBC to answer. WHO gave them the premature report.

Persian Gulf of Tonkin Incident

February 26, 2007 Issue
Copyright © 2006 The American Conservative

Spoiling for another fight, the United States may try to provoke Iran.

by Leon Hadar

The Iraq War has produced many, sometimes contradictory, historical analogies, ranging from Munich to the fall of Saigon, as pundits highlight their dubious relevance to Mesopotamia.

Following President Bush’s Jan. 11 speech on U.S. policy in Iraq, in which he accused Tehran of meddling and threatened to “interrupt” the flow of support to Iraqi insurgents, Sen. Chuck Hagel added a new analogy: Nixon’s decision to expand the war in Vietnam into Cambodia as part of a strategy to “interrupt” the flow of support to those other insurgents, the National Liberation Front, from sanctuaries along Cambodia’s eastern border.

“[O]nce you get to hot pursuit, no one can say we won’t engage across border,” Hagel told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Foreign Relations Committee hearing. “Some of us remember 1970 and Cambodia, and our government lied to us and said we didn’t cross the border,” he said. “When you set in motion the kind of policy the president is talking about here, it is very, very dangerous.”

But Cambodia was never a regional power in Southeast Asia in the way that Iran is today. Like North Vietnam’s anti-U.S. strategy in South Vietnam in the 1960s and ’70s, Iran has the military power and policy influence to disrupt U.S. policies in neighboring Iraq, with the Shi’ite militias it supports playing a similar role to that of the Vietcong in South Vietnam.

Thus the correct historical analogy may not be Nixon’s secret air campaign and incursions into Cambodia, but the Tonkin Gulf incident—the alleged pair of attacks by North Vietnamese naval forces against American destroyers that President Lyndon B. Johnson used to win public support and congressional approval for escalating the confrontation with North Vietnam.

For years, the U.S. government asserted that the Americans had done nothing to provoke a naval engagement in the Tonkin Gulf. In fact, the Johnson administration argued that it acted with restraint by refusing to respond to the first attack on Aug. 2, 1964, and retaliated only after North Vietnam made a second attack two days later. But recent research, based among other things on declassified signal intercepts as well as personal recollections, suggests that the second attack probably didn’t take place and that the first was provoked by covert U.S. action against North Vietnam.

According to respected military historian and Vietnam expert John Prados, the U.S. had been pursuing a program of covert naval commando attacks since January 1964 to pressure Hanoi to stop sponsoring operations in South Vietnam. Prados, who as a fellow with the National Security Archive at The George Washington University studied many declassified intercepts, White House tapes, and other documents related to the Tonkin Gulf incident, has concluded that contrary to the Johnson administration’s characterization of the Tonkin Gulf incident—that an American warship simply happened to be cruising in the Gulf to exert a U.S. presence—“the naval battle between the destroyer USS Maddox and several North Vietnamese torpedo boats occurred on August 2, 1964, in the immediate aftermath of a series of 34-A maritime raids on North Vietnamese coastal targets,” including two offshore islands. When Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara briefed U.S. lawmakers on the incident, however, he asserted that the raids on North Vietnam were South Vietnamese naval missions and had nothing to do with the United States, Prados reports.

But the major challenge to the official version of the Tonkin Gulf incident has focused on another question: did a second attack on U.S. warships occur on the night of Aug. 4? In the aftermath of the naval battle of Aug. 2, President Johnson ordered a second U.S. destroyer, the USS C. Turner Joy, to join the Maddox and sail to the Gulf of Tonkin. On the night of Aug. 4, both ships reported that they were coming under attack again and sent messages reporting contacts with the enemy. It was after that alleged second attack that President Johnson ordered retaliatory bombing and asked for the congressional resolution, which passed on Aug. 7.

But the certainty of the second attack was never as clear as the first. “The supposed surface action took place at night and in poor weather,” Prados recalls. “The skipper and four seamen aboard the C. Turner Joy variously claimed having seen a searchlight, boat cockpit lights, smoke at a location where they claimed their gunfire had hit a Vietnamese vessel in the water, and one, or perhaps two, torpedo wakes.” But no physical evidence such as wreckage, bodies, or photographs from Aug. 4 were ever discovered.

Indeed, the documents and transcripts that have been released by the National Security Agency and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum tend to support the consensus among researchers that the “second attack” never happened. Retired Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, meeting with McNamara in 1995, categorically denied that Vietnamese gunboats attacked American destroyers on Aug. 4, while admitting to the attack on Aug. 2. Furthermore, on Oct. 31, 2005, the New York Times reported that according to a classified finding, NSA historian Robert J. Hanyok concluded in 2001 that North Vietnamese intercepts were falsified and evidence skewed, if not for political motives, to cover translation mistakes.

Historians will continue to debate whether policymakers were aware that intelligence reports about the incidents were incomplete—Johnson is said to have told Undersecretary of State George Ball, “Hell, those dumb, stupid sailors were just shooting at flying fish”—or whether the administration believed it was providing Congress with accurate information. What is certain, however, is that the Johnson and his advisers wanted military action against Hanoi and used the incident as a pretext to seek a resolution approving the use of force and creating legal justification for full-blown war.

Critics of the Bush administration have invoked Tonkin before, accusing the White House of citing flawed intelligence about Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction and then trying to cover-up these political and bureaucratic machinations. And as is the case with the Tonkin Gulf incident, we will probably have to wait for the declassification of government documents before we find out whether President Bush and his advisers were aware that their allegations were based on questionable evidence.

But as storm clouds gather over the Persian Gulf, those who studied the administration’s modus operandi in the period leading to the ouster of Saddam Hussein are wondering whether the White House is again manipulating evidence to create the conditions for a U.S. military confrontation.

The new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV, has sharply criticized the administration’s increasingly combative stance, telling the New York Times that efforts to portray Iran as a growing threat are uncomfortably reminiscent of rhetoric about Iraq before the American invasion. He warned that the administration is building a case even as intelligence agencies still know little about either Iran’s internal dynamics or its intentions in the Middle East. “To be quite honest, I’m a little concerned that it’s Iraq again,” the senator said. “This whole concept of moving against Iran is bizarre.”

At the same time, the decision by the Bush administration to appoint Adm. William Fallon to oversee military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has raised red flags among observers in Washington. Why choose a navy admiral to lead two ground wars in the Middle East and South Asia unless you are expecting an “incident” that would trigger a military confrontation with Iran? If that happened, Iran would retaliate by attacking oil platforms and tankers, closing the Strait of Hormuz, and perhaps hitting oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia; the U.S. Navy would then play a key role in protecting the oil flowing from the Persian Gulf.

The Bush administration’s decision to dispatch a second carrier group to the Persian Gulf—the USS John C. Stennis —to back up the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, marking the first time since the invasion of Iraq in 2003 that the U.S. has had two carrier battle groups in the Gulf, raises more concern, as did President Bush’s authorization of American forces in Iraq to pursue Iranian operatives involved in aiding insurgents.

Those like Rockefeller who suspect that the administration is gearing up for war against Iran through a campaign of disinformation could also point to recent media reports that the U.S. is investigating possible Iranian involvement in an attack that killed five American soldiers in Karbala, as well as the continuing barrage of statements by top administration officials accusing Iran of meddling in Iraq.

At the Senate confirmation hearing for his nomination to be deputy secretary of state, intelligence chief John Negroponte said, “Iran has been emboldened in its behavior during the past couple of years and has played a more assertive role and that certainly manifests itself in Iraq, where we have increasing evidence that they have been providing lethal assistance to extremist Shia groups in that country.” Like other officials, Negroponte has downplayed the notion that the U.S. is using “gun diplomacy” to deal with Iran and suggests that Washington is just trying, in the aftermath of setbacks in Iraq, to reassert its position in the Persian Gulf.

But Sen. Barack Obama warned during a hearing against drifting into hostilities with Iran: “You’ve got a policy that appears to be purposely somewhat ambiguous in terms of how the administration is going to pursue Iranians who are on Iraqi soil. This has led to grave concern on the part of many observers that we are stumbling into a more aggressive posture ...”

If the past is any guide, we may less stumble than step—while claiming to have been pushed. You say “Persian Gulf,” I say “Tonkin Gulf.” Let’s go to war.

Leon Hadar is a Cato Institute research fellow in foreign-policy studies and author, most recently, of Sandstorm: Policy Failure in the Middle East.

A week in the life....

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
No. 08/2007

22 – 28 February 2007

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Escalate Attacks on Palestinian Civilians and Property in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT)

· 4 Palestinian were killed by IOF in the West Bank.

· 3 of the victims were extra-judicially executed by IOF in Jenin.

· 28 Palestinian civilians, including two journalists, 4 children and 4 women, were wounded by IOF gunfire.

· IOF attacked an Italian cinema crew in Hebron.

· IOF conducted 43 incursions into Palestinian communities in the West Bank.

· IOF launched a wide scale military campaign on Nablus.

· IOF arrested 55 Palestinian civilians, including 6 children.

· IOF arrested a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Hebron.

· Israeli settlers have continued attacks Palestinian civilians and property in the OPT.

· IOF demolished 3 agricultural facilities in Hebron.

· IOF confiscated 199 donums [1] of agricultural land in Jenin to establish a settler road

· IOF have continued to impose a total siege on the OPT.

· IOF have operated Erez crossing as an international crossing point.

· IOF positioned at various checkpoints in the West Bank arrested 5 Palestinian civilians, including two children.

· The Gaza Strip has suffered from shortages in fuels and basic goods.

Weekly Report: On Israeli Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory

No. 08/2007

22 - 28 February 2007

On Monday, 26 February 2007, an IOF sniper shot dead ‘Anan Mohammed al-Teebi, 42, with a bullet to the neck, and wounded his son, 24-year-old Ashraf, with a bullet to the hand, when he attempted to offer help to his father. The victim was on the roof of his house in the old town, when the IOF sniper shot him. (22- 28 February 2007)

Full Report (PDF) - Link to others

Democracy or Liberty


Does democracy really deserve the praise it receives? According to Webster's Dictionary, democracy is defined as "government by the people; especially: rule of the majority." What's so great about majority rule? Let's look at majority rule, as a decision-making tool, and ask how many of our choices we would like settled by what a majority likes.

Would you want the kind of car that you own to be decided through a democratic process, or would you prefer purchasing any car you please? Ask that same question about decisions such as where you live, what clothes you purchase, what food you eat, what entertainment you enjoy and what wines you drink. I'm sure that if anyone suggested that these choices be subject to a democratic process, you'd deem it tyranny.

I'm not alone in seeing democracy as a variant of tyranny. James Madison, the father of our Constitution, said that in a pure democracy, "there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual." At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Edmund Randolph said, " . . . that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy." John Adams said, "Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide." Chief Justice John Marshall observed, "Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos."

Our founders intended for us to have a limited republican form of government where rights precede government and there is rule of law. Citizens, as well as government officials, are accountable to the same laws. Government intervenes in civil society only to protect its citizens against force and fraud but does not intervene in the cases of peaceable, voluntary exchange. By contrast, in a democracy, the majority rules either directly or through its elected representatives. The law is whatever the government deems it to be. Rights may be granted or taken away.

Clearly, we need government, and that means there must be collective decision-making. Alert to the dangers of majority rule, the Constitution's framers inserted several anti-majority rules. In order to amend the Constitution, it requires a two-thirds vote of both Houses, or two-thirds of state legislatures, to propose an amendment, and requires three-fourths of state legislatures for ratification. Election of the president is not done by a majority popular vote but by the Electoral College.

Part of the reason for having two houses of Congress is that it places an obstacle to majority rule. Fifty-one senators can block the wishes of 435 representatives and 49 senators. The Constitution gives the president a veto to thwart the power of 535 members of Congress. It takes two-thirds of both houses of Congress to override the president's veto.

In Federalist Paper No. 10, James Madison wrote, "Measures are too often decided, not according to the rules of justice and the rights of the minor party, but by the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority." That's another way of saying that one of the primary dangers of majority rule is that it confers an aura of legitimacy and respectability on acts that would otherwise be deemed tyrannical. Liberty and democracy are not synonymous and could actually be opposites.

Salt Lake City Mayor Makes Clear Case for Impeachment

March 2, 2007

A Clear Case for Impeachment

By Mayor Rocky Anderson

This afternoon, I testified before a Washington State Senate committee supporting Sen. Eric Oemig's resolution that calls for Congress to consider impeaching President Bush and Vice President Cheney. I also spoke twice at a rally supporting the impeachment of President Bush. My extended remarks are given below, while my other remarks at the rally and my testimony at the hearing can be read here.

I also submitted to the Washington State Senate a detailed written statement that enumerates a clear and compelling case for the impeachment of President Bush. I appreciate any comments or feedback you may have about this statement.

To restore some modicum of decency and accountability for our nation, and to protect our nation against those who would rule without regard to established law, we must commit ourselves to the rule of law and call for the impeachment and removal from office of President Bush.

Remarks of Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson
Rally in Favor of Impeachment of the
President of the United States

Olympia, Washington
March 1, 2007

Part Two

The people of this great nation deserve a government that promotes our interests and is accountable to our laws. Yet Congress and the Bush administration have consistently evinced a deliberate, flagrant, arrogant disrespect for the law and the common good. Rather than pursuing policies that benefit the American people and further the cause of justice and peace, many of our nation’s political leaders have betrayed a breathtaking dedication to a culture of corruption that encourages blatant dishonesty and willful disregard of US and international law. We are here today to raise our voices out of deep concern for our nation – and for our world.

That’s what true patriots do. Patriots speak up when their nation is suffering tragically from corrupt, incompetent, destructive leadership. Patriots demand that their leaders be held accountable to the law and to the electorate. Patriots call on their elected representatives to impeach their president if he abrogates his responsibilities, violates the law, or evinces a cruel disregard for basic principles of human dignity, in violation of international treaty obligations.

Impeachment of the President of the United States is not to be undertaken, as in the case of Andrew Johnson, simply because of partisan disagreements regarding policies or presidential appointments, or, as in the case of Bill Clinton, because of a partisan desire to exploit a personal violation of the law not involving grave breaches of official responsibilities or serious abuses of power. However, impeachment and removal from office, a vital protection against evisceration of the balance of power among the three branches of government and against betrayals of trust and abuses of power injurious to our nation, should be pursued when, as in the case of George W. Bush, a president misleads Congress and the American people in taking our nation to war; authorizes and supports the kidnapping, incarceration without charge, and torture of human beings; demonstrates utter contempt for the rule of law; and blatantly violates fundamental constitutional protections intended to safeguard individuals against governmental abuse.

Many nations throughout history have been ruled by corrupt, despotic, dishonest leaders. To some, this is simply the way of a world in which, as expressed by the ancient Greek historian Thucydides, "the strong do what they will, and the weak do what they must."

Our nation, however, has prided itself since its founding in fighting against, and distinguishing ourselves from, the sort of tyranny, cruel immorality, and disdain for the rule of law exemplified by George W. Bush. Our nation’s moral standing in the world, our nation’s principled commitment to basic freedoms and individual rights, our nation’s essential democracy – all now depend upon a conscientious, non-partisan determination that our representatives in Congress will, with integrity and without partisan bias, make it clear that a president will not be permitted to hold the office he has abused by egregiously violating the trust, the laws, and the essential principles upon which our country was founded and our Constitution was based.

Anything less than full accountability through the impeachment process betrays our history, our principles, and our notion of what it means to be an American. Anything less betrays the sacrifices so many brave men and women have made to secure freedom and the rule of law in our nation and around the world. If Congress continues its pattern of timid inaction and fails to impeach the president, future generations of Americans will have cause to fear the rise of another corrupt president who will find encouragement from President Bush’s legacy of lawless, authoritarian governance and flagrant fraud—and who, as in the case of President Bush, at least so far, will not be held to account.

Consider the corruption and dishonesty that have led our nation into an unnecessary war, based upon false justifications. Consider the lies that have led to the deaths of over 650,000 people, with many more having been seriously maimed, brain damaged, or rendered mentally ill. As a result of this war, our nation’s reputation throughout much of the world has been destroyed. We have many more enemies bent on our destruction than before our invasion of Iraq. And the hatred toward us has grown to the point that it will take many years, perhaps generations, to overcome the loathing created by our invasion and occupation of a Muslim country.

The invasion and occupation of Iraq has been tragic at every level. More than three thousand American lives have been taken; tens of thousands of US servicemen and servicewomen have suffered serious injuries; hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis have been killed and maimed; many billions of dollars have been wasted; our country is viewed throughout much of the world as a rogue nation that ignores with impunity international law and basic principles of decency; and the future safety and security of our children and grandchildren have been placed at great risk because of the increasing hatred and resentment toward our country in much of the Muslim world arising from what is reasonably perceived as an occupation of a Muslim nation.

Our nation was led into this tragedy through dishonesty – either explicit lies or by means of withholding vital information – by President Bush and members of his administration. A few examples make clear the astounding violations of trust and abuses of power by President Bush, each of them meriting impeachment and removal from office.

On September 7, 2002, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush met with members of the press at Camp David. President Bush referred to a "new" report from the International Atomic Energy Agency—the IAEA—allegedly stating, according to President Bush, that Iraq was "six months away" from building a nuclear weapon. "I don’t know what more evidence we need," stated the President.

He was lying. There was no such report. In fact, numerous IAEA reports consistently denied any indication that Iraq had any nuclear capability, and the IAEA’s chief spokesperson stated that no such report had been issued by the IAEA.

President Bush further betrayed the tremendous trust bestowed upon him after the events of September 11, 2001 by instilling in many of us the fear that Saddam Hussein was seeking to purchase nuclear materials from an African nation. In fact, much of the US intelligence community disagreed. Just as an issuer of stock defrauds investors by withholding material information about a corporation, so too did President Bush defraud our Congress, our country, and much of the international community by failing to disclose information that was provided to him and which was directly contrary to his representations about Hussein’s supposed efforts to build nuclear weapons.

In his January 28, 2003, State of the Union message, President Bush stated: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." He obviously limited his statement to what "the British government" supposedly had learned because he knew, but did not disclose, that our own intelligence services disagreed with the statement.

In an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), presented at a White House background briefing on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, "Key Judgments" included an assessment "that Saddam does not yet have nuclear weapons or sufficient material to make any." President Bush failed to disclose that assessment to Congress and the American people. To make matters worse, he did not disclose the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research—known as INR—conclusion in the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate, that "the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR’s assessment, highly dubious."

The failure by President Bush to disclose that conclusion to Congress and to the American people rendered his statement about Hussein seeking to purchase uranium from an African country fraudulently misleading. That is clearly an impeachable offense.

The fraud about Hussein building up a nuclear capability did not stop with the phony Niger story. During September 2002, Condoleezza Rice and President Bush represented to the public that Hussein was purchasing aluminum tubes to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon. The next month, a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) was delivered to the President. That document virtually screams out the view of various intelligence agencies that the tubes were of no use in a nuclear program. That did not stop President Bush, however, from stating in a major speech the next month that "Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons."

In a January 9, 2003 report to the UN Security Council, the IAEA reported that the aluminum tubes were not directly suitable for the manufacture of centrifuges. Again, not allowing the findings of the IAEA or of various US intelligence agencies to get in the way of his fraud upon Congress and the American people, President Bush outrageously represented in his State of the Union Message on January 28, 2003 that "Our intelligence sources tell us that [Hussein] has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production." No greater cause for impeachment can be imagined than misleading our Congress and misleading the American people about whether we are facing a nuclear threat while leading our nation to a tragic, illegal war of aggression.

The fraud was dramatically compounded when a so-called summary of the NIE was distributed to Congress, stating, falsely, that: "All intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons and that these tubes could be used in a centrifuge enrichment program." The DOE and INR dissents, which expressed the accurate situation, were omitted. That omission rendered the representation to Congress, and to the public, false and misleading – a fraud clearly meriting impeachment and removal from office.

The tragic, bloody invasion and occupation of Iraq, by order of President Bush, is a clearly impeachable offense, violating the UN Charter, the Kellogg- Briand Pact, and the Nuremberg Tribunal Pact. All of these agreements are international treaties that the US has signed. Under Article VI of the Constitution, international treaties are, along with the Constitution, the "supreme law of the land." In carrying out the invasion and occupation of Iraq, President Bush violated not only numerous international conventions, but also US domestic law.

If there is any hope for the United Nations and international law to further the cause of peace, the provisions of the UN Charter prohibiting wars of aggression must be honored. To permit President Bush to be unaccountable for his contemptuous disregard of the UN Charter would not only undermine the rule of law, but would set a disastrous precedent destroying the very essence of the UN Charter – to provide for the peaceful resolution of disputes between nations.

In addition to the treaty obligations of the US under the UN Charter, the Nuremberg Tribunal Charter, to which the US committed itself, provides that the "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties" is a crime against peace punishable under international law. In short, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a war against a nation posing no imminent threat to the United States, was and continues to be a crime under the Nuremberg Charter.

To describe President Bush as a war criminal is not hyperbolic. He has blatantly violated every relevant treaty and constitutional provision in leading the US to a so-called "pre-emptive" war against Iraq, without any justification in law or in fact. He must be held accountable, through impeachment and removal from office, or the many violated treaties and constitutional provisions are nothing more than paper and pretense.

Following September 11, 2001, President Bush illegally authorized the warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, in clear violation of the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution and in direct violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. After engaging in the practice for more than two years, President Bush misled the public by stating that "any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires – a wiretap requires a court order." It was not until a New York Times reporter broke the story in December 2005, that Bush admitted he had authorized warrantless wiretapping through the National Security Agency. He also claimed, in complete disregard of the US Constitution and relevant domestic law, that what he was doing was legal. Last August, a U.S. District Court judge declared that Bush has violated the First Amendment, noting, "It was never the intent of the framers to give the president such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights." A judge on the FISA panel even quit in protest of the Bush administration’s outrageous violations of the law.

Impeachment and removal from office is the only appropriate remedy for a President who asserts such abusive, authoritarian power, in contravention of fundamental rights and liberties embodied in the US Constitution. It is the only means by which we can make it clear in the future that no President can so casually override our precious freedoms.

President Bush has also tremendously undermined the moral standing of the United States by allowing the CIA to kidnap people in other countries, incarcerate them without charges, and torture them. His shameful dereliction of duty in this regard is a blight on our nation’s honor that can be remedied only by impeachment.

Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen, was deported to Syria from JFK Airport. Once in Syria, he was beaten with electrical cables for two weeks, then imprisoned in an underground cell for the better part of a year.

Muslim cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr was kidnapped in Milan, Italy, by US and Italian intelligence agents and sent to Egypt, where he was tortured during his four-year detention.

Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen, was kidnapped by CIA agents and flown to a secret prison in Afghanistan, where he was tortured during his five months in prison there. Apparently after it was discovered he was not who his captors thought he was, he was taken to Albania and left in a forest. To this day, he has no idea why he was kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured.

Those are among approximately 150 foreign nationals who have been victims of "extraordinary rendition." Under this CIA program, intelligence agents kidnap people and send them to secret sites abroad for interrogation. Numerous people detained under this program have experienced severe physical and psychological torture, and inhumane and humiliating treatment. We are left to ask: What has our great nation become when our president orders and condones such atrocities?

The practice of sending a person to a country where there are substantial grounds for believing he or she will be tortured is clearly prohibited by the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment, which, as an international treaty to which the US is a party, is the "supreme law of the land." A separate federal statute also prohibits the practice. The CIA’s role in kidnapping and imprisoning people without charges in countries infamous for torturing detainees, such as Egypt, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Jordan, and Uzbekistan, constitutes a clear violation of US and international law.

Bush administration policies and statements stripping detainees of basic protections under international law have led to the torture and murder of prisoners, many of whom have never been charged with any crime. Consider the case of Abed Hamed Mowhoush.

Mowhoush turned himself over to US forces in Iraq in November 2003. Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer, who did not receive anything other than "sparse" guidelines about how to conduct prisoner interrogations, received a captain’s memo saying there were no specific rules of engagement for interrogations in Iraq. Captured detainees were considered "unprivileged combatants," a status the Bush Administration had suggested meant detainees were not to be afforded the protections of the Geneva Conventions. With little guidance and the sense that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to Mowhoush, Welshofer called in a team that beat Mowhoush with sledgehammer handles. Later, Mowhoush’s hands were bound, he was struck repeatedly in the painful spot near the humerus, and was doused with water. Finally, Welshofer shoved Mowhoush, who was wrapped with electrical cord, head-first into a sleeping bag. Welshofer sat on Mowhoush’s chest and blocked his nose and mouth. Mowhoush, whose autopsy revealed "massive" bruising and five broken ribs, died of asphyxia due to smothering and chest compression.

The torture and killing of Mowhoush is only one of dozens of cases of murder – and hundreds of cases of cruel torture – at the hands of US personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo. Given the scale and moral depravity of these circumstances, Congress must investigate the extent to which President Bush has been directly involved in orchestrating the unconscionable treatment of foreign nationals detained by US personnel as part of the "war on terror" or the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

While we urgently need to know the precise extent to which President Bush directed US military personnel to torture detainees and prisoners of war, we already know the President has utterly abrogated his duty to ensure the laws of the United States are carried out. Under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution, the president must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." With respect to the treaties and other laws prohibiting torture and other mistreatment of detainees, President Bush has utterly failed to meet his constitutional duty. President Bush even added a signing statement to the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 that states, contrary to the separation of powers so crucial to our constitutional system of government, that he has the sole authority to interpret and enforce the act. For his gross dereliction of duty in not ensuring the faithful execution of US law, President Bush should be impeached and removed from office.

In addition, under the Nuremberg principle of "command responsibility," President Bush’s failure to stop and punish atrocities renders him culpable for them. For that, he should be held accountable through impeachment and removal from office. The Nuremberg principles are not to be applied solely to the vanquished. They are to be given effect as to all who subscribed to them, including the United States.

Sexual humiliations, incarceration for years without charges being brought, lit cigarettes put out in detainees’ ears, inmates hanging by their arms, brutal beatings, attacks by unmuzzled dogs, false executions, sensory deprivations, psychological torture, waterboarding, dozens of killings, and other forms of heinous torture of human beings—if these acts—consonant with Bush administration policy yet in violation of numerous treaty obligations and US domestic law—are not deserving of impeachment and removal from office, nothing ever would be.

The lies and the callous immorality of President Bush, and the outrages on human dignity he has perpetrated or countenanced, are a disgrace to our great nation. The President has weakened our country and sullied our reputation around the world. The time is long past due for the American people to stand up and speak out against this disastrous presidency and the Congress that refuses to hold it accountable. We are here today to say, "No more!"

No more Iraq war.

No more God-is-on-our-side religious nonsense to justify this immoral, illegal war.

No more torture of human beings.

No more denial of the right of habeas corpus.

No more kidnapping of people and sending them off to secret prisons in nations where they will be tortured.

No more glorification of torture by the entertainment industry.

No more centrally-owned, hysteria-driven, corporate news media complicit in selling the Bush administration’s lies to the American people.

No more unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping of American citizens.

No more manipulation of national intelligence for political purposes.

No more manipulation of our news media with false propaganda.

No more authoritarian assertions of power by the president.

No more silence by the American people.

This is a new day. We can unify in our insistence upon the truth, upon peace-making, upon more humane treatment of our brothers and sisters around the world.

We will continue to call for the impeachment of President Bush, a most appropriate response to his blatant abuses of power. We will continue to resist the lies, the deception, the outrages. We will insist that peace be pursued, and that, as a nation, we help those in need. Let us join together to break the cycle of hatred, of intolerance, of violence. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

We urge Congress, be silent no more.

We urge all Americans, regardless of party, be silent no more.

Let impeachment be the first step toward national reconciliation – and toward penance for the outrages committed in our nation’s name.

Nuggets from a Nuthouse: Meaningful Elections and Establishment Relativism

Z Magazine, March 2007

(Part 4)

By Edward S. Herman

The U.S. establishment takes a “pragmatic” view of the merits of elections, with approval or disapproval depending on how well it “works,” as perceived by the dominant interests. Call it “establishment relativism.” We know that the rightwing hates relativism, but there are some relativisms that they can accept, mainly by playing dumb. When the good guys win--and “good” means serviceable to U.S. interests as seen by the corporate/political establishment--there is endless generosity and looking-the-other-way in evaluating that win. In Mexico, for example, when Salinas won by a fraudulent recount in 1988, and Calderon won by probable fraud in 2006, there were no serious complaints here; and when Yeltsin won a true laugher in 1996, helping consolidate the triumph of the looting oligarchs and death of any possible meaningful democracy in Russia, there was positive enthusiasm in this country. But when a Chavez or Hamas wins, pragmatism calls for doubts about the honesty of the election (Chavez) and/or questions about the threat to peace in a victory of “terrorists” (Hamas).

In the Chavez case, the doubts and threats of his electoral legitimacy were so severe that the United States colluded in a coup in 2002, that was quickly reversed but demonstrated the extremely obvious fact that U.S. leaders are not about to respect election results when the wrong party wins. Much fault was found with Chavez’s further electoral victories, but it became very difficult to claim unfairness with his solid majorities, no evidence of tampering, and with the bulk of the Venezuelan media furiously anti-Chavez. (Of course, for the U.S. establishment Chavez is showing his true colors by possibly refusing to renew the license of a TV station that openly supported the 2002 coup--an action for which a station in the United States in an analogous situation would almost surely have been closed down immediately and its top officers prosecuted for treason.)

The Hamas case is equally interesting. Instead of respecting what seems to have been a quite honest vote, with the wrong party winning Israel began a brutal military assault on the Palestinians, arrested Hamas legislators, and cut off funds owed the Palestinians. These and other actions were designed to beat and starve the Palestinians into ousting Hamas, but the Israelis were also using Hamas as an excuse to crush any resistance to ethnic cleansing and to induce a greater “voluntary” exit from the territory. The United States and EU cooperated in this brutal process, the former along with Israel also giving financial support and arms to Fatah in order to strengthen the opposition to Hamas, and possibly encourage a civil war--recall the U.S. and Israeli encouragement and support of the Iraq-Iran war, with occasional explicit mention of the merit of mutual killing between these problematic states.

In this same time frame Israel was committing major war crimes in a genocidal process in Gaza that violated Western “enlightenment values” as well as all kinds of international laws, and steadily advanced their ethnic cleansing on the West Bank and in Jerusalem. Despite this, in a historically unique action the EU actually imposed sanctions on the victims of the occupation for voting the wrong way. Hamas’s terrorist record and refusal to recognize Israel is the rationale here; Israel’s vastly greater state terror and steady law violations produce no negative actions—and Israel’s voting Ariel Sharon in as president in 2001, the butcher of Sabra-Shatila and Qibya, whose terroristic killings exceeded that of Hamas by a wide margin, and were greater than those of Carlos the Jackal by better than 10-1, again elicited no complaints or penalties.

It is also of interest that in Palestine, Hamas opponent and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas is calling for new elections, which Israel and the United States support as they rush money as well as arms to Abbas. There is no legal basis for such a call, but because the election produced the wrong result a new election is pressed. On the other hand, in Lebanon, where with Hezbollah representatives leaving the government there is solid legal grounds for the calling of a new election, here the United States and its allies demur and oppose the idea. It would very likely give Hezbollah more political power and reduce that of a Western-supported client, so the attitude toward an election to ascertain the people’s will is different from the Palestine case.

Another interesting case of election pragmatics is the way the 2006 mid-term U.S. election is working out. Bush was free to escalate the Iraq war after the 2004 election because he won and thus had an election go-ahead. The Democrats and media put up little opposition. In the 2006 election the Republicans lost heavily, and both direct verbal evidence of voter sentiment and poll results show that a strong majority of the public want the United States out of Iraq in two years or less. But the corporate/political establishment does not want a quick exit. The same lobby that has produced the Western support for Israel’s violent response to the Hamas electoral victory and that gives its imprimatur to Israeli apartheid and ethnic cleansing, wants the United States to stay and even to broaden the war to Iran. The result is that Bush, having just suffered a crushing election loss, and with a popularity rating in the 28-31 percent range, is still able to “decide” and escalate the Iraq war. The last election had a “bad” result from the elite viewpoint, and it will therefore have little effect on policy in the Middle East. After all, this is a democracy constrained to work for the “national interest.”

Principle of Non-Intervention

U.S. intervention in elections in Palestine, Venezuela, Russia, Yugoslavia, the Ukraine, Nicaragua (etc.) has been massive, and so has intervention in the forms of military and economic aid and direct military attack. There are almost no holds barred, and almost nothing in the way of subversion and military attack that the mainstream media won’t normalize. After all we are WE, the good and necessary policeman in service to global interests. It’s revealing that although the invasion-occupation of Iraq was not only based on lies but was a classic case of aggression in violation of the UN Charter, this is unmentionable in the media--WE have aggression rights, by patriotic premise.

Of course we still believe in the principle of non-intervention, but as in the case of elections, with that special pragmatic-relativistic touch. Thus the United States joined with seven Middle Eastern states (Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, and the U.A.E.) in January to issue a statement which affirmed, among other things, that "disputes among states should be settled peacefully and in accordance with international norms, and that relations among all countries should be based on mutual respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states, and on the principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of other nations." ("Gulf Cooperation Council - Plus Two's Ministerial Statement," U.S. Department of State, January 16, 2007). It is obvious that this accolade to the principles of sovereignty and noninterference was directed not against the March 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq or a possible U.S.-Israeli military attack on Iran, but rather against Iran and Syria, which have faced the U.S. charge that they are interfering in the internal affairs of the newly liberated Iraq. Their interventions in a struggle in a next door neighbor destabilized by an aggression from across the ocean are illicit—the big and ongoing one from a distant power is not only licit, it isn’t even intervention.

Bush and his associates are now warning Iran on a daily basis against intervening in Iraq. They ignore that Iraq is now supposedly a sovereign state whose leaders are supposedly in charge of deciding who can and who cannot intervene and do business in Iraq territory.

This is not hypocrisy: it reflects that internalized belief that the Global Godfather has an inherent right to straighten out the world’s unruly children. His interventions are in a separate class. When Paul Wolfowitz stated that “I think all foreigners should stop interfering in the internal affairs of Iraq” (NYT, July 22, 2003), he just took for granted the Global Godfather’s right to be at home anywhere within his domains.

Rule of Law

The same point holds for the rule of law. We believe in the rule of law, and our leaders refer to it regularly as something that we want to provide, along with “stability.” But as with non-intervention, the rule of law doesn’t apply to us, by our self-designated rights as the most powerful, implicitly good, and self-appointed global policeman. It might interfere with our bringing peace and stability everywhere. The new classic is of course the invasion-occupation of Iraq, 2003-2007, where we ran roughshod over the UN charter and hence over U.S. law as well, given that the Charter is an international agreement that becomes part of U.S. law. The same is true of the violations of the international conventions against torture. The Military Commissions Act tries to exempt U.S. officials from the reach of the international laws on torture, but it remains a constitutional issue as to whether this can be done even in its application at home.

Of course, if you are strong enough and your elite supports you, the rule of law can be ignored simply by virtue of superior force. Thus when the International Court found against the United States in a case brought by Nicaragua in 1986, and called for reparations for the “unlawful use of force,” the United States paid no attention to the court ruling. And, importantly, the U.S. establishment didn’t complain, but implicitly or explicitly sanctioned this brazen refusal to abide by the rule of law. In a dramatic illustration, the New York Times supported this refusal editorially, declaring the International Court a “hostile forum” ("America's Guilt - or Default," July 1, 1986) --a lie, and its editorial larded with errors of fact and silly chauvinistic bias, but demonstrating the paper’s own integration into the imperial enterprise and resultant willingness to disregard mere matters of law (repeated in 2002-2003 when the editors never mentioned the problem of UN Charter prohibitions against aggression).

The international community--that is, governments and international institutions, as opposed to the world’s people--also accepts and even supports the U.S. refusal to abide by the rule of law. Not only did it do nothing to stop the Iraq aggression in 2003, or to punish the aggressors, the Security Council soon gave its sanction to the U.S. occupation in a classic case of rewarding the villain. The Security Council also cooperates with the United States in supporting Israel’s illegal occupation and massive ethnic cleansing. And now it is helping prepare the ground for an Israeli-U.S. attack on Iran by imposing sanctions and Chapter VII demands on Iran (see "Hegemony and Appeasement: Setting Up the Next U.S.-Israeli Target (Iran) For Another 'Supreme International Crime'," Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, ZNet, January 27, 2007 ). The rule of law internationally is dead in the water.

It is also highly relevant that the Bush administration has been replacing the rule of law at home with the superior rights of the executive, attacking a string of constitutional protections of individual rights as well as the rights of legislatures and courts. This is not a case of blowback from the disregard of international law abroad; instead, the enhanced disregard abroad goes hand-in-hand with the shrinking adherence to law at home. They are mutually supportive and reinforcing. But the United States remains committed to the rule of law--when protesters at home violate local statutes, or black ghetto residents are caught using marijuana, or Iran does not abide by some intrusive ruling of the pathetic Security Council caving in to the U.S. program setting Iran up for a fresh U.S. aggression (see “Hegemony and Appeasement,” supra).

China’s Flexing Its Muscles

In the nuthouse, any action by the United States in the way of enhancing its military superiority is treated by the mainstream media with great objectivity. There might be a hint that it may cost a lot of money and doubts may be raised about its urgency and even whether it will work (if it is a new weapon). But it will not be treated as a possible serious threat to other countries, destabilizing and promising a renewed arms race, making war more likely, unaffordable in a world with much poverty and major problems that call for large resources--in short, insane. No. The media are objective, which means deeply irresponsible and contributing to lunacy. (Years ago the New York Times had an almost regular annual column by Seymour Melman in which he would list the foregone civil functions that were sacrificed by a comparable list of weapons, with price tags noted. This apparently was too painful--and enlightening--for the establishment to bear, and was terminated some years back.)

Even when the Bush administration announced an intent to make nuclear weapons part of the regular war arsenal and improve them, and an intent to prevent any challenges to U.S. military superiority by the possible use of force, and even naming countries, including China, as potential threats to U.S. dominance, the media barely reported these lunatic plans. They certainly never portray them as they should--as in a class with Mein Kampf and suffering from comparable lunacy.

On the other hand, as China has substantially increased its military budget in recent years, although from a very low initial level, this has aroused concern in the U.S. military and political establishment. China’s military budget has risen to one-seventh of that of the United States (in 2006, 66 versus 441 billion), so obviously this is a worrisome matter given that, as Donald Rumsfeld pointed out back in June 2005, “Since no nation threatens China, one must wonder: ‘Why this growing investment…these continuing robust deployments?’” Rumsfeld also mentioned that China seemed to be preparing to “project power” in its neighborhood.

Of course, China has no bases in North America, no fleets of warships around the North American coasts, and no military alliances with any country in North or South America. The United States has bases all around China, fleets of warships off the Chinese coast, has regular military exercises in that area, and has military alliances with many countries in Asia. In February 2005 it formalized new security ties with Japan that even announced a joint U.S.-Japanese call for a solution to issues in the Taiwan straits.

We are reaching here the limits of hypocrisy and the double standard. China is a threat because it is getting armed to the point where it might project power in its neighborhood, and maybe even defend itself sufficiently from some Global Godfather projecting power everywhere, allowing it to constrain the Godfather a bit. China is a threat to the Godfather only because of those possibilities--it cannot threaten the Godfather directly. On the other hand, the Godfather openly threatens China, has even listed it as a potential challenger who will not be permitted to rise to an effective challenging level, by implication through the use of force. The Godfather also threatens China by its military deployments and alliances. This is only a non-threat on the ludicrous ultra-chauvinist assumption that the Godfather is good, generous, peace-loving and without any seriously conflicting interests that might cause it to exercise force against China.

It is well-known to even casual observers that the rapid growth of China has forced it to look aggressively for independent oil supplies to meet its escalating needs, and it is clear that it will be competing with the United States in obtaining such supplies. In that competition the possession of overwhelming force on one side and serious weakness on the other could be costly to the weak. And in that competition the use of force might be helpful in obtaining privileged access to limited oil resources.

The China threat is an on-and-off-again phenomenon that has been on the upswing in recent years, clearly not based on any real security threat, but consistent with the imperial project of absolute domination. It is also a windfall for the military-industrial complex, and may be cultivated in substantial measure to provide it with growing and profitable markets and a raison-d’etre for its continued massive absorption of budget resources. Actual violence is constrained by the huge mutual dependence of the two economies, but who knows what the future holds if China keeps growing and arming itself, and if the rulers of the nuthouse need a diversion to mobilize the population and give them continued power to rule and loot?

Of course this all depends on whether the New York Times, its media associates, the intellectual class, and the Democrats, will go along with this Kafkasque pretence that the Chinese threaten us rather than that we threaten them, and allow the MIC and Pentagon to continue to absorb vast resources to kill on false pretenses—that is, to continue to make the United States a genuine global menace and nuthouse. It also depends on whether the U.S. public can finally arouse itself to fight for its own and global interests--and sanity. Given the ready mobilization against that not very dire Iran threat that we see moving forward today it is not easy to be optimistic.

U.S. stocks fell for the seventh time in eight days, pushing the market to its worst week since January 2003

U.S. Stocks Slump as Confidence Falls; Home Depot, Alcoa Drop

China Squeeze: Stephen Roach


February 28, 2007

By Stephen S. Roach | New York

Like nearly everything else in the world these days, it now appears that global stock market corrections are made in China. I have no idea if the rout that began in China was just a brief flash or the start of something big. But I have long felt that something has to give in China. This may well be the beginning of an important venting process.

The basic premise of this story is that China — despite its remarkable successes on the economic development front — now has a seriously unbalanced economy. The main problem is a runaway investment boom. By our estimates, in 2006, fixed asset investment exceeded 45% of Chinese GDP — a record for China and, in fact, a record for any major economy in the world (see accompanying chart). By comparison, Japan’s investment ratio in the 1960s — the period of maximum rebuilding from the destruction of World War II — never exceeded 34% of GDP. China’s annual growth in fixed asset investment has averaged 26% over the past four years. Should the investment boom continue at this pace, the odds of capacity excesses and a deflationary endgame will only increase. That’s the very last thing China wants or needs.

The Chinese government recognizes the perils of just such a possibility. For nearly three years, it has conducted an on-and-off tightening campaign aimed at cooling down its overheated investment sector. Following relatively limited actions first implemented in the spring of 2004, Chinese authorities have upped the ante in the past eight months. The People’s Bank of China has raised its short-term policy rate twice by a total of slightly more than 50 basis points, and beginning in mid-2006 the central bank boosted bank reserve requirements five times in increments of 50 bps from 7.5% to 10% — the last such action taking effect on 25 February.

The problem for China is that it is still very much a blended economy —both state and market driven. As such, market-based policy actions — especially interest rate adjustments — have had only limited success, at best. Two additional factors compound this problem: First, Chinese banks run chronic excess reserve positions; reserves amounted to 14% of total deposits by year-end 2006 — well above the mandated 10% requirement set by the latest policy action. That means, of course, that recent increases in bank reserve ratios are not a binding constraint on the banking system. Second, much of China’s bank lending remains outside the scope of the central control of its monetary authorities; dominated by a vast and highly fragmented system of autonomous local banks, there is only limited traction between monetary policy adjustments and broad trends in Chinese bank lending. In light of that disconnect, together with only limited development of a domestic corporate bond market, Chinese macro officials have had to rely largely on “administrative controls” — namely, a case-by-case project approval mechanism — to rein in the excesses of a runaway investment boom.

The results of this effort have been mixed. Courtesy of the administrative edicts issued by the National Development and Reform Commission — the modern-day counterpart of China’s old central planning bureau — investment growth slowed from near 30% at the start of 2006 to around 14% at the end of the year. Unfortunately, bank lending went the other way — actually accelerating from 13% y-o-y growth in mid-2006, when the latest tightening campaign began in earnest, to 16% by December. That, in a nutshell, could well be the key to this story: China’s central bank has been unable to get traction on bank credit expansion at the same the central planners have succeeded in achieving traction in prompting the investment slowdown. This has resulted in an excess of bank-induced liquidity creation that is undoubtedly spilling over into the financial system. As a doubling of the Shanghai A-share index over the past six months suggests, the Chinese stock market appears to have been a major beneficiary of this mismatch.

Here’s where the story gets especially interesting — and, admittedly, somewhat conjectural. In China, stability is everything. The Chinese leadership believes it cannot afford to lose control of either its real economy or its financial markets. Pure market-based systems can rely on interest rates, currencies, fiscal policies, and other macro stabilization instruments to contain the excesses. A blended Chinese economy does not have that option. The quasi-fixed currency regime compounds the macro control problem — making it difficult for China manage its currency in a tight range without fostering excess liquidity creation. That puts the onus on Chinese policymakers to opt for non-market control tactics. Just as China has moved to bring its central planners into the business of containing the excesses in the real economy through administrative measures, I suspect it now feels compelled to rely on a similar approach in order to deal with excesses in its financial system.

All this puts the onus on China’s financial regulators to face up to the risks inherent in any asset bubble — in the current instance, an equity bubble. That’s especially the case in the weeks just before the annual early March meeting of the National People’s Congress — always a critical and delicate point in the Chinese policy cycle. In that context, there were countless rumors of government intervention in the markets on 27 February. The only such action our China team has been able to verify — and it’s an important one — pertains to State-directed sales of its massive holdings of so-called reformed shares. Apparently, yesterday (27 February) it became public information that various local affiliate holding entities under the SASAC (State-owned Assets and Supervision Administration Commission) have been reducing government stakes in about 15 listed Chinese companies by close to the annual limit of 5% of total outstanding shares. Following the equity market reforms of 2005, these previously unlisted shares have since been classified as market tradable shares — thereby opening the door for actions such as those which became evident on 27 February. The 9% one-day plunge in Chinese A-shares could certainly be interpreted as a sign that “inside sellers” played a key role in sparking the decline — either acting at the explicit request of the government or out of fiduciary conviction that the end was close at hand.

Inside selling or not, the bottom line is that China’s macro control imperatives are a critical ingredient of its overall stability objectives. And in recent years, risks have been multiplying on the control front. Just as China cannot afford an overhang of excess capacity, it cannot afford a major equity bubble. Lacking in market-based mechanisms to address these problems, the administrative option remains a very important tool in the Chinese policy arsenal. So far, that’s mainly been true on the real side of the economy. The near-parabolic increase in the Chinese equity market over the past six months is good reason to believe this strategy is about to be tested on the financial side of the economy.

In the last five years, China has emerged as a major engine on the supply side of the global economy. But with that achievement has come a new set of risks — especially an overheated investment sector and an equity bubble. These two problems are related in that they are both very visible manifestations of China’s control problem. The sharp break of share prices on 27 February may well be symptomatic of China’s increased determination on the macro control front. Ultimately, this is good news for China and the broader global economy — it sets the stage for balanced and sustainable growth. But for those counting on open-ended Chinese growth, any such slowdown could come as a rude awakening. The China squeeze now appears to be on in earnest.

A Review of Chalmers Johnson's Nemesis - The Last Days of the American Republic

Thursday, March 01, 2007

By Stephen Lendman

Chalmers Johnson is professor emeritus of the University of California, San Diego where he taught for 30 years as well as at UC, Berkeley (where he was educated). At Berkeley, he was chairman of the Center for Chinese Studies and its Department of Political Studies. He's currently president of the Japan Policy Research Institute (JPRI), a not-for-profit research and public affairs organization involved in public education relating to Japan and international relations in the Pacific region. Johnson is also a prolific writer and author of 17 books, numerous articles and various other publications.

From 1967 through 1973, he served as well as a consultant to the Office of National Estimates (ONE) within the CIA, and during the Cold War years was, by his own characterization, a former "spear-carrier for the empire." At least since the age of George Bush, however, Johnson radically transformed himself into one of the nation's sharpest and most important intellectual critics of the current administration having now completed the third and last volume of his "inadvertent trilogy" in his newest book Nemesis that's the subject of this review.

The previous two he refers to are Blowback based on 1953 CIA terminology in the aftermath of the spy agency's first ever engineered overthrow of a foreign leader - democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq ushering in the 26 year tryannical rule of Shah Reza Pahlavi who was himself forcibly ousted in the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Volume two was The Sorrows of Empire - Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic. Volume three is Nemesis - The Last Days of the American Republic and subject of this review that hopefully will encourage readers to get the book and read the others in Johnson's trilogy to get the full picture of his powerfully vital message.

Combined, the three volumes show how imperial hubris and overreach have undermined the republic. Johnson characterizes it as dealing "with the way arrogant and misguided American policies have headed us for a series of catastrophes comparable to our disgrace and defeat in Vietnam or even to the sort of extinction that befell....the Soviet Union (that he believes is) now unavoidable." In his view, the present state of the nation is dire, and it's "too late for mere scattered reforms of our government or bloated military to make much difference."

Our democracy and way of life are now threatened because of our single-minded pursuit of empire with a well-entrenched militarism driving it that's become so powerful and pervasive it's now an uncontrollable state within the state. History is clear on this teaching we can choose as could all empires before us. We can keep ours and lose our democracy, but we can't have both. Rome made the wrong choice and perished. Britain chose more wisely and survived. We must now choose, and so far the signs are ominous. Our current behavior under all administrations post-WW II requires resources and commitments abroad that in the end, Johnson believes, "will inevitably undercut our domestic democracy and....produce a military dictatorship or its civilian equivalent." We're perilously close already because a hyper-reactionary statist administration hijacked the government and is driving the nation to tyranny and ruin.

The evidence post-9/11 shows it:

-- A nation facing no outside threats permanently at war.

-- Secret torture-prisons around the world with no accountability to which anyone, anywhere for any reason can be sent never to return or receive justice.

-- The most secretive, intrusive and repressive government in our history and a president who's a congenital, serial liar.

-- Social decay at home.

-- An unprecedented wealth disparity and extent of corporate power. Former US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis warned years ago: "We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

-- A de facto one party state with two wings and a president claiming "unitary executive" powers ignoring the rule of law and doing as he pleases in the name of national security on his say alone.

-- The absence of checks and balances and separation of powers with no restraint on a reckless "boy-emperor" Executive on a "messianic mission."

-- A secret intelligence establishment with near-limitless funding operating without oversight.

-- A dominant corporate-controlled media serving as a national thought-control police and collective quasi-state ministry of information and propaganda glorifying imperial wars to "spread democracy" without letting on they're for conquest, domination and repression.

-- An omnipotent military-industrial complex Dwight Eisenhower couldn't have imagined when he warned us nor could George Washington, to no avail. In his Farewell Address in September, 1796, Washington said: "Overgrown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty." He meant large standing armies leading to an imperial presidency. They destroy our system of checks and balances and separation of powers and in the end our freedom.

-- A weak, servile Congress acceding to a dominant president under a system of authoritarian rule keeping a restive population in line it fears one day no longer will tolerate being denied essential services so the nation's wealth can go for imperial wars and handouts to the rich.

-- A cesspool of corruption stemming from incestuous ties between government and business mocking any notions of government of, for or by the people.

Johnson points out America is plagued with the same dynamic that doomed other past empires unwilling to change - "isolation, overstretch, the uniting of local and global forces opposed to imperialism, and in the end bankruptcy" combined with authoritarian rule and loss of personal freedom. Hence, the title of the book - Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance and punisher of hubris and arrogance in Greek mythology. She's already here among us, unseen and patiently stalking our way of life as a free nation awaiting the moment she chooses to make her presence known that won't be pleasant when she does. Johnson compares her to Wagner's Brunnhilde in his opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen. Unlike Nemesis, she collects heros, not fools and hypocrites. But she and Nemesis both announce themselves the same way - "Only the doomed see me," even though we'll all feel her presence and suffer her sting.

Our present crisis isn't just from our military adventurism in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's from growing international anger and revulsion that America is no longer trusted with a president showing contempt for the law including our treaty obligations Article 6 of the Constitution says are the "supreme Law of the Land." They include the Third Geneva Convention (GCIII) of 1949 covering the treatment of prisoners in time of war and Fourth Geneva Convention (GCIV) the same year on protection of civilians in wartime in enemy hands or under occupation by a foreign power.

No authority gives presidents, governments or militaries the right to ignore them, but this president and government flaunt them openly, almost gleefully They practically boast about it, enraging people everywhere including allies and the entire Muslim world this country collectively demonizes as terrorists, militants and Islamofascists in its concocted "war on terror" the Pentagon now calls the "Long War" that won't end in our lifetime.

In early 2003, Johnson warned us about "the sorrows already invading our be our fate for years to come: perpetual war, a collapse of constitutional government, endemic official lying and disinformation, and finally bankruptcy." Then and now, he still hopes Americans will see the threat and act before it's too late, but time, he believes, is short, and overall, he's not hopeful. His newest book explains how we got here, and what we must do to avoid our appointment with Nemesis who's very patient, but even hers has limits and we're approaching it.

This review covers the essence and flavor of Johnson's case he makes in seven powerful chapters. They're not recommended at bedtime.

Militarism and Breakdown of Constitutional Government

Johnson begins by noting other 20th century empires that rose and fell with parallels to our situation today. He cites among others the Brits, Soviets, Nazis, Japanese, and Ottomans to press his case that we like them, and ancient Rome earlier, "are approaching the edge of a huge waterfall and are about to plunge over it." He quotes historian Kevin Baker's fear we're perilously close to the day when our Congress, like the Roman Senate in 27 BC, will use its power for the last time before turning it over to a military dictator. Based on the past six years, it's arguable it's already with a civilian one.

The Bush-Cheney administration brought us to this point, but the crisis didn't start with them. It began at the beginning when Benjamin Franklin warned us we have a Republic if we can keep it. It advanced gradually but accelerated post-WW II when we emerged as the only dominant nation left standing and planned to keep it that way causing the "sorrows" we now face - an imperial presidency, erosion of checks and balances and separation of powers, and a culture of militarism that's a power unto itself that today who would dare challenge.

The Founders tried preventing the kind of tyranny colonists endured under King George III. They invented a system of constitutionally mandated republican government with a federal authority sharing power with the states and three separate branches in Washington able to check and balance each other with the single most important power put in the hands of Congress so presidents would never have it - the ability to declare war. James Madison, Father of the Constitution, said it's because: "Of all the enemies to liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.... (Delegating) such powers (to the president) would have struck, not only at the fabric of the Constitution, but at the foundation of all well organized and well checked governments."

The last times Congress used its sole power were on December 8, 1941 after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and on December 11 after Germany and Italy declared war on America because their Axis Power obligations required them to do it and Hitler's and "Il Duce's" imperial eyes were bigger than their realpolitik stomachs.

Today more than two centuries later, Benjamin Franklin's warning hits home harder than ever as the Founders' constitutional framework has nearly disintegrated. The president is more powerful than a monarch. Along with the military, he has his own private army in the form of a clandestine CIA plus control of all 15 extraconstitutional intelligence organizations. They and the military answer to no one including the Congress because they operate secretly with undisclosed budgets (even the Pentagon has in part), and the law of the land is just an artifact, powerless to constrain them.

In Nemesis, Johnson concentrates on the power of the military and a single intelligence agency, the CIA. He says upfront he believes "we will never again know peace, nor in all probability survive very long as a nation, unless we abolish the CIA, restore intelligence collecting to the State Department, and remove all but purely military functions from the Pentagon." Even if we do it, he now believes it's too late as the nation once called a model democracy "may have been damaged beyond repair (and) it will take a generation or more (at best) to overcome the image of 'America as torturer'"and rogue state showing contempt for international law, human rights, and ordinary people everywhere. It's not what the Founders conceived nor how things should have been in a democratic state Lincoln said at Gettysburg was "of the people, by the people, for the people...." Today it's only for the privileged.

It turned out badly because power corrupts those getting too much of it, and since 1941 that power grew as the nation prepared for wars it never stopped mobilizing for since. It comes with a price - the end of democracy and loss of freedoms that can't coexist with imperialism on the march for conquest and dominance that turned America the beautiful into a nation to be feared and hated. We emerged from WW II haughty and confident as the world's unchallengeable economic, political and military superpower almost like we planned it that way which we did. We weren't about to give it up and intended taking full advantage to rule the world, tolerate no outliers, and demand fealty and deference from all nations with hell to pay to ones that balk.

The mislabeled "good war" launched our global imperium now on the march for "full-spectrum dominance" meaning absolute unchallengeable control of all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems - no small aim indeed for rulers with larger than possible ambitions and no intention backing off, so help us all.

It makes the cost painfully high with more military spending than the rest of the world combined, but never enough for a voracious military-industrial establishment and complicit government going along meaning finding justification for it. September 11, 2001, dubbed the "New Pearl Harbor," served it up like room service ushering in an intense and contrived climate of fear allowing the country to go on a rampage to solidify control through aggressive wars against enemies always easy to invent to assure we won't run out of them. Heading the list are resource-rich countries or ones like Afghanistan because they're strategically located near energy-rich areas like the Caspian Basin. But any leader forgetting "who's boss" gets in the target queue for regime change, even model democrats like Hugo Chavez needing reminders our sovereignty comes ahead of theirs.

And who'll dare challenge the notion that might makes right so international laws, norms and "supreme Law of the Land" treaties can be dismissed to get on with the business at hand. It doesn't matter to a rogue empire on the march and a president believing the law is what he says it is, the national security is just rhetoric for I'll do as I please, and the Constitution is "just a goddamned piece of paper." What he and those around him lack in subtleness, they make up for big time in brazenness, but that kind of attitude paves the road to hell we're on for our appointment with Nemesis.

Johnson reviews our campaign against Iraq since the Gulf war in 1991. That conflict, killer-sanctions for the next dozen years, and the Iraq war since 2003 all violate international laws and are clear instances of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but what power will hold the world's only superpower to account. The toll on Iraq and its people for the past 16 years has been devastating. The US campaign destroyed a once prosperous nation and its priceless heritage leaving in its wake a surreal lawless armed camp wasteland with few or no essential services including electricity, clean water and sanitation facilities, medical care, fuel and most everything else needed for sustenance, public safety and survival.

Johnson quotes experts saying the looting of the National Museum of Baghdad and burning of the National Library and Archives and Library of Korans at the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Endowments amounted to "the greatest cultural disaster of the last 500 years (and some say since the) Mongol invasion of Baghdad in 1258 to find looting on this scale." Donald Rumsfeld and the Pentagon went to great pains protecting the Oil Ministry, but were indifferent, almost gleeful seeing priceless treasures looted and burned. It detroyed a "whole universe of antiquity" Iraqis and civilized people everywhere won't ever forgive us for.

In all, the Gulf war and US-imposed sanctions caused 1.5 million or more Iraqi deaths up to March, 2003 plus another 3.5 million or more refugees to the present outside Iraq or internally displaced. In addition, the shocking 2006 Lancet published study estimated the joint US-British invasion caused another 655,000 violent deaths since then through mid-2006, although they readily admitted the true figure might be as high as 900,000 because they were unable to survey the most violent parts of the country or interview thousands of families all of whose members were killed.

Already the US-inflicted devastation on Iraq and its people since 1991 amounts to one of the great war/sanctions/and occupation related crimes in human history. Their effects keep mounting exponentially with no way to know how great the toll will be when it's over. One day it will be because Iraqis won't stop fighting for their freedom till it is, but none of this gets reported in US media and precious little anywhere in the West. So far, war continues because America's on the march, and Johnson notes US soldiers in Iraq are only accountable to their superiors in the field or the Pentagon, and an estimated 100,000 civilian contractors are only accountable to themselves.

The darkest side of our adventurism is our global network of military prisons (authorized by the Secretary of Defense and Pentagon) where physical and mental torture are practiced even though it's known no useful information comes from it. Instead it's used for social control, vengeance and a policy of degrading people regarded as sub-human because they happen to be less-than-white Arab or Afghan Muslims. It's also a symbolic act of superpower defiance daring the world community to challenge us. International Geneva Convention laws and the 1984 UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment no longer matter for the lord and master of the universe. The US is accountable under them, but clever lawyers and a lawless Attorney General rewrite the rules of engagement claiming justification even when they don't have a leg to stand on.

Imperial Pathologies - Comparing America to Rome and Britain

Johnson makes his case citing ancient Rome to show how imperialism and militarism destroyed the Republic. He notes after its worst defeat at the hands of Carthaginian general Hannibal in 216 BC, Romans vowed never again to tolerate the rise of a Mediterranean power capable of threatening their survival and felt justified waging preemptive war against any opponent it thought might try.

That was Paul Wolfowitz's notion as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in the GHW Bush administration in 1992 that he began implementing as Deputy Secretary of Defense in 2001 and made part of the National Security Strategy in 2002. It was an ancient Roman megalomanic vision called Pax Romana that post-WW II became Pax Americana with illusions of wanting unchallengeable dominance to deter any potential rival, and, like ancient Rome, wage preemptive or preventive war to assure it.

A culture of corruption and militarism eroded the Roman Republic that effectively ended in 49 BC when Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon River in Northern Italy plunging the country in civil war that left Caesar victorious when all his leading opponents were dead. The Republic died with them as Caesar became the state exercising dictatorship over it from 48 to 44 BC when his reign ended on the Ides of March that year after his fateful meeting in the Roman Senate with Brutus, Cassius and six other conspirators whose long knives did what enemy legions on battlefields couldn't. It led to the rise of Caesar's grandnephew Octavian. In 27 BC, the Roman Senate gave him his new title, Augustus Caesar, making him Rome's first emperor after earlier ceding most of its powers to him. He then emasculated Rome's system of republican rule turning the Senate into an aristocratic family club performing ceremonial duties only.

It was much the same in Nazi Germany only much faster. The German Reichstag made Adolph Hitler Reichschallcellor on January 30, 1933 ceding its power to him March 23 by enacting the Enabling Act or Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Empire establishing a Nazi dictatorship and allowing the Weimar Republic to pass quietly into history. With a whimper, not a bang, it gave Hitler absolute power and the right to enact laws and constitutional changes on his own with little more than rubber-stamping approval from an impotent Reichstag that anointed him Reichsfuhrer a year later allowing him supreme power to destroy the state he only got to rule for 12 years.

Like Nazi Germany and other empires, Johnson explains the "Roman Republic failed to adjust to the unintended consequences of its imperialism (and militaristic part of it) leading to drastic alterations in its form of government" that was transformed into dictatorship. It's constitution became undermined along with genuine political and human rights its citizens once had but lost under imperial rule. Rome's military success made made it very rich and its leaders arrogant leading to what Johnson calls "the first case of what today we call imperial overstretch." It didn't help that a citizen army of conscripts got transformed into professional military warriors. It grew large and unwieldy becoming a state within a state like our Pentagon today. It created a culture of militarism that turned into a culture of moral decay leading to the empire's decline and fall.

The US Republic has yet to collapse, but an imperial presidency now places great strain on it with a dominant Pentagon and culture of militarism undermining Congress, the courts and our civil liberties. Ancient Rome proved republican checks and balances aren't compatible with imperial dreams and a powerful military on the march for them. The US may have crossed its own Rubicon on September 18, 2001 with the passage of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) by joint House-Senate resolution authorizing "the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States (and) giving the President....authority under the Constitution to take action to deter and prevent acts of international terrorism against the United States...."

By this act alone, George Bush got congressional authority to seize near dictatorial power in the name of national security, ignore constitutional and international law, be able to wage aggressive war to protect the nation, and get repressive laws passed threatening citizens and others alike with loss of our freedoms. Then in October, 2002, Congress voted the president unrestricted power to preemptively strike Iraq whenever he believed it "appropriate" meaning he was free to wage aggressive war against Iraq or any other nation he henceforth called a threat using tactical nuclear weapons if he chooses.

This kind of unrestricted power isn't just dictatorial authority. It's insanity courtesy of the Congress and supportive right wing courts. It's taking us the same way as ancient Rome assuring our fate will be no different unless it's stopped and reversed. It's the inevitable price of imperial arrogance making leaders feel invulnerable till they no longer are, and it's too late.

We may still have a choice, and Johnson cites the one Britain took to explain. They sacrificed empire to preserve democracy knowing they couldn't have both. They earlier took up the "White Man's Burden" in a spirit of imperial "goodness" we now call "spreading democracy" believing Anglo-Saxons deserved to rule other nations, especially ones of color they thought inferior. Johnson explains "successful imperialism requires that a domestic republic change into a tyranny." It happened to Rome, and he sees it happening here under an imperial presidency with militarism taking ever greater root in society. Britain was spared by a democratic resurgence followed WW II. People finally freed from the scourge of Nazism said never again and chose democracy to assure it.

We must now choose whether to return to our founding roots or stay on our present path heading to imperial tyranny. For Johnson, Rome and Britain are the "archtypes" defining where we stand and what we face. Rome chose empire, lost its Republic and then everything. Britain went the other way choosing democracy despite the Blair government's disgraceful post-9/11 imperial indiscretions acting as Washington's pawn in service to our adventurism. Now late in the game, we must choose one way or the other. We can either have our democratic "cake" or "eat it" and suffer the consequences. We can't have it both ways.

The CIA - The President's Private Army

Imperial Rome had its elite praetorian guard to protect and serve its emperors. The CIA here works the same way as a private army for the president that in the end will go his way as it did producing phony intelligence the Bush administration used to justify war with Iraq. It proved its loyalty by its willingness to lie, but it does lots more than that - the kinds of extrajudicial things it gets away with because everything about "the company" is secret, including its budget. It puts CIA beyond the law making it unaccountable to the public and Congress that have every right to know in a "democracy" but none under imperial rule. Johnson stresses that US presidents have "untrammeled control of the CIA (and it's) probably (their) single most extraordinary power" as it puts them beyond the check and balancing powers of Congress and courts constitutionally required in republican systems of government. Not in our "Republic," at least since 1947 when the National Security Act created the CIA under Harry Truman to succeed the wartime OSS dissolved in 1945.

Johnson explains CIA originally had five missions. Four dealt with collection, coordination and dissemination of intelligence. The fifth one was vague allowing the agency to "perform such other functions and duties related to intelligence affecting the national security as the National Security Council (overseeing it)" This mandate caused the problem turning "CIA into the personal, secret, unaccountable army of the president" and making secret covert, often mischievous illegal, operations its main function. Their duties include overthrowing democratically elected governments, assassinating foreign heads of state and key officials, propping up friendly dictators, and snatching targeted individuals for "extraordinary rendition" on privately-leased aircraft to secret torture-prisons for not too gracious treatment on arrival that may include "destroying" the evidence after completing interrogation.

We claimed justification for it during the Cold War even though extrajudicial activities are never permissible under republican constitutional government. Today under George Bush, things are further complicated as CIA is one of 15 intelligence agencies under a director of National Intelligence (DNI). But even with this realignment, CIA remains the president's private praetorian guard army accountable only to him with tens of billions of secret budget power to do plenty of damage.

It now lets CIA be more active than ever as under Bush it's got double the number of covert operatives making Johnson believe the spy agency's original purpose is history with DNI now handling most intelligence gathering functions. CIA is now a mostly global hit squad Mafia with Bush its resident Godfather sending it off to do "assassinations, dirty tricks, renditions, and engineering foreign coups. In the intelligence field it will be restricted to informing our presidents and generals about current affairs." In all it does, the agency's secrecy shields the chief executive from responsibility giving him plausible deniability if anything leaks out. Johnson explains "CIA's bag of dirty a defining characteristic of the imperial presidency. It is a source of unchecked power that can gravely threaten the nation....(Its) so-called 2006 have probably further shortened the life of the American republic." "The company" is a menace to democratic rule. Either it goes or our freedoms do.

US Military Bases Around the World

People in US cities would be outraged if another country garrisoned its troops close by with all the resulting fallout: unacceptable noise, pollution, environmental destruction, appropriation of valued public real estate along with drunken soldiers on the loose violating laws, causing damage and raping local women. Not the kinds of neighbors we choose, especially when they're mostly unaccountable for their actions.

We don't generally give other nations basing rights here. But the Pentagon practically demands other countries allow us the right to put our troops on choice parts of their real estate around the world. That's real heavy-handed imperial arrogance mindful of an earlier time when imperialism could be measured by an empire's colony count. Military outposts are our version set up to operate by our own rules when we show up. Locals have no say and neither does the host country once a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) is finalized that gives the US "guest" freedom from host country laws and restraints governing civilian life and exemption from any inconvenient environmental cleanup obligations. That subject is covered in the next section.

Only one superpower remained after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991, and the Russians never posed a serious challenge before it did. All along we greatly outclassed and outgunned them, and Moscow only wanted a standoff if it came to that. During the Cold War, we had many military outposts around the world supposedly aimed at them, but how do we justify them now. They're not for defense. They're for offense in contrast to home-based ones to defend the nation.

Johnson reviews the known number of US bases in other countries by size and branch of service. According to the Department of Defense's Base Structure Report through 2005, the official total of all sizes is 737, but so many were built in recent years, Johnson believes the actual number exceeds 1000 and is rising. Unlisted ones includes dozens in Iraq, 106 garrisons in Afghanistan, the gigantic Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo built after the Yugoslav war in 1999, and others in Eastern Europe, Israel, Qatar and other Gulf states plus ongoing negotiations all the time to build new bases in new locations in new and currently "occupied" countries.

It takes a lot of resources maintaining an operation this sized. Just the facilities and staff alone make the cost truly staggering. Included are the number of military, civil service and locally hired personnel, facilities, acreage, weaponry and munitions (including thousands of nuclear weapons) and everything else needed to keep a worldwide operation this size functioning. And this only covers what's open to the public and Congress excluding what the Pentagon and host countries keep secret. There's plenty of that including information about bases the US uses to eavesdrop on global communications or our nuclear deployments violating treaty obligations. The Pentagon keeps much of this hidden deploring any oversight as part of its culture of secrecy concealing from Congress and our NATO allies the true extent of our strength, breath and intentions.

Once Donald Rumsfeld got to the Pentagon he fit right in and served there once before under Gerald Ford. He didn't hide how he wanted to restructure the military to make it lighter, more agile and high tech but no less secret. The result was Department of Defense's Global Posture Review first mentioned by George Bush in November, 2003. It divides military installations into three types:

-- (1) Main Operating Bases (MOBs) having permanently stationed combat forces, extensive infrastructure, command and control headquarters and extensive accommodations for families including hospitals, schools and recreational facilities. The Pentagon calls these bases "little Americas."

-- (2) Forward Operation Sites (FOSs) that are major installations smaller than MOBs and over which the Pentagon tries maintaining a low profile. They exclude families, and troop rotations in and out are for six months, not three years as at MOBs.

-- (3) Cooperative Security Locations (CSLs) - they're the smallest, most austere and are called "lily pads" to cover the entire planet's "arc of instability" that could include countries earmarked for future military action. Preparation here includes prepositioned weapons and munitions.

The new global repositioning plan comes with a huge price tag. The Overseas Basing Commission estimates it at $20 billion and would be much higher but for the Pentagon's standard practice getting host countries to pay their share of the tab allowing us basing rights on their territory. It's called "burden sharing" or our notion of a country we occupy helping pay the cost of deterring potential common enemies. At a time when only US militarism poses a threat to world peace, one day countries like Germany, Japan, South Korea, Spain and others no longer will tolerate our garrisoning troops on their soil. Ecuador under its new president, Raphael Correa, already served notice his country won't renew the US base lease in Manta when it expires in 2009 unless Washington allows his country comparable basing rights in Miami that's impossible. Other countries may follow suit just like the East Europeans kicked out the Soviets after their nations broke away in 1991.

Today the Middle East commands center stage with the Pentagon building major military installations in Iraq similar to the permanent kind in Germany and Japan. Iraq is key to US imperial plans because of its vast and easily accessible oil reserves but for a covert reason as well. Johnson believes it's part of our "empire building" - to shift major Saudi bases to the country making it a "permanent Pentagon outpost" to control the area's "arc of instability" and region's oil reserves that comprise 60% or more of the world's proven total.

Add together all Muslim nations everywhere and their combined known oil reserves are between two-thirds to three-quarters of total world supply. If we control it all, it gives Washington enormous veto power over all nations wanting accessing to the vital juice economies run on. And if we keep demonizing Muslims as enemies and people believe it, it's easy justifying our state-sponsored terror wars on them for all the wrong reasons we say are the right ones.

Headquarters for what's planned in the Middle East are now on four or more permanent Iraq "super-bases" with possible others to come. Many billions of dollars went into them, and they're anchor fixtures in the country along with 100 or more others ranging from mega to micro showing the extent of our digging in for the long haul in a country and region we're not planning to leave in a hurry.

It also shows in the kind of embassy we're building inside the four square mile Green Zone in central Baghdad. Critics call it "Fortress Baghdad" because it's to be the largest US embassy in the world by far, encircled by 15-foot thick concrete walls and rings of concertina wire along with protective surface-to-air missiles. Large numbers of private-sector bodyguards and US military guard its vast facilities, there's modern infrastructure comparable to any large US city with all the comforts and luxuries of home, Saddam's private swimming pool is for GIs and others to frolic in, hometown comfort food abounds, and staff and officials are planned to number around 1000. It's larger than Vatican City, six times the size of the UN New York compound, and has become a hated symbol of imperial occupation, death and destruction it caused, and the oppressive dominance Iraqis are committed to end.

Iraqi history shows an intolerance to occupation, and Iraqis are convinced they'll maintain tradition proving again that notions of permanency are in the eyes of the beholder and their end may come sooner than planned. Our super-facilities may end up just like their mega-predecessors in Danang, Cam Rahn Bay and the Saigon embassy housing the last remnants of US presence helicoptered off its rooftop in defeat and humiliation. We left them and much more behind when the Vietmanese kicked us out, even though we never go anywhere planning to leave in a hurry if ever.

US Imperialism at Work - Status of Force Agreements (SOFAs) and How They Work

SOFAs are formal contractual arrangements the US negotiates with other countries implementing basic agreements we first agree to with host nations allowing us the right to garrison troops and civilian personnel there either on a new base we build or an existing one. They follow once the Pentagon arranges a contractual "alliance" with a host country usually based on "common objectives" and "international threats to peace." In final form, they're intended to put US personnel as far outside domestic law as possible and spell out host nation obligations to us. Except for our reciprocal NATO agreements with member countries, they also give our military and civilian personnel special privileges unavailable to ordinary citizens of the host nation. It doesn't work that way with western European states. They have collective clout and won't tolerate the types of one-way deals we impose on smaller, weaker nations that can't stand up to our kind of bullying.

For host nations, SOFAs come with problems along with perceived benefits. They result in unacceptable noise, pollution, environmental damage with no remediation obligation, and they use valuable real estate unavailable to the host or their people who can't avoid the kinds of fallout problems showing up after we do. They include foreigners on their soil accountable to US military rules and justice but not to theirs even when crimes are committed against innocent civilians like local women being abused and raped by drunken unruly troops believing away from home they can do as they please and get away with it. They nearly always can.

Johnson cites between 1998 and 2004 in Japan, US military personnel were involved in 2,024 reported crimes or accidents on duty. Only one led to a court-martial, 318 to "administrative discipline, and the remainder were apparently absolved even though at least some of these crimes involved robberies, rapes, reckless homicide, assaults and other kinds of abuses no one would get away with at home. The result abroad is growing public anger and discontent Johnson illustrates with a prominent example.

It's on the island of Okinawa, Japan's southern-most and poorest prefecture and a place Johnson knows well from his time in the Navy and as an expert on the country and region that includes a book he co-wrote and edited called Okinawa: Cold War Island. The US has its way with Japan having defeated its empire in 1945, wrote its constitution in the aftermath, and has occupied the country ever since. It's well dug in for the long haul with 88 bases on the Japanese islands, a country smaller than California. Thirty-seven of those bases are on Okinawa, a tiny sliver of land about the size of a large US city. It's easy understanding why Okinawans are justifiably angry. They've been practically pushed into the Pacific to make way for US occupation of their island taking over most of its valued real estate and not treating it too well or the people.

Okinawans' greatest outrage, however, is over SOFA-related article 17 covering criminal justice. It states "The custody of an accused member of the United States armed forces or the civilian component (shall) remain with the United States until he is charged." It means when US personnel commit crimes, Japanese investigative authorities have no exclusive access to suspects until they're indicted in court. That hamstrings investigations enough to make prosecutors often reluctant to press charges because they can't get enough evidence to go to trial.

Johnson cites a particularly grievous example he calls the "most serious incident to influence Japanese-American relations since the Security Treaty was signed in 1960." It happened in September, 1995 when two marines abducted a 12-year old girl, beat and raped her, then left her on a beach going back to their base in a rented car. In October, 85,000 Okinawans protested in a park demanding Japanese and American authorities address their grievances after the US military refused to hand over the suspects to Japanese police. This may be a notable example, but it illustrates what Okinawans have endured for over 60 years. The US military runs their territory without accountability to Japanese law. As a result, US personnel get away with rapes, drunken brawling, muggings, drug violations, arson and criminal homicide - because they're superior white-skinned Americans, not yellow-skinned Japanese judged inferior.

Things likely can't get much worse for Okinawans, but if the US gets its way they probably will for all Japanese. It relates to Washington's growing concern over China's explosive growth and increasing dominance in the Pacific region. That makes the Chinese a major US regional rival and potential superpower challenger some day. Bush officials won't tolerate it and are pressuring Japan to revise article 9 of its constitution renouncing force except for self-defense. The US wants Japan to be our "Britain of the Far East" or "cop on the beat" to use the country as a front line regional proxy against China, North Korea or any other East Asian state forgetting "who's boss."

But that notion doesn't set well with Japanese people resulting in mass protests throughout the country in opposition. They know how destructive WW II was and want no reoccurrences of it even though already Japan again is a military power. It has the most powerful navy in the world after the US, a total force size of nearly one-quarter million in uniform, 452 combat aircraft and a military budget equalling China's.

After long and difficult negotiations, the Japanese cabinet finally agreed to approve a planned US realignment of forces in their country that won't please its neighbors or its own people. Former prime minister Koizumi and his right-wing supporters yearn to make their country a formidable power again and thus agreed to various unpalatable US basing decisions despite popular opposition to them. It shows Japanese and US officials' insensitivity to deep-seated feelings on the ground that will only lead to further heightened tensions in the region with China and North Korea facing off against their US and Japanese rivals.

The Ultimate Imperial Project in Space

The notion of "full spectrum dominance" spelled it out. The US considers outer space part of its territory, claims sole right to dominate it, and won't tolerate a challenger interfering with our plans to militarize the heavens reigning supreme over planet earth from them. The whole idea is chilling having grown out of Ronald Reagan's March 23,1983 speech calling for greater defense spending during the Cold War. He wanted a huge R & D program for what became known as "Star Wars" - an impermeable anti-missile shield in space called the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). It hardly mattered that the whole idea was fantasy, but a glorious one for defense contractors who've profited hugely on it since. From inception, the program's funding ebbed and flowed with a tsunami now going into it for an administration addicted to all things military and a friendly Federal Reserve acting as "pusher" printing up all the ready cash to do it.

The Clinton administration only gave it modest support, but that all changed once George Bush became president and Donald Rumsfeld returned to the Pentagon for his second tour as Secretary of Defense with fewer restraints than the first time. He wanted the US prepared for space warfare as insane as the idea is. What's not insane is how hugely defense contractors profit from an open-ended boondoggle padding their bottom lines as long as no future president and Congress halt the madness. Rumsfeld had his own ideas about committing the country to building and deploying space-based weapons to destroy nuclear-armed missile launches even though it can't be done now or ever.

MIT's Theodore Postal is a leading authority on ballistic missile defenses. He's spent years debunking notions that any useful defensive shield will ever work. He flatly states: "the National Missile Defense System has no credible scientific chance of working (and) is a serious abuse of our security system." Nonetheless, the program is ongoing and running strong under Robert Gates' new management at the Pentagon as he's not known as one to buck his White House bosses that's one reason he got the job.

Johnson says all the "rhetoric about a future space war is ideological posturing" similar to the "missile gap" nonsense beginning in the Kennedy years. The notion of wars from or in space are self-defeating because the adverse consequences from them affect us as well as any adversary. Waging one would be like firing a gun exploding in our face harming us as much as anyone hit by it. Dangerous orbiting space debris, already a growing problem, is just one of many serious consequences space wars would produce. Enough of it would threaten military and commercial spacecraft that, in turn, would threaten activities in space. Johnson notes the Air Force currently tracks 13,400 man-made space objects, only a few hundred of which are orbiting satellites. We also know of more than 100,000 smaller pieces of untrackable junk, each the size of a marble and millions more even smaller fragments.

The problem isn't their size. It's the speed they travel at - up to 17,500 miles per hour (same as the space shuttle), meaning when they strike an object they pack a wallop that can be lethal if large enough debris hits an orbiting spacecraft or satellite. Johnson quotes UC Santa Cruz professor of physics Joel Primack saying: "Weaponizing of space would make the debris problem much worse, and even one war in space could encase the entire planet in a shell of whizzing debris that would thereafter make space near the Earth highly hazardous for peaceful as well as military purposes....(and) will jeopardize the possibility of space exploration."

Johnson concurs on how ill-conceived our missile defense schemes and notions of real star wars are that need to come off the table but won't under warrior leadership. He says: "The conclusion is unavoidable: Washington has given us the best illusion of protection against nuclear attack without reducing the odds of such an attack." He goes on adding the whole program is fraught with insurmountable problems from space debris to the inability to distinguish between a hostile missile launch and a decoy plus a record of endless test failures proving they'll only continue as long as the charade does. He then speculates about what's likely true. The whole business of missile defense is just a PR ploy plus another scheme to enrich defense contractors who return the favor with big campaign contributions and plush job offers whenever politicians retire to move on to "greener" pastures.

The amount of money spent since the 1980s has been enormous without a single success to show for it - between $92 and $130 billion with an estimated cost by a theoretical completion date of 2015 of $1.2 trillion. One analyst called it "Pork Barrel in the Sky," but it boils down to one of the most extreme cases of corruption in Washington adding to the vast cesspool of it there. It played heavy on voters' minds in mid-term elections with public outrage a major factor in them demanding change that always ends up getting none. Voters never learn new faces don't mean new policies, at least not in Washington where the criminal class is bipartisan and one back gets scratched to assure others do.

It adds up to further trouble ahead and the greatest danger we now face - our imperial adventurism heading from one conflict to another in an endless cycle harming us as much as any adversary. The longer it continues, the worse things get making only one solution obvious. On responsibly using space Johnson puts it this way, but it applies to all our actions if we plan on surviving: "....we must relearn how to cooperate with our fellow inhabitants of the planet and take the lead in crafting international agreements on the rules of the road in space....We should outlaw all weapons that are designed to destroy other nations' (space assets). If one side blinds the other," it will conclude the worst and retaliate, and one way would be to detonate a nuclear weapon in space that would have an electromagnetic pulse instantly "fry(ing) the electronics in all orbiting satellites."

That would produce a level global playing field the hard way meaning - no more "smart bombs," electronic battlefields, global positioning systems, secure communications from field to commanders or any satellite communications. Instead of crafting multilateral agreements to prevent this, the US instead continues acting hostilely by pushing full steam ahead on space-based antisatellite weapons and driving the nation to bankruptcy doing it. Johnson notes space is another "arena for American hubris and one more piece of evidence that Nemesis is much closer than most of us would care to contemplate."

The Crisis of the American Republic

George Bush wasn't our first president to abuse his power. Other far more notable predecessors also did it like Lincoln suspending habeas rights during the Civil War and FDR's home front war against the Japanese - the ones who were honorable, decent Americans whose only "crimes" were their ancestry and skin color. It made them less human and denied them justice. Instead, it got them incarcerated for the remainder of the war they had nothing to do with or wanted, even though the ones allowed to fight against the Nazis did it courageously and honorably.

The difference between then and now was checks and balances were in place and the separation of powers worked restraining presidents from abusing their authority. That ended the day five arrogant Supreme Court justices annulled the popular vote letting George Bush steal the office Al Gore won at the polls including in Florida. It's been straight downhill since the way it was for Rome when it passed from Republic to repressive empire. The freedoms we've long take for granted have eroded and democracy in America is an endangered species hovering somewhere between life support and the crematorium unless a way is found to resurrect it.

As things now stand, Bush and Cheney rule a rogue state working cooperatively in a corrupted two-party alliance assuring the skids are greased and fix is in. The US Congress is no different than the kind of social club for aristocrats the Roman Senate became when it gave its power to the Caesar it hailed. It lets the administration conduct affairs of state according to what it calls the "unitary executive theory of the presidency" that's a simple "ball-faced assertion of presidential supremacy....dressed up in legal mumbo jumbo" written by clever lawyers easily finding lots of ways getting around pesky laws in the name of national security for a nation at war against enemies invented to justify schemes now playing out around the world.

It boils down to despotic rule or a national security police state all repressive regimes become in the end including the fascist kinds we're now on the tipping edge of. Unless it's stopped, things won't be pretty when the final mask comes off and jackboots are in the streets along with tanks when needed. And when the public resists, as it surely will, expect South Chicago to look like Baghdad today and its North side too.

Johnson notes it's possible the US military one day will usurp authority and declare a military dictatorship the way it happened in Rome, but he thinks it's unlikely. If dictatorship comes, he expects the civilian kind with military power backing it up. Most likely, Johnson thinks things will muddle along and continue drifting under an illusion of constitutional cover until fiscal insolvency unravels it all. But that won't end the nation state any more than it did to Germany in 1923 or Argentina in 2001-02. It might even herald a new beginning even though transitioning to it would mean lots of turbulence, a lower standard of living and a much different relationship between this country and others including ones supplanting us as most dominant.

Johnson concludes his narrative returning to where it all began starting with volume one of his unintended trilogy. He says in "Blowback" he tried explaining why people around the world hate us. It's not just our government's actions against others but refers to retaliation for the kinds of acts we commit like ousting outlier regimes not willing to play by our imperial management rules meaning we're "boss," and what we say goes. It's a simple law of physics that there's no action without reaction. If we slap them enough, they start slapping back. Volume two was "The Sorrows of Empire" written while America prepared the public for wars against Afghanistan and Iraq. It covered the country's militarization since WW II best symbolized by our sprawl of bases across the planet assuring hegemony over it but guaranteeing more blowback from our "indiscretions" any time we decide reminders are needed who's "boss" and those reminded get cranky.

Volume three is Nemesis and the subject of this review. In it, Johnson "tried to present historical, political, economic, and philosophical evidence of where our current behavior is likely to lead." He believes our present course is a road to perdition in the form of fiscal insolvency and a military or civilian dictatorship. Our Founders knew the risk and tried preventing it with our constitutional republican government now in jeopardy. It's come from our commitment to large standing armies, constant war, reckless stimulative military Keynesianism spending causing an erosion of democracy and growth of an imperial presidency. Once a nation goes this way, its fate is the same as all others that tried - "isolation, overstretch, the uniting of forces opposed to imperialism, and bankruptcy." It's symbol is that patient Greek goddess now visiting our shores awaiting the tribute she'll demand - "our end as a free nation."

It's now our choice. We can continue the same way as imperial Rome and lose our democracy or chose the British model keeping it at the expense of sacrificing empire. Johnson ends his book citing Japanese scholar and journalist Hotsumi Ozaki as a role model example. Ozaki understood his country's occupation of China would fail and lead to the kind of blowback caused by the Chinese Communist revolution. He tried warning his government, but was hanged as a traitor for his efforts late in WW II. Johnson hopes he won't meet a similar fate but is as certain as Ozaki "that my country is launched on a dangerous path that it must abandon or else face the consequences." We should hope we never see them, but wishing alone won't make it so.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on The Micro each Saturday at noon US central time.