Thursday, April 19, 2007

Globalism with Combat Boots

Editor's note: I moving to post at the secondary blog.
See last Friday's stories at the overflow blog

Views > April 19, 2007

By Salim Muwakkil

America's new Africa initiatives might be characterized as globalism with combat boots, though it's the same old story with the well-worn plot of Western hegemony.

The United States launched a deadly air attack against Somalia last February, using the war on terror as a pretext. The bombings, which killed scores of civilians, were in support of an Ethiopian invasion to oust a Somalieregime composed of “Islamic militants” considered hostile to Ethiopia and reportedly sought by the United States.

A convergence of Ethiopian and American interests provoked the air attack that helped rout this leadership, the so-called Islamic Courts movement, and endangered thousands of Somali lives. But it failed to turn-up the targeted Islamic militants. Continuing attempts to flush them out has produced what some critics have called an “African Guantánamo.”

According to an April 5 Associated Press story, “human rights groups say hundreds of prisoners, including women and children, have been transferred secretly and illegally to the prisons in Ethiopia” and interrogated by CIA and FBI agents. The bombings were part of “an on-going operation of air strikes in southern Somalia” to support Ethiopia’s struggle against fighters tied to al-Qaeda, a Pentagon spokesman said in explaining the deadly attacks. For five years, the U.S. military has operated a regional task force based in Djibouti designed ostensibly to prevent al-Qaeda sympathizers from gaining a foothold on the Horn of Africa. Last year, the Bush administration announced an enormous expansion of Camp Lemonier, the U.S. military base in Djibouti.

Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the Bush Administration’s bombing of Africa is the lack of any real public discussion in this country. The silence of African-American leadership is especially troubling. Aside from Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.), very few black politicians have even raised the issue. “I think the policy is wrong,” Payne told me when I asked him about the bombing of Somalia. It just “shows a misguided policy in Africa in particular, and the world in general,” he said.

John Prendergast and Colin Thomas-Jensen, two members of the International Crisis Group, argue in the March/April edition of Foreign Affairs that the Bush administration’s singular focus on stemming terrorism, “is overshadowing U.S. initiatives to resolve conflicts and promote good governance—with disastrous implications for regional stability and U.S. counterterrorism objectives themselves.”

And while the Greater Horn of Africa (which includes the Sudan, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Uganda) has attracted the most public attention, the U.S. also has operations in Algeria, Angola, Chad, Gabon, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and other locations.

The U.S. military presence in Africa has been increasing for many years but wasn’t officially acknowledged until Feb. 7, when President George W. Bush announced a new Pentagon command for the entire continent called AFRICOM. The new command, scheduled to start operation by October 2008, “will strengthen our security cooperation with Africa and create new opportunities to bolster the capabilities of our partners in Africa,” Bush said.

AFRICOM eventually will encompass the entire continent—except Egypt—and include the islands of Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea and São Tomé and Príncipe (in the Gulf of Guinea, where the United States is building another large base). This region will become increasingly important to the United States for reasons made clear in press reports on the AFRICOM proposal: “The U.S., the world’s biggest energy consumer, also hopes the Gulf of Guinea region in West Africa will provide up to a quarter of its oil imports within a decade.”

West Africa has about 60 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, and its oil is the low sulfur, sweet crude that petroleum refiners prize. Experts predict that one in every five new barrels of oil entering the global economy in the latter half of this decade will come from the Gulf of Guinea. Nigeria already supplies the U.S. with 10 percent of its imported oil and Angola 4 percent. The continent is also rich in bauxite, diamonds, gold, uranium and a stunning variety of other useful minerals.

The buildup of U.S. forces is often justified as necessary, both to fight the threat of terrorism and to counter growing instability in the continent’s resource-rich regions—to guard against so-called “failed states.”

China’s growing influence in Africa is another reason the United States is anxious to assert a military presence. The burgeoning economic growth of the world’s largest nation has produced a desperate need for Africa’s natural resources and a vigorous rivalry with the West for influence.

America’s new Africa initiatives are driven by the same concerns as the imperialism of the past: unrestricted access to the continent’s resources and geopolitical advantage over perceived enemies. Today it might be characterized as globalism with combat boots, though it’s the same old story with the well-worn plot of Western hegemony.

Once, the enemy was Communism; now it’s Terrorism. But the real enemy is an independent Africa.

Salim Muwakkil is a senior editor of In These Times, where he has worked since 1983, and an op-ed columnist for the Chicago Tribune. He is currently a Crime and Communities Media Fellow of the Open Society Institute, examining the impact of ex-inmates and gang leaders in leadership positions in the black community.

Who will be hardest hit by a US slowdown?


By Stephen Roach

The global debate is endless (fortunately), but it’s also very simple. The key question is whether the current US slowdown has broader cross-border consequences. For financial markets, which are still discounting relatively sanguine global growth prospects for 2007-08, there is great enthusiasm for the ever-optimistic decoupling scenario – whereby the rest of the world miraculously untethers itself from the US. That remains a real stretch, in my view.

On the surface, the latest global trends seem quite consistent with a decoupling scenario. America has slowed but the rest of the world has picked up. In particular, there seems to have been a meaningful shift in the mix of growth in the industrial world. The US economy has downshifted from 3.4% growth over the 2003-05 period to only about 2% over the past year while trend growth in Europe and Japan has accelerated from around 1.5% to 2.5%.

Never mind that the improved pace in Europe and Japan is only a scant faster than the weakened trend now evident in the US. The decoupling crowd rests its case on the “second derivatives” – the juxtaposition of a deceleration in the US compared with acceleration elsewhere in the industrial world. China and India are the icing on the cake – emblematic of a seemingly open-ended boom in the developing world that remains unscathed by the US slowdown. The case for global decoupling concludes that world GDP growth – which surged at a 30-year high of 4.9% over the past four years – will barely skip a beat in 2007. Little wonder that financial markets are priced for a continuation of what many call the best global economy in a generation.

World economy yet to face a legitimate test

The fly in the ointment in this debate is that it may well be that an increasingly integrated world economy has yet to face a legitimate decoupling test. The US may have slowed but the downshift hardly represents a major derailment of the world’s major growth engine. Moreover, the deceleration has been concentrated in one of the least globalized pieces of the US economy – homebuilding activity.

Over the final three quarters of 2006, a steep contraction in residential construction expenditures knocked an average of 1.0 percentage point off real GDP growth in the US – a swing of -1.5 percentage points from the positive growth contribution of 0.5% over the preceding three years and enough of a drag to have accounted for all the downshift in real GDP growth over the same period. While the housing recession has undoubtedly reduced US demand for foreign sourced construction materials, this is hardly a major challenge to growth elsewhere in the world economy.

So far, the rest of the US economy has been relatively resilient in the face of this steep contraction in residential construction activity. That’s especially the case for personal consumption – more than 70% of US GDP and the one sector of aggregate demand that has the tightest linkages to America’s trading partners. During the final three quarters of 2006, when homebuilding activity hit the skids, annualized real consumption growth still averaged 3.2% - down only 0.2 percentage point from the growth pace of the preceding three years and fully 33% faster than overall GDP growth over the final three quarters of last year; moreover, in the first period of 2007, our latest tracking estimates suggest consumption growth held at this same impressive 3.2% pace. Business capital spending has started to weaken a bit in recent months. But the weakening has been concentrated in the equipment piece – only 7% of US GDP, or one-tenth the size of the personal consumption sector. Needless to say, as long as the American consumer continues to hold its own as a source of relative resilience, the US economy can shrug off a capex hit – and the global economy will hardly be tested.

Internal spillovers and external linkages

This outcome underscores a major source of confusion over the global decoupling call – the distinction between internal spillovers and external linkages. The former, in my view, pertain to the interconnectedness within an economy – the relationships between sectors. An obvious case in point is the lack of any spillovers between homebuilding and consumption in the US – at least, so far. I would define linkages as more of a cross-border phenomenon – in effect, the transmission of shifts in one economy to the broader global economy through global trade flows. Internal spillovers are a necessary – but not sufficient – condition for cross-border linkages. But if there have been no internal spillovers, the external linkage debate – and therefore, the global decoupling call – is all but meaningless. That remains very much the case today, in my view.

This same point recently has been made by the research staff of the IMF in the prepublication of one of the chapters in the April 2007 issue of the World Economic Outlook (see Chapter 4 on the IMF website, “Decoupling the Train? Spillovers and Cycles in the Global Economy”). Notwithstanding erroneous press accounts of this research, the IMF staff throws cold water on the notion of a global decoupling from the US. To the contrary, they stress that the “…potential size of spillovers from the United States has increased with greater trade and financial integration.” They underscore the same point I stressed above – that as long as the US slowdown remains confined to sector-specific developments such as housing, the less the chances of a more severe stalling out of the American growth engine and, as a consequence, the lower the probability of a more broadly based global slowdown.

Who has the greatest export exposure the the US?

The IMF research also provides a comprehensive ranking of the cross-border linkages to the US. Based on export exposure to the US, America’s NAFTA partners – Mexico and Canada – are at the top of the vulnerability list; for both of these economies, goods shipped to the US account for around 25% of their GDP.

By contrast, Japan has reduced its dependence on America, with US-bound exports averaging just 2.9% of GDP over the 2001-05 interval – well below the 4.0% portion some 20 years earlier. For the Euro area, US dependency ratios remain quite low, although they have inched up from 1.5% in the first half of the 1980s to 2.4% in the first half of 2000s. Similar modest increases in US exposure have been evident in Brazil and Argentina, and because of oil and resource linkages, US dependency ratios have also risen for Sub-Saharan Africa – from 3.0% in 1981-85 to 5.9% in 2001-05.

The results of the IMF staff research are not surprising. They are, in fact, nearly identical with similar conclusions that I and others have stressed in considering the repercussions of a US slowdown on the broader global economy (see my 30 October 2006 dispatch, “The Fallacy of Global Decoupling”). As I noted at the time, the “decouplers” – economies that can stand on their own in the event of a major growth shortfall in the US – must satisfy three conditions: They need to have a broadening base of self-sustaining domestic demand, a diversified export mix, and policy autonomy. In my view, progress is still quite limited on all three counts. Private consumption continues to lag in Europe and Asia. Moreover, the US is still the dominant global export destination; by IMF estimates, the US accounted for 20% of global merchandise exports over the 2001-05 period – a record high for the US and larger than the Euro area as the biggest portion of global trade. Nor is there much leeway for global policy makers to ride to the rescue in the event of a US growth shock; that’s especially the case in developing Asia, which is constrained by currency considerations, but it is also true in Japan, where policy rates are still very close to “zero.”

The outlook for the US consumer

In the end, this debate boils down to the one big call that has always weighed most heavily on the macro outlook – the fate of the American consumer. If US consumption growth remains brisk in the face of pressures building elsewhere in the economy – especially housing, but also business capital spending and autos – then a globalized world will, in effect, have nothing to decouple from. The surprisingly strong March labor market surveys – brisk employment and falling joblessness – underscore the ongoing resilience of labor income generation and consumer purchasing power.

Yet as Dick Berner, our resident consumption bull, recently conceded, consumers will need all the help they can get in the face of higher energy and food costs, decelerating housing wealth creation, adjustable-rate mortgage resets, and a tightening of lending standards in the aftermath of the sub-prime mortgage fiasco (see his 2 April dispatch, “Perfect Storm for the US Consumer?”). But if the US labor market continues to display extraordinary staying power in the face of adversity elsewhere in the economy, the overly-indebted, saving-short American consumer could squeak by once again – and so, too, would the rest of a still-coupled world. I remain highly dubious of such an outcome but concede that the burden of proof remains on me.

I have long been struck by the inherent inconsistency of a macro call that extols the virtues of integration and globalization, on the one hand, while celebrating the resilience of a decoupled world, on the other hand. Don’t kid yourself – if the lead engine of the global growth train goes off the tracks, the rest of the world will be quick to follow. So far, that hasn’t happened – underscoring my basic conclusion that there has yet to be a meaningful test of the global decoupling thesis. It’s up to the American consumer as to whether that test will ever occur.

By Stephen Roach, global economist at Morgan Stanley, as first published on Morgan Stanley’s Global Economic Forum

Israel worst place for Holocaust survivors to live throughout Western world

Shoah survivors forced back to Germany due to Israel's lack of restitution laws

Documentary shows Israel worst place for Holocaust survivors to live throughout Western world. Hundreds protest outside Knesset, demand goverment help survivors with financial difficulties

Ines Ehrlich

Published: 04.16.07, 11:32 / Israel News

Holocaust survivors have left Israel to live out the rest of their days in Germany due to the better conditions they receive there, according to a documentary program broadcast Tuesday night by Israel's Channel 2 television.

The documentary, Musar Shilumin (The Morals of Restitution) opened with an elderly woman speaking from her comfortable home in Berlin to two of Israel's best known docu-activists – Orly Vilnai Federbush and Guy Meroz. The woman's fluent Hebrew was spoken with an unmistakable German accent.


Social affairs minister laments situation of Holocaust survivors / Yael Branovsky

Minister Isaac Herzog says thousands of survivors live in deplorable conditions: 'Too many organizations thought the responsibility should fall on a different organization'
Full story

This Holocaust survivor had left Israel to return to Germany to receive the free medication and monthly allowance provided to survivors by the German government.

Contrary to Israel, the German government has stipulated that Holocaust survivors in need of housing and medicine are entitled to receive them free of charge. When asked what she thought of the Israeli government's attitude towards Holocaust survivors, she said: "I would not want what I think to appear in print."

Meanwhile, hundreds of people, including Holocaust survivors, college students, and youth movement members, rallied outside the Knesset in Jerusalem Monday, in protest of the dire financial situation many Holocaust survivors have found themselves in.

The protestors began their march at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority. They called on the government to help the survivors by transferring NIS 30 million to the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel.

The protest was organized by “Tafnit - A New Agenda for Israel”, an organization that aims at “bringing about a significant change in Israel’s national priorities toward the broad national consensus”.

“Even on Holocaust Remembrance Day, it’s not enough to remember those who were killed, but also those that are with us here,” said Tafnit Chairman Uzi Dayan.

Years of delayed processing and neglect

The six-month investigative report took the two activists on a voyage to New York, Berlin and Amsterdam to seek out the bureaucratically withheld funds. They discovered a disappearing world, the world of 250,000 Holocaust survivors still alive today in Israel, of whom 80,000 live in dire poverty while substantial funds are withheld.

The documentary pointed an accusing finger at the Israeli cabinet and at the Claims Conference, the organization responsible for recovering and distributing Jewish assets plundered by the Nazis. The Conference is supposed to transfer restitution funds to Holocaust survivors but for years has been withholding a sum of $300 million to $900 million, depending on who is asked, due to various bureaucratic reasons.

As a consequence of this, despite being one of the wealthiest foundations in the world, many survivors in poor health and living in impoverished conditions will not live to receive their restitution entitlements.

The documentary also criticized Israeli banks for withholding Holocaust victims' funds, and also found fault with the JNF, the Israel Museum and various other institutions still holding Holocaust victims' properties.

Locked in her home

Depicting personal stories, the documentary showed another elderly survivor called Esther who was initially interviewed at her home but by the end of the documentary had moved to a senior citizens’ home after falling over and lying on the floor for hours until she was able to get to the phone to seek help.

Her allowance totals NIS 1,800 (about $442) a month and she had lived off her pension, often finding herself debating between the purchase of food or medicine, telephone and electricity bills. She had not left the house for four years because she needed help with her walker. She did not lock the door lest she fell and could not be rescued, until a burglar broke in and stole all the cash she had – a total of NIS 87 (about $21).

A nurse at the Abarbanel Mental Health Center spoke of survivors admitting themselves into the institution just for the sake of a warm bed and food. Sadly, they were later forcefully evicted.

The Lobby for Holocaust Survivors

The documentary covered a recent meeting held by the Lobby for Holocaust Survivors to allow victims a platform on which to voice their complaints. The lobby was founded by Knesset members Colette Avital and Sara Marom Shalev, in an effort to improve the plight of Holocaust survivors, as well as to promote legislation on the issue.

Numerous survivors spoke at the meeting, harshly criticizing Israel for what they called its “ruthless, disrespectful policy” towards them. “Does the country prefer the victims to die before they receive the funds they deserve?” Avital asked.

By the end of six months of docu-activism in an effort to bring about change, some $120,000 of restitution funds were transferred to the needy – just enough for an ad-hoc allowance of NIS 1,500 per survivor.

The De-Zionization of Israel; An Interview with Ilan Pappe

April 17, 2007

by jon the antizionist jew

Of all the Israeli historians, academics, and activists that I have read, Ilan Pappe stands out as the one who has made the strongest impact on my understanding of Israel and Palestine. Why is that? Well, I'd say it is due to the way his research and morality have come together, quite unlike many others. But let's be specific, and compare him with Benny Morris. Benny made a landmark study, no doubt, with his book The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem. He helped dispell in the academic world, at least, the notion that Israel was blameless in the exodus of over 800,000 Palestinians during Israel's establishment. It took him until the follow-up to that study to acknowledge that Zionism, to some extent, had within it the seeds of the expulsion of the Palestinians in order to create a Jewish state in Palestine. But in an interview with Haaretz a few years ago, it became clear that whatever historical facts about Zionism and its crimes he had uncovered, his dedication to Zionism was unaffected;

Are you saying that Ben-Gurion was personally responsible for a deliberate and systematic policy of mass expulsion?

"From April 1948, Ben-Gurion is projecting a message of transfer. There is no explicit order of his in writing, there is no orderly comprehensive policy, but there is an atmosphere of [population] transfer. The transfer idea is in the air. The entire leadership understands that this is the idea. The officer corps understands what is required of them. Under Ben-Gurion, a consensus of transfer is created."

Ben-Gurion was a "transferist"?

"Of course. Ben-Gurion was a transferist. He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst. There would be no such state. It would not be able to exist."

I don't hear you condemning him.

"Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here."

Benny went on to acknowledge ethnic cleansing as something that was "necessary" to create Israel as a Jewish state, while also meticulously detailing the 24 massacres of Palestinians, ranging from 4 or 5 people up to 100 or more in places like Deir Yassin and others. The icing on the cake of his dreadful rationalizations is this chilling line; "Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians."

This is where Ilan Pappe comes in the picture. Dr. Pappe also has documented the many atrocities and offenses of Zionism, but when faced with this reality, he does not justify and approve of the wholesale slaughter and expulsion of another people; he condems it. And he does more than that, he works towards the correction and vindication of such crimes, by opposing Zionism and its racist foundation, and supporting the Right of Return for Palestinians, so that the injustice that they have been enduring for the past 60 years can be answered with the most simple of remedies; that they be able to come home, and welcomed doing so.

Unfortunately, Dr. Pappe has found it necessary to leave Israel for a teaching positon in the UK;

lan Pappe, a senior lecturer in the University of Haifa's Department of Political Science, says he is moving to the UK because it is "increasingly difficult to live in Israel" with his "unwelcome views and convictions."

In an interview in The Peninsula, Qatar's leading English-language daily, during a visit last week to Doha as a guest of the Qatar Foundation, Pappe said: "I was boycotted in my university and there had been attempts to expel me from my job. I am getting threatening calls from people every day. I am not being viewed as a threat to the Israeli society but my people think that I am either insane or my views are irrelevant. Many Israelis also believe that I am working as a mercenary for the Arabs."

Pappe is to join the History Department at Exeter University, in southwest England. He is active in anti-Israel academic boycott efforts.

So what follows is an interview of Dr. Pappe by email. I decided not to focus on the recent controversy of his leaving Israel, but more on the subject of his most recent book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, which I recently posted excerpts from here on Kos (with full permission, of course). Here is a short list of his other books, all of which I have read and gained much from;

The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1947-1951 (Paperback)

Book Description
Arabs and Jews describe the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948 in completely different ways. Among Arabs, and especially Palestinians, the events of that year are known as the "nakba" - the catastrophe, the trauma, the disaster. For Jews, and in particular for Israelis, their victory in the war of 1948 is a veritable miracle in which, against tremendous odds and through heroic military effort, the Jewish community succeeded in thwarting attempts by the Arab states to destroy it.This book integrates new archival material with the findings of recent scholarship to present the reader with a comprehensive and general history of the origins and consequences of the 1948 war. The author shows, in sharp contrast to the recollections and myths of both sides, that the military events of 1948 were not decisive. The victory of the Zionist organization and the fate of the Palestinians was determined by politicians on both sides - in the discussions and decisions of the United Nations in 1947-8 and in the Arab League - long before a shot had been fired. The author argues that Israel's failure to take advantage of the genuine opportunity for peace with the Arabs at the UN-sponsored Lausanne Conference in 1949 resulted in the prolonged and tragic conflict between Israel and the Arab states still very much alive today.

The Israel/Palestine Question (Rewriting Histories) by Ilan Pappe

a useful collection that offers a glimpse into one of the most collateral processes occurring simultaneously with the intifada and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
– Journal of Palestine Studies

...a more nuanced view of the power struggle between Palestinian Arabs and Jewish Israelis than any previous history of the conflict. Challenging the nationalist paradigms of both sides, it will lay the groundwork for future studies in Israeli and Palestinian history....
–Arthur Goldschmidt, Penn State University

Book Description

An explicitly revisionist collection that takes the ground away from pro-Israeli historians and suggests a far more nuanced view of the issue, The Israel/Palestine Question assimilates diverse interpretations of the origins of the Middle East conflict with emphasis on the fight for Palestine and its religious and political roots. Drawing largely on scholarly debates in Israel during the last two decades, which have become known as `historical revisionism,' the collection presents the most recent developments in the historiography of the Arab-Israeli conflict and a critical reassessment of Israel's past. The volume commences with an overview of Palestinian history and the origins of modern Palestine, and includes essays on the early Zionist movement, the 1948 war, international influences on the conflict and the Intifada.

A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples by Ilan Pappe

‘Pappe’s latest work will inspire ...’ James Cullingham, Seneca College

‘Along with the late Edward Said, Ilan Pappe is the most eloquent writer of Palestinian history. He is also one of the most scholarly ... here, for the first time, is a textbook on Palestine that narrates the real story as it happened - a non-Zionist version of Zionism ... To its credit, Cambridge University Press has published Pappe’s pioneering and highly accessible work as an authoritative history.’ New Statesman

'Ilan Pappe is a 'new historian' and this book is true to this label. It adopts a revisionist approach and it challenges the old ways in which the history of Palestine is written which makes it such an exciting read.' Ahron Bregman, King's College London, International Affairs

' ... Ilan Pappe has written a book that is lucid and forthright. It is a unique contribution to the history of this troubled land, and all those concerned with developments in the Middle East will have to read ... Ilan Pappe's book is a valuable contribution to the historical research of Palestine as a general survey for those studying the subject. Designed for students and general readers, the book's new approach to the analysis of well-known events will be of interest to academics, journalists, foreign-policy makers, and to all those concerned with Palestine's complex past and its uncertain future. The inclusion of illustrations, maps, short biographies, a glossary of terms, a bibliography, and a reliable index further increases the usefulness of the book.' Quarterly Journal of African and Asian Studies

Book Description
Ilan Pappe's book traces the history of Palestine from the Ottomans in the nineteenth century, through the British Mandate, the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, and the subsequent wars and conflicts which have dominated this troubled region. The second edition of Pappe's book has been updated to include the dramatic events of the 1990s and the early twenty-first century. These years, which began with a sense of optimism, as the Oslo peace accord was being negotiated, culminated in the second intifada and the increase of militancy on both sides. Pappe explains the reasons for the failure of Oslo and the two-state solution, and reflects upon life thereafter as the Palestinians and Israelis battle it out under the shadow of the wall of separation. As in the first edition, it is the men, women and children of Palestine who are at the centre of Pappe's narrative.

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In his latest work, renowned Israeli author and academic Pappe (A History of Modern Palestine) does not mince words, doing Jimmy Carter one better (or worse, depending on one's point of view) by accusing Israel of ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity beginning in the 1948 war for independence, and continuing through the present. Focusing primarily on Plan D (Dalet, in Hebrew), conceived on March 10, 1948, Pappe demonstrates how ethnic cleansing was not a circumstance of war, but rather a deliberate goal of combat for early Israeli military units led by David Ben-Gurion, whom Pappe labels the "architect of ethnic cleansing." The forced expulsion of 800,000 Palestinians between 1948-49, Pappe argues, was part of a long-standing Zionist plan to manufacture an ethnically pure Jewish state. Framing his argument with accepted international and UN definitions of ethnic cleansing, Pappe follows with an excruciatingly detailed account of Israeli military involvement in the demolition and depopulation of hundreds of villages, and the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Arab inhabitants. An accessible, learned resource, this volume provides important inroads into the historical antecedents of today's conflict, but its conclusions will not be easy for everyone to stomach: Pappe argues that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine continues today, and calls for the unconditional return of all Palestinian refugees and an end to the Israeli occupation. Without question, Pappe's account will provoke ire from many readers; importantly, it will spark discussion as well.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book Description
Since the Holocaust, it has been almost impossible to hide large-scale crimes against humanity. In our communicative world, few modern catastrophes are concealed from the public eye. And yet, Ilan Pappe unveils, one such crime has been erased from the global public memory: the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians in 1948. But why is it denied, and by whom? The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine offers an investigation of this mystery.

So, enjoy the interview, and I welcome any and all constructive dialogue that may follow.

Tell me why you wrote the ethnic cleansing of palestine?

With opening up of the military archvies in 1998, the accumalation of oral testemonies by Palestinians around the world and the passage of time provided a rare opportunity to go back and revist the event that shaped the conflict and which explains best why we are today where we are.

What should Americans, particularly those left-leaning politically, know about Israel and Palestine, and why is it important that they know it?

The conflict in Palestine erupted in the beginning of the 20th century and continues today because of the Zionist colonization of Palestine and the dispossession of the native population by Israel in 1948 and ever since. This policy is possible mainly because of the unconditional American support for Israel. And this is despite the fact that this unconditional support undermined American national interest: it alienates the Middle East and the Muslim world, it raises the prices of oil production and prevent the US for investing in its own domestic problems. But far more important probably this is a conflict that has always the potential of dragging the rest of the world into an insoluble

On a moral basis, it is shameful that American tax payers money has been used in the last 60 years to dispossess, occupy, exile and kill Palestinians wherever they are.

Finally, if Americans care about the Jews who live in Israel, and they should, for this Jewish community's benefit they should pressure it to cease its oppression of the Palestinians.

You mention in your book A History of Modern Palestine that the left- right political model doesn't work well in the case of Israeli politics- can you explain that?

I said with respect to the policies towards the indigenous population of Palestine. There is no left, namely soft and compromising, attitude and right, namely, inflexible and hostile, attitude. The Zionist consensus is that Israel needs be a state where Jews enjoy supremacy and preferably exclusivity. The left and right differ on how to achieve it, but no on the goal, which to my mind is morally unacceptable in the 21st century.

Tell me about the issue of destroyed Palestinian villages, the National forests and the involvement of the JNF. What is the JNF?

The JNF is the Jewish national fund, which was the main agency that prior to 1948 purchased land for the Jewish community and after 1948 turned the 531 destroyed Palestinian villages to either Jewish settlements or forests for recreation.

What evidence do you use to challenge the contention that there was no master plan within the Zionist leadership to expel the Palestinian population?

I show that the new documents in the military archives indicate for a clear master plan that was devised on 10 March, 1948.

How much in financial terms do you think Palestinians are owed in reparations for the Nakba?

I bring a certain estimate in my book, but i think the best source is Salman Abu Sitta website PALANDS for a thorough examination of this issue.

[Also see Records of Dispossession: Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab-Israeli Conflictby Michael R. Fischbach]

I have read of the Mossad being engaged in covert operations within the Arab states after the 1948 war, with the aim of generating hate against the Jews and forcing them to emigrate?

I know only of its operation in Iraq in 1950 and 1951 being involved in planting bombs in synagogues in Baghdad that indeed caused panic among the Jews there and persuaded some of them to immigrate.

Is it fair to say that in regards to current academic consensus, the work of Palestinians & Israeli new historians have shattered the previous Zionist consensus? What would you say is the significance of the work of Palestinians and others before the advent of the new Israeli historians?

Well, without the information gathered in the Palestinian historiography and the persistence of Palestinian historians in telling the truth, there would not have been a new history. We were motivated to do this, because we knew there was an alternative narrative. And yes I think together with the Palestinian historiography we changed the accepted academic narrative beyond recognition.

Yet, in the US, non-academic discussion of I/P is still, at the least, slowed down if not dominated by Zionist mythology- why? What is the situation in Israel?

It is connected to the impact of the Zionist lobby on the media and academia and the unwillingness of prominent figures in both to challenge this pressure or to risk the victimization.

Jeff Halper opposes the 2 state solution because he feels that the facts on the ground make it impossible- do you feel the same way? And how do we reconcile supporting the right of return with a 1 or 2 state solution? Are either possible?

There is no way of implementing the right of return within a 2 states solution. This is one good reason to support the one state solution. Secondly, the facts on the ground are irreversible. There is one state controlled by a certain regime. All we need is to change the ideology of that regime.

What kinds of changes inside Israel would be necessary to break the gridlock and reopen a true negotiating process with the Palestinians? How likely do you think such a development might be, considering Israel is presently in the process of encircling the major Palestinian enclaves from the west, de facto annexing the Jordan Valley, and denying responsibility for the Nakba?

In short, [what is necessary is] the de-Zionization of Israel. This is not going to be easy and will not happen without outside pressure. But it will happen, if not in my life time than in my children’s'.

ANALYSIS: Court Rules That AIPAC Trial Must Be Open

Court Rules That AIPAC Trial Must Be Open

A federal court this week rejected a government proposal to restrict public access to evidence in the forthcoming trial of two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who are charged under the Espionage Act with unauthorized receipt and transmission of classified information.

Using a procedure called the Silent Witness Rule, the prosecution had proposed to present classified evidence to the jury but to withhold it from the public and from open deliberation during trial.

"I think it is fair to say that the government's proposal is novel," said Judge T.S. Ellis, III on April 16.

But he said that because the evidence could not be openly addressed in court, the proposed procedure "would render virtually impossible an effective line of cross-examination that might be vital to the defense."

Therefore, the judge ruled, "you can't do it. It closes the trial. It's unconstitutional. It's unfair to the defendants."

Explaining what is at stake, Judge Ellis elaborated:

"A public trial requires witnesses' testimony to be public, so it deters perjury. It requires a judge's rulings to be made in public, as today, so it deters partiality and bias. And by requiring prosecutors to present their charges and evidence publicly, it deters vindictiveness and abuse of power."

Another "novel and distinctive" feature of the government proposal noted by Judge Ellis is that prosecutors were prepared to share classified evidence with jurors who do not hold security clearances. ("Interestingly, there is some authority for that," he observed.)

More dubiously, the judge said, "the government's proposed procedure treats even certain selected public domain documents, including news reports, as if they were classified documents."

At any rate, while the government may suggest unclassified substitutions for classified evidence (as provided by the Classified Information Procedures Act), the proposal to withhold evidence from the public altogether was decisively rejected.

At the conclusion of the April 16 hearing it was unclear how the government would proceed, and even whether the trial itself could go forward.

If the prosecution "decline[s] to submit any substitutions [for classified evidence] that you would ever make public," Judge Ellis warned, "then maybe ... I have decide whether to dismiss the indictment, if that's the case."

The transcript of the April 16 hearing provided substantive discussion of the issues involved in handling classified evidence and the importance of open trials, along with some intense legal maneuvering and occasional flashes of humor. A copy was obtained by Secrecy News.

A follow-up hearing was scheduled this afternoon (April 20) to identify the prosecution's next step.

US-Israel ties bad for peace: Soros

George Soros, the billionaire investor, has added his voice to the debate over the role of Israel's lobby in shaping US foreign policy.

In the current issue of the New York Review of Books, Soros takes issue with "the pervasive influence of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC]" in Washington and says the Bush administration's close ties with Israel are obstacles to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

Soros, who is Jewish but not often engaged in Israeli affairs, echoed arguments that have fuelled debate in academia, foreign policy think tanks and parts of the US Jewish community.

"The pro-Israel lobby has been remarkably successful in suppressing criticism," wrote Soros. Politicians challenge it at their peril and dissenters risk personal vilification, he said.

AIPAC has consistently declined comment on such charges, but many of its supporters have been vocal in dismissing them.

Historian Michael Oren, speaking at AIPAC's 2007 conference in March, said the group was not merely a lobby for Israel. "It is the embodiment of a conviction as old as this (American) nation itself that belief in the Jewish state is tantamount to belief in these United States," he said in a keynote speech.

The long-simmering debate bubbled to the surface a year ago, when two prominent academics, Stephen Walt of Harvard and John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, published a 12,500-word essay entitled "The Israel Lobby" and featuring the fiercest criticism of AIPAC since it was founded in 1953.

AIPAC now has more than 100,000 members and is rated one of the most influential special interest groups in the United States, its political clout comparable with such lobbies as the National Rifle Association.

The AIPAC members are all US citizens and the group receives no funding from the Israeli government.

Its annual conference in Washington attracts a Who's Who of American politics, both Republicans and Democrats.

Unwavering support

Mearsheimer and Walt said the lobby had persuaded successive administrations to align themselves too closely with Israel.

"The pro-Israel lobby has been remarkably successful in suppressing criticism"

George Soros, the billionaire investor

"The combination of unwavering support for Israel and the related effort to spread 'democracy' has inflamed Arab and Islamic opinion and jeopardised not only US security but much of the rest of the world," they wrote.

No other lobby group has managed to divert US foreign policy so far from the US national interest, while simultaneously convincing Americans that US interests and those of Israel are essentially identical, they wrote.

The two academics said that pressure from Israel and its lobby in Washington played an important role in President George Bush's decision to attack Iraq, an arch-enemy of Israel, in 2003.

Mearsheimer and Walt found no takers for their essay in the US publishing world. When it was eventually published in the London Review of Books, they noted it would be hard to imagine any mainstream media outlet in the United States publishing such a piece.

It has been drawing criticism that ranged from shoddy scholarship to anti-Semitism, chiefly from conservative fellow academics and political supporters of the present relationship between Washington and Israel.

In his contribution to the debate, Soros said: "A much-needed self-examination of American policy in the Middle East has started in this country; but it can't make much headway as long as AIPAC retains powerful influence in both the Democratic and Republican parties."

That influence is reflected by the fact that Israel is the largest recipient of US aid in the world.

Going mainstream

Mearsheimer and Walt are now working on expanding their article into a book - to be published in September by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The company has not commented on online reports that it paid the two authors a $750,000 advance and plans to print one million copies.

Another mainstream publisher, Simon and Schuster, already discovered that not only is it possible to publish criticism of Israel but it can also be good for the bottom line.

Former president Jimmy Carter's book "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" shot up the bestseller lists after its publication last November; stayed there for more than three months and is still selling well.

It had an initial print run of 300,000 copies and there are now 485,000 copies in print, said Victoria Meyer, a spokeswoman for Simon and Schuster.

Carter's book and its reference to apartheid provoked angry reactions - more in the United States than in Israel, where leftists opposed to the occupation of the West Bank have been accusing the government of apartheid practices for years and where the word has lost its shock value.

In response to charges of bias and anti-Semitism, Carter said he wanted to provoke a discussion of issues debated routinely and freely in Israel but rarely in the United States.

"This reluctance to criticize any policies of the Israeli government is because of the extraordinary lobbying efforts of the American Israel Political Action Committee and the absence of any significant contrary voices," he wrote in the Los Angeles Times during a tour to promote his book. "It would be almost politically suicidal for members of Congress to espouse a balanced position between Israel and Palestine."

According to Oren, the pro-AIPAC historian, the Carter book and the Mearsheimer-Walt paper had the same "insidious thesis" and suffered from the same flaw - ignoring oil as a driving element in US policies on the Middle East.

The Enrichment Of Bush Cronies

April 19, 2007

By Evelyn Pringle

It's time for Americans to face the cold hard truth that nothing will be accomplished by allowing the daily carnage in Iraq to continue, and if Bush has his way, our young people will be dying in this war profiteering scheme until hell freezes over. Congress needs to authorize funding to pull our troops out of that deathtrap and not one dime more.

It apparent that Bush is a madman who will listen to no one. After Bush's speech on January 10, 2007, about the plan to send more troops, retired Army Col Doug McGreggor, a former advisor to Don Rumsfeld in 2003, said in a broadcast interview, "There seems to be a complete failure to understand that we have been trying to suppress a rebellion against our occupation."

"As long as we are there," he warned, "we are the number one public enemy for the Muslim-Arab world."

"We were after all," he points out, "a Christian army occupying a Muslim Arab country, something which in the Middle East, is essentially a disaster."

This decorated combat veteran says Bush's strategy will never work. "We did not go to Iraq originally," he explains, "to dismantle the state, dismantle the army, the police, and the government, to occupy the place with the object of changing the people that lived there into something they did not want to become."

After Bush's speech, military families also spoke out publicly against the decision to send more troops. "I don't have words for it," said Nancy Lessin, of Military Families Speak Out, a group of 3,100 families, including 100 who have lost a loved one in the war.

"This is a war," she said, "that should never have happened, that has wreaked so much havoc on our loved ones, Iraqi children, women and men, and now to be facing, almost four years into it, this news of an escalation of the war, is just unbearable."

An Associated Press-Ipsos poll showed that 70% of Americans opposed sending more troops, but Bush went right ahead and did it anyways. And then to make matters worse, this month he announces the plan to extend the 12-month tours to 15-months to allow his 30,000-troop buildup in Baghdad to stay for another year.

This war is going to bankrupt the US. A January 2007 study by Columbia University economist Joseph Stiglitz, who won a Nobel Prize in economics in 2001, and Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes, estimated that the total costs of the Iraq war could be more than $2 trillion when the long-term medical costs for the soldiers injured so far are factored in.

The only people who are benefiting from Bush's war on terror are members of the Military Industrial Complex. Since 9/11, the pay for the CEOs of the top 34 defense contractors in the US has doubled, according to the August 2006 report, "Executive Excess 2006," by the Institute for Policy Studies, and the United for a Fair Economy.

The bill is rising so fast because the level of war profiteering is unprecedented. The Excess Report lists George David, CEO of United Technologies, as the top earner, making more than $200 million since 9/11, despite investigations into the poor quality of the firm's Black Hawk helicopters.

Halliburton CEO David Lesar made $26.6 million in 2005, and nearly $50 million since 9/11, an amount that even beats the $24 million that Dick Cheney received in exchange for the guarantee that Halliburton would be the number one military contractor during the Bush administration.

Cheney himself is also taking in war profits, contrary to what he told Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" in 2003, when he denied making any money off his former employer. "Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president," he said, "I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest."

"I have no financial interest in Halliburton," Cheney told Tim, "of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years."

Those statements were proven false when financial disclosure forms showed that Cheney had received a deferred salary from Halliburton of $205,298 in 2001, $262,392 in 2002, $278,437 in 2003, and $294,852 in 2004.

In 2005, an analysis released by Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), reported that Cheney continued to hold over 300,000 Halliburton stock options and said their value had risen 3,281% over the previous year, from $241,498 to more than $8 million.

"It is unseemly for the Vice President to continue to benefit from this company at the same time his Administration funnels billions of dollars to it," Senator Lautenberg said.

Cheney may be the most visible profiteer to those who find it difficult to follow the war on terror money trail, but many other members of the administration with insider knowledge set themselves up to profit early on as well.

For instance, there was the Undersecretary of Defense, Doug Feith, largely credited for fabricating the tales that got the US into the war to begin with, along with his fellow neocons and best buddy, Ahmed Chalabi.

Feith was a partner with Marc Zell, in the Feith & Zell, DC law firm before joining the administration. After he left for the White House, Zell renamed the firm, Zell, Goldberg & Co, and teamed up with Salem Chalabi, Ahmed nephew, to solicit contracts for clients in Iraq. This scam operated under the name, "Iraqi International Law Group."

At the time, the National Journal quoted Salem as saying that Marc Zell was the firm's "marketing consultant" and had been contacting law firms in Washington and New York to ask if they had clients interested in doing business in Iraq.

According to its web site back then, the IILG was made up of lawyers and businessmen who "dared to take the lead in bringing private sector investment and experience" to the war-torn country and offered to "be your Professional Gateway to the New Iraq."

"The simple fact is," the site stated, "you cannot adequately advise about Iraq unless you are here day in and day out, working closely with officials at the CPA, the newly constituted governing council and the few functioning civilian ministries [oil, labor and social welfare, etc]."

It is highly likely that the preceding statement was absolutely true when made because Feith helped set up the Coalition Provisional Authority in May 2003, with its leader Paul Bremer, and Feith's office and the CPA were in charge of awarding reconstruction contracts with Iraqi money.

For his part, Salem was a legal adviser to Iraq's governing council, of which his Uncle was a member, and Bremer even tried to appoint him to lead the tribunal that would try Saddam.

Uncle Chabali footprints in the profiteering racket can be traced back to September 2003, when the CPA awarded an $80 million contract to Nour USA, a company with ties to Winston Partners, which is a whole other story in itself because Winston Partners is headed by none other than Marvin Bush, the brother to the president.

In May 2003, Nour was founded by, Abul Huda Farouki, whose financial ties to Ahmed Chalabi date back to 1989, when Chalabi was CEO of the Petra Bank, and helped Farouqi finance projects around the world.

Nour's website at the time described the firm as an "international investment and development company" with more than 100 employees based in Iraq, and listed expertise in telecommunications, agribusiness, internet development, recruitment, construction materials, oil and power services, pharmaceuticals and fashion apparel.

In January 2004, Nour picked up another contract to equip the Iraqi armed forces and police worth $327 million. However, shortly thereafter, Nour came under fire when a shady deal surfaced involving the first $80 million contract and Ahmed Chalabi.

Newsday reported that Chalabi had received $2 million for helping to arrange the contract, but as it turned out, the contract was actually awarded to Erinys International, a firm set up in Iraq immediately after the invasion. The problem arose, Newsday said, because within days of receiving the contract, Erinys became a joint venture operation with Nour.

Next, the $327 million contract was in jeopardy after it was revealed that Nour had no experience providing military equipment and Nour claimed that it planned to subcontract its weapons procurement to Ostrowski Arms. However, the army soon learned that Ostowski had no license to export weapons.

The contract was finally axed in March 2004, after six of the 17 firms that bid on it complained that Nour's winning bid was impossibly low.

Following the money trail on this insider deal turned up the names of a few more suspects. According to the National Journal, a Nour executive said the Cohen Group "introduced us to people in the U.S. government who were involved in oil-industry security."

Former Republican Congressman and Secretary of Defense under President Clinton, William Cohen, sits at the helm of the Cohen Group, and according to a report by David Hilzenrath in the Washington Post on May 28, 2006, when he left office in January 2001, Cohen was saddled with debt and his final financial disclosure form, "listed tens of thousands of dollars of charge-account debts at interest rates as high as about 25 percent."

However, within a matter of weeks Cohen and his wife were residing in a $3.5 million mansion. It seems Cohen had wanted this house but was still in office and had no way to finance the purchase, so Frank Zarb, then chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market, sold the house to Michael Ansari, chairman and CEO of defense contractor MIC Industries, in October 2000, and the Cohen took up residence in January or February of 2001, according to the Post.

From there, Cohen went on to join the board and audit committee of the Nasdaq Stock Market, and 11 days after he left office, MIC announced Cohen's appointment as chairman of its board of advisers in a press release.

In no time at all the Cohen Group was raking in mega-bucks. In applying for one contract, that earned the Group $490,000 over seven months, the firm bragged that it had helped Lockheed win a $3.6 billion contract for the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Poland, financed by the US government.

The Group's proposal said its efforts for the Lockheed deal included "advocacy with key decision-makers in the White House, Office of the Vice President, National Security Council, Department of Defense and the State Department during an 18-month campaign," according to the Post.

In regard to helping Nour get contracts in Iraq, according to the Post, where the government disclosure form for Nour asks the firm to identify "Specific lobbying issues," the Group's filings say: "Exploring overseas business opportunities."

When it comes to war profiteering, members of the Bush administration have given a whole new meaning to the "revolving door." A whole gang of thugs has been robbing us blind in Iraq since day one and nobody seems to be able to stop it.

Congress knows what's going on. Back on September 30, 2003, during the Senate debate over the first Iraq spending bill, Senator John Edwards said he refused to funnel the $87 billion to Cheney and other Bush cronies after learning that Bush's former campaign manager, Joe Allbaugh, who was later appointed to head FEMA, had quit his job 3 weeks before the bombs began to fall in Iraq to start the consulting firm, New Bridge Strategies, for clients seeking contracts in Iraq.

"First, Vice President Cheney's Halliburton receives more than $2 billion in Iraq reconstruction contracts," he said, "and now this."

He called it outrageous and disrespectful to the young people serving in Iraq. "President Bush should start addressing this credibility gap by calling on Joe Allbaugh and his friends to stop using their influence to secure government contracts in Iraq," he said.

Senator Edwards said there used to be talk about money for Iraq being a blank check but we now "know the president is writing it out to Joe Allbaugh and Halliburton and it's all endorsed by Vice President Cheney," he said.

In hindsight, Edwards should have expressed outrage at a few more people because the profiteering team at New Bridges was stacked with Republicans. The company's address was the same as a lobbying firm run by Haley Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee that went under the name of Barbour Griffith & Rogers.

And as luck would have it, Lanny Griffith was the CEO of New Bridge, and Ed Rogers was the vice president.

The firm's initial web site told potential clients, "the opportunities evolving in Iraq today are of such an unprecedented nature and scope that no other existing firm has the necessary skills and experience to be effective both in Washington, D.C., and on the ground in Iraq."

And these greedy thugs were so shameless that they didn't even try to hide their elation over all the money they planned to make in Iraq. "Getting the rights to distribute Procter & Gamble products can be a gold mine," one of the firm's partners told Naomi Klein, quoted in an article in Harper's Magazine in September 2004.

"One well-stocked 7-Eleven," the partner said, "could knock out thirty Iraqi stores; a Wal-Mart could take over the country."

There were rumors that a McDonald's might open, a Starwood hotel was mentioned, and General Motors was said to be planning a factory and according to Ms Klein, Citigroup was preparing to offer loans guaranteed against future sales of Iraqi oil.

However since the war never did end, in 2004, Joe Allbaugh abandoned the quest for reconstruction gold mine in Iraq and started a consulting firm with the former director of Cheney's secret energy task force, Andrew Lundquist, and their first client was Lockheed Martin.

The marriage between the ex-campaign manager, Cheney's buddy, and Lockheed apparently worked out much better than the plan to build 7-Elevens in Iraq, because Lockheed stock value has doubled since 2001, and according to the Excess Report, the firm's CEO has made $50 million since 9/11.

It may well have been that Joe's new firm was simply an outgrowth from the many other firms set up by this same gang because Haley Barbour had already worked as a lobbyist for a Lockheed.

On thing is certain, Lockheed was not lacking for administration insiders when Allbaugh came knocking. For instance, before Cheney took over as VP, his wife, Lynne served on the board of Lockheed, receiving deferred compensation to the tune of half a million dollars in stock and fees, according to a January 16, 2007 report by Richard Cummings.

Cummings notes that Cheney's "2004 financial disclosure statement lists Lockheed stock options and $50,000 in Lockheed stock."

In addition, Cheney's son-in-law, Philip Perry, Cummings says, was appointed to serve as general counsel to the Department of Homeland Security, and he had been a registered lobbyist for Lockheed who had worked for a law firm representing Lockheed with the Department of Homeland Security.

According to Cummings, less than a month after 9/11, in October of 2001, the Pentagon announced a $20 billion contract for Lockheed for the development of the Joint Strike Fighter, called the F-35. At the time, Edward Aldridge was Undersecretary of Defense for acquisitions, technology and logistics, which was responsible for the approval of the contract. Aldridge left his government post in 2003, and he now just happens to serve on Lockheed's board of directors.

However, the most stunning revelation in the Cummings report, is that in November 2002, Stephen Hadley, deputy national security advisor at the time, called Lockheed employee, Bruce Jackson, to a meeting at the White House and told him that the US was definitely going to war in Iraq but there was one small hitch, the administration could not decide what reason to use to justify it.

So Jackson formed the "Committee for the Liberation of Iraq," and its mission statement said it was "formed to promote regional peace, political freedom and international security by replacing the Saddam Hussein regime with a democratic government that respects the rights of the Iraqi people and ceases to threaten the community of nations."

According to Cummings, the "pressure group began pushing for regime change - that is, military action to remove Hussein - in the usual Washington ways, lobbying members of congress, working with the media and throwing money around."

Jackson told Cummings that he did not see the point of going on about WMDs or an Al Queda link because he thought the human rights issue was enough to justify the war.

However, Hadley did not agree. "The committee's pitch," Cummings says, "or rationale as Hadley would call it, was that Saddam was a monster -- routinely violating human rights -- and a general menace in the Middle East."

Jackson said he closed down the Committee in June 2003 because its human rights rationale had been abandoned. "We were cut out," he told Cummings, "after the whole thing went to Rumsfeld," and Hadley explained that "terrorism and WMDs" were now the rationale for the war, not human rights.

However, Cummings reports that members of the war sales team that served with Jackson have done well for themselves. The president of the Committee, Randy Scheunemann, became the president of the Mercury Group, and lobbied for Lockheed and others, and then set up the firms, Scheunemann and Associates, and Orion Strategies, which, among other things, consults with companies and countries looking to do business in Iraq.

In November 2003, another Committee member, Rend Al-Rahim Francke, was appointed Iraqi ambassador to the US.

Meanwhile back in Iraq goldmine, the Iraqis have nothing to show for all the torture that they have endured for the past 4 years. On average, Iraqis still get only about two hours of electricity a day, and the situation won't be improving anytime soon because the US has not built a single major power plant.

And despite the $22 billion funneled to the war profiteers for reconstruction, a US official recently said, Baghdad may not have continuous 24-hour electricity until the year 2013.

For the people drawn to Iraq to fight against the occupation, this is not a war against Americans; it's a war against Bush. He tore this country apart for no reason and then just as the Iraqis predicted, the greedy gang of thugs swooped in and ripped everybody off.

And there is no reason to believe that the thievery has ended or the situation in Iraq will get better because an audit released on January 31, 2007, by Inspector General, Stuart Bowen, reported that the $300 billion war and reconstruction effort continues to be plagued with waste and corruption, and yet Bush now wants us to hand over another $100 billion to be funneled through Iraq to the exact same gangsters.

We will never win in Iraq no matter how long we stay because the other side will always have more people willing to die for the cause, and it doesn't take a genius to figure out that if the number of daily attacks continues to escalate as they have for the last 4 years, the US will run out of troops before they do.

Evelyn Pringle can be reached at: evelyn-

Video: Cho Seung-Hui Manifesto

Sometime after he killed two people in a Virginia university dormitory but before he slaughtered 30 more in a classroom building Monday morning, Cho Seung-Hui mailed NBC News a large package, including photographs and videos, lamenting that “I didn’t have to do this.”

Cho, 23, a senior English major at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, killed 32 people in two attacks before taking his own life.


Gunman was teased and picked on, former schoolmates say.

You Have Had a Million Warnings - Virginia Tech Killer's Video

Final message ... mass killer Cho Seung-Hui points a gun at the camera in one of a series of shocking images released for the first time today with his video telling viewers you have "blood on your hands" / AP

Specter vs. Gonzales -- Round 1

Less than a minute into his questioning, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) snapped at Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in an exchange that didn't bode well for Gonzales and his much ballyhooed make-or-break testimony in defending his role in the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys.

The unexpected attack from the committee's top Republican immediately put Gonzales on the defensive.

Specter told Gonzales his opening statement about his involvement in the controversial firings continued "this same pattern of not being candid," and that it was still unclear whether the attorney general was directly involved in the process or just delegating authority. When Specter derisively noted how much time Gonzales has spent preparing for the hearing during the past two weeks, the attorney general snapped: "I prepare for every hearing."

Sparks then flew.

Specter, who has so far resisted calling for Gonzales's resignation, apparently didn't like being interrupted, and bristled at the tone of the attorney general's voice. So the Pennsylvania Republican began mocking Gonzales's performance at a March 13 press conference in which he said he had not been involved in "discussions" nor seen any "memos" about the firing plan. Those statements have now been clearly rebutted by the thousands of pages of documents the Justice Department has released.

"Were you prepared for that press conference, were you prepared for that press conference?" Specter said. Then, as Gonzales tried to answer, Specter kept interrupting, his voice growing louder. "What I'm asking you is, were you prepared for that press conference?"

Specter cut off Gonzales before he could fully answer, moving on in his questioning with one final dismissive remark: "I don't think you're going to win a debate about your preparation."

And that, in the first two hours of testimony and questions and answers, was the sharpest give-and-take. It's doubtful one small exchange would be determinative in Specter's view of whether Gonzales should retain his post. But in a hearing in which Gonzales is trying desperately to shore up his support among Republicans, and fend off calls for his resignation, it was an ominous start. If Specter sours on him, other Republican senators are likely to follow.

Other early highlights from the first two hours of the hearing:

* Gonzales's strong rebuttal to suggestions from Sens. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.) and Russell Feingold (D-Wis.) that prosecutors politicized an investigation into a gubernatorial aide in Wisconsin. He accused the Wisconsin senators of attacking well meaning career prosecutors, declaring: "What does that say to that attorney general, to that local prosecutor, to the career prosecutors?" Earlier, he told Kohl:: "This is not about Alberto Gonzales. This is about what's best for the Department of Justice. ... The work of the department continues."

*Gonzales specified for the first time the date - Oct. 11 -- that President Bush told him of concerns about a lack of voter-fraud prosecutions by David C. Iglesias as U.S. attorney in New Mexico. He also said that Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) had complained multiple times about Iglesias' prosecution record, but specified that it was about a lack of prosecution of "public corruption cases." Five days after Bush spoke with Gonzales, Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) called Iglesias about his handling of a public corruption case in Albuquerque. And less than three weeks after the Bush conversation with Gonzales, Domenici called Iglesias about the Albuquerque case. On Nov. 7, a new firing list emerged for U.S. attorneys and Iglesias' name appeared for the first time.

*Two days after recusing himself from the Ethics Committee's examination of Domenici's role in the Iglesias firing, Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) was given permission by Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to sit in on the hearing at the dais. He's not on the committee, but Salazar -- one of two Hispanic Senate Democrats -- has been an ally of Gonzales in the past. He introduced him at the January 2005 confirmation hearing for Gonzales.

By Paul Kane | April 19, 2007; 12:30 PM ET
Previous: Ethics switch signals long Domenici probe |

Don't forget about Iraq

Thursday, April 19, 2007

By Michael J.W. Stickings

As expected -- because it is always so -- a media event has become a media orgy. I'm talking, of course, about the Virginia Tech shootings, but that hardly matters. In search of sensationalism, the media have no shame. Any story will do, pretty much -- but the media play particularly well off stories like this one. Everything about it, after all, seems so juicy. The media do so well with death and destruction, but they also like a human side to the mayhem. Hence the mainstreamization -- if I may coin a term -- of weather news. (Hurricanes are sexy.) But there's more. There is also pain and suffering. And it's all happening right at home, in English, with so much mystery to unravel -- who was he? why did he do it? -- and with so many hot-button issues lingering on the periphery -- gun control, immigration, education.

Why the media do this is beyond the scope of this post, but there are a few points to make: Obviously, the media need to fill up the empty space that follows the reporting of the facts. That was done -- the facts are known, more or less, and so all that's left is repetition and speculation. There is a fine line between journalism and exploitation, and that line has been crossed. Just turn on your media outlet of choice. You'll see what I mean.

On this, see Taylor Marsh, who asks the right questions: "Have we lost all sense of dignity? When did our pain become something we're so proud of we need to broadcast it... never mind. We are a therapy nation now, televising our grief for all to see. It's what we now do best. But did the community of Virginia Tech need our prying eyes? It likely never occurred to anyone to ask." Taylor compares this to the media's coverage of the Iraq War, which has been abysmal. But, then, an Iraqi life is hardly worth an American one, we are left to conclude from this imbalance, and Iraq is way over there, and we don't want to think too much about it, lost cause that it is, and it's not nearly as sensational as what happened in Virginia. (More on Iraq below.)

Americans -- media and media consumers alike -- need answers. They cannot imagine that what happened in Virginia was just some senseless act of violence. There must have been more to it. And so the media orgy revolves around trying to answer the existential questions as well as the factual ones -- not just the who but the why -- that is, to unravel the seeming mystery of it all. Americans do not seem to want such answers to similar questions about the Iraq War -- it is far too remote, it would seem, for there to be needed any such effort -- but we are Virginia Tech and Virginia Tech is us. Even here in Canada, the media have focused disproportionately on the one Canadian who was killed, as if that death is somehow more significant than the others, but so it goes. This isn't about them, the victims, it's about us. We need to soothe ourselves, to have our existential upsurge pacified. We cannot and will not accept meaninglessness. To stare into the abyss is one thing. To accept that the abyss is all there is would shatter our fragile shells of civilized self-understanding. There must be a God.

And so we search for answers -- through the media, which are more than happy -- for ratings, to bolster their self-importance -- to oblige with all the investigation and speculation that can fill up the empty space. In this case, for this story, this leads us to such banal topics as mental illness, alienation, antidepressant medication. Are the answers to be found in there, anywhere? Or are they to be found in the world of politics -- gun control is the hot topic. In its more extreme and repugnant form, this search demands scapegoats, an evil Other upon which our indignant blame can be heaped. This is the world of Michelle Malkin and her ilk -- a world which upon which I discoursed to much fanfare last night.

On this, see also Steven Taylor: "[W]hy do we have to find blame in places other than the fact that a truly disturbed individual simply did an unthinkable act and cracked. There is only so much that can be done in a free society to prevent such situations. This attempt to blame a general 'liberal' attitude at universities and that this somehow has led to a culture of 'conflict avoidance' that somehow, by inference, led to people not defending themselves on Monday -- that is utterly ridiculous." Our own Capt. Fogg also put it well in a comment to a post by Creature: "This guy didn't go nuts because of television or rap music or gay marriage or any of the other shibboleths -- he went nuts because he was human and going nuts is a human affliction. It's an affliction that won't go away despite lectures on personal responsibility or despite bans or laws or wiretaps appeals to family values or protests or rubber bands worn on wrists."

But the truth -- rather than the truthiness presented to willing consumers by sensation-seeking news outlets and deranged commentators -- does not go down so easily. If the truth about Iraq is being largely ignored, or avoided, the truth about the Virginia Tech shootings continues to be overwhelmed by a media orgy that, as of right now, shows no signs of letting up.


And this brings us to Iraq, forgotten Iraq, where today was just another day, as we say, of life and death:

Four car bombs killed 131 people and wounded 164 others across Baghdad Wednesday, the U.S. military said, as bloodshed spiked two months into a U.S.-led crackdown meant to pacify the Iraqi capital.

It was one of the deadliest days of the four-year-old Iraq war, and some news agencies suggested the death toll may be higher. Reuters, quoting local officials, said almost 200 people were killed Wednesday. The Associated Press put the number at 183.

The carnage underscored the profound insecurity that continues to plague the nation, where additional American soldiers are being deployed in an attempt to curb sectarian violence.

Bloodshed. Carnage. Insecurity.

Is it right to compare Iraq and Virginia Tech? Perhaps not. But the juxtaposition -- and specifically the juxtaposition of media coverage -- is nonetheless deeply troubling. (This is Taylor's point.) There has been so much concentrated coverage of what happened in Virginia (and, to an extent, rightly so), but there has been, overall, gross indifference to what is happening in Iraq each and every day. It takes a massive death toll for Iraqi violence to register -- like today's, but, even then, nothing like there should be. And not just Iraqi violence. Stuck in perpetual therapy, Americans don't want to know much about anywhere else, either.

"But this happened in our own backyard," a critic cries. Yes, yes, I know -- and I understand. That, too, was my reaction to the news. The shooting did happen close to home -- closer to home than the violence in Iraq, closer to home in terms of our ability to relate to it, to see ourselves in those we see on television. We are them, they are us. We are all Hokies now.

Fair enough.

All I am saying -- well, perhaps not all -- is that some perspective is in order. Becoming one with Virginia while detaching from Iraq is the easy way out. It allows us to cleanse our souls in yet another media-driven orgy of existential therapy even as more and more blood is spilled in some faraway place that is just too horrible even to attempt to comprehend.

And yet the media will soon move on, as they always do, to the next source of sensationalism, the next object of exploitation. The pain and suffering in Virginia will go on, but we won't care, because it was never really about them -- and because we will once again have managed to lie the ultimate lie to ourselves, to have persuaded ourselves that our questions were answered, that our fears were all dreams, that there was a point to the madness, or at least a reasonable explanation that put everything right again.

And we will follow the media, wherever they may go, from one sensation to the next.

And, media coverage or not, the blood will continue to flow... over there.

American and Iraqi alike, and others too. Whether we pay attention or not.

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New Phil Giraldi article about Sibel Edmonds, Waxman

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Former CIA officer Phil Giraldi has a new piece out in the April 23, 2007 print edition of the American Conservative about Sibel Edmonds and our call to have Henry Waxman hold hearings into her case.

Giraldi is an expert in Sibel's case and features prominently in the new film about Sibel, Kill The Messenger.

I've electronically liberated the article in full, all errors are mine etc.

California Congressman Henry Waxman's Oversight & Government Reform Committee has been investigating allegations that the Bush administration might be concealing something about the Niger document forgeries, that it maliciously outed CIA operative Valerie Plame, and that it has looked the other way over massive fraudulent contracting in Iraq. These investigations are admirable and very much in the public interest. He has been less interested in pursuing another matter, however. FBI whistle blower Sibel Edmonds and her numerous supporters both inside and outside of government have been urging Waxman to hold open hearings on her claims regarding malfeasance and corruption among high-level government officials.

Edmonds is subject to a State Secrets Privilege gag order initiated at the request of the Pentagon and State Department, but she has recently elaborated on her allegations, stating that investigations already carried out by the FBI would demonstrate that three former senior officials were involved in illegal weapons sales and other activities that would justify charges of espionage and possibly even treason against them. The three are leading Pentagon neoconservatives Douglas Feith and Richard Perle, as well as former State Department number three Marc Grossman. Edmonds is no crackpot and is considered to be a credible witness, most of whose charges were substantiated both by former FBI officials in 2002 and by the Department of Justice in 2005. Waxman appears to be uninterested in pursuing the matter, however, possibly because Israeli officials and the country's defense industry are believed to have been involved in the weapons diversion activity.

Congressman Waxman is regarded as close to Israel's principal lobby, AIPAC, and even promised Jewish voters back in November 2006 that there would be no Democratic congressional committee chairmen involved with Middle Eastern policy who were not completely supportive of Israel.

As Giraldi says in Kill The Messenger:
All of these people (Perle, Feith) have been investigated by the FBI at one point or another for passing secret information to Israel.

In no cases were any of them convicted. The prosecutions were dropped… in my opinion because of political pressure not to get into this kind of case that involves
'Israel' and 'Espionage'.
I'm not yet ready to write-off the possibility that Waxman will hold hearings into Sibel's case. He has previously promised to do so, and we haven't yet heard from his office that he won't hold hearings. Congress has been in recess for the past two weeks and we'll be attempting to get him on the record one way or other this week. I've been told that a number of prominent-ish people tried to get Waxman to go on the record on Monday (yesterday) in response to Giraldi's new article to no avail - but surely he can't maintain that position, so in the meantime, no news is good news.

Oh - and for those of you who are saying 'Huh? AIPAC? Israel? I thought Sibel's case was about Turkey and the American Turkish Council (ATC)!' Sibel says that both AIPAC and the ATC both essentially operate as fronts for the same criminal organization. Or as Giraldi put it in his earlier article about Sibel's case:
On one level, (Sibel's) story appears straightforward: several Turkish lobbying groups allegedly bribed congressmen to support policies favourable to Ankara. But beyond that, the Edmonds revelations become more serpentine and appear to involve AIPAC, Israel and a number of leading neoconservatives who have profited from the Turkish connection.
I'll keep you updated, of course. Stay tuned, and thanks for your help & support, again.