08 July 2006

The Greatest Treason of a Democratic Society 

In the winter of 1933, before Franklin Roosevelt's first inauguration on March 4, there was a clamor in the United States for a military dictatorship. The banks were closing, a quarter of Americans were unemployed, rebellion threatened on the farms. Only drastic reforms, mandated by the president's power as commander in chief, would save the country. Something like the fascism of Mussolini's Italy -- viewed benignly by many Americans in those days because it worked (or so everyone said) -- would save the country from communist revolution.

The call for a military style dictatorship is the ultimate temptation to the greatest treason of a democratic society. Fortunately for us, FDR resisted the temptation and reformed the American economy by a mix of gradualist changes (like Social Security) and magical "fireside chats." Unfortunately years later he yielded to the temptation to a military dictatorship when he interned Japanese Americans simply because they were Japanese. In the first case he resisted the demands of the American people. In the second he caved in to their racist demands.

The United States is caught up in a new campaign for a military dictatorship -- rule by a military chief with absolute power. The White House, inspired by Vice President Dick Cheney, has argued that in time of great danger, the president has unlimited powers as commander in chief. If he cites "national security" he can do whatever he wants -- ignore Congress, disobey laws, disregard the courts, override the Constitution's Bill of Rights -- without being subject to any review. Separation of powers no longer exists. The president need not consult Congress or the courts. Moreover the rights of the commander in chief to act as a military dictator lasts as long as the national emergency persists, indefinitely that is and permanently.

Cheney wants U.S. dictator

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06 July 2006

Economic Rationalism a Matter of Faith? 

The Australian Government has sacrificed millions of people on the altar of the market, preferred to help the rich over the poor, and has made human rights negotiable, outgoing Uniting Church president Dean Drayton said in his farewell speech yesterday.

Dr Drayton, the president of Australia's third-biggest church for the past three years, stepped down with a blast for the Government, calling it morally irresponsible for its ignorance about claimed weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and payment of wheat bribes of a third of a billion dollars to Saddam Hussein.

"With dreadful irony, cereal ignorance shows what happens when serial ignorance takes the place of truth and justice."

He also said Australia was "sucking dry" its Pacific and regional neighbours to maintain its own lifestyle.

Government morally irresponsible

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another deep trough ..... 

‘Five major military contractors are competing to design a system to tackle up to two million undocumented immigrants a year in the United States. Boeing, Ericsson, Lockheed, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon are working on proposals that focus on high technology rather than high fences, but ignoring some of the fundamental problems of immigration.

At each checkpoint along the path to citizenship or deportation - from desert wilderness to urban labyrinth - private contractors are expected to be hired to detect, apprehend, vet, detain, process, and potentially incarcerate or deport people seeking economic and human rights asylum in the U.S.

An indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract, estimated at $2.5 billion, for the Secure Border Initiative Network (SBInet) will be awarded September 30th 2006, to build a seamless web of new surveillance technology and sensors with real time communications systems for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The plan also includes funds for additional personnel, vehicles and physical infrastructure for fencing, and virtual fencing for U.S. borders.’

Border For Sale

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pre-emptive diplomacy ..... 

‘On May 31st, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced what appeared to be a major change in U.S. foreign policy. The Bush Administration, she said, would be willing to join Russia, China, and its European allies in direct talks with Iran about its nuclear program. There was a condition, however: the negotiations would not begin until, as the President put it in a June 19th speech at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, "the Iranian regime fully and verifiably suspends its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities." Iran, which has insisted on its right to enrich uranium, was being asked to concede the main point of the negotiations before they started. The question was whether the Administration expected the Iranians to agree, or was laying the diplomatic groundwork for future military action. In his speech, Bush also talked about "freedom for the Iranian people," and he added, "Iran's leaders have a clear choice." There was an unspoken threat: the U.S. Strategic Command, supported by the Air Force, has been drawing up plans, at the President's direction, for a major bombing campaign in Iran.

Inside the Pentagon, senior commanders have increasingly challenged the President's plans, according to active-duty and retired officers and officials. The generals and admirals have told the Administration that the bombing campaign will probably not succeed in destroying Iran's nuclear program. They have also warned that an attack could lead to serious economic, political, and military consequences for the United States.’

Last Stand

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oooops ..... 

‘Something has gone terribly wrong in Afghanistan. The heaviest fighting there since the 2001 U.S. invasion has recently erupted. Many Americans, who were then assured by neocons and their media trumpets that their nation had triumphantly won the war in Afghanistan and crushed the Taliban, are dismayed and bewildered.

In 2001, unable to withstand high-tech U.S. forces, Taliban’s leader, Mullah Omar, ordered his men, who had been fighting the Afghan Communists and pro-Russian Tajiks, to disband, exchange their black turbans for white ones, and blend into the civilian population.

At the time, this writer, who covered the 1980’s Great Jihad in Afghanistan and ensuing birth of Taliban, warned war would resume in about four years, just as it did after the 1979 Soviet invasion. This prediction was greeted with jeers, and accusations of idiocy and lack of patriotism.

Now, as predicted, Taliban forces have taken the offensive against U.S. and NATO troops, often employing deadly new tactics, like roadside and suicide bombs, learned from Iraq’s resistance. Casualties are mounting on both sides.’

The War In Afghanistan Is Only The Beginning

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milestones to millstones ..... 

‘Three years into an occupation of Iraq replete with so-called milestones, turning points and individual events hailed as “sea changes” that would “break the back” of the insurgency, a different type of incident received an intense, if ephemeral, amount of attention. A local human rights worker and aspiring journalist in the western Iraqi town of Haditha filmed the aftermath of the massacre of 24 Iraqi civilians. The video made its way to an Iraqi working for Time magazine, and the story was finally publicized months later. The Haditha massacre was compared to the Vietnam War’s My Lai massacre, and like the well-publicized and embarrassing Abu Ghraib scandal two years earlier, the attention it received made it seem as if it were a horrible aberration perpetrated by a few bad apples who might have overreacted to the stress they endured as occupiers.

In reality both Abu Ghraib and Haditha were merely more extreme versions of the day-to-day workings of the American occupation in Iraq, and what makes them unique is not so much how bad they were, or how embarrassing, but the fact that they made their way to the media and were publicized despite attempts to cover them up. Focusing on Abu Ghraib and Haditha distracts us from the daily, little Abu Ghraibs and small-scale Hadithas that have made up the occupation. The occupation has been one vast extended crime against the Iraqi people, and most of it has occurred unnoticed by the American people and the media.

Americans, led to believe that their soldiers and Marines would be welcomed as liberators by the Iraqi people, have no idea what the occupation is really like from the perspective of Iraqis who endure it. Although I am American, born and raised in New York City, I came closer to experiencing what it might feel like to be Iraqi than many of my colleagues. I often say that the secret to my success in Iraq as a journalist is my melanin advantage. I inherited my Iranian father’s Middle Eastern features, which allowed me to go unnoticed in Iraq, blend into crowds, march in demonstrations, sit in mosques, walk through Falluja’s worst neighbourhoods.’

The Occupation Of Iraqi Hearts & Minds

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04 July 2006

birthday girl ..... 

The rockets red glare,
Bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night
That our flag was still there.

Oh, say does that
Star spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free,
And the home of the brave.

‘When I look at the star-spangled banner I think of my son who began wearing a uniform with the flag on it from the time he went into scouting at the age of 6. I also think of one of the last pictures taken of Casey when he was awaiting deployment to Iraq from Kuwait. He was standing in a tent holding a bottle of water, wearing his desert cammies with an American flag patch on the chest. When we buried him a few weeks after that picture was taken, I was handed a folded flag that reminded me of the swaddling blanket that I wrapped him in to bring him home from the hospital almost 25 years before.

The star-spangled banner, which I can now see whipping in the wind outside of an airport terminal where I am writing this from does not fill me with pride: it fills me with shame and that flag symbolizes sorrow and corruption to me right now. The flag represents so much lying, fixed elections, profiting by the war machine, high gas prices, spying on Americans, rapid erosion of our freedoms while BushCo literally gets away with murder, torture and extreme rendition, contaminating the world with depleted uranium, and illegal and immoral wars that are responsible for killing so many. A symbol which used to represent hope to so many around the world now fills so many with disgust.

When I look at that rectangular piece of cloth that has red and white stripes and white stars on a blue field, I wonder what the Iraqi people think when they see American tanks and other vehicles rumbling through their streets carrying doom with that symbol emblazoned upon them. Or, what could our flag possibly represent to them when their women are being raped and burned to conceal crimes and entire families are being killed by soldiers whose uniforms carry that symbol? I am sure that the flag symbolizes death and destruction to them which I hope they are not confusing with freedom and democracy.’

Bombs Bursting In Air

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state terror ..... 

‘A black flag hangs over the "rolling" operation in Gaza. The more the operation "rolls," the darker the flag becomes. The "summer rains" we are showering on Gaza are not only pointless, but are first and foremost blatantly illegitimate. It is not legitimate to cut off 750,000 people from electricity. It is not legitimate to call on 20,000 people to run from their homes and turn their towns into ghost towns. It is not legitimate to penetrate Syria's airspace. It is not legitimate to kidnap half a government and a quarter of a parliament.

A state that takes such steps is no longer distinguishable from a terror organization. The harsher the steps, the more monstrous and stupid they become, the more the moral underpinnings for them are removed and the stronger the impression that the Israeli government has lost its nerve. Now one must hope that the weekend lull, whether initiated by Egypt or the prime minister, and in any case to the dismay of Channel 2's Roni Daniel and the IDF, will lead to a radical change.

Everything must be done to win Gilad Shalit's release. What we are doing now in Gaza has nothing to do with freeing him. It is a widescale act of vengeance, the kind that the IDF and Shin Bet have wanted to conduct for some time, mostly motivated by the deep frustration that the army commanders feel about their impotence against the Qassams and the daring Palestinian guerilla raid. There's a huge gap between the army unleashing its frustration and a clever and legitimate operation to free the kidnapped soldier.’

A Black Flag

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