30 September 2007

Disaster Capitalist's Delight: War on Iran

Two articles that I want to share. One by Naomi Klein, Disaster Capitalism, details the process by which certain corporations are making massive profits off of wars and environmental catastrophes. I think this article is subscription only, but you may be able to find free copies on the Internet:
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"There is only one cloud that looms over the thriving disaster economy—from weapons to oil to engineering to surveillance to patented drugs. It is the threatening if unlikely scenario that this latest boom could somehow be interrupted by an outbreak of climatic stability and geopolitical peace."
And Seymour Hersh writes about a prediction that the Bush Administration will launch an attack on Iran under the auspices that Iran is providing material support for Iraqis to attack US Soldiers in Iraq:
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In a series of public statements in recent months, President Bush and members of his Administration have redefined the war in Iraq, to an increasing degree, as a strategic battle between the United States and Iran. “Shia extremists, backed by Iran, are training Iraqis to carry out attacks on our forces and the Iraqi people,” Bush told the national convention of the American Legion in August. “The attacks on our bases and our troops by Iranian-supplied munitions have increased. . . . The Iranian regime must halt these actions. And, until it does, I will take actions necessary to protect our troops.” He then concluded, to applause, “I have authorized our military commanders in Iraq to confront Tehran’s murderous activities.”

29 September 2007

What It Is and What To Do About It

It's scary - what is happening in the USA. The last 7 some years of the Bush Administration have seen America change significantly. The nation has become polarized. Fear is coming to dominate society and not without good reason. The USA is weakened economically. Select members of the Bush Administration, in the face of a genuine environmental crisis, have opted to feast on their political aspirations for global military and economic "dominance." Money is being spent on conquest and furthering corporate hegemony.

Money is not being spent on answering the pressing crisis of ecological collapse and the massive lack of sustainability of the current economic system.

The Bush Administration is leading the USA down the path of destruction. It's quite possibly criminal and the USA deserves to prosecute the actions of the Bush Administration as such - as criminal actions.

Some examples:
- voting irregularities which resulted in two Bush Admin electoral victories
- the lack of credible evidence that Iraq possessed WMD (threatening US security) in the face of much more credible evidence that Iraq, in fact, did not possess weapons to threaten the security of the USA.
- exhibiting a specific disregard and a lack of concern for the welfare of humanity in terms of future generations.

I could go on and on. But I want to plug a couple of stories worthy of mention.

First, the text of a speech by Daniel Ellsberg in which he likens the Bush Administration's presence in the White House to a coup. It's a really good article, here's the intro:
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I think nothing has higher priority than averting an attack on Iran, which I think will be accompanied by a further change in our way of governing here that in effect will convert us into what I would call a police state.

If there’s another 9/11 under this regime … it means that they switch on full extent all the apparatus of a police state that has been patiently constructed, largely secretly at first but eventually leaked out and known and accepted by the Democratic people in Congress, by the Republicans and so forth.

Will there be anything left for NSA to increase its surveillance of us? … They may be to the limit of their technical capability now, or they may not. But if they’re not now they will be after another 9/11.

And I would say after the Iranian retaliation to an American attack on Iran, you will then see an increased attack on Iran – an escalation – which will be also accompanied by a total suppression of dissent in this country, including detention camps.

It’s a little hard for me to distinguish the two contingencies; they could come together. Another 9/11 or an Iranian attack in which Iran’s reaction against Israel, against our shipping, against our troops in Iraq above all, possibly in this country, will justify the full panoply of measures that have been prepared now, legitimized, and to some extent written into law. …
And secondly, a call by Garret Keizer for a General Strike on this coming First Tuesday of November, election day, the 6th. In response to the (potentially) felonious assault on the American People and the economy of the USA, Keizer advocates for a full scale General Strike:
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Of all the various depredations of the Bush regime, none has been so thorough as its plundering of hope. Iraq will recover sooner. What was supposed to have been the crux of our foreign policy—a shock-and-awe tutorial on the utter futility of any opposition to the whims of American power—has achieved its greatest and perhaps its only lasting success in the American soul...

...If someone were to suggest, for example, that we begin a general strike on Election Day, November 6, 2007, for the sole purpose of removing this regime from power, how readily and with what well-practiced assurance would you find yourself producing the words “It won’t do any good”?
...[It would be] better if we could say to our next administration: Don’t talk about Bush. We dealt with Bush. We dealt with Bush and in so doing we demonstrated our ability to deal with you. You have a mandate more rigorous than looking good beside Bush. You need a program more ambitious than “uniting the country.” We are united—at least we were, if only for a while, if only in our disgust. If only I believed all this would happen.

I wrote this appeal during the days leading up to the Fourth of July. I wrote it because for the past six and a half years I have heard the people I love best—family members, friends, former students and parishioners—saying, “I’m sick over what’s happening to our country, but I just don’t know what to do.” Might I be pardoned if, fearing civil disorder less than I fear civil despair, I said, “Well, we could do this.” It has been done before and we could do this. And I do believe we could. If anyone has a better idea, I’m keen to hear it. Only don’t tell me what some presidential hopeful ought to do someday. Tell me what the people who have nearly lost their hope can do right now.
It's scary to hear this kind of talk. Talk about police states and about losing hope. Let's resist apathy as we muster the courage to keep talking - to keep resisting. Please, dear reader, ask yourself what specific actions that you can take to roll back the Bush Administration assaults on personal liberties, the environment and humanity itself. Then take action!

24 September 2007

Nelson Mandela

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Still Around

The Nelson Mandela Foundation wants the world to know that its 89-year-old namesake is very much alive. It seems that a line Bush used at his news conference last week left that fact in doubt -- at least for some people.

"I thought an interesting comment was made -- somebody said to me, I heard somebody say, 'Now, where's Mandela?' Well, Mandela's dead because Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas," Bush said last week. "He was a brutal tyrant that divided people up and split families. And people are recovering from this. So there's the psychological recovery that is taking place."

The president's point, of course, was that leaders capable of fostering reconciliation in Iraq, as Mandela has in South Africa, were systematically killed by Hussein. But given Bush's well-earned reputation for struggling with the language, some people were not sure what he meant.

After Bush's comments circled the globe, the Mandela Foundation felt compelled to set the record straight. "All we can do is reassure people, especially South Africans, that President Mandela is alive," Achmat Dangor, the foundation's chief executive officer, told Reuters on Friday.

23 September 2007

"Freedom" in Iraq

Excerpt and link to a great article from Tom Englehardt about Bush's Freedom in Iraq:
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"I saw women and children jump out of their cars and start to crawl on the road to escape being shot, but still the firing kept coming and many of them were killed. I saw a boy of about 10 leaping in fear from a minibus, he was shot in the head. His mother was crying out for him, she jumped out after him, and she was killed. People were afraid."

This is the testimony of Hassan Jabar Salman, a lawyer "shot four times in the back, his car riddled with eight more bullets" as he attempted to escape a fusillade from Blackwater hired guns guarding a U.S. convoy in the middle of Baghdad...

22 September 2007

Town Hall Meeting with Brian Baird

Town Hall Meeting with Brian BairdRep. Baird was fixated on the notion that withdrawal would cause further violence. But he seems not to have considered that a responsible, safe and gradual withdrawal would most likely reduce the level of violence. Violence would be reduced because it is the presence of the USA in Iraq that is exacerbating much of the violence.

It was a good meeting. But Rep. Brian Baird is not facing the same reality as 90% of those who attended the meeting. The occupation is very unpopular in Olympia.

There were moments when tempers flared. There were outbursts. All in all it was interesting. I left before it ended. I was disappointed to learn that Rep. Baird didn't talk to any normal every day Iraqis before he made the decision to support the Surge. He talked to 11 parliamentarians and two Sheiks among the Iraqis that he consulted. He also met with members of the American government and military in Iraq prior to making his decision to lend his explicit support to the Surge and to the Occupation.

He feels that the USA has a responsibility in Iraq - a responsibility to right many wrongs. I agree with him that the USA has a responsibility. But he supports the US military role in providing these many reparations.

I disagree with him, and disapprove of his stance, insofar as my perception of the ability of the US military to accomplish the reconstruction mission. In fact, the mission is to hunt insurgents. But it is the presence of the US military that is feeding the insurgency. So it is a cyclical game of cat and mouse. The way out is to stop playing the game.

Change the mission. 1. Make the mission priority to reconstruct the civilian infrastructure.

2. Hand over the keys to the Iraqi government for real. Trust the Iraqi people to manage their own governmental/political process.

3. Hold the Bush Administration accountable. I support holding prominent war planning decision makers in confinement until such a time and place that a fair trial can be made for the assessment of any wrongdoings that may have been committed in re: the invasion and occupation of Iraq...

Rep. Brian Baird share a lot apparently in terms of our views of Iraq. We both believe that the USA has a responsibility to foster progress and change. But we differ fundamentally on the analysis of progress. His understanding seems very narrow and limited. He sees a few specific instances of progress and thinks that justifies the heavy handed military presence. - I think the military presence, in its current incarnation, is part of the problem.

Another thing that struck me was the defensive tone the Representative took from the very beginning.

Also - The Representative didn't listen very well to many of the comments and questions... He often provided (what were to me) unsatisfactory responses and answers. It was like something was missing... Something important. It was like he had well-thought out and rehearsed political responses to many of the citizens' comments. A lot of his statements sounded canned, phony and stale.

I am glad that I went and would be interested in hearing others' perspectives on how the Town Hall Meeting went.

Finally, I encourage the Representative to truly think over the ideas that were shared at the Mtg. and to not fear changing his position accordingly. There is no shame in admitting a wrong like this. It would be the honorable thing to do.

Waging offensive military campaigns in the name of resource acquisition is inhumane, immoral, illegal - fundamentally anathema to the tradition and spirit of the USA.

The fundamental reason for the US presence in Iraq is unjust. It is time to radically shift the military and diplomatic mission - or else to begin immediately a full scale, safe, responsibly and complete (likely over the course of one year) military withdrawal.

20 September 2007

Kicked a Dog

I don't usually write about personal stuff on this blog. But something happened today that I want to share. It's personal and has some emotional consequences. First let me tell the story.

I was on my bike heading to the shop this morning. Everything was as usual, except that I was listening to music on my headphones, which I don't usually do. I was on my normal route. I was approaching a driveway, in which sat a dog with an intent posture. It was eying me, it appeared to be sizing me up.

As soon as I was parallel with the dog's position in the driveway it took off after me. I took my foot out of the toe clip on my bike pedal and waved it so the dog couldn't hit the moving target. The dog was chasing me on my right side and barking. It decided to get in front of me, but I didn't stop. Why was it doing this? Did it want to play? Was it just happy to see me and barking aggressively was its way of demonstrating affection? Did it sense in me a threat? Was it trained to bark at and intimidate strangers?

After failing to stop me, the dog kept barking and approached the right side of my bike, and my right leg. It got up very close to me and I took action. I don't know if it was attempting to bite my leg, but it didn't get a chance, because I wound up and booted it in the head. I hit it moderately hard - it wasn't a super hard kick, but it landed solidly. It responded by yelping and running back to the house that it apparently belongs to.

I felt pretty bad. I still kind of feel bad, although I think I was justified because the dog might have been attempting to attack me. The key word is might. I don't know. Was I wrong? I think my action was in self-defense, but I can't prove that the dog was going to bite me, it might have just wanted to scare me, or something (which is totally unacceptable, but not worthy of a kick.) Was my action a pre-emptive strike comparable to the Bush Administration's attack on Iraq? Was my kick justified?

I don't like it so much when dogs make it their business to bark and fuss and attempt to intimidate strangers. What caused this dog to act like such a menace? I don't know what I'll do next time an aggressive dog postures an attack on me. But I do know that I don't want to get bitten by a dog. And I will defend myself to the best of my abilities against aggressive dogs.

19 September 2007

Shame on the USA

The occupation of Iraq brings shame upon the USA. Neither the invasion was, nor the occupation is, justified by national security prerogatives. Iraq did not pose a threat to the security of the USA prior to the invasion.

The government and military of the USA has been hi-jacked by the Bush Administration, which aspires to further the cause of global domination. I reject the idea of global domination. I want the USA to be a good neighbor. I don't want the USA to be a bully tyrant.

It's time for ordinary Americans to take notice and stand up and demand redress for these terrible grievances. This foolish and unjustified, unnecessary, immoral and illegal military action in Iraq is the wrong thing for the USA. It is a terrible waste of lives, and resources. Killing and spreading destruction and violence are not acceptable.

If the "war" is about energy security - well there are much better ways to insure energy security than to lay brutal and inane waste half way around the world to a nation and its people.

17 September 2007

Blackwater License to Operate in Iraq Cancelled

I was listening to the radio today when I heard that there was a "shootout" in Iraq that involved "Blackwater" mercenaries. Rumors suggest that several innocent Iraqis were killed in the "shootout."

What is most striking is that the radio news story conflicts directly with a story I just found on the BBC [via truthout.org]. The radio story included a brief statement (by a spokesman for either Blackwater or the US Gov't - I'm not sure which) that claimed the government of Iraq had not asked the Blackwater company to leave Iraq.

The story stuck with me for some reason, and it's interesting because I just found a story that contradicts the one I heard on NPR. The BBC is reporting that the Iraqi Government has Banned Blackwater from Iraq.

This might be a signal that the Iraqi government is gaining a greater degree of autonomy. It will be interesting to watch.

Here's a link to the BBC story [on truthout.org]: http://www.truthout.org/...

14 September 2007

No End in Sight: Movie Review

I just returned from the Capitol Theatre in Olympia (WA) where I viewed the documentary film, No End in Sight.

It was an emotional experience, gripping, and I am stunned. This film is a must see. This goes especially for elected officials, representatives, and other governmental/military personnel. This film casts a revealing view of the situation regarding the buildup to the invasion of Iraq as well as some of the intricacies of the occupation. It pays special attention to the early occupation, and L. Paul Bremer's administration of the CPA.

This film includes first person testimony and perspective from a variety of officials who were intimately involved in the invasion and occupation.

Again, this film is a must see. If I was a dictator, I would command that you view this film, under penalty of the revocation of your citizenship. But since I am not a dictator (nor do I care to be one,) I will simply plead with you, please, please, pretty please see this film. You owe it to yourself as a human, and you owe it to humanity.

One of the most stunning aspects of the film was the attention it devoted to the early occupation failure that was the neglect paid to looting. Virtually every Iraqi Governmental Ministry (except the Oil Ministry - because it was the only one granted protection from US Military) was looted in the month that followed the invasion.

The looting was severe and set a drastic and harmful precedent of lawlessness. It created an environment where violence came to reign supreme. Weapons caches full of rifles and ammunition and explosive ordnance were not least amongst the long list of items that were looted from public institutions as well as private business and homes.

One thing that the movie didn't answer, and it spent a lot of time exploring, was exactly why Bremer made the decision to disband the Iraqi Military. When the military of Iraq was let go, it created about one half million (500,000) soldiers who were armed and suddenly unemployed. This lent to a perfect environment for an insurgency.

Did Bremer and the Bush Admin. want an insurgency? Why did Bremer make so many (apparent) mistakes in the early occupation?

This movie is a must see. Please. Do me the favor of seeing this one for yourself.

11 September 2007

The US at Fault in Iraq

9/11 Anniversary post: Check out videos of some great speeches from a demonstration to call on WA State US third district Congressional Representative Brian Baird for sanity in regard to Iraq. Here's a link.

07 September 2007

Oil: The Cost in Human Lives

How many human lives is it worth to secure future access to world oil supplies? Take a minute right now and answer this question for yourself honestly. Then continue reading.

People are dying because of a war being fought over future access to oil in Iraq. The US government under the Bush Administration views the nation of Iraq, and not insignificantly the oil which resides there, as a matter of major strategic importance. Iraq is also of strategic importance due to its geographic location, but oil is the ranking concern currently.

People are dying because the Bush Administration thinks it is necessary to secure the oil rich nation of Iraq under a "friendly" government. Friendly to the Bush Administration means willing to offer the resources of the nation up for exploitation and use by Western Corporations and Governments (mainly the USA.) The Bush Administration wants control over who benefits from the oil of Iraq.

People are dying, and it's about oil. How does it feel? How can we allow it to continue? Can we? Can you sit idly by in your comfortable American Lifestyle and behave like a normal happy consumer knowing all the while that this economy is underwritten by petroleum? The economy of the USA is dependent on easy and reliable access to petroleum.

There is a war being fought over it and people are dying.

Instead of putting energy into increasing efficiency and conserving what energy we do have, policy makers have decided to tread the road of destruction. Yes, the US is on the road of destruction. People are dying. Families are being ripped apart. All so that the USA can ensure the futures of oil.

But there are alternatives. We don't truly need oil. It's time to start moving in different directions. Let's think creatively and explore some of the alternatives - in earnest. After all, people are dying!


06 September 2007

Please Do Not Attack Iran

The only reasonable justification for violent conflict is in the presence of an imminent threat to life and limb. War can only be justified as a means for self-defense. Violent aggressive attacks are not legally permissible - nor are violent aggressive attacks morally acceptable.

Let us look forward to many tomorrow's without the threat of violence. Let us envision a world without political-military-economic aggression. A better world is possible. A better world awaits...
Spiky Purple Flowers

04 September 2007

Purple Flower Close-up

Hello, I hope that you're doing well. This is a flower I found in the Capitol Campus Conservatory, at the Washington State Capitol Campus in Olympia. It's a good place to visit if you have the time when you're in the area.
Purple Flower

02 September 2007

Raining Hellfire from the Sky

Eerily reminiscent of 1984, bombs appear out of thin air to wreak horrible and terrific destruction. The US Government at the root. I know that there are better ways to promote economic security than waging violent conquest half way around the world.
Death at a Distance: The US Air War
by Conn Hallinan
Foreign Policy in Focus

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According to the residents of Datta Khel, a town in Pakistan's North Waziristan, three missiles streaked out of Afghanistan's Pakitka Province and slammed into a madrassa, or Islamic school, this past June. When the smoke cleared, the Asia Times reported, 30 people were dead.

The killers were robots, General Atomics MQ-1 Predators. The AGM-114 Hellfire missiles they used in the attack were directed from a base deep in the southern Nevada desert.

It was not the first time Predators had struck. The previous year a CIA Predator took a shot at al-Qaeda's number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, but missed. The missile, however, killed 18 people. According to the Asia Times piece, at least one other suspected al-Qaeda member was assassinated by a Predator in Pakistan's northern frontier area, and in 2002 a Predator killed six "suspected al-Qaeda" members in Yemen.

These assaults are part of what may be the best kept secret of the Iraq-Afghanistan conflicts: an enormous intensification of US bombardments in these and other countries in the region, the increasing number of civilian casualties such a strategy entails, and the growing role of pilotless killers in the conflict.