30 April 2008

Jail to the Chief

Upon suspicion of serious crimes, like murder or robbing a bank, suspects - in the USA - are customarily sought for apprehension and (when apprehended) confined until a trial can be convened so that they can either be proven guilty, or declared innocent, based on evidence presented in a court of law.

Why the case is different when an acting President of the USA is suspected of grievously breaking the most serious laws that govern our nation, and indeed the world, is very frustrating.

Upon suspicion of breaking the nation's highest laws in a most heinous and grievous manner; on suspicion of committing the most serious criminal offenses possible, namely aggression (a war crime with all of its consequential violence, death and destruction): this is a call to Jail the Chief!

Jail to the Chief
photo © Robin Dude All Rights Reserved.

29 April 2008

Olympia Arts Walk and Procession of the Species

I spent some time this past weekend taking in the scenery in downtown Olympia, Washington during the Spring Arts Walk and Process of the Species events. Here's a link to some photos: olyblog.net/more-photos

25 April 2008

In Support of Global Dominance

Our legislators don't represent the will of the people for peace and justice. Instead they all too often represent the will of corporations for global dominance, even to the point of militarism and the use of violence. Here's a comment I made at OlyBlog about Congressman Brian Baird (D - WA 3rd Congressional District):
go to original

Do the terms "liberal" or "conservative" have meaning anymore?

As far as it goes with the occupation of Iraq, Congressman Baird certainly provides liberal support to those (Western multi-national petroleum corporations) who seek domination and control over the oil resource of Iraq.

It's great that Baird is a strong proponent of abortion rights and other things. But I wish he was a support of peace, justice and disarmament. It seems that he is an able and willing supporter of global dominance and a foreign policy of violent militarism. Congressman Baird lives up to a the tradition of the military-industrial-congressional-complex.

The same criticism that applies to Baird also applies, unfortunately, to a majority of US Legislators: they are wedded to a system that represents the interests of the corporations. It's corporatism plain and simple. Regular citizens just don't have access to government anymore.

The people need healthcare and good, stable jobs. But the corporations are making it impossible - with the help of Congress.

If the work is to represent the interests of peace and justice, the government is often less than willing to receive the message. (This is also true at State and local levels, but the degree of receptivity varies on a case by case basis.)

24 April 2008

Militarism and Military Spending Signify Theft from Needy

Did you know that 54% of federal income tax revenue will be spent (based on projections for the 2009 budget) on military? The world is rife with economic exploitation, of the Earth's resources, of human labor. Inequitable human labor in a day and age of high technology is not only unnecessary, but immoral and unacceptable as well.
"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - Dwight David Eisenhower
From the War Resister's League [original charts available at link]:

Actors' Gang 1984 at the Washington Center for Performing Arts


Earlier this month I attended a great performance at the Washington Center for Performing Arts; it was a stage adaptation of Orwell's 1984.

I am glad that I was able to attend this excellent rendition of Orwell's prophetic fantasy novel, 1984. Winston and Big Brother came alive at the Washington Center for Performing Arts in downtown Olympia. Members of the Los Angeles based Actors' Gang re-enacted the torturous journey of a 39 year old dissident within the absolute totalitarian society of Orwell's 1984. The book, where "War is Peace," "Freedom is Slavery," and "Ignorance is Strenth", and 2+2=5 is so apt and relevant to our current society. The prospect of perpetual war not only looms starkly upon our horizon; it has actually become our reality. Reading the book is great, but seeing the Actors' Gang's portrayal of the two-minute hate was fantastic. It's too bad if you missed it. Although the performance was well worth the ticket price, it's too bad that more seats weren't made available at a more affordable rate; $30 for the cheap seats seems like a lot, especially for a performance like 1984, which bears such striking relevance for those who suffer from chronic economic depression (as well as for those who are simply unable to afford it).

Full text of Orwell's 1984

from the book:
"The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. Ever since the end of the nineteenth century, the problem of what to do with the surplus of consumption goods has been latent in industrial society...

"...it was also clear that an all-round increase in wealth threatened the destruction — indeed, in some sense was the destruction — of a hierarchical society. In a world in which everyone worked short hours, had enough to eat, lived in a house with a bathroom and a refrigerator, and possessed a motor-car or even an aeroplane, the most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality would already have disappeared. If it once became general, wealth would confer no distinction. It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance...

"...Nor was it a satisfactory solution to keep the masses in poverty by restricting the output of goods. This happened to a great extent during the final phase of capitalism, roughly between 1920 and 1940. The economy of many countries was allowed to stagnate, land went out of cultivation, capital equipment was not added to, great blocks of the population were prevented from working and kept half alive by State charity. But this, too, entailed military weakness, and since the privations it inflicted were obviously unnecessary, it made opposition inevitable. The problem was how to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world. Goods must be produced, but they must not be distributed. And in practice the only way of achieving this was by continuous warfare.

"The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed. A Floating Fortress, for example, has locked up in it the labour that would build several hundred cargo-ships. Ultimately it is scrapped as obsolete, never having brought any material benefit to anybody, and with further enormous labours another Floating Fortress is built. In principle the war effort is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population..."
It's a great book, George Orwell's 1984.

These quotes are from the Actors' Gang program (The Actors' Gang 1984 Program [pdf]):
All the war-propaganda, all the screaming
and lies and hatred, comes invariably
from people who are not fighting.
~ George Orwell

Every war when it comes, or before it
comes, is represented not as a war but as
an act of self-defense against a homicidal
~ George Orwell

The first casualty when war comes is
~ Hiram Johnson

In a time of universal deceit - telling the
truth is a revolutionary act.
~ George Orwell

The very concept of objective truth is
fading out of the world. Lies will pass
into history.
~ George Orwell

All war is deception.
~ Sun Tzu

War against a foreign country only
happens when the moneyed classes
think they are going to profit from it.
~ George Orwell

The most tyrannical governments are
those which make crimes of opinions, for
everyone has an inalienable right over his
thoughts-- nay, such a state of things
leads to the rule of popular passion.
~ Benedictus de Spinoza, from
Theological-Political Treatise

War is a way of shattering to pieces...
materials which might otherwise be used
to make the masses... too intelligent.
~ George Orwell

23 April 2008

Peace between Israel and Palestine

go to original video

From IWT news:
Carter comes back from Hamas with an olive branch

Aijaz Ahmad: Carter including Hamas in peace process is itself a major development

Wednesday April 23rd, 2008

David Newman, professor of political geography at Israel’s Ben-Gurion University, tells The Real News Network that Hamas’ claim that it will respect a peace deal with Israel—if it is accepted in a vote by Palestinians—represents “a more moderate position” than what the group has previously expressed.

The Real News senior analyst Aijaz Ahmad concludes that Hamas’ new, slightly softened stance could represent “a major breakthrough” in the ongoing standoff between Israel and the Islamic militant group.

22 April 2008

Stand up for Human Rights: Oppose the Government of the USA's Policies and Activities

My father is a retired Navy captain who is adamantly opposed to the war in Iraq as well as the actions and policies of the Bush Administration, in general.

I look forward to being at the Washington State Capitol on Thursday to help connect the Iraq War to the Economic Downturn, as part of a MoveOn.org press conference. I will help out in any way I can; I am comfortable talking about the Bush Administration's lies, deceit and misrepresentations about Iraq and terrorism - especially as they relate to an aspiration for global dominance, and the policies of militarism and use of violence to resolve differences.

The Bush Administration has launched an aggressive campaign against the common and public interest. It is time for those who believe in human rights, equitable relationships (international and domestic; personal, professional and interpersonal), freedom, prosperity, equal opportunity, sustainability, and that the means create the ends - to take direct action: appropriately, assertively, enthusiastically and nonviolently - in order to oppose the current Bush Administration (and Congressional) assault on people and planet.

18 April 2008

Colonel Ann Wright on Iraq

Former Army Colonel Ann Wright resigned her position as a career diplomat with the US State Department when the USA, under the dictate of the Bush Administration, launched an illegal, immoral and unnecessary war (motivated by desire of global dominance) against Iraq.

She was in Olympia Thursday, April 17th and I had a chance to attend her presentation. She is the author of a recently released book, published by Koa Books. It's titled, Dissent, Voices of Conscience: Government insiders speak out against the war in Iraq.

Read more about her book and her visit: olyblog.net/colonel-ann-wright-iraq

16 April 2008

Medea Benjamin at the Green Festival (pt. 1)

This is part one of a multi part series of videos of a speech by Medea Benjamin at the Green Festival. Ms. Benjamin uses the example of Port Militarization Resistance when she mentions the promise of citizen action and civil resistance to stop members of the government from perpetrating acts of aggression. She also discusses the intricate connections between the anti-war and environmental movements.

Here are links to three adjoining videos (of the rest of her speech):

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

14 April 2008

New Slideshow

Included in this slideshow are photos taken while on the road, I-5, from between Olympia and Seattle where I traveled on Saturday April 12th to see and listen to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Also included are photos from around Olympia, Washington, including the farmers market and various street scenes.

12 April 2008

Slideshow April 12, 2008

Here's a slideshow of some photos I uploaded to my flickr account today. Photos include an appearance by Father Ray Bourgeois at Traditions Fair Trade Café in Olympia, Washington. Also included are some photos from around Budd Bay and the Olympia restaurant and night club, "Le Voyeur."

10 April 2008

Human Behavior: Consequences

Human behavior is having some downright harmful consequences for the Planet Earth, as well as the many and diverse species, which make the Earth home. Human behaviors are causing climate change. Industrial growth has benefitted some amongst humankind, some much more than others. But for many, amongst humanity as well as other species and the very Earth itself, the consequences have been downright harmful and destructive.

Whatever happens with climate change, I think humanity will be capable of dealing with the consequences, and of adapting (i.e. survival).

However, that doesn't give us, as human beings, an excuse to go around polluting and causing death and destruction for the less adaptable, both amongst humanity as well as other species.

Think of the extinctions that industrial society has caused. It's unacceptable. I have a vision of humanity assuming the role of stewards of the Earth, human beings as protectors of all species and of bio-diversity.

What humanity is currently doing to the planet is unacceptable to me...

McCain Unprepared for Office

John McCain has demonstrated a careless, callous, and negligent attitude in regard to the important issue of the occupation of Iraq.

From the NYT:
go to source


One of the chief concerns of the pragmatists is that Mr. McCain is susceptible to influence from the neoconservatives because he is not as fully formed on foreign policy as his campaign advisers say he is, and that while he speaks authoritatively, he operates too much off the cuff and has not done the deeper homework required of a presidential candidate.

In a trip to the Middle East last month, Mr. McCain made an embarrassing mistake when he said several times that he was concerned that Iran was training Al Qaeda in Iraq. (The United States believes that Iran, a Shiite country, has been training Shiite extremists in Iraq, but not Al Qaeda, a Sunni insurgent group.) He repeated the mistake on Tuesday at hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The worry about Mr. McCain is centered among a group of foreign policy realists who have long been close to him and who lost out to the hawks in the intense ideological battles of the first term of the current White House. The group includes former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage and Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to the first President Bush.


08 April 2008

Iraq Attack was Aggression

Douglas Feith admits that attack on Iraq was "anticipatory self-defense." It seems that the attack might very well have been aggression, especially since the WMD threat to the USA was unfounded, and in light of evidence that there was an intent to "fix the facts" (in regard to the existence of a WMD threat) to "meet the policy" of invading Iraq (Downing Street Memo).

[updated 4/8/08]

Karl Rove Doing Bad Things

Karl Rove is up to no good.

If you follow politics, then you're probably aware of the underhanded, deceitful and cruel things that Karl Rove has been known to do in order to achieve his Machiavellian political objectives. For Karl Rove, it is clear that the ends justify the means. And for Karl, it doesn't even matter if the ends are good or evil. He is willing to use evil ends to justify evil means. There are seemingly no boundaries to the obfuscation, deceit, lies, etc. that emanate from the uncouth and dimly lit corners where Karl Rove presides. Check out this blog entry from Scott Horton for more information about a current scandal (Siegelman Prosecution) that has the potential to catch up and find the "Turd Blossom" directly within, and centered in, its net:
go to original

Karl in a Corner

by Scott Horton


...In 1970, Rove, using a fake ID card, entered the campaign office of Alan J. Dixon, a candidate for Treasurer of Illinois. He stole a box of Dixon’s campaign letterhead and used it to solicit homeless people to attend Dixon’s campaign events, promising free food and alcohol, and disrupting the events.

George H.W. Bush fired Rove after discovering that he had planted a story with his friend columnist Robert Novack attacking chief Bush presidential campaign fundraiser Robert Mosbacher.

But all of this is minor. The graver matters go to the tactics he embraces. In a strategy memorandum he wrote in 1986 for Texas Governor William Clement, Rove quoted Napoleon: “The whole art of war consists in a well-reasoned and extremely circumspect defensive, followed by rapid and audacious attack.”

But what were the elements of the “audacious attack?” As James Moore documents in his political biography of Rove, Bush’s Brain, politicians who faced Rove in election contests had recurrent problems.

One was rumor campaigns questioning their sexual orientation, adulterous liaisons and similar tawdry matters. Prime examples of this were the rumor campaign launched against Texas Governor Anne Richards suggesting she was a lesbian, and even more pointedly, the curious telephone push-polling during the decisive 2000 Republican primary in South Carolina, suggesting that John McCain had fathered a child in an adulterous relationship with a black woman (McCain and his wife have an adopted daughter from South Asia, whose photograph with her father was circulated in connection with these insinuations).

Second, Rove’s opponents would regularly find that they had suddenly become the target of a criminal investigation, and details concerning the investigation would be aggressively fanned to the press. Rove mastered this technique in a contest for the Texas Agriculture Commissioner’s post that he managed for now-Governor Rick Perry.

Third, and probably the most characteristic of the Rovian tools—“swiftboating.” Rove would cultivate groups which were arguably distant from the campaign proper which would run extremely well funded vitriolic ad hominem attacks on the adversary. The most vivid display of the technique, and indeed the case that produced a new verb for the English language, was the use of military veterans to attack John Kerry over his military record in Vietnam. For a candidate who abandoned his station as a Air National Guard Reservist, refusing to take a physical, and refusing combat service to launch a massive attack on a war hero with a silver star and host of other medals was, well, “audacious.” And ultimately very effective.


go to original for more information on the Siegelman Prosecution
Here's more information on the Siegelman case from 60 minutes:

04 April 2008

Members of Congress Invested in Military Industry

Would you be surprised to know that a significant number of Congresspeople have significant personal investments and financial stake in the military industry? This information sheds new light on Eisenhower's reference to the "Military-Industrial-Congressional-Complex."

Somehow, I think the following estimation is conservative. I wouldn't be surprised to find that a majority of Members of Congress have quite substantial investments in the "defense", military industry, and related fields.

This raises the question for me of whether or not it is appropriate for lawmakers (who wield such tremendous power to make or break certain industries) to hold any private investments. I mean, shouldn't the prospect of public service be enough for a career politician? It seems that there are some politicians who are in it less for the public service aspects than for the ability to garner power, and wealth.

Lawmakers wield tremendous power and influence over the functions of society and the economy. Should they be allowed to participate in and make decisions on matters that have direct bearing on their own investments and personal financial wealth?
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Lawmakers have $196M invested in defense industry
Study of Congress says conflict of interest possible in votes on Iraq spending

Associated Press
Published on: 04/03/08

WASHINGTON — Members of Congress have as much as $196 million collectively invested in companies doing business with the Defense Department, earning millions since the onset of the Iraq war, according to a study [link to study] by a nonpartisan research group.

Not all the companies in which lawmakers invested are typical defense contractors. Corporations such as PepsiCo, IBM, Microsoft and Johnson & Johnson have at one point received defense-related contracts, notes the report by the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.

The center's review of lawmakers' 2006 financial disclosure statements suggests that members' holdings could pose a conflict of interest as they decide the fate of Iraq war spending. Several members earning money from these contractors have plum committee or leadership assignments, including Democratic Sen. John Kerry, independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman and House Republican Whip Roy Blunt.

The study found that more Republicans than Democrats hold stock in defense companies, but that the Democrats who are invested had significantly more money at stake. In 2006, for example, Democrats held at least $3.7 million in military-related investments, compared to Republican investments of $577,500.

Overall, 151 members hold investments worth $78.7 million to $195.5 million in companies that receive defense contracts that are worth at least $5 million. These investments earned them anywhere between $15.8 million and $62 million between 2004 and 2006, the center concludes.

It is unclear how many members still hold these investments and exactly how much money has been made. Disclosure reports for 2007 aren't due until this May. Also, members are required to report only a general range of their holdings.

According to the report, presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain did not report any defense-related holdings on their filings; Hillary Rodham Clinton did note holdings in such companies as Honeywell, Boeing and Raytheon, but sold the stock in May 2007. All three candidates are members of the Senate.

Earning dividends from companies tied to the military "could be problematic" for lawmakers who oversee defense policy and budgeting, noted the center's Lindsay Renick Mayer. Avoiding every company with a military contract, however, would not be easy for an investor.

"So common are these companies, both as personal investments and as defense contractors, it would appear difficult to build a diverse blue-chip stock portfolio without at least some of them," Mayer wrote

Kerry, D-Mass., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is identified as earning the most — at least $2.6 million between 2004 and 2006 from investments worth up to $38.2 million.

Spokesman David Wade said Kerry, who staunchly opposes the war in Iraq, is one of many beneficiaries of family trusts that he doesn't control. Wade also noted that Kerry does not sit on the Appropriations Committee, which has direct control of the defense budget.

"He has a 24-year Senate record of working and voting in the best interests of our men and women in the military, not of any defense contractors," Wade said.

Lieberman, I-Conn., chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and a member of the Armed Services Committee, held a considerably smaller share at $51,000. A spokesman said the senator, who supports continued operations in Iraq, is "careful to make his policy decisions based only on what is best for the country."

A spokesman for Blunt, R-Mo., a senior member of House GOP leadership who held at least $15,000 in Lockheed Martin stock in 2006, said the insinuation that lawmakers' votes might be affected by their portfolios is "offensive." Like Lieberman, Blunt has been a fierce supporter of the war.

"I don't pretend to speak for other offices, but I am fairly certain that no member would consider their personal finances when voting on issues as important as sending our men and women in uniform into harm's way," said Blunt spokesman Nick Simpson. The Lockheed Martin stock was given to Blunt's wife by her mother, he said.

03 April 2008

27 Gallons of Fuel per Day per Soldier in Iraq

The US military is currently consuming over 27 gallons of fuel per day, per soldier, in Iraq:

go to original
Military feels fuel-cost gouge in Iraq

By ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writer
Thu Apr 3, 1:27 AM ET

Think you're being gouged by Big Oil? U.S. troops in Iraq are paying almost as much as Americans back home, despite burning fuel at staggering rates in a war to stabilize a country known for its oil reserves.

Military units pay an average of $3.23 a gallon for gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, some $88 a day per service member in Iraq, according to an Associated Press review and interviews with defense officials. A penny or two increase in the price of fuel can add millions of dollars to U.S. costs.

Critics in Congress are fuming. The U.S., they say, is getting suckered as the cost of the war exceeds half a trillion dollars — $10.3 billion a month, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Some lawmakers say oil-rich allies in the Middle East should be doing more to subsidize fuel costs because of the stake they have in a secure Iraq. Others point to Iraq's own burgeoning surplus as crude oil prices top $100 a barrel. Baghdad subsidies let Iraqis pay only about $1.36 a gallon.

The U.S. military, through its Defense Energy Support Center, buys fuel on the open market, paying from $1.99 a gallon to as much as $5.30 a gallon under contracts with private and government-owned oil companies. The center then sets a fixed rate for troops, currently $3.51 a gallon for diesel, $3.15 for gasoline, $3.04 for jet fuel and $13.61 for avgas, a high-octane fuel used mostly in unmanned aerial vehicles.

Kuwait does grant substantial subsidies, but they cover only about half the fuel used by the U.S. in Iraq. And the discount is eaten up by the Energy Support Center's administrative costs and fluctuations in the market.

Overall, the military consumes about 1.2 million barrels, or more than 50 million gallons of fuel, each month in Iraq at an average $127.68 a barrel. That works out to about $153 million a month.

Historically, these figures are astounding. In World War II, the average fuel consumption per soldier or Marine was about 1.67 gallons a day; in Iraq, it's 27.3 gallons, according to briefing slides prepared by a Pentagon task force established to review consumption.

The surge in demand can be attributed in part to the military's expanding aviation fleet, including helicopters, and its reliance on planes to shuttle cargo and troops between the U.S. and Iraq. Vehicles, too, are more heavily armored and require more energy to run. Another major contributor is the widespread use of generators to cool troops.

The Pentagon's demand for fuel in Iraq has had little if any effect on global oil prices. Frank Verrastro, director of the energy and national security program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said the military's use of 1.2 million barrels a month — or roughly 40,000 barrels a day — represents a small chunk of the 86 million barrels demanded each day on the global market.

Instead, Verrastro says, the hike in oil prices since the 2003 invasion is more likely due to a "fear factor."

"Prices rise when Iran saber-rattles, or there's a disruption potential in Nigeria," he said. An even larger driver of fuel costs is global demand, fed by robust economies in Asia and the lack of available alternative fuel sources, according to Verrastro.

Still, some lawmakers say the U.S. is paying too much to secure an oil-rich nation that resides in a neighborhood swimming in the natural resource.

Rep. Gene Taylor, D-Miss., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was shocked last December to watch U.S. troops in Kuwait filling diesel tanks at higher prices than he would have paid to fill up his boat in Mississippi.

"The Kuwaitis have been good allies. But let's face it, that nation would not be there if not for the American liberation of Kuwait," he said, referring to the 1991 conflict.

When Taylor pressed Pentagon and embassy officials on the matter, he was told Kuwait was actually offering a rare discount. Unlike other oil-rich allies, Kuwait is estimated to have saved the U.S. government $1.2 billion in four years, from 2002 to 2006, U.S. Embassy officials told the congressman in a Jan. 3 letter.

Under the current agreement, the Kuwait-owned company supplies 7,000 gallons per day of free fuel to U.S. forces operating inside Kuwait. For troops in Iraq, Kuwait offers 860,000 gallons of jet fuel a day at less than half the market price. This discounted fuel represents more than half the fuel the U.S. uses in Iraq each day.

The rest of the fuel — about 100,000 to 200,000 gallons a day — is sold to the U.S. military at market rate.

When Taylor asked whether more could be done by Kuwait and other oil-rich allies in the Middle East, a senior Pentagon official said the U.S. wants to see an even bigger reduction in prices from Kuwait but indicated there was no guarantee that would happen.

"It is our view that all of those forces, whether they are semi-stationed in Kuwait ... or those transitioning into Iraq, should receive that fuel at a reduced rate, and that is continuing dialogue that goes on between our government and the government of Kuwait," Mark Kimmitt, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, said in a January hearing.

It's unlikely the U.S. has pressed Saudi Arabia, Qatar or other oil-rich allies recently to help subsidize the cost of fuel in Iraq. The Defense Department referred questions about such negotiations to the State Department, where a spokesman said the agency was not aware of any.

Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., also a member of the Armed Services Committee and a vocal advocate pushing the military to pursue alternative energy solutions, said he doubts such talks would be fruitful anyway because of the impression by many in the Middle East that the U.S. invaded Iraq for its oil to begin with.

"I'm not sure they're as convinced we're fighting for them, as they were in the first Gulf war," Bartlett said.

He said he hopes instead that the war will spur military development of hybrid technologies and alternative fuels at a time when private companies are lacking the financial incentive. So far, the price of oil hasn't restricted combat operations, but it has inspired the military to hunt for new ways to conserve energy.

Development of more energy-efficient equipment will take time. Former CIA Director James Woolsey, who co-chaired a policy panel on the Pentagon energy study, said operations in Iraq and elsewhere are forcing the military to take the burden of fuel costs more seriously.

"The combination of $100-a-barrel oil and the terrorist situation and the dependence on the Middle East are really, I think, waking them up very fast," he said.

In the meantime, other lawmakers say they want to see the high costs of the war defrayed by Iraq dipping into its own oil revenues, which are projected to be substantial. Independent auditors estimate that Iraq is headed this year toward a massive surplus because of as much as $60 billion in oil revenues — a consequence of increased production paired with the sharp rise in prices.

"It's totally unacceptable to me that we are spending tens of billions of dollars on rebuilding Iraq while they are putting tens of billions of dollars in banks around the world from oil revenues," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Armed Services Committee. "It doesn't compute as far as I'm concerned."

Administration and military officials say Baghdad hasn't been able to spend its oil revenues so far because the newly formed government is still learning how to manage its revenues. They say Iraq's lack of spending isn't due to corruption or laziness, but rather Baghdad's inability to determine where its money is needed most and how to allocate it efficiently.

The Iraqis have a "genuine mechanical problem in drawing up national budgets (and) executing those budgets, particularly when it comes to capital infrastructure," said David Satterfield, the State Department's senior adviser on Iraq. But, he added, the government is improving with time and should be able to do more in the months to come.


On the Net:

The Defense Science Board Task Force report: http://www.acq.osd.mil/dsb/reports/2008-02-ESTF.pdf

01 April 2008

Occupation to Reconstruct

This reminds me of the "Pottery Barn Rule" (as mentioned by Colin Powell in the run-up to the invasion. An apt analogy to the current situation with Iraq as it suffers under an occupation by a foreign military power while civilian infrastructure goes woefully un-repaired:

The Metaphor

by Mr. Fish
go to original

The Empress (mouseover)

try dragging your cursor over the photograph:

The Empress

Harper's Magazine Online

Harper's Magazine online, www.harpers.org, features a wealth of content, including the commentary of prominent Washington D.C. journalists Ken Silverstein and Scott Horton. Many of the stories from the print magazine are republished online and available for reading without a subscription.

Harper's does an especially great job of covering the current political environment in Washington D.C. (as it relates to corruption in major offices of government), and matters as they relate to the war on terrorism / Iraq, etc.

Ken Silverstein is known for his Congressional muckraking, and coverage of the unethical practices within the D.C. lobbying industry. Scott Horton is a New York attorney and legal professor who is known for his insights into Bush Administration legal (or illegal) operations.

Reading either of Horton's or Silverstein's blogs, as well as the general content published at www.harpers.org comes highly recommended from this blogger.