American Samizdat

Friday, January 31, 2003. *
How would you headline today's meeting between Bush & Blair?



Blair's tongue darts out, his eyes like saucers with excitation; meanwhile Bush swaggers around the room doing his John Wayne impression . . . he tosses a letter opener onto the carpet and Blair bounces over to it immediately, takes it into his slobbering mouth and brings it over to Bush on hands and knees.

Door opens: the servant is here with a silver platter of beer and pretzels. Bush swaggers over to the couch, sits down, turns on football and Blair curls up at his feet, preparing for sleep. What a day! Tired doggie, but good doggie.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:42 PM
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White House Cancels Poetry Symposium
In a obvious attempt to head off this action, the White House said Wednesday it postponed a poetry symposium because of concerns that the event would be politicized. Some poets had said they wanted to protest military action against Iraq.

The symposium on the poetry of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman was scheduled for Feb. 12. No future date has been announced.

Note: LAME! Gotta watch out for those SPIES ya know...
posted by Joseph Matheny at 4:38 PM
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Not About Nothing

The risks of doing nothing, the risks of assuming the best from Saddam Hussein, it's just not a risk worth taking.
-- Dubya, Jan. 29

Let’s get something straight once and for all.

This is not a choice between war and nothing.

Inspections are something.

Giving intelligence to the inspectors so they can do their jobs better is something.

Allowing the inspectors enough time to properly complete their work is something.

Economic and diplomatic pressure is something.

Direct support of Iraqi opposition groups is something.

Targeted military strikes to destroy known sites of weapons production is something.

No one (outside of the A.N.S.W.E.R. steering committee) is assuming the best of Saddam.

And it’s completely dishonest to characterize the majority of Americans who are against unilateral war as believing as such.

via Liberal Oasis
posted by Norm at 11:54 AM
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more on el residente's speech...
from J. Ridgeway, Village Voice on-line,
Forget Your Problems, We're Preparing for a War
posted by j at 8:32 AM
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Thursday, January 30, 2003. *

Angkor: Cambodia's jewel in the jungle

The ancient city of Angkor, the center of a bizarre modern day spat between Cambodia and Thailand, is the jewel of Cambodia's cultural heritage. Even the radical Khmer Rouge regime, which ruled Cambodia in the 1970s and butchered most of its culture, regarded Angkor with a sense of awe and held it up as the peak of Cambodian civilization.

Thailand severed virtually all ties with Cambodia yesterday after bizarre rumours about a soap opera actor's alleged remarks about a ruined temple grew into a diplomatic dispute involving a burning embassy, warships and the deployment of commandos.

Bangkok's drastic action was in response to the destruction of its embassy and attacks on Thai-owned businesses in Phnom Penh on Wednesday by rioters allowed to rampage for hours while the security forces apparently did little to restrain them.

posted by A.Q. at 11:06 PM
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Kurt Vonnegut vs. the !&#*!@
I myself feel that our country, for whose Constitution I fought in a just war, might as well have been invaded by Martians and body snatchers. Sometimes I wish it had been. What has happened, though, is that it has been taken over by means of the sleaziest, low-comedy, Keystone Cops-style coup d’etat imaginable. And those now in charge of the federal government are upper-crust C-students who know no history or geography, plus not-so-closeted white supremacists, aka “Christians,” and plus, most frighteningly, psychopathic personalities, or “PPs.” (via)
posted by Mike at 11:27 AM
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I recently got back from the Maldives. Departing from Rome, there was a 2 hour layover in Dubai and thus the possiblity to ready Arab-based newspapers in English. Aside from the fact that, in between Rome and the Maldives, every newspaper I read gave radically different figures for how many U.S. troops were heading towards Iraq --one wrote 35,000, another 50,000, one even wrote 100,000,000. It makes one wonder where journalists get their information.
But the most interesting article I read while in Dubai claimed that Bush wanted to attack Iraq, not only for obvious reasons, but also to appropriate land to give to the Palestines for the creation of their own state and thus resolve the problem for the Israelis.
posted by cynthia korzekwa at 11:26 AM
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Unelected in 2000, the Washington regime of George W Bush is now totalitarian, captured by a clique whose fanaticism and ambitions of "endless war" and "full spectrum dominance" are a matter of record.

All the world knows their names: Bush, Rumsfeld, Rice, Wolfowitz, Cheney and Perle, and Powell, the false liberal. Bush's State of the Union speech last night was reminiscent of that other great moment in 1938 when Hitler called his generals together and told them: "I must have war." He then had it.

To call Blair a mere "poodle" is to allow him distance from the killing of innocent Iraqi men, women and children for which he will share responsibility.

He is the embodiment of the most dangerous appeasement humanity has known since the 1930s. The current American elite is the Third Reich of our times, although this distinction ought not to let us forget that they have merely accelerated more than half a century of unrelenting American state terrorism: from the atomic bombs dropped cynically on Japan as a signal of their new power to the dozens of countries invaded, directly or by proxy, to destroy democracy wherever it collided with American "interests", such as a voracious appetite for the world's resources, like oil.

There is much more. Read it. Please.
posted by Gordon at 10:15 AM
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The Rice Project (via email)

Place 1/2 c. uncooked rice in a small plastic bag (a snack-sized bag
or sandwich bag work fine). Squeeze out excess air and seal the bag.
Wrap it in a piece of paper on which you have written:

"If your enemies are hungry, feed them." Romans 12:20.
Please send this rice to the people of Iraq; do not attack them.

Place the paper and bag of rice in an envelope (either a letter-sized
or small padded mailing envelope - both are the same cost to mail)
and address the package to:

President George Bush
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500

Attach $1.06 in postage. (Three 37 cent stamps equal $1.11) Drop
this in the mail TODAY. It is important to act NOW so that President
Bush gets the letters ASAP.
posted by A.Q. at 9:24 AM
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Jonathon Delacour offers a nuanced, powerful account of American power as seen from the Southern Hemisphere. These days, I wish I was down there with him.
posted by Joseph Duemer at 4:46 AM
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Wednesday, January 29, 2003. *
From Eric Alterman: Altercation quoting a paragraph from Richard K. Betts in Foreign Affairs by "Some Americans also become indignant when it is suggested that an Iraqi counterattack could be considered the fault of American initiative. This stance, they argue, is like blaming the victim. But this argument again confuses moral and material interests. If the snake strikes back when you poke it, you may blame the snake rather than yourself for being bitten. But you will still wish that you had not poked it.”
posted by Joseph Duemer at 5:31 PM
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After decades of putting it off, here's my first post to American Samizdat.

Say you wanted to explain to someone--who has totally absorbed the CNN/Fox news produced unreal fantasy world where the capitalists won't even take your money to show your "anti-war" ads--how a war with Iraq could easily balloon into World War III, replete with bio and nuclear attacks. And yet, you thought, if only I could do it with Flash.

This is why I love the Internet. Unfortunately, my favorite shows tend to be cancelled. Let's all root root root for public telcos folks...

posted by Philip Shropshire at 11:39 AM
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Weapons of Mass Asphyxiation
Must we trek Into the Lake of Fire?
Take some time and visit Mike Golby's disturbing finds, a compelling argument against an unnecessary war, complete with images that will smother your being.
For so many, the allure of our military toys are a validation of power, a testimony to glorious tax dollars spent in pursuit of safety, domination, and triumph.
The realities of war are horrid. A simple bulldozer becomes an Armored Combat Earth Mover. ..for burying bodies.. the 'armored burial brigade'.
We are all aware of the 'clean surgical strikes' that so dominated the previous Gulf War. What we were not aware of were the gruesome images of bodies buried alive, scooped up by the glorious Earth Movers and deposited seamlessly. leaving no trace of bodies or the smell of death.
Mike will lead you to What Bodies? written by Patrick J. Sloyan which exposes what mass media missed, or was steered away from, in 1991.
A vivid pictorial of war torn countries and inhumane acts need to be exposed. I think it is an extremely valid argument against war. A young child, seeing this, would not be expected to grow up bitter compelled to retaliate, and filled with hatred for the country that did this?
posted by Cyndy at 2:37 AM
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Tuesday, January 28, 2003. *
Search For The Missing Iraqis: Ask Daddy Bush And Clinton
We have been warned repeatedly by various sources of an impending attack on US soil.

Stories have surfaced in the media to suggest that there are 3,000 "missing Iraqis" that Federal Agents are presently hunting for.

There is absolutely no press coverage of how they got here and what their immediate political standing may or may not be.
posted by valis at 2:21 PM
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Anarchists and the fine art of torture
Bauhaus artists such as Kandinsky, Klee and Itten, as well as the surrealist film-maker Luis Bunuel and his friend Salvador Dali, were said to be the inspiration behind a series of secret cells and torture centres built in Barcelona and elsewhere...

"The avant garde forms of the moment - surrealism and geometric abstraction - were thus used for the aim of committing psychological torture.

"The creators of such revolutionary and liberating [artistic] languages could never have imagined that they would be so intrinsically linked to repression."
posted by Mike at 11:36 AM
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Monday, January 27, 2003. *
For decades, the CIA has been at the cutting edge of the very latest in surveillance technology. For an example, look no further than 1967's "Acoustic Kitty" project (scroll down to #27), a stroke of genius from the Agency's Directorate of Science and Technology. In it, a surgically altered cat, wired with transmitting and control devices, was trained to become a mobile, eavesdropping platform. As Victor Marchetti recalls in John Ranelagh's book The Agency:
they slit the cat open, put batteries in him, wired him up. The tail was used as an antenna. They made a monstrosity. They tested him and tested him. They found he would walk off the job when he got hungry, so they put another wire in to override that. Finally, they’re ready. They took it out to a park bench and said “Listen to those two guys. Don’t listen to anything else – not the birds, no cat or dog – just those two guys!”

They put him out of the van, and a taxi comes and runs him over. There they were, sitting in the van with all those dials, and the cat was dead!

(via Defense Tech)
posted by Noah Shachtman at 9:06 PM
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February 12 a day of Poetry Against the War
HI Poets!
Now's our chance to get your poem against the war delivered to the White House. Spread the news! All good wishes, to all beings.

-Diane di Prima
Dear Friends and Fellow Poets:
When I picked up my mail and saw the letter marked "The White House," I felt no joy. Rather I was overcome by a kind nausea as I read the card enclosed:

Laura Bush
requests the pleasure of your company
at a reception and
White House Symposium on
"Poetry and the American Voice"
on Wednesday, February 12, 2003
at one o'clock

Only the day before I had read a lengthy report on the President's proposed "Shock and Awe" attack on Iraq, calling for saturation bombing that would be like the firebombing of Dresden or Tokyo, killing countless innocent civilians.

I believe the only legitimate response to such a morally bankrupt and unconscionable idea is to reconstitute a Poets Against the War movement like the one organized to speak out against the war in Vietnam.

I am asking every poet to speak up for the conscience of our country and lend his or her name to our petition against this war, and to make February 12 a day of Poetry Against the War. We will compile an anthology of protest to be presented to the White House on that afternoon.

Please submit your name and a poem or statement of conscience to:

There is little time to organize and compile. I urge you to pass along this letter to any poets you know. Please join me in making February 12 a day when the White House can truly hear the voices of American poets.

Sam Hamill
posted by Joseph Matheny at 5:36 PM
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Scorched Earth, destroying towns to save them, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and now "Shock and Awe" in Baghdad. From the Syndey Morning Herald network:
The US intends to shatter Iraq "physically, emotionally and psychologically" by raining down on its people as many as 800 cruise missiles in two days.

The Pentagon battle plan aims not only to crush Iraqi troops, but also wipe out power and water supplies in the capital, Baghdad.
The piece notes that the 800 cuise missiles in question comprise "twice the number of missiles launched during the entire 40 days of the 1991 GulfWar." Note the succeeding paragraph:
"There will not be a safe place in Baghdad," a Pentagon official told America's CBS News after a briefing on the plan. "The sheer size of this has never been seen before, never been contemplated before."
And with good reason. Saddest yet is this part:
"We want them to quit, not to fight," ["Shock and Awe" progenitor Harlan] Ullman said, "so that you have this simultaneous effect - rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima - not taking days or weeks but minutes."
"Rather like Hiroshima." Nice to know what Bush & Co. are aiming for. Ullman, Bush, et al. may want to consider the legal ramifications of what they're proposing (an appraisal of the moral dimension is exceedingly unlikely) and heed the U.S. lawyers warn[ing] Bush, Rumsfeld, on war crimes:
The group cited the particular need for U.S. and coalition forces to abide by humanitarian law requiring warring parties to distinguish between military and civilian areas, use only the level of force that is militarily necessary and to use weaponry that is proportionate to what is being targeted.

The letter, which had more than 100 signatories, said the rules had been broken in other recent wars.

It said air strikes on populated cities, carpet bombing and the use of fuel-air explosives were examples of inappropriate military action taken during the 1991 Gulf War, the 1999 Kosovo campaign and the 2001 Afghan conflict that led to civilian casualties and might be used again in Iraq.
Appended is Army War College Professor Col. Harry G. Summers Jr. With such an unprecedented - excepting your Hiroshima, Mr. Ullman, of course - strike threatening the residents of Baghdad, I wonder what to make of Summers' concluding paragraph.

Los Angeles TimesFebruary 8, 1991, Friday, Home Edition


"Collateral damage." That's the new buzz phrase of the Persian Gulf War. It means the unintended damage to civilians and non-military structures in the target area directly caused by military action. Although the words are new, the awful reality behind them most definitely is not.

And it didn't start with "We had to destroy the town in order to save it," the unfortunate remark of the young Army officer in the Mekong Delta during the Vietnam War that caused so much hand-wringing in the United States. As far as the American military is concerned, collateral damage is older than the Republic. "If General Washington and his council of war should be of opinion that a successful attack may be made on the (British) troops in Boston, he do it in any manner he may think expedient, notwithstanding the town and the property in it may thereby be destroyed." said the Continental Congress on Dec. 22, 1775.

And the exchange of letters on this score in September, 1864, between Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman and Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood during the siege of Atlanta are classic. Claiming military necessity, Sherman demanded the evacuation of all civilians from Atlanta. Hood responded that "the unprecedented measure you propose transcends, in studied and ingenious cruelty, all acts ever before brought to my attention in the dark history of war."

"Talk thus to the marines, but not to me," replied Sherman. "The use of Atlanta for warlike purposes is inconsistent with its character as a home for families. . . . You cannot qualify war in harsher terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it."

Ironically, in the aftermath of the terrible blood bath of World War I, Italian Gen. Giulio Douhet sought to limit the carnage of ground combat by deliberately targeting civilians instead. As the U.S. Office of Air Force History noted in its introduction to the 1983 reprint of Douhet's 1921 masterwork, "The Command of the Air," Douhet propounded that "by bombing cities and factories instead of military forces (except air forces), the enemy could be defeated through shattering the civilian will to continue to resist."

Not everyone agreed. "An air raid which involves in its accomplishment the wholesale destruction of noncombatants cannot be justified or condoned," emphasized a 1936 Army Command & General Staff School manual on military strategy. "Any nation employing such methods will be condemned by the civilized world. Air raiding among civilized nations will have to be confined to military or semi-military objectives and thus will constitute one of the important supporting units in the conduct of war."

But in World War II, that was not to be. From the German blitz of London to the Allied raids on Berlin to the firebomb raids on Tokyo to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Douhet's theories were put to the test.

The destruction of German cities by bombing was nearly total. About 305,000 German civilians were killed and 780,000 injured from Allied bombing -- 35,000 were killed in the Feb. 13-14, 1945, raid on Dresden alone.

In a March 9, 1945, air raid on Tokyo, American B-29 bombers killed 83,793 people and injured another 40,918. The raid destroyed a quarter of Tokyo's buildings and left more than a million people homeless. It was the most destructive air raid in history. Casualties exceeded the 70,000 to 80,000 killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and the 35,000 killed at Nagasaki.

In the Korean War, collateral damage was also a matter of official policy. I was a sergeant with the 21st Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division during the retreat from North Korea in November-December, 1950. We were ordered to conduct a "scorched earth" campaign. Knowing the Chinese Communist forces had to live off the land, as we withdrew we burned all houses, killed all livestock and destroyed all rice supplies. Civilian suffering was beyond belief. Millions of North Korean civilians fled south in subzero weather, and thousands died along the way.

When Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway assumed command of U.N. forces in Korea in late December, 1950, he canceled the "scorched earth" policy, but North Korean cities continued to be pounded from the air. On Aug. 29, 1952, for example, Far East Air Forces launched a 1,403-plane raid on the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, the largest air raid of the war.

Paradoxical as it may sound, the Vietnam War marked the beginning of the military's attempt to return to its 1936 standards and limit collateral damage. The infamous "free-fire zones," for example, were an attempt to lessen civilian casualties. Except in such zones, usually established in sparsely populated areas or in enemy-held territory, air strikes in Vietnam had to be cleared by local South Vietnamese officials.

By contrast, in World War II the entire continent of Europe was a "free-fire zone." Thousands of innocent civilians were killed and wounded by Allied bombing attacks on roads and rail networks in Belgium, France and Holland, especially just before the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. In the process of the war, many French cities were indeed "destroyed in order to save them."

Ramsey Clark's charges Thursday that civilian bomb damage in Iraq is far worse than is being admitted brings to mind one of the major (if not widely reported) scandals of the Vietnam War. While it was widely asserted that Hanoi had been "carpet bombed" during the Vietnam War, the truth, as I found when I traveled there in 1974, was that the bombing had been especially selective. It was not like Berlin or Tokyo after World War II, where there was nothing but rubble to the horizon. You had to look to find bomb damage in Hanoi.

In his monumental "Vietnam: A History," former war correspondent Stanley Karnow tells how such distortions occurred. "American anti-war activists visiting the city during the December, 1972, 'Christmas bombing' attacks, urged the mayor to claim a death toll of 10,000. He refused, saying his government's credibility was at stake. The official North Vietnamese figure for civilian casualties for the period was 1,318 in Hanoi." That was hardly the equivalent of the American incendiary bombing of Tokyo.

As the military briefers in both Saudi Arabia and Washington keep emphasizing, allied pilots, to avoid collateral damage, are going so far as to put themselves at risk. But even the best attempts cannot absolutely guarantee no civilian deaths or no destruction of civilian property.

Having said that, however, one thing is certain: With the tens of thousands of air sorties flown so far, and the tons of bombs dropped, if allied aircraft were indeed carpet bombing Baghdad, Baghdad would be no more.
posted by Grady at 3:49 AM
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israel elections — 1 day to voting

Israeli Democracy
Fact or Fiction?

Democracy is first and foremost a concept, a philosophical understanding concerning the rights of humans relative to the government that acts in their name. A Democratic government serves through the manifest consent of the governed. That government receives its authority through the citizens in whom the right resides. Inherent in this philosophical understanding is the acceptance of the rights of all citizens that reside in a state: each and every citizen possesses the right to consent to the legitimacy of those who govern, and each and every citizen must receive equal treatment before the law.

For a state to claim a Democratic form of government, it must have an established geographic area accepted by other nations as legitimate and defined. The need for established borders is both obvious and necessary with necessity arising out of the obvious. Without borders, there can be no absolute determination of citizenry, and, therefore, no way to fulfill the establishment of the rights noted above. What has this to do with the Democratic state of Israel? Everything.

The last days of democracy

This may be the last hurrah of 54 years of democracy in Israel. The elections next week are not about war and peace or even about the economy, social policy or clean government. They are about the very existence of the democratic regime in Israel. For years, many people claimed that the fact that we were able to maintain a democratic regime while being engaged in a conflict with the Arab world bordered on a miracle. The miracle business is in a deep recession just now.

Israel, like all other countries, is poised on a continuum between democracy and dictatorship. There is no regime that is 100 percent compatible with the ideal of liberal democracy. It's all a matter of dosage. A large number of Israel's citizens were raised and educated in authoritarian regimes. They have a most pitiful conception of individual rights, the rule of law, freedom of scientific creativity and freedom of expression. Until a few years ago, Israeli society was moving in the direction of democracy. In the last two years, we have changed direction. After the elections we may cross the line on the road to despotism.

Half a democracy
By Gideon Levy

What sort of democracy is this, if exactly half the state's residents don't benefit from it? Indeed, can the term "democratic" be applied to a state in which many of the residents live under a military regime or are deprived of civil rights? Can there be democracy without equality, with a lengthy occupation and with foreign workers who have no rights? And what about the racism?

For Whom to Vote?
by Uri Avnery

What a strange, eerie silence!

Fifteen times have Israelis voted for the Knesset, and every time has the campaign been stormy, raucous, even violent. No one could escape it, even if he or she wanted to. Every wall called out: vote for me!

This time the voting public is in a state of deep depression. A kind of silent despair: the situation is awful, but there is nothing we can do about it. There is no solution. There is no hope. So what can be done? Nothing. One has to be resigned.
posted by Gordon at 12:52 AM
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Sunday, January 26, 2003. *
The New Resistance

by John Kaminski

The new revolution is you and me, and is definitely not being reported in the newspapers, who keep telling us Bush's popularity is at an all-time high and give us not a whisper that the evil men in the White House who are allowed to keep their lucrative secrets by judges who rule against the people's right to know are the very same men who appointed those very same judges, a rancid closed circle of horror that lets the guilty rich go free and jails poor innocents without trial, without phone call, without hope.
posted by valis at 11:01 PM
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The Perpetual War Portfolio
The Perpetual War Portfolio is an evenly weighted basket of five stocks poised to succeed in the age of perpetual war. The stocks were selected on the basis of popular product lines, strong political connections and lobbying efforts, and paid-for access to key Congressional decision-makers.
posted by New World at 1:22 PM
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Frans Masereel, by Jacques Mesnil (1934, Berkeley Heights, N.J.: Oriole Press; Bookman and Hadriano types; printed in black and red; 100 copies on Bay Path paper). From Types of the Oriole Press at Joseph Ishill and the Authors and Artists of the Oriole Press. "...Ishill published more than 200 books and pamphlets, all of them typeset and printed by hand. In spite of toiling in relative obscurity he has been lauded both by radicals, who recognize him for his efforts in publishing radical materials, and by fine press enthusiasts, who consider him to be one of the finest American printers and typographers of the twentieth century."
posted by Andrew at 8:54 AM
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Saturday, January 25, 2003. *
Pentagon Eyes Mass Graves for US GIs
The bodies of U.S. soldiers killed by chemical or biological weapons in Iraq or future wars may be bulldozed into mass graves and burned to save the lives of surviving troops, under an option being considered by the Pentagon.

Since the Korean War, the U.S. military has taken great pride in bringing home its war dead, returning bodies to next of kin for flag-draped, taps-sounding funerals complete with 21-gun salutes.

But the 53-year-old tradition could come to an abrupt halt if large numbers of soldiers are killed by chemical or biological agents, according to a proposal quietly circulating through Pentagon corridors. [more]

posted by Dr. Menlo at 1:06 PM
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Friday, January 24, 2003. *
life in palestine

Mountain of Fire
Nablus Under Lockdown

Not content with the injuries they inflicted yesterday, the Israelis have today become even more violent, and the following incidents occurred just in our small area. They beat, kicked and spat on two accredited photographers for Reuters and AP, knocked over a 65- year-old UK grandmother (me) with a blow in the back from a rifle butt, and beat up one of the young Ambulance Drivers when he was stopped in the mud of Beit Fouriq to change a wheel. Soldiers also injured a baby (who needed hospital treatment) with a blow from a rifle butt, refused for ages to return my passport, kept ten or more ambulances at a time waiting at a newly set-up tank-point (road-block), and generally made a nuisance of themselves. These huge tanks swivel their large caliber shell-firing gun straight at you while you wait in the ambulance, and today, for the first time, I was able to see all the way down the barrel--even considering what is normal here, that was pretty amazing--the mouth of this unbelievable weapon not three feet from my eyes. I also took a VERY close look at the rest of the death-delivering monster, paid for by the Tax dollars of US citizens, and ran my hand along the side from end to end. Inside this metal container soldiers live all day--no wonder they are quite crazy.

Ambushed in Hebron Hills
Ta'ayush Activists Attacked by Settlers

Last Saturday, January 18, approx. 20 Ta'ayush activists, together with a few members of the CPT (Christian Peacemaker Teams), went to South Hebron Hills region, in order to help Palestinian farmers to plow their land. Ta'ayush activists, who have established long-term relationship with the people of South Hebron Hills, and are working to prevent their expulsion by the Israeli government, arrived in order to assist the Palestinians with the plow mission, in a non-violent way and with great concern to the safety of the Palestinian farmers.

The group arrived in the region at morning hours and were attacked, on their way to the fields, by settlers who were armed with guns and stones. The settlers threw stones and fired their guns in the air, while chasing and beating the peace activists. The settlers also damaged some of the Palestinian farmer's gear; they pushed one tractor down the valley and stole the equipment that was on it. Only after army and police forces arrived on the scene, the group was able to pull back the tractor (which was damaged in thousands of Shekels, according to the estimations). The plowing was not carried out.

Israelis detain hundreds without trial
Kafkaesque nightmare awaits arrested Palestinians

Nima Abu Alia's neighbours told her from bitter experience not to even bother looking for her son, Eyad, for at least a week. The 23-year-old was snatched on Wednesday from the family home in Deheisheh, near Bethlehem, by an Israeli army squad in the dead of night.
posted by Gordon at 10:05 AM
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Thursday, January 23, 2003. *


Welcome to Bush Country.

posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:30 PM
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Russian Source: US 'Will Attack Iraq Next Month'
"According to the information we have, the operation is planned for the second half of February. The decision to launch it has been taken but not yet been made public," the source said.

The source claimed that toppling the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, was a pretext allowing the US to acquire control of Iraqi oilfields.

"The military operation against Iraq will be conducted by a combination of means. Strikes will be from the air, land and sea," the source said, claiming that Washington expects the military campaign to last for around a month. [more]

posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:56 PM
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The Guilt-Free Soldier
"It's the morning-after pill for just about anything that produces regret, remorse, pain, or guilt," says Dr. Leon Kass, chairman of the President's Council on Bioethics, who emphasizes that he's speaking as an individual and not on behalf of the council. Barry Romo, a national coordinator for Vietnam Veterans Against the War, is even more blunt. "That's the devil pill," he says. "That's the monster pill, the anti-morality pill. That's the pill that can make men and women do anything and think they can get away with it. Even if it doesn't work, what's scary is that a young soldier could believe it will." [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:59 PM
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Helen Thomas on President-Select George W. Bush: "This is the worst president ever . . . He is the worst president in all of American history."

Hear, hear, Helen! [via Unknown News]

posted by Dr. Menlo at 7:40 PM
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posted by New World at 7:22 PM
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Why We Know Iraq Is Lying is the title of an op/ed by Condaleeza Rice in today's NYT. However she fails to make any valid points, as nimbly demonstrated by Joe Conanson below in Salon:

Former Chevron director Rice doesn't argue for immediate invasion of Iraq by the (very small) coalition of "the willing." In fact, the national security advisor seems unable to offer any argument for military action at all. Nor does she cite any new evidence -- or old evidence -- that Iraq possesses nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. Instead, she complains that Baghdad has failed to behave as forthrightly as South Africa, Ukraine and Kazakhstan did when those nations decided to dismantle their nuclear arms programs. But those countries had nuclear weapons. There is still no evidence that Iraq does or ever did. [am sam note: these countries were also approached in a peaceful and not threatening manner, imagine if they had been]

Rice doesn't bother with a justification for war, but she does her best to frighten readers with those empty missiles. What she says is worthy of careful parsing: "Last week's findings by inspectors of 12 chemical warheads not included in Iraq's declaration was particularly troubling." As noted here earlier, the discovery of those rusting shells by the inspectors proved that UNMOVIC is doing its job well -- and that if Saddam Hussein is concealing proscribed weapons, the inspectors will eventually find them.
posted by A.Q. at 4:40 PM
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Wednesday, January 22, 2003. *
posted by Cyndy at 8:01 PM
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Zander's Peace /War school project poll

via Rittenhouse I learned of this poll
Zander "designed the two polls that you see in the left column and right column. The LEFT poll asks opinions of people that believe Peaceful solutions are the way to solve the problems in Iraq, or are generally against military means being used. The poll on the RIGHT is for people who believe that a military solution IS the answer to the problems. Please help me out...."
He's getting a good response from the blogging community. I'd like to see him get an overwhelming response.
posted by Cyndy at 6:54 PM
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Librarians and Privacy: Big Brother is Reading Over Your Shoulder
NPR's Larry Abramson reports on librarians' concerns that anti-terrorism laws will require them to violate their patrons' privacy. Librarians are holding workshops to learn about their responsibilities and options.
Listen Here.
posted by Joseph Matheny at 8:21 AM
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Tuesday, January 21, 2003. *
Garofalo lights up campus with wit
Comedian takes on the media, government, teen pop stars
"The news disrespects us," Garofalo said. "How is the world supposed to make decisions, especially about Iraq, when we don't get relevant information? The information we get includes words like 'evil-doers' -- is this a fucking bed-time story?"

She spoke out against the pending war with Iraq but encouraged students to form their own opinions.

"We might as well live in a gated community if we choose to invade Iraq," she said. "The pro-American status might just come to bite us in the ass. I'm not saying that I hate America. I'm saying that I hate the arbitrary imperialism of a country who wants to make all the rules."

Garofalo also pointed out the "stupidity" of the American public.

"People say the American people aren't stupid. ... America is like the drunken frat guy of nations," she said as NU students burst into giggles.
posted by Joseph Matheny at 5:07 PM
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Not on tonight's news (in the US): Israeli troops devastate West Bank village market
Israeli soldiers demolished 62 shops at a market yesterday, destroying the livelihood of hundreds of Palestinians. In the early morning, about 300 troops streamed into the market, just outside the village of Nazlat Issa. They brought seven bulldozers.

The Israeli authorities said they were demolished because they were built illegally, despite the fact that the shops had been in business for 10 years and were built by Palestinians on Palestinian land. What is actually illegal, this action, or the shops themselves which had no purpose other than allowing 3,000 Palestinians to have a place to buy and sell goods? Don't look for this story on your evening news, and the whitewash of Israel's illegal and immoral occupation goes on and on.
posted by A.Q. at 5:04 PM
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Could the Pentagon disable the Internet or portions of it in the event of war?
Bruce Schneier Founder and CTO of Counterpane Internet Security thinks so. "My guess is that the U.S. military could disable large parts of the Internet, at least for a while, if they wanted," writes Schneier in this month's issue of Cryptogram. "But I doubt that they would do so; it's far too useful an asset, and far too large a part of our economy. More interesting is whether they would try to disable pieces of it. If we went to war with country X, would we want to disable their portion of the Internet, or remove connections between their Internet and our Internet? Depending on the country, a low-tech solution might be the easiest: disable whatever undersea cables they're using as access. Could the U.S. military turn the Internet into a U.S.-only network if they wanted? That seems less likely, although again a low-tech solution involving the acquiescence of companies like Cable & Wireless might be the easiest. One important thing to remember here is that you only want to shut an enemy's network down if you aren't getting useful information from it. The best thing to do is to infiltrate the enemy's computers and networks, spy on them, and surreptitiously disrupt select pieces of their communications, when appropriate. The next best thing is to passively eavesdrop. After that, the next best is to perform traffic analysis. Only if you can't do any of that do you consider shutting the thing down. "
posted by Joseph Matheny at 12:10 PM
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NPR Rant From Sam Smith
WHILE CRISP, CRITICAL ANALYSIS is difficult when one is only half awake, your editor is reasonably certain that Nominally Public Radio's morning news show is losing interest in news, favoring instead - and lengthening - non-political features of the sort you'd normally read in a dentist's office. This morning, for example, I dozed off twice only to find that the feature on fishing on Russia was still droning on, so I pulled the quilt over my head and successfully achieved a hat trick of somnolence.

The shift could be the result of NPR's boss, ex-government propagandist Kevin Klose, finally hitting his stride, or perhaps advice from broadcast consultants who may have suggested that members of America's establishment did not want to hear the painful results of their peers' hegemony. In any case, the network that brings you the aural Prozac of Diane Rehm and a mindless quiz show in which celebrities try to recall what they read in the paper last week is now doing quite a good job of knocking the news out of the news.

It is, of course, precisely the wrong time for this. For example, "Morning Edition" could easily fill a fortnight's worth of slots by simply reporting the damage being done to each of the constitutional amendments. Or, now that many - if not most - Americans don't actually favor unilateral action against Iraq, they might actually interview someone who represents that view as other than an occasional oddity.

Propaganda is not just about thinking a certain way about things; it's also about not thinking about certain things at all. Since the arrival of George Bush, the media has done a particularly fine job of keeping our minds off what is happening to us. It is not just bad journalism. It's a lie. If there was ever a time for hard news, this is it. - SAM SMITH
posted by A.Q. at 12:08 PM
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Monday, January 20, 2003. *
Lying Bastards: from Paul Krugman's Off the Wagon "The administration's top economist certainly changed his mind about deficits very late in the game. Glenn Hubbard, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, recently denied that deficits raise interest rates and depress private investments. Yet Mr. Hubbard is also the author of an economics textbook; as Berkeley's J. Bradford DeLong points out on his influential Web site, the 2002 edition of that textbook explains how, yes, deficits raise interest rates and depress private investment."
posted by Joseph Duemer at 5:58 AM
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Sunday, January 19, 2003. *
As Goes Rutland, So Goes The Nation

The Rutland, Vermont, Herald puts yesterday's DC protests at 200,000, which probably a fair median. There were undoubtedly more, and most media are putting it at less, so we'll happily take 200,000.

There were also rallies in El Paso, and Montana, and las vegas-reno, and North Carolina, and Orange County Calif, and New Jersey, and Minneapolis, and all over the world, including Japan and and Germany and London, Moscow, Liverpool, Damascus and Tokyo, and

On the left coast, tens of thousands in San Francisco marched against the war. Unfortunately, some anarchists had to get into the act and broke windows and tossed newspaper boxes. This is not going to help our cause, kids! Leave your black clothing and attitudes at home next time!

In Dc, the protests are still going on today. And, about a dozen got arrested:

When the marchers met another group of demonstrators waiting at Lafayette Park across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, there was a surge of enthusiasm and some began running toward, and over, the barricades blocking that section of the street. Police forced them face down on snowy grass and bound their wrists with plastic handcuffs. A dozen police were on horseback and many more were on the scene, warning people that anyone going over the barricades would be taken into custody.

Sorry, Mr. Helpful!
posted by Unknown at 11:21 AM
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War Games from What's Left
It's not about facts it's about what Bush can sell. War, just another product to peddle and George just another huckster.
posted by Norm at 10:59 AM
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what's it gonna take...   oh those rabid warmongers not gonna like seeing this on their breakfast table...
before every newspaper in the country will run
this story on page one, ABOVE the goddam fold, as the truth will continue to be buried unless we continue to make enough racket to be heard. Did your newspaper have anything at all about the demonstrations on it's front page? If not, write a letter to the editor and let them know you think that they are doing a shoddy job of reporting an important story, remind them of the responsibility and legacy of a free press in this country, the value of unbiased reportage as opposed to simple regurgitation of "facts" as provided by the white house press office, because if you don't start making a stink now, you might as well resign yourself to the fate you deserve, a government that is not environmentally conscious, that is responsive only to powerful lobbys and vested special interests, that has no agenda to assist the increasing numbers of economically disadvantaged amongst us from falling into even greater depression, that shows every indication of willingness to ignore the separation of church & state, remains dismissive of the values of human liberty & dignity, and contributes to the steady & insidious erosion of human rights within it's own borders.
posted by j at 10:16 AM
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Paul Boutin : Astroturf "demonstrating genuine leadership"

An alert Google user noticed that dozens of local newspapers from Boston to Honolulu have run the same letter to the editor under different names nationwide (the Eschaton weblog posted a partial list).

It's not the first time a form letter has been a hit, but you'd think by now it would be easier to catch them. Idly curious as to who authored and distributed it, I've left a couple of phone messages with people whose names have appeared in print under the letter, which reads...

When it comes to the economy, President Bush is demonstrating genuine leadership. The economic growth package he recently proposed takes us in the right direction by accelerating the successful tax cuts of 2001, providing marriage penalty relief, and providing incentives for individuals and small businesses to save and invest. Contrary to the class warfare rhetoric attacking the President’s plan, the proposal helps everyone who pays taxes, and especially the middle class. This year alone, 92 million taxpayers will receive an immediate tax cut averaging $1,083 - and 46 million married couples will get back an average of $1,714. That’s not pocket change for a family struggling through uncertain economic times. Combined with the President’s new initiatives to help the unemployed, this plan gets people back to work and helps every sector of our economy.

posted by Joseph Matheny at 6:58 AM
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Saturday, January 18, 2003. *
President Bush, Ashcroft and Thompson Sued in Civil Court for Aiding and Encouraging Illegal Immigration ( Racketeering)
Media blackout also in progress
THE PRESIDENT of the United States of America, and other government officials are being sued for their personal assets for $177,000,000,000 in a lawsuit filed in DC September 4th. The information on the first page of the suit follows:

US Code Title 8, Section 1324a states "Any person who hires/harbors/transports any illegal alien regardless of his knowledge of their immigration status is guilty of a felony punishable by 10 years jail + $2000 fine per illegal alien + forfeiture of the vehicle or property used to commit the crime"

(T)he Constitution of the United States is being violated by Heads of State. Wherefore, every other law enforcement agency refuses to enforce the Law, because the one (1) question to be answered is, "George W. Bush, the President of the United States, Tommy Thompson, the Department of Health and Human Services, and John Ashcroft, the Attorney General of the United States; Are they or Are they not upholding the Law for the citizens within this United States, against each and every illegal alien who has forcefully crossed the United States border without the permission of our Government.

#32. I pray this Court has the ability to see that this case is not a question of any given dollar, we, the citizens, which I am one of, need this answer, not money. It is costing the American citizens over $177,000,000,000.00 each year in tax payer money to support illegal immigration.

Regardless of your personal feelings on immigration, and in this case illegal immigration, the Bush cartel is breaking the law, and it should be noted.
posted by valis at 11:32 PM
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Global protests against Iraq war
A day of worldwide protests against a looming US-led war on Iraq has culminated in giant peace rallies in Washington, San Francisco and other US cities. More than 50,000 Americans converged on the National Mall in the centre of Washington, in one of the biggest protests since the build-up for war began.
posted by Joseph Matheny at 4:38 PM
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Friday, January 17, 2003. *
The 'Israeli Art Student' Papers
Secret Government Report on Israel’s Spy Operation in the US
In January, 2001, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Office of Security Programs (IS), began to receive reports of Israeli art students attempting to penetrate several DEA Field Offices in the continental United States. Additionally, there have been reports of Israeli art students visiting the homes of numerous DEA employees. These incidents have occurred since at least the beginning of 2000, and have continued to the present. The number of reported incidents increased in November/December 2000, and has continued to date.

These incidents have involved several other law enforcement and Department of Defense agencies, with contacts made at other agencies' facilities and the residences of their employees. Geographically, these incidents are very widespread, ranging from California to Florida. The majority of the incidents have occurred in the southern half of the continental U.S. with the most activity reported in the state of Florida. Since April 2001, the number of reported incidents has declined, however, the geographic spread of the incidents has increased to Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Los Angeles.
Also see:
posted by valis at 11:45 PM
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Disgruntled Artists Do It Better.
War, baby, war! Some graphic designers and artists just ain't into it, and they're making some very fun, very free imagery for You can download print-quality PDFs for making stickers, illustrations, posters, or whatever you like... or just browse... or contribute something fabulous of yr own. -mag
posted by Joseph Matheny at 12:03 PM
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Senators vow to halt `data mining' project
Reflecting increased alarm about a Pentagon plan to find terrorists by trolling the electronic records of all Americans, several senators took steps Thursday to rein in the project and halt other ``data mining'' efforts until Congress can review the implications on civil liberties. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., drafted an amendment Thursday night to the $390 billion federal spending bill now being considered by Congress to temporary stop the Pentagon's Total Information Awareness project.
posted by Joseph Matheny at 6:46 AM
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Thursday, January 16, 2003. *
America: Enemy of globalisation
In the first part of a major new series Tom Nairn lays out his surprising and important thesis. Globalisation is not Americanisation. Rather, the onrushing process of globalisation will render America just another country. In this context, the looming conflict in Iraq should be seen not as a war of oil, still less as a response to Osama bin Laden. It is a war over globalisation itself - as Washington seeks to militarise the economic domination it enjoyed in the 1990s.

What the assault aims to do is drag this process backwards, under ‘Western’ (but really American) leadership. Its aim is to force an awakened American nationalism into a more decidedly imperial mould - which can only be done by ‘old-fashioned’ techniques. Barbarians must be reinvented, to keep Homelanders together, to prop up a half-elected President, and to re-align restive or dissident satrapies. With all its shortcomings and contradictions, globalisation had been showing signs of escaping from US Neo-liberal hegemony over the past few years. Tragically, it is believed in some places that a ‘good war’ will help to rein in such trends, by establishing a new kind of empire-boundary, namely an apocalyptic (and by definition unceasing) fight against Terrorism.

This effort stands no chance of long-term success; a fact unlikely to influence the policy makers in Bush’s Washington. Their attempt to harness, rein in and control globalisation is embedded in their current Iraq policy – whether this remains limited to the subordination of the United Nations (UN) to the White House and an inspection process designed to humiliate Saddam, whether it results in his swift downfall, or concludes in a desperate battle and widespread violence.
posted by Gordon at 5:19 PM
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via What's Left
What the North Korean "standoff" is really about

By Stephen Gowans

Nuclear stand-off on the Korean peninsula. The Korean crisis. North Korea playing with matches. Pyongyang becomes increasingly belligerent. President Bush won't reward North Korea's bad behavior. An irrational regime plays brinkmanship.

From the headlines you'd think North Korea had declared the United States part of an axis of evil, and had put the country on a nuclear hit list, rather than the other way around.

You might also think North Korean submarines, equipped with nuclear tipped missiles, were lurking off the coast of the United States, while tens of thousands of North Korean GI's lay in wait in Mexico, ready (according to a thin official story) to push back an American invasion of Mexico, should it come. You might think this was true, though it is North Korea, not the United States, that is surrounded by a vast, nuclear-equipped, and hostile military presence.

What's more, you might think there was far more to the "stand-off" than this: Washington says North Korea can't have nuclear weapons, and Pyongyang says "piss off."

But that's all there is to it. So, why the fuss?

Who is Washington to tell North Korea that it can't have nuclear weapons? Granted, as the world's most powerful country, the United States is able to use its leverage to get its way. It can wage an economic war against North Korea (which it has done), and it can threaten military intervention (which it has also done), but that's simply using economic hardship and the threat of force to extort concessions. In other words, it's behavior that fits Washington's own definition of terrorism to a tee.

But what legitimate authority does Washington have to issue diktats to other countries? You'd think from the way Washington is behaving, that it is perfectly within its rights to tell North Korea what to do.

Moreover, from the media's references to North Korea's "bad behavior" and "defiance" you'd think North Korean leader Kim Jong Il was a naughty child who has to be disciplined by papa. Indeed, the White House, in its paternalistic way, even talked about North Korea needing to "feel a firmer hand."

But as it turns out, Washington has absolutely no legitimate authority to tell North Korea it can't have nuclear weapons. While it had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), once it decided to reopen its mothballed Yongbyon nuclear power plant (which is capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium), Pyongyang announced its withdrawal from the treaty. Washington, it will be recalled, not too long ago announced its withdrawal from the Antiballistic Missile Treaty, on grounds the treaty was no longer compatible with US defense requirements. Similarly, the NPT no longer serves North Korea's defense requirements.

Given that Washington virtually declared war when it said North Korea was part of an axis of evil (North Korea's inclusion reflecting Washington's need to take a firmer hand, according to David Frum, the White House speechwriter who coined the phrase) and given that North Korea, along with six other countries, have been declared fair game for a US nuclear first strike, it's hardly surprising Pyongyang has decided it needs to develop a nuclear deterrent. Far from being irrational, as the country's leaders are often called in the press, the move is entirely rational.

History, it can be said, is the story of how the powerful have used law, morality, and religion to turn the ability to force compliance into a shared expectation of compliance. Kings, it was said, ruled by divine right; the aristocracy, it was claimed, ruled by virtue of inherited traits congenial to governance. Britain's conquest of other people's land and resources was based on a moral mission of civilizing the dark corners of the world, it was said, as today, the Anglo- American, Washington-London axis portrays its program of conquest as a mission of bringing democracy and human rights to countries presided over by dictators. Wherever a class of people or country has grown powerful enough to compel compliance through force or sanction it seeks to justify its raw exercise of power through law or morality or religion.

Having no legitimate authority to demand North Korea fall in line with its edicts (not only on leaving itself defenseless to US military depredations by foregoing a deterrent nuclear weapons program, but also in refusing to open its doors to US trade and investment on terms favorable to US capital), the media, ever the willing janissaries of Washington, have stepped up to the plate: if Washington has no legitimate grounds to assume the role of world dictator, the media will confer it upon them.

It's not as if the press is unaware that Washington is vastly overstepping its bounds; it just doesn't say anything about it. When the Pentagon starting abducting Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan and elsewhere, throwing them like animals into cages at Gauntanamo Bay, a reporter grilled White House spokesman Ari Fleischer on whether Washington had the authority to do what it was doing. After ducking and weaving, Fleischer finally said in exasperation, "Look, there's a war going on." In other words, Washington has no legitimate authority whatever to abduct and cage al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters, but uses, wherever it can, the events of Sept. 11 as legitimation for scores of illegal, immoral, indecent, inhumane and repellent acts that it gets away with by virtue of having a larger military and more economic leverage than anyone else. Lamentably, vast sections of the American population, including large parts of what passes itself off as the political left, have bought into the idea that the deaths of 3,000 on Sept. 11 justify all manner of US outrages. Sept. 11, with all its associated rhetoric of good vs. evil, has become what the divine right of kings was to monarchs: an excuse to exploit, plunder and abuse the weak.

Regrettably, you'll hear few Americans complain about the treatment of abductees at Gauntanamo Bay, or the flagrant Constitutional violation that has seen American citizens tossed into military brigs without charge, where they're to be held indefinitely as combatants in a war that has no planned end. "The bastards should be treated even more severely," is the accustomed cry, while the minority that lean away from these punitive excesses hold their tongues, cowed by the prospect of being seen to defend monsters, for how can al-Qaeda or Taliban fighters be seen as sympathetic figures, worthy of a defense? Though hardly admirable and cleaving to reactionary and repellent views, they are human beings, and are deserving of respect as such by a country that professes to be civilized and humane. And while their views are repellent to us, how many can say their own views are not repellent to the viciously right- wing thugs who have their hand on Washington's tiller, and may decide, some day, for the sake of homeland security, that you too should be locked away?

For as long as governments have resorted to propaganda to justify acts of war and conquest, demonizing the enemy has been the standard way of drawing attention away from relevant questions, like, Have all countries a right to defend themselves?, to irrelevant questions, like, What are we going to do about this monster?

This technique has been used repeatedly by Washington to great effect, in Yugoslavia, where all kinds of wildly exaggerated claims were made about Slobodan Milosevic, including the charge that he ordered the killing of 100,000 ethnic Albanians (whose bodies were never found), and in Iraq, where Saddam Hussein has been portrayed as more evil than Old Nick himself.

"What are we going to do about this monster?" it is asked. Well, what has the "monster" Saddam done that we need to do something about? Not a hell of a lot, except, we're told, he has cleverly hidden weapons of mass destruction, after the UN told him to disarm. Of course, we don't know that Iraq is hiding weapons. The UN inspectors have turned up zilch, and all we have to go on is the word of Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush who have shown themselves over and over again to be notorious liars.

And then we can ask whether an edict from the UN Security Council for Iraq to disarm is legitimate. Doesn't the demand that Iraq disarm amount to the world's great powers forcing a country that is strategically situated atop great oil wealth to abandon its right to self-defense, thereby allowing one or more of those powers to take control of the country's assets for their own benefit? Doesn't Iraq have a right to defend itself from aggression, either that of neighbouring countries, or that of UN Security Council members?

But these issues -- though central to the question of war in the Middle East -- aren't addressed. Instead, the discussion centers on Saddam Hussein's personal qualities, as the pro-war propaganda's standard operating procedure prescribes. But Saddam Hussein's personal qualities, and whether there's a dictatorship of capital (under the guise of a US imposed democracy) or a dictatorship of Saddam Hussein, are completely irrelevant to the question of whether (a) the United States or NATO or the UN Security Council or any other group has a legitimate authority to go to war with Iraq over weapons of mass destruction and (b) whether Iraq has the right to defend itself against attack. (Equally, do Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters have the right to defend themselves from US attack on Afghanistan soil? The answer is obvious -- they do; the question, however, is never asked.)

North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il is also a target of a demonization campaign. We're told (by the ultra-reliable source George W. Bush) that Kim starves his people, and the equally reliable media heap all manner of pejorative adjectives on Kim, the meaning of which -- other than implying something bad -- is unclear. Kim and his country are irrational, unpredictable, neo-Stalinist, secretive, reclusive, bizarre, militaristic. No article on North Korea can be written without using at least two of these words. Press accounts conjure up a picture of a vast and grim concentration camp, where an evil and irrational dictator indoctrinates ordinary North Koreans into supporting his malefic designs on the world, including a nuclear strike on the US and its allies, carried out because Kim resents US power and hates American freedoms and democracy -- another Osama bin Laden, but this time one with a bad haircut and a funny jacket and a neo-Stalinist moniker.

Kim should forget about the American left springing to his country's defense. It's too concerned that to do so would invite the charge that it's Stalinist and supports dictators, a charge it will twist itself into innumerable contortionist knots to avoid, even siding with decidedly conservative and neo-liberal forces such as the MDC in Zimbabwe and the DOS in Serbia to avoid the taint of being seen to support a victim of Washington's demonization exercises.

The demonization is necessary. Without it, Washington can't make its case, can't be seen to be reacting, rather than instigating, for the truth of the matter is that Washington instigates, while pretending it's simply reacting to a threat. As one writer of a letter to a newspaper editor sarcastically put it, "Sure, when I hear Mike Tyson say that Woody Allen threatened him, and that he'll have to beat the snot out of the filmmaker in self-defense, I believe Tyson."

It's a nasty world out there, we're led to believe, where all kinds of crazy and evil dictators are plotting harm to the US, and if you doubt it, remember September 11. The United States government must be tough if it's going to protect its citizens, and if that means telling unpredictable dictators like Kim Jong Il that he can't have nuclear weapons, so be it.

Were Kim (or equally Saddam Hussein) portrayed otherwise, the deceit wouldn't work. Neither can be allowed to attend to their country's self-defense by acquiring weapons of mass destruction, because (the deception goes) they may use those weapons against the United States in an unprovoked attack. After all, they're evil, they're unpredictable, they're unbalanced and they resent US power, US democracy and US freedoms. Would you leave the world's most destructive weapons in the hands of unpredictable, irrational, evil dictators?

That the view is kindergarten-like is, of course, no deterrent to its being imbibed holus bolus, and regurgitated in an attractive package by the Anglo- American media, resulting in a level of discourse on world affairs that operates at the level of a nine-year old. They're evil and unpredictable; we're good and moral; therefore, they must be smashed. Remember Sept. 11?

A more adult view, far closer to the truth, is that the powerful seek ways of extending their power, because they can. Washington has made no secret of its desire to establish its primacy in the world by containing regional rivals (countries that are large enough and strong enough to pursue an independent course), and by undermining anti-capitalist countries (those that don't wholly respect the claimed right of US firms and investors to exploit the former's labor, resources and markets.) Countries that have weapons of mass destruction aren't so easy to push around, and can hardly be expected to submit to US primacy or leadership or however else you want to dress it up to hide what it is -- global hegemony, a dictatorship of US capital.

And it is very much a dictatorship of US capital that Washington desires; this, too, the White House has made no secret of. The President's National Security Doctrine reads like a handbook on spreading US trade and investment to every corner of the world, which it is. National security, it must be understood, means freedom for US firms to go anywhere they wish, to sell into any market they wish, and to extract profits from any country they wish, with the security of their investments safeguarded. Ultimately, to borrow from New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, it is the US military that vouchsafes that security, and, through threat or war, that smashes down the doors that lock US investment out. It's no surprise that Washington's axis of evil countries, whether the original three or the larger list that includes Cuba, with Venezuela and Zimbabwe as satellites, are either completely closed to unfettered US trade and investment, have nationalized, or are planning to nationalize, key parts of their economy, or have threatened what stands as US capital's -- and therefore, Washington's -- highest good: private ownership and the security of private investment.

Capitalism is the only sustainable model, says Bush. And he's got a $400 billion per annum military to back him up on it.
posted by Norm at 4:10 PM
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If you're going to San Francisco (or DC) be sure to wear some flowers in your hair...

This weekend will see a huge anti-war march in both washington dc and san francisco. details on International Answer and Vote No War.

A fitting activity for Martin Luther King Day.
posted by Unknown at 11:27 AM
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Empty Gun, No Smoke

No, it's not another rant about John Lott fudging his numbers.

The weapons inspectors in Iraq have found empty warheads. That's right. Another example of finding nothing.

The inspectors found 11 empty 122 mm chemical warheads and one warhead that requires further evaluation. the warheads are similar to ones imported by Iraq during the late 1980s, the spokesman said.

Imported in the 1980's? imported from where, we wonder?

Unfortunately for the press, empty chemical warheads really don't mean a whole heck of a lot. Now, if they had found full warheads, that might be a different story. Wolf Blitzer might be putting war graphics up on his screen even as we speak. But alas, it's hard to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, and equally hard to make a smoking gun out of an empty bullet cartridge.

However, the press, ready for action, is trumpeting this find as a possible "trigger" for war. Guess the economy is not that exciting of a story.

Speaking of the economy, here's some good news, if you believe the spin: new unemployment claims fell 32,000 last week.

Claims dipped by 32,000 to a seasonally adjusted 360,000 in the week, down from a revised 392,000 in the prior week.

But remember, that's new unemployment claims, not total. And it's not really good news if you're one of the 360,000 people who filed new claims for unemployment last week, like Skippy did.
posted by Unknown at 11:12 AM
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The Perpetual War Portfolio
The Perpetual War Portfolio is an evenly weighted basket of five stocks poised to succeed in the age of perpetual war. The stocks were selected on the basis of popular product lines, strong political connections and lobbying efforts, and paid-for access to key Congressional decision-makers.
posted by valis at 1:02 AM
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Wednesday, January 15, 2003. *

"Escalate non-violence." --MLK

Today is Martin Luther King's birthday.

Also today: President-Select Bush announced that his administration would lend some legal aid to the fight against the affirmative action policies of the University of Michigan. He added, "And if we had never had affirmative action in the first place, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, neitha . . . "

Well, no, he didn't say that, actually, but the Trent Lott connection should be clear, right? This is, after all, the party of racists . . . What is that called, "the Southern Solution?" Whereby Republican power is culled by courting the bigotry-friendly American southern states? Oh hey now, and don't forget the re-nomination of Judge Pickering--who fights for the little man, as long as the little man is burning a cross on the lawn of the nigra and his honky ho.

And they do both of these things right after the whole Trent Lott fiasco?

Aw man, they're just throwing it at you.

And to do it on Martin Luther King's birthday?

That's just a little extra something for you,

the taxpayer

the citizen

the slave

posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:52 PM
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Israel to kill in U.S., allied nations
Israel is embarking upon a more aggressive approach to the war on terror that will include staging targeted killings in the United States and other friendly countries, former Israeli intelligence officials told United Press International.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has forbidden the practice until now, these sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Israeli statements were confirmed by more than a half dozen U.S. foreign policy and intelligence officials in interviews with UPI.
posted by valis at 6:16 PM
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USA prepares rebuild plan for post-conflict Iraq
Not like it's for sure or anything...but...
The US Department of Defense (DoD) is preparing for its role in rebuilding Iraq after a projected US-led invasion and is expecting significant demands for units that can provide intelligence capabilities, chemical and biological detection and defence, civil affairs and force protection, US defence officials have disclosed to Jane's Defence Weekly.

The US armed forces are expected to maintain a significant presence in Iraq, well beyond the end of combat operations, to deal with what defence and humanitarian experts say could be a dangerous and volatile situation. Predictions range from the formation of armed resistance factions to water and food shortages. US officials would also want to seek out and destroy or secure any remaining stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and related equipment. They also are preparing for more conventional threats against US forces.
posted by Joseph Matheny at 4:43 PM
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Anxiety Bubbles Beneath Support For War With Iraq (
A solid majority of Americans consistently tell pollsters that they favor attacking Iraq to topple President Saddam Hussein. But beneath that bedrock of support lies a deep sense of anxiety.

The worries poured out in dozens of interviews conducted in recent days across the nation, from this bustling Atlanta suburb to the North Side of Chicago, from Maryland shopping malls to Los Angeles coffee shops. Americans wonder whether the nation can wage war even as the economy is slumping, and worry that war would make things worse. They are concerned that the Middle Eastern world will label the United States a bully if it attacks Iraq, and they fear retaliation. And there are new fears about North Korea. [MORE]
posted by Joseph Matheny at 4:00 PM
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Old Words on War Stirring a New Dispute at Berkeley
In her own day, the Russian-born anarchist Emma Goldman roused emotions including considerable fear with her advocacy of radical causes like organized labor, atheism, sexual freedom and opposition to military conscription. "Emma Goldman is a woman of great ability and personal magnetism, and her persuasive powers are such to make her an exceedingly dangerous woman," Francis Caffey, the United States attorney in New York, wrote in 1917. Goldman died in 1940, more than two decades after being deported to Russia with other anarchists in the United States who opposed World War I. Now her words are the source of deep consternation once again, this time at the University of California, which has housed Goldman's papers for the past 23 years. In an unusual showdown over freedom of expression, university officials have refused to allow a fund-raising appeal for the Emma Goldman Papers Project to be mailed because it quoted Goldman on the subjects of suppression of free speech and her opposition to war. The university deemed the topics too political as the country prepares for possible military action against Iraq. [MORE free reg-req.]
posted by Joseph Matheny at 3:16 PM
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Turkey prepares for Iraq refugees
The Turkish Red Crescent has started preparations for the arrival of refugees from Iraq in the event of war.
A 24,000-tent refugee camp is planned near Turkey's border with Iraq. During the Gulf War, almost half a million refugees entered Turkey from Iraq. A 10-member team from the Red Crescent has been in the border province of Sirnak for four days. In all, the Red Crescent hopes to be able to accommodate up to 100,000 refugees. [MORE]
posted by Joseph Matheny at 2:17 PM
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Tuesday, January 14, 2003. *
Annan Sees No Reason for Attack on Iraq
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday he sees no reason for an attack on Iraq and is optimistic that war can be avoided if the international community maintains pressure on Saddam Hussein and inspectors do their job aggressively.

Nonetheless, he said the United Nation is making plans to deal with an exodus of refugees and potential humanitarian crisis in the event of military action. U.N. experts are also doing some "preliminary thinking" about a possible post-conflict political organization and administration in Iraq, he said.
posted by Joseph Matheny at 5:24 PM
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India and China face off in space
A Chinese astronaut, making China only the third nation able to send anyone into space, will be galling to the Indians. That is why they are developing their Moon plans now and preparing for an Indo-China space race.
posted by A.Q. at 5:04 PM
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the place to be if you're in the S.F. Bay Area...
on January 28th, Cal Berkeley, Graduate School of Journalism
Christopher Hitchens VS. Mark Danner debate
How Should We Use Our Power?;
7:30 PM, Zellerbach Hall, and the best thing about it?
Get there Early!
posted by j at 2:30 PM
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9/11 "Conspiracies" and the Defactualisation of Analysis: How Ideologues on the Left and Right Theorise Vacuously to Support Baseless Supposition
Acceptance of the official narrative of what happened on September 11, 2001 has become widespread, not merely on the right, but also on the left. In this paper, I take issue with the writings of several commentators who attempt to forcefully argue firstly that acceptance of the official narrative is justified, and secondly that certain kinds of inquiry into anomalies and inconsistencies in that narrative are illegitimate and unnecessary. The main bulk of this writing is available online at a new section at the well-known progressive website ZNet, and is somewhat representative of the mainstream approach to 9/11.[1]

In reviewing the work of these commentators on 9/11, I analyse in detail the failure of the U.S. intelligence community in preventing the Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks; the casual repression and/or misrepresentation of facts related to 9/11; the failure of U.S. defence measures on 9/11; the historic and institutional basis for skepticism about the official narrative; and some salient facts which illustrate the need for proper research into the linkages between U.S. government, military, intelligence, and corporate policy, and the ease with which the September 11 terrorist attacks went ahead.
posted by New World at 2:10 PM
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The Stadium of the Mind
If Americans spent as much time learning about world affairs or our Constitution and Bill of Rights as they do passing percentages and field goal ranges, maybe more than 13% of people aged 18-24 could locate Iraq on a map.
posted by valis at 10:37 AM
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Monday, January 13, 2003. *
The dissent smackdown
How anti-democratic tactics continue to be used to stifle debate over national security
posted by valis at 11:04 PM
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'You can't get even but your dog can'
chewable political pet toys
posted by riley dog at 2:49 PM
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Ethnic Cleansing: Some Common Reactions, by Ran HaCohen
More background and arguments from one of Israel's best columnists regarding ethnic cleansing, past, present, and future.
posted by A.Q. at 12:31 PM
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American Arabs and Jews Want Peace in Mideast: Poll
While internet killbloggers try to tear the two sides apart as part of a "no compromise" atttidude towards "terror," Arab Americans and Jewish Americans largely agree on the basic issues that define the conflict. In the poll, over 95 percent of Arab Americans said they believe Israel has a right to secure and independent existence, and 87 percent of Jewish Americans said Palestinians have the right to live in an independent state. This directly contradicts the daily diatribes of warbloggers who hold that Arabs (even "fifth column" American Arabs) are opposed to the very existence of Israel. The reality is that both sides want peace, and want the US to do something about the problem, and do it soon before more innocent lives are sacrificed for political gains on both sides.
posted by A.Q. at 11:12 AM
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Sunday, January 12, 2003. *
Found over at Dack Ragus' invaluable Warlog:

U.S. Decision On Iraq Has Puzzling Past

Opponents of War Wonder When, How Policy Was Set

On Sept. 17, 2001, six days after the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush signed a 2 1/2-page document marked "TOP SECRET" that outlined the plan for going to war in Afghanistan as part of a global campaign against terrorism.

Almost as a footnote, the document also directed the Pentagon to begin planning military options for an invasion of Iraq, senior administration officials said.


The decision to confront Iraq was in many ways a victory for a small group of conservatives who, at the start of the administration, found themselves outnumbered by more moderate voices in the military and the foreign policy bureaucracy. Their tough line on Iraq before Sept. 11, 2001, was embraced quickly by President Bush and Vice President Cheney after the attacks. But that shift was not communicated to opponents of military action until months later, when the internal battle was already decided.
The full article is here.
posted by Grady at 11:29 PM
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It's their turn now
A well written Israeli editorial that exploresd both sides of the relationship of Israel's Arab minority to the Jewish majority.
posted by A.Q. at 10:56 PM
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'Fuck That Flag' - a short story by the mutant

I am Jack's complete lack of patriotism.

The sickness swept across the company, and with it now came the labels, "Jack is un-american. Jack is a communist. Must be a democrat. Child abuse, I heard. A satanist..." They just could not understand it. Why would anyone hate the flag so much?

Thou shalt have no other god before me. Unless it's the flag. Amen.
posted by Mike at 4:48 PM
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Terror Suspect Pleads Guilty
Where is the alleged Ringleader of this Buffalo cell? Oh...
One of six men alleged to be part of an al Qaeda sleeper cell in Lackawanna, N.Y., pleaded guilty to a reduced charge yesterday in exchange for an agreement to testify against his fellow defendants, marking what prosecutors described as an important breakthrough in the case.

Faysal Galab, 26, a U.S. citizen of Yemeni descent, pleaded guilty in the Western District of New York to a charge of providing "funds and services" to al Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, by attending a terrorism training camp in Afghanistan in the spring of 2001.
The prosecutors, calling this a "breakthrough," are trying to put the best spin on this as possible. Well, what can they say, "It looks like the CIA bumped off our star witness"? Kamal Derwish, the ringleader, was killed in that CIA Predator attack in Yemen. Derwish would have testified about some intriguing details on Bin Laden's visit and the defendents' training at Al Farooq training camp.
Grade A BlackJade analysis. Not to be missed.
posted by valis at 1:11 PM
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UK 'rejects' lone action against Iraq
The UK would not join American unilateral military action against Iraq, according to International Development Secretary Clare Short.
Ms Short said the UK had a duty to try to keep the world united over the Iraq crisis and ensure the danger of Saddam Hussein was only tackled through the United Nations.

Other ministers have shied away from saying whether or not the UK would join America if it decided to act alone against Iraq.
posted by Joseph Matheny at 8:37 AM
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US accelerates Gulf build-up
The United States is dramatically accelerating its build-up in the Gulf, with the deployment of another 27,000 troops.
A senior Pentagon official told the BBC that Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had signed his second order in 24 hours, adding to 35,000 personnel who were deployed on Friday.
posted by Joseph Matheny at 6:43 AM
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Saturday, January 11, 2003. *
Riyadh: Linchpin to a new religious order

"The fact is, whether or not the US overthrows Saddam Hussein, its armed forces will remain face to face with the country at the ideological center of fundamentalist Islam. That country is not Iraq; it is Saudi Arabia."

-- US military buildup is sufficient to take over more than one Middle Eastern country.
-- The Islamic tradition that developed in the Turkish Empire, Sufism, teaches love, not quarrels.
-- So far, the House of Saud is not happy about heavy-handed US suggestions to change the curricula of religious schools.
-- And the author concludes:

"A majority of the House of Saud is still an ardent believer of the Salafi branch of Islam and its strict practice as this ideology is the foundation of Saudi rule and, indeed, the country of Saudi Arabia itself. In the presence of these realities, laying the foundation stone of Western democracy and civil society in a country like Saudi Arabia under the shadow of US guns would jolt the foundation of the House of Saud, its patron religious forces and their ideologies."
posted by Emmanuel at 8:18 PM
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