Friday, January 12, 2007

Washington's Epic Battle, War or Peace

By Brent Budowsky
January 12, 2007

With the Democratic Congress only days old, an epic battle is unfolding in Washington with great dangers, enormous consequences and a historic opportunity.

Let's review the playing field, which is often mischaracterized on the television news.

First, there is an unfolding Democratic strategy to halt the escalation of the war in Iraq as proposed by President Bush's speech in open defiance of the voters' will as expressed in the 2006 election.

Second, there is a raging battle behid the scenes pitting advocates of a preemptive attack against Iran, led by the same civilian neoconservatives who advocated the Iraq War, against critics who view such an attack as catastrophically dangerous. These opponents of a new preemptive war include many in the military and intelligence worlds in the United States and Israel.

Third, there is a grand constitutional battle that will soon be front-page news, pitting those who claim that the President possesses unilateral power to initiate preemptive war against those who argue that it is illegal and unconstitutional for the President to wage new wars without prior congressional approval.

While these battles superficially resemble the Washington kabuki play that preceded the Iraq War in 2002-03, there are two big differences that work to George Bush's great disadvantage and may result in a different outcome.

Read on.

The U.S.-Iran-Iraq-Israeli-Syrian War

By Robert Parry
January 12, 2007

At a not-for-quotation pre-speech briefing on Jan. 10, George W. Bush and his top national security aides unnerved network anchors and other senior news executives with suggestions that a major confrontation with Iran is looming.

Commenting about the briefing on MSNBC after Bush’s nationwide address, NBC’s Washington bureau chief Tim Russert said “there’s a strong sense in the upper echelons of the White House that Iran is going to surface relatively quickly as a major issue – in the country and the world – in a very acute way.”

Russert and NBC anchor Brian Williams depicted this White House emphasis on Iran as the biggest surprise from the briefing as Bush stepped into the meeting to speak passionately about why he is determined to prevail in the Middle East.

“The President’s inference was this: that an entire region would blow up from the inside, the core being Iraq, from the inside out,” Williams said, paraphrasing Bush.

Read on.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Media Still Turning to Discredited 'Experts' for Analysis on Iraq

Despite the distastrous consequences that neoconservatives have unleashed with their foreign policy prescriptions for Iraq and the greater Middle East, the American media still gives an extraordinary platform to "experts" and academics from organizations such as the American Enterprise Institute, one of the primary architects of the Iraq War, and the most vocal advocate for George Bush's new plan to escalate the war with a "surge" of 21,500 troops.

One of the media's current favorites is AEI scholar Frederick Kagan, the author of a report which apparently served as the basis for Bush's new strategy of escalation in Iraq. Kagan has been a regular on cable news and radio, and a Google News search with his name turns up over 700 hits in newspapers and other publications. What's extraordinary though is that representatives of AEI are turned to at all, considering their horrendous track record when it comes to foreign policy analysis. In baseball parlance, these intellectuals are batting at best .100.

The scholars at AEI and like-minded organizations provided the intellectual and scholarly rationale for the initial invasion of Iraq and the grander strategy of "reshaping" the Middle East, but as is obvious today, none of their predictions have played out the way they had hoped. Yet, they are still turned to as credible experts on Middle East policy and given a platform for their new policy prescriptions that are just as sure to fail as their past prescriptions.

Paradoxically, leaders of the grassroots antiwar movement -- who have been vindicated every step of the way -- are largely shut out of the media and still treated as if they are somehow less than credible. Leslie Cagan, coordinator of United For Peace and Justice, was interviewed on Democracy Now this morning, but a Google News search for her name only turned up 7 hits, compared to Frederick Kagan's 700. Representatives of the ANSWER Coalition, which organized many of the biggest antiwar demonstrations before the invasion of Iraq, are even more thoroughly excluded from the media debate.

In the interest of bringing to attention their analysis of the situation in Iraq, I'm posting in its entirety ANSWER's reaction to Bush's plan for a surge, which ANSWER suggests is a prescription for a bloodbath. We'll see whether ANSWER or AEI is proven correct.

U.S. Peace Movement Plans to “Escalate” Street Protests

The ANSWER Coalition Responds to
Bush’s War Speech of January 10, 2007

ANSWER Coalition Statement:

Unwilling to accept the failure of his war of aggression in Iraq, his “war of choice,” Bush announced tonight a plan that will succeed only in sending thousands of Iraqis and U.S. soldiers to their graves in the next year.

What Bush is really proposing is using thousands of additional U.S. soldiers in a planned reign of terror in the streets and neighborhoods of Baghdad against those who want the U.S. to leave. Bush chose to use a euphemism about the planned reign of terror when he stated that one of the past “mistakes” of the U.S. military operation in Baghdad was that, “there were too many restrictions on the troops we did have.” The blood will flow just as Bush promises but this plan will fail just as badly as every announced initiative since Bush arrogantly taunted the Iraqi resistance with his infamous “Bring em on” speech back in 2003.

Bush gave the people of the United States a warning that they should expect the coming year will be "bloody and violent," with "television screens filled with images of death and suffering." He tried to innoculate himself from responsibility for this carnage although his plan makes it inevitable.

Bush’s aspiration to salvage his “legacy” and his place in history isn’t worth one more life. Every mother and father of a U.S. soldier, every person who has a loved one in the U.S. armed forces should make it clear that the lives of their family members are too precious to be sacrificed for such an ignoble cause.

For the last six years, Bush has provided huge tax breaks for the billionaires and multimillionaires of this country. But it will not be their children who will be sent to fight and die in Iraq. The privileged ultra-rich, Bush's real "base," are shielded from the horrors of the war.

The deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis since March 2003 (see Lancet medical journal 10/06), proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Bush’s claim that his invasion was for the liberation of the Iraqi people is a complete and utter lie.

“Clearing and holding neighborhoods in Iraq” is not the duty or right of members of the U.S. military. The people who live in those neighborhoods lived in peace before the arrival of the occupation forces. The occupation is illegal and the order to stiffen the occupation is illegal too. U.S. soldiers have the right and duty to disobey illegal orders.

Neither one more Iraqi nor one more soldier should die so that the politicians, who inaugurated a criminal “pre-emptive” invasion of a country that posed zero threat to the people of the United States, can postpone the verdict of history.

For their part, the Democrats in Congress are involved in a slightly more complicated dance. They want to posture as opponents of Bush’s escalation and so-called surge without taking responsibility for bringing the war to a close. They could cut funding for the war which is their exclusive Constitutional prerogative. But they will absolutely refuse to take this responsibility. They are merely posturing for the 2008 elections hoping to take advantage of the well deserved public disgust for Bush and the Iraq war.

The issue right now for the anti-war movement can not simply be opposition to a surge or an escalation: the issue is the war itself. The troops must be brought home now. As in Vietnam, that is the only solution. Those who initiated the war and who funded the war should be held accountable for one of the great crimes of the modern era.

Everything that Bush has said about the Iraq war has proved to be a lie. This was always a war for Empire in a strategic area that possesses two thirds of the world's oil supply. He proclaimed tonight that, "failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States." If Bush fails in Iraq the people of the United States lose nothing. It is not our Empire.

On March 17, 2007, the anniversary of the start of the criminal invasion of Iraq, tens of thousands of people from around the country will descend on the Pentagon in a mass demonstration to demand: U.S. Out of Iraq Now! 2007 is the 40th anniversary of the historic 1967 anti-war march to the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. The message of the 1967 march was "From Protest to Resistance," and marked a turning point in the development of a countrywide mass movement.

Thousands of organizations and individuals are mobilizing for the upcoming March on the Pentagon. Organizing committees and transportation centers are being established to bring people to the March on the Pentagon.

Tomorrow, January 11, there will be emergency demonstrations in scores of cities around the country protesting Bush's planned escalation of the war in Iraq. A schedule of the demonstrations can be found by clicking here.

The March 17 demonstration will assemble at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (Constitution Gardens) at 12 noon in Washington, D.C. and march to the Pentagon. Go to for more information. There are more than 1,000 endorsers for the March on the Pentagon, including:

Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General
Alice Walker, Pulitzer prize winning author
Cynthia McKinney, Congresswoman
Cindy Sheehan, co-founder Gold Star Families for Peace, author
Ron Kovic, Vietnam Veteran, author, Born on the 4th of July
Malik Rahim, Founder, Common Ground Collective, New Orleans
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit
Paul Haggis, Director of Crash, 2005 Academy Award for Best Picture
Elias Rashmawi, National Coordinator, National Council of Arab Americans (NCA)
Howard Zinn, Author, A People's History of the United States
Rev. Luis Barrios, Iglesia de San Romero - UCC
Heidi Boghosian, Executive Director, National Lawyers Guild
Chaplain James Yee, former Army chaplain, Guantánamo Detention Center
Mahdi Bray, Executive Director, Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation
Father Roy Bourgeois, Founder, School of the Americas Watch
Leonard Weinglass, Attorney for the Cuban Five
Eric LeCompte, National Office, School of the Americas Watch
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Co-founder, Partnership for Civil Justice
Brian Becker, National Coordinator, ANSWER Coalition
Mounzer Sleiman, TV commentator and Vice Chair, National Council of Arab Americans
Ben Dupuy, Co-Director, Haiti Progres
Juan Jose Gutierrez, Executive Director, Latino Movement USA
Calvin Gipson, Former President, San Francisco LGBT Pride Committee
Rev. Graylan Hagler, Senior Pastor, Plymouth Congregational Church, Washington D.C
Kay Lucas, Director, Crawford Peace House, Crawford, TX
Chuck Kaufman, Co-coordinator of the Nicaragua Network
Al Garcia, Alliance for a Just & Lasting Peace in the Philippines
Macrina Cardenas, Mexico Solidarity Network
Eugene Puryear, Howard University, student leader
Gloria La Riva, Coordinator, National Committee to Free the Cuban Five
CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities
Nodutdol for Korean Community Development
KAWAN: Korean Americans Against War and Neoliberalism
Justice Committee
Ed Asner, Actor
Shirley Knight, Actor
Debra Sweet, National Coordinator, World Can't Wait -- Drive Out the Bush Regime
Jennifer Harbury, Human Rights Lawyer, author
United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA)
Jim Lafferty, Director, National Lawyers Guild - Los Angeles
Iglesia de San Romero - United Church of Christ
Mimi Kennedy, Actor (Dharma & Greg)

-- ANSWER Coalition

Demonstrations are planned around the country today in opposition to Bush's plan for escalating the Iraq War. Click here for more information.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How Ollie North Helped Ortega Win

By Robert Parry
January 11, 2007

As Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega takes over as Nicaragua’s new president, some U.S. diplomats are privately blaming Iran-Contra figure Oliver North for unwittingly helping his longtime enemy split the anti-Sandinista vote and win last November’s election.

The bitter irony for some Bush administration officials is that North is a hero to many on the Right because, as a National Security Council aide in the 1980s, he spearheaded Ronald Reagan’s contra war seeking to oust Ortega and the leftist Sandinistas.

But now North is coming under criticism for making a last-minute trip to Nicaragua and throwing his weight behind a right-wing candidate who undercut another conservative favored by the U.S. Embassy.

Ortega prevailed in Nicaragua’s Nov. 5 election by winning a plurality of the vote (38 percent) while two conservative candidates – Eduardo Montealegre (28 percent) and Jose Rizo (27 percent) – divided up the anti-Sandinista vote.

The U.S. Embassy was behind Montealegre, a Harvard-educated economist and banker from the reformist Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance or ALN. But North was persuaded by former contra leader Adolfo Calero that Rizo, the candidate of the Liberal Constitutional Party or PLC, had the better shot to beat Ortega, according to sources familiar with the inside workings of Nicaragua’s politics.

Read on.

Pundits No, Everyday Citizens Yes

By Mary MacElveen
January 10, 2007

Turn on any news program in which political pundits are interviewed and what you will hear from a great majority of them is that Americans changed the direction of this country this past Election Day.

At the end of 2006, even Time Magazine chose ‘You’ as the person of the year in which a mirror was put on the front cover, so that the reader could see themselves as being the very one that did in fact change our course.

One columnist I know who writes for several major newspapers stated in an e-mail to me that Time Magazine was “pandering to its readers” because of “sluggish sales”. While at first I was disturbed at hearing that opinion, one only has to look within their magazine and others to see that the same old pundits and writers are speaking out and not everyday Americans.

Maybe the great majority of Americans do not know how to write, but hey, that is what editors and proof readers are for. Come on, Time Magazine; let ordinary Americans have their own columns. I for one would like to hear of their interesting stories.

Read on.

Saddam's Well-Timed Execution

By Robert Parry
January 10, 2007

Saddam Hussein’s rushed execution looks even more suspicious now that the trial of his co-defendants has resumed with prosecutors playing an incriminating tape recording of the dead Iraqi dictator discussing chemical weapons – but now without any possibility of him fingering U.S. officials and others who may have helped him get the poisons.

President George W. Bush and his supporters are sure to cite the tape recording as further evidence of Hussein’s guilt and thus vindication of Bush’s decision to press ahead with Hussein’s controversial hanging on Dec. 30.

But the troubling reality – virtually ignored in the major U.S. news media – is that Bush also silenced a particularly dangerous witness who could have implicated prominent U.S. officials from both his father’s and his own administrations.

The hasty execution prevented the Iraqi judges from turning to Hussein after the tape was played on Jan. 8 to question him about its authenticity and its context. Another obvious follow-up would have been how had Hussein obtained the dangerous chemicals that he allegedly deployed to kill tens of thousands of Iraqi Kurds.

In that sense, Hussein’s silence was golden for the international arms dealers who supplied his regime and for government officials who facilitated the shipments.

Read on.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Bush's Rush to Armageddon

By Robert Parry
January 8, 2007

George W. Bush has purged senior military and intelligence officials who were obstacles to a wider war in the Middle East, broadening his options for both escalating the conflict inside Iraq and expanding the fighting to Iran and Syria with Israel’s help.

On Jan. 4, Bush ousted the top two commanders in the Middle East, Generals John Abizaid and George Casey, who had opposed a military escalation in Iraq, and removed Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte, who had stood by intelligence estimates downplaying the near-term threat from Iran’s nuclear program.

Most Washington observers have treated Bush’s shake-up as either routine or part of his desire for a new team to handle his planned “surge” of U.S. troops in Iraq. But intelligence sources say the personnel changes also fit with a scenario for attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities and seeking violent regime change in Syria.

Bush appointed Admiral William Fallon as the new chief of Central Command for the Middle East despite the fact that Fallon, a former Navy fighter pilot and currently head of the Pacific Command, will oversee two ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The choice of Fallon makes more sense if Bush foresees a bigger role for two aircraft carrier groups now poised off Iran’s coastline, such as support for possible Israeli air strikes against Iran’s nuclear targets or as a deterrent against any overt Iranian retaliation.

Read on.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Holding Intelligence Liars Accountable

By Ray McGovern and W. Patrick Lang
January 6, 2007

Lies have consequences.

All those who helped President George W. Bush launch a war of aggression—termed by Nuremberg “the supreme international crime”—have blood on their hands and must be held accountable. This includes corrupt intelligence officials. Otherwise, look for them to perform the same service in facilitating war on Iran.

“They should have been shot,” said former State Department intelligence director, Carl Ford, referring to ex-CIA director George Tenet and his deputy John McLaughlin, for their “fundamentally dishonest” cooking of intelligence to please the White House. Ford was alluding to “intelligence” on the menacing but non-existent mobile biological weapons laboratories in Iraq.

Ford was angry that Tenet and McLaughlin persisted in portraying the labs as real several months after they had been duly warned that they existed only in the imagination of intelligence analysts who, in their own eagerness to please, had glommed onto second-hand tales told by a con-man appropriately dubbed “Curveball.”

In fact, Tenet and McLaughlin had been warned about Curveball long before they let then-Secretary of State Colin Powell shame himself, and the rest of us, by peddling Curveball’s wares at the U.N. Security Council on Feb. 5, 2003.

Read on.

Defiant Neocons & a Realist Response

By Peter W. Dickson
January 6, 2007

During his State of the Union speech last year, President Bush puzzled many pundits with his frequent references to the lure of isolationism and its dangers.

No one at the time wondered or asked if this warning meant that Bush had some personal premonition of defeat in the Middle East. Surely it was strange for a man so confident then (and even until very recently) to raise the specter of isolationism – an impulse which has deep historical roots in American psyche since the nation was founded more than two centuries ago.

To discourage a pendulum swing in favor of greater withdrawal from the world, prominent neoconservatives and their allies within the Republican Party have sneered at the Baker-Hamilton report as providing political cover for defeatists who wish to sell out Iraq or otherwise capitulate to terrorist groups and nation-states that lend support to them such as Iran. Realists whether liberal or more conservative, such as Brent Scowcroft, are compared to Neville Chamberlain in a grossly misleading historical analogy.

Beyond this, the prominent neoconservative Robert Kagan in a Washington Post op-ed item entitled “Our Messianic Impulse” insisted that expansionism has always been the “dominant strain” in the nation’s character and should remain so no matter what happens in Iraq.

Read on.