One hundred and seventy-nine dead soldiers. For what? 179,000 dead Iraqis? Or is the real figure closer to a million? We don’t know. And we don’t care. We never cared about the Iraqis. That’s why we don’t know the figure. That’s why we left Basra yesterday.
I remember going to the famous Basra air base to ask how a poor Iraqi boy, a hotel receptionist called Bahr Moussa, had died. He was kicked to death in British military custody. His father was an Iraqi policeman. I talked to him in the company of a young Muslim woman. The British public relations man at the airport was laughing. “I don’t believe this,” my Muslim companion said. “He doesn’t care.” She did. So did I. I had reported from Northern Ireland. I had heard this laughter before. Which is why yesterday’s departure should have been called the Day of Bahr Moussa. Yesterday, his country was set free from his murderer. At last.
Robert Dreyfuss is one of the best analysts of the forces shaping US foreign policy. Had more people been reading him in the lead up to the Iraq war, it is likely that they could have acted more effectively to prevent the war. While some like Noam Chomsky would have you believe that there is a unified ‘elite’ which makes unanimous decisions, the reality is far more complicated and far less hopeless. There are forces within the establishment who are deeply wary of the neoconservative worldview, and while 9/11 had put them in a disadvantaged position, now they are silent no more. Here Dreyfuss reports on the stern advice Obama received from one of the leading lights of the Realist camp.
President Obama got some strongly worded advice yesterday on how to deal with Israel’s Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, who’ll be making his first visit to the United States as Israel’s new leader in mid-May. The Obama-Netanyahu meeting promises to be a showdown.
Zbigniew Brzezinski, the veteran strategist and hardliner — who was Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser — told a conference yesterday that in the history of US peacemaking in the Middle East, the United States has never once spelled out its own vision for what a two-state solution would look like. That, said Brzezinski, is exactly what President Obama needs to do. And fast.
Brzezinski was speaking at a conference on US-Saudi relations sponsored by the New America Foundation and Saudi Arabia’s Committee on International Trade. Brzezinski, who advised Obama early in the presidential campaign, was exiled from Obamaland after his less-than-devout support for Israel made him a liability.
Eric Margolis is one of the world’s leading experts on Afghanistan and Pakistan. He is particularly insightful in this interview with Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio.
Eric Margolis, author ofAmerican Raj: Liberation or Domination, discusses the causes of instability in Pakistan, the unrealistic expectations the U.S. places on its puppet governments, the Taliban’s inability to fill the Pakistan power vacuum and why the U.S. can’t resist the lure of imperialism.
‘A member of the UAE royal family is accused of torture – but is there any chance of justice when the country’s rulers are the law?’ asks Brian Whitaker.
Theatrocities of Abu Ghraibcaused much rightful indignation – and nowhere more so than in Arab countries where the sadistic torture of prisoners at the hands of their American jailers was viewed as symbolising the rape of Iraq by a foreign power.
I remember discussing this at the time with Hisham Kassem, a newspaper editor in Cairo who – contrary to the prevailing Arab view –describedthe coverage of Abu Ghraib by the Egyptian press as “shameless”.
“They talk about American monstrosities as if their own governments have never practised anything similar,” he said. “It’s nothing in comparison to what’s happening in Arab prisons.”
Dr. Mads Gilbert has worked and practiced medicine in Gaza for more than thirty years. One of the few western observers on the ground during Israel’s January bombardment, Gilbert’s testimony during the offensive was a critical source of information. On January 3, after an Israeli strike on a Gaza vegetable market, Gilbert sent a text message to his Norwegian and International contacts:
‘From doctor Mads Gilbert in Gaza: Thanks for your support. They bombed the central vegetable market in Gaza city two hours ago. 80 injured, 20 killed. All came here to Shifa. Hades! We wade in death, blood and amputees. Many children. Pregnant woman. I have never experienced anything this horrible. Now we hear tanks. Tell it, pass it on, shout it. Anything. DO SOMETHING! DO MORE! We’re living in the history books now, all of us!’
Laura Flanders spoke with Gilbert recently as he embarked on a speaking tour in the United States.
Andrew J. Bacevich Rewriting the Past by Adding In What’s Been Left Out. (via TomDispatch)
In a recent column, theWashington Post’sRichard Cohen wrote, “What Henry Luce called ‘the American Century’ is over.” Cohen is right. All that remains is to drive a stake through the heart of Luce’s pernicious creation, lest it come back to life. This promises to take some doing.
When theTime-Lifepublisher coined his famous phrase, his intent was to prod his fellow citizens into action. Appearing in the February 7, 1941 issue ofLife, his essay, “The American Century,” hit the newsstands at a moment when the world was in the throes of a vast crisis. A war in Europe had gone disastrously awry. A second almost equally dangerous conflict was unfolding in the Far East. Aggressors were on the march.
One point of note is that the illegal war of aggression in Iraq is not a war related to economics but to the strategic interests of Israel. Hudson, explaining American Imperialism, states that “unlike England the United States didn’t have to invade countries, at least before the oil grab in Iraq” and instead drained countries through the US monetary system. It’s revealing that he suggests Iraq as a change in economic policy, it was not about economics, the oil lobby in Washington didn’t want a war, they wanted an end to brutal sanctions to gain conventional access to the oil.
Robert Fisk reminds us of President Obama’s pre-election pledge to recognise the Armenian Genocide as thus. Since his inauguration and during his recent visit to Turkey Obama backtracked and downgraded his description to “great atrocities” like his predecessors George W Bush and Bill Clinton.
It was clever, crafty – artful, even – but it was not the truth. For in the end, Barack Obama dishonoured his promise to his American-Armenian voters to call the deliberate mass murder of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915 a genocide. How grateful today’s Turkish generals must be.
Genocide is what it was, of course. Mr Obama agreed in January 2008 that “the Armenian genocide is not an allegation… but rather a widely documented fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence. America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian genocide… I intend to be that President.” But he was not that President on the anniversary of the start of the genocide at the weekend. Like Presidents Clinton and George Bush, he called the mass killings “great atrocities” and even tried to hedge his bets by using the Armenian phrase “Meds Yeghern” which means the same thing – it’s a phrase that elderly Armenians once used about the Nazi-like slaughter – but the Armenian for genocide is “chart”. And even that was missing.
Time magazine reported 2 1/2 years ago that the FBI was investigating Representative Jane Harman, a Democrat, for allegedly agreeing to lobby the Department of Justice to reduce espionage charges against two officials at the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In exchange, Time reported, AIPAC would then lobby the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to appoint Harman as chair of the House Intelligence Committee if the Democrats captured the House after the 2006 elections. The story went nowhere. Nowhere, that is, until last week, when Congressional Quarterly broke a story (later confirmed by The New York Times) revealing that Harman had been heard in a several years old NSA wiretapped conversation talking with a suspected Israeli agent. Harman said she would “waddle” into lobbying the DOJ on the AIPAC case. The suspected agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi to get Harman her the coveted committee appointment. Harman ended the call, according to the news reports, saying “This conversation doesn’t exist.”
Why were the transcripts leaked now? And why is the story suddenly so hot?
If anybody feels like perspiring, I’d advise you to go ahead, because I’m sure going to. Greetings and congratulations to Kenyon’s graduating class of 2005. There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story [“thing”] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.