Sunday, April 09, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

The US is planning military action against Iran because George Bush is intent on regime change in Tehran -- and not just as a contingency if diplomatic efforts fail to halt its suspected nuclear weapons programme, it was reported yesterday.
In the New Yorker magazine, Seymour Hersh, America's best known investigative journalist, concluded that the Bush administration is even considering the use of a tactical nuclear weapon against deep Iranian bunkers, but that top generals in the Pentagon are attempting to take that option off the table.
[. . .]
There is also rising concern in the US military and abroad that Mr Bush's goal in Iran is not counter-proliferation but regime change, the article reports. The president and his aides now refer to the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as a potential Adolf Hitler, according to a former senior intelligence official.

Gareth noted the above from Julian Borger and Bob Tait's "US plans strike to topple Iran regime -- report" (Guardian of London). We're staying with this topic for a moment. Polly notes "US 'assessing air strike targets in Iran'" (Telegraph of London):

Iran has denounced as "psychological warfare" reports in the US media that America was updating its plans for possible air strikes against its nuclear facilities.
[. . .]
In an article in today's New Yorker veteran reporter Seymour Hersh reports that the Pentagon has begun deploying covert troops into Iran to survey possible targets.

James in Brighton notes Anne Penketh's "Target Iran: US hints at a new battlefront" (Independent of London) on the same topic:

In the West, public opinion is hardening against the prospect of a nuclear-armed Islamic republic. Inside Iran, the public has been galvanised by its leaders into mobilising in support of the country's nuclear programme.
The Iranian demonstrators are likely to be needed again in the light of a shock report by the authoritative journalist Seymour Hersh that the Bush administration is considering possible strikes by tactical "bunker-buster'' nuclear missiles able to destroy facilities deep underground.
According to his article in The New Yorker, the plans aimed at engineering regime change in Tehran have split the Pentagon top brass to such an extent that some officers have threatened to resign their posts.

Polly offers "UK dismisses talk of Iran attack" (BBC) on the topic with the twist of Jack STraw's assertions:

UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has dismissed reports of a possible US nuclear strike against Iran as "completely nuts".
He told the BBC there was no basis for any military action despite suspicions over Iran's nuclear programme.
US press reports say Washington is drawing up plans for attacks on Iran's nuclear sites. One article suggests the possibility of a nuclear strike.
Iran has said the reports are no more than a form of "psychological warfare".

Straw is, of course, speaking for Tony Blair and Blair carried water for the Bully Boy. (And more as noted to comic effect in George Michael's "Shoot the Dog" video). Staying with this topic for one more highlight, Kyle notes "US 'Seriously' Considering Nuclear Attack on Iran: Report" (

The administration of US President George W. Bush is looking "seriously" at striking Iran with tactical nuclear weapons, an option that has created misgivings inside the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and prompted some officers to consider resigning, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh says in a new report.
One of the Pentagon's initial option plans, as presented to the White House, calls for the use of a bunker-buster tactical nuclear weapon, such as the B61-11, against underground nuclear sites in Iran, Hersh writes in the April 17 issue of the New Yorker magazine.
One target is Iran's main centrifuge plant at Natanz, nearly two hundred miles south of Tehran.

Seymour M. Hersh's "THE IRAN PLANS" (The New Yorker) is the article everyone's talking about. Is this more Bully Boy bluster? He's got the blood lust, he's itching for another war . . .
Heath wanted "Bully Boy Itches for Another War" (The Third Estate Sunday Review) noted. Bully Boy's still attempting to find a "win" in Afghanistan and Iraq. While braver and wiser would grasp that a third war wasn't an option, few have ever noted wisdom in the Bully Boy and only lapdogs and fools ever saw bravery. Besides, he's noted it's a global war (which Cedric has stated means we're in WWIII) and the lust for new "markets" can't be underestimated.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

As another war is talked of, the war drags on in Iraq. And on the issue of markets, Karen notes Chris Floyd's "Global Eye: Beastly Behavior" (Moscow Times):

So now we are down to the raw meat at last. One by one, the justifications mouthed by the makers of the Iraq War have been stripped away, revealed as gossamer tissues of lies and obfuscation: weapons of mass destruction, Iraqi involvement in Sept. 11, reducing terrorism and, of course, bringing democracy to the Iraqi people. This last rag has been the one clutched most fiercely of late by the warlords in Washington and London, but now it too has been cast aside. All that's left is the naked, slathering beast of power, imposing its will on a conquered land -- and blaming its victims, even as it chews them to pieces.
This past week saw an astounding display of hypocrisy and bad faith by those twin towers of the U.S. establishment: the government (or rather, the unconstitutional military junta fronted by President George W. Bush) and the corporate media. Together they made it abundantly clear that the elite now regard Iraqis as ungrateful, useless trash, unfit to choose their own leaders -- and unworthy of the "great sacrifice" America has made in looting and savaging their country in an unprovoked war of aggression.

You can't create and "own" new markets without bullying. So again, we're left with profit motive. And the cost?

Last Sunday 2332 was the official number of US troops who have died in Iraq. Today? 2350.
What's the magic number that foces the US to withdraw? Well the administration has to factor the profit/loss margin and apparently enough haven't died for the "economics" to be questioned.
Civil war? That's not a concern, not a real concern to the administration. They'll get someone installed as prime minister who'll go more authoritarian on the people. You'll see more death squads (and isn't it interesting how they took hold when we implanted someone who was quite familiar with them in Central America). Can the subsidies to Iraqi people be cut more? Can the Iraqi oil industry be privatized? Those are among the "big" questions for the administration. Lost lives? Just a stolen vase to the administration. Rumsfeld would probably again falsely claim it was the fruits of "democracy."

See, think of it as "investment" and the debit column isn't all that troubling to the administration. Nor is the money poured in (tax payer money for an illegal war) because it's an investment. DK notes "'The War Is Bad for the Economy'" (Der Spiegel) where Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz weighs in on economic factors regarding Iraq:

SPIEGEL: Professor Stiglitz, at the beginning of the Iraq war, the United States administration was hoping to almost break even in terms of the costs ...
Stiglitz: ... they truly believed the Iraqi people could use their oil revenues to pay for reconstruction.
SPIEGEL: And now you are estimating the cost of war at levels between $1 trillion and $2 trillion. How do you explain this difference?
Stiglitz: First, the war was much more difficult than President Bush and his government expected. They thought they were going to walk in, everybody would say thank you, and they would set up a democratic government and leave. Now that this war is lasting so much longer, they constantly have to adapt their budget. It rose from $50 billion to $250 billion. Today, the Congressional Budget Office talks about $500 billion or more for this adventure.
SPIEGEL: That's still by far lower than your own calculations.
Stiglitz: The reported numbers do not even include the full budgetary costs to the government. And the budgetary costs are but a fraction of the costs to the economy as a whole. And compare this to Gulf War number one, where America almost made a profit!
SPIEGEL: Because Germany paid for it?
Stiglitz: Because Germans paid, because everybody paid. We got our allies to pay full price for used equipment, and we got to refurbish our military. This time, most of the other countries were not willing to do so again.
SPIEGEL: Did Bush just miscalculate, or was he misleading the public about the true costs of war?
Stiglitz: I think it was both. He wanted to believe it was not going to be expensive, he wanted to believe it would be easy. But there's also enormous evidence now that information channels into the White House were distorted. Bush wanted only certain information, and that's mostly what they supplied him with. Larry Lindsey ...
SPIEGEL: ... the White House's former top economic adviser ...
Stiglitz: ... gave -- back in 2002 -- a number of up to $200 billion. I think that was the most accurate inside information at the time. He was dismissed. They didn't want to hear it.

That's reality. Remember illusion? Such as the staged pulling down of the statue of Saddam (compared by Tom Brokaw to the falling of the Berlin wall)? Guess what today was? The anniversary of the staged photo op. They even had a p.r. tested name for it "Freedom Day."
Dominick notes Vanessa Arrington's "'Freedom Day' overshadowed by violence in Iraq" (Irish Examiner):

VIOLENCE in Iraq overshadowed a public holiday yesterday to mark the third anniversary of Baghdad’s fall to US forces. Iraqi police and soldiers had bolstered security in the capital to prevent attacks on 'Freedom Day', but roadside bombs claimed at least three lives across the country.

Skip notes Doug Lorimer's "IRAQ: US building six 'enduring’ bases" (Australia's Green Left Weekly) which is wonderful look at hype versus reality. We'll focus on this section:

The March 29 London Financial Times provided an example of how unreliable the puppet Iraqi army is. Citing comments from members of this army deployed with US troops in the Euphrates Valley town of Hit, the FT reported: "One weary veteran says two-thirds of his unit have gone absent without leave since it arrived in this western Iraqi town in September -- he too would have left if there were any jobs at home and his meagre pay were not the only way to support his family. 'There is no sense of respect in this army', adds a young sergeant, and the recruits piled into dilapidated bunk beds nod approval.
"'No one enlisted out of nationalism or principles. They signed up for the money', says one young officer ...
"One Iraqi officer says local leaders have suggested US and Iraqi forces withdraw and the community be allowed to police itself -- a strategy he endorses.
"Barring that, he says, the only way a conventional military force can handle insurgents is by doing what the Iraqi military has done in the past -- inflict wholesale collective punishment on the communities that shelter them."

One thing that I've noticed about the gasbags refusing to address the issue of withdrawal, they want "a plan." They say, "You don't have a plan." What is "the plan" for self-rule? They don't mean an aid plan, they don't mean anything like that. (Certainly they don't mean helping with reconstruction.) They mean "the plan" by which Iraq's government will operate. "The plan" for that?

How about self-rule. You know, democracy -- the thing we falsely claimed to be "exporting."

But that's not what's happened. What's happened is the illegal occupation has imposed rules and conditions. And of course, as always, economic models. Now the people had no say in those, their leaders had no real say. But the administration isn't interested in "liberation" (and never was), it's interested in markets. It's interested in dollars.

I'm not impressed or embarrassed by John Kerry's ten-point plan. It's sort of blah to me. Full of a lot of talk of deadlines (that would be imposed by the United States). It's kind of "jump through these hoops or else" "plan." Iraq will stand or fall according to the wishes, hopes and desires of the Iraqis. They live there, it's their home, they're entitled to self-rule. (As is everyone.) The occupation needs to cease, the troops need to return home. If Kerry's plan does that, fine. But it's a great deal like the IMF in that there are "deadlines." And you'll note the deadlines are for the Iraqis. There's no deadline in there for the occupying power. There's no deadline that states the United States will, for instance, have 35% of the hospitals in Iraq back up to pre-war levels within six months or the United States will leave Iraq. It's a "jump through our hoops, Iraqis" plan to me.

They're occupied and each week brings a new administration-outsourced reconstruction scandal. But the expectations are placed upon Iraqis, not upon the occupying power. Iraqi's didn't bomb their own infrastructure. But there are no expectations for the administration (other than to tell the truth -- which, sadly, does need to be put into Kerry's plan).

If it ends the occupation, great. Anything that ends the illegal occupation is appreciated. But the operating principles continue to be "Iraqis must do" while they've had no real power under the illegal occupation. Expectations for the occupying power are aims/goals/deadlines that are never thought of.

Brenda notes Gareth Porter's "Is U.S. Planning More Attacks on Shiite Militias?" (IPS):

Just before the operation against the mosque complex, which the U.S. military referred to as a "terrorist base", U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad hinted broadly that the United States would soon target the Shiite militias for the brunt of its operations.
"The militias haven't been focused on decisively yet," he declared, adding that militias were now killing more Iraqis than the insurgents. Khalilzad further pinpointed the Mahdi Army and its ties to Iran as the primary and most immediate U.S. concern.
Most of those killed in the raid by U.S. Special Forces and their Iraqi counterparts apparently worked for Muqtada al-Sadr's political-military organisation, the Mahdi Army. After the raid, moreover, the State Department spokesman said the incident underlined the need to free Iraq's security forces from sectarian control.
Militiamen loyal to al-Sadr have been implicated in many of the reprisal killings against Sunnis since the bombing of the Shiite mosque in Samarra last month. Al-Sadr's forces may also be targeted, however, because he has closer links to Iran than any other Shiite political figure.
On a visit to Tehran last January, al-Sadr declared, "The forces of Mahdi Army defend the interests of Iraq and Islamic countries. If neighbouring Islamic countries, including Iran, become the target of attacks, we will support them."
In a move evidently aimed at building popular support for a possible confrontation with the United States, ministers representing all three Shiite parties in the government united in denouncing the raid as a massacre. Even more significant, however, the "Shiite Islamist Alliance" has demanded the restoration of control over security matters to the Iraqi government.
That demand throws the spotlight on the continued de facto U.S. control over certain Iraqi military and military forces, in contrast to the formal independence of the Iraqi government and army and police. The Shiite leadership is now afraid that the United States plans to use that control to intervene in the sectarian political crisis of the country to reduce the power of the Shiites in the government.

Who's in charge in Iraq? The administration in the United States. It's been that way since the beginning of the illegal invasion and it reamins that way. It's why Bully Boy and Condi feel they can hector the current prime minister. It's from a sense of entitlement (and knowingly or not, John Kerry's plan operates under the same sense of entitlement). Iraqis are pawns in this equation, not players with power, not people with control over their own destinies. It's strange that the gas bags calling for "the plan" never seem to grasp that maybe Iraqis should come up with "the plan" for their country or that maybe their lengthy calls for the United States to leave should be heeded? Instead, war pornographers jerk off over strategies and ignore addressing the true nature of the occupation. Instead the administration continues to portray itself as a generous do-gooder that's doing all they can to help. That's not reality.

Reality is Ned's highlight. From Patrick Cockburn's "The War Gets More Grim Every Day" (CounterPunch):

A cruel and bloody civil war has started in Baghdad. A trio of suicide bombers disguised as women, explosives strapped to their bodies hidden by long black cloaks, killed 74 people and wounded over on Friday when they blew themselves up in a Shi'ite mosque in the capital.
One bomber came through the women's security checkpoint at the Buratha mosque in northern Baghdad and detonated explosives just as worshippers were leaving at the end of Friday prayers. Two other bombers then took advantage of the confusion to blow themselves up a few seconds later killing survivors who were trying to escape from the mosque.
The savage attack, the worst for months, came almost exactly on the third anniversary of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by American and British armies on April 9, 2003. The war was portrayed at the time as freeing Iraqis from fear but Iraqi officials have told me that at least 100 people are being killed in and around Baghdad every day.
The slaughter of Shi'ites in the Buratha mosque will probably lead to revenge attacks against Sunni Arabs whose community harbors the Salafi and Jihadi fanatics who see Shia as heretics, as worthy of death as Iraqi Christians or American or British soldiers. Ever since the bombing of the al-Askari shrine in Sammara on 22 February the Shia militias have retaliated whenever Shi'ites are killed.

Sidebar, bit of hope in the gloom, Billie reports that the crowd in Dallas today to protest the immigration law proposals was the largest Dallas had ever seen and that the police are estimating the number at between 250,000 and half a million. There was one arrest and there was also a police car that was hit . . . by a police van. The protesters were peaceful and she notes Domingo Garcia ("who is married to Dallas City Council person Elba Garcia") gave "a really impassioned speech." She'll be writing about that and other actions in the area for the gina & krista round-robin. She got a few pictures but says to note that Eddie was not present because he was covering neighboring Fort Worth's protests. The Dallas protest was downtown at City Hall and Billie says she's never seen so many people in one place. Gina and Krista would like to again make the focus of this Friday's round-robin on this activism going on around the country so if you have stories to share, please e-mail them. If you don't want to write up something, they're happy to interview members. Jess, Ava and I will be writing about it again for the round-robin and Cedric was taking pictures so there will be that. In addition, Betty and others attended a protest in another location and they'll be covering that in the round-robin. But if you weren't at a protest in your area, you can also check with friends, co-workers, etc. for their reactions because Gina and Krista are also interested in how the protests play out to people not participating.

We'll close by returning to Iraq via Pru's highlight, "US lied to cover up massacres in Iraq" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

The US has been caught trying to lay the blame for a massacre of Iraqi civilians on the resistance. The revelations come as reports of two new attrocities have surfaced.
The US claimed that one soldier and 15 Iraqi civilians -- including seven women and three children -- were killed by an insurgent attack on the town of Haditha in November.
But an investigation by Time magazine exposed the story as a lie. Time discovered that US troops went on the rampage through the town in revenge for the death of a Marine earlier that day.
Soldiers then tried to cover up the murders by claiming the civilians were killed by an insurgent bomb.
The revelation comes after the killing of 37 worshipers on 26 March during a US raid on a Shia Muslim mosque in eastern Baghdad.
The US claimed the men were killed after they fired on troops. But locals say that the men were executed by an Iraqi death squad under the control of a US officer.
The attack on the mosque came the day after Iraqi police published an official report on a massacre in the village of Abu Sifa, 37 miles north of Baghdad.
In that attack, which took place on 15 March, 11 civilians were killed, including four children and a six month old baby.
The report states, "US forces gathered the family in one room and executed 11 people, including five children, four women and two men, then they bombed the house, burned three vehicles and killed their animals."
© Copyright Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original and leave this notice in place.

The e-mail address for this site is