Monday, February 01, 2010

The war profiteers (including those on the 'left')

Of the past decade's political mysteries, none is deeper or of greater consequence than the set of decisions that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. On Friday, former British prime minister Tony Blair testified at the Iraq Inquiry, a commission set up by the British government to find out how that country went to war, and how the war was run. Given what we know, and what we still need to find out, it is more essential than ever that the U.S. conduct its own full examination of its involvement in Iraq.
The Iraq Inquiry, in its words, aims to "provide a reliable account of events that will help identify lessons to guide future foreign policy decision-making and decisions regarding conflict and post-conflict situations." The members include historians, former civil servants and an independent member of the House of Lords. Its remit extends to all relevant British government papers, ranging from the pre-Sept.-11 era to 2009.

The above is from the Globe & Mail's editorial "Iraq retrospective" and by their coverage, you will know them. So, for example, Amy Goodman reveals herself to be the two bit whore we all knew she was as she bores the world today with another 'movie' report while ignoring Tony Blair's testimony on Friday -- reducing it to a headline is ignoring it. The Dirty Ass Goody was more than happy to grandstand and, yes, fundraise off the illegal war. Why anyone in 'independent' media making over a million year (look at that contract with Pacifica -- where did all the Pacifica money go, into Goody's pockets) still needs to fundraise? Greed. Greedy Whores like Amy Goodman will return to the topic of Iraq . . . if she feels she can squeeze some more money out of it. Greedy, trashy Whores like Amy Goodman will always come sniffing if they smell a roll of currency. Today the New York Times offers an editorial on war profiteering in Iraq but we need to remember, it wasn't just the munitions makers, not just the weapons makers, it was the faux peace set, it was the pseudo activists. It is Amy Goodman, Norman Solomon, Tom Hayden and so damn many others who made like nobody's heart bled more on your TV and radio pretending to give a damn about the Iraq War -- the ongoing Iraq War -- whenever they had a book or movie on the topic to hawk or just wanted to encourage you to send money -- always, always send money. That's Panhandle Media for you. The ongoing Iraq War did not end but their interest in it did when they no longer could use it to make a buck. By their actions, you will know them. By their deeds, they will reveal themselves.

Reality, when someone writes an actual book -- not the clip jobs Goody, Tom-Tom, Normy and others have done -- they are consumed with the topic. The topic is a part of them and remains a part of them. These frauds wrote weak ass books, clip-jobs rushed out to cash in and make a fast buck. Pathetic. Need a laugh right now? Then think back to when Goody rode her Iraq Hobby Horse and used to hector the New York Times about "sins of omissions" -- then grasp that faux journalist Goody has spent over a week 'reporting' on movies -- has covered everything with segments and 'for the hours' except the Inquiry.

Friday War Criminal Tony Blair testified before the Iraq Inquiry in London. BBC News offers a roundup of newspaper coverage of Blair's testimony. The World (PRI -- link has text and audio) reported on Friday's hearing:

Protester: Tony Blair!

Protesters: War Criminal!

Protester: Tony Blair!

Protesters: War criminal!

Laura Lynch: Protestors gathered in the pre-dawn gloom with their verdict, Tony Blair, they shouted, is a War Criminal. Among them was American Jennifer Bromlick who focused her anger on both Blair and George W. Bush

Jennifer Bromlick: They should do something like this with Bush. I mean, Bush is ultimately responsible for this -- for the Iraq War, so.

Paul Waugh (Evening Standard) notes Tony Blair's going to be recalled by the committee as a result of "continuing doubts over some of the answers he gave at his appearance on Friday." Information Clearing House reposts reports by Nick Robinson (BBC) and Michael Billington (Guardian).

Today's witnesses include Air Chief Marshal Jock Stirrup. Channel 4 News' Iraq Inquiry Blogger has live blogged Stirrup's testimony. Richard James (In The News) notes that Stirrup continues giving testimony later today as does Gen Walker.

As noted above, the New York Times editorializes on war profiteering in Iraq and they zoom in on ADE651 which is the 'bomb detector' that the US military has long maintained doesn't work. The editorial, however, appears to exist in a vacuum. The wands apparently do not work (no surprise when to make them 'work' the operator has to pump their feet up and down as though marching before waiving the 'wand') so what the editorial board should be asking is (a) why weren't they pulled immediately, (b) why's Nouri calling for a faux 'investigation and (c) who authorized their use in the first place? Strategy Page floats this, "Apparently a large chunk of money Iraq paid for the ADE 651 was kicked back to the Iraqi officials who approved the sale. The ADE 651 is very cheap to make, and the manufacturer made a huge profit even after paying the bribes."

The Iraq War continues and so does the suffering. Press TV reports:

Iraq's Ministry for Human Rights will file a lawsuit against Britain and the US over their use of depleted uranium bombs in Iraq, an Iraqi minister says.
Iraq's Minister of Human Rights, Wijdan Mikhail Salim, told Assabah newspaper that the lawsuit will be launched based on reports from the Iraqi ministries of science and the environment.

March 7th, Iraq is supposed to hold national elections. The latest complication/snag (in a long series of them) is the witch hunt that Ahmed Chalabi and Ali al-Fali (both men insist they are not lovers and ask that people stop spreading those rumors and stop sharing those photographs) are conducting against various candidates and political parties from their cats seat on the extra-legal Justice and Accountability Commission. Saturday Lara Jakes (AP) reported that "Awakening" ("Sons Of Iraq," Sahwa) leader Ahmed Abu Risha is floating the notion of a Sunni boycott for the intended elections and he tells AP that Sunnis "will not care about the election, they will ignore it, maybe, if these decisions [bannings] stand." Today Aamer Madhani (USA Today) adds:

The Justice and Accountability Commission excluded more than 500 candidates with ties to the banned Baath Party that dominated politics during Saddam's regime. Most of the purged candidates are Shiites, but the most prominent are Sunnis, including Saleh Mutlak, a member of the parliament.
"They are calling this part of the de-Baathification process, but really it looks more like de-Sunnification," said Najim Abed al-Jabouri, a research fellow at the National Defense University in Washington. "This is a very dangerous move that could move Iraq backward."

Arthur MacMillan (AFP) reports US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill has finally grasped there is a problem and quotes Hill stating, "The people who don't think there were any mistakes made simply don't know much about what happened on the ground [. . .] We knew de-Baathification was going to be an issue. The process engages very deep emotions among Iraqis ... and is very much an ongoing concern."

In today's New York Times, Elisabeth Bumiller reports on the small efforts to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell -- including the Senate Armed Services Committee's hearing scheduled for noon tomorrow:

"This policy asked him to lie every day, and it was antithetical to everything he had learned in the military," Ms. Gillibrand said in an interview. In July she tried and failed to introduce a bill for an 18-month moratorium on discharges and instead said she asked Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who leads the Armed Services Committee, to hold a hearing on the issue.
Since then, Ms. Gillibrand has frequently told reporters that Harold E. Ford Jr., a former five-term Democratic congressman from Tennessee who is weighing a run for her seat, voted twice in favor of legislation to make same-sex marriage illegal. (Mr. Ford says he has changed his mind.)

In today's paper, Sam Dagher reports from Erbil on the Kurdistan oil. Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "If It Stared In Her Face" went up last night.

With protests in Tokyo calling for the US to leave Okinawa, we'll note Sherwood Ross' "Time to Set Okinawa Free" from a year ago (and I'm italicizing the entire article because bold is not working):

It’s way past time for the U.S. to get out of Okinawa -- and, for that matter, to take its Tokyo good buddies with it. Before Japanese warlords annexed the Ryuku islands in 1879, Okinawans enjoyed more freedom than they do today. Every liberty-loving American ought to be shouting: “Okinawa for the Okinawans!”

Right now, this Los Angeles-sized Pacific gem of 454-sq.-miles is Pentagon Tropical Paradise No. 1. It’s a land of martinis-and-honey where our 25,000 military personnel and their 23,000 dependents can live in high-rise splendor with housing allowances approaching $1,000 or more a month (plus cost-of-living perks), enjoy PX shopping as good as it gets, and tan on the exotic beaches as Kin Red and Kin Blue.

This comes at a price, though -- paid for by U.S. taxpayers and 1.3 million long-suffering Okinawans. The Pentagon has studded their island paradise with airfields, barracks, artillery and bombing ranges, ammunition depots, toxic chemical, depleted uranium (and nuclear bomb) storage dumps -- everything a demented mind could wish for to threaten modern civilization. These lethal chazzerei take up 20% of Okinawa’s acreage, swindled from its hapless owners by Uncle Sam without benefit of cash payment the same way Joe Stalin collectivized Soviet Russia’s farms.

What particularly galls the locals (85% of Okinawans polled want the Yanks o-u-t) is not just the presence of U.S. troops, mostly Marines, occupying their homeland, but the hundreds of ensuing rapes and sexual violations of their daughters, some as young as twelve. These have spurred vast anti-American demonstrations. The incidence of rape on Okinawa is twice that of the States and the Dayton Daily News reported the military has freed hundreds of U.S. sex offenders despite their court-martial convictions.

In March, 2008, Okinawans rallied in a baseball stadium to protest the latest child rape and, according to the Associated Press, “banners demanding the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops ringed the makeshift stage.” The AP noted that “problems with base-related accidents, crowding and crime are endemic.”

Okinawans can do little to stop this lawlessness: “When U.S. servicemen and their families commit crimes, they shall be detained by U.S. authorities until Japanese law enforcement agencies file complaints with the prosecutors’ office,” the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement(SOFA) states -- and by then the perps could be back in Hahira, Georgia.

Although the New York Times editorial page claimed “American military behavior in Japan has generally been good since the occupation in 1945,” between 1972 and 1995 U.S. service personnel were implicated in 4,716 crimes. At one point up to a third of the Third Marine Division was infected with venereal disease, prompting author Chalmers Johnson in “Blowback”(Henry Holt) to crack “one has to ask what the New York Times might consider bad behavior.” What’s more, Newsweek noted that when Okinawa poet Ben Takara surveyed girls at Futenma senior high, one-third to one-half of them said they had “scary experiences with U.S. soldiers on their way to school or back home.”

Approximately 75% of all U.S. forces in Japan (why, fellow taxpayers, do we keep any forces in Japan, why?) are concentrated on Okinawa, having less than one percent of Japan’s total land area, which “amounts to a permanent collusion of the United States and Japan against Okinawa,” Chalmers observes. The answer is found in Tim Weiner’s “Legacy of Ashes”(Anchor Books), who recalls Okinawa was “a crucial staging ground for the bombing of Vietnam and a storehouse of American nuclear weapons.” Weiner notes that when opposition politicians in 1968 “threatened to force the United States off the island” the CIA funneled big bucks into Japan to defeat them at the polls.

In short, Japan can conveniently dump the military burden of its U.S. defense pact on the backs of their captive Okinawans, with 14 military bases jammed onto its 70-mile-long expanse. (Japan itself has just eight U.S. bases.) This saddles Okinawa with the constant hullabaloo of jet warplane noise. (The Futenma base alone has 52,000 takeoffs and landings a year.)

Yoshida Kensei, former professor at Obirin University in Japan, and Asian Studies Lecturer Rumi Sakamoto of Auckland University, New Zealand, write that Okinawa is nothing more than a U.S. “military colony.” They want to rid the island of all “war cooperation” and reallocate its land to “agriculture, fisheries, and trade,” high tech, medicine and tourism. And they wouldn’t mind seeing Okinawans make some real cash by converting the U.S. bases into remunerative housing areas, commercial and industrial properties, and educational or research parks.

Author Johnson quotes editor Koji Taira of the Ryukyuanist as writing, “the incomes generated directly or indirectly by the bases are only 5 percent of the gross domestic product of Okinawa. This is far too small a contribution for an establishment sitting on 20 percent of Okinawa’s land…In effect, the U.S. and Japan are forcing on Okinawa’s economy a deadweight loss of 15 percent of its GDP every year.”

As Johnson concludes, “Okinawa is still essentially a military colony of the Pentagon’s, a huge safe house where Green Berets and the Defense Intelligence Agency, not to mention the air force and Marine Corps, can do things they would not dare do in the United States.”

(Sherwood Ross formerly reported for the Chicago Daily News and was a regular contributor to several major wire services. Reach him at

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