Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Iraq Was About WMD? No. Democracy? No. OIL??

Interestingly, no. The stakes are much higher than squabbles over a resource pie. The technology already exists to obviate the need for oil, as soon as it become inconvenient. Oil is a cover for a much larger game. Read on. Then check this site to better understand the twisted minds who would enact such barbarities.

Blue Ibis

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The Bush-Cheney Regime and U.S. Middle East Policy:
Radical Nihilists Driving Permanent War


Ronald Bleier
Bleier's Blog
Tue, 29 May 2007 14:10 EDT

As we move well into the fifth year of the Iraq war, a few brave voices are daring to suggest that the catastrophe that is now Iraq was not a result of a colossal mistake but is rather the result of conscious, deliberate intention.

The U.S. did not invade Iraq to establish "democracy" and to "free Iraqis". The U.S. invaded and destroyed Iraq in order to humiliate and divide Muslims - Arabs in particular - protect Israel's Zionist expansion and control Iraq's natural wealth.

I see the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld clique... as radical nihilists, bent on permanent war and destruction for its own sake. According to Wikipedia, one of the definitions of Nihilism is the irrational desire to destroy meaning, knowledge and value and it embraces suicide and mass murder.

"What I'm describing to the American people is this war on terror is going to take awhile, and Iraq is just a part of it."
----President George W. Bush, Interview with NPR/ Juan Williams, 1.29.07

When we look at the situation in Iraq today we see the destruction of a country and the unimaginable tragedy and suffering of tens of millions of peoples, only a tiny portion of which is reported in the mainstream media.

By way of acknowledging some of the nightmare that is Iraq today, I'd like to quote a portion of an email sent to me by a colleague in April 2007. My friend had just attended a lecture at MIT given by an Iraqi academic now teaching in England. According to my informant, women in Iraq today, fear going into labor at night because they are terrified they and their husbands will be killed on the way to hospital. EVERYONE fears going outside on the commonest of errands -- so much so that when people leave the house they say goodbye for the last time, since each time may well be the last.

Women are afraid to leave their houses and many if not most are simply house-bound. Schools and universities are non-functioning. University professors among this lecturer's circle of friends have taught two or three classes in the past YEAR because criminal gangs/the factions have targeted professors as well as non-university professionals (doctors for instance) and have been killing them wantonly.

Electrical grids and water supplies are still ravaged, with, for instance, no air conditioning in heats frequently at 120 degrees Fahrenheit (this affects women, children and family life in ways one can only imagine); queues for everything, including of course petrol - queues that give warring factions and gangs further killing opportunity.

By some estimates, excess Iraqi deaths since March 2003 exceed a million. More than 2 million Iraqis have been forced to flee the country, the bulk to Jordan and Syria, threatening their stability. Hundreds if not more of the cream of Iraq's professional and academic society, a bulwark against fascism have been victims of targeted assassination, similar in purpose and manner to Israeli targeted assassinations of Palestinian activists. This crime wave has forced thousands of their professional colleagues to join the massive refugee outflow.

There is also an enormous loss of blood and treasure to the coalition forces. One thing the losses on both sides have in common is the apparent disinterest and pitilessness of the Bush-Cheney clique to the enormous human and cultural and civic tragedy and suffering on all sides.

Several questions arise, chief among them: how long can this devastation continue? Due to a confluence of forces, not least consideration of Israeli interests, there is no consensus in Congress to put a brake on the war momentum that the Bush administration has achieved.

Perhaps the most useful question is still: Why did we go to war in the first place? As a springboard to my argument I'd like to use a fairly conventional and economical statement of the reasons for the Iraq war by Ghali Hassan, writing for the Global Research website. In his article, "Iraq's Death Squads: An Instrument of the Occupation," he begins, as he says, by stating the obvious.

The U.S. did not invade Iraq to establish "democracy" and to "free Iraqis". The U.S. invaded and destroyed Iraq in order to humiliate and divide Muslims - Arabs in particular - protect Israel's Zionist expansion and control Iraq's natural wealth.

The contradiction between Israel's goals and bringing democracy to the Middle East was also mentioned by NYT op ed columnist Robert Wright. He asks

What if the Iraqi people, once empowered by democracy, decided they didn't want their country to be a U.S. aircraft carrier? ... After all, America is bound to use bases on behalf of itself and key allies, and one key ally is Israel. What were the chances this would sit well with an Arab Muslim nation...

It's not for oil

A more controversial point raised by Ghali Hassan is the one about controlling Iraq's natural resources. One of the mantras of the anti-war left is that the invasion of Iraq has been and still is a war for oil. But is this correct? As a number of observers have pointed out, there's no evidence that oil was the Bush's administration's priority, nor that the oil companies were pushing for this war. Even Noam Chomsky, a major proponent of the war for oil theory has lately noticed that it seems that the war has, if anything, put Iraq's oil reserves in jeopardy. If the real goal of U.S. policy was to ensure a reliable and cheap oil supply they would have done everything in their power to keep Saddam Hussein in place. Bush and Cheney would not have embarked upon a policy that predictably would destabilize the region.

But why would the security conscious Bush administration embark on an illegal, wildly unpopular war if they knew in advance that it was going to destabilize a key region of the world? That they knew in advance is hardly open to question. Cheney himself as Secretary of Defense in the George H. W. Bush administration in 1991 argued that for the U.S. get involved in regime change in Iraq "strikes me as a classic definition of a quagmire."

As we move well into the fifth year of the Iraq war, a few brave voices are daring to suggest that the catastrophe that is now Iraq was not a result of a colossal mistake but is rather the result of conscious, deliberate intention. Nicholas Kristof's remarkable op ed column, entitled "Iran's Operative in the White House," where he wondered whether Bush administration policies which seemed to empower Iran's most hard-line elements were driven by "malice" or "ineptitude."

It may be helpful to consider whether the drive for Empire and the broad nature of what we mean by Imperialism, accurately describe the Bush administration's wars against Afghanistan and Iraq and the war many believe they still hope to initiate against Iran.

Observing the current chaos and devastation that is Iraq today, we can suggest that the purpose of the war was not to extend the American imperium or aggrandize U.S. Empire. Quite the opposite.

The day before the Bush clique took office in January 2001, the US was the world's only superpower, the strongest empire, the most powerful imperial nation in history. If Empire was all they wanted, they could have simply coasted for eight years, and they would have ended up perhaps even stronger than when they started. But the Bush-Cheney agenda was not passive and it had nothing to do with the painstaking work of carefully consolidating and adding to Empire.

The concern that the Bush administration is not about growing Empire, but about weakening it, perhaps fatally, was expressed by none other than President Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the foremost spokespersons for American Empire. In a mid March 2007 interview on NPR, Brzezinski warned that the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq might spiral into an utterly destructive war with Iran. Indeed, in February 2007, in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he surprisingly wondered out loud whether the Bush administration might deliberately provoke war with Iran by staging some sort of incident or provocation. Even more to our present purpose, he went on in the question and answer portion of his testimony to assert that the U.S.'s Iran policy has worked against its own interests. Brzezinski spoke of the "exceedingly hostile" U.S. attitude toward Iran which has gelled together a kind of residual national sentiment, particularly in support of the nuclear program.

And I think our policy has unintentionally- I hope unintentionally; maybe it was devilishly clever, but I think unintentionally
helped Ahmadinejad consolidate himself in power...
(emphasis added)

Why would Brzezinski broadly hint that the Bush administration might be intentionally shoring up support for the most hard line elements in Iran? Is he not suggesting that approach would ease their path to a disastrous war? Such a theory would also fit well with their otherwise arbitrary decision to include Iran as part of the Axis of Evil in 2002.

Had Bush and Cheney wanted to extend the U.S. Empire, they would have acted in a manner calculated to enhance their advantages and enrich their coffers. They would have acted for their perceived benefit and self-interest. If the priority in Iraq was self-interest, wholesale destruction of the invaded country would have been be avoided. Self-interest imposes limits on the Imperial power.

Confusion about Empire

One reason for popular confusion about Empire may be that an Imperial power typically uses its military might or the threat of its military might to extend, consolidate or preserve its empire. However true Empire builders characteristically are judicious in their use of the military. They generally shun the reckless profligacy and sheer waste that Bush-Cheney have exhibited. If Empire is to be advanced, not the use of power, but the threat of the use of power is often most effective. Empire builders typically use the tools of diplomacy; they forge alliances, employing the military only as a last resort. Empire builders would also work to strengthen the military, not tear it down and destroy it. They would devote adequate resources for training and equipping their military, and would seek to provide adequate health care if only for the purpose of maintaining the morale of current and incoming troops. Their privatization scheme for the military speaks volumes about their underlying motivations. Jeremy Schahill, the author of a recently published book on Blackwater, The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army (Nation Books) has asserted that the Bush administration has proven to be the most anti-military administration in history.

Stephen Smith/ The first days of the occupation

At the very beginning of the occupation of Iraq the Bush administration gave evidence that their intention was to destroy the country when they allowed or encouraged the ruin of Iraq's cultural heritage.

Six months after the occupation, Stephen Smith, writing for electronicIraq.net had sufficient perspective to point to this crucial issue and to suggest an appropriate theory.

Heavy suspicion remains that failure of the US to protect heritage sites, more than negligence, was a deliberate oversight designed as a kind of cultural 'shock and awe' that would devastate a sense of shared culture among Iraqis, leaving a blank page for the imprint of the US occupying force and the reconstruction to follow. If proven, this would be cultural genocide not witnessed during this civilization and indeed rarely experienced over the 7,000-year time span of these lost collections.

Smith quotes senior Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk who asks the appropriate questions.

"But for Iraq, this is Year Zero; with the destruction of the antiquities in the Museum of Archaeology and the burning of the National Archives and then the Koranic library, the cultural identity of Iraq is being erased. Why? Who set these fires? For what insane purpose is this heritage being destroyed?"

Both Smith and Fisk have suggested answers to their own questions. Yes, allowing the trashing of Iraq's cultural heritage was a deliberate oversight (if that's the right word) intended to reduce the country to a blank page, to year Zero. And Fisk also gets it right by suggesting that the purpose, to destroy Iraqi civil life, destroy its sense of cultural heritage was perhaps clinically insane in the sense that it cannot have any constructive purpose.

A war for Israel

Writing at the very beginning of the invasion in March 2003, conservative journalist Patrick Buchanan pretty much identified the purposes of the war.

"We charge that a cabal of polemicists and public officials seek to ensnare our country in a series of wars that are not in America's interests. We charge them with colluding with Israel to ignite those wars and destroy the Oslo Accords. We charge them with deliberately damaging U.S. relations with every state in the Arab world that defies Israel or supports the Palestinian people's right to a homeland of their own. We charge that they have alienated friends and allies all over the Islamic and Western world through their arrogance, hubris, and bellicosity.

If there is anything missing from Buchanan's argument it would be the deeper intention behind the war policy of the Bush administration. That intention, much easier to see today than in March 2003, is to bring Iraq back to Year Zero, to rub it out as a political and civil entity.

Activist and journalist Naomi Klein went to Baghdad in 2004 and published an article in Harper's Magazine (September 2004) entitled "Baghdad Year Zero." Her subtitle is: "Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of a neocon utopia." She attributes to one faction in the Bush administration the belief that "Iraq was so contaminated that it needed to be rubbed out and remade from scratch." She was right about the first part: the only thing the neocons - or the ones making policy in Vice President Cheney's office -- wanted to do to Iraq was to destroy it.

They have been called radical nationalists. But nationalists also have as their priority the self-interest of their nation or their tribe. I see the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld clique rather as radical nihilists, bent on permanent war and destruction for its own sake. According to Wikipedia, one of the definitions of Nihilism is the irrational desire to destroy meaning, knowledge and value and it embraces suicide and mass murder. Note the distinction between radical nationalists as they have been called and radical nihilists. Nationalists, for good or ill generally have an agenda of self aggrandizement or self interest, not self destruction.

We're in a better position now to answer the question: why did Bush and Cheney invade Iraq. They did it in pursuit of an endless war agenda. They used the terror events of 9/11 as their rationale to go to war against Afghanistan. From there they braved the tough uphill slog in the face of prodigious popular opposition to get to Baghdad. From Baghdad they may have assumed it would be downhill to Teheran, which as Hillary, and Obama and Edwards have assured us, is not off the table.

Counterintuitive

Needless to say it's counterintuitive to seriously consider a 21st Century American administration devoted to the destruction of all meaning, knowledge and value, the destruction of worlds. Such an agenda signals the exceptionalism of Bush and Cheney. The evidence indicates that theirs is an ideological, not a practical or realist or self-serving agenda since endless war is ultimately suicidal. If it's counterintuitive to view Bush and Cheney as determined on a path not for self interest but rather for destruction and endless war, that's in part because most of us see elements of ourselves in our government. In order to survive and thrive we are properly trained from an early age to work on behalf of our self interest. Those who don't tend to fall by the wayside and are typically weeded out from positions of power. However sometimes circumstances conspire, not least when the society is weakened by inner or outer challenges, to bring to the fore leaders who are very successful and at the same time utterly vicious and remorseless. One such 20th century leader who arose in just such circumstances was Pol Pot, the 1970s leader of the Kymer Rouge in Cambodia who did everything he could to destroy his country and kill millions of his countrymen.

Endless war - A public declaration

The case for a Bush-Cheney agenda for destruction should begin with their public statements, and their openly proclaimed policies. If we examine every single major and minor domestic and international policy initiative of the Bush administration from Iraq on down, we may find that they fit the pattern of deliberate destruction.

The Bush administration made no secret of their desire for endless war from the first moments after the terror events of 911. On message and unified almost as if they knew of the attacks in advance, they insisted that we were in a war on terror. The remedy, they urged could not merely be a police action: this was war.

As they consolidated a revolutionary, aggressive program of war, with no little assist from the anthrax attacks, the Bush-Cheney team were finally comfortable for the first time since they took office. Now they had something that they had sorely lacked earlier: an agenda. And a heady, action packed agenda it turned out to be: the Patriot act, two wars, enemy combatants, torture, indefinite detention, Guantanamo, suspension of habeas corpus, warrantless wiretapping, the evisceration of the positive role of virtually all government agencies, illegal massive surveillance of mail, phone and email traffic; construction of concentration camps, a doubling of their inherited military and secret agencies budgets, the hyper trashing of health, safety and environmental regulations, the destruction of the economy through their targeted tax cuts and corporate giveaways - what did I leave out?. Note that their entire agenda has been one of destruction of civil life everywhere, leaving only a police state to enforce their revolutionary and widely unpopular policies.

There is an abundance of circumstantial evidence indicating that the violence and the inability to pursue normal civil and political life that characterizes Iraq in 2007 is a result of deliberate planning, not the result of miscalculations or misjudgments. We can begin with two high profile actions taken by Paul Bremer that dramatically turned the invasion into a tragic occupation. .

The context of Bremer's still unsatisfactorily explained actions is Bush's early cashiering of General Jay Garner who was the first official chosen to lead the post-war reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Garner began his tenure in March 2003. He hoped to implement early elections, 90 days after the fall of Baghdad with a view to an independent Iraq. Garner said: "I don't' think [Iraqis] need to go by the U.S. plan.... it's their country... their oil."

Less than two months later, in May 2003, Paul Bremer who was selected to head the Coalition Provisional Authority replaced Garner. Bremer immediately scotched the plan for early elections, and by the time he left, about 13 months later, he did just about as much damage to Iraq as someone in his position could manage.

Less than a month after he took office, Bremer issued Order Number 2, in effect disbanding the Iraqi army and putting 400,000 Iraqi soldiers out of work. This immediately created a large pool of disgruntled armed youths for the insurgency. (Wikipedia)

Secondly, he fired thousands of schoolteachers and removed Ba'ath party members from top government positions. The effect was to rob the country of its most experienced people who could have played a key role if reconstruction was the goal.

Covert Death Squads

We move now to the covert aspect of the Bush-Cheney plan for Iraq. One particularly telling pattern of actions is evident from the title of Ghali Hassan's paper, "Iraq's Death Squads: An Instrument of Occupation." If such a pattern of activity could be demonstrated it would go far toward subverting the mainstream notion that victory means putting an end to sectarian violence since it would be evident that the coalition forces are covertly driving the violence, largely through their sponsorship and direction of both Shia and Sunni death squads.

Gali Hassan summarizes the situation when he writes that the aim of the campaign of assassinations and the activity of the death squads " is to create a climate of terror and incite civil war among Iraqis in order to justify the Occupation of Iraq and the fraudulent "war on terror."

A.K. Gupta

A. K. Gupta is a freelance writer and editor of the Indypendent in NYC has written several articles for Z Magazine on the militias. In "Iraq: Militias and Civil War: "The Pentagon is using militias in sectarian battles," (Z Magazine, December 2006) he explains that the rise of the militias is a disincentive to the Iraqi national police and army forces. He explains that by one means or another Iraq's national forces are starved of resources and allowed to deteriorate to the point of uselessness. Instead of creating a process insuring accountability and transparency, and instead of seeking out strong and dedicated Iraqi leaders, the U.S. has overseen a system where corruption has become an integral part of the process. In the end recruits aren't paid for months, training isn't adequate. As a result recruits leave in droves and those who stay are unreliable and have little or no loyalty to a national force.

Gupta explains that the militias were organized and overseen by the U.S. military to step into the vacuum left by the national forces. They were originally deployed against the Sunni resistance but have since been involved in Shia against Shia violence, particularly U.S. backed Shia militias fighting against the nationalist al-Sadr forces.

Gupta and others also document the involvement of U.S. personnel who have played key roles. One of these is Steven Casteel, is identified by Gupta as the "federal overseer of the effort" to train the Iraqi police. A veteran of the Latin America's dirty wars, Casteel's name, Gupta writes,

keeps surfacing in reference to militias. While Casteel was referred to as the "senior advisor" to the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, this was just a euphemism. Like other Americans serving as "senior advisors" to Iraqi ministries under the Coalition Provisional Authority, Casteel was actually running the ministry until the CPA went out of business on June 28, 2004.

Max Fuller

Max Fuller, a researcher who writes regularly for the Global Research website has also been tracking evidence of U.S. involvement and direction of Iraqi militia and death squad activity since at least 2005. In "For Iraq The Salvador Option Becomes Reality, " and in a follow up article the same year, "Crying Wolf: Media Disinformation and Death Squads in Occupied Iraq," , he presents evidence that the bitter spiral of sectarian tit for tat Shiite Sunni death squad style killings that is making civil life impossible for most Iraqis is an organized campaign driven by the occupation forces.

He notes for example the case of Yasser Salihee, a journalist for Knight Ridder who investigated the steady stream of extra judicial killings in 2004 and 2005. Salihee describes what happens to the death squad victims.

"Characteristically the victims' hands are tied or handcuffed behind their backs and they have been blindfolded. In most cases they also appear to have been whipped with a cord, subjected to electric shocks or beaten with a blunt object and shot to death often with single bullets to the head." Investigating the bodies, Salihee found that eyewitnesses claimed many of the victims were seized by men wearing commando uniforms in white Toyota Land Cruisers with police markings." Three days after Salihee's last article was published on June 27, 2005, he was fatally shot by a U.S. sniper at a routine checkpoint." Max Fuller concluded.

What is possible is that both sides of the apparent sectarian violence are run as part of a huge CIA-lead intelligence operation designed to split Iraq at the seams. I tentatively suggest that the intelligence apparatus at the Interior Ministry is contriving attacks on Sunnis and that British and US special forces in conjunction with the intelligence apparatus at the Iraqi Defence Ministry are fabricating insurgent bombings of Shias.

In his most recent article on the subject, published in March 2007, Fuller's subtitle is "Proof of US orchestration of Death Squads Killings in Iraq, He cites two survivors of the notorious Jadiriyah detention facility which was infamously raided by U.S. troops in November of 2005 when they discovered some 170 detainees suffering from "horrific conditions, many of them clearly the victims of obscene tortures."

Despite the wide publicity of this incident, amazingly the prisoners were returned to Iraqi custody, proof Fuller thinks of U.S. involvement in the death squads. One victim was distinguished Professor of Pedagogy, Professor Samaree [first name not given] whose condition was so bad when the Americans found him, that he and a dozen others were taken to a local hospital. Afterwards Professor Samaree, one of whose sons resides in the States, like the others was to be returned to prison, but he managed to escape. He subsequently fled to Europe where he is claiming political asylum.

Another Jadiriyah survivor, Abbas Z. Abid, was arrested in August 2005 and spent 14 months in prison before he was finally released in October 2006, having undergone imprisonment and torture eleven months after the U.S. intervention. Fuller claims that such accounts demonstrate U.S. complicity.

These stories, and relevant accompanying information, published by the Brussels Tribunal were offered, Fuller writes, to a range of mainstream media organizations such as the New Yorker, the New Statesman, the Independent, The Big Issue and Z Magazine, all of whom rejected it. Fuller concludes that the Jadiriyah story was "simply off the agenda." One can understand why the right wing and the mainstream center would find them off-putting. But why would a radical left organ like Z Magazine also find such evidence discomforting. Perhaps because it would raise difficult questions about the U.S. mission in Iraq.

Conclusion

A less blinkered view of the dynamics of the violence in Iraq would make it easier to respond to critics who argue that if we withdraw, chaos if not genocide will follow. The nugget of truth in such a response is that so much depends on how we leave, assuming that we can muster the political will to do what the American people and the international community demand. If there were good will on the American side it's not beyond the abilities of diplomats to arrange for example for a serious international conference which might deal with the most critical issues. Needless to say, no positive action can take place with a U.S. presence in the country. Total withdrawal will always be the first requirement.

The harder question is what do we do about Israel's needs. Leaving Iraq to the Iraqis, while it could not for the foreseeable future pose a security threat to Israel by any stretch of the imagination, would be perceived as a defeat for them, for the power of the Israel Lobby and for the right wing and the neocons.

Withdrawal would not be such a terrible conundrum if Israel's interest in dominating the Middle East were not at stake. Since Israel has such power to press its interest within and without of the U.S. government, it's difficult to see now how we extricate ourselves, not to mention how we begin to put things right in Iraq. One thing we can do is look clearly at the evidence exposing the source of much of the violence.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The New Question: WWJK???

Oh that it were a joke. Falwell has been sent off by his sheeple to moulder in false hopes of "the glorious return of Jay-sus" (not!). Part of the legacy of this hateful man and his evil ilk is fostering the mindset of millions of Americans that non-evangelical "christians" are less than human and bound for the fiery lake. When a human being becomes an "it", they may be extinguished without a second thought. We've seen the Germans crush the Jews, and now the Israelis crushing the Palestinians, and the leaders of the Christian right (who are neither) are ready to take out all who do not conform to their ideology.

Blue Ibis
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Who Would Jesus Kill?

Doug Bandow
AntiWar.com
Sun, 20 May 2007 10:30 EDT

©

Religion, not patriotism, truly is the last refuge of the scoundrel. While most believers want to worship God and serve their fellow human beings, a few people twist the sacred for personal and political profit. Indeed, claiming that "God is on my side" plays the ultimate trump in any dispute.

Yet ambitious fraudsters are usually found out. More dangerous are those who genuinely believe that they are commanded to do ill. When bad policy is perceived as divine dogma, innocent people inevitably suffer.

So it has been with the Iraq war. Some self-professed Christians have so fervently backed the conflict that they might as well be sporting wristbands emblazoned with the slogan, "Who Would Jesus Kill?"

Today most people of faith believe that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. The strongest opposition, according to a recent Gallup poll, comes from black Protestants, 78% to 18%, and Jews, 77%-21%. Catholics followed, with 53% to 46%.

But Mormons backed the war, 72% to 27%. White Protestants continued to support the conflict, 55% to 43%. Evangelicals have been among the Bush administration's most consistent backers. Although even their support for the war has dropped, last fall 58 percent of evangelicals still endorsed the invasion.

Moreover, many of the most important and visible members of the Religious Right, from the late Jerry Falwell to Pat Robertson of the 700 Club to James Dobson of Focus on the Family to Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention, backed President George W. Bush's decision to go do war. The image is jarring: followers of the Prince of Peace enthusiastically advocating war, celebrating the decision to loose death and destruction upon other peoples.

The problem of war has long bedeviled Christendom. Pacifism is the most consistent Christian response. But pacifism does not prevent war or end violence. It only changes who triumphs after violence is unleashed.

In some cases, where war was begun over essentially frivolous causes between largely civilized powers with extremely limited ends, nonresistance might be the best, that is, least harmful, policy. However, in cases of aggression by evil, malignant powers, pacifism would expand the scope and magnify the consequences of evil. Unfortunately, war almost always presents Christians with difficult moral choices in complex geopolitical situations.

The ancient doctrine of "just war" should aid Christians in making such judgments. War must be a last resort; the authority waging war must be legitimate; the force employed must be proportional to the injury; non-combatants must not to be targeted; the war must be fought to redress a wrong; there must be a reasonable chance of success; the ultimate goal must be to reestablish peace. Unfortunately, however, though these principles are sound, they have been routinely used by war advocates to justify even the most dubious conflicts. Including Iraq.

Instead of critically reviewing the case for and against invading that nation, many evangelicals blithely accepted the Bush administration's war rationale. They implicitly trusted the president, their co-religionist, relying on the administration's dubious (and quickly discredited) claims.

For instance, Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson cited administration arguments in explaining that just war theory should be "stretched" to include preemption of terrorism. He added: "Of course, all of this presupposes solid intelligence and the goodwill of U.S. and Western leaders." Alas, it turns out that such intelligence was entirely lacking.

Richard Land pointed to Hussein's development "at breakneck speed of weapons of mass destruction he plans to use against America and her allies" and the "direct line from those who attacked the U.S. [on 9/11] back to the nation of Iraq." Of course, both claims were false.

Other evangelical leaders made a humanitarian case for war. James Dobson argued that "we are faced with another brutal tyrant. Saddam Hussein must be stopped. Appeasement of tyrants is never successful." Gary Bauer, Chairman of Campaign for Working Families, observed that "Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a hell hole of torture and mass murder" and that "he allowed Iraq to become a safe haven for terrorists."

Rev. Falwell entitled one article "God is Pro-War." Until Christ's return, he contended, "Christians must live as Galatians 6:2 instructs: 'Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ'." Charles Stanley, pastor of Atlanta's First Baptist Church, argued that there are "biblical grounds" for a government to go to war "to liberate others in the world who are enslaved."

Scripture does tell believers to lay down their lives for others. But it does not instruct Christians to lay down other people's lives, as in taking the nation into war. Believers get no credit from instructing other people to do the sacrificing. Moreover, the consequences of the Iraq war and occupation - horrific violence and hundreds of thousands of deaths - is anything but humanitarian.

A number of religious leaders now rely on a bootstrap argument: the U.S. cannot leave because of what Iraq has become after the president followed their earlier advice to invade. That is, Washington must clean up the geopolitical mess that it created. In this view, the explosion of terrorist activity and sustained slaughter means the U.S. obviously cannot (and perhaps never can) leave. Said James Dobson of President Bush: "When it comes to the threat of terror, he gets it." Richard Land contended that evangelicals "want Iraq to become a stable democracy and they're not willing to give up yet."

But the Bible emphasizes the importance of wisdom, which naturally leads to prudence in making public policy. Indeed, James explained: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." (James 1:5) The exercise of this wisdom suggests that the continuing occupation of Iraq is creating more terrorism and more deaths. Godly wisdom also counsels against increasing human sacrifice on behalf of goals that appear to be growing ever more distant.

Some on the Religious Right emphasized politics over policy. D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church denounced war opponents: "Why any churchman would choose to support [Saddam Hussein's regime] rather than to support our own president, I don't know." Pat Robertson, who previously had kind words for African dictators Mobutu Sese Seko and Charles Taylor, announced in late 2005 that "carping criticism" of President Bush "amounts to treason." Although scripture enjoins prayer for and obedience to the political authorities, it does not demand blind support for bad, indeed, catastrophic (and arguably immoral), policy decisions by those leaders.

Finally, a desire to spur evangelism may have animated some on the Religious Right to back the war. Roberta Combs of the Christian Coalition argued in November 2003: "In the new country, under the new democracy, why should the official religion be Muslim? I think as Iraq becomes a democracy, there are going to be a lot of churches springing up." Although a bevy of Christian ministries moved into Iraq after the U.S. invasion, the subsequent explosion of violence has ended most organized proselytizing. Moreover, as many as half of Iraq's historic Christian community has fled the country in response to rising persecution. In short, Christians are now among the biggest victims of U.S. policy.

Obviously, people of good will can differ on the justification for any war, including Iraq. Christians can legitimately, though unpersuasively, in my view, believe that this war was necessary and just. However, the pro-war claims by leading representatives of American evangelicalism are embarrassing - actually, shockingly humiliating - after four years of war. Especially since few of the religious warriors even now are willing to reflect on the wisdom of their support for a war that has failed disastrously. For the most part, big-name evangelicals continue to believe that there was nothing wrong with initiating aggressive war against Iraq. Rather, they essentially see the problem as Washington's failure to kill enough Iraqis. (Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals was one of the few to be pained by the consequences of the war. Richard Land argued that the problems in Iraq were caused by an inadequate number of troops. Several other war advocates refused to respond when I contacted them.)

The evangelical community has softened a bit in its support for the war, but it remains among the deepest reservoirs of administration support. While the war may have dampened turnout last fall, most conservative Christians stuck with the administration. Those who drifted away did so out of disgust with the Mark Foley scandal or GOP spending abuses more than because of Iraq. After the election white evangelicals were far more likely to cite values than the war as the most important election issue.

Further evidence of conservative Christian enthusiasm for the Iraq war is surprising support for Rudy Giuliani for president. More white Protestants back Giuliani than the other leading Republicans even though he is a social liberal. They point to his tough attitude towards terrorism, apparently conflating Iraq with efforts to prevent new terror attacks.

Continuing conservative Christian support for the war centers around three arguments: 1) terrorists must be defeated; 2) freedom must be guaranteed for the Iraqi people; and 3) Israel must be safeguarded. The sad irony is that the war makes all three goals harder to achieve.

Iraq has created a cause celebre that has spurred terrorist recruitment, both of Iraqis and jihadists in nations around the world, including Britain, Indonesia, and Spain, all of which have suffered devastating terrorist attacks. Iraq also has created a perfect training ground for urban terrorism; the problem is likely to worsen so long as the U.S. occupies the country.

America's presence in Iraq has not and will not create a liberal, capitalist, democratic state. The primary problem for Iraq is sectarian division, not terrorism, which is exacerbated by the U.S. occupation. Ultimately, only the Iraqis will be able to find the path to peace and unity. Washington erred in believing that it could impose a Western political order on Iraq, that the latter possessed the underlying civic culture and civil institutions necessary for a functioning liberal democracy. Unfortunately, the U.S. invasion unleashed untold death and violence rather than civic mindedness and religious tolerance. Washington must not commit the further mistake of assuming that a continuing military occupation can create the necessary culture and institutions.

As for Israel, there is no special Christian duty to what is, after all, a secular nation ruled by atheists. Modern Israel shares geography with ancient Israel, nothing more. Anyway, Israel is a regional superpower capable of deterring any of its neighbors; many proud Israelis bridle at the image of their nation as a helpless pygmy requiring Washington's protection.

Israel's primary problem is internal: how to maintain a state that is both Jewish and democratic while occupying territory containing several million Muslim Palestinians. Christian supporters of Israel face the same conundrum, since the dictates of Biblical justice apply to Palestinians no less than to Israelis. The path to peace is never going to be easy, but by stoking Islamist passions the U.S. occupation of Iraq inflames still further Arab antagonism towards Israel and increases the terrorist forces likely to turn their eventual attention to Israel. Indeed, many Israelis today fear the spread of al-Qaeda to the territories, perhaps the one Muslim area yet free of bin Laden's pestilent activities.

All of these arguments, then, recommend an American withdrawal from Iraq. The administration's case for continued occupation is based on the same ideological fantasies which led to the initial invasion. The Bush administration and its neoconservative Greek chorus have been wrong about every issue - Iraq's WMD threat and terrorist ties; the reception to be accorded U.S. troops; the popularity of Iraqi exiles maneuvering for power; the number of American soldiers and amount of American money necessary for reconstruction; the willingness of other nations to aid the U.S. effort; the evolution of a tolerant and liberal Iraqi democracy; and the spread of pro-American democracies throughout the Middle East. No one should treat seriously the administration's latest promises of progress in Iraq. American evangelicals, in particular, should stop being fooled simply because the president shares their theology.

Of course, Iraq is not the only foreign policy issue for the Religious Right. Many of the movement's forays into international issues have been modest - backing legislation to pressure North Korea on human rights and combat AIDS in Africa. Evangelicals such as Richard Land also are pressing immigration reform which combines improved border control with legalization of the millions who already have entered America.

However, religious conservatives increasingly are promoting military action abroad. More than a century ago President William McKinley claimed that he prayerfully decided to seize the Philippines after ousting Spain in the Spanish-American war - an occupation resulted in hundreds of thousands of needless deaths among Filipinos who resisted U.S. imperialistic control. But later it was religious progressives who seemed most enthused about war, enthusiastically campaigning for Woodrow Wilson's supposed crusade for democracy in World War I, for instance.

Today, however, some evangelicals promote conflict all over. A number of Christians put the interests of Israel ahead of those of America. (A more benign interpretation is that they view the most extreme policies of Israel's Likud party as also benefiting the U.S., but the practical consequences are the same.) So-called Christian Zionists demand that Washington support Israel irrespective of its actions, so long as Israel is expanding at the expense of surrounding Arab populations. For instance, evangelical leaders ranging from John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel, to James Dobson did more than just support Israel's invasion of Lebanon; they urged Israel to attack more broadly and fiercely.

Some evangelicals also target Iran. Dobson, trading his expertise in family psychology for opinions in foreign policy, recently compared Iran's president to Adolf Hitler. Dobson then proclaimed: "somebody ought to be standing up and saying, 'We are being threatened and we are going to meet this with force - whatever's necessary'."

Intervention in Sudan, though predominantly a left-wing cause, also has gained traction among the Religious Right. Last October a couple of dozen evangelical leaders, including such Iraq war enthusiasts as Richard Land, signed a letter supporting military action in Sudan. So does Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), the evangelical turned Catholic running for president.

A preference for hawkish intervention influences other political issues. For instance, last fall Concerned Women of America called for the confirmation of John Bolton as UN ambassador. Although well-qualified for the post, Bolton is highly controversial, a partisan lightening rod loved by the right and detested by the left. CWA cited Bolton's "background and credentials," leaving unexplained why his appointment was a religious issue.

None of these positions is ipso facto illegitimate. But Christians should be particularly humble before advocating war. War means killing, of innocent and criminal alike. It means destroying the social stability and security that creates an environment conducive for people to worship God, raise families, create communities, work productively, and achieve success - in short, to enjoy safe and satisfying lives. Wars rarely turn out as expected, and the unintended consequences, as in Iraq, often are catastrophic.

Indeed, in Iraq the U.S. has essentially killed hundreds of thousands of people in the name of humanitarianism. Christians, even more than their unbelieving neighbors, should be pained by the horror of sectarian conflict unleashed by the actions of their government with their support. Believers especially should eschew nationalistic triumphalism in pursuit of war. And when they err, like predicting health, wealth, liberty, and happiness in occupied Iraq, they should acknowledge fault - and seek forgiveness. At the very least they should exhibit humility before saddling their white horses to begin another crusade.

Thankfully, some religious activists have begun to fight for the political soul of Christian warrior wannabees. There is a small evangelical religious (and antiwar) left, represented by Jim Wallis of Sojourners magazine, for instance

The website Believers Against the War warns: "many of God's people have forsaken the gospel of Christ and turned their hearts toward the corrupted teachings of men. Political allegiances have been bought in exchange for the love of sound doctrine - many are being led astray." The group advocates that believers "learn what the Bible has to say about peace," talk to their ministers, protest against the war, contact legislators and journalists, learn about the military, and pray. Believers against the War asserts simply: "The war in Iraq is ungodly, immoral, and unconstitutional - and we should pull all of our combat troops out immediately!"

Another like-minded group is KingdomCitizenship.org. Founder Timothy L. Price is no pacifist, but understandably worries that "to America's enemies, Jesus, who is the alleged focus of Christianity, becomes the advocate of the invaders as He was in the Crusades." Price appropriately asserts "the Kingdom of God as wholly separate from America or its interests."

There is no one Christian foreign policy. Christians and other people of faith can legitimately disagree about the validity of war, including Iraq, and its consequences. But by any measure Iraq today is a disaster, the product of a very un-Christian mix of callousness, ignorance, partisanship, selfishness, incompetence, and hubris. The experience in Iraq should prompt religious conservatives to step back in humility and reconsider their tendency to confuse ideology with theology, and politics with faith. The debacle in Iraq has discredited much of America's political establishment, but perhaps none more than members of the Religious Right. Followers of the Prince of Peace should be particularly ashamed of serving as the apostles of war.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cindy Sheehan & George Tenet: Worlds Apart

Once again, Cindy Sheehan speaks for all mothers.

Blue Ibis

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Cindy Sheehan: Needless Carnage (And the Beat Goes On)

Cindy SheehanCommonDreams.org
Thu, 10 May 2007 16:19 EDT


My son, Jon Michael, is the best son a dad can have. He will always be my pride and joy.
- George Tenet: Former Director of Central Intelligence, 'At the Center of the Storm' (Page 520)
I had difficulty making the purchase of George Tenet's new book. With a multi-million dollar advance already, I didn't want to contribute to someone who has already profited so obscenely from other people's dead children. This self-congratulatory, buck-passing book was even more difficult to read. But when I came to the last paragraph and read the above quote about Tenet's precious son, Jon Michael, I began to cry in my uncomfortable airplane seat.

I believe that Casey was the best son a mom and dad could have. He was our first: our immense pride and joy. Casey served his church in one capacity or other from the time he was eight years old to the day he died at the Palm Sunday Mass he attended the morning of his murder in an ambush. He was an Eagle Scout, an honor student, a trusted friend, a loving big brother and the best son a mom could have. The above paragraph reads like an obituary because Casey is dead, in part, because of Tenet's support of a president whom he has great "affection" for.

"Condi we have a problem." Tenet thusly begins the chapter on the "Sixteen Words." The sentence that justified an illegal war of aggression was: "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The CIA was successful in making the White House take these words out of a Bush speech in October, 2002 - but when the words, that EVERYONE knew were lies were included in the 2003 State of the Union speech shortly before shock and awe, Tenet did not publicly stand up, do the right thing, and refute the claim. As a matter of fact, knowing that all the facts were false and/or skewed, he sat behind Colin Powell when the then Secretary of State lied to the United Nations, thereby giving the false statements more credibility.

George Tenet also praises George Bush for taking so much time with his son, Jon Michael, to help him through the rough times that can come being the son of a DCI - George B. should know since he was the son of another dishonest DCI. George T. knew with his brain and heart that the invasion of Iraq was wrongly justified, but he allowed this country to rush headlong to the inevitable disaster. By his silence (and "Slam Dunk" cheerleading) he is complicit in the deaths of almost 3400 "best" sons and daughters of other moms and dads. How can Tenet look into the eyes of Jon Michael and not see the extinguished heart-lights of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi humans? How can he and the killer neo-cons live with their own selves and sleep at night without being haunted by the souls of those their crimes have needlessly killed? Why is Jon Michael not in boot camp?

In Tenet's confession of incompetence and connivance he also calls George Bush's chief of staff, Andrew Card, the most "honorable" man he has ever known. This is the same Andy Card who formed and led the White House Iraq Group which was an "internal working group" whose task was to "sell" the invasion of Iraq to a gullible American public and included other "honorable" people such as: Scooter Libby, Karen Hughes, Condi, Stephen Hadley, and Bush's Brain, Karl Rove. This group "leaked" false intelligence "news" to such friendly reporters as Judith Miller, formerly of the NY Times, and came up with such deliberately misleading terms as "smoking gun" and "mushroom cloud."

In a much publicized letter, my friend, Ray McGovern, and other retired CIA intelligence analysts called for Tenet to return his Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he unequivocally refuses to do in any interview I have seen him give recently. I agree with George T., he "earned" his medal by his silence and his co-recipients that year, Jerry Bremer and General Tommy Franks, Ret., also earned their medals for their callous incompetence. The three did the jobs their president set out for them to do. The Presidential Medal of Freedom has about as much validity as our corrupt elections, the corrupt 9-11 commission, the corrupt Congress, the corrupt corporate media and our own Constitution that has been thoroughly corrupted, disobeyed, ignored and trampled on by everyone in the Bush regime and most Congress-folks who complacently go along with this abduction of our American Republic. Let George Tenet keep his little medal. He knows why he received it: it was payment for rolling over like an abused dog that submissively offers his belly and licks the hand of the master who beats him.
For all of these "honorable" people, their lies, their avarice, their cruelty, and yes, their treasonous pre-meditated war, my son, and hundreds of thousands of others are dead or mentally or physically wounded. A country is being destroyed on a daily basis and BushCo is still roaming free to commit their high crimes against humanity.

Sitting Presidents or Vice Presidents cannot legally be sued for what they do in office, but, as far as I know, there is no such prohibition about suing a disgraced DCI.

Is there a lawyer out there in cyber-land who wants to represent families in a wrongful death/injury class-action suit against George Tenet? Contact me, please: CampCaseyMom@yahoo.com.


Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan who was KIA in Iraq on 04/04/04. She is a co-founder and President of Gold Star Families for Peace and the author of two books: Not One More Mother's Child and Dear President Bush.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Empire Abroad . . . . .

Remember how it was said that the sun never set on the British Empire? Ok, so you slept through history. Well the US is the new empire. Liz would be proud. I'm ashamed.

Blue Ibis

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Why there was no exit plan


Lewis Seiler, Dan Hamburg
San Francisco Chronicle
Wed, 09 May 2007 07:17 EDT

"There are people in Washington ... who never intend to withdraw military forces from Iraq and they're looking for 10, 20, 50 years in the future ... the reason that we went into Iraq was to establish a permanent military base in the Gulf region, and I have never heard any of our leaders say that they would commit themselves to the Iraqi people that 10 years from now there will be no military bases of the United States in Iraq." - former President Jimmy Carter, Feb. 3, 2006

For all the talk about timetables and benchmarks, one might think that the United States will end the military occupation of Iraq within the lifetimes of the readers of this opinion editorial. Think again.

There is to be no withdrawal from Iraq, just as there has been no withdrawal from hundreds of places around the world that are outposts of the American empire. As UC San Diego professor emeritus Chalmers Johnson put it, "One of the reasons we had no exit plan from Iraq is that we didn't intend to leave."

The United States maintains 737 military bases in 130 countries across the globe. They exist for the purpose of defending the economic interests of the United States, what is euphemistically called "national security." In order to secure favorable access to Iraq's vast reserves of light crude, the United States is spending billions on the construction of at least five large permanent military bases throughout that country.

A new Iraq oil law, largely written by the Coalition Provisional Authority, is planned for ratification by June. This law cedes control of Iraq's oil to western powers for 30 years. There is major opposition to the proposed law within Iraq, especially among the country's five trade union federations that represent hundreds of thousands of oil workers. The United States is working hard to surmount this opposition by appealing directly to the al-Maliki [puppet] government in Iraq.

The attack upon, and subsequent occupation of, Iraq can be seen as a direct result of the 2001 National Energy Policy Development Group (better known as vice president Cheney's energy task force) that was comprised largely of oil and energy company executives. This task force -- the proceedings of which have been kept secret by the administration on the grounds of "executive privilege" -- recommended that the U.S. government support initiatives in Middle Eastern countries "to open up areas of their energy sector to foreign investment." As Antonia Juhasz, an analyst with Oil Change International wrote last month in the New York Times, "One invasion and a great deal of political engineering by the Bush administration later, this is exactly what the proposed Iraq oil law would achieve."

The people of the United States have indicated, in the national election last November and in countless polls, that they no longer support the Bush administration's war. The Scooter Libby trial revealed that top administration officials, including the vice president, "cherry-picked" and distorted intelligence in order to sell a "pre-emptive" war to a spooked public. The squandering of hundreds of billions of dollars, some billions of which, according to Seymour Hersh writing in the New Yorker, is being siphoned into "black-ops" programs being run out of Cheney's office (a stunning redux of Iran-Contra carried out by many of the same actors), has also strained the patience and credulity of the American people.

Another betrayal is the "contracting out" of "war-related activities" to corporations such as Halliburton, Bechtel, Chemonics and Blackwater. Halliburton, Vice President Cheney's previous employer, calls itself an "energy services company" but has tentacles reaching into nearly every aspect of the war (originally dubbed Operation Iraqi Liberation until some bright bulb among the Bushies realized that "OIL" might not be the best handle for this venture). Halliburton has also profited handsomely from no-bid government contracts awarded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the construction at the national embarrassment known as "Gitmo," and most recently, from the fiasco at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.

[Dick don't miss a trick, do he??]

Unfortunately, all this corruption, mayhem and death are good for some (or it wouldn't go on).

The U.S. military budget, larger than the military budgets of the rest of the world's nations combined, continues skyward, even without all the "supplementals" passed regularly by Congress to fight the "war on terror."

The question we must ask as citizens is this: Is the United States a democratic republic or an empire? History demonstrates that it's not possible to be both.

Lewis Seiler is president of Voice of the Environment. Dan Hamburg, a former U.S. representative, is executive director.