The Friends of California Libre...

30 January 2003

Rooting Out Evil

Greetings, friends,
I think you'll agree that George W. Bush has gotten speech-writers as good as Mr. Reagan did. Too bad W. ain't got Ronnie's whip-crack delivery. His stuttering might just save the world...

As I told some of you, there's W's State of the Union Address you've never heard. A nice little editing job...absolutely brilliant. (Thanks, Miles) Check this one out if you click on nothing else... (Warning: Takes about ten minutes to download unless you've got broadband).

Here's some good incisive criticism of Bush's speech from "Slate". Didn't talk much about the actual state of our Union, did he? Well, some others noticed as well.
The State of Our Union is? Unmentionable.
Article URL:

Since the government is so hot for munitions inspectors in Iraq, maybe we should go global? Think I'm joking? The Canadians want to send inspectors to the U.S., and you can volunteer to help (Thanks, Josh). Is this treason or WHAT?

Here's a short article on the reluctance of the Europeans to support us...maybe they know more about war than we do, since they almost wiped each other out. As Charles Bukowski once said of Americans, "You can't believe in the moral superiority of a country that has never been bombed and never seen its women raped." A nasty, but provocative sentiment.

And just to prove it, the U.S. is starting to go beyond making fun of the growing French-German alliance. Anybody ever play "Risk"? The game board is turning -- again.

Okay, here's some brief diversions from the evil we've unleashed on this poor world. Think we're on the highway to Hell? I've really been on it...Highway 666 in western New Mexico...a lovely road really. But not to the Jay-sus freaks up there on the Mogollon Rim,
State Wants to Fix Its 'Highway to Hell'

And here's the trippiest animated thing I've seen in a long, long time...I think it's an ad for Kikkoman soy sauce, but what the hell is Mr. Super Soy up to? (Thanks, Sergei) Enjoy.

Finally, here's an article that is now, unfortunately, less speculation than an outright prediction. Read it and weep:
Your tax dollars at work. Redistribute this widely to your patriotic friends.

An Engineered Crisis
The desire for hegemony over the Middle East - not Iraq's weaponry or even its oil - is America's real motivation for war, writes Brian Whitaker
Monday January 27 2003
The Guardian
On the first day of war the United States will rain down 300-400 cruise missiles on Iraq, according to a report by CBS news. That averages out at one missile every four minutes around the clock, easily exceeding the total fired over six weeks in the 1991 Gulf war. The aim, according to the Pentagon sources quoted, is to cause such "shock and awe" that Iraqi troops will lose their will to fight at the outset. Just in case they do not get the message immediately, the US plans do the same again on day two, CBS said.

Whether this is the actual plan or merely a strategically timed bit of disinformation intended to terrify Baghdad in advance, I have no idea, but anyone who has watched television over the last few days can be in little doubt as to the awesome array of weaponry that is now being assembled for the attack. To a world that remains mostly unconvinced of the need for it, there is something surreal and not quite believable about this. How has it come about? And why now? In 1990 at least, the issue was clear: Iraq had invaded a sovereign state (Kuwait) and could not be allowed to get away with it. Everyone, including those who favoured a solution by diplomatic means, could understand the principle at stake. Since then, Iraq has done little to cause offence, though there are many things that it might have done to redeem itself. It could have made more effort to comply fully with UN resolutions, for instance, but it is not alone in that and other countries are regularly let off with a verbal slap over the wrist. Taken individually, none of Iraq's transgressions over the last few years provides a case for war. And taken collectively, they only tell us what we knew already: that Saddam Hussein is not the sort of man you would trust to look after your grandmother.

Overall, whatever military threat Iraq presents, it is no greater now than it was when UN weapons inspectors first started their work in the early 1990s and is almost certainly a great deal less. Essentially, the weapons at the centre of the current furore are the relatively small number of items that were still unaccounted for when the inspectors pulled out under pressure from Iraq in 1998. On the nuclear front, the best that the White House website can come up with is a one-line statement that Iraq's declaration to the UN last month "ignores efforts to procure uranium from abroad". Until quite recently the prevailing view in Washington was that any danger from Iraq could be effectively contained - as, indeed, it has been for the last decade or so. This general lack of alarm about Iraq's military capacity was reflected in Security Council Resolution 1284, approved in 1999, which sought to get the Iraqi issue out of the way by resuming weapons inspections in a less aggressive manner than previously, and then suspending sanctions if nothing untoward was found. Iraq raised a number of objections (which it probably now regrets), but resolution 1284 remained the Security Council's preferred way forward until last November, when the goalposts were dramatically moved by the toughly worded resolution 1441 which, in one interpretation or another, looks set to give the US its pretext for military action.

What this amounts to is an engineered crisis that is driven from Washington rather than Baghdad. It began with the election of George Bush and a noticeably harder line on Iraq almost from the moment he took office. Since then it has hardened further as the neo-conservative hawks have gained predominance - helped in no small measure by Osama bin Laden. Those who say that oil lies at the root of it are right up to a point, but it is not simply a matter of grabbing Iraqi oil. The neo-conservatives see Iraqi oil as a political weapon which can be used to undermine Saudi Arabia's influence and thus promote their grand design for reshaping the entire Middle East. Whether they will succeed in achieving their broader plans, even after an invasion of Iraq, is doubtful. But there is no doubting the damage that will be done to the US in the meantime.

Last week the US-based Middle East Institute published a report by Edward Walker, a former assistant secretary of state for the Middle East, who has also served as US ambassador in Israel, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Following a visit to Egypt and Saudi Arabia, he found that popular opinion in the region was "more antagonistic toward the United States than at any time in recent memory". "The perception is that we are driven by the six Cs - cowboys; colonialism; conspiracy; Coca-Cola; cowardice; and clientitis," he wrote. "The 'client' is Israel. The 'cowardice' is the perception that we are the schoolyard bully. Coca-Cola is the symbol of an alien consumer society; 'conspiracy' is based on unrealistic expectations of US capabilities; 'colonialism' is premised on a US drive to control oil; and 'cowboys' is drawn from a Hollywood style perception that the administration shoots from the hip. "The reality is that when Arabs think of the United States they think of Israel - and when Americans think of the Arabs they think terrorism. According to the leadership in both Saudi Arabia and Egypt, these perceptions will be magnified tenfold if the United States invades Iraq."

It may be far too late to halt the rush towards war, but at least there are Americans who question what is happening. Last Thursday, Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defence secretary, gave a talk at the Council for Foreign Relations in New York. It was the usual sort of stuff, with a large dose of September 11 thrown in for good measure. "Iraq's weapons of mass terror and the terror networks to which the Iraqi regime are linked are not two separate themes - not two separate threats. They are part of the same threat," Mr Wolfowitz said. In the question-and-answer session that followed, he was challenged by a reporter from the New York Times - hardly one of the country's most dovish newspapers - who asked: "Given that we're talking about matters of war and peace, does the administration plan to make a further report and provide intelligence information to...buttress its claims that Iraq has resumed the production of weapons of mass destruction? And if not, is this because of targeting concerns, sources and methods, or do you simply not have reliable information that would stand up in a public forum?" Mr Wolfowitz replied: "I think the short there is a lot of evidence; as the evidence accumulates, our ability to talk about it undoubtedly will grow. But we don't have a lot of time; time is running out."

So we may get the evidence in due course, but not necessarily before the war starts. The Iraqi affair has gone on for 12 years but now time is running out. Why is it running out? Because Mr Wolfowitz says it is. Another member of the audience summarised Mr Wolfowitz's position as "We can't tell you what we have of information, but trust us. It's there." The questioner continued: "Isn't the fundamental principle of a democratic free nation precisely not to trust government? Why should Americans trust their government? We've heard that before in Vietnam, we've heard it many times: 'Trust us,' and it turned out to be untrustworthy. "I don't see how this administration thinks it can build a policy for war, preventive war, that would be accepted by our allies and by American citizens on the basis of 'We've got the info; we can't tell you how we got it or where we got it; we've got it, trust us.' And isn't that a foolish and ultimately self-destructive way for this administration to proceed?" Mr Wolfowitz answered: "I must say I sort of find it astonishing that the issue is whether you can trust the US government. The real issue is, can you trust Saddam Hussein?" Certainly no one in their right mind would trust the Iraqi leader. But that does not mean they have to trust Mr Wolfowitz and the US government either.

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