Get your Rapture hats ready, kiddies! The sky is falling, and our wise gift of nuclear winter will propel us all into the loving arms of the all-knowing and all-everywhere G-d.


oops [edit 2OCT2007] the Elmbrook documents about their
expert that studied zionism for a decade... has been scrubbed ; oops

fyi  based upon this gg:
The Village Voice

The Jesus Landing Pad

Bush White House checked with rapture Christians before latest Israel move

The Jesus Landing Pad
by Rick Perlstein

It was an e-mail we weren't meant to see. Not for our eyes were the notes that showed White House staffers taking two-hour meetings with Christian fundamentalists, where they passed off bogus social science on gay marriage as if it were holy writ and issued fiery warnings that "the Presidents [sic] Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical, and social struggle on every levelthis to a group whose representative in Israel believed herself to have been attacked by witchcraft unleashed by proximity to a volume of Harry Potter. Most of all, apparently, we're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios.

But now we know.

"Everything that you're discussing is information you're not supposed to have," barked Pentecostal minister Robert G. Upton when asked about the off-the-record briefing his delegation received on March 25. Details of that meeting appear in a confidential memo signed by Upton and obtained by the Voice.

The e-mailed meeting summary reveals NSC Near East and North African Affairs director Elliott Abrams sitting down with the Apostolic Congress and massaging their theological concerns. Claiming to be "the Christian Voice in the Nation's Capital," the members vociferously oppose the idea of a Palestinian state. They fear an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza might enable just that, and they object on the grounds that all of Old Testament Israel belongs to the Jews. Until Israel is intact and Solomon's temple rebuilt, they believe, Christ won't come back to earth.

Abrams attempted to assuage their concerns by stating that "the Gaza Strip had no significant Biblical influence such as Joseph's tomb or Rachel's tomb and therefore is a piece of land that can be sacrificed for the cause of peace."

Three weeks after the confab, President George W. Bush reversed long-standing U.S. policy, endorsing Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank in exchange for Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

In an interview with the Voice, Upton denied having written the document, though it was sent out from an e-mail account of one of his staffers and bears the organization's seal, which is nearly identical to the Great Seal of the United States. Its idiosyncratic grammar and punctuation tics also closely match those of texts on the Apostolic Congress's website, and Upton verified key details it recounted, including the number of participants in the meeting ("45 ministers including wives") and its conclusion "with a heart-moving send-off of the President in his Presidential helicopter."

Upton refused to confirm further details.

Affiliated with the United Pentecostal Church, the Apostolic Congress is part of an important and disciplined political constituency courted by recent Republican administrations. As a subset of the broader Christian Zionist movement, it has a lengthy history of opposition to any proposal that will not result in what it calls a "one-state solution" in Israel.

The White House's association with the congress, which has just posted a new staffer in Israel who may be running afoul of Israel's strict anti-missionary laws, also raises diplomatic concerns.

The staffer, Kim Hadassah Johnson, wrote in a report obtained by the Voice, "We are establishing the Meet the Need Fund in Israel�'MNFI.' . . . The fund will be an Interest Free Loan Fund that will enable us to loan funds to new believers (others upon application) who need assistance. They will have the opportunity to repay the loan (although it will not be mandatory)." When that language was read to Moshe Fox, minister for public and interreligious affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, he responded, "It sounds against the law which prohibits any kind of money or material [inducement] to make people convert to another religion. That's what it sounds like." (Fox's judgment was e-mailed to Johnson, who did not return a request for comment.)

The Apostolic Congress dates its origins to 1981, when, according to its website, "Brother Stan Wachtstetter was able to open the door to Apostolic Christians into the White House." Apostolics, a sect of Pentecostals, claim legitimacy as the heirs of the original church because they, as the 12 apostles supposedly did, baptize converts in the name of Jesus, not in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Ronald Reagan bore theological affinities with such Christians because of his belief that the world would end in a fiery Armageddon. Reagan himself referenced this belief explicitly a half-dozen times during his presidency.

While the language of apocalyptic Christianity is absent from George W. Bush's speeches, he has proven eager to work with apocalyptics�a point of pride for Upton. "We're in constant contact with the White House," he boasts. "I'm briefed at least once a week via telephone briefings. . . . I was there about two weeks ago . . . At that time we met with the president."

Last spring, after President Bush announced his Road Map plan for peace in the Middle East, the Apostolic Congress co-sponsored an effort with the Jewish group Americans for a Safe Israel that placed billboards in 23 cities with a quotation from Genesis ("Unto thy offspring will I give this land") and the message, "Pray that President Bush Honors God's Covenant with Israel. Call the White House with this message." It then provided the White House phone number and the Apostolic Congress's Web address.

In the interview with the Voice, Pastor Upton claimed personal responsibility for directing 50,000 postcards to the White House opposing the Road Map, which aims to create a Palestinian state. "I'm in total disagreement with any form of Palestinian state," Upton said. "Within a two-week period, getting 50,000 postcards saying the exact same thing from places all over the country, that resonated with the White House. That really caused [President Bush] to backpedal on the Road Map."

When I sought to confirm Upton's account of the meeting with the White House, I was directed to National Security Council spokesman Frederick Jones, whose initial response upon being read a list of the names of White House staffers present was a curt, "You know half the people you just mentioned are Jewish?"

When asked for comment on top White House staffers meeting with representatives of an organization that may be breaking Israeli law, Jones responded, "Why would the White House comment on that?"

When asked whose job it is in the administration to study the Bible to discern what parts of Israel were or weren't acceptable sacrifices for peace, Jones said that his previous statements had been off-the-record.

When Pastor Upton was asked to explain why the group's website describes the Apostolic Congress as "the Christian Voice in the nation's capital," instead of simply a Christian voice in the nation's capital, he responded, "There has been a real lack of leadership in having someone emerge as a Christian voice, someone who doesn't speak for the right, someone who doesn't speak for the left, but someone who speaks for the people, and someone who speaks from a theocratical perspective."

When his words were repeated back to him to make sure he had said a "theocratical" perspective, not a "theological" perspective, he said, "Exactly. Exactly. We want to know what God would have us say or what God would have us do in every issue."

The Middle East was not the only issue discussed at the March 25 meeting. James Wilkinson, deputy national security advisor for communications, spoke first and is characterized as stating that the 9-11 Commission "is portraying those who have given their all to protect this nation as 'weak on terrorism,' " that "99 percent of all the men and women protecting us in this fight against terrorism are career citizens," and offered the example of Frances Town-send, deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism, "who sacrificed Christmas to do a 'security video' conference."

Tim Goeglein, deputy director of public liaison and the White House's point man with evangelical Christians, moderated, and he also spoke on the issue of same-sex marriage. According to the memo, he asked the rhetorical questions: "What will happen to our country if that actually happens? What do those pushing such hope to gain?" His answer: "They want to change America." How so? He quoted the research of Hoover Institute senior fellow Stanley Kurtz, who holds that since gay marriage was legalized in Scandinavia, marriage itself has virtually ceased to exist. (In fact, since Sweden instituted a registered-partnership law for same-sex couples in the mid '90s, there has been no overall change in the marriage and divorce rates there.)

It is Matt Schlapp, White House political director and Karl Rove's chief lieutenant, who was paraphrased as stating "that the Presidents Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical, and social struggle on every level."

Also present at the meeting was Kristen Silverberg, deputy assistant to the president for domestic policy. (None of the participants responded to interview requests.)

The meeting was closed by Goeglein, who was asked, "What can we do to assist in this fight for these issues and our nations [sic] foundation and values?" and who reportedly responded, "Pray, pray, pray, pray."

The Apostolic Congress's representative in Israel, Kim Johnson, is ethnically Jewish, keeps kosher, and holds herself to the sumptuary standards of Orthodox Jewish women, so as to better blend in to her surroundings.

In one letter home obtained by the Voice she notes that many of the Apostolic Christians she works with in Israel are Filipino women "married to Jewish men�who on occasion accompany their wives to meetings. We are planning to start a fellowship with this select group where we can meet for dinners and get to know one another. Please Pray for the timing and formation of such." Elsewhere she talks of a discussion with someone "on the pitfalls and aggravations of Christians who missionize Jews." She works often among the Jewish poor�the kind of people who might be interested in interest-free loans�and is thrilled to "meet the outcasts of this Land�how wonderful because they are in the in-casts for His Kingdom."

An ecstatic figure who from her own reports appears to operate at the edge of sanity ("Two of the three nights in my apartment I have been attacked by a hair raising spirit of fear," she writes, noting the sublet contained a Harry Potter book; "at this time I am associating it with witchcraft"), Johnson has also met with Knesset member Gila Gamliel. (Gamliel did not respond to interview requests.) She also boasted of an imminent meeting with a "Knesset leader."

"At this point and for all future mails it is important for me to note that this country has very stiff anti-missionary laws," she warns the followers back home. [D]iscretion is required in all mails. This is particularly important to understand when people write mails or ask about organization efforts regarding such."

Her boss, Pastor Upton, displays a photograph on the Apostolic Congress website of a meeting between himself and Beny Elon, Prime Minister Sharon's tourism minister, famous in Israel for his advocacy of the expulsion of Palestinians from Israeli-controlled lands.

His spokesman in the U.S., Ronn Torassian, affirmed that "Minister Elon knows Mr. Upton well," but when asked whether he is aware that Mr. Upton's staffer may be breaking Israel's anti-missionary laws, snapped: "It's not something he's interested in discussing with The Village Voice."

In addition to its work in Israel, the Apostolic Congress is part of the increasingly Christian public face of pro-Israel activities in the United States. Don Wagner, author of the book Anxious for Armageddon, has been studying Christian Zionism for 15 years, and believes that the current hard-line pro-Israel movement in the U.S. is "predominantly gentile." Often, devotees work in concert with Jewish groups like Americans for a Safe Israel, or AFSI, which set up a mostly Christian Committee for a One-State Solution as the sponsor of last year's billboard campaign. The committee's board included, in addition to Upton, such evangelical luminaries as Gary Bauer and E.E. "Ed" McAteer of the Religious Roundtable.

AFSI's executive director, Helen Freedman, confirms the increasingly Christian cast of her coalition. "We have many good Jews, of course," she says, "but they're in the minority." She adds, "The liberal Jew is unable to believe the Arab when he says his goal is to Islamize the West. . . . But I believe it. And evangelical Christians believe it."

Of Jews who might otherwise support her group's view of Jews' divine right to Israel, she laments, "They're embarrassed about quoting the Bible, about referring to the Covenant, about talking about the Promised Land."

Pastor Upton is not embarrassed, and Helen Freedman is proud of her association with him. She is wistful when asked if she, like Upton, has been able to finagle a meeting with the president. "Pastor Upton is the head of a whole Apostolic Congress," she laments. "It's a nationwide group of evangelicals."

Upton has something Freedman covets: a voting bloc.

She laughs off concerns that, for Christian Zionists, actual Jews living in Israel serve as mere props for their end-time scenario: "We have a different conception of what [the end of the world] will be like . . . Whoever is right will rejoice, and whoever was wrong will say, 'Whoops!' "

She's not worried, either, about evangelical anti-Semitism: "I don't think it exists," she says. She does say, however, that it would concern her if she learned the Apostolic Congress had a representative in Israel trying to win converts: "If we discovered that people were trying to convert Jews to Christianity, we would be very upset."

Kim Johnson doesn't call it converting Jews to Christianity. She calls it "Circumcision of the Heart"�a spiritual circumcision Jews must undergo because, she writes in paraphrase of Jeremiah, chapter 9, "God will destroy all the uncircumcised nations along with the House of Israel, because the House of Israel is uncircumcised in the heart . . . [I]t is through the Gospel . . . that men's hearts are circumcised."

Apostolics believe that only 144,000 Jews who have not, prior to the Second Coming of Christ, acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah will be saved in the end times. Though even for those who do not believe in this literal interpretation of the Bible�or for anyone who lives in Israel, or who cares about Israel, or whose security might be affected by a widespread conflagration in the Middle East, which is everyone�the scriptural prophecies of the Christian Zionists should be the least of their worries.

Instead, we should be worried about self-fulfilling prophecies. "Biblically," stated one South Carolina minister in support of the anti-Road Map billboard campaign, "there's always going to be a war."

Don Wagner, an evangelical, worries that in the Republican Party, people who believe this "are dominating the discourse now, in an election year." He calls the attempt to yoke Scripture to current events "a modern heresy, with cultish proportions.

"I mean, it's appalling," he rails on. "And it also shows how marginalized mainstream Christian thinking, and the majority of evangelical thought, have become."

It demonstrates, he says, "the absolute convergence of the neoconservatives with the Christian Zionists and the pro-Israel lobby, driving U.S. Mideast policy."

The problem is not that George W. Bush is discussing policy with people who press right-wing solutions to achieve peace in the Middle East, or with devout Christians. It is that he is discussing policy with Christians who might not care about peace at all�at least until the rapture.

The Jewish pro-Israel lobby, in the interests of peace for those living in the present, might want to consider a disengagement.

 The Village Voice

NYC: Press Conference To Open 9/11 Criminal Probe

Presidential candidates Ralph Nader, David Cobb and Michael Badnarik
have signed a petition of 100 prominent individuals calling for a new,
independent investigation into 9/11 events.

Press Conference in Manhattan near 120 Broadway

Thursday, Oct. 28 at 2PM - Corner of Nassau and Cedar

Presidential candidates Ralph Nader, David Cobb and Michael Badnarik have
signed a petition of 100 prominent individuals calling for a new,
independent investigation into 9/11 events.

On Thursday, Oct. 28, at 2 pm, a coalition of 9/11 victim family members,
survivors and advocacy groups will deliver a formal complaint requesting a
new criminal investigation of 9/11 events to New York Attorney General
Eliot Spitzer outside the Equitable Building (at corner of Nassau and Cedar
Streets). We are urging you to participate.

The Complaint petitions the Attorney General to launch an independent
in-depth criminal and civil probe of significant 9/11 evidence and lines of
inquiry suggesting grave official misconduct including criminal negligence,
criminal facilitation, and accessorial abetment of murder, assault, insider
trading, obstruction of justice, and other violations of New York law.

The Complaint asks the Attorney General to exercise his powers to establish
accountability for crimes under New York State law and recover damages
incurred by state and local governments from corporations and individuals
whose conduct furthered the criminal conspiracy.

The Complainants, including victim family members Bill Dolye and Bob
McIlvaine both of whom lost their sons, maintain that few if any of these
charges or their bodies of supporting evidence were adequately explored or
even addressed by the 2002 Joint Intelligence Inquiry or the 9/11
Commission which released its final report last July.

"For many New Yorkers, Attorney General Spitzer is the last hope for
establishing the truth about what happened on 9/11 and enforcing the law,"
noted David Kubiak, a spokesperson for the group. "Because administration
officials have sought to federalize all 9/11 inquiries and classify
evidence under the 'state secrets' doctrine to preempt local probes and
obstruct the Kean Commission, three years after the tragedy there still has
been no comprehensive, credible independent investigation completed. As the
elected official ultimately responsible for public safety and criminal law
enforcement in New York, the Attorney General clearly has jurisdiction here
if he chooses to assert it. Given the scale of 9/11 carnage and the
subsequent illnesses and incalculable damages suffered by New York and
evidence of cover-up, his constituents are now telling him that he must.
Fifteen New York legislators have even stepped up to endorse this demand so
we're at a very remarkable choice point in 9/11 history."

Although the Complaint and its detailed appendices are based upon years of
investigative journalism and independent research, their crystallization
into legal form was triggered by three recent events:

1) the failure of the Kean Commission Report to provide a credible
explanation of the 9/11 tragedies, to hold anyone accountable, or answer
most of the questions posed by the 9/11 Family Steering Committee *;

2) the August 31st Zogby 9/11 poll** which showed that nearly half of NYC
citizens believe government officials were "consciously" complicit in the
attacks, and that two-thirds want a new investigation; and

3) the testimony and evidence put forth at the September 9, 2004 9/11
Citizens' Commission hearings in Manhattan, organized by the watchdog and
activist groups 9/11 CitizensWatch and

The Complaint is also foreshadowed in today's release of the "9/11
Statement," a call for trenchant new investigations signed by over 100
American opinion leaders including presidential candidates Nader, Badnarik
and Cobb as well as 50 supportive 9/11 families.

Copies of the "9/11 Statement" and the Complaint will be available one half
hour prior to the 2:00 PM Thursday press conference at the northwest corner
of Cedar and Nassau Streets (NE corner of Equitable Building). The 9/11
Statement is posted at The Spitzer Complaint will
be posted at following the Thursday press conference.
Further details to follow.


David Kubiak,
Tel. 207-967-2390

Kyle F. Hence, 9/11 CitizensWatch
Voice: 401-935-7715 -- 212-243-7787



The NY Greens/Green Party of NY, as well as the national Green Party, are
participants in and supporters of these efforts.

- Mitchel Cohen
Brooklyn Greens / Green Party of NY

British Troops to Die for America in Latifiyah


British Troops to Die for America in Latifiyah
By Joe Vialls
Oct 21, 2004, 06:48

The media never told you American forces suffered a staggering defeat south of Baghdad on October 9, and Wolfowitz is now demanding that Tony Blair send British troops into the same lethal Republican Guard killing grounds at Al-Latifiyah and al-Yusufiyah

All paragraphs printed in italics are direct reports from 'Mafkarat al-Islam' journalists, who are permanently embedded with the Republican Guard and Mehdi Army across Iraq. For security reasons, the individual counter-insurgency units Mafkarat al-Islam accompany are referred to only as "The Resistance"

20 October 2004

British Prime Minister Tony Blair is desperate because he has a very big problem, and desperate men like Mr Blair do desperate things. The problem poor Tony faces is called the illegal invasion of Iraq, a staggering Zionist war crime he is intimately involved in, and which threatens to have him thrown out of office when elections are held in Great Britain next year. His defeat seemed inevitable until New York's Neocons, led by Paul Wolfowitz, hinted that they could get Blair across the line by use of sophisticated and undetectable subliminal techniques on British television. Genuine George Orwell stuff brought to life twenty year after 1984, but there would be a price to pay in advance, because there always is. When Wall Street does you a favor, it expects your unquestioning obedience for life.

Several months ago when the proposition was first put to him, Tony Blair was almost scornful, but his New York minders advised him to watch Australia very carefully. At that time, new Australian opposition leader Mark Latham was way ahead in the opinion polls, primarily by exposing Prime Minister John Howard's multiple lies and deceptions about Iraq, and by promising to pull Australia's forces out of the Middle East before Christmas. Mark Latham was a certain winner, with Howard on the fast track to political oblivion.

The lead narrowed somewhat within two weeks of the election, but it was during the last seven days than an invisible miracle started to work its magic on the minds of Australian television viewers. All of a sudden, little bald lying John Howard didn't seem quite so bad, and people started to actually like him, or at least their brains told them they did. On election night the invisible magic proved its worth, with Howard's unpopular sitting government regaining office by virtue of an impossible uniform nationwide voter swing towards his party.

At no time in Australian and British political history has a sitting government, even a popular one, received a nationwide uniform voter swing in its favor. In the past, sitting governments have managed to return with more individual seats, normally because of charismatic candidates or boundary changes, but that is quite different from an entire nation suddenly going all warm and cuddly about a short fat man who had continually lied to them, abused their political and human rights, sent their loved ones off to fight as mercenaries in an illegal invasion, and, oh yes, signed up with Wall Street for a trade deal that would deny them and their families revenue from their farms and small businesses, and largely deny them subsidized hospitals and medicines.

It will come as no great surprise for most readers that the Australian Election was held on October 9, the very same day that neocon Wolfowitz sent thousands of heavily-armed Marines and other US servicemen into Al-Latifiyah and al-Yusufiyah, south of Baghdad. Wolfowitz knew the results would be catastrophic for the Americans because this was Republican Guard heartland, but he really did not care. This clinically insane neocon had an equally insane plan to suck more British and Australian troops up into central Iraq, thereby allowing him to later clear a western exfiltration route through Fallujah and Jordan for select American and Israeli personnel.

"Al-Latifiyah and al-Yusufiyah were the scene on Saturday of fierce fighting. All types of weaponry were employed by the sides. Mafkarat al-Islam correspondents in the area reported that the battle raged during the day for 10 hours, beginning at 6:30 am. Major fighting died down at around 4:00 pm. More than 3,000 US Marines took part as well as all types of helicopters and airplanes in the attack on al-Latifiyah and al-Yusufiyah, but the Resistance was prepared for them and fired back with Grad, Tariq SPG9, C5K, Katyusha, and Strela rockets, 60mm, 82mm, 120mm mortars and fired RPG7s and BKCs at the aggressors. US Cobra helicopters bombarded the northern part of al-Yusufiyah, and took part in the assault on al-Latifiyah, destroying 25 houses and numerous private cars and killing 12 Iraqi civilians."

Naturally enough at this stage, Tony Blair had no idea this suicidal strike was taking place, because that same night he was sitting in London drooling over the Australian election results. It had gone exactly as predicted by Wall Street several months before, and even if Blair had known about the advanced pulse-modulated 'mood altering ' brain frequencies interlaced with the political advertising on Australian television, he would not have cared.

For all practical and visible purposes "the people had spoken", as required by the highly questionable rules of the phoney two-party democratic system. Tony Blair had already been a de facto dictator for several years, had grown to like it, and intended to stay on no matter what it cost the British people or their sons and daughters in the Middle East. Without further ado, Blair sold his soul to Wall Street the very next morning.

Despite the savagery of the combined American air and ground assaults on the largely-civilian populations of Al-Latifiyah and al-Yusufiyah, it soon became obvious that this would be no casual walk through Central Park. Though the fast attack jets were effectively invulnerable to ground fire, the helicopters were within easy range, as were the ground troops Wolfowitz had so casually thrown into this diversionary battle for geopolitical reasons.

"Mafkarat al-Islam witnessed more than 400 Resistance fighters in al-Latifiyah and al-Yusufiyah in numerous detachments made up of eight to 10 men each. They took part alternately in attacks on the US forces, in such a way that the barrage on the Americans never ceased. Six rockets or mortar shells struck the Americans every 10 minutes. The correspondents observed the Resistance fighters moving around the field, eight men to a vehicle, and each vehicle equipped with a rocket launcher, some fixed to the car, others for use on the ground.

"The reporters observed several Katyusha launchers, capable of firing more than 30 rockets at one time. Mafkarat al-Islam observed that the Resistance fired 50 high powered Tariq rockets and more than 75 Grads. More than 250 other rockets were fired, including Cobras, Congresses, SPG9s CETs C5Ks and RPG7s. For their part the Americans used heavy artillery, sophisticated rockets and guided missiles in their attacks."

Are you surprised that the prestigious 'New York Times' failed to report even a single column inch about this massive firefight raging just to the south of Baghdad? Perhaps the journalists were all watching American football, while the editorial management team lunched extravagantly somewhere on Wall Street. If ever there were a prize offered for proof of the American and British media's utter subservience to the Zionist Cabal, this unseen and unheard battle would win that prize in a flash.
You may consider Mafkarat al-Islam's later claims of the total number of Americans killed as pure propaganda, though it is difficult to see what they would gain from it, because their reportage is essentially for internal consumption. But even if they got a little over enthusiastic and doubled the number of actual dead on the battlefield, the total number of body bags would still be mind-numbing for Americans at home, fed as they are on a daily diet of lies and deceit by their own media.

Never forget that when this is all over, and a proper phone poll is conducted of all those who have lost a loved one in Iraq, the final number will be approximately double that publicly admitted by the American Government. Five days ago, accurate sources inside the Pentagon were estimating 2,172 dead against the publicly declared 1,080.

"In al-Yusufiyah, the US lost four amphibious armored vehicles and one Abrams tank destroyed. The Abrams was dragged by another armored vehicle away from the scene of the fighting. Three other tanks were disabled as were 3 troop carriers. Seven Humvees were destroyed. Twenty-seven US troops were killed and five others captured by the Resistance.

"In al-Latifiyah, four Abrams tanks, two Bradley armored vehicles, six Humvees, three troop carriers, and one small troop transport were destroyed, killing 54 Americans in all there. The Resistance lost between 25 and 30 fighters killed as a result of Cobra missile attacks on their vehicles."

Thousands of miles away in London, the dribbling Mr Blair waited to receive his orders from Wall Street, because he too was determined to be as 'popular' as Prime Minister Howard in Australia when he own election came around. The orders arrived in surprisingly mild form, as a request for "British troops from Basra to be deployed in an operation to help United States troops poised for an assault on the rebel stronghold of Fallujah." Apparently the troops were to used as relatively low-risk 'back fill', i.e. all they had to do was stand there and hold and water the horses, while the brave American soldiers went after the hard cases in Fallujah, known locally as The City of Mosques. Unsurprisingly perhaps, neither Blair nor Defence Minister Hoon would say exactly where they would be going, apart from "not to Baghdad or Fallujah".

It was left to The Independent, Robert Fisk's newspaper in London, to break the news in a very low profile report on 18 October, which stated, "British troops may be deployed to one of the most violent flashpoints in Iraq in an operation to help United States troops poised for an assault on the rebel stronghold of Fallujah. Soldiers from the Black Watch may be deployed to Iskandariyah (between al-Latifiyah and al-Yusufiyah), south of Baghdad, an area that has seen militants mount sustained attacks on US and Iraqi government forces, as well as the kidnap and murder of foreigners and Iraqis. The Americans claim to have 'pacified' the area in a military operation after it passed into the hands of insurgents for months. But it remains highly volatile."

Naturally enough, this meant nothing to the British public or to relatives of members of the Black Watch Regiment, because news about the massive battle just nine days earlier in that precise location was suppressed by the western media on orders from Wall Street. For those not familiar with British regiments, the Black Watch have already been threatened with disbandment, making them natural targets for the feral Geoff Hoon. Political blackmail is normally disarmingly simple, and this was no different. Hoon has effectively told the Black Watch to 'prove their worth' by deploying 650 men outside Basra under direct American [for which read 'Wolfowitz] command, or face their own accelerated regimental disbandment, disgrace, and unemployment.

During the same time frame Wolfowitz laid the same hard word on the Australian Government, demanding that John Howard dispatch another 500 Australian troops to 'help out' in central Iraq, for which once again you should read al-Latifiyah and al-Yusufiyah. This of course should have been out of gratitude for being subliminally helped across the line at the Australian Election on October 9. Unfortunately for Wolfowitz, the Australian Government justifiably seemed more afraid of the Australian military than of Wall Street this time, and on October 18 a stuttering and visibly shaken Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said that Australia could not spare any more men.

Clearly Howard and Downer have made a mistake, because when Wall Street makes a request of a subordinate nation like Australia, it is not really a request at all, but an imperial decree from the Zionist Cabal. There will be serious payback for this gross disobedience, though it will be a while before the neocons figure out exactly how to punish Australia. Perhaps they will shoot or behead a handful of Australian soldiers already in Iraq, or perhaps they will decide to plant one of those nice ersatz 'al-Qaedà bombs in Sydney. At this point in time it is impossible to say which one is the more likely, because no sane analyst in the world can possibly work out the deranged thought patterns of clinically insane Zionists.

Naturally enough it is reasonable to ask what the exact reason is behind arranging a giant bloodbath for British and Australian troops in a Republican Guard stronghold where the defenders dispatched 81 American soldiers in a single day, and are just itching to dispatch 81 more Americans, Brits or Ausralians if any are stupid enough to get in range. Well, Wolfowitz's exfiltration route west to Jordan is extremely important to the neocons as a whole, requiring a massive diversion that will pull Republican Guard fighters in from as far away as Ar Ramadi and Fallujah, thereby minimizing the risks to a very special convoy leaving Baghdad for Israel, via Jordan.

Since America first illegally invaded Iraq, special neocon mercenary teams have been quietly pillaging and stockpiling gold and other bullion reserves, plus precious gems and some art work. There was always a risk that America might not be able to hold Iraq, or even successfully steal its oil reserves, so the neocons built in a fall back plan to take care of their retirement needs, including false passports and any overseas properties needed to escape trial and execution at the forthcoming War Crimes Tribunal.

The original plan was to fly the booty out in small shipments, but flying out of Baghdad at all suddenly became too risky. Then road convoys became too risky, leading to a large and unwieldy accumulation of booty in Baghdad.

As of June this year the neocon teams had accumulated just over six tons dead weight of gold and other bullion, precious gems, and assorted works of art. By now that total is probably closer to eight tons, and the neocon thieves know only too well that America cannot hold out in Iraq for much longer.

The intent is to split the bullion into two separate fast convoys [no heavy armor], both intended to head west well to the north of Fallujah when the diversionary attacks are in full swing. For any members of the Republican Guard reading this, beware of Apache attack helicopters flying at low level. Convoy air protection will consist solely of Apaches carrying full loads of Hellfire missiles, stationed at fuel dumps pre-positioned along the classified convoy route.

So, in the end, we will be left wondering exactly what this illegal invasion was all about. Why were American troops ordered to illegally invade a sovereign nation, and why did their spineless senior officers obey illegal orders and allow it to happen? Sadly the problem in America is' Old Glory'. Children are taught to salute and respect the inanimate American flag to the point where the flag itself becomes both the excuse and rallying point for staggering war crimes including Korea, Vietnam and now Iraq.
All that Wolfowitz and his cheap neocon crooks needed was find a big impressive version of Old Glory, claim superior rank based on size and quality of cloth, and then tell the rest of America what to do. The entire pathetic charade reminds me of the Pied Piper of Hamlyn.

Copyright Joe Vialls, 20 October 2004

Arkansas Travelers: Guard Unit's Life in Iraq


Arkansas Travelers: Guard Unit's Life in Iraq


A year after hundreds of embedded journalists broadcast the hustle and muscle of United States troops in Iraq, two filmmaking brothers have found a brave and apt use for the military's languishing program of allowing tag-alongs.

A talk-show host on al-Jazeera targets those he believes are the worst enemies the Arabs have: themselves

Brief Lives  
The Faisal Factor
A talk-show host on al-Jazeera targets those he believes are the worst enemies the Arabs have: themselves

 by Jeffrey Tayler


  According to polls in the Arab press, the most popular talk show on al-Jazeera—the world's most widely watched Arab TV station—is Al-Ittijah al-Mu'akis (The Opposite Direction). Broadcast live each week since December of 1996, when al-Jazeera first came on the air, the show is hosted by Faisal al-Kasim, a bespectacled forty-two-year-old Syrian. Al-Kasim moderates while two guests debate a topic of his choosing; viewers join in by telephone, fax, and e-mail. No other Arab television personality is as controversial, as despised, or as revered as al-Kasim.

 Headquartered in Doha, the capital of the tiny, thumb-shaped Gulf state of Qatar, al-Jazeera draws an audience of some 45 million viewers around the world, including eight million in Europe, where subscriptions doubled after the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It operates apparently without editorial constraint from the liberal Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who founded the station to help reverse the authoritarian legacy of his father, whom he overthrew bloodlessly in 1995. The spirit of al-Jazeera's reportage often accords with the anti-Western sentiments pervading both the Arab street and the more educated milieus of the Islamic world, especially when it comes to Osama bin Laden and the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. But al-Kasim keeps his guns trained on what he regards as the true banes of his people: corrupt Arab governments and pernicious myths among Arabs about themselves. He has a penchant for tackling taboo topics on his show, and the opinions that he and his guests express about them can seem wildly iconoclastic (often, that is to say, true) to viewers brought up on state-controlled media.

I first met al-Kasim late one muggy evening last May, at his villa in a gated Doha residential complex. He appears an unlikely renegade. On television he wears a suit and tie, but he greeted me at home in a baseball cap, a T-shirt, and blue jeans. He is fair-complexioned and diminutive, with trimmed brown hair combed over a balding pate, and he exudes a boyish enthusiasm.

We sat down to a silver tray of tea and sweets, and al-Kasim told me of the cosmopolitan life he has led. Born in a village near Damascus, he spent twelve years in England, where he earned a Ph.D. in English literature at Hull University. He holds Gore Vidal and Noam Chomsky in high regard, considering them to be the consciences of the United States; like Vidal especially, he is fascinated by conspiracy theories. He came to broadcasting by chance when, in 1988, he was introduced to the head of BBC Radio's Arabic Service at a party, and was invited to work for the BBC. In 1996, along with many of his Arab colleagues at the BBC, he moved to Qatar to begin work with al-Jazeera, eager to take part in the region's first experiment with free journalism. His goal? "To change the status quo, which is horrible politically, religiously, economically, in every way."

 Al-Kasim's first show, he says, "dissected" the Gulf Cooperation Council (the league of oil-rich monarchies and emirates that are responsible for some of the most closed regimes in the Middle East) "like a corpse," and since then The Opposite Direction has addressed an array of previously unmentionable questions in the Arab world, in terms ranging from the contrarian to the outlandish. Is Arab unity an unattainable myth? When was life better, under colonial or Arab rule? ("Eighty-six percent of our viewers who called in said they'd rather be re-colonized," al-Kasim told me. "The Algerians would welcome Chirac, if he decided to return.") Was King Hassan II of Morocco an agent of the Mossad? Should polygamy have a place in the modern Arab world? On that last show two female guests, one liberal and one traditional, traded insults during a commercial break and then began shouting at each other once back on the air, until the traditionalist stomped off the set. "What do you do when someone has been holding his hand over your mouth for years and suddenly removes it?" al-Kasim asked me rhetorically when describing that episode. "You go wild!"

Going wild is hardly behavior that Arab governments tend to encourage. Five Arab countries have withdrawn their ambassadors from Qatar to protest al-Kasim's broadcasts, and the KGB-like domestic-security services of a number of countries have at times prevented guests from flying to Doha to appear on the show. In these instances al-Kasim has proceeded anyway, taking phoned-in questions and also directing his cameras to an empty chair to embarrass the governments that forbid his guests from traveling.

 "Doing this show is dangerous for me," al-Kasim told me. "I'm blacklisted by many countries, and smear campaigns are launched against me." After he devoted an episode to the "Zionification" of Iraq under the U.S. occupation, al-Kasim alleges, the Iraqi National Congress issued death threats against him and spread rumors on the Internet that he had sold out to Saddam Hussein (who was, oddly enough, a fan of his). A show he did on King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia, he says, left the Saudi government "seeing no difference between Satan and me." About all that seems to protect him is his dual Syrian-British citizenship, which dissuades regimes that are reluctant to tangle with the bearer of a Western passport.

The Arabic words for "rotten," "disgusting," "foul," and "corrupt" peppered al-Kasim's speech whenever Arab governments came up in our conversation. But what, I asked, about the Abu Ghraib scandal, for example? Didn't the Americans merit the same censure?

 Al-Kasim had opposed the invasion of Iraq, but he was loath to make comparisons of this sort. "Look, we [Arabs] have always been talking about America and the flaws in its democracy. But it's high time we talked about our own illnesses."

  uring the week of my visit al-Jazeera was running promos for the upcoming episode of The Opposite Direction. In them, al-Kasim told me, he asked questions that his viewers weren't hearing anywhere else on Middle Eastern airwaves. "Isn't it fitting," he said to the camera, "that we address the subject of the savage Arab prisons of Abu Qarib [roughly, "close to home"] instead of talking about the American [abuses in] Abu Ghraib? Shouldn't we thank the American media for exposing the practices in American Iraqi prisons … in the hope that perhaps our Arab media might expose Arab security services, with their Nazi-like actions against Arab inmates?"

 Al-Kasim arranged for me to watch the broadcast of the show from the control room in al-Jazeera's headquarters—a modest complex of boxy low buildings of white cement and blue-tinted glass, located on the dusty grounds of Qatar's state television station. He met me in the newsroom, wearing a dark-blue suit and a red-and-white paisley tie, his face dusted with the makeup he himself applies. One of his guests soon arrived—Fuad Alam, an Egyptian general and a former assistant interior minister whom one knowledgeable source had described to me spitefully as a "war criminal," a "specialist in torture." A silver-haired septuagenarian in a drab olive suit, with droopy eyelids and phlegmatic mannerisms, Alam bore a swarthy resemblance to a Brezhnev-era Party boss. Facing off with him would be the Tunisian Khaled Chouket, the director of the Holland-based Center for the Support of Democracy in the Arab World. Chouket, in his thirties and with a pugilist's build, walked in wearing a charcoal-gray suit, his eyes dark and fierce, his black hair cropped to a V in the middle of his brow.

 Soon the cameras rolled. After a provocative pre-recorded introduction and brief biographies of his guests, al-Kasim introduced a live Internet poll of viewers on a question related to the topic of the day (a feature unknown in the Arab media before The Opposite Direction). In this instance the question was "Are Arab regimes refraining from condemning the abuse in Abu Ghraib because they're committing far worse atrocities in their own prisons?" (The vote, announced at show's end, revealed that 84 percent of respondents thought so.)

Al-Kasim turned to Chouket, who started off hot. "The record of Arab regimes," he said, "is disgraceful and outrageous … worse than that of the occupier or the colonialist … We export not only oil but techniques and tools of torture … Our states, run by ministries of the interior and the security services, are regimes bereft of legitimacy and based on violations of dignity and human rights." His accusations applied, he said, to Arab states "from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf." He segued into testimony describing "standard daily practices" in all Arab prisons, which he depicted as "man-made hells" where prisoners hang by their ankles and are skinned alive; where savage dogs "rip chunks of living flesh from inmates' bodies"; where torturers tear out their subjects' fingernails and hair, administer electric shocks, hack off body parts, deprive prisoners of food and sleep, and submerge them in dungeons filled with icy water.

 Al-Kasim then turned to General Alam, addressing him respectfully as "your eminence the general." As Alam responded, he emphasized his words with flourishes of a pen, drawing attention to his meaty and powerful hands. Chouket's assertions, he said dismissively, were "far from reality and the truth," and he declared it "slanderous" to claim that there is "a culture of torture in the Arab world." Rather, he said, "as in every country on earth," there are "excesses" and "deviations." Nowhere in the Arab world are abuses practiced methodically, he argued—in contrast to what goes on "in Abu Ghraib and all American prisons without exception." Predictably, he soon moved on to "safer" subjects, complaining that the United States claims to be the "defender of democracy" even as it "attacks Arab and Islamic civilization and culture"—and as it supports Ariel Sharon.

Al-Kasim countered, "But Arab leaders destroy entire cities and kill thousands [of their own citizens] … How many Israelis has Sharon killed?"

Chouket interjected with a question one rarely hears in the Arab media: "How can we struggle against Israel with tyrannical and authoritarian regimes that violate people, with oppressed peoples that hate themselves, with terrorized peoples?"

The episode's climax came midway through, when Chouket, angered by the general's refusal to recognize the prevalence of torture in Egyptian prisons, shouted, "In Egypt in the 1960s, when entire political groups [were being destroyed], you were a member of the mukhabarat [secret police] and in charge of an organization condemned to this day for crimes against humanity and war crimes!" He soon began lamenting the state of Arab society. "Our political life is closed, and our freedoms usurped, and our people are oppressed and fearful, and if you don't say what the ruler wants, you're exiled beyond the sun!"

 The show was refreshing in the liveliness and openness of its debate, and its being beamed around the Arab world simply could not have been imagined even a decade ago. Yet it was also emblematic of the problems afflicting Arab society—pitting a grim, powerful, and reality-denying general against a man who can question authority only because he lives in Holland. After the show was over and the guests had departed, al-Kasim and I walked out into the humid night. As we discussed the evening's conversation, I asked him if he hadn't let the Americans off too easily about Abu Ghraib. He dismissed the question. "The U.S. put the Japanese in camps during World War II; it had McCarthyism; and now they have Bush," he said. "But it will all pass. Democracy corrects itself." His mission, he clearly felt, was to help this process along. But standing on the sidewalk that night, outside the studio and far from the cameras that take him into the homes of millions, al-Kasim seemed very much alone.

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FROM the "Jane, You-Ignorant-Slut" Department : The case against a vote for Kerry | The case against a vote for Bush

 Politics & Prose  |  by Ramesh Ponnur
 Letter to a Democrat

The case against a vote for Kerry

During the long run-up to the Iraq war, we heard a lot of Democrats say that it would be "Karl Rove's war"something the White House had cooked up for partisan gain. We have heard rather less of this line in recent months, as the war has come to threaten Bush's re-election. The president may have taken an overly optimistic view of postwar Iraq, but he always knew that he was risking his presidency on the war. Now he must stand or fall on it.

 I think you ought to stand with him.

The Ba'athist regime in Iraq was a threat to American interests. Its expansionist ambitions had drawn us into a war before. Enforcing an uneasy "peace" with the regime still in power (and still firing on our planes every week) was undermining our position in the Middle East. It required us to station troops in Saudi Arabia. Over the course of the decade before 9/11, the international coalition for sanctions on Iraq had grown weaker. If President Bush had not threatened war with Iraq, and then followed through on that threat, Saddam Hussein would before too long have slipped out from the sanctions.

What would he have done then? He had gassed the Kurds. He had tried to assassinate a former American president. His regime's official ideology was explicitly expansionist and anti-American. It was reasonable to worry that he would reconstitute his weapons programs, and unreasonable not to. What would he have done if he had gotten weapons? Sell them, perhaps; or maybe use them to intimidate his neighbors. (Imagine assembling the allied coalition of 1990-91 against a nuclear-armed Saddam.)

As President Bush was preparing to go to war, the Iraqi threat looked more imminent than it appears to have been. The case for going to war in March 2003 looks less urgent. But if we had not acted when we did, we would still eventually have had to deal with Iraq - and probably under worse circumstances. September 11 had also changed the calculus. It made it harder for a president to ignore or downplay threats to America emanating from the Middle East. It also made the case for a dramatic intervention into the political culture of the region more compelling.

That Bush has made mistakes in Iraq is an understatement. Defense and State blame each other for the initial botch of the occupation, but it is a president's job to impose coherence on his administration. The Fallujah climb-down in April sent a worse message to the Iraqis than even Abu Ghraib did. But successful war leaders make mistakes, even big ones. The political evolution of postwar Iraq has gone better than we could have expected, and we have a good shot at democratic elections in January. Libya's agreement to defang itself has been an important side-benefit of the war.

John Kerry, too, thought Iraq was a threat. He voted for regime change in 1998, and he voted to authorize war in 2002. He says that Bush should not have exercised that authority without more allies. You do not have to be an unqualified fan of this administration's diplomacy to find the critique unpersuasive. Would a few more months at the U.N. have bought us many more allies? Does their absence undermine the case for the war by substantially reducing the threat from the regime, the strategic value of changing the regime, or the likelihood of success? I think the answer to these questions is no.

What would John Kerry do in Iraq now, and in future crises we can only dimly perceive? We know that much of his base, and an increasing number of foreign-policy intellectuals, wants to cut and run in Iraq. We know that he is very attentive to that base: He voted to deny funds for Iraqi reconstruction, just weeks after saying that such a vote would be "reckless" and "irresponsible," because he was afraid of Howard Dean in the primaries. We know that his general instincts are dovish: He voted against the first Gulf War and seems (understandably if misguidedly) to view all foreign-policy questions through the prism of his interpretation of the Vietnam War. And we know that his election would be a stunning American repudiation of the Iraq war and a warning that no American president should risk another foreign interventionat a time when the difficulties in Iraq have already increased our inhibitions in this regard to a dangerous degree.

Kerry recently said that "we have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance." Republicans jumped on the word "nuisance," but it is not the most disturbing element of the comment. Going back to the 1990s, when the terrorists were paying more attention to us than we were to them, is not desirable, and it is hard to believe that Kerry really means it. But to the extent he fights the war on terrorism, he will also have to fight his own instincts. I would prefer to re-elect a president who does not labor under this burden.

Politics & Prose  |  by Jack Beatty 
 Letter to a Republican
The case against a vote for Bush  

A vote for George W. Bush will make you an accomplice after the fact in the death of thousands and the maiming of thousands more an infliction of suffering unexcused by justice or necessity. As theologians argued before the invasion of Iraq, preventive war is justified only on grounds of self-defense. But we know now, through the President's own inspector, Charles Duelfer, that Iraq posed no threat to the United States, or to its neighbors. In saying he would launch the war knowing everything he knows now, President Bush has endorsed a principle that most Americans would denounce if other countries espoused it: Might makes right.

 Bush could (but doesn't) claim he was misled by bad intelligence into believing that Saddam possessed WMD. But you know better. In voting for Bush now, you would be taking a position you would not have taken before the war that even if Iraq had no WMD and no connection to 9/11, the U.S. should invade and occupy it; that even without justification, we should kill from ten- to twenty-thousand Iraqis; that even though self-defense does not require it, we should will the death of over 1,000 U.S. servicemen and women and the wounding of 7,000 more. Bush is stuck with that position. He is a politician; you are not. He is asking you to endorse all that has happened knowing that none of it was necessary. Won't that be worse than endorsing what the Pope called the war before it began "a defeat for humanity"? Won't it be more like endorsing a crime against humanity?

 But, you say, Saddam is in jail. His regime is gone. The Iraqis are free. Toppling his regime, however, was not an end in itself but a means to the end of securing Iraq's WMD. Which did not exist. Such threat - faint, almost notional - as Iraq posed was contained before the war. And now? Osama Bin Laden wanted to provoke Western intervention in an Arab country and Bush played into his hands. How much will Iraq help Bin Ladenism? We can't know. But, from the point of view of U.S. security, the cost of removing Saddam exceeds the short-term benefit, and weights the odds against realizing any long-term gain by way of "democracy" in Iraq.

 As for the Iraqis, they are free of Saddam, but at what cost? Put it this way. The U.S. population is roughly twelve times Iraq's. How would you feel if, in liberating us from an oppressive government, a foreign invader killed 120,000 Americans? If your son or daughter was among those killed, your loss would be absolute; beyond balance by any future gain for the country. That is how it is for many of the Iraqis we have "liberated." Life was hard under Saddam, but it was life nonetheless. Saddam was not perpetrating genocide, which would have given the intervention a humanitarian justification, allowing us to claim we killed thousands to save hundreds of thousands. But you know better.

 A vote for Bush promises the absolution of denial - and that, I think, explains his otherwise inexplicable hold on the electorate. The President cannot face the truth, but his moral blindness won't excuse yours. Our soldiers have done their duty. No dishonor attaches to them. It attaches to Bush; and it will attach to you if you vote for him.

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Editorial: One Big Mess
23 October 2004

Last year, when reports about a possible United Nations role in the oil-for-food scam in Iraq first broke out, few people could have imagined its scale. Fewer would have believed that senior UN officials and dozens of prominent personalities in more than 30 countries had been drawn into a diabolical scheme to rob the Iraqi people, then suffering under UN-imposed sanctions. The earliest reports, based on documents from Iraqi ministries, showed that a UN assistant secretary-general was at the center of the scam.

At first the UN reacted to the reports with haughty denials and attempts at stonewalling an investigation. But the mess smelled so bad that Secretary-General Kofi Annan, whose son is accused of having hitched a ride on the Iraqi gravy train, was forced to accept a limited probe. To head it, Annan chose Paul Volcker, the former boss of the Federal Reserve, the United States’ central bank. Annan also advised his assistant Benon Sevan, the man at the center of the scandal, to take early retirement.

Volcker has just unveiled his initial findings; and they point to an even bigger mess than originally suspected. Over 4,500 companies from more than two dozen countries, including the United States, were involved in buying Iraqi oil under Saddam Hussein to generate money Iraq needed to import food, medicine and other necessities. Saddam Hussein devised a system under which he used oil quotas to buy support in the UN and in a number of Arab, European and Asian countries. The favored person or group would be allocated a quantity of crude oil at a given price that could then be sold at a margin that would then be split between Saddam and the recipient of the favor.

According to initial estimates, more than $4.5 billion was thus siphoned off. Considering that the oil-for-food program generated a total income of over $40 billion, the amount stolen appears even more daunting. The legendary Forty Thieves of Baghdad could not have pulled off such a scam even with help from Ali Baba.

It would, of course, be too easy to blame all that on Saddam Hussein. But in corruption, as in most walks of life, it takes two to tango. The list of names that have already emerged of those involved in the theft includes French and Russian Cabinet ministers, Arab-nationalist intellectuals, holier-than-thou journalists from a dozen countries, and, last but not least, hundreds of supposedly respectable Western corporations. Without their help Saddam would not have been able to pull off the scam.

While Volcker’s mission is welcome as a first step, it is far from sufficient for at least two reasons.

 The first is that it cannot subpoena anyone or question witnesses under oath. Many of the politicians, company directors, journalists and free-wheelers named in the documents could simply refuse to answer Volcker’s telephone calls, let alone testify. The second reason is that Volcker’s mission could bring no criminal charges against any of those involved in the giant-size theft.

Only a proper judicial inquiry, held in public, by the United States, which is the UN’s host country, preferably in conjunction with the European Union and, of course, Iraq, could reveal the whole truth and bring the thieves to justice.

The More Things Change...

October 23, 2004
The More Things Change...


Why is this country still tied?

 Over the past four years, we've experienced a major terrorist attack, a recession, a dot-com shakeout, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, corporate scandals and an active and tumultuous presidency. We've had an influx of new citizens. Millions have died of old age, and tens of millions have moved to new towns and new states.

 Yet the political landscape looks almost exactly the same. We're still divided right down the middle. We're still looking at razor-thin margins in states like Florida. If you compare the demographic breakdowns of the Bush-Kerry race to those of the Bush-Gore race in 2000, you find they are quite similar. Why does everything in America change except politics?

 That is the central mystery of this election.

 The only possible conclusion is that there is some deep, tectonic fissure that shapes the electorate, a fissure so fundamental that it is unaffected by the enormous shocks we've felt over the past four years. Remember, it is very unusual to have two close presidential elections in a row. This hasn't occurred for about 120 years.

 But what explains this stable divide?

.../...[prev is fyi only]

Perhaps the presence of US troops is as much offending a territorial imperative as representing a threat to Islam from the Christian West. AQ's beef has always been that infidel troops defile the holy land of SA. Hizbollah ushered us out of their turf, Lebanon, with the barracks bombing.

I have circled around to bud's citation of The Foundation Trilogy. We'd be a lot better off fighting smarter rather than harder.

Posted by: Ready to Hurl | Aug 5, 2006 11:21:30 AM


I'd like to think that the errors are more in the line of an incomplete explanation, but... It did seem like I was blathering on a bit too much at the time and was in danger of not making any rational points at all.

The idea of fostering the divide between fundamental Shia and Sunni Muslims has some attractiveness at its face value, however, I believe that they are two sides of the same coin, if you will. Their practical distinction for U.S. foreign policy is that the Shia variety is overtly state sponsored (Iran) and the Sunni is tolerated and encouraged by the Arab autocracies (for their own reasons).

Both varieties would like to ultimately impose their thecratic beliefs on the entire world (after the Middle East). Their root causes have more in common than not, and it's these causes that must be changed if a lasting solution is to be found. (That is a solution short of genocide.)

I do agree with your observation re the Saudis. Their initial opposition to the Hezbollah attack was undoubtable caused by a fear of Hezbollah's (and more pointedly, Iran's) gaining strength in the Gulf region. However, as the Israeli offensive in southern Lebanon continues, Arab man-on-the-street opinion and protest grows. The Arab autocracies will exploit (and actively foster through their state controlled media) that opinion and excoriate Israel for its actions. (This is actually happening now, just under-reported in the U.S.)

The continuation of the hostilities between Israel and the Hezbollah plays into the hands of the Arab autocrats, though, a materially weakened (though media enhanced) Hezbollah and a renewed, evil Zionist Israel. The Arab protest to the contrary are, IMO, just so many alligator tears.

It is pandering to (and encouraging) this Arab hatred of Israel that the Arab autocracies use to deflect public attention from dissatifaction with domestic life in the Gulf "kingdoms." Essentially, the Arab autocrats indulge the theocrats (Sunni Wahabis) in order to consolidate their control. (Think of how the Catholic church supported the power of the Devine Right monarchies of the European Middle Ages.)

The internal situation is, of course, somewhat different in Iran where the theocrats have total political, economic, military, and social control.

The parallels to the Cold War are only valid up to a point, as you rightly point out. The main difference is, as you put it, "we've been bloodied" by our enemies. One can hope that the American populace of today doesn't grow complacent towards the goals of the groups that advocate Sharia Law for the whole world.

My points, though, with the Cold War parallels were: 1. That the present conflict will be a generational one, and that we must be ready to wage it over a generational time span; and 2. That ultimate victory is only achievable by forces indigenous to the lands which have spawned the terrorists, i.e. those populations and their leaders have to want to live in peace with the rest of the world.

Another parallel might be drawn with your observation about proxy conflicts. You are correct when you point out that Hezbollah has carried out very few attacks directly against U.S. interests (although I believe that there have been more than just the two you cite).

However, one could look at it as if the U.S. and Iran have been fighting a proxy war using Israel and the Hezbollah for about two decades (since the overthrow of the Shaw). It is almost certain that most of the Iranian leaders (and large numbers in the Arab world) view the situation thusly. (Bearing in mind the distinction between the Persians and the Arabs, the "Great Satin" is a common enemy.)

Having said all that, though, the Gulf Arab autocrats toss and turn in bed at night having nightmares about the "Persian Bomb." An atomic Iran is one of their worst fears since the Iranians would then be able to dictate the entire region's behavior. This is perhaps an diplomaticly exploitable difference, and surely the reason why the Arabs would allow us (at least secretly) to carry out a military attack against the Iranians if it came to it.

Finally, the U.S. has no significant (only a handful of advisors) military presence in Saudi Arabia anymore which has taken the wind out of AQ's the "infidels on holy land" argument. Of course, this has been changed (as all good propaganda themes do) to "colonialism" and "U.S. imperialism" in the region.

As Asimov said: smarter, not harder.

Posted by: SGM (ret.) | Aug 5, 2006 2:07:47 PM

SGM, some thought provoking points. I'll have to re-read it to fully digest it all. I'm not sure any explaination, no matter how informed or well thought out can capture all the many nuances of the middle-east. There are just too many factions with too many interests, both religious and secular. For someone with the limited understanding of the region as George W. Bush, overly simplistic foreign policy decisions are made regarding this complex region. The result is what we see in Iraq. An attempt to foster freedom and democracy along western style lines, when the people themselves don't view the world in the same way. Hence we have what is viewed as American Imperialism.

Bill Clinton's instincts were far better in dealing with these complexities. Many on the right have focused on his failures. But overall, his policies (and his 3 predecessors, Carter, Reagan and Bush Sr.) were moving the region in the right direction. All four men made mistakes but overall some progress was made. But what gains were made over the last 25 years of the 2th century have been squandered during the first 5 of the 21st.

This failure needs to be recognized and on election day rectified. We absolutely must vote for men and women who will pull our troops out of Iraq and begin anew the diplomatic overtures of the late 20th century. Diplomacy with moderate factions, regardless of their religious affiliation, is the only long-term solution for dealing with the radicals. Only then can real security be achieved.

Posted by: bud | Aug 5, 2006 2:44:23 PM

SGM, I've killed a bird in preparation for an augury.

The entrails indicate that this Fall a terrorist attack will succeed against the US. Whether the attack occurs in the US mainland or abroad is a bit fuzzy.

However, the perpetrators will assuredly be linked to Hezbollah.

This will accomplish two goals: (1) Rove will play the GOP war card to forestall the impending Republican electoral meltdown; and (2) Dear Leader will use it as a pretext to directly attack Iran.

I sure hope that I'm wrong but it serves this administration's goals so completely that it has to be an attractive option for this desperate crew.

Posted by: Ready to Hurl | Aug 5, 2006 6:18:40 PM

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