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.


Whose 'Moral Clarity' [Travesty of Hoaxes] Robert Parry

Whose 'Moral Clarity'?

By Robert Parry
July 27, 2006

George W. Bush is polishing up his “moral clarity” argument as he and his chief diplomat, Condoleezza Rice, signal to the Israelis that they should press ahead in crushing “terrorist” organizations like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.

Yet if there is any place in the world that lacks “moral clarity,” it is the Middle East – which is why Bush’s vision of the region has proved so dangerous. Rather than perceiving shades of gray and finding areas of compromise, Bush insists that everything is black and white – and thus justifies the use of overwhelming force to destroy evil wherever Bush sees it.

But even on issues where U.S. government officials and leading pundits speak in unison – denouncing “terrorist” groups like Hezbollah, for instance – there is far more ambiguity than Americans are being told.

Take, for instance, the widespread agreement that Hezbollah earned the opprobrium as “terrorist” because one of its suicide bombers destroyed the U.S. Marine barracks in 1983 killing 241 American servicemen in Beirut.

While this incident is routinely cited as the indisputable evidence that Hezbollah is an evil “terrorist” organization, the reality is much murkier. Indeed, under any objective definition of “terrorism,” the Beirut bombing would not qualify as a “terrorist” act.

“Terrorism” is classically defined as violence against civilians to achieve a political goal. In the case of the Marines, however, their status had changed from an original peacekeeping mission in the midst of Lebanon’s civil war into the role of combatant as the Reagan administration allowed “mission creep” to affect the assignment.

Heeding the advice of then-national security adviser Robert McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan authorized the USS New Jersey to fire long-distance shells into Muslim villages in the Bekaa Valley, killing civilians and convincing Shiite militants that the United States had joined the conflict.

On Oct. 23, 1983, Shiite militants struck back, sending a suicide truck bomber through U.S. security positions and demolishing the high-rise Marine barracks. “When the shells started falling on the Shiites, they assumed the American ‘referee’ had taken sides,” Gen. Colin Powell wrote about the incident in his memoirs, My American Journey.

In other words, even Colin Powell, who was then military adviser to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, recognized that the U.S. military intervention had altered the status of the Marines in the eyes of the Shiites.

False History

Yet, more than two decades later, senior U.S. officials continue to cite the Beirut bombing as Exhibit A on a list of past “terrorist” incidents that didn’t elicit a sufficiently harsh U.S. retaliation.

“Over the last several decades, Americans have seen how the terrorists pursue their objectives,” Vice President Dick Cheney said in a March 6, 2006, speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). “Simply stated, they would hit us, but we would not hit back hard enough. In Beirut in 1983, terrorists killed 241 Americans, and afterward U.S. forces withdrew from Beirut.”

But, in reality, the tit-for-tat violence in Beirut continued. Then-CIA director William Casey ordered secret counterterrorism operations against Islamic radicals. As retaliation, the Shiites targeted more Americans. Another bomb destroyed the U.S. Embassy and killed most of the CIA station.

Casey dispatched veteran CIA officer William Buckley to fill the void. But on March 14, 1984, Buckley was spirited off the streets of Beirut to face torture and death.

In 1985, Casey targeted Hezbollah leader Sheikh Fadlallah in an operation that included hiring operatives who detonated a car bomb outside the Beirut apartment building where Fadlallah lived.

As described by Bob Woodward in Veil, “the car exploded, killing 80 people and wounding 200, leaving devastation, fires and collapsed buildings. Anyone who had happened to be in the immediate neighborhood was killed, hurt or terrorized, but Fadlallah escaped without injury. His followers strung a huge ‘Made in the USA’ banner in front of a building that had been blown out.”

Historians trace the moral ambiguity between the West and Islam back even further, to the Crusades fought a millennium ago. Though the West has romanticized the image of chivalrous knights in shining armor protecting the Holy Lands from infidels, the Islamic world remembers a bloody Christian religious war waged against Arabs.

In 1099, for instance, the Crusaders massacred many of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. So, after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, when Bush called his “war on terror” a new “crusade,” al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden pounced on Bush’s gaffe to rally Islamic fundamentalists.

A typed statement attributed to bin Laden called the coming war “the new Christian-Jewish crusade led by the big crusader Bush under the flag of the cross.”


On the Israeli-Palestinian front, most Americans believe that the Arabs are the ones responsible for “terrorism” and the Israelis only react to unspeakable provocations, such as suicide bombings at restaurants and other civilian targets. But the deeper reality is that neither side has clean hands.

During the Israeli fight for independence in the late 1940s, Zionist extremists, including later national leaders Yitzhak Shamir and Menachem Begin, were members of terrorist groups that attacked Palestinian civilians and British authorities.

In one famous case, Jerusalem’s King David Hotel, where British officials and other foreigners lived, was blown up. Zionist extremists also used terror tactics, including killing civilians, to drive Palestinians off land that became part of Israel.

Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon – directed by then-Defense Minister Ariel Sharon – led to the massacre of some 1,800 Palestinian civilians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon.

The Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon continued for 18 years until Hezbollah militants using guerrilla tactics and suicide bombings forced Israel to withdraw in 2000.

Ignoring this morally murky history, Bush and his neoconservative supporters have presented the ongoing bloodshed to the American people in a crystal “moral clarity.”

Underlying some of these arguments also is a less-than-subtle appeal to anti-Arab bigotry. American politicians – both Republican and Democrat – have eagerly lined up behind Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman, despite his sometimes crudely anti-Muslim remarks.

For instance, at that March 6 AIPAC conference where Cheney spoke, Gillerman delighted the crowd with the quip, “While it may be true – and probably is – that not all Muslims are terrorists, it also happens to be true that nearly all terrorists are Muslim.”

On July 17, sharing the stage at a pro-Israel rally with New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and other politicians, Gillerman proudly defended Israel’s “disproportionate” violence against targets in Lebanon.

“Let us finish the job,” Gillerman told the crowd. “We will excise the cancer in Lebanon” and “cut off the fingers” of Hezbollah. Responding to international concerns that Israel was using “disproportionate” force in bombing Lebanon and killing hundreds of civilians, Gillerman said, “You’re damn right we are.” [NYT, July 18, 2006]

Media Bias

This overt pride in Israel’s “disproportionate” response to a Hezbollah raid on an Israeli military outpost – a reaction that has claimed the lives of some 400 Lebanese and dislocated about one-fifth of the nation’s population – has carried over into the Op-Ed pages of prominent U.S. newspapers.

For instance, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote, “Israel may or may not be the land of milk and honey, but it certainly seems to be the land of disproportionate military response – and a good thing, too.”

Cohen suggested that any criticism of Israel for killing excessive numbers of Lebanese civilians bordered on anti-Semitism.

“The dire consequences of proportionality are so clear that it makes you wonder if it is a fig leaf for anti-Israel sentiment in general,” Cohen wrote. “Anyone who knows anything about the Middle East knows that proportionality is madness. … It is not good enough to take out this or that missile battery. It is necessary to reestablish deterrence: You slap me, I will punch out your lights.”

In effect, Cohen called for the collective punishment of the Lebanese population in retaliation for the actions of Hezbollah, including the capture of two Israeli soldiers in support of a proposed prisoner exchange and the firing of unguided rockets into cities in northern Israel.

“The only way to ensure that [Israeli] babies don’t die in their cribs and old people in the streets [of Israel] is to make the Lebanese or the Palestinians understand that if they, no matter how reluctantly, host those rockets, they will pay a very, very steep price,” Cohen wrote.

Overlaying his deconstruction of the Nuremberg principles, which prohibit the retaliatory killings of civilians, Cohen concluded his essay with a foul topping of racism, anti-Muslim bigotry and an implicit rationalization for ethnic cleansing:

“Israel is, as I have often said, unfortunately located, gentrifying a pretty bad neighborhood. But the world is full of dislocated peoples, and we ourselves live in a country where the Indians were pushed out of the way so that – oh, what irony! – the owners of slaves could spread liberty and democracy from sea to shining sea. As for Europe, who today cries for the Greeks of Anatolia or the Germans of Bohemia?” [Washington Post, July 25, 2006]

But one lesson of six decades of post-Nuremberg history is that there sometimes are consequences for world leaders and even propagandists who whip populations into frenzies of ethnic or racial violence.

Granted, those brought to account – the Serb ethnic cleansers or the Rwandan killers – are often from relatively weak countries with few powerful defenders. But there may be lines even in the Middle East that – if crossed – could forever sully the names of the perpetrators and possibly their governments or armies.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

[Arab Genocide] Pretexts and Hoaxes, Oh My.

A 'Pretext' War in Lebanon

By Robert Parry
August 9, 2006

Three days after the May 23 summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and U.S. President George W. Bush, a car bomb killed two officials of Islamic Jihad in the Lebanese city of Sidon.

Immediately, Lebanese officials, including Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, denounced the murder of brothers Nidal and Mahmoud Majzoub and pointed the finger at Israel as the prime suspect. On June 10, a man named Mahmoud Rafeh was arrested for the car bombing and, according to the Lebanese army, confessed that he was a Mossad agent.

Rafeh, a 59-year-old retired police officer, belonged to a “terror network working for the Israeli Mossad,” which had smuggled a booby-trapped door into Lebanon from Israel for use in the assassination, the Lebanese army said.

In retrospect, the Majzoub assassination looks to have been part of a larger U.S.-Israeli strategy – following the Olmert-Bush summit – to encourage a tit-for-tat escalation of violence that would ratchet up pressure on Palestinian and Lebanese militants – and through them their allies in Syria and Iran.

That violence also set the stage for the current Israeli-Lebanese war, which now has raged for almost one month and has claimed the lives of nearly 1,000 Lebanese and 100 Israelis.

A Year for War

According to Israeli sources, Olmert and Bush agreed at the May 23 summit to make 2006 the year for neutralizing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, while deferring a border settlement with the Palestinians until 2007.

Provoking a wider regional conflict also revived hopes among Bush’s neoconservative advisers that they might yet create a “new Middle East” that would be amenable to U.S. and Israeli desires and interests.

In this context, the Israeli-Lebanese war was a confrontation looking for a pretext, not an ad hoc response to Hezbollah’s capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12. That so-called “kidnapping” has been sold to the American people and many world leaders as the precipitating event for the conflict, but it now appears only to have been a trigger for a prearranged scheme.

Israeli sources indicate that Bush gave Olmert a green light for the conflict at the May 23 summit. The sources said Bush has even encouraged Israel to expand the war by attacking Syria, although Israeli leaders balked at that recommendation because they lacked an immediate justification.

One Israeli source said some Israeli officials considered Bush’s interest in an attack on Syria “nuts” since it would have been viewed by much of the world as an act of overt aggression. Bush, however, is said to still hold out hope that reactions by Syria or Iran – such as coming to the aid of Hezbollah – could open the door to a broader conflict.

In an article on July 30, the Jerusalem Post hinted at Bush’s continued interest in a wider war involving Syria. “Defense officials told the Post last week that they were receiving indications from the US that America would be interested in seeing Israel attack Syria,” the newspaper reported.

Bush pursued a similar “pretext” war strategy in 2003 when he sought a provocation by Iraq that would give legal cover for invading that country.

A leaked British document recounted an Oval Office meeting between Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair on Jan. 31, 2003. Even as Bush was publicly telling the American people that he viewed war with Iraq as a “last resort,” he had already made up his mind and was scheming to find excuses for justifying an attack on Iraq.

According to minutes written by Blair’s top foreign policy aide David Manning, “the U.S. was thinking of flying U-2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach.”

Regardless of whether a casus belli could be provoked, Bush already had “penciled in” March 10, 2003, as the start of the U.S. bombing of Iraq, according to the memo. “Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,” Manning wrote.

As it turned out, Bush brushed aside Blair’s worries about the legality of an unprovoked invasion of Iraq and went ahead with the assault on March 19, 2003. Though Iraq’s dictator Saddam Hussein was ousted after a three-week U.S.-led assault, Iraqi insurgents have battled the American occupying army since then in a war that has claimed the lives of almost 2,600 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis.

New Ambitions

Many American observers believed that the disaster in Iraq would tamp down Bush’s ambition to remake the region. However, with Olmert’s ascension to power in Israel in 2006, Bush saw a kindred spirit who believed that military force was the only way to get Islamic adversaries to make necessary concessions.

After the May 23 meeting with Bush, Olmert declared that “this is a moment of truth” for addressing Iran’s alleged ambitions to build a nuclear bomb.

In a speech to a joint session of Congress on May 24, Olmert called the possibility of Iran building a nuclear weapon “an existential threat” to Israel, meaning that Israel believed its very existence was in danger.

Two days later, the car bomb killed the Majzoub brothers in Sidon and a new cycle of escalation began. In reaction to the assassinations, Islamic militants fired rockets into Israel, which, in turn, counter-attacked killing one Hezbollah fighter.

Tensions rose further when fighting between Israelis and Palestinians resumed in Gaza. On the night of June 23, Israeli commandos crossed into Gaza and seized Osama and Mustafa Abu Muamar, two sons of Hamas activist Ali Muamar. [BBC,  June 24, 2006]

Early on the morning of June 24, Hamas militants snuck into Israel via a tunnel from Gaza and attacked an Israel patrol, killing two soldiers and capturing Corporal Gilad Shalit as a part of a demand for a prisoner exchange. Israel is reported to hold about 10,000 Palestinian prisoners.

On June 27, as these tensions mounted, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was still working to advance a possible peace settlement with Israel. Abbas coaxed the more radical Hamas, which controls the Palestinian parliament, into endorsing a document proposing a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Abbas’s success represented a potential breakthrough in a border settlement with Israel, since Hamas implicitly was accepting Israel as a neighbor next to an independent Palestinian state.

But the next day, June 28, Olmert sent the Israeli army crashing into Gaza to avenge the “kidnapping” of Shalit, a phrasing that the U.S. news media immediately adopted in blaming Hamas for instigating the crisis.

As the Israeli army overwhelmed scattered Palestinian resistance and began “detaining” – not “kidnapping” – Hamas legislators, tensions were also mounting on the Israeli-Lebanese border. On July 12, Hezbollah forces attacked an Israeli border outpost, killing three soldiers and capturing – or “kidnapping” – two others, also seeking a prisoner exchange.

The July 12 incident opened up the floodgates of violence. Israel launched a broad air-and-ground offensive aimed at crushing Hezbollah by blasting apart its strongholds in south Lebanon and destroying much of Lebanon’s economic infrastructure, from roads to communications. Hezbollah launched hundreds of Katyusha rockets into northern Israel.

Besides the almost 1,000 Lebanese who have died, an estimated one million – or about one-fourth of Lebanon's population – were displaced from their homes. The Israeli death toll, both military and civilian, stood at about 100.

While many international leaders called for an immediate cease-fire to stop the bloodshed in July, Bush staunchly defended Israel’s actions as a legitimate act of self-defense against “terrorists.”

In an unguarded moment during the G-8 summit in Russia on July 17, Bush – speaking with his mouth full of food – told Blair “what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit.”

Not realizing that a nearby microphone was turned on, Bush also complained about suggestions for a cease-fire and an international peacekeeping force. “We’re not blaming Israel and we’re not blaming the Lebanese government,” Bush said, suggesting that the blame should fall on others, presumably Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.

Meanwhile, John Bolton, Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations, suggested that the United States would only accept a multilateral U.N. force if it had the capacity to take on Hezbollah's backers in Syria and Iran.

“The real problem is Hezbollah,” Bolton said. “Would it [a U.N. force] be empowered to deal with countries like Syria and Iran that support Hezbollah?” [NYT, July 18, 2006]


By early August, as rage throughout the Middle East rose to a boil, the Bush administration finally put forth a cease-fire plan. But it read as if it were designed to further stir Arab anger and extend the conflict.

While demanding that Hezbollah stop fighting and effectively disarm, it would allow Israeli forces to remain in south Lebanon and only require Israel to cease “offensive” operations. A multinational force would then replace the Israeli army and police a buffer zone carved entirely out of south Lebanon.

Bush said his cease-fire goal was to strike at the “root cause” of the conflict, the existence of Hezbollah as an armed militia inside Lebanon.

“By taking these steps, it will prevent armed militias like Hezbollah and its Iranian and Syrian sponsors from sparking another crisis,” Bush said at an Aug. 7 news conference in Crawford, Texas.

“The loss of life on both sides of the Lebanese-Israeli border has been a great tragedy,” Bush said. “Millions of Lebanese civilians have been caught in the crossfire of military operations because of the unprovoked attack and kidnappings by Hezbollah. The humanitarian crisis in Lebanon is of deep concern to all Americans, and alleviating it will remain a priority of my government.”

But the reality appears to be quite different. Much as Bush told the American people that he considered war with Iraq “a last resort” long after he had decided to invade, Bush is now saying his goal is to relieve a humanitarian crisis when he actually hopes to expand the conflict and force a showdown with Syria and Iran.

While U.S. officials have been careful not to link the Lebanon conflict to any possible military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities, they have spoken privately about using the current conflict to counter growing Iranian influence.

Only days after the Lebanon-Israel conflict began, Washington Post foreign policy analyst Robin Wright wrote that U.S. officials told her that “for the United States, the broader goal is to strangle the axis of Hezbollah, Hamas, Syria and Iran, which the Bush administration believes is pooling resources to change the strategic playing field in the Middle East. …

“Whatever the outrage on the Arab streets, Washington believes it has strong behind-the-scenes support among key Arab leaders also nervous about the populist militants – with a tacit agreement that the timing is right to strike.” [Washington Post, July 16, 2006]

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth.'

Back to Home Page

Hand-In-Glove= Boosh & Bin Laddens [Robert Parry]

The Bush-Bin Laden Symbiosis

By Robert Parry
August 11, 2006

As Americans suffer through another terrorism scare and George W. Bush talks tough about a long war against “Islamic fascists,” it bears remembering that top CIA analysts concluded that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden released a videotape right before Election 2004 to help Bush win a second term.

Many liberals and Democrats have focused on allegations of Republican voter suppression and vote tampering, especially in the swing state of Ohio. But polls suggest that a more decisive factor in Bush’s narrow victory in 2004 was the reaction of the American people to bin Laden’s last-minute tirade against Bush.

On Oct. 29, 2004, the Friday before Election 2004, bin Laden broke nearly a year of silence and took the risk of releasing a videotape that denounced Bush and was immediately spun by Bush’s supporters as bin Laden’s “endorsement” of Democratic Sen. John Kerry.

According to two polls taken during and after the videotape’s release, Bush experienced a bump of several percentage points, from a virtual tie with Kerry to a five or six percentage point lead. Tracking polls by TIPP and Newsweek detected a surge in Bush support from a statistically insignificant two-point lead to five and six points, respectively.

On Nov. 2, 2004, the official results showed Bush winning by a margin of less than three percentage points. So, arguably the intervention by bin Laden – essentially urging Americans to reject Bush – had the predictable effect of driving voters to the President, possibly in sufficient numbers to tip the balance of the election.

CIA Assessment

After the videotape appeared, senior CIA analysts concluded that ensuring a second term for Bush was precisely what bin Laden intended.

“Bin Laden certainly did a nice favor today for the President,” said deputy CIA director John McLaughlin in opening a meeting to review secret “strategic analysis” after the videotape had dominated the day’s news, according to Ron Suskind’s The One Percent Doctrine, which draws heavily from CIA insiders.

Suskind wrote that CIA analysts had spent years “parsing each expressed word of the al-Qaeda leader and his deputy, [Ayman] Zawahiri. What they’d learned over nearly a decade is that bin Laden speaks only for strategic reasons. … Today’s conclusion: bin Laden’s message was clearly designed to assist the President’s reelection.”

Jami Miscik, CIA deputy associate director for intelligence, expressed the consensus view that bin Laden recognized how Bush’s heavy-handed policies – such as the Guantanamo prison camp, the Abu Ghraib scandal and the war in Iraq – were serving al-Qaeda’s strategic goals for recruiting a new generation of jihadists.

“Certainly,” Miscik said, “he would want Bush to keep doing what he’s doing for a few more years,” according to Suskind’s account.

As their internal assessment sank in, the CIA analysts were troubled by the implications of their own conclusions. “An ocean of hard truths before them – such as what did it say about U.S. policies that bin Laden would want Bush reelected – remained untouched,” Suskind wrote.

Bush Spin

Bush enthusiasts, however, took bin Laden’s videotape at face value, calling it proof the terrorist leader feared Bush and favored Kerry.

In a fawningly pro-Bush book entitled Strategery: How George W. Bush Is Defeating Terrorists, Outwitting Democrats and Confounding the Mainstream Media, right-wing journalist Bill Sammon devoted several pages to bin Laden’s videotape, portraying it as an attempt by the terrorist leader to persuade Americans to vote for Kerry.

“Bin Laden stopped short of overtly endorsing Kerry,” Sammon wrote, “but the terrorist offered a polemic against reelecting Bush. … Unfortunately for Kerry, bin Laden then proceeded to parrot the Democrat’s litany of complaints against Bush, right down to the Michael Moore-inspired canard about My Pet Goat.”

It’s not clear why Sammon used the word “canard,” which means an unfounded or false story, since it’s a well-established fact that Bush did sit paralyzed for about seven minutes in a Florida classroom reading My Pet Goat after being told on Sept. 11, 2001, that “America is under attack.”

Sammon also didn’t weigh the obvious possibility that the crafty bin Laden might have understood that his “endorsement” of Kerry over Bush would achieve the opposite effect with the American people.

Indeed, many right-wing pundits appear to have played into bin Laden’s hands by promoting his anti-Bush diatribe just he wanted, as a de facto recommendation that Americans vote for Kerry – and thus a sure way to generate votes for Bush.

Bush himself recognized this fact. “I thought it was going to help,” Bush said in a post-election interview with Sammon about bin Laden’s videotape. “I thought it would help remind people that if bin Laden doesn’t want Bush to be the President, something must be right with Bush.”

In Strategery, Sammon also quotes Republican National Chairman Ken Mehlman as agreeing that bin Laden’s videotape helped Bush. “It reminded people of the stakes,” Mehlman said. “It reinforced an issue on which Bush had a big lead over Kerry.”

So how hard is it to figure out that bin Laden – a longtime student of American politics – would have understood exactly the same point?

Briar Patch

Many American baby-boomers grew up watching Walt Disney’s “Song of the South,” featuring Uncle Remus tales describing how the clever Brer Rabbit escaped one famously tight spot by pretending that what he feared most was to be hurled into the briar patch – when that was exactly where he wanted to go.

Indeed, the evidence is now clear that al-Qaeda strategists have long operated in much the same way, trying to goad the U.S. government into an overreaction that would put them in an environment where they could be most successful. [See’s  “Osama’s Briar Patch” or “Is Bush al-Qaeda's 'Useful Idiot?'”]

At the height of Campaign 2000, al-Qaeda took aim at another American target, the destroyer USS Cole, as it docked in the port of Aden. On Oct. 12, 2000, al-Qaeda operatives piloted a small boat laden with explosives into the Cole’s hull, blasting a hole that killed 17 crew members and wounded another 40.

Back in Afghanistan, bin Laden anticipated – and desired – a retaliatory strike. He hoped to lure the United States deeper into a direct conflict with al-Qaeda, which would enhance his group’s reputation and – assuming a clumsy U.S. response – would radicalize the region’s Muslim populations.

Bin Laden evacuated al-Qaeda’s compound at the Kandahar airport and fled into the desert near Kabul and then to hideouts in Khowst and Jalalabad before returning to Kandahar where he alternated sleeping among a half dozen residences, according to the 9/11 Commission Report.

But lacking hard evidence proving who was behind the Cole bombing, President Bill Clinton didn’t order a retaliatory strike, leaving bin Laden deeply frustrated. Eventually, U.S. intelligence reached a conclusion that the attack was “a full-fledged al-Qaeda operation” under the direct supervision of bin Laden.

However, in January 2001, George W. Bush took office and wanted nothing to do with Clinton’s assessment that al-Qaeda ranked at the top of the U.S. threat list. From his opening days in office, Bush rebuffed the recommendations from almost anyone who shared Clinton’s phobia about terrorism.

On Jan. 31, 2001, just 11 days after Bush’s Inauguration, a bipartisan terrorism commission headed by former Sens. Gary Hart and Warren Rudman unveiled its final report, warning that urgent steps were needed to prevent a terrorist attack on U.S. cities.

“States, terrorists and other disaffected groups will acquire weapons of mass destruction, and some will use them,” the report said. “Americans will likely die on American soil, possibly in large numbers.” Hart specifically noted that the nation was vulnerable to “a weapon of mass destruction in a high-rise building.”

The 9/11 Strike

Meanwhile, al-Qaeda was preparing precisely that kind of attack.

“In February 2001, a source reported that an individual whom he identified as the big instructor (probably a reference to bin Laden) complained frequently that the United States had not yet attacked. According to the source, bin Laden wanted the United States to attack, and if it did not he would launch something bigger,” the 9/11 Commission wrote,

By early summer 2001, as 19 al-Qaeda operatives positioned themselves inside the United States, U.S. intelligence analysts picked up more evidence of al-Qaeda’s plans by sifting through the “chatter” of electronic intercepts. The U.S. warning system was “blinking red.”

Over the July Fourth 2001 holiday, a well-placed U.S. intelligence source passed on a disturbing piece of information to then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who later recounted the incident in an interview with Alternet.

“The person told me that there was some concern about an intercept that had been picked up,” Miller said. “The incident that had gotten everyone’s attention was a conversation between two members of al-Qaeda. And they had been talking to one another, supposedly expressing disappointment that the United States had not chosen to retaliate more seriously against what had happened to the Cole.

“And one al-Qaeda operative was overheard saying to the other, ‘Don’t worry; we’re planning something so big now that the U.S. will have to respond.’”

In the Alternet interview, published in May 2006 after Miller resigned from the Times, the reporter expressed regret that she had not been able to nail down enough details about the intercept to get the story into the newspaper.

But the significance of her recollection is that more than two months before the 9/11 attacks, the CIA knew that al-Qaeda was planning a major attack with the intent of provoking a U.S. military reaction – or in this case, an overreaction.

Unheeded Warning

The CIA tried to warn Bush about the threat with the hope that presidential action could energize government agencies and head off the attack. On Aug. 6, 2001, the CIA sent analysts to Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, to brief him and deliver a report entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US.”

Bush was not pleased by the intrusion. He glared at the CIA briefer and snapped, “All right, you’ve covered your ass,” according to Suskind’s book.

Then, ordering no special response, Bush returned to a vacation of fishing, clearing brush and working on a speech about stem-cell research.

For its part, al-Qaeda was running a risk that the United States might strike a precise and devastating blow against the terrorist organization, eliminating it as an effective force without alienating much of the Muslim world.

If that happened, the cause of Islamic extremism could have been set back years, without eliciting much sympathy from most Muslims for a band of killers who wantonly murdered innocent civilians.

After the 9/11 attacks, al-Qaeda’s gamble almost failed as the CIA, backed by U.S. Special Forces, ousted bin Laden’s Taliban allies in Afghanistan and cornered much of the al-Qaeda leadership in the mountains of Tora Bora near the Pakistani border.

But instead of using U.S. ground troops to seal the border, Bush relied on the Pakistani army. The Pakistani military, which included many Taliban sympathizers, moved too slowly, allowing bin Laden and other leaders to escape.

Then, instead of staying focused on bin Laden and his fellow fugitives, Bush shifted U.S. Special Forces toward Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

Many U.S. terrorism experts, including White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, were shocked since the intelligence community didn’t believe that Hussein’s secular dictatorship had any working relationship with al-Qaeda – and had no role in the 9/11 attacks.

Nevertheless, Bush ordered an invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, ousting Hussein from power but also unleashing mayhem across Iraqi society. The Iraq War along with the controversies over torture and mistreatment of Muslim detainees served as recruitment posters for al-Qaeda.

Soon, al-Qaeda had established terrorist cells in central Iraq, taking root amid the weeds of sectarian violence and the nation’s general anarchy. Instead of an obscure group of misfits, al-Qaeda was achieving legendary status among many Muslims as the defenders of the Islamic holy lands, battling the new “crusaders” led by Bush.

The Bush Bounce

Back in the United States, the 9/11 attacks were working political wonders for Bush, too. He had reinvented himself as a “war president” who operated almost without oversight. He saw his approval ratings surge from the 50s to the 90s – and watched as the Republican Party consolidated its control of the U.S. Congress in 2002.

Though the worsening bloodshed in Iraq eroded Bush’s popularity in 2004, political adviser Karl Rove still framed the election around Bush’s aggressive moves to defend the United States and to punish American enemies.

Whereas Bush was supposedly resolute, Democrat Kerry was portrayed as weak and indecisive, a “flip-flopper.” Kerry, however, scored some political points in the presidential debates by citing the debacle at Tora Bora that enabled bin Laden to escape.

The race was considered neck-and-neck as it turned toward the final weekend of campaigning. Then, the shimmering image of Osama bin Laden appeared on American televisions, speaking directly to the American people, mocking Bush and offering a kind of truce if U.S. forces withdrew from the Middle East.

“He [Bush] was more interested in listening to the child’s story about the goat rather than worry about what was happening to the [twin] towers,” bin Laden said. “So, we had three times the time necessary to accomplish the events.”

Over the final weekend of the campaign, right-wing pundits, bloggers and talk-show hosts portrayed bin Laden’s videotape as an effort to hurt Bush and help Kerry – which understandably prompted the opposite reaction among many Americans.

Behind the walls of secrecy at Langley, Virginia, however, U.S. intelligence experts reviewed the evidence and concluded that bin Laden had achieved exactly what he wanted, a stampede of voters to Bush and a continuation of the clumsy “war on terror.”

Now as the Middle East conflagration has drawn in Israel and spread to Lebanon and Gaza – and may jump to Syria and Iran – the larger Islamic world is beginning to look more and more like the briar patch where Osama bin Laden and other violent extremists feel most comfortable.

Similarly, the Aug. 10 arrests of 24 alleged plotters scheming to use mixtures of liquid chemicals to blow up U.S. airliners over the Atlantic Ocean have given Bush the opportunity to reprise his popular role as the nation’s protector against the evil terrorists.

“The recent arrests that our fellow citizens are now learning about are a stark reminder that this nation is at war with Islamic fascists who will use any means to destroy those of us who love freedom, to hurt our nation,” Bush said, standing dramatically alone on the tarmac of an airport in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

If recent history is any guide, Bush can expect a bump in his sagging poll numbers as Americans again rally around the President during a time of anxiety. The strange symbiotic relationship between Bush and bin Laden continues.

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at It's also available at, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth

9/11 Panel Downplayed Israeli Link [ by Ivan Eland]

9/11 Panel Downplayed Israeli Link

By Ivan Eland
August 9, 2006

Editor's Note: Much like Social Security has been in domestic politics,  Israel has been the "third rail" in foreign policy that can spell doom for politicians who dare touch it. Just ask former Sen. Charles Percy, R-Ill., or Democratic President Jimmy Carter, who for different reasons got on the wrong side of the Israeli lobby.

In this guest essay, the Independent Institute's Ivan Eland looks at how even the 9/11 Commission watered down references to the U.S. support for Israel in explaining Osama bin Laden's motivation for attacking the United States:

As both the Bush administration and its client government in Israel, with their invasions of Arab states in Iraq and Lebanon, respectively, make the United States ever more hated in the Islamic world, a new book by the chairmen of the 9/11 Commission admits that the commission whitewashed the root cause of the 9/11 attacks—that same interventionist U.S. foreign policy.

Former Governor Tom Kean and former Congressman Lee Hamilton, chairmen of the 9/11 Commission—publicity hounds that they are—want to keep the long-retired but much celebrated panel in the public mind. They have written a tell-all book, Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission (Knopf, Aug. 15, 2006),  about the trials and tribulations of the panel’s work.

Despite the commission’s disastrous recommendations—which led to a reorganization of the U.S. intelligence community that worsened its original, pre-9/11 defect (a severe coordination problem caused by bureaucratic bloat)—and apparent whitewashing of the single most important issue it examined, the chairmen are trying their best to write another best seller.

The book usefully details the administration’s willful misrepresentation of its incompetent actions that day, but makes the shocking admission that some commission members deliberately wanted to distort an even more important issue. Apparently, unidentified commissioners wanted to cover up the fact that U.S. support for Israel was one of the motivating factors behind al Qaeda’s 9/11 attack.

Although Hamilton, to his credit, argued for saying that the reasons al Qaeda committed the heinous strike were the U.S. military presence in the Middle East and American support for Israel, the panel watered down that frank conclusion to state that U.S. policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and  U.S. policy on Iraq are “dominant staples of popular commentary across the Arab and Muslim world.”

Some commissioners wanted to cover up the link between the 9/11 attack and U.S. support for Israel because this might imply that the United States should alter policy and lessen its support for Israeli actions. How right they were.

The question is simple: if the vast bulk of Americans would be safer if U.S. politicians moderated their slavish support of Israel, designed to win the support of key pressure groups at home, wouldn’t it be a good idea to make this change in course?

Average U.S. citizens might attenuate their support for Israel if the link between the 9/11 attacks and unquestioning U.S. favoritism for Israeli excesses were more widely known. Similarly, if American taxpayers knew that the expensive and unnecessary U.S. policy of intervening in the affairs of countries all over the world—including the U.S. military presence in the Middle East—made them less secure from terrorist attacks at home, pressure would likely build for an abrupt change to a more restrained U.S. foreign policy.

But like the original 9/11 Commission report, President Bush regularly obscures this important reality by saying that America was attacked on 9/11 because of its freedoms, making no mention of U.S. interventionist foreign policy as the root cause.

Yet numerous public opinion polls in the Islamic world repeatedly prove the president wrong. The surveys show that people in Islamic countries admire American political and economic freedoms, culture, and technology.

But when Muslims are polled on the level of their approval of U.S. foreign policy, the numbers go through the floor. Much of this negative attitude derives from mindless U.S. backing of anything Israel does. In addition, Osama bin Laden has repeatedly written or stated that he attacks the United States because of its military presence in the Persian Gulf and its support for Israel and corrupt regimes in the Arab world.

The Bush administration has worsened the anti-U.S. hatred in Islamic countries, which drives this blowback terrorism, by its invasion of Iraq and its support of Israel’s excessive military response in Lebanon. Unfortunately, innocent Iraqis and Lebanese are unlikely to be the only ones afflicted with the damage from U.S. interventionism.

Innocent Israelis and Americans have been, and likely will continue to be, the victims of policies that have been sold by President Bush on the basis of making the citizens of both countries safer and more secure, while the 9/11 Commission obediently has covered the administration’s tracks.  

Ivan Eland is a Senior Fellow at The Independent Institute, Director of the Institute’s Center on Peace & Liberty, and author of the books The Empire Has No Clothes, and Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy.


Chomsky: WHEE! "Apocalypse Near" || Phil =capitulated? No words yet! I "own" half your Car!

Learning Israel's Tactics For Dummies

Apocalypse Near  

Following intellectuals' letter, Prof. Noam Chomsky explains his doctrine, discusses danger of Israel's nukes compared to 'Iranian threat,' global media's role in escalating Mideast conflict and US's place in picture

By Merav Yudilovitch

08/09/06 "Ynet" -- -- Last week, a group of renowned intellectuals published an open letter blaming Israel for escalating the conflict in the Middle East. The letter, which mainly referred to the alignment of forces between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, caused a lot of anger among Ynet and Ynetnews readers, particularly due to its claim that the Israeli policy's political aim is to eliminate the Palestinian nation.

The letter was formulated by art critic and author John Berger and among its signatories were Nobel Prize winner, playwright Harold Pinter, linguist and theoretician Noam Chomsly, Nobel Prize laureate Jos é Saramago, Booker Prize laureate Arundhati Roy, American author Russell Banks, author and playwright Gore Vidal, and historian Howard Zinn.

Prof. Chomsky, you claimed that the provocation and counter-provocation all serve as a distraction from the real issue. What does it mean?

"I assume you are referring to John Berger’s letter (which I signed, among others). The “real issue” that is being ignored is the systematic destruction of any prospects for a viable Palestinian existence as Israel annexes valuable land and major resources, leaving the shrinking territories assigned to Palestinians as unviable cantons, largely separated from one another and from whatever little bit of Jerusalem is to be left to Palestinians, and completely imprisoned as Israel takes over the Jordan valley.

"This program of realignment cynically disguised as “withdrawal,” is of course completely illegal, in violation of Security Council resolutions and the unanimous decision of the World Court (including the dissenting statement of US Justice Buergenthal). If it is implemented as planned, it spells the end of the very broad international consensus on a two-state settlement that the US and Israel have unilaterally blocked for 30 years – matters that are so well documented that I do not have to review them here.

"To turn to your specific question, even a casual look at the Western press reveals that the crucial developments in the occupied territories are marginalized even more by the war in Lebanon. The ongoing destruction in Gaza – which was rarely seriously reported in the first place - has largely faded into the background, and the systematic takeover of the West Bank has virtually disappeared.

"However, I would not go as far as the implication in your question that this was a purpose of the war, though it clearly is the effect. We should recall that Gaza and the West Bank are recognized to be a unit, so that if resistance to Israel’s destructive and illegal programs is legitimate within the West Bank (and it would be interesting to see a rational argument to the contrary), then it is legitimate in Gaza as well."

You claim that the world media refuses to link between what's going on in the occupied territories and in Lebanon?

"Yes, but that is the least of the charges that should be leveled against the world media, and the intellectual communities generally. One of many far more severe charges is brought up in the opening paragraph of the Berger letter.

"Recall the facts. On June 25, Cpl. Gilad Shalit was captured, eliciting huge cries of outrage worldwide, continuing daily at a high pitch, and a sharp escalation in Israeli attacks in Gaza, supported on the grounds that capture of a soldier is a grave crime for which the population must be punished.

"One day before, on June 24, Israeli forces kidnapped two Gaza civilians, Osama and Mustafa Muamar, by any standards a far more severe crime than capture of a soldier. The Muamar kidnappings were certainly known to the major world media. They were reported at once in the English-language Israeli press, basically IDF handouts. And there were a few brief, scattered and dismissive reports in several newspapers around the US.

"Very revealingly, there was no comment, no follow-up, and no call for military or terrorist attacks against Israel. A Google search will quickly reveal the relative significance in the West of the kidnapping of civilians by the IDF and the capture of an Israeli soldier a day later.

"The paired events, a day apart, demonstrate with harsh clarity that the show of outrage over the Shalit kidnapping was cynical fraud. They reveal that by Western moral standards, kidnapping of civilians is just fine if it is done by “our side,” but capture of a soldier on “our side” a day later is a despicable crime that requires severe punishment of the population.

"As Gideon Levy accurately wrote in Ha’aretz, the IDF kidnapping of civilians the day before the capture of Cpl. Shalit strips away any “legitimate basis for the IDF's operation,” and, we may add, any legitimate basis for support for these operations.

"The same elementary moral principles carry over to the July 12 kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers near the Lebanon border, heightened, in this case, by the regular Israeli practice for many years of abducting Lebanese and holding many as hostages for long periods.  

Truly disgraceful

"Over the many years in which Israel carried out these practices regularly, even kidnapping on the high seas, no one ever argued that these crimes justified bombing and shelling of Israel, invasion and destruction of much of the country, or terrorist actions within it. The conclusions are stark, clear, and entirely unambiguous – hence suppressed.

"All of this is, obviously, of extraordinary importance in the present case, particularly given the dramatic timing. That is, I suppose, why the major media chose to avoid the crucial facts, apart from a very few scattered and dismissive phrases, revealing that they consider kidnapping a matter of no significance when carried by US-supported Israeli forces.

"Apologists for state crimes claim that the kidnapping of the Gaza civilians is justified by IDF claims that they are 'Hamas militants' or were planning crimes. By their logic, they should therefore be lauding the capture of Gilad Shalit, a soldier in an army that was shelling and bombing Gaza. These performances are truly disgraceful."

You are talking first and foremost about acknowledging the Palestinian nation, but will it solve the "Iranian threat"? Will it push Hizbullah from the Israeli border?

"Virtually all informed observers agree that a fair and equitable resolution of the plight of the Palestinians would considerably weaken the anger and hatred of Israel and the US in the Arab and Muslim worlds – and far beyond, as international polls reveal. Such an agreement is surely within reach, if the US and Israel depart from their long-standing rejectionism.

"On Iran and Hizbullah, there is, of course, much more to say, and I can only mention a few central points here.

"Let us begin with Iran. In 2003, Iran offered to negotiate all outstanding issues with the US, including nuclear issues and a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The offer was made by the moderate Khatami government, with the support of the hard-line “supreme leader” Ayatollah Khamenei. The Bush administration response was to censure the Swiss diplomat who brought the offer.

"In June 2006, Ayatollah Khamenei issued an official declaration stating that Iran agrees with the Arab countries on the issue of Palestine, meaning that it accepts the 2002 Arab League call for full normalization of relations with Israel in a two-state settlement in accord with the international consensus. The timing suggests that this might have been a reprimand to his subordinate Ahmadenijad, whose inflammatory statements are given wide publicity in the West, unlike the far more important declaration by his superior Khamenei.

"Of course, the PLO has officially backed a two-state solution for many years, and backed the 2002 Arab League proposal. Hamas has also indicated its willingness to negotiate a two-state settlement, as is surely well-known in Israel. Kharazzi is reported to be the author of the 2003 proposal of Khatami and Khamanei.

"The US and Israel do not want to hear any of this. They also do not want to hear that Iran appears to be the only country to have accepted the proposal by IAEA director Mohammed ElBaradei that all weapons-usable fissile materials be placed under international control, a step towards a verifiable Fissile Materials Cutoff Treaty.

"ElBaradei’s proposal, if implemented, would not only end the Iranian nuclear crisis but would also deal with a vastly more serious crisis: The growing threat of nuclear war, which leads prominent strategic analysts to warn of 'apocalypse soon' (Robert McNamara) if policies continue on their current course.

"The US strongly opposes a verifiable FMCT, but over US objections, the treaty came to a vote at the United Nations, where it passed 147-1, with two abstentions: Israel, which cannot oppose its patron, and more interestingly, Blair’s Britain, which retains a degree of sovereignty. The British ambassador stated that Britain supports the treaty, but it “divides the international community”. These again are matters that are virtually suppressed outside of specialist circles, and are matters of literal survival of the species, extending far beyond Iran.

"It is commonly said that the 'international community' has called on Iran to abandon its legal right to enrich uranium. That is true, if we define the “international community” as Washington and whoever happens to go along with it. It is surely not true of the world. The non-aligned countries have forcefully endorsed Iran’s “inalienable right” to enrich uranium. And, rather remarkably, in Turkey, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, a majority of the population favor accepting a nuclear-armed Iran over any American military action, international polls reveal.

"The non-aligned countries also called for a nuclear-free Middle East, a longstanding demand of the authentic international community, again blocked by the US and Israel. It should be recognized that the threat of Israeli nuclear weapons is taken very seriously in the world.

"As explained by the former Commander-in-Chief of the US Strategic Command, General Lee Butler, “it is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East, one nation has armed itself, ostensibly, with stockpiles of nuclear weapons, perhaps numbering in the hundreds, and that inspires other nations to do so.” Israel is doing itself no favors if it ignores these concerns.

"It is also of some interest that when Iran was ruled by the tyrant installed by a US-UK military coup, the United States – including Rumsfeld, Cheney, Kissinger, Wolfowitz and others - strongly supported the Iranian nuclear programs they now condemn and helped provide Iran with the means to pursue them. These facts are surely not lost on the Iranians, just as they have not forgotten the very strong support of the US and its allies for Saddam Hussein during his murderous aggression, including help in developing the chemical weapons that killed hundreds of thousands of Iranians.

Peaceful means

"There is a great deal more to say, but it appears that the “Iranian threat” to which you refer can be approached by peaceful means, if the US and Israel would agree. We cannot know whether the Iranian proposals are serious, unless they are explored. The US-Israel refusal to explore them, and the silence of the US (and, to my knowledge, European) media, suggests that the governments fear that they may be serious.

"I should add that to the outside world, it sounds a bit odd, to put it mildly, for the US and Israel to be warning of the “Iranian threat” when they and they alone are issuing threats to launch an attack, threats that are immediate and credible, and in serious violation of international law, and are preparing very openly for such an attack. Whatever one thinks of Iran, no such charge can be made in their case. It is also apparent to the world, if not to the US and Israel, that Iran has not invaded any other countries, something that the US and Israel do regularly.

"On Hizbullah too, there are hard and serious questions. As well-known, Hizbullah was formed in reaction to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and its harsh and brutal occupation in violation of Security Council orders. It won considerable prestige by playing the leading role in driving out the aggressors.

"The 1982 invasion was carried out after a year in which Israel regularly bombed Lebanon, trying desperately to elicit some PLO violation of the 1981 truce, and when it failed, attacked anyway, on the ludicrous pretext that Ambassador Argov had been wounded (by Abu Nidal, who was at war with the PLO). The invasion was clearly intended, as virtually conceded, to end the embarrassing PLO initiatives for negotiation, a “veritable catastrophe” for Israel as Yehoshua Porat pointed out.

Shameful pretexts 

"It was, as described at the time, a “war for the West Bank.” The later invasions also had shameful pretexts. In 1993, Hizbullah had violated “the rules of the game,” Yitzhak Rabin announced: these Israeli rules permitted Israel to carry out terrorist attacks north of its illegally-held “security zone,” but did not permit retaliation within Israel. Peres’s 1996 invasion had similar pretexts. It is convenient to forget all of this, or to concoct tales about shelling of the Galilee in 1981, but it is not an attractive practice, nor a wise one.

The problem of Hezbollah’s arms is quite serious, no doubt. Resolution 1559 calls for disarming of all Lebanese militias, but Lebanon has not enacted that provision. Sunni Prime Minister Fuad Siniora describes Hizbullah’s military wing as “resistance rather than as a militia, and thus exempt from” Resolution 1559.

"A National Dialogue in June 2006 failed to resolve the problem. Its main purpose was to formulate a “national defense strategy” (vis-à-vis Israel), but it remained deadlocked over Hizbullah’s call for “a defense strategy that allowed the Islamic Resistance to keep its weapons as a deterrent to possible Israeli aggression,” in the absence of any credible alternative. The US could, if it chose, provide a credible guarantee against an invasion by its client state, but that would require a sharp change in long-standing policy.

"In the background are crucial facts emphasized by several veteran Middle East correspondents. Rami Khouri, now an editor of Lebanon’s Daily Star, writes that “the Lebanese and Palestinians have responded to Israel’s persistent and increasingly savage attacks against entire civilian populations by creating parallel or alternative leaderships that can protect them and deliver essential services.”

Apocalypse near (Part two)

You are not referring in your letter to the Israeli casualties. Is there differentiation in your opinion between Israeli civic casualties of war and Lebanese or Palestinian casualties?

"That is not accurate. John Berger’s letter is very explicit about making no distinction between Israeli and other casualties. As his letter states: “Both categories of missile rip bodies apart horribly - who but field commanders can forget this for a moment.”

"You claimed that the world is cooperating with the Israeli invasion to Lebanon and is not interfering in the events Gaza and Jenin. What purpose does this silence serve?

"The great majority of the world can do nothing but protest, though it is fully expected that the intense anger and resentment caused by US-Israeli violence will – as in the past – prove to be a gift for the most extremist and violent elements, mobilizing new recruits to their cause.

"The US-backed Arab tyrannies did condemn Hizbullah, but are being forced to back down out of fear of their own populations. Even King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Washington’s most loyal (and most important) ally, was compelled to say that "If the peace option is rejected due to the Israeli arrogance, then only the war option remains, and no one knows the repercussions befalling the region, including wars and conflict that will spare no one, including those whose military power is now tempting them to play with fire."

"As for Europe, it is unwilling to take a stand against the US administration, which has made it clear that it supports the destruction of Palestine and Israeli violence. With regard to Palestine, while Bush’s stand is extreme, it has its roots in earlier policies. The week in Taba in January 2001 is the only real break in US rejectionism in 30 years.

"The US also strongly supported earlier Israeli invasions of Lebanon, though in 1982 and 1996, it compelled Israel to terminate its aggression when atrocities were reaching a point that harmed US interests.

"Unfortunately, one can generalize a comment of Uri Avnery’s about Dan Halutz, who “views the world below through a bombsight.” Much the same is true of Rumsfeld-Cheney-Rice, and other top Bush administration planners, despite occasional soothing rhetoric. As history reveals, that view of the world is not uncommon among those who hold a virtual monopoly of the means of violence, with consequences that we need not review."

What is the next chapter in this middle-eastern conflict as you see it?

"I do not know of anyone foolhardy enough to predict. The US and Israel are stirring up popular forces that are very ominous, and which will only gain in power and become more extremist if the US and Israel persist in demolishing any hope of realization of Palestinian national rights, and destroying Lebanon. It should also be recognized that Washington’s primary concern, as in the past, is not Israel and Lebanon, but the vast energy resources of the Middle East, recognized 60 years ago to be a “stupendous source of strategic power” and “one of the greatest material prizes in world history.”

"We can expect with confidence that the US will continue to do what it can to control this unparalleled source of strategic power. That may not be easy. The remarkable incompetence of Bush planners has created a catastrophe in Iraq, for their own interests as well. They are even facing the possibility of the ultimate nightmare: a loose Shi’a alliance controlling the world’s major energy supplies, and independent of Washington – or even worse, establishing closer links with the China-based Asian Energy Security Grid and Shanghai Cooperation Council.

"The results could be truly apocalyptic. And even in tiny Lebanon, the leading Lebanese academic scholar of Hizbullah, and a harsh critic of the organization, describes the current conflict in “apocalyptic terms,” warning that possibly “All hell would be let loose” if the outcome of the US-Israel campaign leaves a situation in which “the Shiite community is seething with resentment at Israel, the United States and the government that it perceives as its betrayer.

"It is no secret that in past years, Israel has helped to destroy secular Arab nationalism and to create Hizbullah and Hamas, just as US violence has expedited the rise of extremist Islamic fundamentalism and jihad terror. The reasons are understood. There are constant warnings about it by Western intelligence agencies, and by the leading specialists on these topics.

"One can bury one’s head in the sand and take comfort in a “wall-to-wall consensus” that what we do is “just and moral” (Maoz), ignoring the lessons of recent history, or simple rationality. Or one can face the facts, and approach dilemmas which are very serious by peaceful means. They are available. Their success can never be guaranteed. But we can be reasonably confident that viewing the world through a bombsight will bring further misery and suffering, perhaps even 'apocalypse soon.'"

Copyright © Yedioth Internet. All rights reserved.


Satan Hagee Leads Apostate Bumpkins to Napalm the Arabs => WHEE! Rapture

"funny" how these facts DO NOT get spoken in USA bunkfest media ,
& how Cowtowne  deconstructed the HOAX  by March 2006.  Care to agree with me now?
I don't mind radioactive oil in my gas tank.  It could be insulated with lead.  /js

US evangelist leads the millions seeking a battle with Islam
By Alec Russell in Washington

(Filed: 05/08/2006)

Anyone who wants to understand why Israel has such unwavering support from the United States should speak to one man.

Fiery television evangelist Pastor John Hagee has emerged as the rallying voice for thousands of American Christians who believe Israel is doing God's work in a "war of good versus evil".

When he strode on to a stage in Washington last month, he was cheered to the rafters by 3,500 prominent evangelicals - as well as by Israel's ambassador to America, a former Israeli chief of staff and a host of US congressmen of both parties.

"After 25 years of hammering away at the truth on national television, millions of people have come to see the truth of the word of God," Mr Hagee told The Daily Telegraph. "There is literally a groundswell of support for Israel in the USA among evangelicals."

Twenty-five years ago, Mr Hagee was denounced as a heretic when he urged his fellow preachers to speak out in support of Israel. He also met with huge suspicion from Jews who thought that anti-Semitism was the standard evangelical belief.

When he persevered and hosted a "night to honour Israel" in his hometown, San Antonio, there was a bomb threat and panicked Christian followers ran for the door.

But today most of America's 60 million Christian evangelicals, who make up about a quarter of the US electorate and the essence of the President's "base", are behind Mr Bush's pro-Israeli position and are pushing for a showdown with Iran. As many as half of those are Christian Zionists.

Mr Hagee said: "What we have done is united all of this evangelical horsepower and said, 'We're not just going to Washington to stand on the grass and sing Amazing Grace. We're going into the halls of Congress to see the senators and to see the congressmen face-to-face and to speak to them about our concerns for Israel'."

His claim of political clout is no idle boast. The President sent a message of support praising him for "spreading the hope of God's Love and the universal gift of freedom". They met several times when Mr Bush was governor of Texas.

America has long identified with Israel against its Arab foes. This backing has been shored up in Washington by the influential Israeli lobby. It also reflects a cultural affinity which is greater in the wake of the September 11 attacks: for most Americans, Israel is on the front line against terrorism.

Another key factor in this bond, however, is Christian Zionism: a booming movement based on the idea that Israel's travails fulfil Biblical prophecy and are a forerunner of the battle of Armageddon and the Second Coming.

As the head of Christians United for Israel, an organisation linking hundreds of US evangelical leaders, it is no exaggeration to say that Mr Hagee is one of Israel's most influential supporters.

Outside his mega-church is a facsimile "Wailing Wall". Inside on a flagpole is the Israeli flag and tributes from Israeli visitors, including prime minister Ehud Olmert, who came several times when he was mayor of Jerusalem.

In his recent book, Jerusalem Countdown - A Warning to the World, Mr Hagee seeks a showdown between Islam and the West. "This is a religious war that Islam cannot and must not win," he writes. [absurd =IF his God is not a ninny  then how could there be any question to it. HOW?  Whence the LACK of "faith " from  nutjob central? and this six-days-creation God that obviated evolution... why does he need blithering idiots like boosh to supply NSA spy data to Israeli village-killers, and why would a righteous 'Zion' EVER need stolen land and a preposterous pretext like "Never Again" when without pause they ]  "The end of the world as we know it is rapidly approaching... Rejoice and be exceedingly glad the best is yet to be

He concedes it was a "difficult mountain to climb" to persuade evangelicals to back Israel. Many dispute his contention that some Jews can "find favour with God". Traditionally, evangelicals have argued that Jews will have to convert or face a double Holocaust at the battle of Armageddon.

Beirut's lifeline destroyed by air strikes
Alec Russell's Washington DC blog

Post this story to: Digg Newsvine NowPublic Reddit

America's only functioning thinker says "One Ring To Rule Them" Juan Cole

Sunday, August 06, 2006

One Ring to Rule Them

The wholesale destruction of all of Lebanon by Israel and the US Pentagon does not make any sense. Why bomb roads, bridges, ports, fuel depots in Sunni and Christian areas that have nothing to do with Shiite Hizbullah in the deep south? And, why was Hizbullah's rocket capability so crucial that it provoked Israel to this orgy of destruction? Most of the rockets were small katyushas with limited range and were highly inaccurate. They were an annoyance in the Occupied Golan Heights, especially the Lebanese-owned Shebaa Farms area. Hizbullah had killed 6 Israeli civilians since 2000. For this you would destroy a whole country?

It doesn't make any sense.

Moreover, the Lebanese government elected last year was pro-American! Why risk causing it to fall by hitting the whole country so hard?

And, why was Condi Rice's reaction to the capture of two Israeli soldiers and Israel's wholesale destruction of little Lebanon that these were the "birth pangs" of the "New Middle East"? How did she know so early on that this war would be so wideranging? And, how could a little border dispute in the Levant signal such an elephantine baby's advent? Isn't it because she had, like Tony Blair, been briefed about the likelihood of a war by the Israelis, or maybe collaborated with them in the plans, and also conceived of it in much larger strategic terms?

I've had a message from a European reader that leads me to consider a Peak Oil Theory of the US-Israeli war on Lebanon (and by proxy on Iran). I say, "consider" the "theory" because this is a thought experiment. I put it on the table to see if it can be knocked down, the way you would preliminary hypotheses in a science experiment.

The European reader writes:

'When I was in Portugal I also watched a presentation by a guy who works for the ministry of energy in that country, a certain [JFR].

He started his presentation with the growing need for oil in China and India. He stressed that China wants to become the 'workshop' of the world and India the 'office' of the world. both economies contributed combined some 44% to world economy growth during 2001-2004. He compared the USA, Japan, India and China to giant whales constantly eating fish. They had no fish near them so they started to move. He explained that the Persian Gulf is the 'fish ground', the 'gas station' of the world.

Later on he explained the . . . hypothesis . . . that says demand for oil will continue to grow. also for natural gas, which is even better than oil. Sadly the existing production is getting smaller, these fields are getting emptied. [One oil major] seems to believe that the gap between demand and existing production will become so large by 2015 that economic growth cannot continue. Yet there is hope on the horizon.

JFR strongly denied that there is going to be an oil peak. He says, and the oil multis seem to agree with him [- my link, JRC], that there is more than enough untouched oil and natural gas. The stupid thing: it is further to the east. Partly in Russia, but most of all, in Iran.

JFR explained to the astonished audience that Iran was the most valuable country on the planet. They have one of the biggest holdings of gas and oil reserves in the world. second in gas, second in oil. On top of that they have direct access to the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Sea and the Caspian Sea what makes them a potential platform for the distribution of oil and gas to South Asia, Europe and East Asia. JRF called Iran 'the prize' . . .

The disaster in Lebanon actually was also part of JFR's presentation. He explained that the US government is 100% convinced, fanatically and completely convinced, that both, Hamas and Hizballah are creatures of Iran and that Iran uses them to undermine US goals in the region . . .

The presentation got kind of freaky then. He said the US government wanted to stop state-controlled Iranian or Chinese (or Indian) companies from controlling the oil. JFR says the US Government is convinced that this battle will decide the future of the world. It sounded like he was talking about 'the one ring' in lord of the rings. he who controls Iran controls them all. '

It is very important that some EU analysts see things this way. They are in contact with their American counterparts, and may be reflecting a wider North Atlantic view and speaking more openly than is common in Washington.

It is true that Iran's regime is hostile to US corporate and investment interests. Iran itself has substantial energy resources, many of them undeveloped, but they are locked up by state-owned Iranian companies.

Iran is astride the Oil Gulf, which has the majority of the world's proven gas and petroleum reserves. Iran has a silkworm missile capability that could interfere with oil tankers in the Straits of Hormuz. It also has emerged as the most influential country in oil-rich South Iraq, which is, like Iran, Shiite Muslim.

Iran is no credible military threat to the United States, though US warmongers are always depicting it as such, rather as they manufactured ramshackle 4th-world Iraq into a dire military menace to the US, allowing for a war of choice to be fought against it.

The regime in Iran has not gone away despite decades of hostility toward it by Washington, and despite the latter's policy of "containment." As a result, US petroleum corporations are denied significant opportunities for investment in the Iranian petroleum sector. Worse, Iran has made a big energy deal with China and is negotiating with India. As those two countries emerge as the superpowers of the 21st century, they will attempt to lock up Gulf petroleum and gas in proprietary contracts.

(Since it is already coming up in the comments, I should note that the "fungibility" (easy exchange) of oil is less important in the new environment than it used to be. US petroleum companies would like to go back to actually owning fields in the Middle East, since there are big profits to be made if you get to decide when you take it out of the ground. As Chinese and Indian competition for the increasingly scarce resource heats up, exclusive contracts will be struck. When I floated the fungibility of petroleum as a reason for which the Iraq War could not be only about oil, at a talk at Columbia's Earth Institute last year, Jeffrey Sachs surprised me by disagreeing with me. In our new environment, oil is becoming a commodity over which it really does make sense to fight for control. See below.*)

In a worst case scenario, Washington would like to retain the option of military action against Iran, so as to gain access to its resources and deny them to rivals. If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, however, that option will be foreclosed. Iran may not be trying for a weapon, and if it is, it could not get one before about 2016. But if it had a nuclear weapon, it would be off limits to US attack, and its anti-American regime could not only lock up Iranian gas and oil for the rest of the century by making sweetheart deals with China. It also might begin to exercise a sway over the small energy-producing countries of the Middle East. (The oil interest would explain the mystery of why Washington just does not care that Pakistan has the Bomb; Pakistan has nothing Washington wants and so there was no need to preserve the military option in its regard.)

Even an Iranian nuke, of course, would not be an immediate threat to the US, in the absence of ICBMs. But the major US ally in the Middle East, Israel, would be vulnerable to a retaliatory Iranian strike if the US took military action against Iran in order to overthrow the regime and gain the proprietary deals for themselves.

In the short term, Iran was protected by another ace in the hole. It had a client in the Levant, Lebanon's Hizbullah, and had given it a few silkworm rockets, which could theoretically hit Israeli nuclear and chemical facilities. Hizbullah increasingly organizes the Lebanese Shiites, and the Lebanese Shiites will in the next ten to twenty years emerge as a majority in Lebanon, giving Iran a commercial hub on the Mediterranean.

China and India could get Iran, and Iran could get Lebanon, and as non-OPEC energy production decreases, the US and Israel could find themselves out in the cold on the energy front.

As for Iran, the DOE says this:

' Iran's largest non-associated natural gas field is South Pars, geologically an extension of Qatar's North Field. Current estimates are that South Pars contains 280 Tcf or more (some estimates go as high as 500 Tcf) of natural gas, of which a large fraction will be recoverable, and over 17 billion barrels of liquids. Development of South Pars is Iran's largest energy project, already having attracted around $15 billion in investment. Natural gas from South Pars largely is slated to be shipped north via the planned 56-inch, 300-mile, $500 million, IGAT-3 pipeline, as well as planned IGAT-4 and IGAT-5 lines. Gas also will be reinjected to boost oil output at the mature Agha Jari oil field, and possibly the Ahwaz and Mansouri fields. Besides condensate production and reinjection/enhanced oil recovery, South Pars natural gas also is intended for export, by pipeline and also possibly by liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker. Sales from South Pars could earn Iran as much as $11 billion per year over 30 years, according to Iran's Oil Ministry. '

Persian Gulf Fields

and this is why Iran's reserves are even more important:
' The Persian Gulf contains 715 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, representing over half (57%) of the world's oil reserves, and 2,462 Tcf of natural gas reserves (45% of the world total). Also, at the end of 2003, Persian Gulf countries maintained about 22.9 million bbl/d of oil production capacity, or 32% of the world total. Perhaps even more significantly, the Persian Gulf countries normally maintains almost all of the world's excess oil production capacity. As of early September 2004, excess world oil production capacity was only about 0.5-1.0 million bbl/d, all of which was located in Saudi Arabia.'

Non-OPEC production will decline sharply in coming years, increasing the importance of the Persian Gulf region. The point about excess capacity is this: The US in 2005 produced over 7 million barrels of petroleum a day, but consumes all of it, and then imports two times that from abroad (using nearly 22 million barrels a day in 2005). So US petroleum is essentially off the market. But Saudi Arabia produces 9.5 million barrels a day and exports over 7 million of that. It doesn't use it all up at home. Even now, the excess production is in the Gulf, and that excess production will become more important over time.

It may be that that hawks are thinking this way: Destroy Lebanon, and destroy Hizbullah, and you reduce Iran's strategic depth. Destroy the Iranian nuclear program and you leave it helpless and vulnerable to having done to it what the Israelis did to Lebanon. You leave it vulnerable to regime change, and a dragooning of Iran back into the US sphere of influence, denying it to China and assuring its 500 tcf of natural gas to US corporations. You also politically reorient the entire Gulf, with both Saddam and Khamenei gone, toward the United States. Voila, you avoid peak oil problems in the US until a technological fix can be found, and you avoid a situation where China and India have special access to Iran and the Gulf.

The second American Century ensues. The "New Middle East" means the "American Middle East."

And it all starts with the destruction of Lebanon.

More wars to come, in this scenario, since hitting Lebanon was like hitting a politician's bodyguard. You don't kill a bodyguard just to kill the bodyguard. It is phase I of a bigger operation.

If the theory is even remotely correct, then global warming is not the only danger in continuing to rely so heavily on hydrocarbons for energy. Green energy--wind, sun, geothermal-- is all around us and does not require any wars to obtain it. Indeed, if we had spent as much on alternative energy research as we have already spent on the Iraq War, we'd be much closer to affordable solar. A choice lies ahead: hydrocarbons, a 20 foot rise in sea level, and a praetorian state. Or we could go green and maybe keep our republic and tame militarism.


An informed reader writes:

"Jeffrey Sachs is right. Oil is fungible only after its out of the ground. The name of today's game is control of reserves, not markets. Example: china's deals in Latin America, US development of non-Nigerian African resource, etc."

Sneak Preview -- go read it and weep , your overlords are truth-opposite about every single thing. WHEE!  /jks 8-8-'06

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Friedman Wrong About Muslims Again
And the Amman Statement on Ecumenism

Tom Friedman is a Middle East expert who knows a lot about Islam. Why, then, does he keep saying misleading things? He wrote in his latest column, "To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden."

A "fatwa" is simply a considered opinion of a Muslim jurisconsult. Such opinions are numerous. First of all, almost all the major Shiite Grand Ayatollahs have condemned Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. You could say that is easy, since Shiites don't generally like Wahhabis. But they are the leaders of 120 million Muslims (some ten percent of the 1.2 billion). So that is one. Tracking these things down is time-consuming, but this should do:
Ayatollah Muhammad Husain Fadlallah of Lebanon condemns Osama Bin Laden.  .../...  "AND MORE!"

Blog Archive