Wednesday, January 31, 2007

"DECISION-MAKER-IN-CHIEF" OLBERMANN

This is a couple of days old but Olbermann covers many of the points that I have covered here. I think one of the most interesting observations is how often Bush seeks to remind us that he is the man in charge, as if this alone trumps any counter argument.



tag: , , , , ,

Cash-for-honours trail that leads to Number 10

The news that Lord Levy has been arrested for a second time (on this occasion to be questioned over obstructing the course of justice) takes the Cash for Honours enquiry into the territory of cover up for the second time, coming hot on the heels of police questioning of Ruth Turner, Blair's senior aide, who was arrested on the same grounds less than a fortnight ago.

It is obviously impossible to know what evidence of cover up the police may have, however, the arrest of two people on the possible charge of obstructing the course of justice certainly implies that they feel that they may have been misled.

The Tories are certainly wasting no time in comparing the affair to the cover-up after the Watergate crisis, which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974 and there are calls from Labour backbenchers for Blair to consider his position.

No 10 has insisted that it has co-operated fully with the Metropolitan Police during its investigation into claims that four businessmen who had lent money to Labour were in turn nominated for peerages by Mr Blair. It has denied reports that there is a second computer system at Downing Street, available to Labour Party staff, from which crucial e-mails may have been deleted.

Nobody has yet been charged. But the latest developments fuelled speculation at Westminster that charges may be brought over the more serious offence of conspiring to pervert the course of justice - which carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison - rather than the laws covering the sale of honours and the disclosure of party donors.

Lord Levy, who was first arrested in July, insisted again last night that he had done nothing wrong. "Lord Levy went to the police station today as asked," his spokesman said. "He was interviewed again. He completely denies any allegations of wrongdoing whatsoever. He left the police station in the early afternoon and since there is a continuing investigation he will not make any further comments at this time."

Angus MacNeil, the Scottish National Party MP whose complaint sparked the police investigation, said Westminster was "agog" at the latest development, which was "very serious indeed" for Downing Street. He added that the pace of the "crisis" appeared to be quickening. He said of Lord Levy: "This of course is the man who's been closest to Tony Blair in the whole fundraising escapade for Labour. And it really doesn't look good for Labour at all."

Ed Davey, the chief of staff to the Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, said: "Increasingly this sorry affair has the whiff of Watergate about it. For Nixon the crime was the cover-up, but we must await the result of the police investigation to see whether something similar is now happening in Downing Street. A key question is whether this can be sorted out before the Prime Minister leaves No 10 or whether this saga will dog him into his retirement."

Elfyn Llwyd, parliamentary leader of Plaid Cymru, who also lodged a complaint, said: "The net is tightening, and there will be further interviews and arrests. In my view the Prime Minister will be questioned again - possibly under caution." In December, Mr Blair became the first serving Prime Minister to be questioned during a criminal investigation.

This is an astonishing turn of events, especially considering that in the early days of the investigation the Labour Party sought to argue that the police were misinterpreting the law. Now we have a senior Labour spokesman hinting that the police are conducting a smear campaign against them and implying that leaks regarding second email systems are all coming from police briefings and are all untrue.

However, what is undeniable is that Blair's power will be eroded the longer this investigation goes on. He is already greatly undermined by the fact that he is soon to leave office - the effects of which were witnessed when he had to back down over the Catholic gay adoption compromise - but, the idea of a criminal investigation lapping around Downing Street can only heighten the tensions of backbenchers and increase calls for him to go sonner rather than later for the sake of the party.
Conservative MP Nigel Evans said the arrest was a "seismic" development, adding: "It is important, we have to realise that the allegations are very serious indeed. "

"Nobody is above the law, not the prime minister and not Lord Levy either, and this is something I think that we all have to learn."

I have no idea where this will end, but with each arrest it looks increasingly unlikely that this investigation is going to go away.

Here's the timeline of how it's all played out so far:

8 March 2006 Chai Patel, the healthcare entrepreneur, protests to the vetting committee for Lords appointments after his nomination for a peerage is blocked. It emerges he lent Labour £1.5m.

16 March 2006 Jack Dromey, Labour's treasurer, reveals he was unaware of loans to the party, and rebukes Downing Street. The furore centres on four businessmen who gave Labour £4.5m in loans and were nominated for peerages.

21 March 2006 Scotland Yard says it is investigating cash-for-honours allegations. Labour says the loans were provided on a commercial basis, thus outside disclosure rules. Other loans, like donations, do have to be declared.

13 April 2006 Des Smith, a headteacher involved in finding sponsors for Tony Blair's city academies project, is arrested after reports that he linked investment with honours. He is the first of four people to be arrested.

22 June 2006 Lord Levy appears before MPs investigating party funding. It emerges he told Sir Gulam Noon that he need not disclose his loan on his Lords' nomination form. Sir Gulam retrieved the form because he had declared the payment as a gift.

23 July 2006 Lord Levy, Labour's chief fundraiser, is arrested for the first time. He says his arrest was "totally unnecessary". Two ministers, Lord Sainsbury of Turville, left, a party donor, and Ian McCartney, a former party chairman, are interviewed.

21 September 2006 The biotechnology boss Sir Christopher Evans, who lent Labour £1m, is the third person arrested. His £1bn business is linked to government initiatives.

14 December 2006 Tony Blair is interviewed, a month after Assistant Commissioner John Yates of the Metropolitan Police says he has 'significant and valuable' material from interviewing 90 people. He is questioned as a witness.

19 January 2007 Ruth Turner, director of government relations, is arrested on suspicion of offences under the Honours Act AND on suspicion of perverting the course of justice.

Yesterday Lord Levy is arrested again. And this time, he too is held on suspicion of perverting the course of justice, a much more serious issue as it relates to the question of a cover-up. It follows a spate of lurid stories, including suggestions of the discovery of a "parallel" Downing Street e-mail system. Levy is again released without charge, and again rejects any wrongdoing.

The Future? Weekend reports suggest detectives discovered a note handwritten by Blair pertinent to the inquiries. It is denied, but the controversy is inside the heart of No 10, and shows no sign of abating. Any charges would no doubt hasten the PM's exit.

The men behind the investigation

John Yates Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police

The police officer at the head of the inquiry is rapidly gaining a reputation as a fearless investigator and chief troublemaker for the Prime Minister.

An immensely experienced detective, the 47-year-old has been asked to handle some of the most difficult cases in modern policing, including the UK police's response to the Asian tsunami; the aftermath of the shooting dead of Jean Charles de Menezes; and a major police corruption inquiry.

In an apparent rebuff to government sources who accused him of being over-zealous, he was promoted to an assistant commissioner in December. He realises, as he is working under unprecedented scrutiny, he cannot afford to miss anything when he delivers his evidence file to the Crown Prosecution Service - expected in about a month.

Angus MacNeil SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Lar

Before 21 March last year, when the Scottish National Party MP Angus Brendan MacNeil, 36, complained to police that the Labour Party had contravened the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925, little was known outside Scotland about the Gaelic-speaking backbench MP from the Hebridean island of Barra.

The former teacher who became the MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles) on 5 May 2005, has risen to prominence because of his honest belief that it is illegal to sell honours.

But another factor was that he found himself out of pocket to the tune of £31,000 a year because he often had to stay overnight in a London hotel when his flights home to Barra were delayed. The rules prevent him from claiming a room on his MP's expenses.

Click title for full article.

tag: , ,

Europeans fear US attack on Iran as nuclear row intensifies

At last the broadsheets in the UK have moved the possibility of the US conducting air strikes against Iran on to the front pages and appear to be joining the dots and saying what many of us have been saying for a while now.

From today's Guardian:

Senior European policy-makers are increasingly worried that the US administration will resort to air strikes against Iran to try to destroy its suspect nuclear programme.

As transatlantic friction over how to deal with the Iranian impasse intensifies, there are fears in European capitals that the nuclear crisis could come to a head this year because of US frustration with Russian stalling tactics at the UN security council. "The clock is ticking," said one European official. "Military action has come back on to the table more seriously than before. The language in the US has changed."

As the Americans continue their biggest naval build-up in the Gulf since the start of the Iraq war four years ago, a transatlantic rift is opening up on several important aspects of the Iran dispute.
I also noticed that Admiral William Fallon suggested to a Senate confirmation hearing that there should be a new US approach in Iraq, which he did not specify, although he did say:
Countering Iranian influence in Iraq would be a top priority if he was given the job.
However, he said he was unaware of any contingency plans for war with Iran.
That is hardly a cast iron guarantee that a future war with Iran is off the table and it's not how the Europeans are reading this. Indeed, we are all now waiting for Bush to produce a dossier - doesn't that word alone bring the pre-Iraq war time to mind? - claiming alleged Iranian subversion in Iraq.

"Iran has steadily ramped up its activity in Iraq in the last three to four months. This applies to the scope and pace of their operations. You could call these brazen activities," a senior US official said in London yesterday.

Although the Iranians were primarily in Shia areas, they were not confined to them, the US source said, implying that they had formed links with Sunni insurgents and were helping them with booby-trap bombs aimed at Iraqi and US forces, new versions of the "improvised explosive devices".

Senior members of the US Congress have raised concerns that the US will attack Iran in retaliation for its alleged activities in Iraq. The official said there were no plans for "cross-border operations" from Iraq to Iran. But he said: "We don't want a progressively more confident and bolder Iran ... The perception that Iran is ascendant in the region and that there are no limits to what Iran can do - that's what is destabilising."

And exactly as happened prior to the invasion of Iraq, former Iranian dissidents are stoking the fire:

"The al-Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards is stepping up terrorism and encouraging sectarian violence in Iraq," Alireza Jafarzadeh, a US-based Iranian dissident who has been linked to the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MeK) resistance group, told the Washington Times this month. Mr Jafarzadeh is credited with revealing the existence of Iran's secret nuclear sites in Natanz and Arak in 2002.

"There is a sharp surge in Iran's sponsorship of terrorism and sectarian violence in the past few months," Mr Jafarzadeh told a conference organised by the Iran Policy Committee, a Washington lobby group pressing the state department to remove the MeK from its terrorist list.

And, of course, we have Israel's Netanyahu running around telling all who will listen to him that the world has a duty to prevent another Holocaust.

The similarities to the build up to the Iraq war are simply too obvious to ignore. Nor is the warmongering limited to rhetoric.

The US "push back" against Iran comprises many other elements beyond Iraq. Unconfirmed reports suggest Vice-President Dick Cheney has cut a deal with Saudi Arabia to keep oil production up even as prices fall, to undercut Iran's main source of foreign currency. Washington is pursuing expanding, non-UN global financial sanctions against Tehran; encouraging and arming a "new alignment" of Sunni Arab Gulf states; and highlighting Iran's role in "supporting terrorism" in Palestine, where it helps bankroll the Hamas government, and Lebanon, where it backs Hizbullah. The US is also deploying powerful naval forces in the Gulf that are of little help in Iraq but could more easily be used to mount air strikes on Iran.

Almost any one of these developments might produce a casus belli. And when taken together, despite official protestations, they seem to point in only one direction. The Bush administration, an American commentator suggested, is "once again spoiling for a fight".

Even Francis Fukuyama, a one-time neo-con supporter is warning that the neo-cons don't seem to have learned the lessons of Iraq:

It is easy to outline the obstacles to a negotiated end to the Iranian programme, but much harder to come up with an alternative strategy. Use of force looks very unappealing. The US is hardly in a position to invade and occupy yet another country, especially one three times larger than Iraq. An attack would have to be conducted from the air, and it would not result in regime change, which is the only long-term means of stopping the WMD programme. It is hard to have much confidence that US intelligence on Iranian facilities is any better than it was in the case of Iraq. An air campaign is much more likely to build support for the regime than to topple it, and will stimulate terrorism and attacks on American facilities and friends around the globe. The US would be even more isolated in such a war than during the Iraqi campaign, with only Israel as a certain ally.

None of these considerations, nor the debacle in Iraq, has prevented certain neoconservatives from advocating military action against Iran. Some insist that Iran poses an even greater threat than Iraq, avoiding the fact that their zealous advocacy of the Iraq invasion is what has destroyed America's credibility and undercut its ability to take strong measures against Iran.

And therein lies the rub. It was the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq that has placed Iran in such a strong position, as the US has now removed it's enemies to the left and right, leaving it as some sort of regional superpower.

And, as Fukuyama points out, an air attack will not bring about regime change which is the only way of preventing Iran's nuclear programme from proceeding. So the notion of attacking Iran makes literally no sense of any kind. And yet, that is what many of us think Bush is preparing to do.

The situation we now find ourselves in is especially galling as the Iranians have already offered the US a deal which offered all that the US are now demanding, only to have Cheney refuse to countenance it. So make no mistake; war, if it came, would be a further war of choice.

It is obvious that the neo-cons have not learnt the lessons of Iraq and now seem to be considering rushing headlong into another Middle Eastern war, although this time they are facing no paper tiger like Saddam.

At last broadsheets are now discussing this, and hopefully the Democrats will start to openly question this deeply unpopular proposal. Bush is seeking war by the backdoor. His every step attempts to make it inevitable.

He must be stopped. Even if they have to impeach him in order to do so.

Click title for full article.

tag: , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Straight talker?

McCain, the straight talker, is exposed as nothing of the sort.



Hat tip to Anything They Say.

tag:

Stop The Escalation Advert



tag: , , , , ,

Bush: Those behind Lebanon chaos must be 'called to account'

Further indication of the Bush regime's wish for confrontation with Iran came in a speech that Bush made yesterday concerning Lebanon.

President George W. Bush on Monday condemned Syria, Iran and Hezbollah for trying to destabilize Lebanon, and called for "those responsible for creating chaos" to be "called to account."

"While Lebanon's friends seek to help the Lebanese government build a free, sovereign, and prosperous country, Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah are working to destabilize Lebanese society," Bush said.
Every single time there is any chance of ratcheting up the tensions, he takes it.

At a time when the Baker Report and the Brookings Institute are both calling for dialogue with Syria and Iran, Bush calls for them to be "called to account".

I don't have much to add to what I've previously said on this subject, other than to note that Bush's headlong lunge towards a confrontation with Iran is continuing unabated.

Click title for full article.

tag: , , ,

US must abandon Iraqi cities or face nightmare scenario, say experts

The Brooks Institution have advised the US government to prepare "to deal with an all-out Iraqi civil war that would kill hundreds of thousands, create millions of refugees, and could spill over into a regional catastrophe, disrupting oil supplies and setting up a direct confrontation between Washington and Iran."

This startling conclusion is based on the assumption that Bush's latest "surge and accelerate" plan will fail and the further assumption that Washington will not be able to simply walk away from any chaos that Iraq descends into.

Even the US staying to try to contain the fighting, said Kenneth Pollack, one of the report's authors, "would consign Iraqis to a terrible fate. Even if it works, we will have failed to provide the Iraqis with the better future we promised." But it was the "least bad option" open to the US to protect its national interests in the event of full-scale civil war.

US troops, says the study, should withdraw from Iraqi cities. This was "the only rational course of action, horrific though it will be", as America refocused its efforts from preventing civil war to containing its effects.

The unremittingly bleak document, drawing on the experience of civil wars in Lebanon, the former Yugoslavia, Congo and Afghanistan, also offers a remarkably stark assessment of Iraq's "spill-over" potential across the Persian Gulf region.

It warns of radicalisation and possible secession movements in adjacent countries, an upsurge in terrorism, and of intervention by Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Ending an all-out civil war, the report says, would require a force of 450,000 - three times the present US deployment even after the 21,500 "surge" ordered by President Bush this month.

As civil war in Iraq gathers pace the likelihood of war between the US and Iran would intensify as Iran would be seen as "the unambiguous adversary" of the US.

Indeed, everything indicates that that is already happening. The study appeared on the same day as the Iranian ambassador in Iraq told The New York Times that Tehran intended to expand its influence in Iraq. US commanders now claim that thousands of Iranian advisers are arming and training Shia militias.

Nonetheless, the Brookings report urges the creation of a regional group to help contain a civil war. That would see exactly the contacts with Iran and Syria that the Bush administration steadfastly refuses. An alternative in the report would be "red lines" which, if crossed by Tehran, could lead to a military attack by the US on Iran.

The Brookings report will be ignored exactly as the Baker report was ignored. The blind ideologues currently running US policy have ignored every sensible piece of advice they have ever been given. If there was ever a time for the US to reach out to Iran and Syria it is now.

Ignoring this advice will only heighten the chance of a war between Iran and the US, an outcome that might be welcomed by the likes of Bill Kristol, but can only fill the rest of us with horror.

I watched an astonishing Despatches programme last night called "Iraq's death squads" which told the story of how Shia gangs are carrying out ethnic cleansing and being protected as they do so by the Iraqi government which needs their support in order to survive.

The violence being carried out against the Sunnis is horrific. As the Washington Post reported:

Reports last week in the Los Angeles Times and New York Times chronicled how Iraqi Interior Ministry commando and police units have been infiltrated by two Shiite militias, which have been conducting ethnic cleansing and rounding up Sunnis suspected of supporting the insurgency. Hundreds of bodies have been appearing along roadsides and in garbage dumps, some with acid burns or with holes drilled in them. According to the searing account by Solomon Moore of the Los Angeles Times, "the Baghdad morgue reports that dozens of bodies arrive at the same time on a weekly basis, including scores of corpses with wrists bound by police handcuffs." The reports followed a raid two weeks ago by U.S. troops on a clandestine Baghdad prison run by the Interior Ministry, where some 170 men, most of them Sunni and most of them starved or tortured, were found.

The danger this development poses to Iraq, and to the prospects of a successful end to the U.S. mission there, ought to be obvious. A dirty war conducted by the Iraqi government against one ethnic group will make civil war inevitable. It will render impossible a political accord among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, while increasing the likelihood that Iraq will splinter. U.S. commanders will be unable to hand responsibility off to Iraqi forces without inviting a bloodbath, and the training mission that President Bush described at length in his speech on Wednesday will be utterly discredited. If there is to be any chance of achieving Mr. Bush's goals of a united and democratic Iraq that protects the rights of its minorities, the state-sponsored death squads and torture chambers must be dismantled.

Civil war in Iraq is upon us, with the Bush regime - in effect - arming and backing one side in the dispute.

I have argued previously that only a negotiated settlement can have any chance of success. The current course, where the US backs the Shias as they eliminate their Sunni rivals is simply stoking the fire of the civil war.

I also accept that the task of bringing about a negotiated settlement is a huge one and would require the US talking to groups that it has previously been fighting against, either literally (in the case of Sunni fighters) or politically (in the case of Iran).

The neo-con mindset prevalent in Washington is insisting that a military solution is possible. This is nonsense. Iraq is fractured and on the brink of splitting into it's ethnic elements.

Only dialogue can bring us back from this abyss. Sadly, the current US leadership are refusing to countenance walking any such sensible path and the chances of regional escalation are multiplying.

Click title for full article.

tag: , , ,

Monday, January 29, 2007

9/11 Press For Truth - Victims' Families Tell the Story the Media Won't

The filmmakers have made the entire feature-length movie available here as a public service.... However, the nice people who funded the film deserve to see their financing returned, so please support the production by buying a DVD for friends or family members.



tag: , ,

Another Way for Israel


By Elik Elhanan
Combatants for Peace
Via The Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace

This is the message we want to bring to the American Jewish community: Let us try another way. In the eyes of many, the key to this conflict lies in the US. Your support is invaluable just as the lack of it is disastrous. Israel is now refusing to negotiate with Syria, the reason being that Washington wants it so. My question is: What do you want?

For many people in Israel this bleak picture serves to prove that indeed there is no partner and that the formula of land for peace does not work. These attitudes are supported by the political system both in Israel and internationally, and are frequently promoted by the media as undisputable truths. Both societies, the Palestinian and the Israeli, seem to be locking themselves in a violent nationalistic mindset where the needs of the other simply do not exist.

How should one deal with such a situation? The simplest answer would be to play along. The other answer is to confront these false notions, to insist on telling truth to power, to work and expose the contradictions that exist in any black-and-white vision of reality.

Our organization, Combatants for Peace, is trying to do just that. Through our dialogue group, where Israeli and Palestinian former combatants meet regularly, we try to touch the hearts and minds of both societies. We try to help our communities become more aware of the reality of the other side, so that nobody can say "I didn’t know." We want Israelis to comprehend the full scale of the oppression inherent to the Israeli occupation, and we want the Palestinians to know that behind the occupation there are humans, who are also suffering. We want both sides to understand the price of violence. Our message is simple: Peace is possible. The only way to reach peace is through dialogue and negotiations, and the only solution is a two state solution -- an end the occupation, in keeping with UN resolutions.

People frequently respond to us as if we were detached from reality, yet nothing could be farther from the truth. Our Palestinian members were all active in violent opposition to the occupation, serving long prison terms for their activities; the Israelis among us all served many years as combat soldiers on the conflict's front lines. We know the lay of the land, and we know the reality. We know the price we’ll have to pay for peace, and we’ve learned with our very flesh that the price of war is a hundred times greater. We live among our peoples and we see and suffer the consequences of this conflict.

People often say "but you're just a few good people. The majority feels differently." But this is not the case. First of all, we’re not good people. Indeed, until not long ago, we were very bad. As soldiers we killed and maimed, we bombed and tortured. Our Palestinian counterparts stabbed, and shot and planted bombs, killing and maiming as they went.

But we’ve changed. We understood that power has limits and that violence can only lead to more violence; that non-violence is better, as both a tactic and as way of life. Like us there are many more "bad" people who might change, who will change, if they’re given just a bit of hope.

In some cases our members are even treated as traitors. But we have all proven our merits in long years of service. Though we're presented as radicals, we don't contest the national values of our respective peoples; on the contrary, we struggle for them. We don't contest the right of Israel to exist in security and prosperity; nor do we contest the right of the Palestinians to resist the occupation and achieve their own state. We question only the methods that have been employed to achieve these goals in the past. These methods were not only ineffective, they were wrong.. Israel is not safe, Palestine is not free, and only the cemeteries are flourishing. Let us try another way.

It is very easy not to believe in peace. The chances of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian agreement in the near future seem slimmer than ever. The mistaken perception that Israel has “no partner” and that “we gave everything and got nothing” is still widely held. The radical elements currently in play in both political systems, Hamas on one hand and right-wing Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman on the other, combined with the violence between Israel and the Palestinians, between the Palestinian factions, and between Israel and its neighbors can make the search for peace seem at the very least misguided.

Elik Elhanan
Combatants for Peace
Click title for source

tag: , ,

John Kerry: US is "international pariah".

I notice that John Kerry stating that the US is almost "an international pariah" has got people all hot and bothered over at Little Green Footballs.

However, there is nothing that he is saying that is not true. The US is an international pariah at the moment. Indeed, the Bush administration set out to make it so by refusing to adopt to any international norms, saying that the US didn't need "permission slips" to invade Iraq etc.

Why do people get so bothered when someone tells the truth? Are the right really unaware of how unpopular Bush has made the US abroad? Do they have no connection with reality at all? Or is reality what they say it is?



tag: , , ,

Lieberman Might Back Republican in 2008

Joe Liebermann has announced that he may support a Republican for President.

"I'm going to do what most independents and a lot of Democrats and Republicans in America do, which is to take a look at all the candidates and then in the end, regardless of party, decide who I think will be best for the future of our country," Lieberman said Sunday.

"So I'm open to supporting a Democrat, Republican or even an Independent, if there's a strong one. Stay tuned," said the three-term lawmaker who caucuses with Senate Democrats.

Well, knock me down with a feather. He's stopped even pretending to be Liberal and is now using the term "Independent" as an excuse to back even the party that he opposed for his past three terms in office.

People like Liebermann are astonishing and a great example of what fear of terrorism can do to certain people's political beliefs. Lieberman will give up any civil liberty if he feels it will make the US safer.

He is the proof that the new battle is not about left or right, it about people who are willing to give up civil liberties for a perceived increase in security.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin, "Those who would sacrifice a little liberty for a perceived increase in security, deserve neither - and will eventually lose both."

Click title for full article.

tag: , ,

US attacks Israel's cluster bomb use

It says something when Israel's use of cluster bombs comes under scrutiny and complaint from the US State Department.

However, in the final days of the war Olmert appeared out of control. As I said at the time:

The behaviour of Ehud Olmert in the last three days of the conflict with Hizbullah struck most of us as bizarre. The US had finally engaged and a resolution was set to follow and yet Olmert, for reasons best known to himself, decided that this was the time to launch a ground offensive.

He claimed recently that he did so to ensure that the UN adopted the resolution, a ridiculous claim that suggests Israel was keen for a ceasefire whilst the UN dragged it's feet, which is about as far from reality as you can get.

However, his behaviour in that last 72 hours has come under even greater scrutiny with a stinging rebuke from the UN concerning Israel's use of cluster bombs in civilian areas, with most of them having been dropped in the last three days as the resolution was being finalised.
"What's shocking - and I would say to me completely immoral - is that 90% of the cluster bomb strikes occurred in the last 72 hours of the conflict, when we knew there would be a resolution," Mr Egeland said. "Every day people are maimed, wounded and are killed by these ordnance."
It is impossible to argue that Olmert did not mean to bring about civilian casualties using the weapons he was using in civilian areas. Indeed, as I reported at the time, he stated:
"Each expansion of Hizbollah terrorist operations will lead to a harsh and powerful response and its painful response will not be confined to Hassan's gang of criminals".
There is no way to interpret that statement as anything other than a threat to inflict "a painful response" upon the civilian population of Lebanon.
Now the US State Department are reportedly about to issue condemnation of Israel's use of cluster bombs in the final days of the conflict, a use that Chris Clarke, the United Nations official in charge of bomb disposal in southern Lebanon, said was, "The worst post-conflict cluster bomb contamination I have ever seen," he said.

The State Department will reportedly say that Israel breached agreements with the US over its use of the weapons, which can kill or injure a disproportionate number of children when they fail to explode and then are picked up or trod on.

I welcome the fact that the US are willing to publicly rebuke Israel for behaviour that was, frankly, disgraceful. But what punishment will Olmert suffer for his actions which have resulted in death and disfigurement? He has not even had to resign his post, despite the fact he remains immensely unpopular in Israel; although his unpopularity is based more on the fact that he lost the war than it is based on revulsion at his tactics.

Again, as I said at the time:
Olmert was always out of his depth in this conflict but it's beginning to look like he's strayed into criminality. But, of course, because he's not East European or an Arab, there is no chance that he will ever face prosecution for his crimes.
It's all very well to rebuke him, but a rebuke that carries no punishment is essentially meaningless. Olmert dropped these bombs, as the US now concur, into civilian areas. He did so - and we know this from his own words - to produce a "painful response [that] will not be confined to Hassan's gang of criminals".

He did this deliberately, knowing that he would injure civilians who were not part of "Hassan's gang of criminals".

So it's right that the US have rebuked him. However, I can't help thinking that, if he was the leader of any other nation who had lost a war and had committed such crimes, his punishment would have been far more severe than a rebuke.

Click title for full article.

tag: , , ,

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Thousands Protest Bush Policy

A raucous and colorful multitude of protesters, led by some of the aging activists of the past, staged a series of rallies and a march on the Capitol yesterday to demand that the United States end its war in Iraq.

Under a blue sky with a pale midday moon, tens of thousands of people angry about the war and other policies of the Bush administration danced, sang, shouted and chanted their opposition.

Here are some of them in their own words:



Barbara Abrams, 78, Catholic worker from Rochester, N.Y.
"I think we should pull out of Iraq. I think the 20,000 soldiers should be sent, with all the money, to New Orleans."

Mary Alexander, 56, retired school psychologist from Lynchburg
"There's going to be more bloodshed in Iraq whether we stay there or don't stay there. ... I care a lot about what happens to the Iraqis, but I don't trust the person who's making the decisions, so I can't follow his lead."

Mark Ballard, 30, of New York
"I don't do much protesting. I guess I came to this one because I've been complaining for four years. It's time to sacrifice a Saturday."

Kim Brenegar, 46, of Washington
"I've become very numb to the front-page reporting of deaths. ... We've all become so used to it, it's the norm. I hope today's event will wake up a lot of people and demonstrate that this doesn't have to go on, we can stop this."

Chris Dols, 24, senior at the University of Wisconsin
"I hope that some enlisted person sees this protest on TV and has the courage to stand up and resist deployment to this awful war. That's the only way it's going to end."

Richard Edmonds, 46, bond trader from Chesterfield, Va., viewing exhibits inside the National Gallery of Art during the protest
"I really think the country has forgotten about 9/11 pretty quickly. [But] it's damned if you do, damned if you don't. I think we went in there on very bad information, and [Bush] doesn't know how to get out."

James Fiorentino, 25, senior at the University of Massachussetts
"We're here to say that without us, without the young people, they can't fight this war. They ripped our history away from us, but we will take it back."

Grady Fitzgerald, 52, postal worker from Jersey City
"I've got two children, 21 and 23, and it's now a civil war and our troops are just being targets. I think one of the reasons I'm here today is because the president is not listening to 75 percent of the people."

Bill Henning, vice president of Communications Workers of America Local 1180 in New York
"It's unprecedented for U.S. labor to be against U.S. foreign policy while a war is going on. We never had that [with] Vietnam. Now you can't find anybody in organized labor that supports the war."

Myra Holiday, 47, mail clerk in a Buffalo health care facility
"It seemed like in the beginning they were ... looking [for] weapons of mass destruction and then they found Saddam Hussein and you would think the journey ended, but they still didn't find any weapons. ... And I just ... started thinking our troops should come home."

Joe May, 29, former specialist with the Army's 1st Cavalry Divison in Iraq
"The war as a whole ... is unnecessary and based on lies. If it's an unnecessary war based on lies, and the right mission is unseeable, then the answer is to bring them home now."

Sacha Mercier, 23, a recent graduate from Long Island, N.Y.
"I don't think there's any way to make a clean cut out ... It's probably going to be a civil war for the next few years. But, in all honesty, we've done that to so many other countries that it wouldn't be anything substantial in the history of the U.S."

Cindy Price, 44, of Washington
"I very much support our armed forces. It breaks my heart to see these people coming home dismembered and disabled, or in body bags and caskets. I'm opposed to people dying, Americans and Iraqis."

Memphis Rudder, 21, organizer for World Can't Wait from Paragold, Ark.
"We are trying to get Bush impeached so that every president after this will not think it's okay to commit war crimes. ... It's going to take a massive upheaval from the bottom to make this happen."

Keeanga Taylor, 34, student at Northeastern Illinois University
"We know students are against this war, so it's up to us to build a movement. We have to take this sentiment back to our campuses to build an antiwar movement that can stop the bloodshed."

Click title for full article.

tag: , ,

Electoral watchdog: Take Labour to court over honours

It is truly bizarre that the man who took Britain to war without a UN resolution should be brought to his knees by a little known law that forbids the selling of honours. The investigation into whether Blair took Cash for Honours may have started using the 1925 Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act, but if the news carried by today's Independent newspaper is correct, then the Labour Party will soon find itself in court for breaches of electoral law discovered during the investigation into the Cash for Honours scandal.

Police investigating the cash-for-honours affair are to be advised to take Labour to court for breaches of electoral law, The Independent on Sunday can reveal.

The official elections watchdog, which is advising Scotland Yard investigators, is preparing to say that Labour has "a case to answer" and should face charges.

The case against Labour under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA) is now being prepared by the police. They are also gathering evidence for possible conspiracy charges.

The Electoral Commission, which is to give its opinion on the PPERA as the official regulator, is understood to believe that Labour should be tried because it is unclear that loans it accepted from millionaire backers were made on normal commercial terms.

Sources have told the IoS that the Electoral Commission believes that the question is whether Labour failed to disclose the "benefit" of loans which were not made on fully commercial terms. "It is not clear that they were commercial. This is something that needs to be tested in court," one source said.

Were this to transpire, it would be a devastating blow for Blair and almost certainly force him to testify. As a Cabinet Minister is quoted as saying:

"If Tony Blair is in the witness box it will be a disaster. Someone will call him as a witness if this goes to trial."

Crossing his fingers, he added: "It would be disastrous. Hopefully it won't happen. Inshallah!"

This prosecution would be separate from any charges that may be brought under the 1925 Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act, although the fact that the Labour Party sought to hide donations is said to be strengthening the possibility of prosecution under that act.

In many ways it would be more embarrassing to Blair were he to be called as a witness rather than as a defendant, as a defendant has the right to silence.

"It could be extremely embarrassing, and Blair would not have the same kind of protection he would have as a defendant if he is called to give evidence as a witness," said one QC. "In many ways it would be worse."

All of this is increasing calls for Blair to step down before the local elections in May.
There was open talk in the tea rooms of forcing the Prime Minister to resign early as a damage-limitation exercise. "We are leaking support to the Conservatives," said one former cabinet minister. "How can we fight the May elections with Blair in office and all these cash-for-honours headlines dogging us?"
Indeed, Blair is now refusing to answer any questions on the subject at all.

During Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Mr Blair's communications chief David Hill chewed his nails as his boss was asked by Tory MP Bill Wiggin: "Will he confirm that if a close aide is charged he will leave office?" Labour MPs sitting behind the Prime Minister stared nervously at their shoes as Mr Blair snapped back: "I have absolutely nothing to say about that inquiry at all."

It is frankly astonishing that the man who took Britain into an illegal war and survived, may now be brought to his knees by a series of loans that he kept quiet from his own party. But all indications are that the enquiry that the Blair team once dismissed as opportunism is now becoming serious enough to knock him from his perch.

The Daily Telegraph are reporting that police now want a warrant to search Number Ten Downing Street on the grounds that the government are being "unhelpful", a charge which Downing Street denies.

Before Christmas a committee of MPs investigating any link between peerages and party funding was told by the police that there were "gaps" in the evidence and that they may have to resort to "formal means" to gather crucial material. Officers suspect that computer files of correspondence already voluntarily handed over to the police may be incomplete.

A source close to the investigation said: "The formal means the committee was told about is search warrants. They will do it if they have to."

Magistrates have the power to issue a warrant authorising the police to search premises for evidence of a serious, arrestable offence. They are supposed to issue them only if there are reasonable grounds for believing that the police cannot obtain access to the evidence without a warrant.

The source stressed that the police would only resort to the courts if they encounter any resistance to their requests for more internal documents and emails relating to the disputed honours list at the heart of the inquiry.

Downing Street was yesterday dismissive of talk of warrants. "We are already co-operating fully with the police investigation," said a spokesman. Pressed on whether they had withheld any information, the spokesman said: "While we are not going to get into a running commentary on this, we are co-operating fully."

Warrants to search Number Ten and a Prime Minister in the dock is not how the Blair era was supposed to end, but it is beginning to look like a distinct possibility.

Personally, I'd prefer to see him in the Hague.

Click title for full article.

tag: ,

They're broken men, so don't let them take us to a new war

I wrote a long time ago about the similarities between George Bush and Ahmadinejad of Iran. As time has passed those similarities have only increased, as Henry Porter notes in an opinion piece in today's Guardian.

This is unsurprising: though not political equivalents, the two are really quite similar. Both had little experience of government or international affairs before being carried to power on a tide of populist, religious conservatism. Neither travelled abroad much, but they both had certain views about the world and the destiny of their nations. They had all the answers, yet there was also a dangerous lack of seriousness in them which has now earned them both the scorn of their people and rebuffs from their elders.

We think of Bush as being the more unpopular of the two. His approval ratings are at the level of Nixon's just before he left the White House. After an unconvincing performance in the State of the Union Address, his plans for the troop surge in Iraq were rejected by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and may now be voted down by the entire Senate. Senior Republican senators such as Chuck Hagel and John Warner are furious that sensible suggestions contained in the Iraq Study Group Report have been ignored. Although the President looked receptive when the report was delivered to him by James Baker, there has been no progress in policy, no evidence of any kind of deeper thinking in the White House. Nothing except that familiar foggy, narrow-eyed truculence of Bush Junior in a tight spot.

This would be a depressing but for similar difficulties experienced by Ahmadinejad over the last few weeks. Just as the senior Republican elders have turned on Bush, so Iran's religious leaders are moving to restrain their President. They criticise his bellicose foreign policy and the exceptionally poor record on promised reforms at home. There is a sense of embarrassment among sophisticated Iranians about their President's pronouncements, which surely rings a bell with Americans.

The most important sign-off disenchantment came in Jomhouri Islami, the newspaper owned by Iran's supreme religious leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which said in an editorial: 'Turning the nuclear issue into a propaganda issue gives the impression that to cover up the flaws in government you are exaggerating its importance.'

So both Iran and the US are currently being run by men spectacularly unqualified for the position they now hold. And both are inching towards a confrontation that is much more serious than the invasion of Iraq, serious though that was.

Ahmadinejad is about to open a new uranium enrichment plant and Bush is being prodded by his Israeli friends - led by the extremist Netanyahu with his ridiculous talk of a "new Holocaust" - to strike Iran before it acquires this new nuclear capability.

We are on the brink of a terrifying confrontation and both the US and Iran are being led by second raters. The Iranians have already offered the US a comprehensive peace package that the vile US Vice President has swatted away.

It is time for saner minds to take hold.

Bush may have refused to follow the eminently sensible advice of James Baker regarding Iraq, but Blair and others should be pushing for at least the opening of some form of dialogue with Iran, one of the suggestions that the Iraq Study Group proposed.
There is no reason why Tony Blair should not add to the call from the head of UN inspectors, Mohamed ElBaradei, for a time out in which sanctions would be suspended. Blair still has a voice that is heard in the US. He should consider making a speech which insists that Bush initiates direct diplomatic relations with Tehran as well as a renewed effort to create the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. He owes something to the cause of peaceful resolution and, besides, these are hardly controversial views: both have already been expressed by James Baker's Iraq Study Group.
On the present Dick-Cheney-inspired-course confrontation between Iran and the US is guaranteed. We must never lose sight of the fact that this is what Cheney and lunatics like him want. He wants either capitulation or war. Ahmadinejad, who is now wounded at home in a very similar manner to the way in which Bush is wounded, cannot capitulate without losing his Presidency.

Both of these losers now need to be saved from themselves. For all of our sakes. It is time for wiser men to intervene.

The Iranians, despite Netanyahu's deranged rhetoric, are a decade away from acquiring a bomb. There is time for us to ensure that Iran's nuclear ambitions are peaceful. Any attack on Iran's nuclear facilities is almost guaranteed to fail in it's objective and harden any latent Iranian intent to acquire the bomb.

We must ensure that these two weak men don't lead us all down a path that results in an attack on Iran with all the dreadful consequences that would ensue.

It is said that Blair is looking for a legacy that isn't limited to the word, "Iraq". He could get one labelled "Iran" if he has the courage to pull George and Dick back from the brink.

Click title for full article.

tag: , , , ,

Saturday, January 27, 2007

The Cheney Clip Show: Jon Stewart As Value-Adding News Aggregator





tag: , , ,

The "I (bomb) Iran" T-shirt

I've been arguing for a while now that either the US or Israel will soon attack Iran. Some people have commented on how lunatic that policy would be, a sentiment which I am in complete agreement with.

However, further signs that the Republicans are thinking of bombing Iran comes with the production of this charming T-shirt produced by a group called The Casual Conservative.

They actually now celebrate the possible bombing of other country's on T-shirts. These people are beneath contempt.

Click title to see the page where they sell this muck.

tag: ,

U.S a Dictatorship?

Whilst I'm riled about Gonzales, I thought I'd post this. It's astonishing that this is being done in a country that is supposed to be the world's leading democracy.



These people are terrifying.

tag: , , , , , , , ,

Gonzales has no shame

I have covered the case of Maher Arar before. You will remember that he was the Canadian citizen who the US government shipped to Syria in order that he might be tortured, despite the fact that Canada could find no link between Arar and any terrorist group.

Today Canada has offered to compensate Arar for it's role in his detention:

Canada's prime minister apologized to Maher Arar on Friday and announced the government would compensate him C$10.5 million (US$8.9 million) for its role in his deportation from the U.S. to Syria, where he was tortured while held in prison for nearly a year.
So the Canadians, who asked that the US keep Arar on a watch list but had nothing to do with his eventual torture, nevertheless, accepted that a dreadful wrong happened here and that Mr Arar deserves to be compensated.

However, the US are refusing to admit that they made a mistake here and, despite a Canadian investigation that totally cleared Arar of any involvement in terrorism, the US continue to keep Arar on their no fly lists.

Alberto Gonzales has written to the Canadian Authorities stating that they have re-examined the Arar case and concluding that Arar deserves to be on a US Watch List.

This is another example of the Republicans refusing to ever admit that they have simply got it wrong.

This video shows Senator Leahy questioning Alberto Gonzalez about the US's treatment of Arar.



What I find most spooky about this video is the cheap smirk that Gonzales has on his face. There is absolutely no sense of shame in Gonzales.

Lets bear in mind that no-one is disputing that Arar WAS tortured, and that he was tortured after the US sent him to Syria. As Leahy points out, he was sent to Syria specifically in order that torture would take place.

One would hope that given the dreadful set of events that occurred to a totally innocent man that the Bush administration would bend over backwards and be offering the kind of compensation that the Canadians have offered Arar. But, no. What the Bush administration offer is Gonzales and that fucking smirk.

No apology for torture, simply the repetition that Arar deserves to be on a Watch List.

The Canadian government have expressed their fury at the US position on this.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper again called on the U.S. government to remove the Ottawa telecoms engineer from any of its no-fly or terrorist watchlists and reiterated that Ottawa would keep pressing Washington to clear Arar's name.

"We think the evidence is absolutely clear and that the United States should in good faith remove Mr. Arar from the list," Harper told a news conference in Ottawa. "We don't intend to either change or drop our position."

The U.S. government has repeatedly insisted it has reasons to leave the 37-year-old on its watchlists. The issue has grown into an unpleasant diplomatic row between the world's largest trading partners and closest allies.
Glenn Greenwald had this to say:
Like the Jose Padilla case, it's difficult even to know what to say about this incident. I've written about it before, but one's anger is renewed each time there is a further development. There is absolutely no question that Arar is a completely innocent individual whom our government literally abducted and sent to be tortured -- for months, away from his family and everything he knew. Once this entire matter came to light, the administration simply dug its heels in further, insisting that national security required that his case be dismissed from our courts (which naturally obliged), and now -- almost out of spite and/or a pathological inability to admit error -- continues to keep him on its no-fly list.
Alberto Gonzales is almost spectacularly unfit for the post that he holds. Judges, he contends, are unqualified to decide terrorism issues that he says are best settled by Congress or the President. He has even gone as far as to say that Habeas Corpus is not guaranteed to every US citizen under the Constitution.

Gonzales represents everything that is wrong with the Bush administration. He has a total inability to ever admit a wrong, even when that wrong is staring him in the face, and a cheap smirk replacing what one would hope would be an act of contrition.

Make no mistake, the US government are not denying that Arar was sent to Syria on their instructions and that he was tortured while he was there. What they are refusing to do is to admit that they were wrong to send him there.

It is wrong to torture anyone under any circumstances, but when you can't admit that torturing innocent people is a wrong, then you really have lost all moral perspective.

Gonzales can't bring himself to even admit that it was wrong to torture an innocent. What we get instead is that inane, hopefully embarrassed, quasi pubescent, fucking smirk.

As I say, he so represents this administration that he could be their poster child.

tag: , , , , , , ,

Friday, January 26, 2007

Kennedy Lashes Out as Bush Tries to Keep the Poorest Poor.

Why are the Republicans so obsessed with keeping the poorest members of their society as poor as they can possibly be? Even after the drubbing they took in November, these buggers still don't get it.

"Is there no limit to their greed?" asks Kennedy.



tag: , ,

Bush: 'I'm the decision-maker' on Iraq

There are times when listening to Bush speak borders on the surreal.

Today I had one of those out of body experiences, when I know that one of us is living in a different quantum time zone from the other, because both of our realities are so far apart. It happened while he was talking about sending more troops to Iraq.

He said this:

President Bush, on a collision course with Congress over Iraq, said Friday "I'm the decision-maker" about sending more troops to the war. He challenged skeptical lawmakers not to prematurely condemn his buildup.

"I've picked the plan that I think is most likely to succeed," Bush said in an Oval Office meeting with senior military advisers.

The president had strong words for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are lining up to support resolutions opposing his decision to send 21,500 troops to Iraq. He challenged them to put up their own ideas.

"I know there is skepticism and pessimism and that some are condemning a plan before it's even had a chance to work," the president said. "They have an obligation and a serious responsibility therefore to put up their own plan as to what would work."

Am I the only person to find that statement breathtaking? What was The Iraq Study Group's Report if not "their own plan as to what would work"?

Bush is now pretending that report simply doesn't exist and asking those who oppose him, "Well, what's your plan Smart Ass?" The fact that he didn't like the plan hardly negates it out of existence.

Every time I think he can't be more dumb, he goes and surprises me all over again.

Click title for full article.

tag: , , , , ,

Shia Iraqi soldier beat Sunnis as US trainers watch

The title says all that needs to be said. However, the US soldiers not only don't intervene, they actually seem to take delight over what they are witnessing.



Hat Tip to Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying.

tag: , , , , ,

Ministers 'knew about rendition flights'

I have written before about how the British government are simply lying when they state that they do not know whether CIA flights into and out of Britain contain prisoners being ferreted around the world to US interrogation centres or to other country's where they may be tortured. The process, known as extraordinary rendition, has been the subject of an EU enquiry and it's findings have been recently released.

The findings confirm what everyone thought.

European governments, including Britain, knew about secret CIA flights across the continent, MEPs concluded yesterday, as they lambasted politicians and senior officials for failing to co-operate with an inquiry into secret US renditions.

Of course, Britain decided not to co-operate with the inquiry, which is as good a way of admitting guilt as I can think of.

Britain's former defence secretary Geoff Hoon, now minister for Europe, was criticised in a report which "deplored" the way he co-operated with a committee investigating claims that the CIA operated secret flights in the EU and set up covert prisons on European soil.

Overall the UK emerged as one of the countries which tolerated a significant number of "black flights" and failed to assist British citizens who were abducted in other countries.

The document, agreed yesterday, expressed "serious concern about the 170 stopovers made by CIA-operated aircraft at UK airports, which on many occasions came from or were bound for countries linked with extraordinary rendition circuits and the transfer of detainees". It deplored "the stopovers at UK airports of aircraft which have been shown to have been used by the CIA", on other occasions, for "extraordinary renditions".

Not content with allowing such activities to take place within Britain, the Foreign Office adviser Michael Wood managed to outrage the enquiry further when he gave his legal opinion "according to which receiving or possessing information extracted under torture, as long as there is no direct participation in the torture, is not prohibited".

So Britain is not only turning a blind eye while suspects are brought through here on their way to Guantanamo or some other secret Gulag where they may or may not be tortured, we will also happily accept any information that this torture produces and not feel the least bit sullied as, after all, we had "no direct participation in the torture".

Can there possibly be a more repellent, morally vacuous stance than the one Blair's government has adopted?

The man who came into power promising a government that would be "whiter than white" has said nothing about this enquiry's findings, just as he miraculously managed to find somewhere else to be the other day whilst the Commons debated the Iraq war.

However, the fact that he has enabled people to be flown to legal black holes, where they have languished without access to lawyers for the best part of five years is a stain on his reputation that time will not erase. And to think that we find it acceptable to accept intelligence gleaned in such a way and to imagine that we are not sullied because "we have not tortured anyone" reveals him to be morally bankrupt.

That both he and Bush can indulge in this kind of behaviour whilst continuing as practising Christians simply baffles me. That he can take part in this when he, himself, is a trained barrister appals me. They should disbar him.

The year-long investigation into CIA activities has established enough circumstantial evidence to corroborate widespread reports of secret rendition, the report's authors say.

The committee set up to investigate the claims interviewed witnesses and obtained information from Eurocontrol, the EU's air safety agency, which revealed that more than 1,200 undeclared CIA flights entered European airspace after 11 September 2001.

The inquiry concluded: "It is implausible, on the basis of the testimonies and documents received, that certain European governments were not aware of the activities linked to extraordinary rendition on their territory". It was also "implausible that many hundreds of flights ...could have taken place without the knowledge of either the security services or the intelligence services".

They knew. All along. They knew. And they lied to us about it. And Tony's a lawyer. So he knew just how illegal what he was participating in was.

Click title for full article.

tag: , , , , , ,

Israel tries to cut off Tehran from world markets

I've been arguing for a while now that Bush and Co. are preparing for an attack on Iran. It's not any one thing that they are doing as much as the cumulative effect of lots of things that leads me to believe that they will strike, despite Tony Snow issuing non-denial denials.

Now, Israel have launched a campaign to isolate Iran economically and it is said, "to soften up world opinion for the option of a military strike aimed at crippling or delaying Tehran's uranium enrichment programme".

Pressure will be applied to major US pension funds to stop investment in about 70 companies that trade directly with Iran, and to international banks that trade with its oil sector, cutting off the country's access to hard currency. The aim is to isolate Tehran from the world markets in a campaign similar to that against South Africa at the height of apartheid.

The campaign is being led by Benjamin Netanyahu who also wants Ahmadinejad prosecuted for calling the Holocaust a myth, and saying Israel should be wiped off the map.
The case will be launched under the 1948 UN convention on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, which outlaws "direct and public incitement to genocide".
I have read many translations of Ahmadinejad's remarks and not all of them agree with the reading that Netanyahu is making, but this hardly matters as the reason Netanyahu is proposing prosecuting Ahmadinejad is to encourage some kind of strike against Iran. He's simply using this supposed outrage to fuel fires against Tehran.

Before flying to London to spearhead the mission to sell the sanctions, the Likud party leader, Binyamin Netanyahu, said: "A campaign to divest commercial investment from Iran, beginning with the large pension funds in the west ... either stops Iran's nuclear programme or it will pave the way for tougher actions. So it's no-lose for us."

Of course, there is no mention here of Israel's nuclear weaponry or the fact that Israel, with American backing, has refused to sign the very Nuclear non-Proliferation treaty that she is demanding that Iran comply with.

But such hypocrisies do not bother Netanyahu or his American counterparts.

They will continue to insist that they operate on some mythical moral high ground, whilst Israel retains nuclear weapons that she will not admit to possessing and Bush plans a new range of bunker busting nuclear weapons in clear defiance of the same Treaty that we are demanding Ahmadinejad complies with.

The world would find us much more credible if we took our own commitments as seriously as we demand the Iranians do.

But this is simply another small step in the direction of either the US or Israel launching some kind of attack on Iran, with all the chaos that this is guaranteed to produce throughout the entire Middle East.

Nor will any missile attack even be guaranteed to prove effective at removing the threat of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Preemptive military attack is not a strategy for stopping the spread of nuclear weapons anymore; the changes in technology have made it obsolete.” That’s the current assessment from Larry Derfner, who often writes about Israeli politics for the Jerusalem Post. “Concealing a nuclear start-up is so much easier now than it was in 1981 and it’s only going to get easier yet. Throwing fighter jets, commandos and whatnot at Iran is more than risky; it’s almost certainly futile if not altogether impossible.
So lets be clear what Netanyahu is proposing. He's wanting to launch an attack on Iran that is "almost certainly futile" when it comes to destroying Iran's nuclear facilities. He's actually going to inflame the entire region and almost certainly NOT succeed in ridding Iran of it's nuclear capability.

And this is being proposed AFTER Cheney has refused an offer from Iran that promised the Americans all of the things that the US are now demanding.

It's not their love of violence that I find appalling. It's the fact that they will propose violent acts even when they are guaranteed not to work and when they have already been offered a peaceful solution.

Oh, and Ahmadinejad's the lunatic in case you had forgotten.

Click title for full article.

tag: , , , ,