1/21/8 Up Close and Personal

“We have about 60 per cent of the world's wealth but only 6.3 per cent of its population,” he said. Our real task in the coming period (willbe) to maintain this position of disparity... We will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming...The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts.... The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”
1948, George Kennan, director of planning US State Department

There Is No “War on Terror”
By Edward S. Herman and David Peterson
... In short, the war on terror is an intellectual and propaganda cover, analogous—and in many ways a successor—to the departed “Cold War,” which in its time also served as a cover for imperial expansion. Guatemala, Vietnam, Chile, Indonesia, Zaire (and many others) were regularly subverted or attacked on the ground of an alleged Soviet menace that had to be combated... With that cover gone, pursuing terrorists is proving to be an admirable substitute, as once again a gullible [digest: complicit] media will accept that any targeted rebels are actual or potential terrorists and may even have links to Al Qaeda. The FARC rebels in Colombia are terrorists, but the government-supported rightwing paramilitaries who kill many more civilians than FARC are not and are the beneficiaries of U.S. “counter-terrorism” aid. Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela, on the other hand, which does not kill civilians, is accused of lack of cooperation in the U.S. “counter-terrorism” program, and is alleged to have “links” to U.S. targets such as Iran and Cuba, which allegedly support terrorists.[25] Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, and other torture-prone states are “with us” in the war on terror; states like Venezuela, Iran and Cuba are not with us and are easily situated as terrorist or “linked” to terrorist states.
If Al Qaeda didn’t exist the United States would have to create it, and of course it did create it back in the 1980s, as a means of destabilizing the Soviet Union. Al Qaeda’s more recent role is a classic case of “blowback.” ... If as the United States projects power across the globe this produces resistance, and if this resistance can be labeled “terrorists,” then U.S. aggression and wholesale terror are home-free! Any country that is willing to align with the United States can get its dissidents and resistance condemned as "terrorists," with or without links to Al Qaeda, and get U.S. military aid. The war on terror is a war of superpower power-projection, which is to say, an imperialist war on a global scale....

Admittedly, the surge in power projection that 9/11 and the war on terror facilitated has not been a complete and unadulterated success. But the “war on terror” gambit did enable this surge to come about, and it should be recognized that the invasion-occupation of Iraq was not a diversion, its conquest was one of the intended objectives of this war. That conquest may be in jeopardy, but looked at from the standpoint of its organizers, the war has achieved some of the real goals for which it was designed; and in this critical but seldom appreciated sense it has been a success. It has facilitated two U.S. military invasions of foreign countries, served to line-up many other states behind the leader of the war, helped once again to push NATO into new, out-of-area operations, permitted a further advance in the U.S. disregard of international law, helped bring about quasi-regime changes in some major European capitals, and was the basis for the huge growth in U.S. and foreign military budgets. While its destabilization of the Middle East has possibly benefited Iran, it has given Israel a free hand in accelerated ethnic cleansing, settlements, and more ruthless treatment of the Palestinians, and the United States and Israel still continue to threaten and isolate Iran.

Furthermore, with the cooperation of the Democrats and mass media, the “war on terror” gave the “decider” and his clique the political ability to impose an unconstitutional, rightwing agenda at home... The increased military budget and militarization of U.S. society, the explosive growth in corporate "counter-terrorism" and "homeland security" enterprises, the greater centralization of power in the executive branch, the enhanced inequality, the unimpeded growth of the prison-industrial complex, the more rightwing judiciary, and the failure of the Democrats to do anything to counter these trends since the 2006 election, suggests that the shift to a more militarized society and expansionist foreign policy may have become permanent features of life in the United States. Is that not a war on terror success story, given the aims of its creators?

Making the World Safe for Despots:
"In the last six years, Washington has stepped up its sales and transfers of high-technology weapons, military training, and other military assistance to governments regardless of their respect for human rights, democratic principles, or nonproliferation," according to a report in the current(Jan.-Feb.) "Arms Control Today,"http://www.counterpunch.org/ross01192008.html

tstate terrorists preparing for resistance and revolution they have declared "anti-terrorist" war against
Anti-terror cops to combat surging violence
VICTORIA's police commissioner adopted new "get tough" approach to street violence that will see anti-terrorist police deployed at trouble spots across the state... More than 120 have already had rigorous training, and scores more will receive it in the next six months.
"The training is about how to deal with crowds," Ms Nixon said... Ms Nixon has also ordered a greater use of the force's elite critical incident response teams at events where trouble or large crowds are expected.
The highly trained, heavily armed CIRT units, which are available 24 hours a day, every day, were set up three years ago to counter terrorist threats.While CIRT members will still have an anti-terrorist role, Ms Nixon will also now use their expertise in the fight against public disorder.


Israeli Missiles Over Refuge Camps - " Self Defense " - Said The US State Department
Nothing to be proud of - US support of war crimes !
Hiyam Noir, PalestineFreeVoice
...After the Israelis attacks the United States of America described the atrocious acts on Gaza Strip, over the past 5 days - leaving more than 50 people dead and scores of injured - as "legal self-defence".The spokesperson of the US State Department, Sean McCormack: "The Israelis military operations is falling under the category of legal self-defence, and the Israelis have the full right to defend them self.."- When Israel practices self-defence, we encourage them to do their best to avoid harming civilians, the same as our armed forces do," Meanwhile, he called on the Israeli authorities to avoid killing Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip "as much as possible." ! Below is a transcript of the US State Department spokesman, Sean Mc Cormack press briefing in the press office of the US State Department on Friday,regarding Israelis attacks on Gaza Strip the past week, and the humanitarian situation for the Palestinians living there...

Israel closes Gaza Crossing to UN Aid and Kills 37 Palestinians
Palestine Solidarity Committee of South Africa
According to the UN, about half the strip's 1.5 million people no longer have access to fresh water, because Israel has been restricting fuel supplies, which in turn halts pumps and reduces electricity production. This has created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis in the impoverished Strip and denies the population their most fundamental human right - the right to life. Also on Friday, Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip killed a woman at a wedding celebration and injured 46 others. In the last 4 days, Israeli air strikes and ground incursions have killed 37 Palestinians and injured more than 120. These events in the Gaza Strip cannot be isolated from Bush’s visit last week to Israel , during which he obviously gave the green light to Israel to continue the wanton killing of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.... http://www.uruknet.de/?p=40275

genocide in numbers
The Philistine
Some examples of Palestinians killed while waiting to cross checkpoints for medical reasons: Amir Shaher 'Abdallah al-Yazji: 8 year-old resident of Gaza city, died on 19.11.2007 in Gaza city, following a delay in receiving medical care. Additional information: suffered from meningitis, and died after being refused, for more than a week, entry into Israel. Mahmoud Kamal Kamel Abu Taha 23 year-old resident of Rafah, died on 28.10.2007 in Erez (Industrial Zone), North Gaza district, following a delay in receiving medical care. Additional information: Cancer patient dies after being delayed entry into Israel for 10 days though he had a permit to pass.... http://www.uruknet.de/?p=40278

Death and Darkness in Gaza: People Are Dying, Help Us!
By Maan
A humanitarian crisis is underway as the Gaza Strip's only power plant began to shut down on Sunday, and the territory entered its third full day without shipments of food and fuel supplies due to Israel's punitive sanctions. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19120.htm

A letter from Gaza
1.5 millions in Gaza are punished collectively now
Dr. Medhat Abbas, Crisis management Palestinian Health Ministry
...Without exception, no fuel or food and medicines while we are living in the gloom the majority of time as a result of cutting the electricity. The Zionist Israeli occupation has been practising a collective punishment against 1.5 millions in Gaza. The punishment does not exclude children, women or elderly.No patients will travel abroad for treatment now, whatever their health status, before the 18th of January Israelis used to refuse almost 26% of the patients applying to travel for treatment. Today it is 100% closure, the patients now have to face their destiny and to die in peace. No coffins in Gaza any more, there is not even Cement to build their graves. So the people have to starve, the people have to be targeted by the unmanned planes, and when wounded there should be no treatment, and later no coffins or grave when they die. This is the reality.... http://www.uruknet.de/?p=40285

Gaza's only electrical plant shut down today after Israel blocked the shipment of fuel that powers them, plunging Gaza City into darkness and sending already beleaguered Gazans to stock up on food and batteries in anticipation of long, dark, cold days ahead.

Palestinian woman killed, 46 injured in Israeli air strike on Wedding Party
Palestinian Information Center
One of the victim's of Friday's Israeli air strike
GAZA, (PIC)-- One woman was killed and 46 others were wounded Friday afternoon when F-16 fighters bombed the old building of the interior ministry near the Islamic university, according to reports from Gaza. The F-16 fighter fired two rockets... bombing resulted in the complete destruction of the five-storey building and caused great damage to surrounding homes. There was a wedding party at the house of Abdel-Jawad family adjacent to the bombed building, and the bombing caused the death of Ms. Haneya Abdel-Jawad and the wounding of many wedding guests, including young children. Security sources said the Israeli occupation knows very well that the targeted building is within a densely populated area and that targeting it would result in a large number of civilian casualties.

Palestinian unity for liberation not the goal of imperialist-zionist paid agents
Haniyeh's political advisor invites Abbas to visit Gaza Strip
Ma'an News
Ahmad Yousef, political adviser to prime minister of the de facto government in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, told Ma'an on Thursday that he expects dialogue between Fatah and Hamas to take place, especially after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas contacted Hamas leader Mahmoud Al-Zahhar to express his sympathy for the death of his son. Al-Zahhar's son, Husam, was killed in an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Yousef sent an invitation to Abbas to come to the Gaza Strip, saying the Palestinian people in Gaza are looking forward to an end to the political divisions that are dividing the Palestinian people.... http://www.uruknet.de/?p=40213

Gilad Atzmon - "Public Lapidation" round one
Once again, rabid Zionists have united with the so-called 'Jewish anti-Zionists protagonists'. This time, they insist upon believing that I am a Holocaust Denier. It all started when a site that specialises in texts known as “Holocaust Denial” linked to an Iranian paper that reported that the German Lawyer Sylvia Stolz, who acted as attorney for Ernst Zundel and has been sentenced to serve three and a half years in prison for doing so, quoted me in her defence. According to the Iranian paper "Stolz has reportedly read a newspaper article to the court about the appearance of world renowned Israeli artist, Gilad Atzmon in Bochum." http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=38848&sectionid=351020604

In order to set things straight, I have to mention that the newspaper item read by Mrs Stolz was highly misleading. It was not at all representative of what I had said. At the time, this was immediately pointed out by the Festival organiser who invited me and moderated the meeting. Indeed, the organiser felt that the paper misrepresented almost everything possible.

This is the text of the letter he had written to the newspaper.

“Dear editorial staff of Ruhr Nachrichten,
I usually do not write letters to the editors and as an organizer I can live with bad critics. However, as the subject is rather delicate, I felt I had to comment the article containing big mistakes as regards content and strongly falsifying Gilad Atzmon’s political tendency.

Firstly, concerning the big mistakes:

“According to him the true enemy was not Hitler but Stalin”. You have left out an important piece of information, notably whose enemy Stalin had been. Atzmon argued that America’s true enemy had not been Hitler but Stalin. As long as Hitler had communism under control, America did not believe it to be necessary to get involved in the war. Atzmon uses the same argument for all wars led by the USA until the present time. Atzmon also refers to Hitler as a criminal. Atzmon neither denies nor plays down the Holocaust.

The following statement is wrong, too: “[…] the Germans [should] stop feeling guilty and responsible”. In fact, Atzmon encourages the present generation of Germans not to feel guilty any longer but he does not deny the Germans’ responsibility in general. On the contrary, he believes the Germans to be extremely vigilant today concerning any kind of potential racist or fascist tendencies.

Regarding the discussion about the number of murdered Jews during the Holocaust, it is very difficult to resume the contents of this debate with only a few sentences. Atzmon criticises that publicly doubting the number of 6 million is being penalized, while even the Holocaust museum Yad Vashem itself mentions various studies that state numbers of 5.1 million or even 5.29 or 5.5 million. Atzmon emphasises that this abstract number has become a kind of fetish, as if the Holocaust were more harmless if there had been only half of the number of murdered Jews. Atzmon does not accuse Bush, Blair and Sharon of being criminals of war in order to minimise Hitler’s own crimes of war.

Surely, the language barrier posed a problem during the discussion last Sunday. Suddenly, an audience that mainly expected to attend a concert preceded by a reading, was confronted by a political discussion. Had we known this beforehand, we would have organised a professional bilingual interpreter’s service for the evening.

We were aware of the fact that Gilad Atzmon’s novels are provoking and up to a certain extent such a provocation was intended. He criticised harshly Israel’s politics and shows that due to this historical victimhood, the United Nations mostly tolerate Israel’s racist and nationalist action towards the Palestinians and that criticism is nipped in the bud with the allegation of anti-Semitism.

It is true, that the ambiance after the discussion was not very favourable to the concert. We ourselves had several discussions in the lobby of the concert hall with members of the public who wanted to leave the event. Two of the women who had left returned however later and continued to speak with Gilad after the concert in a small group. This discussion was far less controversial than the momentarily heated one before the concert. They all said goodbye heartily and shook hands.

Maybe it would have made sense if Thorsten Hoops had seized the occasion to verify the ideas he got during the discussion. Such delicate subjects demand greater care from journalists than writing about a concert, which one can certainly resume in a competent way even if one does not stay until the very end.”

In the Bochum event I shared with my audience my usual critique of the common WW2 narrative as well as my different reading of the Holocaust as a meaningful event rather than a mere legal account. My detailed take on the issues can be found in the following links:

Rearranging the 20th Century: Allegro Non Troppo

Rearranging the 20th Century: Deceptive Cadence

Interview: It Ain’t Necessarily So

What I find very interesting is to discover how this news made the rounds. It seems that on a few leftist lists and on a rabid settler’s site, this news item based on falsity, bad translation and distortion of facts is the “hot” topic of the day. It seems that a few anti-Zionist Jews and some radicals who steal land from Palestinians are sharing their tactic today. They are circulating the news from a site that specialises in what they call Holocaust Denial. It’s a site I don’t read, and won’t even link to, but they obviously do and have. Yes, the rabid Zionists such as Arutzsheva, Seven Plaut and the Jewish anti-Zionists Tony Greenstein and Shraga Elam count on a denial site when it comes to me. I wonder if they suddenly trust Neo Nazis and Holocaust deniers as serious, trustworthy truth-tellers and legitimate sources of information. I wonder how they feel just having demonstrated what kind of navigation they engage in. Since they take the report in the Holocaust Denial site as correct, truthful and precise, how do they know that this site’s account on other things is categorically false? Where do they draw the line, if they draw one? It is probably just too much to expect Zionists (whether they know themselves to be or not) to be consistent. Once again we happen to learn that intellectual integrity is not a common trait amongst Jewish ethnic activists whether they are settlers or leftist cyber stalkers.

Neturei Karta: IDF conducting ethnic cleansing in Gaza
The Anti-Zionist Orthodox faction Neturei Karta, following the IDF operation in Gaza, in which 20 Palestinians were killed, denounced military operations in Strip as 'ferocious, bloodthirsty acts of ethnic cleansing', say they fail to understand why world powers 'allow Zionists to commit such crimes against Palestinians'. Established in 1935, Neturei Karta is an Orthodox Jewish group that rejects Zionism and calls for the peaceful dismantling of Israel...'Israeli army's operation proves enemy only understands language of blood and force,' spokesman for Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades says in response to death of at least 17 Palestinians in Strip. "We are appalled by the terrorist massacre performed by the Zionists in Gaza. This ferocious act is just one in a long line of oppressive acts of ethnic cleansing performed against the Palestinian people since 1948 by the evil Zionist movement," said their statement.

Israel's targeting of a Hamas government office which caused serious casualties at a nearby wedding party was a "war crime" and those responsible should be punished, a UN official said yesterday.

West Bank Bantustan
By Ben White
The Annapolis peace process, guided by the Quartet, leads towards a Palestinian "state" that will resemble Gaza-esque enclaves declared "unoccupied", and subjected to brutal repression. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article19116.htm

Muslim Women… The Real Oppression
By Nahida Izzat
20/01/08 "ICH" -- -- I find it really outrageous and inconceivable to watch this fierce campaign rallying in “defence” of “our rights”, the rights of Muslim women, such as the recent staging of the Islamo-fascist Awareness Week in USA sponsored by David Horowitz.What disturbs and frustrates me about this impious movement is the fact that those who are holding the banner of our “liberation” are precisely the ones whose hands are dripping with our blood, the blood of Muslim women! Wouldn’t it be a good idea if they stop killing us first in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine with the imminent threat to Iran? ...at least their hideous and bogus calls might gain some legitimacy and credibility then.
Wouldn’t it be a good idea if they could spare us their fake concern, and their crocodile tears weeping over our state of affairs and act honestly for once, by stopping their genocide against us, and by washing our blood off their hands?

This shrieking and fussing calling for our liberation from the “oppression” and “dominance” of Islam; is not innocent...These systematic attempts in the Western media to dehumanise one quarter of the world population, namely the Muslims are influenced and manipulated by the Zionists propaganda. This recent study shows 'demonisation' of Muslims in the British media:

The greatest danger and the most ruthless enemy of the world now is Islam, and they the "poor brave" Zionists are living amidst millions and millions of "Islamo-fascists", "terrorists" or "potential terrorists", and they courageously are trying to fight this “evil” to save the “civilized” world....

It is unscientific, irrational, meaningless, and dishonest to be critical of something that you know nothing or very little about, (and that which you know, comes mainly from shallow media sources or phoney stories from Hollywood rather the authentic books of that religion).
Academic integrity requires the application of proper criteria of research; it necessitates that one must study the valid sources, otherwise all research would be a sham and a scam, and all conclusions would be lacking in credibility, faulty and flawed. Simply put: do your homework...

Our dream of a peaceful future for our children necessitates taking the dignified step of setting our prejudices aside and opening our hearts and minds to finding out the truth about the other, beyond this murky thick fog of propaganda.

We can only see with open eyes
We can only hear with open ear
We can only think with open minds

Nahida Izzat, Is am -Jerusalem born- Palestinian refugee living in exile for over 40 years. I was forced to leave my homeland, Palestine at the age of seven during the six-day war. Visit her blog http://poetryforpalestine.spaces.live.com/default.aspx

Where people identified as Iraqis & Arabs before U.S. 'sectarian strife' strategy: up close and personal ...
Iraqi refugees: "We can't return"
BBC News
... many of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who have fled are unable or unwilling to go back. In the first of two first person accounts from Iraqi women now living in Damascus, Umm Ali, describes what she found when she visited the home in Baghdad she fled a year earlier...


Umm Ali was forced to leave Baghdad with her family in 2007 because she was a Shia living in a Sunni district of Baghdad...Sunni areas in Baghdad are surrounded by concrete walls:

I decided to go back to Iraq, because I needed to know what had happened to my house and to the two mini-supermarkets we ran from the building. The need to know was even more urgent than the fear I had of going back. I approached [the Sunni district of] al-Amariya from the adjacent Shia district which is now controlled by the Mehdi army. There was a makeshift checkpoint, guarded by both Iraqi and US soldiers. After searching me, they let me walk past the concrete barrier and into al-Amariya. I had to hire a taxi to my house, because it was too far to walk and I was afraid to walk on my own....As we drove through the streets, I noticed different people sitting outside the houses of people I knew... shops looked different, and the people running them had changed, too.

I decided to go first to the house of a Sunni neighbour who I knew was still there. His family welcomed me and I started crying - so did they. I asked them about the people who now lived in my house. They said they were a Sunni family who were forced out of a Shia neighbourhood...

I saw that most of the furniture we had stored in one room before we left was being used by the family - and that they were not taking good care of it. The house was not clean or tidy. I felt terribly sad. It had been so difficult to get hold of these things during the war with Iran and during the hard years of sanctions and here they were being treated carelessly by other people. "Why are you using my furniture? Why didn't you bring your own things?" I asked the woman. She replied that they were forced to leave their house without their belongings, so they had had no choice.After a short while the husband came home. I found out he now runs my two shops and that he is making very good money out of them.

"What do you want from us?" he yelled at me. I told him I came just to see my home and my belongings. He shouted his reply.
"Shias forced us to leave our house, so it's our right to have a Shia's house in return."I asked him to give me rent from the shops and the house. I explained that I live in Syria and I don't have any income. He refused point blank. He said he had bought the two shops from the Sunnis who had lived in the house before he came.

I realised then they were the second Sunni family to have lived in our house in the year since we left...I looked at his wife...She told her husband to give me some money to help me out. He did so unwillingly - giving me less than 1% of what he should have done. He warned me not to come back. I walked back to the bridge that connects the two neighbourhoods. I was so preoccupied, I forgot to wait at the checkpoint. I was walking through when I heard an American soldier call out "taftish" (search) in bad Arabic. He searched me and I walked back into the Shia neighbourhood.

Noor, who is Sunni, and her family arrived in Syria 18 months ago and settled in Damascus.

We left Baghdad because we were threatened by the Mehdi army. We had to go immediately, leaving everything: clothes, furniture, all the things you accumulate when you live more than 20 years in the same house. Things had been getting worse for a while. One event especially, sticks in my mind.
Neighbours of ours had been forcibly removed from their home three houses down from us. One morning a few days after they had disappeared, one of my daughters walked down the road and saw the heads of our neighbours lined up on the wall of the house. She was hysterical and couldn't leave the house for weeks. If someone went out we never knew if they would return. So, we left for general security reasons as well as the specific threat.

The Iraqi government claims lots of people have returned home because of the improved security. That's not true. They have been forced to go back because they cannot get residency in Syria. It was a sad departure. Leaving our country and heading for the unknown, without any planning or financial resources. It's hard to describe how it felt. Here in Syria we live in a third-floor flat. It's very cold - but the price of fuel is high. We lack many basic things: blankets, fuel for cooking and heating. The biggest irony is that we fled an oil-rich country - for a place where we cannot afford the fuel bills. Our situation frightens me....
I am 55 now and life is a struggle. We spend long hours looking for work so we can put food on the table. It's survival, no more and no less...

Only our determination prevents us from choosing the immoral option as a means of survival. I don't even want to articulate it; I'm afraid of seeing it written down. We are committed to surviving decently. That is how we spend our time - struggling to survive and feeling sadness and hunger. The international community is failing us. We haven't received any proper help in the form of food or money, either.

The residency rules for Iraqis in Syria have changed recently. If you have children of school age - as we do - you can get it, but it's not easy. Those without children have to leave. The Iraqi government claims lots of people have returned home because of the improved security. That's not true. They have been forced to go back because they cannot get residency in Syria.... Syria is a poor country and prices have risen enormously since Iraqis started arriving. There are more than two million of us here now, so it's hard for ordinary Syrians. [...]

2.4m Iraqis internally displaced
2m Iraqi refugees abroad
Iraqi government offering US$800 to those who return
3,650 families registered in Baghdad for grant
6,000 families waiting to register for grant
Source: International Organisation for Migration

The Account of Sami al-Haj
A Letter from Guantánamo
Yesterday, the Associated Press reported on a letter from Guantánamo written by Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami al-Haj. The letter was dated December 27, 2007, and had just been declassified by the Pentagon's censors. It was translated from the Arabic by his lawyers at the London-based legal charity Reprieve, which represents dozens of the Guantánamo detainees. Mr. al-Haj was captured by Pakistani forces, acting on behalf of the United States, in December 2001, as he prepared to resume the Arabic TV station's coverage of Afghanistan with the rest of his team. As Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve's legal director, explained after visiting him at Guantánamo last September, he was seized "because the US thought he had filmed Al-Jazeera's famous [Osama] bin Laden interview. As has so often been the case of late, the US was wrong (though [it] named me a journalist who would turn down a bin Laden scoop)."... January 15, his younger brother, Asim... explained that his brother is "a victim of a political operation against Al-Jazeera, which Washington does not approve of." He added that, in the 130 interrogations to which he has been subjected in Guantánamo, the questions "were all about Al-Jazeera and alleged relations between Al-Jazeera and al-Qaeda. They tried to induce him to work as a spy for American intelligence in return for US citizenship for him and for his family and to help him even write a book, on the condition that he would spy on his colleagues at Al-Jazeera." In Guantánamo, Mr. al-Haj has been a tireless campaigner for justice... As a result of his principled stand, Mr. al-Haj is regarded with particular suspicion by the authorities, and has been subjected to appalling treatment over the years. In despair at the treatment not only of himself, but also of all the other detainees, he embarked on a hunger strike on January 7, 2007, and has now gone without food for 374 days.
The authorities' response to the hunger strikes has been brutal, as Clive Stafford Smith explained in October. "Medical ethics tell us that you cannot force-feed a mentally competent hunger striker, as he has the right to complain about his mistreatment, even unto death," Stafford Smith wrote in the Los Angeles Times. "But the Pentagon knows that a prisoner starving himself to death would be abysmal PR, so they force-feed Sami. As if that were not enough, when Gen. Bantz J. Craddock headed up the US Southern Command, he announced that soldiers had started making hunger strikes less 'convenient.' Rather than leave a feeding tube in place, they insert and remove it twice a day. Have you ever pushed a 43-inch tube up your nostril and down into your throat? Tonight, Sami will suffer that for the 479th time."...

In the hope of providing a small gesture to keep the plight of Sami al-Haj in the public eye, I reproduce the full text of his letter below.

Sami al-Haj's letter from Guantánamo, December 27, 2007

It is with great pleasure that I pass on my warmest greetings and gratitude for all your efforts in regards to the case of the prisoners in Guantánamo Bay. Also I would like to pass on our wishes for the New Year and asking God to make it a successful and prosperous one.

As for our news, we remain here for more than six years, and we still seek to proclaim truth, freedom and world peace.

All of this takes place in a world which knows what is happening but remains silent and does little more than watch this sorry theatre.

By now, surely everyone knows that truth. The US was the country that prided itself by bringing peace; now, sadly, instead it rains down violence and discord. Guantánamo is the most obvious example of this.

We prisoners entered Guantánamo alive, many have left it alive, and some of us remain in it, seemingly alive ourselves. However, those who remain die every second of every day that we are here. Each of us suffers new physical pain, and our injured hearts suffer from a psychological pain that can not be described.

All of this happens and the world remains silent. And, as it has been written, it is true of us:

I am alive and will listen if you call
But there will soon be no life for us who you call;
And if you blew at the embers now they would light up
But wait and you will find that you blow into ashes

--Sami al-Haj

Andy Worthington (www.andyworthington.co.uk) is a British historian, and the author of 'The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America's Illegal Prison' (to be published by Pluto Press in October 2007). He can be reached at: andy@andyworthington.co.uk http://www.uruknet.de/?p=40224

The Corpse on the Gurney: The "Success" Mantra in Iraq
Tom Engelhardt
...In order to achieve an image of lifelike quiescence in Iraq, involving a radical lowering of "violence" in that country, the general and ambassador did have to give up the ghost on a number of previous Bush administration passions. Rebellious al-Anbar Province was, for instance, essentially turned over to members of the community (many of whom had, even according to the Department of Defense, been fighting Americans until recently). They were then armed and paid by the U.S. not to make too much trouble. In the Iraqi capital, on the other hand, the surging American military looked the other way as, in the first half of 2007, the Shiite "cleansing" of mixed Baghdad neighborhoods reached new heights, transforming it into a largely Shiite city. This may have been the real "surge" in Iraq and, if you look at new maps of the ethnic make-up of the capital, you can see the startling results -- from which a certain quiescence followed...
Read the full article / Leggi l'articolo completo: http://www.uruknet.de/?p=40187

US Precision Bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan. Killing Civilians, Carefully.
Allan Nairn
January 18, 2008
CNN's Ed Henry, their White House correspondent, recently spotted the President of the United States "walking in the footsteps of Jesus along the Sea of Galilee" (CNN International, January 17, 2008 [WIB]). The Washington Post reports that as the President was walking, troops under his command were bombing Iraq and Afghanistan with increasing intensity. (Josh White, "U.S. Boosts Its Use of Airstrikes In Iraq," Washington Post, Thursday, January 17, 2008).

It's part of the return to the post-Vietnam tactics that worked so well for Washington, substituting US bombs for US troop deaths: lessening the political damage in the US by increasing the physical damage in the place you're bombing. (The Post quotes Georgetown security studies professor Colin Kahl, who recently visited the US bombers, as noting that "as U.S. forces begin to draw down you may see even more airstrikes.")

The Post, paraphrasing Air Force Lt. Gen. Gary L. North, says that US forces are doing precision bombing, "using 250-pound GBU-39 small-diameter bombs to make blasts safer for civilians." Regarding precision bombing they quote Marc Garlasco, a Human Rights Watch military analyst: "My major concern with what's going on in Iraq is massive population density... you have the potential for very high civilian casualties, so you need really granular intelligence on what you're going to hit. But I don't think they're being careless."

If you buy this logic, as long as, say, Iraqui insurgent forces weren't being careless, it would be OK on human rights grounds for them to bomb the US White House so long as they had sufficiently "granular intelligence" on where President Bush was sitting, and used one of those 250-pound bombs that "make blasts safer for civilians." Just hope that at that moment a servant wasn't bringing Bush a cup of coffee, or that he wasn't being visited by nieces, or a Cub Scout troop, or even, say, one of those human rights officials who now consult with General Petraeus or legitimize the idea of bombing countries that have been invaded illegally (according to, say, the British Foreign Office's former deputy legal adviser, who resigned because "an unlawful use of force on such a scale amounts to a crime of aggression") so long as painted on one side of the bombs is the word "precision" (re. the British lawyer, see Steven Marks, "The legality of war," Letters, The Economist, January 5th, 2008).

The whole theory of precision bombing is to narrow down the killing radius so that your piece of metal dropped from the sky (or thrown from a distant tube or ship) behaves like an assassin's bullet. In theory it, may, in a micro sense, occasionally spare some civilians (that is, in comparison to a hit by a bigger bomb, not in comparison to no bombing), but in both theory and practice, in a macro sense, it's likely to increase the civilian death toll since by making each bomb-drop more legitimate back home it increases the likelihood that there will be more of them, and even the most ardent precision bombers admit that their 250-pounders do get civilians. Indeed, the Post cites the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq as estimating "that more than 200 civilian deaths resulted from U.S. airstrikes in Iraq from the beginning of April to the end of last year, when U.S. forces began to significantly increase the strikes to coordinate with the expansion of ground troops." And re. Afghanistan: "Human rights groups estimate that Afghan civilian casualties caused by airstrikes tripled to more than 300 in 2007, fueling fears that such aggressive bombardment could be catastrophic for the innocent."

Those fears were fueled, not least, in the mind of US/UN-selected Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has complained frequently, but -- in a ritual common to sponsor-client state relationships -- not so vehemently that his US sponsors took his statements seriously enough to cut his budget, or simply replace him.
Regarding Iraq, the Post says the U.S. strategy "calls for coalition troops to clear hostile areas before holding and then rebuilding them" -- which is impossible, since not even Bush of Galilee can rebuild 200-plus dead people.

Video: The Doctor, the Depleted Uranium, and the Dying Children
An award winning documentary film produced for German television by Freider Wagner and Valentin Thurn. The film exposes the use and impact ... all » of radioactive weapons during the current war against Iraq. The story is told by citizens of many nations. It opens with comments by two British veterans, Kenny Duncan and Jenny Moore, describing their exposure to radioactive, so-called depleted uranium (DU), weapons and the congenital abnormalities of their children. Dr. Siegwart-Horst Gunther, a former colleague of Albert Schweitzer, and Tedd Weyman of the Uranium Medical Research Center (UMRC) traveled to Iraq, from Germany and Canada respectively, to assess uranium contamination in Iraq.... http://www.uruknet.de/?p=40206

Speaking of Drugs...
Ever wonder why there is a direct, near seamless relationship between U.S. military interventions and the proliferation of the narcotics trade?

Writing in Thursday's Independent, award-winning Middle East correspondent Patrick Cockburn informs us:
The cultivation of opium poppies whose product is turned into heroin is spreading rapidly across Iraq as farmers find they can no longer make a living through growing traditional crops. Afghans with experience in planting poppies have been helping farmers switch to producing opium in fertile parts of Diyala province, once famous for its oranges and pomegranates...

The destruction of the Iraqi economy, fueled by a decade of U.S.-imposed sanctions in the wake of Gulf War I and now, the current U.S. invasion and occupation, has resulted in a near total collapse of Iraq's once-prosperous society. Into this social void, criminal gangs, terrorist outfits and various American "allies" linked to this or that "Coalition" faction rush in, a plague of locusts ravaging Mesopotamia.

Cockburn continues:
The growing and smuggling of opium will be difficult to stop in Iraq because much of the country is controlled by criminalised militias. American successes in Iraq over the past year have been largely through encouraging the development of a 70,000-strong Sunni Arab militia, many of whose members are former insurgents linked to protection rackets, kidnapping and crime. Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the powerful Shia militia, the Mehdi Army, says that criminals have infiltrated its ranks.

As in Turkey, Afghanistan, Colombia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Burma, on and on, "freedom on the march" is accompanied by the custom official's greased palm, the covert operator's blind eye and the ever-inventive "sources and methods" of the narco-trafficker.

[digest note: for info. on u.s. & drugs see http://narconews.com/]

behind the doors of war-mongering u.s. pressure and Iranian bluster...
Iran says it will join Iraq security conference
Iran said on Wednesday it would take part in a conference of Middle East and Western powers to be held in Kuwait in April to debate security in war-ravaged Iraq. "Iran will actively participate in Iraq's neighbouring countries conference which going to be held in Kuwait in April," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said, without confirming the level of Tehran's involvement. "We believe that the issue of Iraq's security must be on the agenda of the regional nations," Mottaki said at a joint press conference with visiting Kuwaiti counterpart Sheikh Mohammed Sabah al-Salem al-Sabah. The conference, which was announced at the last such meeting in Istanbul in November, will be attended by Iraq's neighbours, UN Security Council permanent members including the United States and other G8 members... http://www.uruknet.de/?p=40163Thursday, January 17, 2008

Canada Puts U.S., Israel On Torture Watchlist
By Reuters
An official Canadian government document has put both the United States and Israel on a watch list of countries where prisoners run the risk of being tortured, CTV television reported on Thursday.

U.S. domination works: US and Israel demanded it be changed.
Canada Apologizes For Putting U.S. and Israel On Torture List
January 20, 2008 9:37 a.m. EST
Paul Icamina - AHN News Writer
Ottawa, Canada (AHN) - Saying it "wrongly includes some of our closest allies," Canadian Foreign Minister Maxime Bernier apologized Saturday for a manual that lists the U.S. and Israel as countries where prisoners risk undergoing torture. "I have directed that the manual be reviewed and rewritten," he said. "The manual is neither a policy document nor a statement of policy. As such, it does not convey the government's views or positions." The list would be changed in accordance with Canada's official stand that torture is not practiced in Guantanamo, he said.
The manual, distributed to Canadian diplomats, mentions the U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo, Cuba, and lists Afghanistan, China, Iran, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Syria as countries where torture is practiced. Amnesty International got hold of the manual by mistake, the BBC reported, adding it defines as torture American interrogation techniques such as forced nudity, isolation, sleep deprivation and the blindfolding of prisoners.

Amnesty International Canada says it has proof of prisoner abuse in the US and Zionist jails...
“When it comes to an issue like torture, the government's main concern should not be embarrassing allies,” Alex Neve, the group's secretary general, told Reuters.

some background...

Canada offers $8.9 million, apology to torture victim
Man wrongly IDd as extremist was sent to U.S., then Syria
Maggie Farley, Los Angeles Times
Saturday, January 27, 2007

The prime minister of Canada apologized and offered $8.9 million in compensation Friday to Maher Arar, a Canadian software engineer who was mistakenly deported by U.S. officials to Syria in 2002 where he was imprisoned and tortured for a year.
After being wrongly identified by Canadian police as an Islamic extremist in information shared with U.S. authorities, Arar was detained by American agents during a stopover at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport. They held and interrogated him for 11 days, then sent him to his native Syria, where he was tortured into making false confessions that he was involved with al Qaeda.
The compensation, valued at $10.5 million in Canadian dollars, was announced by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in a televised news conference. It was recommended last fall by a Canadian judicial inquiry, which cleared Arar of terrorist links and determined that the Canadian government had passed on faulty intelligence and did not make adequate efforts to correct it.

The United States has refused to remove Arar from a terrorism watch list, however, and Harper said he had asked President Bush to clear him.
"We were clear, we don't believe Mr. Arar should be on the watch list," he said. "We will not drop this matter just because there is a disagreement and they don't like our position."

Harper also formally apologized to Arar, his wife and two children. "On behalf of the government of Canada, I wish to apologize to you, Monia Mazigh, and your family for any role Canadian officials may have played in the terrible ordeal that all of you experienced in 2002 and 2003," said Harper at a televised news conference Friday. The settlement includes $1.1 million to cover Arar's legal fees. "We cannot go back and fix the injustice that occurred to Mr. Arar. However, we can make changes to lessen the likelihood that something like this will ever happen again," he said.
Arar accepted the apology at a separate, emotional news conference, saying the official acknowledgment of his innocence "means the world to me." "The struggle to clear my name has been long and hard," he said, with 10 Canadian flags behind his back and his lawyers at his side. Arar said he would like to use the compensation money somehow to help ensure that others don't end up in the same situation he did.
"This struggle has taught me how important it is to stand up for human rights," he said. "I feel proud as a Canadian, and I feel proud of what we've been able to achieve."

Arar's case has become one of the best-known examples of extraordinary rendition, a covert U.S. practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation....U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff have told Canadian officials that Arar will remain on the U.S. watch list because of independent information about him obtained by U.S. authorities. Arar's wife and children also are on the list, and all are banned from flying into or over U.S. territories.
But Canada's minister of public safety, Stockwell Day, reviewed the confidential U.S. file and said it contains "nothing new" that would justify continuing to treat Arar like a terrorist. Arar tried to sue American officials and agencies over his detention and deportation, but the U.S. District Court of Appeals dismissed his suit in February, ruling that the action was protected on national security grounds. Arar is appealing the decision.

War at any Price? the Total Economic Costs of the War Beyond the Federal Budget
"CFR.org - The Council on Foreign Relations"
November 2007
...the Joint Economic Committee report estimates the total costs of the long war in Iraq to the American economy as a whole:
-The total economic costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan so far have been approximately double the total amounts directly requested by the Administration to fight these wars.
- The future economic costs of a prolonged military presence in Iraq would be massive. Even assuming a considerable drawdown in troop levels, total economic costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (with the vast majority of costs a result of in the war Iraq) would amount to $3.5 trillion between 2003 and 2017. This is over $1 trillion higher than the recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Federal cost forecast for the same scenario, which counted only direct spending and interest paid on war-related debt resulting from that spending.
- The total economic cost of the war in Iraq to a family of four is a shocking $16,500 from 2002 to 2008. When the war in Afghanistan is included, the burden to the American family rises to $20,900. The future impact on a family of four skyrockets to $36,900 for Iraq and $46,400 for Iraq and Afghanistan when all potential costs from 2002 to 2017 are included.[...]

'Strategic nonviolent struggle is all about political power.' And I thought, 'Boy is this guy speaking my language,' that is what armed struggle is about."
Col. Robert Helvey

Washington's New World Order "Democratization" Template
by Jonathan Mowat
Dr. Peter Ackerman, the author of "Strategic Nonviolent Conflict" in the "National Catholic Reporter" on April 26, 2002: "It is not true that the only way to 'take out' such regimes is through U.S. military action."...Speaking at the "Secretary's Open Forum" at the State Department on June 29, 2004, in a speech entitled, "Between Hard and Soft Power: The Rise of Civilian-Based Struggle and Democratic Change, " Ackerman elaborated on the concept involved. He proposed that youth movements, such as those used to bring down Serbia, could bring down Iran and North Korea, and could have been used to bring down Iraq... And he reported that he has been working with the top US weapons designer, Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, on developing new communications technologies that could be used in other youth movement insurgencies. "There is no question that these technologies are democratizing," he stressed, in reference to their potential use in bringing down China, "they enable decentralized activity. They create, if you will, a digital concept of the right of assembly."

Dr. Ackerman is the founding chairman of International Center on Nonviolent Conflicts in Washington D.C, of which former US Air Force officer Jack DuVall is President. Together with former CIA director James Woolsey, DuVall also directs the Arlington Institute of Washington D.C., which was created by former Chief of Naval Operations advisor John L. Peterson in 1989 " to help redefine the concept of national security in much larger, comprehensive terms" it reports, through introducing "social value shifts into the traditional national defense equation."...

The Democratic party's National Democratic Institute, the Republican party's International Republican Institute, the US State Department and USAID are the main agencies involved in these grassroots campaigns as well as the Freedom House NGO and billionaire George Soros's Open Society Institute [...] (emphasis added)

...Col. Helvey's long experience in Myanmar in training insurgent ethnic minorities in a region that is the center of world opium production raises another question of great bearing on "post modern coups." That is: what is the role of narcotic mafias in facilitating "regime change?" Law enforcement agencies from many nations, including the United States, have long reported that the Balkans is the major narcotics pipeline into Western Europe. Ukraine is said to be a top conduit, as is Georgia. Kyrghyzstan, now at the top of the hit list, is another opium conduit. And George Soros "the Daddy Warbucks of drug legalization," has been the top "private" funder of all the Eastern European and Central Asian insurgent groups, as well as those in Myamar. The spread of such mafias, is, of course, one of the most efficient ways of infiltrating and corrupting government agencies of targeted states....

killer joke from the other imperialist war-funding- NO opposition party
Contrary to the Headlines: There Will Be No Retreat from the Anti-War Movement
Tom Andrews, National Director WWW
Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm the national director of one of the largest anti-war coalitions in the country, Win Without War/WWW, and I can tell you we're not retreating one inch. MoveOn.org [see below for info.on George Soros] and other coalition members are not backing off... One the tasks of the anti-war movement is to keep the spotlight on the US’s obligations as an occupying power. Its track record is not promising. A year and a half after the cheering in Kabul has died down, rival warlords are back ruling most of Afghanistan with widespread torture, Taliban-style repression, and rampant lawlessness....

Win Without War is a coalition of national organizations representing broad constituencies that aim to keep America safe. The coalition advocates that international cooperation and enforceable international law provide the greatest security for the United States and the world. WWW offers a mainstream, patriotic voice for engaging opinion makers, activating concerned citizens, and communicating effectively to the media.

Misdirecting the Anti-War Movement: The Perfidy of the Democratic Party Puppets
By John Walsh

George Soros' "Parallel Anti-War Media/Movement"
by bob feldman

MoveOn.org: Making Peace With the War in Iraq
by Norman Solomon
http://www.commondreams.org/cgi-bin/print.cgi?file=/views05/0310-35.htm March 10, 2005