Update August 8: See Bottom: Vote for Ned Lamont in Connecticut Primary: Vote Against Arrogant Militarist, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman (On New York Times Reportage)

The New York Times has been demonstrating an independence recently which is laudable. Its coverage of the American/Israel-Lebanon war has been fair, balanced and frankly shocking for an American newspaper with such a large pro-Israel constituency.

Such independence, that should be construed as bringing honour and glory to its coverage, has even extended to its endorsement of Mr Ned Lamont, as the Democratic Party nominee for the Senate. Senator Joseph Lieberman is a practicing Orthodox Jew and a former vice-presidential candidate of the Democratic Party in 2000. He was the individual that Mr Bush embraced with a hearty buss after the State of the Union address in 2005.

 Democratic Senatorial Primary Candidate Ned Lamont

It is interesting that Senator Lieberman has received support from President Clinton and other luminaries of the Democratic Party including liberal California Senator Barbara Boxer. Senator Lieberman, however, despite his predisposition to using force against Arabs and his apparent incapacity to criticise much less question ANY American or Israeli action in the Middle East, is admittedly quite in the mainstream of the Democratic Party. The party has been silent over the Israeli butchery of Lebanese; the party has refused to call for an immediate cessation of hostilities; the party voted down Senator Kerry's proposal for removal of forces from country within a year; the party, at least in the Senate, voted for war in 2001.

Hence Senator Lieberman is all too typical of Democratic national-political figures: Obsequious support of American and Israeli terrorism, an intense bias against Islam, and an almost frenzied relish to use weapons of war against these peoples.

This is a link to the New York Times courageous and magisterial editorial endorsement of antiwar candidate Ned Lamont for the August 8, 2006 primary in Connecticut. A vote for Mr Lamont is not only a vote against the war and Senator Lieberman but also a vote against the Democratic Party prowar policies which truly is disgraceful and utterly lacking in morals and principles in the area of external affairs. It is afraid to look "weak" in national security matters so its support of war and violence continues unabatedly.

Here is my theory on the New York Times's brilliant reportage and editorial writing. It is aware, having expressed dutifully its mea culpas, of the Judith Miller days when it embraced the Bush adminstration's allegation of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and allowed its embedded reporter, Ms Miller, to essentially become a propaganda piece for the Pentagon and the warmongers in Washington. I think the paper has nobly attempted to resist such partisanship in subsequent coverage of the Middle East and domestic politics that flows from that.

Also the paper took quite a pummeling with its daring and most constructive reporting of the Bush administration's monitoring of financial transactions of many Americans and alleged "terrorists." It already incurred the wrath for reporting on telephone intercepts by the National Security Agency. The president described the Times's reporting of financial spying as "disgraceful" and I think the New York Times is determined to maintain an independence of reporting that may indeed infuriate official Washington. Not surprisingly, it refers, in the Ned Lamont endorsement, to the tendency of the the Bush administration to castigate those who oppose the Iraq War as less than patriotic and supportive of American democracy and freedom.

I hope the most preeminent paper in the U.S. can continue its present course of indeed printing "All the News That's Fit to Print" with objectivity and resoluteness.

Update August 8th 722 pm Chicago.

I noted how the Washington Post and New York Times carried pictures of the warmonger senator today and how their news stories, particularly the prowar Post, were spinning the comeback-kid syndrome. I must concede the Times was more nuanced in their weekend reporting but, nevertheless, I saw an incumbent spin recently. Fair enough for the latter since they endorsed the courageous J.P. Morgan heir, Ned Lamont.

If the antiwar candidate of honour wins, I hope this miniwave of antiwar political success will reach New York and that Senator Clinton can be driven from the Senate or at least badly damaged in her not so subtle desire to be president. Like Senator Lieberman, she is a person who cannot differentiate between Israeli and U.S. national interests. She is beholden to the Israeli lobby and is a woman of war and violence and lack of nuance in assessing Middle East politics. Her patently transparent political attack on Secretary Rumsfeld was about tactics not ethics. The Democratic Party needs to purge itself of these demagogues who apparently feel no compassion for American KIA or Arab civilians perishing by the thousands in our imperial, preemptive mania for global control and hegemony. Let the Lamont syndrome, spread to New York and engulf Senator Hillary Clinton.

I noted with some irony that the Connecticut Senator today said he felt there would be an "uprising" in the state. Indeed, I hope he is right and not the way he intended.

Peace not War must be our priority and ethical compass in assessing our national leaders.

Posted in Iraq, Af-Pak War, Politics/Music/Culture | Leave a comment

Near Samarra, Third Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division Slaughters Defenceless Iraqi P.O.W.

The Israelis and Americans seem to waging war against Islam with the same playbook: Invasion, extermination of civilians, mass relocations of civilian populations, destruction of cities from Falluja to Beirut and the killings, despite the Geneva Convention, of non-resistant, P.O.W. These barbarians in uniform are a disgrace to the laws of war and the notion of waging war with honour. Of course war itself is terrorism and the use of force against humans is a despicable, loathsome exercise that unfortunately characterises America and its willing acolyte of Israel.

For more than a month after the killings, Sgt. Lemuel Lemus stuck to his story.

“Proper escalation of force was used,” he told an investigator, describing how members of his unit shot and killed three Iraqi prisoners who had lashed out at their captors and tried to escape after a raid northwest of Baghdad on May 9.

Then, on June 15, Sergeant Lemus offered a new and much darker account.

In a lengthy sworn statement, he said he had witnessed a deliberate plot by his fellow soldiers to kill the three handcuffed Iraqis and a cover-up in which one soldier cut another to bolster their story. The squad leader threatened to kill anyone who talked. Later, one guilt-stricken soldier complained of nightmares and “couldn’t stop talking” about what happened, Sergeant Lemus said.

As with similar cases being investigated in Iraq, Sergeant Lemus’s narrative has raised questions about the rules under which American troops operate and the possible culpability of commanders. Four soldiers have been charged with premeditated murder in the case.  Read more at link above.

Posted in Iraq, Af-Pak War | Leave a comment

Noam Chomsky, Professor Kirstein et alii/alia Sign Letter in Support of TENURED Professor Ward Churchill, Persecuted for Political Beliefs and Denied Academic Freedom

Ward Churchill Alert

 Justice Felix Frankfurter: "One of the prerogatives of American citizenship is the right to criticize public men (and women) and measures – and that means not only informed and responsible criticism but the freedom to speak…without moderation." Baumgartner v. United States, (1944).

Dear Friends:

As you probably know, the University of Colorado Interim Chancellor announced on 6/26/06 his intention to fire Ward Churchill. As we said in our Open Letter 15 months ago:

“The issues here have nothing to do with the quality of Ward Churchill’s scholarship or his professional credentials. However one views his choice of words or specific arguments, he is being put in the dock solely for his radical critique of U.S. history and present-day policy in the wake of the events of September 11, 2001. Apparently, 9/11 is now the third rail of American intellectual life: to critically probe into its causes and to interrogate the international role of the United States is treated as heresy; those inquiring can be denied forums, careers, and even personal safety…

“The Churchill case is not an isolated incident but a concentrated example of a well-orchestrated campaign launched in the name of ‘academic freedom’ and ‘balance’ which in fact aims to purge the universities of more radical thinkers and oppositional thought generally, and to create a climate of intimidation….”

As we’ve been emphasizing, it would be hard to overstate the serious nature of what has already happened, let alone what it would mean should the Regents fire Churchill. If this assault on academe succeeds, the consequences will be bad and threatening for American society as a whole.

Professor Churchill has appealed the decision to CU’s Privilege and Tenure Committee, and Natsu Saito, his wife, predicts we have about 2 months to shine a light nationally on this outrage. We have just heard (and are still trying to confirm) that the National Association of Chicana and Chicano Studies passed a resolution supporting Ward and condemning the university’s recent actions at their national conference in Mexico this month. We need a lot more of this kind of sunshine.

On our website – http://www.defendcriticalthinking.org/ — we are calling for people to send letters of condemnation to the CU Chancellor and the Regents; to write to professional publications such as Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education and others, and to contact the AAUP and other associations expressing your concern and calling on them to oppose this decision, and to write letters and op ed pieces to newspapers large and small. And to mount a movement to reverse the dangerous direction into which American political and intellectual life is being dragged.

No matter what the formal pretext, Churchill is being fired not for his footnotes but for the content of his thinking, his inquiry, and his speech. In that light, the decision of a faculty investigative committee to carry out such a politically loaded investigation has done far greater harm, and constitutes a much greater danger, than whatever evidence of faulty footnotes or minor plagiarism they might have found. As for the substance of their findings, we urge everyone to look at “The Report on Ward Churchill” that Professor Tom Mayer of the Sociology Dept. at CU wrote, after closely studying the committee’s findings, which determined that the “central flaw in the report is grotesque exaggeration” of the magnitude and gravity of Churchill’s errors. In fact, this kind of investigation of faculty members would quickly empty academic departments if it were carried out.

Mayer goes on to say “If any of the sanctions recommended by the investigating committee are put into effect, it will constitute a stunning blow to academic freedom. Such punishment will show that a prolific, provocative, and highly influential thinker can be singled out for entirely political reasons; subjected to an arduous interrogation virtually guaranteed to find problems; and then severed from academic employment.”

We at www.defendcriticalthinking.org would like to hear your thoughts and ideas around how to mount the most powerful response to this decision.

Norma Alarcon Professor Emeritus University of California, Berkeley

Mona Baker Professor of Translation Studies

Centre for Translation & Intercultural Studies University of Manchester, UK

Ken Bonetti

Academic Advisor

University of Colorado, Boulder

Noam Chomsky

Professor, Dept. of Linguistics and Philosophy

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Sandi E Cooper

Professor of History

College of Staten Island and The Graduate School – CUNY

Roger S. Gottlieb

Professor of Philosophy Department of Humanities and Arts Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Book Review Editor: Capitalism, Nature, Socialism: A Journal of Socialist Ecology Contributing Editor, Tikkun Magazine

Ruth Hsu

Assoc. Prof. English

University of Hawaii at Manoa

Robert Ivie

Professor Dept. of Communication & Culture

Indiana University, Bloomington

Robert Jensen

Professor of Journalism

University of Texas – Austin.

Alan Jones

Dean of Faculty

Pitzer College

Peter N. Kirstein

Professor of History

St. Xavier University.

Vinay Lal

Chair, South Asian Studies

University of California Los Angeles

Steven L. Leeper

US Representative

World Conference of Mayors for Peace

Peter McLaren



Carlos Munoz, Jr. Professor Emeritus Department of Ethnic Studies

University of California Berkeley

Robert Perkinson

Department of American Studies

University of Hawai’i at Manoa

Jonathan Markovitz


University of California San Diego

Benjamin Whitmer Adjunct Faculty Ethnic Studies University of Colorado at Boulder

Gary Witherspoon

Professor, Anthropology and American Indian Studies

University of Washington

James Craven/Omahkohkiaayo i’poyi

Professor, Economics; Chairman, Business Division, Clark College

Member, Blackfoot Nation

Biographical Subject in Marquis “Who’s Who in: The World; America; The

West; Science and Engineering; Finance and Industry; American Education”

Posted in Academia/Academic Freedom | Leave a comment

1st Year Blog Anniversary (July 27, 2005-July 27, 2006) and F.A.Q.

One year ago today I initiated the blog with this post although it was updated.

I have been asked if members of the administration are aware of my blog and if they have communicated any reaction to it.

I do not have an opinion concerning who is cognizant about the blog's existence. It is on a university server; it receives a rather heavy volume of hits and has completed its first year. One may draw their own conclusions. I do not preoccupy myself with who reads it but I will continue to articulate views that are consistent with my mission and my life. The university administration has not attempted in any manner to censor, edit or engage in any substantive control of my blog postings and commentary. Only Dr Richard Yanikoski, president emeritus, commented on my blog in two e-mail in 2005 and 2006. At the time of his critical communication, he was not in the administration at Saint Xavier University and at the appropriate time I may publish my e-mail exchange with him. I did refer to it and quoted excerpts at a conference at the University of Texas in February 2006.

I have received no reaction to the blog from any CURRENT administrator. I have attempted to maintain a decorum of speech (see below), a level of expertise and a commitment to my views and values in a manner that is forceful, intense and informative. I have also, although I detest it when administrators use the absence thereof as a means of censoring speech, subsequently added a disclaimer to my first blog, that while ironic in tone, is comprehensive. No one can claim that another’s voice is represented other than my own. That is one of the reasons the appellation of the blog is not a nom de guerre or some abstract, recondite reference. I know of no other faculty member at my institution that has a disclaimer on their blog but it was not requested and was placed voluntarily.

I have been asked frequently whether my being named one of David Horowitz's 101 Most Dangerous Academics, which I covered extensively on this blog, created a reaction among university officials and whether there was any communication to me about this inclusion.

I have no idea if it caused a reaction among the administration. There was no reaction that was expressed to me about the book. Many faculty and students did and I was pleased to discuss it with them. I even brought it up in several courses. Several colleagues who were named by David Horowitz that I have communicated with also experienced no official reaction from their universities. Some told me they did but it was supportive. None told me they have suffered adverse consequences from their administration. That does not preclude the absence of oppression but in my case I have received no official reaction related to Horowitz, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. As many know I debated Mr Horowitz last March on campus on the Iraq War which was supported in many ways by the administration.

I have been asked if having the blog on a university server makes me more vulnerable to censorship or control than if it were housed on a private or commercial server.

Theoretically I suppose that would be the case and other activist professors frequently do that, but once again, I have encountered no reaction to the blog. A colleague of mine has a server in his office in the English department and was kind enough to create this blog and house it there.

I have been asked if I think the blog is conducive to public dialogue and reflects well on a faculty member at my university. Related to this, I have been asked if blogging is an effective form of communication.

I definitely think it contributes to the public dialogue or I would not do it. I think faculty members at my university or any other should be encouraged to share and engage publics outside their classes on the issues of the day. I do feel it has value in terms of education, self-expression and reaching a broader audience. Yet I don’t do this for publicity; I don’t promote my blog like many do. I infrequently ask bloggers to link it and I am extremely selective about which blogs are on my blogroll. Sometimes I feel burdened by it and would like to post less frequently. So there might be adjustments down the road.

Some have noted that I rarely talk about myself. Others claim I do it too often.

Blogs are web diaries but I am not into that mode of expression. I keep non-academic personal stuff off the blog. I do include professional activities that are relevant to the blog’s mission. I don’t think folks are too interested in biography and personal things but are interested in my politics and commentary. So that is what this is all about.

I have been asked whether there is anything I have placed on my blog that I am ashamed of or embarrassed by and whether I have had second thoughts about what I write. I have been asked whether I engage in self-censorship out of fear of being sanctioned by the university or creating a new firestorm emanating from my views.

I am never ashamed. I am never embarrassed. I concede I might revise or remove an item, for example, if I believe it needs modification or excision. I have done that maybe five or six times but never as the result of third-party intervention. I am never afraid; I am rarely hesitant; firestorms tend to follow me and if I sought "shelter from the storm," I might as well remove the blog. Sanctions are the least of my worries which is what freedom means in part: Inner strength evolving from prior institutional censorship to demand autonomy and academic freedom.

I have been asked when using harsh rhetoric, whether it obfuscates reason and detracts from the "academic" orientation of the blog.

It may. I acknowledge that but I endeavor generally to buttress impassioned rhetoric with knowledge and analysis, so it does not descend into ranting and raving without intellectual foundation. Again I write the blog and people can choose whether to consult it or not. I don't do this to please an audience, but to communicate views that I think are worthwhile. It is a form of free expression and while I am hopeful folks read it and learn from it, I don't lose sleep over individualised or group reaction to it. I crossed the Rubicon on suspension day, Veterans Day, 2002 and I have never looked back. I would gladly sacrifice my career before I compromised my inner ethics and principles and folks who know me do not doubt this assertion.

I have been asked if the blog advances the educational mission of the university St Xavier U where I am a tenured full professor although sometimes it does not feel like it.

When one is controversial, I suppose one gets that question. How can I answer that without being self-serving? I am asked that a lot and am frank here. I take seriously my activities and I will let others judge their impact. If advocating peace and justice, academic freedom, and human rights is consistent with a university's mission, then the answer is easily accessible.

For some reason I get this question or a variant of it all the time. If I were a student thinking of attending St Xavier University and were to read my blog, would I want to attend?

I really think it is a dumb question. Sorry but it is. How would I know? My courses for fall 2006, as all semesters, are closed and some even have waitlists. The university is experiencing a spike in enrollment so all these students that are not coming here because I am antiwar and labeled "dangerous" must be a number smaller than those of decency and honour who occupy senior national-security positions in the United States government.

"…freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth."

Justice Louis D. Brandeis
Larkin vs State of California, 1927

Posted in A: Kirstein Academic Freedom Case, Blog Items/Disclaimer | Leave a comment

The U.S. is Beginning to Look Like Nazi Germany.

It wants war.

It wants conquest.

It ignores pleas from Lebanon and Europe to stop the insane Israeli killing of women and children.

It ignores global support for a ceasefire.

It invades nations and supports nations that commit acts of state terrorism.

Israel 'ignored UN bomb warnings'

It is consumed with power and race: a lethal combination that drove both German and American preemption as seen in the September 1939 invasion of Poland and the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Hitler started World War II, although one could argue Japan's expansionism in Manchuria was the opening salvo in 1931, and I think the U.S. has started what is World War III. The blind, racist support of Israel, which has the right to security and sovereignty, the degradation of the Palestinians, the inordinate control of Middle Eastern oil, its wars in Afghanistan, in Central Asia and its war against Islam. I hope this war does not spread globally but it is now appearing to be out of control and the world's only superpower is the principal instigator of this instability.

The U.S. has blood on its hands for the 100,000s of Iraqi babies killed during and after the sanctions and wants more blood in Lebanon. Germany also could not find an appropriate end for its Lebensraum (breathing space). Poland, Sudetenland, the Low Countries, Scandinavia and of course Russia. Both the U.S. and Nazi Germany seem smitten with the dreams of empire and volk: the belief their people are superior and are the wellspring of domination and superior culture.

The U.S. spies on Americans, collects telephone numbers of persons whom they call, read their mail, invade their financial privacy and scrutinise their transactions and consult their library computer use. While nothing is as overt as the Gestapo, the F.B.l., the N.S.A. and the C.I.A. constitute an internal police force to watch and control Americans who resist the nazification of the "republic."

The U.S. and the National Socialists are/were drunk with power, arrogant with their sense of exceptionalism and have no regard for other nations or interests but their own. They both have a one-party state with virtually no opposition to this perpetual war for perpetual empire.

I am not equating entirely the domestic systems of Germany and the United States which were disparate in many ways but their foreign policies and militarisation of their societies are vastly similar. Flags, parades, adoration of soldiers, adoration of war, adoration of power.

Look at the detritus of America: Hiroshima, Falluja, Beirut, Baghdad,  Haditha, Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo. Vietnam. America is not beautiful, its flag not worthy of pledges of allegiance and other obsequious rantings, but a monstrous country that only because of its superior military power can defy global desire for peace and justice. Did people think that a country that invaded Iraq for sport and Israeli interests would demur with the latter butchering and bombing Lebanese civilians in Beirut and Tyre? Does the world expect America to seek peace? It knows what we are and hopefully some correlation of forces will develop to contain American power as the Soviets so successfully did for about fifty years.

I am ashamed and disgraced to be an American and I will not be silenced as I oppose this butchery in the Middle East.

Posted in External Affairs | Leave a comment

N.A.S.A. Space Invaders Visit Web log. Their goal, weaponise and colonise distant planets for American murderous imperialism.

This agency is basically another Pentagon programme to spread the disease of America to space. There is no scientific research that dominates their explorations; it is basically a horrific programme intended to spread American strategic doctrine to other planets. I do hope there is no life on other planets. I assure you if there is, the level of American civilisation and advancement would cause me to be greatly concerned about the capacity of the U.S. to respect and honour extraterrestrial life.

They will bring their generals, their death penalty, their nuclear weapons, their Space Command, their oil rigs, their golf clubs and their flags with them. To N.A.S.A., how do you sleep at night? Have you no shame about spreading this cancer of genocide and imperialism into outer space? Are you that corrupt and incapable of walking away from your mission of mayhem and destruction? Shame on you and this country for having a space programme that has transmogrified from discovery to geopolitical strategic doctrine.

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Beirut: A Microcosm of State Terrorism, Racism and Global Instability

Beirut is a tale of two cities. As the Nazis did to Rotterdam and Guernica, the allies did to Dresden and Hamburg, the Israelis have done to Shi'a southern Beirut. Total destruction. The area has been pulverised in a manner that warrants war-crime prosecution of Israel's national leadership. The wanton destruction of a nation's capital and the strategic bombing of this area is clearly a War Crime, a Crime Against Humanity and without question or doubt thrusts Israel into that horrid category of terrorist state.

Hezbollah's attack on Israel and its capture of two soldiers was not terrorism. It was aimed against hard targets, or at least a military target, and was legal under the laws of war. Capturing enemy soldiers is what the Geneva Convention is all about. Humane treatment, visits by the Red Cross, even pay for work is required under its tenets.

West Beirut and northern Beirut are like Paris in the springtime. Israel did not bomb Christian or Sunni areas of the trifurcated capital city but only Shi'a. This was an effort to punish Lebanese solely due to their religious affiliation. This was not necessary in terms of self-defence and a Jewish state, that claims to represent religious liberty and a safe haven for the persecuted, should be ashamed of itself for such brutal and barbaric and inhumane treatment of fellow humans.

The causes of conflict are frequently economic. The Shi'a in Beirut are poor; the rest of the city is more affluent. Israel is a wealthy country by Middle Eastern standards and yet most Muslims are poor or have not enjoyed the impact of petrodollars that their nations may garner. The U.S. and Israel are wealthy, western nations that occupy and bomb poor people, regardless of their nation's economic capacity. Hamas, Hezbollah, the warriors of the two Intifadas are probably teenagers without education, without careers, without many options in life. We can bomb poor people and kill them but many remain and their memories remain and they grow up to liberate their peoples from ruthless aggression, war crimes and colonisation.

Beirut sits partly destroyed and partly unscathed. The poor are suffering and homeless, the rich drive to work and drink lattes in their cafes. When this microcosm is expanded to contrast the gap between western and poorer Muslim nations, we begin to sort out some of the causes of Arab rage against the west.

Posted in External Affairs | Leave a comment

Cartoon from The Guardian

Cartoon: Martin Rowson on Ariel Sharon

21.4.2001: Copyright Martin Rowson, 2001

Oslo agreement (first paragraph in quotes from The Guardian)

"The outline peace deal worked out in negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisations (sic), secretly conducted in Norway. The agreement was sealed with the famous handshake between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn in September 1993."

The cartoon depicts former Likud Primer Minister Ariel Sharon who, while temporarily withdrawing forces from Gaza, was clearly guilty of brutal, terrorist war crimes at the Sabra and Chatila Palestinian Refugee camp in which 600-2,000 innocent internees were slaughtered with the approval of the Israeli Defence Forces during yet another criminal Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. He also provocatively instigated the second Intifada with his visit to Haram al-Sharif, the third holiest site in Islam located in Jerusalem in September 2001. Israel refers to it as Temple Mount in reference to a temple that was sacked by Rome in the first century A.C.E.

The military humiliation of Arab peoples has been a constant from the mandate period through the State of Israel's existence. The few have dominated and militarily slaughtered the many. Yet the correlation of forces, due to years of guerrilla war and asymmetrical combat, has created new Vietnams for western imperialist nations. Iraq is lost and a bloody sore for America. Israel has not been able to use its terror weapons to annihilate Hezbollah. I am a pacifist and think war is utterly immoral. As a historian, however, there is little doubt that part of the seething Arab rage against the U.S. and Israel is their technological capacity to humiliate and oppress less powerful Arab peoples. The tide seems to be turning in terms of quick military victories which will either lead to more Vietnams or a rise in Arab nationalism and power that might lend itself to a diplomatic outcome.

Understand that Israel and the U.S. are warrior states. They have little concern about the welfare of subject peoples who oppose them or  who do not comply with their geopolitical strategies. Yet even ruthless states do not want to be destroyed and perhaps overtime, they will come to believe that all their weaponry and C3I cannot pave over the Middle East in their image and some type of sustained creative diplomatic engagement is essential on moral and national-security grounds.

Posted in External Affairs | Leave a comment

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, War Criminal, Visits Devastated Beirut.

Secretary Rice, former provost of Stanford, visited Beirut on July 24, 2006. I imagine this was the scenario. Only Israel, besides the Lebanese, were told she was coming to Beirut. This would assure a bombing pause so the secretary of state would not be harmed. Once she left, I am sure Israel was given the green light to continue its strategic bombing of civilian population centers, as the Nazis and allies did during World War II.

The hypocrisy of her visit is almost indecent. She claims to be supporting the government of Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese prime minister, while she is responsible for the destruction of the capital and the destabilisation of the country. She could not land at the airport by aeroplane because Israel destroyed it. Secretary Rice had to take a helicopter from Cyprus. She claims to support the Lebanese who are being massacred by American-donated weaponry to Israel. This is typical of America. Say one thing and do another. Visit a nation that you have allowed to be destroyed, blockaded and bombed and claim to offer support for it. This is the old politics of realism, balances of power, ruthless pursuit of vital interests which is so utterly old and predictable as the world seeks new paths and directions toward reconciliation.

The reason why the U.S. does not want a ceasefire is because it wants to destroy Hezbollah, not "degrade" its assets as the New York Times put it, but to slaughter as many of them as possible. This is what state terrorism is all about. Using arbitrarily massive firepower in response to a weaker party's limited attack–abducting TWO enemy combatants in Israel–with impunity. The U.S. is responsible for both Iraq and Lebanon. It invaded Iraq; it radicalised Islamist decolonisation movements in Palestine and Lebanon; it is utterly unwilling to acknowledge Syrian and Iranian interests in the region.

A Lebanese man runs out of the smoke rising from burning shops Monday after an attack by Israeli warplanes on a street in the southern suburbs of Beirut. Hussein Malla/AP 

Secretary Rice rebuffed the Saudi effort at a ceasefire because these neo-cold warriors want war, want to kill Arabs, want Israel to be the western anchor in the American dream of regional hegemony in the Middle East. Israel is seen as a crime by millions due to its formation by displacement of the Arab population in 1948. Many construe it as a settlement. While its existence is now non-negotiable, its formation, its behaviour, and the support it receives from the U.S. likely caused September 11, certainly caused the rise of the Intifada, obviously caused the introduction of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, and will eventually cause massive destruction of the U.S. as this war between the Jews, the Christians v. the Muslim world heads toward significant escalation in violence and geographic application of force.

The road to peace cannot be forged with war and smart weapons. Only the liberation of Palestine, the return of the Golan to Syria, the removal of American forces from the region, and the demilitarisation of Israel can create an authentic peace.

Posted in External Affairs, Iraq, Af-Pak War | Leave a comment

First Lieutenant Ehren K. Watada: Precious Hero and American Military Exemplar Who Refuses to Engage in Terrorism and Colonialism.

I appeared on January 31, 2007 with Carolyn Ho, the lieutenant’s mother at an antiwar teach-in, and delivered these remarks.

Officer Faces Court-Martial for Refusing to Deploy to Iraq

By JOHN KIFNER and TIMOTHY EGAN, The New York Times SEATTLE (July 23) —

When First Lt. Ehren K. Watada of the Army shipped out for a tour of duty in South Korea two years ago, he was a promising young officer rated among the best by his superiors. Like many young men after Sept. 11, he had volunteered “out of a desire to protect our country,” he said, even paying $800 for a medical test to prove he qualified despite childhood asthma.

Now Lieutenant Watada, 28, is working behind a desk at Fort Lewis just south of Seattle, one of only a handful of Army officers who have refused to serve in Iraq, an Army spokesman said, and apparently the first facing the prospect of a court-martial for doing so.“I was still willing to go until I started reading,” Lieutenant Watada said in an interview one recent evening.A long and deliberate buildup led to Lieutenant Watada’s decision to refuse deployment to Iraq. He reached out to antiwar groups, and they, in turn, embraced his cause, raising money for his legal defense, selling posters and T-shirts, and circulating a petition on his behalf.


Ted S. Warren, AP
First Lt. Ehren Watada, seen with supporters, said he feels the Iraq war is illegal and immoral. He refused to deploy to Iraq with his Army brigade last month.

Critics say the lieutenant’s move is an orchestrated act of defiance that will cause chaos in the military if repeated by others. But Lieutenant Watada said he arrived at his decision after much soul-searching and research.On Jan. 25, “with deep regret,” he delivered a passionate two-page letter to his brigade commander, Col. Stephen J. Townsend, asking to resign his commission. “Simply put, I am wholeheartedly opposed to the continued war in Iraq, the deception used to wage this war, and the lawlessness that has pervaded every aspect of our civilian leadership,” Lieutenant Watada wrote.

At 2:30 a.m. on June 22, when the Third Stryker Brigade of the Second Infantry Division set off for Iraq, Lieutenant Watada was not on the plane. He has since been charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with one count of missing movement, for not deploying, two counts of contempt toward officials and three counts of conduct unbecoming an officer. Lieutenant Watada’s about-face came as a shock to his parents, his fellow soldiers and his superiors. In retrospect, though, there may have been one ominous note in the praise heaped on him in his various military fitness reports: he was cited as having an “insatiable appetite for knowledge.” Lieutenant Watada said that when he reported to Fort Lewis in June 2005, in preparation for deployment to Iraq, he was beginning to have doubts. “I was still prepared to go, still willing to go to Iraq,” he said.

“I thought it was my responsibility to learn about the present situation. At that time, I never conceived our government would deceive the Army or deceive the people.” He was not asking for leave as a conscientious objector, Lieutenant Watada said, a status assigned to those who oppose all military service because of moral objections to war. It was only the Iraq war that he said he opposed. Military historians say it is rare in the era of the all-voluntary Army for officers to do what Lieutenant Watada has done.

Certainly it’s far from unusual in the annals of war for this to happen,” said Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior fellow in military affairs at the Brookings Institution. “But it is pretty obscure since the draft ended.” Mr. O’Hanlon said that if other officers followed suit, it would be nearly impossible to run the military.“ The idea that any individual officer can decide which war to fight doesn’t really pass the common-sense test,” he said. Lieutenant Watada conceded that the military could not function if individual members decided which war was just. But, he wrote to Colonel Townsend, he owed his allegiance to a “higher power” — the Constitution — based on the values the Army had taught him: “loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.”

“Please allow me to leave the Army with honor and dignity,” he concluded.

Lieutenant Watada said he began his self-tutorial about the Iraq war with James Bamford’s book “A Pretext for War,” which argues that the war in Iraq was driven by a small group of neoconservative civilians in the Pentagon and their allies in policy institutes. The book suggests that intelligence was twisted to justify the toppling of Saddam Hussein, with the goal of fundamentally changing the Middle East to the benefit of Israel. Next was “Chain of Command,” by Seymour M. Hersh, about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. After that, Lieutenant Watada moved on to other publications on war-related themes, including selections on the treatment of prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and the so-called Downing Street memo, in which the British chief of intelligence told Prime Minister Tony Blair in July 2002 that the Americans saw war in Iraq as “inevitable” and that “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.”

Lieutenant Watada said he also talked to soldiers returning to Fort Lewis from Iraq, including a staff sergeant who told him that he and his men had probably committed war crimes.“When I learned the awful truth that we had been deceived — I was shocked and disgusted,” he wrote in the letter to his brigade commander. There were efforts to work things out, Lieutenant Watada said. The Army offered him a staff job in Iraq that would have kept him out of combat; but combat was not the point, he said. Lieutenant Watada said he had volunteered to serve in Afghanistan, which he regarded as an unambiguous war linked to the Sept. 11 attacks. The request was denied. 

In public statements, Army officials warned Lieutenant Watada that he was facing “adverse action” in the days leading up to his decision to refuse to go to Iraq. Charges were filed only after he showed insubordination, they said; his insubordination included giving interviews. “This was a call of his commander, after he decided that Lieutenant Watada’s action required these charges,” said Joe Hitt, a Fort Lewis spokesman. When Lieutenant Watada’s mother, Carolyn Ho, learned of his decision, she was caught off guard, she said. Her son, an Eagle Scout who grew up in Hawaii, had always admired the Army. “I tried to talk him out of it,” Ms. Ho said. “I just saw his career going down the drain. It took me awhile to get through this.” Now, she said, “I honor and respect his decision.” 

Two officers who served with Lieutenant Watada in South Korea also voiced support for him in telephone interviews arranged by Lieutenant Watada, though they made it clear they did not share his views on Iraq. “He was a good officer, always very professional,” said one of the officers, Capt. Scott Hulin. “I personally disagree with his opinion and his stance against the war. But I personally support his stand as a man, to be able to do what his heart is telling him.” A former roommate of Lieutenant Watada, First Lt. Bernard West, offered similar remarks. Lieutenant Watada had two assignments in South Korea. One was as the executive officer of the headquarters battery, the other as a platoon leader of a unit of multiple-launch rockets. His evaluations were glowing. “Exemplary,” said his executive officer fitness report, which Lieutenant Watada provided to a reporter. “Tremendous potential for positions of increased responsibility. He has the potential to command with distinction. Promote ahead of his peers.” His evaluation as a platoon leader also called him “exemplary” and said he had “unlimited potential.” 

Under the military system, the charges against Lieutenant Watada will be reviewed in an Article 32 hearing, the rough equivalent of a grand jury hearing. If there is a court-martial hearing, it will probably come in the fall; the maximum penalty would be a dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of pay and seven years in prison, according to a news release from Fort Lewis. A spokesman for the Army, Paul Boyce, said that as far as he knew, Lieutenant Watada would be the first Army officer to be court-martialed for refusing to go to Iraq. 

UPDATE: October 2, 2009: Lieutenant Watada was allowed to resign from army under “less than honourable conditions.” The attempt to court martial him failed and his discharge was allowed.

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In The Guardian: Tariq Ali Brilliantly Assesses American-Israeli Colonialism

A protracted colonial war With US support, Israel is hoping to isolate and topple Syria by holding sway over Lebanon

Tariq Ali

The Guardian

In his last interview – after the 1967 six-day war – the historian Isaac Deutscher, whose next-of-kin had died in the Nazi camps and whose surviving relations lived in Israel, said: "To justify or condone Israel's wars against the Arabs is to render Israel a very bad service indeed and harm its own long-term interest." Comparing Israel to Prussia, he issued a sombre warning: "The Germans have summed up their own experience in the bitter phrase 'Man kann sich totseigen!' 'You can triumph yourself to death'."

In Israel's actions today we can detect many of the elements of hubris: an imperial arrogance, a distortion of reality, an awareness of its military superiority, the self-righteousness with which it wrecks the social infrastructure of weaker states, and a belief in its racial superiority. The loss of many civilian lives in Gaza and Lebanon matters less than the capture or death of a single Israeli soldier. In this, Israeli actions are validated by the US.

The offensive against Gaza is designed to destroy Hamas for daring to win an election. The "international community" stood by as Gaza suffered collective punishment. Dozens of innocents continue to die. This meant nothing to the G8 leaders. Nothing was done.

Israeli recklessness is always green-lighted by Washington. In this case, their interests coincide. They want to isolate and topple the Syrian regime by securing Lebanon as an Israeli-American protectorate on the Jordanian model. They argue this was the original design of the country. Contemporary Lebanon, it is true, still remains in large measure the artificial creation of French colonialism it was at the outset – a coastal band of Greater Syria sliced off from its hinterland by Paris to form a regional client dominated by a Maronite minority.

The country's confessional chequerboard has never allowed an accurate census, for fear of revealing that a substantial Muslim – today perhaps even a Shia – majority is denied due representation in the political system. Sectarian tensions, over-determined by the plight of refugees from Palestine, exploded into civil war in the 1970s, providing for the entry of Syrian troops, with tacit US approval, and their establishment there – ostensibly as a buffer between the warring factions, and deterrent to an Israeli takeover, on the cards with the invasions of 1978 and 1982 (when Hizbullah did not exist).

The killing of Rafik Hariri provoked vast demonstrations by the middle class, demanding the expulsion of the Syrians, while western organisations arrived to assist the progress of a Cedar Revolution. Backed by threats from Washington and Paris, the momentum was sufficient to force a Syrian withdrawal and produce a weak government in Beirut.

But Lebanon's factions remained spread-eagled. Hizbullah had not disarmed, and Syria has not fallen. Washington had taken a pawn, but the castle had still to be captured. I was in Beirut in May, when the Israeli army entered and killed two "terrorists" from a Palestinian splinter group. The latter responded with rockets. Israeli warplanes punished Hizbullah by dropping over 50 bombs on its villages and headquarters near the border. The latest Israeli offensive is designed to take the castle. Will it succeed? A protracted colonial war lies ahead, since Hizbullah, like Hamas, has mass support. It cannot be written off as a "terrorist" organisation. The Arab world sees its forces as freedom fighters resisting colonial occupation.

There are 9,000 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli gulags. That is why Israeli soldiers are captured. Prisoner exchanges have occurred as a result. To blame Syria and Iran for Israel's latest offensive is frivolous. Until the question of Palestine is resolved and Iraq's occupation ended, there will be no peace in the region. A "UN" force to deter Hizbullah, but not Israel, is a nonsensical notion.

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A Request for Israeli Defence Forces to Disobey Orders: Remember Your Humanity and Forget the Rest.

Those in the Israeli Defence Forces: Disobey orders of your superiors. Refuse to fly aircraft, mutiny on your naval ships off the coast of Lebanon and sabotage and destroy their turrets. If reservists, do not accept a call to active duty. If army, refuse combat and do not engage in offensive operations against Hamas or Hezbollah. Your loyalty is not to a criminal state but to yourself. Yes you should accept orders that are of legitimate self-defence. Yes you should attempt to intercept rockets and identify their source. But you should not allow your training as a soldier or sailor or airperson to impose upon you the obligation to carry out orders that are destructive of infrastructure and massive civilian casualties. Disobey your officers, reclaim your honour and walk away from this war of extermination.

Principle IV of the Nuremberg Tribunal, 1950: This applies to you soldiers of Israel and other nations as well that are committing war crimes.

"The fact that a person pursuant to the order of his Government or a superior does not relieve him (or her) from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him (or her)."

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Criminal Israel, Destroyer of Babies and Countries, Losing War.

It is now reported that Israel, one of the greatest mistakes in the history of nation building, is planning an invasion of southern Lebanon. All of their American built flying machines of death and war crimes are not working. Yes cities are being destroyed, a country is being blockaded, 500,000 to a million children and others are not getting health care, schooling (even in summer) and are now homeless repatriates or refugees, but Hezbollah, continues to resist.

Israel which is using the American playbook of shock and awe is losing to a heroic resistance of Hezbollah. Here you have one of the world's great military superpowers, bristling with cutting edge American technology and both fission and fusion weapons, attempting to annihilate a resistance force that has merely crude rocketry. Hezbollah has no aircraft, no navy, no tanks that I know of, no marines and is continuing to launch rockets into Israel.

Hezbollah is labeled a terrorist organization by the State Dept. Yet they have killed far fewer innocents than Israel. It should be recalled, as an ally of Hamas, that their incursion into Israel and the apprehension of two soldiers was in response to Israel's invasion of Gaza. Hezbollah's attack was not terrorist, it was against a military target and was in response to the State of Israel's ruthless invasion of Gaza. The world knows who the terrorists are and how they bring a rain of ruin to not only Muslims, but also Japanese and Germans in the strategic bombing  from Dresden to Nagasaki in the late war. They are not Shi'a in Lebanon or Hamas in Palestine, although both groups should attempt to mediate a settlement and pursue a two-state solution, but are the Americans and their puppet-murderous regime of Israel.

It makes no sense and is counterintuitive: Israel states that its war aim is to defeat Hezbollah and demand that the Lebanon government take over the south and replace Hezbollah as the dominant force in country. Yet the Israeli destruction of Lebanon is undermining the very government they claim they want to empower.

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The Irrelevance of American Diplomacy in the Middle East

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, of course, is delaying her visit to the region so more Muslims can be killed by Israel. When this warmonger arrives to the region is not relevant. The days of Camp David are over. The days of shuttle diplomacy are over. The U.S., an occupying power of colonisation in the Middle East, has lost its capacity to bridge the divide between Muslim and Jew, or western and Middle Eastern. Because of its invasion of Iraq, the destruction of that country and its support of Israeli colonisation in Palestine and now in Lebanon, it is the last country in the world that can contribute to the peace process. 

American diplomacy is motivated by race, money, power and violence. Such guiding principles I have known since I began studying the history of this country. However, only since the end of the Cold War, and the U.S. refusal to use this epic event to advance the cause of international peace and stability has the world finally grasped the bankruptcy and hypocrisy of American ideals and democracy.

The crisis in the Middle East is beyond America’s capacity to control or dominate. Maybe before Iraq, before American ground forces were sent as crusaders, there could be episodic cases of American diplomacy leading to some irenic outcome. Until the U.S. is willing to insist upon a two-state solution, withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, Golan Heights, West Bank and ALL of Lebanon no peace is possible. Until the U.S. withdraws from Iraq, develops a policy of unconditional negotiations with Iran and Syria, no peace is possible. Until the humiliation of Arab and Muslim peoples ends with western utilisation of overwhelming military force, peace is not possible.

After World War II, decolonisation was resisted by the U.S. This was seen in Vietnam and now seen so palpably in the Middle East. Hezbollah, Hamas, while violent and radicalised, as the U.S. and Israel, are fighting for decolonisation, a goal that was embraced by virtually the entire world following World War II. Apparently, the U.S. and Israel believe it is a virtue and will pay a price for this that will escalate as oppressed peoples continue to resist occupation and mass murder by white-imperial powers.

Not all Israelis support the government's military campaign

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Immoral America and Geopolitical Fallacies: (Israel and Iran)

Let's be clear. The United States is exuberant over Israel's disproportionate response to the capture of its soldiers during war. The U.S. wants Hezbollah eliminated because it construes this as containing Iranian and Syrian power in Lebanon and in the region. The U.S. wants the destruction of Hezbollah, by any means necessary, because of its larger war against Iran. Yet Hezbollah partisans are Lebanese, not Iranian. There are no Iranian soldiers in Lebanon or any other country in the region.

The U.S. also was willing to let many of its citizens die or remain in peril in Beirut from Israel strategic bombing in Lebanon because if it moved too fast, it would be appear to lending support to the notion of a humanitarian crisis caused by Israeli extermination bombing. This might create the impression that the Axis–Israel and U.S.–were displaying fissures and disagreement in their policy. So that is why the U.S. was one of the last countries to begin the repatriation of its citizens to Cyprus. Also many of these Americans are Lebanese or Middle Eastern in ethnicity and do not garner the degree of government protection as Anglo-Americans. I concede this is provocative but not necessarily inaccurate. Recall the U.S., a wealthy power, was going to charge the evacuees money for the service. I wonder if the criminals would have accepted credit cards. Think about this. The U.S. which wastes over 700 billion USD a year on "defence" was going to bill Americans who were fleeing racist, criminal Israeli bombing.

The game of geopolitics will fail. The U.S. has lost the war in Iraq and hoped that Israel would pull its chestnuts from the fire. No, what began as an Arab-Israeli conflict is now a Muslim (Arab and Persian) v. American and Israeli conflict. When Iran acquires nuclear weapons, and I support denuclearisation and abolition of these systems, one of two things will happen. There will be short term stability because Israel will recognise that its military superiority is limited and diplomacy will be construed as a logical option. Long term I believe the potential for a nuclear exchange in the region is not unlikely. The U.S. and Israel are beyond redemption. These are criminal states that are ruthless, selfish and racist. I am not sure what countervailing power or coalition of nations can stop this alliance and its plunge into self-destruction.

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