Monday, July 30, 2007

Bush's War Without End or Why Iraq Will Never End

One can only come to the disappointing conclusion that there will be no "end" of American involvement in Iraq. Ever. The American political process has identified no politician with a hope of assuming power who has any desire to pull the U.S. out while vested interests continue to call the shots in American foreign policy.
Evidence abounds, the mammoth embassy in Baghdad, the enormous military bases, the preoccupation with predatory petroleum legislation. To call for a true withdrawal of American forces would call into question so many basic assumptions about America it would be nothing short of revolutionary. Seemingly unrelated subjects including energy policy, the future of the automobile industry, peak oil, the use of the American military in accomplishing lord knows whose goals, climate change, the "special" relationship with Israel, and more would come into scrutiny--an unlikely scenario.
If anything matters will get worse as American politicians of both parties rush to demonize Iran and sleep walk into another even more disastrous conflict.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Neocon Ship of Fools

Johann Hari has an interesting account of what is an excursion into the netherworlds of American political life, a cruise with 500 National Review subscribers. The scariest aspect is that the views are representative of what passes for the elite in this country.

"The Iraq war has been an amazing success, global warming is just a myth – and as for Guantanamo Bay, it's practically a holiday camp... The annual cruise organised by the 'National Review', mouthpiece of right-wing America, is a parallel universe populated by straight-talking, gun-toting, God-fearing Republicans."

Read and be afraid.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Accidents will happen........

New Scientist relates where the next bio-terror episode may come from, your friendly neighborhood biodefence-lab. They cite a litany of accidents from labs from across the country that would put your average would- be terrorist to shame if they ever hit the general population.

"• At the University of New Mexico, one worker was jabbed with an anthrax-laden needle, and another with a syringe containing an undisclosed, genetically engineered microbe.

• At the Medical University of Ohio, workers were exposed to and infected with Valley Fever.

• At the University of Chicago, there was another puncture with an undisclosed agent normally requiring heavy containment, probably anthrax or plague.

• At the University of California at Berkeley, workers handled deadly Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which spreads in the air, without containment when it was mislabelled as harmless.

• At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, TB escaped containment after equipment failed.

As yet, none of the accidents have been serious in outcome. But, Hammond fears, more such accidents may go unreported. "Instead of a 'culture of responsibility', the federal government has instilled a culture of denial" he says. "Labs hide problems, and think that accident reporting is for masochists."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tanks, Missiles, and Mullets

Russia has announced it's intention to pullout of the Conventional Armed Forces In Europe Treaty. It appears that Segways and lobsters with George Bush weren't sufficient inducements for Vladimir Putin to moderate his policies. The actual military implications are not likely to be substantial but the symbolism of how bad Russian-Western relations have become will be clear.

In the meantime The Exile reports that symbol of hipness gone awry, the mullet, is sweeping Russia. Pictured above is a pioneer of the Russian mullet, the late Victor Tsoi of the 80s-90s band Kino. The foreign policy implications of this are currently unknown.

Lastly the latest installment of Get Your Putin On via the Exile.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Fighting for Oil More than a Slogan

The Air Force reports their cost of fuel is beginning to impact their costs and presumably America's ongoing military budgetary calamity.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Pope On Theological Rampage

Pope Benedict XVI, apparently fed up with rampant religious tolerance, went on the offensive dissing both Jews and Protestants in just the last five days. As reported in The Guardian the pope revived the Latin Tridentine mass which assails "the blindness of that people" namely the Jews.

Not wasting anytime he then took on the Protestants of the world for essentially not being Catholic. According to The Guardian again:

"It is nevertheless difficult to see how the title of 'Church' could possibly be attributed to [Protestant communities], given that they do not accept the theological notion of the Church in the Catholic sense and that they lack elements considered essential to the Catholic Church."

Last fall the pontiff sought to put the Islamic faith in it's place repeating a 14th century Christian Emperor's contention that Muhammad had brought forth "only evil and inhuman things".

I presume that Hindus, Buddhists, and Mormons may be next on the list.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Whose National Interests?

Forty years ago the U.S.S. Liberty was strafed, bombed and napalmed by Israeli forces in one of the most devastating attacks on the U.S. Navy since WW II. This whole episode has been subject to historical amnesia and what would qualify as outright lies. Now one of the legal counsels of the Naval Court of Inquiry has come forward to expose the cover-up of this disturbing situation as reported here and Justin Raimondo reports on another episode where Israeli self interest trumped decency. Here there is evidence that to discredit the PLO the Israelis were willing to tolerate an attack by a Palestinian splinter group to further their own interests. I only wish that American politicians of both parties were as vigorous in pursuing policies truly in the interest of this country instead of well financed special interests who wish us to do their dirty work.
As once was said of the British Empire,

"We have no permanent enemies and no permanent friends, only permanent interests."

Perhaps we need to decide what our interests are.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day Reflections

It would be hard to think of a better way to spend Independence Day than getting together with like-minded folks to demand the impeachment of the Bush-Cheney cabal. I had the opportunity to do just that at the Impeach for Peace gathering in Madison, WI today. Petitions were presented and interesting speakers gave their views. It is fitting on this day to actually review the Declaration of Independence and reflect on its relevancy for today's conditions. In particular I was struck by the following passage:

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shown , that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing the invariably the same Object, envinces a Design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to to throw off such Government, and provide new guards for their future Security."

It made sense then and makes sense now.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Push Butin

Asia Times Online has a great article about an encounter that probably never happened, here's an excerpt:

"Bush: Vladimir, I don't get what you are driving at. Americans just don't think that way. We're trying to help Muslim countries build democracy so the Middle East can be at peace.

Putin: I don't want to throw cold water on your idea, George, but it doesn't seem to be working out too well in Iraq, or Palestine, or Lebanon, does it?

Bush: Vladimir, I just don't get you at all. If you are so concerned about the Muslims, how come you are making it so hard for us to put sanctions on Iran?

Putin: Did it ever occur to you that you have an insignificant number of Muslims to answer to - and half of them are native-born American blacks who never vote Republican? I have millions of Azeri Shi'ites attending mosques supported by Iran. I don't have the luxury to rap the mullahs on the knuckles and hope they stick their hands back in the pockets. Read what Niccolo Machiavelli had to say on the subject: never inflict a minor injury upon an opponent. Men will avenge themselves against minor injuries, but they can't avenge themselves against major injuries.

Bush: You're not telling me to inflict a major injury on Iran, by any chance, are you, Vladimir?

Putin: If anyone is going to do it, George, it's going to be you - you or the Israelis. I simply can't afford to - at least not for the moment, certainly not until after our presidential elections next March. Maybe you won't have to. Iran is weak. There's still an outside chance that someone reasonable like Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani might replace that lunatic Mahmud Ahmadinejad as president. But there's one thing you can count on: nobody hates the idea of an Iran with nuclear weapons more than we do. Our "near abroad" shares a border with Iran.

Bush: So when push comes to shove, Vladimir, you're going to let me do the dirty work and keep your hands clean?

Putin: Remember, I've got elections six months before you do, and a different kind of succession problem. Your democracy has been around for more than 200 years. We're barely adolescents. I need someone to follow me who's hard and sly enough to prevent Russia from flying apart. We can be tough when we have to be. Or haven't you heard of Chechnya?

Bush: You're not taking into account how tough my problem is - unless I can settle the Iran problem, there's no way I can get US troops out of Iraq without a full-scale war between Shi'ites backed by Iran and Sunnis backed by Saudi Arabia.

Putin: Well, you're on your own there. Don't blame me for that.

Bush: Vladimir, I was hoping we'd come out of this discussion with an understanding of at least one point: Why are you so upset about our putting anti-missile systems into places like the Czech Republic? You know that we can't defend Europe against a Russian missile attack.

Putin: George, it's not just about the missiles. It's about your lily-pad bases in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and elsewhere in our near abroad. It's about fomenting those pointless color revolutions in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan. You aren't going to get democracy in these places - it's silly presumption. All you will do is foster the centrifugal forces that threaten to tear apart the Russian Federation. Don't you get it, George? We are only three-quarters Russian, and in a generation we might be only half Russian. We haven't recovered from the beating you gave us in the 1980s. Half of adult male deaths in Russia are due to alcoholism. Our women have 13 abortions for every 10 live births. We're fighting for our life. We are not going to let what remains of Russia be torn to pieces.

Bush: Do you think we can find some kind of common ground over Kosovo?

Putin: That's where you are really playing with fire, George. You are proposing to dismember Serbia to add a province to Greater Albania, and you will set a precedent for every breakaway minority that wants to leave Russia. We can't possibly accept this - and I warn you that if you insist on this dangerous and reckless course of action, we will do precisely the same for disputed territories in the near abroad, starting with South Ossetia.

Bush: But Vladimir, how are we going to convince the Muslim world that we can partner up with them for peace if we don't respect the wishes of an overwhelming Muslim majority in Kosovo?

Putin: I hate to put it this way, George, but I think I could teach you a lesson about how to gain influence among Muslims. You aren't particularly popular among Muslims at the moment.

Bush: Okay, you don't have to rub it in. How do you propose to gain influence among Muslims?

Putin: Do you know how many civilians died in Chechnya when we suppressed the rebellion there? No one knows exactly, but the number is around 100,000. We know that half a million Chechens lost their homes. That's half the country. We've been killing Muslims for 300 years. That's why they respect us.

Bush: Vladimir, what you are saying is horrible. The American people will never see the world that way.

Putin: The American people don't have to. They are sitting comfortably in their own continent and think it's a great disaster when a few thousand people are killed in an office building. I'm not suggesting that you go out and explain to your voters that things might be very different in other parts of the world. But I am warning you: we have a tough enough job on our hands. Don't make it harder for us, or you will be sorry."

No Justice Just Us