Bin Laden gets away with a bribe, and more wars a-comin
Blah, it is bad when you write a few paragraphs, cut them and forget to paste them, they're gone for good. Damn, that just happened. Dan Schwartz sent me a news item about how protesters arrested at the Republican National Convention last fall have been getting mostly let off charges, as video evidence has shown that the police exaggerated incidents and arrested people without justification. As someone who was there, I felt lucky that we managed to avoid getting arrested... I don't want to go through the details now...
03/28/05 "Financial Times" - - US intelligence services are drawing up a secret watch-list of 25 countries in which instability might lead to US intervention, according to officials in charge of a new office set up to co-ordinate planning for nation-building and conflict prevention.
The list will be composed and revised every six months by the National Intelligence Council, which collates intelligence for strategic planning, according to Carlos Pascual, head of the newly formed office of reconstruction and stabilisation.
The new State Department office amounts to recognition by the Bush administration that it needs to get better at nation-building, a concept it once scorned as social work disguised as foreign policy, following its failures in Iraq.
Shocking! Bin Laden bribed Afghan militias in 2001 to let him escape, says the head of the German intelligence agency BND. What, you require cash for loyalty in Afghanistan? That's a historical lesson that brought down two Global Empires, yet the U.S. either doesn't quite get it. If we build permanent bases, we will fully, permanently embrace the heroin smugglers which dominate Afghanistan's economy.
"US Appears to Have Fought War for Oil and Lost It", amusing headline of piece in the Financial Times by Ian Rutledge. "US Has no Exit Strategy for Iraq, Rumsfeld Says" (we have a victory strategy, hurr hurr):
The U.S. has no exit strategy or timetable for withdrawing its forces from Iraq and a pull-out depends on the readiness of the Iraqi Security Forces, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said.
``We don't have an exit strategy, we have a victory strategy,'' Rumsfeld told soldiers during a surprise visit to Baghdad, according to a pooled broadcast report from the capital. ``The goal is to help the Iraqi Forces develop the skills and the capacity to provide their own security.''
The Defense Secretary, whose visit wasn't disclosed until his arrival for security reasons, praised the U.S. soldiers he addressed in Baghdad and told them that they'll earn their place in history for fighting ``a war where victory depends not only on military successes but on reconstruction and civil affairs.''
Some stuff by raimondo @ antiwar.com about the various ethnic fissures opening up in northern Iraq, and how that might sink what he terms the Iraqi potemkin village. He points out that Article 58 of Iraq's TAL (transition administrative law-the temporary basis for the interim government) has some rather explosive logic to it:
"Expeditiously to take measures to remedy the injustice caused by the previous regime's practices in altering the demographic character of certain regions, including Kirkuk, by deporting and expelling individuals from their places of residence, forcing migration in and out of the region, settling individuals alien to the region, depriving the inhabitants of work, and correcting nationality. …
"With regard to residents who were deported, expelled, or who emigrated; [the Iraqi Transitional Government] shall, in accordance with the statute of the Iraqi Property Claims Commission and other measures within the law, within a reasonable period of time, restore the residents to their homes and property, or, where this is unfeasible, shall provide just compensation."
This is going to cause some ethnic cleansing, then. One of those nice little time bombs that Saddam built into the tortured society of that country, which the Americans have now appointed themselves to untangle. But it probably won't work, and the preconditions for a stable Democracy probably won't gel.
This does not stop Michael Ledeen and some guy named Peter Ackerman, the chair of the "International Center for Nonviolent Conflict" from proclaiming the sweeping democratic revolution that will go on throughout the region. (is Ledeen really just working for Iran anyway? ha!)
Anyhow, they are dressing up the next stage that they want to see: using some exiles and smuggled weapons to start fighting more directly against the regime in Tehran. All the "democracy" talk is stapled on, and they are counting correctly on the Western media's ability to persuade their audiences that the chosen destabilization agents are Vanguards of the Democratic Revolution.
Ledeen has that element of Trotsky in him (one view) and you can always spot the repackaged Advanced Red Guard of Freedom type thing. It has great appeal, it's got all the buzzwords, but it has a certain Stalinist-utopian quality. Teaming with this International Center guy, the Creative Destruction/Utopian Terrorfighter ideology is getting a nice solid institutional engine:
In recent months, skepticism about the appeal of freedom has given way to a new belief: that democratic revolution is now possible, even inevitable, in places such as Lebanon, Iran, Syria and Kyrgyzstan. But "people power" is not an unstoppable tidal wave, and it would be wrong and naive to conclude that we need only step back and let it happen. The Western world has a lot at stake, and our support for democratic forces in the Middle East and beyond will be important, perhaps even decisive.
Freedom-loving people know what we want to see in Beirut, Damascus and Tehran: the central square bursting with citizens demanding an end to tyranny, massive strikes shutting down the national economy, the disintegration of security forces charged with maintaining order, and the consequent departure of the tyrants and the beginnings of a popularly elected government.
A successful people's revolution is the outcome of careful planning and mass discipline, but it requires political and economic support from outside the country — and maybe some from within.
There are three indispensable requirements: first, a unified opposition that can put aside internal disagreements over the details of what will follow the downfall of the tyrannical regime; second, a disciplined democratic movement that rigorously applies the rules of nonviolent conflict; and finally, careful preparation of the battlefield — which means that members of the armed forces must be persuaded to make individual decisions rather than act as part of a collective organization.
In Iran and Lebanon, and probably in Syria, the prerequisites for democratic revolution are in place. Opposition groups in Iran are united in their call for free elections, perhaps preceded by a national referendum that will either legitimize or reject the theocratic state. In Lebanon, 1 million people just demonstrated their support for the quick removal of the Syrian occupiers.
Now the West needs to help. The lessons learned in Georgia and Ukraine need to be passed along. Indeed, this information is so important that Western governments should provide funding so that it can be broadcast around the clock.
The activists will need to communicate with one another, and the West can provide them with suitable equipment — satellite phones, text messaging, laptops and servers — that they may not be able to get by themselves. Just as the West provided Solidarity and Soviet dissidents with fax machines during the Cold War, we should help contemporary dissidents get the best tools available.
Finally, outsiders seeking to aid democratic revolutions must remember this: Only indigenous forces can be the prime movers. There must be no replay of 1953 in Iran, when the United States and Britain stage-managed mass demonstrations against the government in order to restore the shah to his throne. We must trust the judgment of the people who are, in all cases, the foundation of lasting change.
If they want open support, they should get it. If they want it delivered discreetly, donors should respect their wishes.
Americans, Europeans and others who freely choose their own rulers cannot be indifferent about the success or failure of democratic revolution around the world, and we must not limit our support to rhetoric. There is every reason to believe that this latest surge of revolution will succeed, provided that the courage and passion of the people of the region receive suitable assistance from the democratic world.
So, then, the anti-Tehran MEK will be getting its weapons from us promptly. And there is even more to say about the connections between the MEK and John Bolton. Yes, surprise surprise, a paragon of soup-straining integrity like Mr. Bolton might be connected to listed foreign terrorists. What, the "Iran Policy Committee" wants the MEK delisted? (which sparked a reaction) Also can't forget this classic by Josh Marshall and others about "Iran-Contra II?" in the making.
There were previously reports that the recent vote in Iraq was fraudulently manipulated, and now former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, a somewhat odd character (of unknown trustworthiness) in the Iraq saga, says that Bush has already approved plans to attack Iran in July (story originally by United for Peace of Pierce County, WA):
Ritter made two shocking claims: George W. Bush has "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and the U.S. manipulated the results of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.
Scott Ritter, appearing with journalist Dahr Jamail yesterday in Washington State, dropped two shocking bombshells in a talk delivered to a packed house in Olympia's Capitol Theater. The ex-Marine turned UNSCOM weapons inspector said that George W. Bush has "signed off" on plans to bomb Iran in June 2005, and claimed the U.S. manipulated the results of the recent Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.
The principal theme of Scott Ritter's talk was Americans' duty to protect the U.S. Constitution by taking action to bring an end to the illegal war in Iraq. But in passing, the former UNSCOM weapons inspector stunned his listeners with two pronouncements. Ritter said plans for a June attack on Iran have been submitted to President George W. Bush, and that the president has approved them. He also asserted that knowledgeable sources say U.S. officials "cooked" the results of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq.
On Iran, Ritter said that President George W. Bush has received and signed off on orders for an aerial attack on Iran planned for June 2005. Its purported goal is the destruction of Iran's alleged program to develop nuclear weapons, but Ritter said neoconservatives in the administration also expected that the attack would set in motion a chain of events leading to regime change in the oil-rich nation of 70 million -- a possibility Ritter regards with the greatest skepticism.
The former Marine also said that the Jan. 30 elections, which George W. Bush has called "a turning point in the history of Iraq, a milestone in the advance of freedom," were not so free after all. Ritter said that U.S. authorities in Iraq had manipulated the results in order to reduce the percentage of the vote received by the United Iraqi Alliance from 56% to 48%.
Scott Ritter said that although the peace movement failed to stop the war in Iraq, it had a chance to stop the expansion of the war to other nations like Iran and Syria. He held up the specter of a day when the Iraq war might be remembered as a relatively minor event that preceded an even greater conflagration.
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