Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Snuff Videos, Detainees, Chalmers Johnson, Columbia Op-Eds, Terry Jones

1) Military snuff videos of Iraq, Afghanistan and
other locales. Check out the rest of the website for
a reading of one of the current American mindsets:

2) 16 Year Old Detainees:

Two 16-year old girls held on secret evidence in PA.
The second hearing is closed, all "evidence" against
them is secret, the families can't afford lawyers, the
government says the burden of proof is on these two
16-year old girls to prove they are not "potential
suicide bombers" (how can you prove you are NOT
something?), and to top it off, "F.B.I. interrogators
warned that unless she confessed to terrorist ties,
her two youngest siblings, who are American citizens,
would be placed in foster care and her parents sent
back to Bangladesh without them."

The New York Times
April 8, 2005
Girl Called Would-Be Bomber Was Drawn to Islam

For years, the father said, he watched as his
daughter, now 16, became more and more drawn to the
family's Muslim religion. At 14, she began wearing a
full-length veil and teaching religion classes at
mosques around the city. A year ago, she withdrew from
her Manhattan high school because, a school official
said, she felt uncomfortable with typical teenage
banter. She told her family she wanted to go to an
Islamic all-girls school, and when they could not
afford to send her, she chose to study at home. The
father, a Bangladeshi watch salesman who describes
himself as far more devoted to American education than
to prayer after 13 years as an immigrant illegally in
the United States, said he pushed for his daughter to
return to public school...


4) Vote Fraud Blog:

5) Chalmers Johnson Article:

Wake Up!
By Chalmers Johnson
In These Times
Thursday 31 March 2005

Washington's alarming foreign policy.

The Rubicon is a small stream in northern Italy just
south of the city of Ravenna. During the prime of the
Roman Republic, roughly the last two centuries B.C.,
it served as a northern boundary protecting the
heartland of Italy and the city of Rome from its own
imperial armies. An ancient Roman law made it treason
for any general to cross the Rubicon and enter Italy
proper with a standing army. In 49 B.C., Julius
Caesar, Rome's most brilliant and successful general,
stopped with his army at the Rubicon, contemplated
what he was about to do, and then plunged south. The
Republic exploded in civil war, Caesar became dictator
and then in 44 B.C. was assassinated in the Roman
Senate by politicians who saw themselves as ridding
the Republic of a tyrant. However, Caesar's death
generated even more civil war, which ended only in 27
B.C. when his grand nephew, Octavian, took the title
Augustus Caesar, abolished the Republic and
established a military dictatorship with himself as
"emperor" for life. Thus ended the great Roman
experiment with democracy. Ever since, the phrase "to
cross the Rubicon" has been a metaphor for starting on
a course of action from which there is no turning
back. It refers to the taking of an irrevocable step.

I believe that on November 2, 2004, the United States
crossed its own Rubicon. Until last year's
presidential election, ordinary citizens could claim
that our foreign policy, including the invasion of
Iraq, was George Bush's doing and that we had not
voted for him. In 2000, Bush lost the popular vote and
was appointed president by the Supreme Court. In 2004,
he garnered 3.5 million more votes than John Kerry.
The result is that Bush's war changed into America's
war and his conduct of international relations became
our own.

This is important because it raises the question of
whether restoring sanity and prudence to American
foreign policy is still possible. During the Watergate
scandal of the early '70s, the president's chief of
staff, H. R. Haldeman, once reproved White House
counsel John Dean for speaking too frankly to Congress
about the felonies President Nixon had ordered.
"John," he said, "once the toothpaste is out of the
tube, it's very hard to get it back in." This homely
warning by a former advertising executive who was to
spend 18 months in prison for his own role in
Watergate fairly accurately describes the situation of
the United States after the reelection of George W.

James Weinstein, the founding editor of In These
Times, recently posed for me the question "How should
US foreign policy be changed so that the United States
can play a more positive role on the world stage?" For
me, this raises at least three different problems that
are interrelated. The first must be solved before we
can address the second, and the second has to be
corrected before it even makes sense to take up the

Sinking the Ship of State
First, the United States faces the imminent danger of
bankruptcy, which, if it occurs, will render all
further discussion of foreign policy moot. Within the
next few months, the mother of all financial crises
could ruin us and turn us into a North American
version of Argentina, once the richest country in
South America. To avoid this we must bring our massive
trade and fiscal deficits under control and signal to
the rest of the world that we understand elementary
public finance and are not suicidally indifferent to
our mounting debts.

Second, our appalling international citizenship must
be addressed. We routinely flout well-established
norms upon which the reciprocity of other nations in
their relations with us depends. This is a matter not
so much of reforming our policies as of reforming
attitudes. If we ignore this, changes in our actual
foreign policies will not even be noticed by other
nations of the world. I have in mind things like the
Army's and the CIA's secret abduction and torture of
people; the trigger-happy conduct of our poorly
trained and poorly led troops in places like Iraq and
Afghanistan; and our ideological bullying of other
cultures because of our obsession with abortion and
our contempt for international law (particularly the
International Criminal Court) as illustrated by Bush's
nomination of John R. "Bonkers" Bolton to be US
ambassador to the United Nations.

Third, if we can overcome our imminent financial
crisis and our penchant for boorish behavior abroad,
we might then be able to reform our foreign policies.
Among the issues here are the slow-moving evolutionary
changes in the global balance of power that demand new
approaches. The most important evidence that our life
as the "sole" superpower is going to be exceedingly
short is the fact that our monopoly of massive
military power is being upstaged by other forms of
influence. Chief among these is China's extraordinary
growth and our need to adjust to it.

Let me discuss each of these three problems in greater

In 2004, the United States imported a record $617.7
billion more than it exported, a 24.4 percent increase
over 2003. The annual deficit with China was $162
billion, the largest trade imbalance ever recorded by
the United States with a single country. Equally
important, as of March 9, 2005, the public debt of the
United States was just over $7.7 trillion and
climbing, making us easily the world's largest net
debtor nation. Refusing to pay for its profligate
consumption patterns and military expenditures through
taxes on its own citizens, the United States is
financing these outlays by going into debt to Japan,
China, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong and India. This
situation has become increasingly unstable, as the
United States requires capital imports of at least $2
billion per day to pay for its governmental
expenditures. Any decision by Asian central banks to
move significant parts of their foreign exchange
reserves out of the dollar and into the euro or other
currencies in order to protect themselves from dollar
depreciation will likely produce a meltdown of the
American economy. On February 21, 2005, the Korean
central bank, which has some $200 billion in reserves,
quietly announced that it intended to "diversify the
currencies in which it invests." The dollar fell
sharply and the US stock market (although subsequently
recovering) recorded its largest one-day fall in
almost two years. This small incident is evidence of
the knife-edge on which we are poised.

Japan possesses the world's largest foreign exchange
reserves, which at the end of January 2005 stood at
around $841 billion. But China also sits on a $609.9
billion pile of US cash, earned from its trade
surpluses with us. Meanwhile, the American government
insults China in every way it can, particularly over
the status of China's breakaway province, the island
of Taiwan. The distinguished economic analyst William
Greider recently noted, "Any profligate debtor who
insults his banker is unwise, to put it mildly. ...
American leadership has ... become increasingly
delusional - I mean that literally - and blind to the
adverse balance of power accumulating against it."

These deficits and dependencies represent unusual
economic statistics for a country with imperial
pretensions. In the 19th century, the British Empire
ran huge current account surpluses, which allowed it
to ignore the economic consequences of disastrous
imperialist ventures like the Boer War. On the eve of
the First World War, Britain had a surplus amounting
to 7 percent of its GDP. America's current account
deficit is close to 6 percent of our GDP.

In order to regain any foreign confidence in the
sanity of our government and the soundness of our
policies, we need, at once, to reverse President
George W. Bush's tax cuts, including those on capital
gains and estates (the rich are so well off they'll
hardly notice it), radically reduce our military
expenditures, and stop subsidizing agribusinesses and
the military-industrial complex. Only a few years ago
the United States enjoyed substantial federal
surpluses and was making inroads into its public debt.
If we can regain fiscal solvency, the savers of Asia
will probably continue to finance our indebtedness. If
we do not, we risk a fear-driven flight from the
dollar by all our financiers, collapse of our stock
exchange and global recession for a couple of years -
from which the rest of the world will ultimately
emerge. But by then we who no longer produce much of
anything valuable will have become a banana republic.
Debate over our foreign policy will become irrelevant.
We will have become dependent on the kindness of

Ugly Americans
Meanwhile, the bad manners of Dick Cheney, Donald
Rumsfeld and their band of neoconservative fanatics
from the American Enterprise Institute dominate the
conduct of American foreign policy. It is simply
unacceptable that after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal
Congress has so far failed to launch an investigation
into those in the executive branch who condoned it. It
is equally unacceptable that the president's chief
apologist for the official but secret use of torture
is now the attorney general, that Defense Secretary
Rumsfeld did not resign, and that the seventh
investigation of the military by the military (this
time headed by Vice Admiral Albert Church III) again
whitewashed all officers and blamed only a few unlucky
enlisted personnel on the night shift in one cellblock
of Abu Ghraib prison. Andrew Bacevich, a West Point
graduate and a veteran of 23 years of service as an
army officer, says in his book The New American
Militarism of these dishonorable incidents: "The Abu
Ghraib debacle showed American soldiers not as
liberators but as tormentors, not as professionals but
as sadists getting cheap thrills." Until this is
corrected, a president and secretary of state
bloviating about freedom and democracy is received by
the rest of the world as mere window-dressing.

Foreign policy analysts devote considerable attention
to the concept of "credibility" - whether or not a
nation is trustworthy. There are several ways to lose
one's credibility. One is to politicize intelligence,
as Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney did in
preparing for their preventive war against Iraq.
Today, only a fool would take at face value something
said by the CIA or our other secret intelligence
services. China has already informed us that it does
not believe our intelligence on North Korea, and our
European allies have said the same thing about our
apocalyptic estimates on Iran.

Similarly, our bloated military establishment
routinely makes pronouncements that are untrue. The
scene of a bevy of generals and admirals - replete
with campaign ribbons marching up and over their left
shoulders - baldly lying to congressional committees
is familiar to any viewer of our network newscasts.

For example, on February 3, 1998, Marine pilots were
goofing off in a military jet and cut the cables of a
ski lift in northern Italy, plunging 20 individuals to
their deaths. The Marine Corps did everything in its
power to avoid responsibility for the disaster, then
brought the pilots back to the States for
court-martial, dismissed the case as an accident and
exonerated the pilots. The Italians haven't forgotten
either the incident or how the United States treated
an ally. On March 4, 2005, American soldiers opened
fire on a civilian car en route to Baghdad airport,
killing a high-ranking Italian intelligence officer
and wounding the journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who had
just been released by kidnappers. The US military
immediately started its cover-up, claiming that the
car was speeding, that the soldiers had warned it with
lights and warning shots and that the Italians had
given no prior notice of the trip. Sgrena has
contradicted everything our military said. The White
House has called it a "horrific accident," but
whatever the explanation, we have once again made one
of our closest European allies look like dupes for
cooperating with us.

In its arrogance and overconfidence, the Bush
administration has managed to convince the rest of the
world that our government is incompetent. The
administration has not only tried to undercut treaties
it finds inconvenient but refuses to engage in normal
diplomacy with its allies to make such treaties more
acceptable. Thus, administration representatives
simply walked away from the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on
global warming that tried to rein in carbon dioxide
emissions, claiming that the economic costs were too
high. (The United States generates far more such
emissions than any other country.) All of the United
States' democratic allies continued to work on the
treaty despite our boycott. On July 23, 2001, in Bonn,
Germany, a compromise was reached on the severity of
the cuts in emissions advanced industrial nations
would have to make and on the penalties to be imposed
if they do not, resulting in a legally binding treaty
so far endorsed by more than 180 nations. The modified
Kyoto Protocol is hardly perfect, but it is a start
toward the reduction of greenhouse gases.

Similarly, the United States and Israel walked out of
the United Nations conference on racism held in
Durban, South Africa, in August and September 2001.
The nations that stayed on eventually voted down
Syrian demands that language accusing Israel of racism
be included. The conference's final statement also
produced an apology for slavery as a "crime against
humanity" but did so without making slaveholding
nations liable for reparations. Given the history of
slavery in the United States and the degree to which
the final document was adjusted to accommodate
American concerns, our walkout seemed to be yet
another display of imperial arrogance - a bald-faced
message that "we" do not need "you" to run this world.

Until the United States readopts the norms of
civilized discourse among nations, it can expect other
nations - quietly and privately - to do everything in
their power to isolate and disengage from us.

Future Reforms
If through some miracle we were able to restore fiscal
rationality, honesty and diplomacy to their rightful
places in our government, then we could turn to
reforming our foreign policies. First and foremost, we
should get out of Iraq and demand that Congress never
again fail to honor article 1, section 8, clause 11 of
the Constitution giving it the exclusive power to go
to war. After that, I believe the critical areas in
need of change are our policies toward Israel,
imported oil, China and the proliferation of nuclear
weapons, although the environment and relations with
Latin America may be equally important.

Perhaps the most catastrophic error of the Bush
administration was to abandon the policies of all
previous American administrations to seek an equitable
peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Bush
instead joined Ariel Sharon in his expropriation and
ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. As a result, the
United States has lost all credibility, influence and
trust in the Islamic world. In July 2004, Zogby
International Surveys polled 3,300 Arabs in Morocco,
Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and the United
Arab Emirates. When asked whether respondents had a
"favorable" or "unfavorable" opinion of the United
States, the "unfavorables" ranged from 69 to 98
percent. In the year 2000 there were 1.3 billion
Muslims worldwide, some 22 percent of the global
population; through our policies we have turned most
of them against the United States. We should resume at
once the role of honest broker between the Israelis
and Palestinians that former President Clinton
The United States imports about 3.8 billion barrels of
oil a year, or about 10.6 million barrels a day. These
imports are at the highest levels ever recorded and
come increasingly from Persian Gulf countries. A
cut-off of Saudi Arabia's ability or willingness to
sell its oil to us would, at the present time,
constitute an economic catastrophe. By using currently
available automotive technologies as well as those
being incorporated today in new Toyota and Honda
automobiles, we could end our entire dependency on
Persian Gulf oil. We should do that before we are
forced to do so.

China's gross domestic product in 2004 grew at a rate
of 9.5 percent, easily the fastest among big
countries. It is today the world's sixth largest
economy with a GDP of $1.4 trillion. It has also
become the trading partner of choice for the
developing world, absorbing huge amounts of food, raw
materials, machinery and computers. Can the United
States adjust peacefully to the reemergence of China -
the world's oldest, continuously extant civilization -
this time as a modern superpower? Or is China's
ascendancy to be marked by yet another world war like
those of the last century? That is what is at stake. A
rich, capitalist China is not a threat to the United
States and cooperation with it is our best guarantee
of military security in the Pacific.

Nothing is more threatening to our nation than the
spread of nuclear weapons. We developed a good policy
with the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which
with its 188 adherents is the most widely supported
arms control agreement ever enacted. Only India,
Israel and Pakistan remained outside its terms until
January 10, 2003, when North Korea withdrew. Under the
treaty, the five nuclear-weapons states (the United
States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom)
agree to undertake nuclear disarmament, while the
non-nuclear-weapons states agree not to develop or
acquire such weapons. The International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) is authorized to inspect the
non-nuclear-weapons states to ensure compliance. The
Bush administration has virtually ruined this
international agreement by attempting to denigrate the
IAEA, by tolerating nuclear weapons in India, Israel,
and Pakistan while fomenting wars against Iraq, Iran
and North Korea, and by planning to develop new forms
of nuclear weapons. Our policy should be to return at
once to this established system of controls.

Finally, the most important change we could make in
American policy would be to dismantle our imperial
presidency and restore a balance among the executive,
legislative and judicial branches of our government.
The massive and secret powers of the Department of
Defense and the CIA have subverted the republican
structure of our democracy and left us exposed to the
real danger of a military takeover. Reviving our
constitutional system would do more than anything else
to protect our peace and security.

Chalmers Johnson is the author of the Blowback
Trilogy. The first two books of which, Blowback: The
Costs and Consequences of American Empire, and The
Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of
the Republic - are now available in paperback. The
third volume is being written.

6) ICG Report on Sanzak:

Serbia's Sandzak: Still Forgotten
Europe Report N°162
8 April 2005

Whenever Balkan politicians discuss Kosovo's future
status they warn of a "domino effect". One area
frequently mentioned as vulnerable and a possible
flashpoint of new violence is Serbia's Sandzak, an
ethnically-mixed Muslim-Slav (Bosniak) majority region
sandwiched between Montenegro, Kosovo and Bosnia. Its
economy is underdeveloped and far poorer than many
other regions in Serbia, partly because it was an
Ottoman backwater until 1912, partly due to deliberate
neglect by Serbian authorities between the world wars
and under Milosevic. Belgrade should act against
discrimination and otherwise show both Serbs and
Bosniaks it is sensitive to their concerns in order to
keep the region peaceful, as it presently is, but
Sandzak's problems are mostly the same as those of the
rest of Serbia and require national solutions...

7) Terry Jones Op-Ed:

The Guardian, London

Let them eat bombs

The doubling of child malnutrition in Iraq is

Terry Jones
Tuesday April 12, 2005
The Guardian

A report to the UN human rights commission in
Geneva has concluded that Iraqi children were actually
better off under Saddam Hussein than
they are now.

This, of course, comes as a bitter blow for all
those of us who, like George Bush and Tony Blair,
honestly believe that children thrive best
when we drop bombs on them from a great height,
destroy their cities and blow up hospitals, schools
and power stations.

It now appears that, far from improving the quality
of life for Iraqi youngsters, the US-led military
assault on Iraq has inexplicably doubled the number of
children under five suffering from malnutrition.
Under Saddam, about 4% of children under five were
going hungry, whereas by the end of last year almost
8% were suffering.

These results are even more disheartening for those
of us in the Department of Making Things Better for
Children in the Middle East By Military Force, since
the previous attempts by Britain and America to
improve the lot of Iraqi children also proved
disappointing. For example, the policy of applying the
most draconian sanctions in living memory totally
failed to improve conditions. After they were imposed
in 1990, the number of children under five who died
increased by a factor of six. By 1995 something like
half a million Iraqi children were dead as a result of
our efforts to help them.

A year later, Madeleine Albright, then the US
ambassador to the United Nations, tried to put a brave
face on it. When a TV interviewer
remarked that more children had died in Iraq through
sanctions than were killed in Hiroshima, Mrs Albright
famously replied: "We think the price is worth it."

But clearly George Bush didn't. So he hit on the
idea of bombing them instead. And not just bombing,
but capturing and torturing their fathers, humiliating
their mothers, shooting at them
from road blocks - but none of it seems to do any
good. Iraqi children simply refuse to be better
nourished, healthier and less inclined to die.
It is truly baffling.

And this is why we at the department are appealing
to you - the general public - for ideas. If you can
think of any other military techniques that we have so
far failed to apply to the children of Iraq,
please let us know as a matter of urgency. We assure
you that, under our present leadership, there is no
limit to the amount of money we are prepared to invest
in a military solution to the problems of Iraqi

In the UK there may now be 3.6 million children
living below the poverty line, and 12.9 million in the
US, with no prospect of either government finding any
cash to change that. But surely this is a price worth
paying, if it means that George Bush and Tony Blair
can make any amount of money available for bombs,
shells and bullets to improve the lives of Iraqi kids.
You know it makes sense.

Terry Jones is a film director, actor and Python.
He is the author of Terry Jones's War on the War on
Guardian Unlimited )
Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

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