Monday, August 01, 2005

WMDs, Pilger, Campus Watch, Herbert, Book, Withdrawal, Fundamentalism, Hiroshima

Happy Hiroshima week, for those who fail to remember. Also, big day for high-profile obits: King Fahd, John Garang, and Wim Duisenberg.

1) This is pretty incendiary stuff, although it's being hushed. There WERE CIA staff who believed that Iraq's WMD program was non-existent in 2002, but they were hushed up. Also, note the date for when the CIA's assessments of Iraqi capabilities started to be revised -- early 2001. The fix was in long before 9/11:

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/01/politics/01weapons.html?

Spy's Notes on Iraqi Aims Were Shelved, Suit Says
By JAMES RISEN
Published: August 1, 2005

WASHINGTON, July 31 - The Central Intelligence Agency was told by an informant in the spring of 2001 that Iraq had abandoned a major element of its nuclear weapons program, but the agency did not share the information with other agencies or with senior policy makers, a former C.I.A. officer has charged.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court here in December, the former C.I.A. officer, whose name remains secret, said that the informant told him that Iraq's uranium enrichment program had ended years earlier and that centrifuge components from the scuttled program were available for examination and even purchase.
The officer, an employee at the agency for more than 20 years, including several years in a clandestine unit assigned to gather intelligence related to illicit weapons, was fired in 2004.

In his lawsuit, he says his dismissal was punishment for his reports questioning the agency's assumptions on a series of weapons-related matters. Among other things, he charged that he had been the target of retaliation for his refusal to go along with the agency's intelligence conclusions.

Michelle Neff, a C.I.A. spokeswoman, said the agency would not comment on the lawsuit.

It was not possible to verify independently the former officer's allegations concerning his reporting on illicit weapons.

His information on the Iraqi nuclear program, described as coming from a significant source, would have arrived at a time when the C.I.A. was starting to reconsider whether Iraq had revived its efforts to develop nuclear weapons. The agency's conclusion that this was happening, eventually made public by the Bush administration in 2002 as part of its rationale for war, has since been found to be incorrect.

While the existence of the lawsuit has previously been reported, details of the case have not been made public because the documents in his suit have been heavily censored by the government and the substance of the claims are classified. The officer's name remains secret, in part because disclosing it might jeopardize the agency's sources or operations.

Several people with detailed knowledge of the case provided information to The New York Times about his allegations, but insisted on anonymity because the matter is classified.

The former officer's lawyer, Roy W. Krieger, said he could not discuss his client's claims. He likened his client's situation to that of Valerie Wilson, also known as Valerie Plame, the clandestine C.I.A. officer whose role was leaked to the press after her husband publicly challenged some administration conclusions about Iraq's nuclear ambitions. (The former officer and Ms. Wilson worked in the same unit of the agency.)

"In both cases, officials brought unwelcome information on W.M.D. in the period prior to the Iraq invasion, and retribution followed," said Mr. Krieger, referring to weapons of mass destruction.

In court documents, the former officer says that he learned in 2003 that he was the subject of a counterintelligence investigation and accused of having sex with a female contact, a charge he denies. Eight months after learning of the investigation, he said in the court documents, the agency's inspector general's office informed him that he was under investigation for diverting to his own use money earmarked for payments to informants. He denies that, too.

The former officer's claims concerning his reporting on the Iraqi nuclear weapons program were not addressed in a report issued in March by the presidential commission that examined intelligence regarding such weapons in Iraq. He did not testify before the commission, Mr. Krieger said.

A former senior staff member of the commission said the panel was not aware of the officer's allegations. The claims were also not included in the 2004 report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on prewar intelligence. He and his lawyer met with staff members of that Senate committee in a closed-door session last December, months after the report was issued.

In his lawsuit, the former officer said that in the spring of 2001, he met with a valuable informant who had examined and purchased parts of Iraqi centrifuges. Centrifuges are used to turn uranium into fuel for nuclear weapons. The informant reported that the Iraqi government had long since canceled its uranium enrichment program and that the C.I.A. could buy centrifuge components if it wanted to.

The officer filed his reports with the Counter Proliferation Division in the agency's clandestine espionage arm. The reports were never disseminated to other American intelligence agencies or to policy makers, as is typically done, he charged.

According to his suit, he was told that the agency already had detailed information about continuing Iraqi nuclear weapons efforts, and that his informant should focus on other countries.

He said his reports about Iraq came just as the agency was fundamentally shifting its view of Iraq's nuclear ambitions.

Throughout much of the 1990's, the C.I.A. and other United States intelligence agencies believed that Iraq had largely abandoned its nuclear weapons program. In December 2000, the intelligence agencies issued a classified assessment stating that Iraq did not appear to have taken significant steps toward the reconstitution of the program, according to the presidential commission report concerning illicit weapons.

But that assessment changed in early 2001 - a critical period in the intelligence community's handling of the Iraqi nuclear issue, the commission concluded. In March 2001, intelligence indicating that Iraq was seeking high-strength aluminum tubes from China greatly influenced the agency's thinking. Analysts soon came to believe that the only possible explanation for Iraq's purchase of the tubes was to develop high-tech centrifuges for a new uranium enrichment program.

By the following year, the agency's view had hardened, despite differing interpretations of the tubes' purposes by other intelligence experts. In October 2002, the National Intelligence Estimate, produced by the intelligence community under pressure from Congress, stated that most of the nation's intelligence agencies believed that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, based in large part on the aluminum tubes.
The commission concluded that intelligence failures on the Iraqi nuclear issue were as serious and damaging as any other during the prelude to the Iraqi war. The nation's intelligence community was wrong "on what many would view as the single most important judgment it made" before the Iraq invasion in March 2003, the commission report said.

Mr. Krieger said he had asked the court handling the case to declassify his client's suit, but the C.I.A. had moved to classify most of his motion seeking declassification. He added that he recently sent a letter to the director of the F.B.I. requesting an investigation of his client's complaints, but that the C.I.A. had classified that letter, as well.

Most of the details of the case, he said, "were classified by the C.I.A., not to protect national security but to conceal politically embarrassing facts from public scrutiny."


2) John Pilger Op-Ed:
Blair Is Unfit to Be Prime Minister
By John Pilger
The New Statesman, UK
25 July 2005 Issue

Terror and the UK - The senseless repercussions ofinterventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestinedemand that we renew our anger at our leaders. Ourtroops must come home. We owe it to all those who diedin London on 7 July.

In all the coverage of the bombing of London, atruth has struggled to be heard. With honourableexceptions, it has been said guardedly,apologetically. Occasionally, a member of the publichas broken the silence, as an east Londoner did whenhe walked in front of a CNN camera crew and reporterin mid-platitude. "Iraq!" he said. "We invaded Iraqand what did we expect? Go on, say it."

Alex Salmond tried to say it on Today on Radio 4.He was told he was speaking "in poor taste . . .before the bodies are even buried". George Gallowaywas lectured on Newsnight (BBC2) that he was being"crass". The inimitable Ken Livingstone contradictedhis previous statement, which was that the invasion ofIraq would come home to London. With the exception ofGalloway, not one so-called anti-war MP spoke out inclear, unequivocal English. The warmongers wereallowed to fix the boundaries of public debate; one ofthe more idiotic, in the Guardian, called Blair "theworld's leading statesman".

And yet, like the man who interrupted CNN, peopleunderstand and know why, just as the majority ofBritons oppose the war and believe Blair is a liar.This frightens the British political elite. At a largemedia party I attended, many of the important guestsuttered "Iraq" and "Blair" as a kind of catharsis forthat which they dared not say professionally andpublicly.

The bombs of 7 July were Blair's bombs.

Blair brought home to this country his and Bush'sillegal, unprovoked and blood-soaked adventure in theMiddle East. Were it not for his epicirresponsibility, the Londoners who died in the Tubeand on the No 30 bus almost certainly would be alivetoday. This is what Livingstone ought to have said. Toparaphrase perhaps the only challenging question putto Blair on the eve of the invasion, it is now surelybeyond all doubt that the man is unfit to be primeminister.

How much more evidence is needed? Before theinvasion, Blair was warned by the Joint IntelligenceCommittee that "by far the greatest terrorist threat"to this country would be "heightened by militaryaction against Iraq". He was warned by 79 per cent ofLondoners who, according to a YouGov survey inFebruary 2003, believed that a British attack on Iraq"would make a terrorist attack on London more likely".A month ago, a leaked, classified CIA report revealedthat the invasion had turned Iraq into a focal pointof terrorism. Before the invasion, said the CIA, Iraq"exported no terrorist threat to its neighbors"because Saddam Hussein was "implacably hostile toal-Qaeda".

Now, an 18 July report by the Chatham Houseorganization, a "think tank" deep within the Britishestablishment, may well beckon Blair's coup de grâce.It says there is "no doubt" the invasion of Iraq has"given a boost to the al-Qaeda network" in"propaganda, recruitment and fundraising" whileproviding an ideal targeting and training area forterrorists. "Riding pillion with a powerful ally" hascost Iraqi, American and British lives. The right-wingacademic, Paul Wilkinson, a voice of western power,was the principal author. Read between the lines andit says the prime minister is now a serious liability.Those who run this country know he has committed agreat crime; the "link" has been made.

Blair's bunker-mantra is that there was terrorismlong before the invasion, notably 11 September. Anyonewith an understanding of the painful history of theMiddle East would not have been surprised by 11September or by the bombing of Madrid and London, onlythat they had not happened earlier. I have reportedthe region for 35 years, and if I could describe in aword how millions of Arab and Muslim people felt, Iwould say "humiliated". When Egypt looked like winningback its captured territory in the 1973 war withIsrael, I walked through jubilant crowds in Cairo: itfelt as if the weight of history's humiliation hadlifted. In a very Egyptian flourish, one man said tome, "We once chased cricket balls at the British club.Now we are free."

They were not free, of course. The Americansre-supplied the Israeli army and they almost losteverything again. In Palestine, the humiliation of acaptive people is Israeli policy. How many Palestinianbabies have died at Israeli checkpoints after theirmothers, bleeding and screaming in premature labor,have been forced to give birth beside the road at amilitary checkpoint with the lights of a hospital inthe distance? How many old men have been forced toshow obeisance to young Israeli conscripts? How manyfamilies have been blown to bits by America-suppliedF-16s with British-supplied parts?

The gravity of the bombing of London, said a BBCcommentator, "can be measured by the fact that itmarks
Britain's first suicide bombing". What aboutIraq? There were no suicide bombers in Iraq untilBlair and Bush invaded. What about Palestine? Therewere no suicide bombers in Palestine until ArielSharon, an accredited war criminal sponsored by Bushand Blair, came to power. In the 1991 Gulf "war",American and British forces left more than 200,000Iraqis dead and injured and the infrastructure oftheir country in "an apocalyptic state", according tothe United Nations. The subsequent embargo, designedand promoted by zealots in Washington and Whitehall,was not unlike a medieval siege. Denis Halliday, theUnited Nations official assigned to administer thenear-starvation food allowance, called it "genocidal".

I witnessed its consequences: tracts of southernIraq contaminated with depleted uranium and clusterbomblets waiting to explode. I watched dying children,some of the half a million infants whose deaths Unicefattributed to the embargo - deaths which US Secretaryof State Madeline Albright said were "worth it". Inthe west, this was hardly reported. Throughout theMuslim world, the bitterness was like a presence, itscontagion reaching many young British-born Muslims.

In 2001, in revenge for the killing of 3,000people in the Twin Towers, more than 20,000 Muslimsdied in the Anglo-American invasion of Afghanistan.This was revealed by Jonathan Steele in the LondonGuardian and was never news, to my knowledge. Theattack on Iraq was the Rubicon, making the reprisalagainst Madrid and the bombing of London entirelypredictable: the latter "in response to the massacrescarried out by Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan ...",claimed a group called the Organization for El Qaedain Europe. Whether or not the claim was genuine, thereason was. Bush and Blair wanted a "war on terror"and they got it.

Omitted from public discussion is that their stateterror makes al-Qaeda's appear miniscule bycomparison. More than 100,000 Iraqi men, woman andchildren have been killed, not by suicide bombers, butby the Anglo-American "coalition", says apeer-reviewed study published in the Lancet, andlargely ignored.

In his poem "From Iraq", Michael Rosen wrote:

We are the unfound We are uncounted You don't see the homes we made We're not even the small print or the bit in brackets. . . because we lived far from you, because you have cameras that point the other way . .. Imagine, for a moment, you are in the Iraqi cityof Fallujah. It is an American police state, like avast penned ghetto. Since April last year, thehospitals there have been subjected to an Americanpolicy of collective punishment. Staff have beenattacked by US marines, doctors have been shot,emergency medicines blocked. Children have beenmurdered in front of their families.

Now imagine the same state of affairs imposed onthe London hospitals that received the victims of thebombing. When will someone draw this parallel at oneof Blair's staged "press conferences", at which he isallowed to emote for the cameras about "our valuesoutlast [ing] theirs"? Silence is not journalism. InFallujah, they know "our values" only too well. Andwhen will someone invite the obsequious Bob Geldoff toexplain why his hero, Blair's smoke-and-mirrors "debtcancellation" amounts to less than the money the Blairgovernment spends in a week, brutalizing Iraq?

The hand-wringing over "whither Islam's soul" isanother distraction. Christianity leaves Islam fordead as an industrial killer. The cause of the currentterrorism is neither religion nor hatred for "our wayof life". It is political, requiring a politicalsolution. It is injustice and double standards, whichplant the deepest grievances. That, and theculpability of our leaders, and the "cameras thatpoint the other way", are the core of it.

On 19 July, while the BBC governors were holdingtheir annual general meeting at Television Centre, aninspired group of British documentary filmmakers metoutside the main gates and conducted a series of newsreports of the kind you do not see on television.Actors played famous reporters doing their "camerapieces". The "stories" they reported included thetargeting of the civilian population of Iraq, theapplication of the Nuremberg Principles to Iraq,America's illegal rewriting of the laws of Iraq andtheft of its resources through privatization, theeveryday torture and humiliation of ordinary peopleand the failure to protect Iraqis archaeological andcultural heritage.

Blair is using the London bombing to furtherdeplete our rights and those of others, as Bush hasdone in America. Their goal is not security, butgreater control. The memory of their victims in Iraq,Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere demands therenewal of our anger. The troops must come home.Nothing less is owed to those who died and suffered inLondon on 7 July, unnecessarily, and nothing less isowed to those whose lives are marked if this travestyendures.



3) Here's the website of "Campus Watch," those that would have Middle East Studies in US campuses reflect "US interests"...:

http://www.campus-watch.org/



4) Bob Herbert Op-Ed. It's quite unusual that such a blatantly obvious, yet largely heretical, viewpoint actually makes it to print in US large circulation dailies. Perhaps it's another positive sign. Perhaps not:

July 28, 2005
Oil and Blood
By BOB HERBERT

It is now generally understood that the U.S.-led war in Iraq has become a debacle. Nevertheless, Iraqis are supposed to have their constitution ratified and a permanent government elected by the end of the year. It's a logical escape hatch for George W. Bush. He could declare victory, as a senator once suggested to Lyndon Johnson in the early years of Vietnam, and bring the troops home as quickly as possible.

His mantra would be: There's a government in place. We won. We're out of there.

But don't count on it. The Bush administration has no plans to bring the troops home from this misguided war, which has taken a fearful toll in lives and injuries while at the same time weakening the military, damaging the international reputation of the United States, serving as a world-class recruiting tool for terrorist groups and blowing a hole the size of Baghdad in Washington's budget.

A wiser leader would begin to cut some of these losses. But the whole point of this war, it seems, was to establish a long-term military presence in Iraq to ensure American domination of the Middle East and its precious oil reserves, which have been described, the author Daniel Yergin tells us, as "the greatest single prize in all history."

You can run through all the wildly varying rationales for this war: the weapons of mass destruction (that were never found), the need to remove the unmitigated evil of Saddam (whom we had once cozied up to), the connection to Al Qaeda (which was bogus), and, one of President Bush's favorites, the need to fight the terrorists "over there" so we won't have to fight them here at home.

All the rationales have to genuflect before "The Prize," the title of Mr. Yergin's Pulitzer-Prize-winning book.
It's the oil, stupid.

What has so often gotten lost in all the talk about terror and weapons of mass destruction is the fact that for so many of the most influential members of the Bush administration, the obsessive desire to invade Iraq preceded the Sept. 11 attacks. It preceded the Bush administration. The neoconservatives were beating the war drums on Iraq as far back as the late 1990's.

Iraq was supposed to be a first step. Iran was also in the neoconservatives' sights. The neocons envisaged U.S. control of the region (and its oil), to be followed inevitably by the realization of their ultimate dream, a global American empire. Of course it sounds like madness, which is why we should have been paying closer attention from the beginning.

The madness took a Dr. Strangelovian turn in the summer of 2002, before the war with Iraq was launched. As The Washington Post first reported , an influential Pentagon advisory board was given a briefing prepared by a Rand Corporation analyst who said the U.S. should consider seizing the oil fields and financial assets of Saudi Arabia if it did not stop its support of terrorism.

Mercifully the briefing went nowhere. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said it did not represent the "dominant opinion" within the administration.

The point here is that the invasion of Iraq was part of a much larger, long-term policy that had to do with the U.S. imposing its will, militarily when necessary, throughout the Middle East and beyond. The war has gone badly, and the viciousness of the Iraq insurgency has put the torch to the idea of further pre-emptive adventures by the Bush administration.

But dreams of empire die hard. American G.I.'s are dug into Iraq, and the bases have been built for a long stay. The war may be going badly, but the primary consideration is that there is still a tremendous amount of oil at stake, the second-largest reserves on the planet. And neocon fantasies aside, the global competition for the planet's finite oil reserves intensifies by the hour.

Lyndon Johnson ignored the unsolicited advice of Senator George Aiken of Vermont - to declare victory in Vietnam in 1966. The war continued for nearly a decade. Many high-level government figures believe that U.S. troops will be in Iraq for a minimum of 5 more years, and perhaps 10.

That should be understood by the people who think that the formation of a permanent Iraqi government will lead to the withdrawal of American troops. There is no real withdrawal plan. The fighting and the dying will continue indefinitely.

E-mail: bobherb@nytimes.com



5) "How America Lost Iraq" book announcement:

Dear Friends,

I am proud to report that “How America Lost Iraq,” my unembedded book about Iraq under U.S. occupation is now a bestseller. As of today, it is #9 on the San Francisco Chronicle’s list

http://www.sfgate.com/eguide/books/bestsellers/

Please keep spreading the word. Help make “How America Lost Iraq” become the first piece of unembedded journalism to hit the mainstream!

The book has also racked up a few glowing reviews.

Here’s what the Seattle Times had to say:

"A no holds barred look at our Iraq quagmire … an important first-person document historians will look to in the future as they draw a more complete picture of America's catastrophic victory in Iraq.---Seattle Times
Publisher’s Weekly gave How America Lost Iraq a starred review

“Glantz's account is full of interviews with ordinary Iraqis, and from their evolving thoughts and experiences he builds a critique of the many American misconceptions about Iraq, one that castigates equally the left's knee-jerk preconceptions, the occupation authorities' cluelessness and heavy-handed misrule and the media's lack of interest in the suffering of Iraqis. The result is a nuanced and hard-hitting indictment.”
---Publisher’s Weekly

The book has also been written up favorably in a number of newspapers including the Toronto Globe and Mail and the San Francisco Chronicle.

More information is up at www.aaronglantz.com.

Keep spreading the word!

Aaron



6) Withdrawal finally under contemplation?:

Iraq exit on the agenda
By Jim Lobe
http://www.atimes.com

WASHINGTON - Growing pessimism about averting civil war in Iraq as well as concerns that the US military presence there may itself be fueling the insurgency and Islamist extremism worldwide, have spurred a spate of new calls for the United States to withdraw its 140,000 troops sooner rather than later.

Though resolutions to establish at least a timeline for withdrawal have so far gained the support of only about a quarter of the members of Congress, the absence of tangible progress in turning back the insurgency is adding to fears on Capitol Hill that the administration's hopes of stabilizing the situation, let alone giving birth to a pro-Western democracy in the heart of the Arab world, are delusory.

"In January, we had Congressional staff hanging up on us when we called to say that we want to discuss shifting US policy from more guns and more troops towards withdrawal,” said Jim Cason, communications director of the lobby group Friends Committee on National Legislation. ”Now they want to talk about it.”
While the Bush administration still insists that civil war will be avoided and current negotiations to produce a new constitution by the middle of next month remain on track, the continuing high level of violence and the strength and sophistication of predominantly Sunni insurgents and foreign fighters are clearly having an effect here.

That was made clearest in two New York Times articles published Sunday, including one entitled ”Defying US Efforts, Guerrillas in Iraq Refocus and Strengthen,” and another, by John Burns, a veteran Times reporter who has spent considerable time in Iraq, entitled ”If It's Civil War, Do We Know It?”

The latter story recounted the recent intensification of Sunni violence against the Shi'ite community that provoked even the ever-patient Shi'ite religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, to whom Washington has increasingly deferred in guiding the political transition, to call on the Shi'ite-led government to ”defend the country against mass annihilation”.

”From the moment American troops crossed the border 28 months ago”, Burns wrote, ”the specter hanging over the American enterprise here has been that Iraq, freed from (Saddam) Hussein's tyranny, might prove to be so fractured ... that [it] would spiral inexorably into civil war”.

”Now, events are pointing more than ever to the possibility that the nightmare could come true,” according to Burns, who noted that Shi'ite militias and Shi'ite and Kurdish-led army and police units were taking increasingly aggressive counter-measures, including abducting, torturing, and executing suspected
insurgents and their perceived sympathizers and defenders.

The other article, by two Baghdad-based Times correspondents, quoted unnamed senior military officers reiterating two big frustrations that have been heard since July 2003: that the insurgency appears to be ”growing more violent, more resilient and more sophisticated than ever”, and that prosecuting the war is like sowing dragons' teeth.

”We are capturing or killing a lot of insurgents,” one senior US Army intelligence officer told the Times. ”But they're being replaced quicker than we can interdict their operations. There is always another insurgent ready to step up and take charge.”

Such assessments are spurring what rapidly has become a cottage industry - particularly from the Democratic side of the political spectrum - fueled in part by the leak in early July of a British contingency plan that called for halving the number of US and British troops in Iraq by the latter part of 2006.

Thus on July 15, former Central Intelligence Agency director John Deutch published a column in the Times calling for a ”prompt withdrawal plan”, with the initial drawdown set to coincide with the Iraqi elections scheduled for December 15. That would include a timetable for reducing the scope of military operations, while maintaining a ”regional quick-reaction force” in reserve, as well as ongoing intelligence and training programs.

At the same time, the US would urge the Iraqi government and its neighbors to recognize their common interest in Baghdad's peaceful evolution without external intervention and commit itself to an economic assistance program to Iraq ”so long as it stays on a peaceful path” as well as to the wider region so as to encourage cooperation.

A more detailed plan emerged several days later from the Boston-based Project on Defense Alternatives (PDA) calling for complete withdrawal by September 2006, except for the retention of a multinational civilian and military monitoring and training contingent of less than 10,000 (of which the US military presence would be limited to 2,000 troops).

The plan, to take effect August 1, would begin with the adoption of a withdrawal timeline, a sharp deescalation of the war in Sunni areas, a shift of US resources to its training mission, and the transfer to elected officials of foreign military control of localities "without the interference of federal or coalition authorities”.

”The key to enabling total US troop withdrawal from Iraq within 400 days is achieving a political accord with Sunni leaders at all levels and with Iraq's neighbors - especially Syria and Iran,” according to the report by defense analyst Carl Conetta. "The proximal aim would be to immediately lower the level of conflict inside Iraq by constricting both active and passive support for the insurgency, inside and outside the country.”

Like the two other authors, veteran Middle East analyst Helena Cobban also believes that the continued US
military presence in Iraq is counterproductive to longer-term American interests and is effectively fueling the insurgency. But she goes further than the other two, calling for a withdrawal strategy that is ”total, speedy, and generous to the Iraqi people”.

Her model is Israel's 2000 exit from southern Lebanon, noting that, despite deep fears that that withdrawal would touch off "mayhem and revenge, none came to pass”.

A prior announcement of ”imminent total withdrawal” would serve to ”focus the minds of Iraqis considerably”, particularly on reconstruction if the US and other countries are sufficiently generous and "make [Iraqis] far less hospitable to insurgents, especially those who get their impetus from the prospect of a prolonged foreign occupation”.

All the authors take issue with the conventional assumption that the US military presence is a stabilizing factor, without which Iraq's descent into civil war would be more certain or bloody.

They also argue that the administration's argument that Washington's global ”credibility” is outweighed by other considerations, including the damage that the continued US presence does to American interests in the Arab and Islamic world, and the reduced ability of the US to deal with other important security challenges while it remains bogged down in Iraq.

As noted by former CIA director Deutch, continued investment in a losing proposition could result in "an even worse loss of credibility down the road”.

(Inter Press Service)



7) On Christian fundamentalism:

Fundamentally speaking
Giles Fraser
Saturday July 23, 2005
Face to FaithGuardian

Muslims who preach hate are to be deported and subject to new restrictions, Charles Clarke announced in the Commons on Wednesday. So what would the home secretary have to say about stuff like this: "Blessed is he who takes your little children and smashes their heads against the rocks"?

Or this: "O God, break the teeth in their mouths ... Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime; like the untimely birth that never sees the sun ... The righteous will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked." No, this is not Islam, it is the Bible. And there is a lot more where that came from.

Why, then, are so many commentators persuaded that the Qur'an is a manual of hate - compared to the Judeo-Christian scriptures, it is very tame stuff indeed. More disturbing still for Christians and Jews, the nearest scriptural justification for suicide bombings I can think of comes from the book of Judges, where Samson pushes apart the structural supports of a temple packed with people. "Let me die with the Philistines," he prays, just before the building collapses.

It will not do to work with a Bible of the nice bits or allegorise these passages out of existence, leaving them hanging around for future fanatics to exploit. Religion must openly acknowledge its own dirty secrets.
All of the above may simply encourage those who think that religion itself is the problem. After all, it is precisely the non-negotiability of the divine commandment that makes peaceful religious politics so elusive. If the choice is between the ballot box and divine will, how can the faithful remain committed to democratic decision-making?

The campaigning secularist has no shortage of ammunition. Many of their criticisms are well aimed and need to be taken extremely seriously. As the great Islamic philosopher Averroes put it: "Truth never fears honest debate." But the problem with the secular attack is that it refuses to make any sort of distinction between good religion and bad religion.

The assumption is that bad religion - the sex-obsessed religion of violence and superstition - is the real thing,
and that good religion - the religion that encourages peace and respect for human life - is a modern fake, a religion that disingenuously reinvents itself to reflect modern values and consequently does not entirely believe what it says.

The truth, however, is that rigid fundamentalism is the modern fake. Most belief systems have huge and historic recourses of self-criticism. The gospels contain some of the most biting attacks on pathological religiosity; the Hebrew prophets are involved in a constant campaign of subversion against the misplaced theology of narrow sectarianism. As Isaiah has it: "When you stretch out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen, your hands are full of blood."

These theological recourses are precious and need to be nurtured. But a wholesale cultural assault upon a religious tradition does nothing to help more moderate voices. A religion that sees itself as being under attack is less sympathetic to those who would argue from within. In such circumstances, self-criticism is easily represented as disloyalty. Yet now, more than ever, we need to encourage those able to use theology to speak out against violence done in God's name.

Like many, I do not know Islam well enough. I am sure that, for many millions, it is a religion of peace; I am sure there is currently a theological struggle for its very soul. What I have yet to understand - because it has not been sufficiently well explained to me, or given sufficient exposure in the media - is how murderous jihad is a theological heresy.

These are the voices that we desperately need to hear. The help that can be offered by Christians and others is our own admission that the complicity of religion with acts of violence is something Islam does not face alone.

· The Rev Dr Giles Fraser is vicar of Putney and author of Christianity And Violence (DTL, 2001)



8) Iraq Casualties count website:

http://www.antiwar.com/casualties/



9) Hiroshima articles:
Japan Notebook/ Yoshibumi Wakamiya:
Danger of swarming human locusts
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200508010138.html

Why It's Time for Us to Confront Hiroshima
LEO MALEY III AND UDAY MOHAN
http://hnn.us/articles/13518.html

Will We Still Remember Hiroshima After the Last Victims Die?
LAWRENCE S. WITTNER
http://hnn.us/articles/13261.html

Hiroshima: What People Think Now
http://hnn.us/articles/10168.html

Hiroshima: Harry Truman on Trial
http://hnn.us/articles/190.html

Why Did the Japanese Delay Surrendering?
HERBERT P. BIX
http://hnn.us/articles/12947.html

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