Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Phosphorous, Body Count, Israeli Quotes, LaVine, Business, Blame France, Peak Oil

1) Italian media now reports that illegal phosphorous weapons were used at Falluja and other locales:

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/article325560.ece

US forces 'used chemical weapons' during assault oncity of Fallujah

By Peter Popham Published: 08 November 2005

Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that theUnited States dropped massive quantities of whitephosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during theattack on the city in November 2004, killinginsurgents and civilians with the appalling burns thatare the signature of this weapon.
Ever since the assault, which went unreported by anyWestern journalists, rumours have swirled that theAmericans used chemical weapons on the city.

On 10 November last year, the Islam Online websitewrote: "US troops are reportedly using chemicalweapons and poisonous gas in its large-scale offensiveon the Iraqi resistance bastion of Fallujah, a grimreminder of Saddam Hussein's alleged gassing of theKurds in 1988."

The website quoted insurgent sources as saying: "TheUS occupation troops are gassing resistance fightersand confronting them with internationally bannedchemical weapons."

In December the US government formally denied thereports, describing them as "widespread myths". "Somenews accounts have claimed that US forces have used'outlawed' phosphorus shells in Fallujah," the USinfowebsite said. "Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. USforces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, forillumination purposes.

"They were fired into the air to illuminate enemypositions at night, not at enemy fighters."

But now new information has surfaced, includinghideous photographs and videos and interviews withAmerican soldiers who took part in the Fallujahattack, which provides graphic proof that phosphorusshells were widely deployed in the city as a weapon.

In a documentary to be broadcast by RAI, the Italianstate broadcaster, this morning, a former Americansoldier who fought at Fallujah says: "I heard theorder to pay attention because they were going to usewhite phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it'sknown as Willy Pete.

"Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the fleshall the way down to the bone ... I saw the burnedbodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes andforms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 metres isdone for."

Photographs on the website of RaiTG24, thebroadcaster's 24-hours news channel, www.rainews24.it,show exactly what the former soldier means. Providedby the Studies Centre of Human Rights in Fallujah,dozens of high-quality, colour close-ups show bodiesof Fallujah residents, some still in their beds, whoseclothes remain largely intact but whose skin has beendissolved or caramelised or turned the consistency ofleather by the shells.

A biologist in Fallujah, Mohamad Tareq, interviewedfor the film, says: "A rain of fire fell on the city,the people struck by this multi-coloured substancestarted to burn, we found people dead with strangewounds, the bodies burned but the clothes intact."

The documentary, entitled Fallujah: the HiddenMassacre, also provides what it claims is clinchingevidence that incendiary bombs known as Mark 77, anew, improved form of napalm, was used in the attackon Fallujah, in breach of the UN Convention on CertainConventional Weapons of 1980, which only allows itsuse against military targets.

Meanwhile, five US soldiers from the elite 75th RangerRegiment have been charged with kicking and punchingdetainees in Iraq.

The news came as a suicide car bomber killed fourAmerican soldiers at a checkpoint south of Baghdadyesterday.

Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that theUnited States dropped massive quantities of whitephosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during theattack on the city in November 2004, killinginsurgents and civilians with the appalling burns thatare the signature of this weapon.
Ever since the assault, which went unreported by anyWestern journalists, rumours have swirled that theAmericans used chemical weapons on the city.

On 10 November last year, the Islam Online websitewrote: "US troops are reportedly using chemicalweapons and poisonous gas in its large-scale offensiveon the Iraqi resistance bastion of Fallujah, a grimreminder of Saddam Hussein's alleged gassing of theKurds in 1988."

The website quoted insurgent sources as saying: "TheUS occupation troops are gassing resistance fightersand confronting them with internationally bannedchemical weapons."

In December the US government formally denied thereports, describing them as "widespread myths". "Somenews accounts have claimed that US forces have used'outlawed' phosphorus shells in Fallujah," the USinfowebsite said. "Phosphorus shells are not outlawed. USforces have used them very sparingly in Fallujah, forillumination purposes.

"They were fired into the air to illuminate enemypositions at night, not at enemy fighters."
But now new information has surfaced, includinghideous photographs and videos and interviews withAmerican soldiers who took part in the Fallujahattack, which provides graphic proof that phosphorusshells were widely deployed in the city as a weapon.

In a documentary to be broadcast by RAI, the Italianstate broadcaster, this morning, a former Americansoldier who fought at Fallujah says: "I heard theorder to pay attention because they were going to usewhite phosphorus on Fallujah. In military jargon it'sknown as Willy Pete."Phosphorus burns bodies, in fact it melts the fleshall the way down to the bone ... I saw the burnedbodies of women and children. Phosphorus explodes andforms a cloud. Anyone within a radius of 150 metres isdone for."

Photographs on the website of RaiTG24, thebroadcaster's 24-hours news channel, www.rainews24.it,show exactly what the former soldier means. Providedby the Studies Centre of Human Rights in Fallujah,dozens of high-quality, colour close-ups show bodiesof Fallujah residents, some still in their beds, whoseclothes remain largely intact but whose skin has beendissolved or caramelised or turned the consistency ofleather by the shells.

A biologist in Fallujah, Mohamad Tareq, interviewedfor the film, says: "A rain of fire fell on the city,the people struck by this multi-coloured substancestarted to burn, we found people dead with strangewounds, the bodies burned but the clothes intact."

The documentary, entitled Fallujah: the HiddenMassacre, also provides what it claims is clinchingevidence that incendiary bombs known as Mark 77, anew, improved form of napalm, was used in the attackon Fallujah, in breach of the UN Convention on CertainConventional Weapons of 1980, which only allows itsuse against military targets.

Meanwhile, five US soldiers from the elite 75th RangerRegiment have been charged with kicking and punchingdetainees in Iraq.

The news came as a suicide car bomber killed fourAmerican soldiers at a checkpoint south of Baghdadyesterday.


2) Here's the link to the Italian story referred to above and below:

http://www.rainews24.it/Notizia.asp?NewsID=57784

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/7/11819/9522

Italian Satellite TV to Broadcast Evidence of US Useof Chemical Weapons on Civilians by paper tigress [Subscribe] Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 09:08:19 AM PDT

Italian media going full-bore on the BushAdministration. After its revelations on thesubterfuge behind the Nigergate forgeries, documentaryevidence of the use by US troops of phosphorus and anew formulaton of napalm [MK77] on the Sunni civilianpopulation will be broadcast tomorrow on internationalsatellite TV. Global coverage of the atrocity, folks.

paper tigress's diary :: :: A news program on Italian satellite TV, RAI News 24,has substantiated the claim that the US military hasbeen exploiting the dual use of white phosporus. Inits siege of Fallujah, the chemical was used on thecivilian populace. The story is in today's Repubblica. The Bush Adminstration and the DoD are about to beshamed before the eyes of the world.
:::

Shocking revelation RAI News 24. Use of chemicalweapons by the US military in Iraq. Veteran admits:Bodies melted away before us.

White phosphorous used on the civilian populace: Thisis how the US "took" Fallujah.

New napalm formula also used.

ROME. In soldier slang they call it Willy Pete. Thetechnical name is white phosphorus. In theory itspurpose is to illumine enemy positions in the dark. Inpractice, it was used as a chemical weapon in therebel stronghold of Fallujah. And it was used not onlyagainst enemy combatants and guerrillas, but againinnocent civilians.

The Americans are responsible fora massacre using unconventional weapons, the identicalcharge for which Saddam Hussein stands accused. Aninvestigation by RAI News 24, the all-news Italiansatellite television channel, has pulled the veil fromone of the most carefully concealed mysteries from thefront in the entire US military campaign in Iraq.

A US veteran of the Iraq war told RAI Newcorrespondent Sigfrido Ranucci this: I received theorder use caution because we had used white phosphoruson Fallujah. In military slag it is called 'WillyPete'. Phosphorus burns the human body on contact--iteven melts it right down to the bone.

RAI News 24's investigative story, Fallujah, TheConcealed Massacre, will be broadcast tomorrow onRAI-3 and will contain not only eye-witness accountsby US military personnel but those from Fallujahresidents. A rain of fire descended on the city.People who were exposed to those multicoloredsubstance began to burn. We found people with bizarrewounds-their bodies burned but their clothes intact,relates Mohamad Tareq al-Deraji, a biologist andFallujah resident.

I gathered accounts of the use of phosphorus andnapalm from a few Fallujah refugees whom I met beforebeing kidnapped, says Manifesto reporter GiulianaSgrena, who was kidnapped in Fallujah last February,in a recorded interview. I wanted to get the storyout, but my kidnappers would not permit it.
RAI News 24 will broadcast video and photographs takenin the Iraqi city during and after the November 2004bombardment which prove that the US military, contraryto statements in a December 9 communiqué from the USDepartment of State, did not use phosphorus toilluminate enemy positions (which would have beenlegitimate) but instend dropped white phosphorusindiscriminately and in massive quantities on thecity's neighborhoods.

In the investigative story, produced by MaurizioTorrealta, dramatic footage is shown revealing theeffects of the bombardment on civilians, women andchildren, some of whom were surprised in their sleep.
The investigation will also broadcast documentaryproof of the use in Iraq of a new napalm formulacalled MK77. The use of the incendiary substance oncivilians is forbidden by a 1980 UN treaty. The use ofchemical weapons is forbidden by a treaty which the USsigned in 1997

Fallujah. La strage nascosta [Fallujah, The ConcealedMassacre] will be shown on RAI News tomorrow November8th at 07:35 (via HOT BIRDTM statellite, Sky Channel506 and RAI-3), and rebroadcast by HOT BIRDTMsatellite and Sky Channel 506 at 17:00 [5 pm] and overthe next two days.



3) Monbiot points out how the media has decided to ignore with a conspiracy of silence the Lancet's estimate that by now well over 100,000 Iraqis have died since the US invaded the country:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1636605,00.html

The media are minimising US and British war crimes inIraq

The reporting of the Iraqi death toll - both in itsscale and account of who is doing the killing - isprofoundly dishonest

George Monbiot
Tuesday November 8, 2005
The Guardian

We were told that the Iraqis don't count. Before theinvasion began, the head of US central command,General Thomas Franks, boasted that "we don't do bodycounts". His claim was repeated by Donald Rumsfeld inNovember 2003 ("We don't do body counts on otherpeople") and the Pentagon last January ("The onlything we keep track of is casualties for US troops andcivilians").

But it's not true. Almost every week the Pentagonclaims to have killed 50 or 70 or 100 insurgents inits latest assault on the latest stronghold of theubiquitous monster Zarqawi. In May the chairman of thejoint chiefs of staff said that his soldiers hadkilled 250 of Zarqawi's "closest lieutenants" (or so500 of his best friends had told him). But last week,the Pentagon did something new. Buried in its latestsecurity report to Congress is a bar chart labelled"average daily casualties - Iraqi and coalition. 1 Jan04-16 Sep 05". The claim that it kept no track ofIraqi deaths was false.

The report does not explain what it means by casualty,or if its figures represent all casualties, onlyinsurgents, or, as the foregoing paragraph appears tohint, only civilians killed by insurgents. There is noexplanation of how the figures were gathered orcompiled. The only accompanying text consists of thewords "Source: MNC-I", which means Multi-NationalCorps - Iraq. We'll just have to trust them.

What the chart shows is that these unexplainedcasualties have more than doubled since the beginningof the Pentagon's survey. From January to March 2004,26 units of something or other were happening everyday, while in September 2005 the something or otherrose to 64. But whatever it is that's been rising, theweird morality of this war dictates that it isreported as good news. Journalists have beenmultiplying the daily average of mystery units by thenumber of days, discovering that the figure is lowerthan previous estimates of Iraqi deaths, and using itto cast doubts on them. As ever, the study in the lineof fire is the report published by the Lancet inOctober last year.

It was a household survey - of 988 homes in 33randomly selected districts - and it suggested, on thebasis of the mortality those households reportedbefore and after the invasion, that the risk of deathin Iraq had risen by a factor of 1.5; somewherebetween 8,000 and 194,000 extra people had died, withthe most probable figure being 98,000. Around half thedeaths, if Falluja was included, or 15% if it was not,were caused by violence, and the majority of those byattacks on the part of US forces.

In the US and the UK, the study was either ignored ortorn to bits. The media described it as "inflated","overstated", "politicised" and "out of proportion".Just about every possible misunderstanding anddistortion of its statistics was published, of whichthe most remarkable was the Observer's claim that:"The report's authors admit it drew heavily on therebel stronghold of Falluja, which has been plagued byfierce fighting. Strip out Falluja, as the studyitself acknowledged, and the mortality rate is reduceddramatically." In fact, as they made clear on pageone, the authors had stripped out Falluja; theirestimate of 98,000 deaths would otherwise have beenmuch higher.

But the attacks in the press succeeded in sinking thestudy. Now, whenever a newspaper or broadcasterproduces an estimate of civilian deaths, the Lancetreport is passed over in favour of lesser figures. Forthe past three months, the editors and subscribers ofthe website Medialens have been writing to papers andbroadcasters to try to find out why. The standardresponse, exemplified by a letter from the BBC'sonline news service last week, is that the study's"technique of sampling and extrapolating from sampleshas been criticised". That's true, and by the samereasoning we could dismiss the fact that 6 millionpeople were killed in the Holocaust, on the groundsthat this figure has also been criticised, albeit byskinheads. The issue is not whether the study has beencriticised, but whether the criticism is valid.
As Medialens has pointed out, it was the same leadauthor, using the same techniques, who reported that1.7 million people had died as a result of conflict inthe Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). That findinghas been cited by Tony Blair, Colin Powell and almostevery major newspaper on both sides of the Atlantic,and none has challenged either the method or theresult. Using the Congo study as justification, the UNsecurity council called for all foreign armies toleave the DRC and doubled the country's UN aid budget.

The other reason the press gives for burying theLancet study is that it is out of line with competingestimates. Like Jack Straw, wriggling his way aroundthe figures in a written ministerial statement, theycompare it to the statistics compiled by the Iraqihealth ministry and the website Iraq Body Count.

In December 2003, Associated Press reported that"Iraq's health ministry has ordered a halt to a countof civilians killed during the war". According to thehead of the ministry's statistics department, both thepuppet government and the Coalition ProvisionalAuthority demanded that it be stopped. As Naomi Kleinhas shown on these pages, when US soldiers stormedFalluja (a year ago today), their first action was toseize the general hospital and arrest the doctors. TheNew York Times reported that "the hospital wasselected as an early target because the Americanmilitary believed that it was the source of rumoursabout heavy casualties". After the coalition had usedthese novel statistical methods to improve theresults, Blair told parliament that "figures from theIraqi ministry of health, which are a survey from thehospitals there, are in our view the most accuratesurvey there is".

Iraq Body Count, whose tally has reached26,000-30,000, measures only civilian deaths which canbe unambiguously attributed to the invasion and whichhave been reported by two independent news agencies.As the compilers point out, "it is likely that many ifnot most civilian casualties will go unreported by themedia ... our own total is certain to be anunderestimate of the true position, because of gaps inreporting or recording". Of the seven mortalityreports surveyed by the Overseas DevelopmentInstitute, the estimate in the Lancet's paper was onlythe third highest. It remains the most thorough studypublished so far. Extraordinary as its numbers seem,they are the most likely to be true.

And what of the idea that most of the violent deathsin Iraq are caused by coalition troops? Well accordingto the Houston Chronicle, even Blair's favourite datasource, the Iraqi health ministry, reports that twiceas many Iraqis - and most of them civilians - arebeing killed by US and UK forces as by insurgents.When the Pentagon claims that it has just killed 50 or70 or 100 rebel fighters, we have no means of knowingwho those people really were. Everyone it blows topieces becomes a terrorist. In July Jack Keane, theformer vice chief of staff of the US army, claimedthat coalition troops had killed or captured more than50,000 "insurgents" since the start of the rebellion.Perhaps they were all Zarqawi's closest lieutenants.

We can expect the US and UK governments to seek tominimise the extent of their war crimes. But it's timethe media stopped collaborating.

www.monbiot.com



4) For those who are exasperated by Ahmedinejad's comments about Israel, here are some parallel examples arising from Israeli politicians through the ages:

Words that Went Unpunished
Jihad el-Khazen
Al-Hayat - 07/11/05//

As we all know now, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quoting Ayatollah Khomeini as he spoke to students who gathered in Tehran for a conference called "The World Without Zionism."

All hell broke loose after the speech and Iran was threatened by the same countries which apologize for Israel's crimes against the Palestinians.

I said yesterday words don't kill, bullets do. But since the West show more interest in words than deeds, I have the following:

-"If only it would sink into the sea", Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin referring to Gaza, just before signing the Oslo Accords.

"I don't know something called International Principles. I vow that I'll burn every Palestinian child (that) will be born in this area. The Palestinian woman and child is more dangerous than the man, because the Palestinian child's existence infers that generations will go on, but the man causes limited danger. I vow that if I was just an Israeli civilian and I met a Palestinian I would burn him and I would make him suffer before killing him. With one hit I've killed 750 Palestinians (in Rafah in 1956). I wanted to encourage my soldiers by raping Arabic girls as the Palestinian women is a slave for Jews, and we do whatever we want to her and nobody tells us what we shall do but we tell others what they shall do", Ariel Sharon, current Prime Minister, in an interview with General Ouze Merham, 1956.

-"We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation, and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population", David Ben-Gurion, May 1948, to the General Staff. Also Israel Koenig "The Koenig memorandum".

-"Israel should have exploited the repression of the demonstrations in China, when world attention focused on that country, to carry out mass expulsions among the Arabs of the territories", Benjamin Netanyahu: Speech at Bar-Ilan University, 1989.

-"We must expel Arabs and take their places", David Ben Gurion, 1937, Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs, Oxford University Press, 1985.

-"We have to kill all the Palestinians unless they are resigned to live here as slaves." Chairman Heilbrun of the Committee for the Re-election of General Shlomo Lahat, the mayor of Tel Aviv , October 1983.

-"[I advocate] using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes [and] against recalcitrant Arabs as an experiment. [I do not understand] the squeamishness about the use of gas [...] We cannot in any circumstamstances acquiesce in the non-utilisation of any weapons which are available to procure a speedy termination of the disorder which prevails on the frontier." Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State at the British War Office, authorising RAF Middle East Command to attack rebelling Iraqis with chemical weapons, 1919.

-"The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more".... Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel at the time - August 28, 2000. Reported in the Jerusalem Post August 30, 2000 .

-"The Palestinians" would be crushed like grasshoppers ... heads smashed against the boulders and walls." Israeli Prime Minister Menahim Begin in a speech to Jewish settlers New York Times April 1, 1988
They are all Menahim Begin. But bad as they are they are no worse than their apologists who provide them with cover, and always come up with excuses to justify their crimes.

The Israeli translation company Memri would translate a sermon of an Imam in a desert outpost that no Muslims outside the outpost itself had heard of. But it does not translate the venom of the settlers' rabbis. Four Palestinian civilians have been killed by settlers since the withdrawal from Gaza and about one hundred other civilians by military strikes since the hudna (truce) of February. This is terrorism, not words that mean nothing in practical terms.

http://www.j-khazen.blogspot.com/



5) Here's a website devoted to recording transgressions against the laws of warfare in Iraq:

http://www.brusselstribunal.org/ArticlesIraq2.htm#AlQaim



6) Mark LeVine analyzes the profits to be gained from chaos in the Middle East:

Playing the Chaos Card in the Middle East
By Mark A. LeVine

Within twenty-four hours, on October 16-17, the New York Times ran three stories about the threat increasing chaos posed to emerging, still fragile political orders in Iraq, Palestine, and the Sudan. In all three cases, the chaos afflicting these societies was described as an unintentional and negative consequence of ill-conceived policies put in place by the various governments involved: the U.S. in Iraq, Israel as it withdrew from Gaza, and the Sudanese Government as it finally tried to restrain marauding Janjaweed militias in Darfur. In no case was the chaos viewed as intentional or beneficial to one or more of the forces competing for control of these countries....



7) This article analyzes the effects of current US foreign policy on perceptions of US brand marketing:

Bush's Bad Business Empire
Making the World Unsafe for Microsoft and Mickey Mouse
By Mark Engler

The Bush administration has a reputation for creating an unusually business-friendly White House. Put Dick Cheney's secretive Energy Task Force and massive tax cuts together with corporate lobbyists writing regulations for their own industries, and you've made an argument that seems pretty persuasive.

There are reasons, however, to consider a contrary notion: Maybe George Bush and Dick Cheney aren't very good capitalists at all.

George W. Bush's history as a failed businessman is well known. Dick Cheney, portrayed by conservatives as a brilliant ex-CEO and by progressives as a Halliburton shill, also has a suspect past. While he certainly increased Halliburton's profile in four-and-a-half years as its chief, his foremost accomplishment was the $7.7 billion acquisition in 1998 of Dresser Industries, a rival that turned out to be plagued with staggering asbestos-related liabilities. In the wake of Cheney's reign, multiple Halliburton divisions sought bankruptcy protection and the company's stock price plunged. Rolling Stone magazine reported in August 2004, "Even with the bounce Halliburton stock has received from the war, an investor who put $100,000 into the company just before Cheney became vice president would have less than $60,000 today."

Many analysts hold the Vice President accountable for the downturn, arguing that Dresser's asbestos problems, which cost Halliburton billions, were predictable. Less harsh critics nonetheless question his success as a business leader. For instance, Jason E. Putman, an energy analyst at Victory Capital Management, argues that, as Halliburton chief, "[o]verall, Cheney did maybe at best an average job." Newsweek's Wall Street editor, Allan Sloan, is less complimentary, suggesting Cheney was a "CEO who messed up big-time."

When it comes to Iraq, we hear a lot about the government largesse flowing toward Halliburton, Bechtel, and a handful of other favored firms. Less often do we consider the possibility that the administration's "war on terrorism" has been a major business blunder. If you start, though, with the lackluster corporate records of Bush and Cheney, the administration's foreign policy comes into quite a different focus. Even if you believe that the White House is designing its overseas crusade to benefit U.S. corporations, there's no reason to assume that it has been doing so successfully.

Increasingly, the business press is suggesting that corporate leaders, who once hoped the current administration would push the corporate globalization of the Clinton years to new heights, now fear another fate from the international order Bush has created. Tax cuts and deregulation on the domestic front have been obvious bonuses, but otherwise many U.S. multinationals face a troubling scene. The White House's failed CEOs have pursued a global agenda that, at best, benefits a narrow slice of the American business community and leaves the rest exposed to a world of popular resentment and economic uncertainty.
When it comes to the interventions of Bush, Cheney, Condi, and the neocons in the global economy, "at best an average job" might be a charitable judgment, and "messed up big-time" could be closer to reality. Those business people who have yet to join the majority that opposes the president's handling of his war in Iraq -- or the increasing chorus of conservative critics who have begun questioning the administration's foreign policy -- may soon have a long list of reasons to get on the bandwagon, starting with the bottom line.
Not KFC's War

In recent years, KFC has had some trying moments in the Muslim world. In early September, a bomb exploded inside one of the company's fried-chicken outlets in Karachi, Pakistan. It was not the first time the chain had been targeted. In May, a Shia mob, angered by U.S. backing for President Pervez Musharraf and by reported abuses at Guantánamo Bay, set fire to another KFC outlet -- one decked out with large images of Colonel Sanders set atop fields of stars and stripes. Two other branches were destroyed shortly after the U.S. attack on Afghanistan in 2001.

The woes affecting KFC go well beyond one fast-food chain -- McDonald's, too, has been attacked in Pakistan and Indonesia -- and the torching of fast-food outlets is only the most dramatic sign of the new business climate being fostered by a changing American foreign policy. If Clinton's diplomatic affairs could be described as a sustained effort to make the world safe for Mickey Mouse, Microsoft, and popcorn chicken, the Bush/Cheney agenda represents something altogether more dangerous for business.

The Clinton administration served as a steady advocate for building a cooperative, "rules-based" international economy -- a multilateral order known to critics as "corporate globalization." The Bush administration, while purporting to be interested in issues like "free trade," has offered up a very different set of policies. Aggressive and unilateralist, it has fashioned a new model of "imperial globalization" which has even put multilateral institutions like the World Trade Organization, decried by globalization activists, in jeopardy. Rather than working through such bodies, the current administration has regularly shown intransigence in international negotiations around trade and development; it has focused on tying its aid for other countries directly to its militarist prerogatives; and it has tried to deny war-weary "Old Europe" its traditional role as a junior partner in the globalization endeavor. In the process, it has begun dismantling an international order that se! rved multinational corporations very well in the booming 1990s, and facilitated their rise over the past 30 years.

In short: If Bush is an oil president, he's not a Disney president, nor a Coca-Cola one. If Cheney is working diligently to help Halliburton rebound, the war he helped lead hasn't worked out nearly so well for Starbucks.

A Bungled-Brand America

Whether the administration's bold gamble for U.S. global dominance will prove profitable either in the near future or in the long run, the business costs of this approach are already becoming evident. For starters, the new wave of anti-Americanism sweeping the planet goes far beyond KFC bombings in South Asia or widespread hostility in the Middle East. In Asia, the South China Morning Post has noted that a "strong, growing hostility" toward the United States has complicated Disney's expansion plans in the area. The Bush imperial foreign policy, moreover, is inspiring consumer backlash even among traditional allies.
In December 2004, Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service reported on a survey of 8,000 international consumers released by the Seattle-based Global Market Insite (GMI) Inc. The survey noted that

"one-third of all consumers in Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, and the United Kingdom said that U.S. foreign policy, particularly the ‘war on terror' and the occupation of Iraq, constituted their strongest impression of the United States... 'Unfortunately, current American foreign policy is viewed by international consumers as a significant negative, when it used to be a positive,' comments Dr. Mitchell Eggers, GMI's chief operating officer and chief pollster."

Brands the survey identified as particularly at risk at the time included Marlboro cigarettes, America Online (AOL), McDonald's, American Airlines, Exxon-Mobil, Chevron Texaco, United Airlines, Budweiser, Chrysler, Barbie Doll, Starbucks, and General Motors.

More recent assessments have verified these trends. Indeed, in past months, a litany of stories in the financial
press featured unnerving questions for business. Typical were the British Financial Times in August (World Turning Its Back on Brand America) and Forbes in September (Is Brand America In Trouble?).

A U.S. Banker magazine article from August relaying the results of an Edelman Trust Barometer survey of global elites found that "41 percent of Canadian elites were less likely to purchase American products because of Bush Administration policies, compared to 56 percent in the UK, 61 percent in France, 49 percent in Germany and 42 percent in Brazil."

It's not just snooty foreigners who are negative, either. American business leaders themselves have been starting to link economic woes to imperial policy. The previously mentioned U.S. Banker article warned, "[T]he majority of American CEOs, whose firms employ eight million overseas, are now acknowledging that anti-American sentiment is a problem." And a 2004 Boston Herald story, headlined Mass. Execs: Iraqi War Hurting; U.S. competitiveness becoming a casualty, pointed to the "sixty-two percent of executives surveyed by Opinion Dynamics Corp. [who] said the war is hurting America's global competitiveness."

Regularly featured in stories about America's image problems is a group of corporate executives who have come together as Business for Diplomatic Action (BDA).While avoiding an explicit stance on the Iraq war, the BDA argues:

"The costs associated with rising anti-American sentiment are exponential. From security and economic costs to an erosion in our ability to engender trust around the world and recruit the best and brightest, the U.S. stands to lose its competitive edge if steps are not made toward reversing the negativity associated with America."

Compared to the adverse impacts of Bush's imperial globalization, the administration's efforts at Karen-Hughes-style brand rehabilitation are laughable -- and the BDA knows it. Taking diplomatic matters into their own hands, BDA spokespeople flatly state, "Right now the US government is not a credible messenger."

A Quagmire for Corporations

Is the problem just one of perception, or have the wages of war cut into business profits? In June 2004, USA Today reporter James Cox wrote about how financially ailing companies are pointing to the war as the culprit:

"Hundreds of companies blame the Iraq war for poor financial results in 2003, many warning that continued U.S. military involvement there could harm this year's performance. In recent regulatory filings at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), airlines, home builders, broadcasters, mortgage providers, mutual funds and others directly blame the war for lower revenues and profits last year."

Among those complaining, Hewlett-Packard claimed that the occupation of Iraq has created uncertainty and hurt its stock price; meanwhile, media companies Hearst-Argyle Television, Sinclair Broadcast Group, and Journal Communications bemoaned the number of TV and radio ads pre-empted by war news.
While fingering the war might be just a convenient excuse for some underperforming executives, the level of grumbling is noteworthy, as are the comments of outspoken fund managers profiled by Cox:

"'The war in Iraq created a quagmire for corporations,' David J. Galvan, a portfolio manager for Wayne Hummer Income Fund, says in his letter to shareholders.

"Vintage Mutual Funds concludes that ‘the price of these commitments (in Iraq and Afghanistan) may be more than the American public had expected or is willing to tolerate'…

"In an SEC filing, Domenic Colasacco, manager of the Boston Balanced Fund, calls the ongoing U.S. occupation ‘sad and increasingly risky.'"

Of course, we know that reconstruction companies are posting profits. Sales of gas masks and armored Humvees are also up. But such war-supported companies are a small minority. On the other hand, the diverse businesses in the tourism industry have taken a huge blow. Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Orbitz, Priceline.com, Morton's steakhouses, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, and Host Marriott, to name just a few, have blamed disappointing returns on the war. Travel industry leaders have warned:

"The US is losing billions of dollars as international tourists are deterred from visiting the US because of a tarnished image overseas and more bureaucratic visa policies... 'It's an economic imperative to address these problems,' said Roger Dow, chief executive of the Travel Industry Association of America, tourism's main trade body... Mr. Dow stressed that tourism contributed to a positive perception of the US... 'If we don't address these issues in tourism, the long-term impact for American brands Coca-Cola, General Motors, McDonald's could be very damaging.'"

Economic Nightmares Foretold

Every year, the global business elite gathers at a resort in Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum. In the high-flying Clinton years, a feeling of exuberance pervaded the globalists' gathering -- protests outside their meetings notwithstanding. By January 2003, however, the mood in Davos had already darkened perceptibly. Economic optimism was waning. The coming war in Iraq, in particular, was causing concern. Corporate leaders showed little more enthusiasm than the protestors outside for the impending unilateralist invasion. Analysts fed their misgivings, citing "the threat of war as the biggest question mark hanging over global growth prospects."

Around the same time, progressive economists Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot detailed a possible worst-case scenario in a policy report entitled The Economic Costs of a War in Iraq. Beyond the costs of anti-Americanism abroad, they focused on three additional areas of concern: A war-related oil shock that might cost the American economy hundreds of thousands of jobs over a seven-year period; a heightened risk of terrorist attacks in the U.S. which might result in increased security costs, slowing the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); and a likelihood that increased oil prices would drag the developing world into a deep recession.

I asked Baker how relevant the report's concerns have proven. Though he emphasizes that the worst did not come to pass, he notes worrying signs. Oil prices have indeed skyrocketed, owing largely to increased demand from China and India, but exacerbated by Iraq's AWOL oil. Moreover, as each new intelligence estimate predicts that we are less, not more, secure because of the Iraqi occupation, the risk of an economy-crippling attack grows. Already, Baker points out, the hours we spend waiting in security lines at the airport or delayed in city subways represent costly economic losses.

Then, of course, there is the as yet unrealized possibility that spreading guerilla warfare and terrorism will include escalating sabotage against vast and largely indefensible stretches of oil pipeline in the Middle East. It is this scenario among others that caused professor of Middle Eastern history and Informed Comment blogger Juan Cole to liken Bush's Iraq debacle to "throwing grenades around in the cockpit of the world economy."
Such costs, foretold before the invasion, suggest that the pre-war pessimism in Davos was well justified. And such a modest list hardly exhausts the possible economic "downsides" to Bush administration policies in Iraq and beyond. The debate about Congressional spending, for one, deserves at least passing mention. Whether fiscal conservatives are right that Iraq- and tax-cut-bloated deficits are necessarily bad for business, or whether Military Keynesianism has actually been helping to soften a periodic economic downturn, the idea of war without sacrifice should sound fishy to any account-minded executive. Take direct war costs running in the hundreds of billions, add in medical bills for disabled veterans, then throw in the costs of National Guard reservists being pulled from small businesses, and pretty soon you're talking real money. At some point the overvalued dollar, which our creditors in the central banks of C! hina and Japan have decided to let ride for the time being, will have to come down and is likely to bring the economy with it. When that happens, Colonel Sanders won't be the only one to feel the pain.

Will Business Turn?

Back in August of the 2004 election cycle, the Kerry campaign distributed a list of 204 business executives who supported the candidate's policies. It was a nice try, but, as Bloomberg News reported, the Democrat trailed Bush badly in corporate support. Fifty-two chief executives from major companies had by then donated to Kerry; 280 to the president's re-election campaign. (Business being business, "at least three executives on Kerry's list also gave the maximum $2,000 to Bush's re-election campaign.")

A year has passed since the elections. Approval ratings for the victorious president continue to sink to all-time lows, and "staying the course" remains official Washington policy for Iraq. In this context, it's not surprising that Republican "realists" like Brent Scowcroft (who warned in a Wall Street Journal op-ed before the war that "it undoubtedly would be very expensive -- with serious consequences for the U.S. and global economy") are making noise again. And it would make perfect sense if an increasing number of those Bush CEOs were by now pining for a return to Clinton-style multilateral globalization of a sort still held out by the defeated Senator from Massachusetts and many other Democrats.

Neither of these alternative camps will seem particularly appealing to progressives, but they pose a genuine threat to the imperial globalists who seem incapable of extracting themselves from Iraq. Indeed, intra-party rivalry among the Republicans -- which is likely to increase as we enter an election year -- could play a vital role in turning White House hawks into dead ducks. All the better if this avian transformation is sped by dissatisfaction from corporate leaders reevaluating the costs of Bush foreign policy and deciding that empire just doesn't pay.

Mark Engler, a writer based in New York City, is an analyst with Foreign Policy In Focus and a contributor to TomPaine.com, Newsday, and In These Times. He can be reached via the web site DemocracyUprising.com. Research assistance for this article was provided by Kate Griffiths.

Copyright 2005 Mark Engler


8) This Guardian op-ed last week caused quite a storm in the UK:

Iraq war has exposed us to terror at home, says Meyer

Ewen MacAskill and Julian GloverSaturday November 5, 2005
Guardian

Britain's former ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, delivers a damaging critique of Tony Blair's approach to the war in Iraq in an interview in the Guardian today.

Sir Christopher, who had a ringside seat in the decision-making that led to the war, unfavourably contrasts Mr Blair with the boldness and attention to detail of Margaret Thatcher. He says Lady Thatcher took pride in knowing more detail than her officials. "That is why it was terrifying to be summoned into her presence because if you did not know your stuff, she would expose you. There was never that danger with Tony Blair."
He takes issue with the prime minister's claim that the war has not exposed Britain to terrorist attacks: "There is plenty of evidence around at the moment that home-grown terrorism was partly radicalised and fuelled by what is going on in Iraq. There is no way we can credibly get up and say it has nothing to do with it. Don't tell me that being in Iraq has got nothing to do with it. Of course it does."

Sir Christopher gave the interview to mark the publication of DC Confidential, the first account by an insider of the decision-making that led to war, to be serialised in the Guardian from Monday.

Unusually for a diplomat, his account is revealing about a host of cabinet ministers who passed through the Washington embassy, such as John Prescott and Jack Straw, and exposes the vanities of advisers such as Lord Levy, Mr Blair's Middle East envoy.

But the part of the book which will attract the most attention concerns Mr Blair and his dealings with George Bush in the run-up to war. He portrays the PM as a man of moral and philosophical certitude but not overly interested in the nitty-gritty of policy. In the interview, he says it would be wrong to see Mr Blair as "an empty vessel". He adds: "By God, in British politics, when on top of his game, his speeches are incredible."
Sir Christopher, who supported the war, sat in on the crucial meetings between Mr Blair and Mr Bush, reading transcripts of their private phone calls and regularly meeting figures such as Dick Cheney, the vice-president, and Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary.

He reveals that the Foreign Office, which raised doubts about the wisdom of the war, had been even more marginalised by Downing Street than had until now been realised. He said he dealt almost exclusively with Downing Street in the 18 months before the war and could recall few, if any, phone calls with the Foreign Office in that time.

Sir Christopher said he had reflected hard on his time in Washington and its influence on the Iraq war. Although he supported the war and still feels it was right in principle, he now believes that much could have been done differently.


9) Blair blames France for preventing the "UN cover" that would have rendered the 2003 invasion of Iraq legal. Perhaps, but if France and the other 11 SC members who opposed war HAD authorized the invasion, that would have been sufficient cause for pretty much the entire 3rd world to leave the UN altogether -- because the invasion would not have been any more legitimate in the eyes of that part of the world, and US forces in Iraq would not faced any less resistance than they are seeing today:

http://news.independent.co.uk/world/politics/article325480.ece

Blair blames France for Iraq war in reply todiplomat's claims

By Colin Brown, Deputy Political Editor
Published: 08 November 2005

Tony Blair has angrily rejected the charge byBritain's former ambassador to Washington, SirChristopher Meyer, that he could have used his "swingvote" to stop the US going to war in Iraq.

Sir Christopher claimed in his outspoken memoirs thatBritain's support for military action was "taken forgranted" by the White House, after Mr Blair agreed tomilitary action with reservations at the Bush ranch inCrawford, Texas, in April 2002.

At his monthly press conference yesterday, the PrimeMinister responded with claims that the FrenchPresident, Jacques Chirac, was to blame for the slideto war without a second UN resolution. He said theFrench had threatened to veto a second UN resolutionon Iraq.

Mr Blair told journalists: "If you go back and look atwhat happened in March 2003, I think you will see thatI made the most strenuous efforts to get a second UNresolution and to end up with a second resolution thatwould have given us more time. The fact is, wecouldn't get one for a very simple reason: the Frenchmade it clear they would veto any such resolution."

Senior French sources accused Mr Blair of a faultymemory. "Only four out of the 15 members of theSecurity Council supported a new resolution andBritain needed nine to win approval. It is completelywrong to blame it on France," said one official.

Sir Christopher supported the French in concludingthat the French opposition to the draft UN resolutionwas not final. He said: "I never interpreted theFrench refusal to accept the draft of a secondresolution as a refusal for ever and a day. Indiplomacy, you never say never.

"Talking to me in private, French officials accuseAmerica and Britain of deliberately exaggeratingFrance's position to justify going to war withoutfurther UN cover."

Sir Christopher, 61, a career diplomat, said that inearly October 2002 he asked a White House contactwhether the US mobilisation for war had advanced sofar that it was unstoppable. "I was told that thePresident had not yet signed off on going to war.Nothing was irrevocable."

He said President Bush would still have faced anagonising decision if he had encountered oppositionfrom his key ally, Britain, in the weeks before thewar in 2003. "The advice the British Prime Ministerthen gave the US President would never have been moreimportant in my time in Washington. It could even bethe swing vote for war or peace. The pendulum neverswung back again."

Tony Blair has angrily rejected the charge byBritain's former ambassador to Washington, SirChristopher Meyer, that he could have used his "swingvote" to stop the US going to war in Iraq.

Sir Christopher claimed in his outspoken memoirs thatBritain's support for military action was "taken forgranted" by the White House, after Mr Blair agreed tomilitary action with reservations at the Bush ranch inCrawford, Texas, in April 2002.

At his monthly press conference yesterday, the PrimeMinister responded with claims that the FrenchPresident, Jacques Chirac, was to blame for the slideto war without a second UN resolution. He said theFrench had threatened to veto a second UN resolutionon Iraq.

Mr Blair told journalists: "If you go back and look atwhat happened in March 2003, I think you will see thatI made the most strenuous efforts to get a second UNresolution and to end up with a second resolution thatwould have given us more time. The fact is, wecouldn't get one for a very simple reason: the Frenchmade it clear they would veto any such resolution."

Senior French sources accused Mr Blair of a faultymemory. "Only four out of the 15 members of theSecurity Council supported a new resolution andBritain needed nine to win approval. It is completelywrong to blame it on France," said one official.Sir Christopher supported the French in concludingthat the French opposition to the draft UN resolutionwas not final. He said: "I never interpreted theFrench refusal to accept the draft of a secondresolution as a refusal for ever and a day. Indiplomacy, you never say never.

"Talking to me in private, French officials accuseAmerica and Britain of deliberately exaggeratingFrance's position to justify going to war withoutfurther UN cover."

Sir Christopher, 61, a career diplomat, said that inearly October 2002 he asked a White House contactwhether the US mobilisation for war had advanced sofar that it was unstoppable. "I was told that thePresident had not yet signed off on going to war.Nothing was irrevocable."

He said President Bush would still have faced anagonising decision if he had encountered oppositionfrom his key ally, Britain, in the weeks before thewar in 2003. "The advice the British Prime Ministerthen gave the US President would never have been moreimportant in my time in Washington. It could even bethe swing vote for war or peace. The pendulum neverswung back again."


10) Peak Oil again:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/oil/story/0,11319,1636920,00.html

Jeremy Leggett explains how a bid to defuse the comingglobal peak-oil crisis was sidelined
Tuesday November 8, 2005

History shows that James Schlesinger, a formerdirector of the CIA, is not a man to mess with. Assecretary of defence during the first oil shock in1973, he threatened to invade the Arabian peninsula ifthe Saudis didn't reopen the oil pumps they had shutdown in ire over the October war, thus precipitatingthe crisis.

In an interesting contrast with the US's currentprofessed intentions in Iraq, Mr Schlesinger was onrecord then as saying: "Militarily we could haveseized one of the Arab states. And the plan did indeedscare and anger them. No, it wasn't just bravado. Itwas clearly intended as a warning. I think the Arabswere quite worried about it after 73".

So it was with some surprise that participants in lastweek's oil summit in Rimini, Italy, heard MrSchlesinger give a speech warning of a grave threat tothe world economy from a coming peak in oilproduction.
Addressing a select audience that included oilministers and senior officials from the oil cartelOpec, the energy watchdog International Energy Agency,and the UN, plus advocates of a premature oil peaksuch as the former British cabinet minister MichaelMeacher, Mr Schlesinger offered a graphic analogy.

The peak-oil threat and the response to it arereminiscent, he said, of the rumbles under Vesuviusand the reaction to them of its hapless residents."The peak or plateau is coming," he said.

He's right. We don't know exactly when, but theprobability is sooner rather than later. When it comesto oilfield discoveries these days, oil companies arefinding small deposits, in contrast with the massiveoilfields of old. In fact, 80% of global productiontoday still come from the oilfields discovered before1970, and these are being rapidly pumped towardsexhaustion.

Yet demand is soaring. "Political systems do not dealeasily with long term threats, even if they have aprobability of 100%," Schlesinger warned.

His message was clear: economic horror will descend onthe world if we do not plan ahead, and the time tostart is now. We are asleep at the wheel, like thecitizens of Pompeii and Herculaneum were, looking upat their volcano and thinking that its dormant statewould be destiny. They ignored the rumbles, and endedup buried under ten metres of ash.

Mr Schlesinger threw a barb at the detractors he knewwould follow him at the podium. Most people, and allgovernments, are in denial, he intimated. "Every timesomeone says the peak is far off, there is an audiblesigh of relief."

He cited Daniel Yergin, the chairman of theinfluential oil industry consultancy Cambridge EnergyResearch Associates. "When Daniel Yergin said the peakwouldn't be until 2020 in a recent report, it wasgreeted with elation," Mr Schlesinger said.

This is what people in denial want to hear, MrSchlesinger implied, and people like Mr Yergin arehappy to say it. Somewhat appropriately, Mr Yergingave the last speech in the main plenary. "I don't seewhy human genius can't meet the challenge," Mr Yerginsaid. He recited a long litany of the oil industry'stechnical prowess, and the scope for all the kit andfine minds to find new oilfields in deep water,enhance recovery from existing oilfields, and thelike.

Moreover, he said, his company had access to aproprietary database run by the US-based IHS Energygroup that backs the case for optimism.

Ordinary mortals can buy access to that database for amillion dollars or more. Or they can talk to thegeologist who worked on it in its early years, ColinCampbell, for free. Working on the early version ofthe database, and keeping his own version of itupdated since, Mr Campbell has become the leadarchitect of peak-oil whistleblowing in and around theoil industry.

Mr Campbell was at the Rimini event, and had with himthe draft of a protocol written in the languagegovernments would need if they wanted to defuse thepeak-oil crisis. Advocating the simple and achievableexpedient of demand management at the same rate asglobal depletion, it was to be called the Riminiprotocol.

Mr Campbell's understanding, along with fellowadvocates like Mr Meacher, was that the launch of theprotocol was to be a main feature of the summit.Indeed, the organisers told him that Mikhail Gorbachevwas due to launch the protocol in a plenary speech.

Mr Meacher had earlier appealed publicly for theorganisers to give the protocol maximum publicity,saying that the peak-oil crisis would unleash aneconomic apocalypse if governments didn't act.

It was not to be. Mr Gorbechev didn't show up and MrCampbell was not allocated a slot to speak in the mainplenary. Somewhere, somehow, amid all the machinationsinvolved in persuading the oil industry's glitteratito turn up at the event, the Rimini protocol hadbecome sidelined.

The summit was entitled "The Spirit of the Empire,"and that spirit - exemplified by Daniel Yergin'sbravura performance - expressed itself in accordancewith current global form. The rumblings below theVesuvius of the hydrocarbon age could be heard loudand clear in Rimini. And the citizens of Pompeiielected to dream on.
· Jeremy Leggett's book on peak oil, Half Gone: Oil,Gas, Hot Air and the Global Energy Crisis, ispublished this week by Portobello Books.

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