Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Washington (bad) Rules - GOOD BOOK

USA global warfare...
Valley Advocate: News - American Chatechism

Thursday, September 02, 2010
by J

Andrew Bacevich, now a professor at Boston University, was a middle-aged Army officer serving in Germany in 1990 when he had an epiphany. The Berlin Wall had just been torn down, and Bacevich was trolling around what had been the communist East, absorbing his first glimpses of life under Soviet rule. Often portrayed as the gem of the Soviet empire, what Bacevich saw before him "more closely resembled part of the undeveloped world." The roads and highways were narrow and crumbling. Shabby-looking men peddled artifacts of the Red Army. Dilapidated buildings and scarred statues dotted the monochrome landscape, and a thin layer of black soot covered everything.

That moment Bacevich began to question what he'd always been told about the Soviet Union: that it was a world power on par with America, to be respected and feared—and fought. What he was seeing, however, was something different. This was a system in obvious decline. So why had he been told such blatant untruths? This question led to others: If the Soviet empire was not the superpower it had been billed as, why did the United States launch so many wars to defend against its influence? Moreover, what did it say about our bloated defense budget? It was then, he says in his new book, Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War, "my worldview started to crumble."

That worldview consisted of the tenets that every American born after World War II gets hammered into his consciousness, and which Bacevich refers to as the "Washington rules": American globalism is necessary, it is always a force for good, and to withdraw it risked "appeasement, isolation and catastrophe." After Bacevich's epiphany caused him to doubt this catechism, he traded his military career for one as a scholar. After George W. Bush invaded Iraq in 2003, his crumbling worldview collapsed entirely, and his true vocation was born: relentless challenger of the status quo. Washington Rules is Bacevich's latest assault on American foreign policy, and it is a non-partisan, cover-to-cover exercise in contrarianism.

To Bacevich, the "military-industrial complex"—Eisenhower's famous term for the incestuous relationship between the Pentagon and defense contractors—determines U.S. foreign policy, and nothing else. Thus, it is ludicrous to expect any single president to change it, and that includes our current one. In fact, presidents, he says, are in reality not "deciders" at all, but rather "the medium through which power is exercised." Had Truman not been president in 1945, whoever sat in his place just as surely would have dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. Same goes for Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs invasion, Johnson's escalation of the Vietnam War, even Dubya's Iraq invasion. "In each case, the erstwhile commander in chief did little more than ratify a verdict that others had already rendered."

Sound like the stuff of conspiracy theories? Some will see it that way and remain unconvinced. But to Bacevich, that's exactly what the Washington consensus expects. If you question the status quo, you're not to be taken seriously. He points to the 2008 presidential race. The only two major politicians to challenge Washington orthodoxy were Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich, and they were dismissed as unelectable oddballs. In a memorable exchange during the South Carolina Republican primary debate, Paul suggested that American globalism played a role in the September 11 attacks, and Rudolph Guiliani promptly came out swinging in defense of the rules. He slammed Paul's comments as "absurd" and demanded that he "tell us he didn't really mean" them. The audience exploded in applause.

The 9/11 attacks, like other American tragedies such as the Vietnam War and Bay of Pigs, could have been—and to Bacevich, should have been—an opportunity for a public dialogue about U.S. interventionism. But no such discussion occurred. That our meddling abroad could have played a role in such disasters is not something the consensus was prepared to consider. Why? Because if Americans saw things as they really were—that Washington has been exaggerating threats for the past 60 years—it could mean a drastic reduction in power and money for hoards of powerful and wealthy people. Instead, better to pretend that tragedies like 9/11 are committed by "evildoers," or to simply "depict the problem as appearing out of the blue, utterly devoid of historical context."

Such arguments are not exactly new. Noam Chomsky, of course, has been making similar ones for 40 years. My issue with Chomsky is that his fecund mind produces such dense works that they can pummel you into a kind of apathy. You walk away from Chomsky believing that the U.S. government has been composed of criminals since its inception. And what can the average person do about that? Bacevich, on the other hand, is easier to digest; not because he's easier on American interventionism—he's nearly as scalding as Chomsky—but because he portrays the problem with Washington as a systemic breakdown that had a clear starting point: the birth of the CIA and Strategic Air Command. This is when our government became truly secretive and war-making was removed from public purview. If the problem is systemic, then the average person can do something about it: change the system.

Bacevich, like Chomsky, is not a partisan critic; he is as lacerating with Democratic administrations as Republican ones. In fact, he points to Jimmy Carter's decision to militarize the Middle East as the spark that lit the fire of Islamic terrorism. And of Obama, who he says he voted for, Bacevich has become increasingly critical. This is because of Obama's escalation of the Afghanistan war. But here is where Bacevich gets confusing. If presidents aren't really deciders, how can he blame Obama? Bacevich's answer comes in the final pages of Washington Rules. Obama's tragic blunder, he asserts, was in surrounding himself with career adherents to the rules—men like Robert Gates, a Bush holdover; Jim Jones, a retired four-star general; and Hillary Clinton, an unabashed hawk. With such people in dominant positions, fundamental change became impossible. The result? An even deeper commitment to the longest running war in American history—which, as Bacevich lamented to Bill Moyers recently, was "the same decision John McCain would have made."

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 1:27 PM 0 comments


Why There Won't Be An American Hitler.

The Glenn Beck sideshow before a large, anxious, and unsuspecting crowd on the National Mall in Washington D.C. on Saturday, August 28, which is the anniversary date of MLK's famous "I Have a Dream" speech, has been compared by some to the early rallies of the Nazi party in Germany. A commentator named "Bluetoe2" pointed out in a FDL post written by Jeff Kaye about Glenn Beck's rally that, "Many in Germany thought the man that became the future Fuhrer was a joke and never took him seriously until it was too late." I understand this sentiment, it shows a lack of historical judgment to view Beck as just another loud-mouth TV clown, but it's also a misunderstanding of history to think that what happened in Germany in the 1930s will happen in America. It won't require a Hitler for America to slide into despotism. But, nonetheless, Beck is a malign influence in American politics. As Jeff Kaye writes; "Glenn Beck is one dangerous demagogue. He should not be underestimated."

Beck has successfully hijacked the Tea Party movement that began in Ron Paul's 2008 presidential campaign, and he is profiting tremendously from the breakdown of citizen trust in government leaders, and institutions. His moronic disinformation campaign is beyond belief. In this audio clip from his radio show he bashes Robert Greenwald's Brave New Foundation, the ACLU, Van Jones, Barack Obama, and connects them all together in one conspiratorial puzzle as though he's making a thoughtful, and coherent point about the covert "liberal" takeover of American society. The fact that this man could get thousands of people to join him in a rally in Washington is a truly unnerving development.

Along with the rise of corporate whores and right-wing demagogues like Beck, and Sarah Palin, there is a large-scale economic meltdown occurring in America. The crisis is so big that some economists like Marc Faber have said that there is a high possibility of a Weimar-style collapse in America. I don't know how factual his statement is, but it's worth considering because others have made similar predictions in the past few years. Noam Chomsky also compared Weimar Germany to present-day America in a conversation with Chris Hedges in April:

"It is very similar to late Weimar Germany," Chomsky told me when I called him at his office in Cambridge, Mass. "The parallels are striking. There was also tremendous disillusionment with the parliamentary system. The most striking fact about Weimar was not that the Nazis managed to destroy the Social Democrats and the Communists but that the traditional parties, the Conservative and Liberal parties, were hated and disappeared. It left a vacuum which the Nazis very cleverly and intelligently managed to take over."

"The United States is extremely lucky that no honest, charismatic figure has arisen," Chomsky went on. "Every charismatic figure is such an obvious crook that he destroys himself, like McCarthy or Nixon or the evangelist preachers. If somebody comes along who is charismatic and honest this country is in real trouble because of the frustration, disillusionment, the justified anger and the absence of any coherent response. What are people supposed to think if someone says "I have got an answer, we have an enemy'? There it was the Jews. Here it will be the illegal immigrants and the blacks. We will be told that white males are a persecuted minority. We will be told we have to defend ourselves and the honor of the nation. Military force will be exalted. People will be beaten up. This could become an overwhelming force. And if it happens it will be more dangerous than Germany. The United States is the world power. Germany was powerful but had more powerful antagonists. I don't think all this is very far away."

Luckily, Glenn Beck is neither honest or charismatic. But that doesn't mean he's not powerful, he is providing a platform for more capable and star-quality leaders who will use his viewers for political gain. Plus, sincerity has never been a feature of Fox News, so it's unlikely that Beck's brainwashed idiots will see through his made-up public persona anytime soon.

It's not surprising that Beck's rally would reignite concerns of a fascist/Christian right-wing takeover. But I believe these fears are being exaggerated by some democratic strategists, and partisan liberals.

I highly doubt that a Hitler will rise amidst the ashes of a ruined American economy principally because of America's unique history, and its brave people. America's revolutionary and enlightened founders that gave birth to an idealistic country at the height of the Enlightenment are significantly better than Germany's early militaristic leaders who formed an aggressive nation that was surrounded by competing European powers. Jefferson, Madison, Adams, and Washington have served as great models for generations of American political leaders. Compare them with Germany's Frederick the Great and Bismarck, who were the leadership influences of Hitler. Such a difference in political leadership between the two countries should not be overlooked. America has continually produced visionary and independent-minded leaders, from Lincoln to JFK.

Also, America's value of individualism, and self-reliance, as well as its democratic traditions, are the complete opposite of Germany's dependence on authoritarian leaders in periods of crises. Gordon A. Craig, a historian of German history, writes in his book, "The Germans" that German history is stamped with absolute obedience towards strong authority:

It is not too much to talk of a progressive bureaucratization of Germany in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and a concomitant growth among the inhabitants of the German states of habits of deference toward authority that seemed excessive to foreign observers. These last may have had ancient roots--it was a medieval pope who called Germany the terra obedientiae--but there is little doubt that they were encouraged by the traumatic effects of the war. The daily presence of death, the constant Angst of which Gryphius speaks in his poems, made the survivors willing to submit to any authority that seemed strong enough to prevent a recurrence of those terrors, (Craig, The Germans, pg. 22).

When the German people experienced social and economic trauma in the 1920's and 1930s, Hitler won over the people by reminding them of how Germany dealt with past crises, and by touting Germany's cultural and racial supremacy. In the context of German history, Hitler's appearance was an understandable phenomenon. But an American Hitler would be an anomaly.

The majority of the American people wouldn't tolerate a raging dictator because they're less less authoritarian-minded than the people of Germany were in the early 20th century. They're also less warlike. Most Americans didn't want America to get involved in the "European war" in 1914, and they were also against America participating in World War II until the attack on Pearl Harbor that the FDR administration allowed to happen, so America has never been a war-mad nation. Americans see the idea of conquering other lands with total disgust, which is why the country's imperial establishment has to speak of "fighting for democracy and freedom" while it currently seeks to gain control of Central Asia.

And if martial law is ever declared in America, it will be more forcefully resisted than it was in Germany because the idea of civilian leaders taking orders from the military is considered perversely anti-American, and it is opposed most forcefully by military leaders, and military veterans, who all took an oath to the constitution of the United States rather than one single man.

Another point to keep in mind is that the main theme that runs through American history is not American exceptionalism or American supremacy, however much it is declared by its arrogant elite, but universalism, and the brotherhood of man. When Germany entered its conquering period, it conquered to spread the "spirit" of Germany throughout Europe, and for more land to be filled with future generations of the Reich. But when America conquers in the Middle East, it conquers for "democracy" and "freedom," which are universal values. The American people had to get tricked and deceived into fighting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. American leaders that didn't go around triumphing America's supremacy, instead, they paid lip service to America's gift of democracy to the Iraqi people. We should not treat this use of rhetoric lightly. It explains a lot. The neocons and political elite know how much the American people despise aggressive war, and would not stand for a war if America was viewed as the principal instigator.

Even with its ugly arrogance, and record of horrendous crimes, America is still the greatest country ever invented by the minds of men. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights are documents that will be read hundreds, and thousands of years from now. Like the words of the Greek, and Roman statesmen, the words of America's founding fathers will be studied by future students, and forever cherished by true statesmen.

An American Hitler is unlikely, but I do have fears about explosive violence in America and other Western countries, as do many other people who see the same disturbing signs. But we can avert social unrest if all members of society become more self-sufficient, start to critically engage with their local governments, and build ties within their community. Depending on centralized authority to save us is a lethal hope. As we saw during Katrina, and other social crises around the world, the police are primarily skilled at killing people, and stripping their freedoms when the normal laws of civilized society break down. They can't provide security, shelter, or food for helpless people in any situation. More than anything, they become a burden on individuals in periods of social unrest, and crises. A healthy distrust of government could save America from either a technocratic, or a right-wing dictatorship; from either a Hitlerian or a Stalinist system of control.

Truth Excavator is an independent blogger and a full-time university student, currently living in Toronto, Canada.

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 1:06 AM 0 comments


a fair comment, just too many swollen words..... by Howard Friel

# guardian.co.uk, Monday 30 August 2010 22.00 BST

Bjørn Lomborg's missing questions

The Danish economist 'solutions' to climate change still don't address the real issue of CO2 warming the planet

For the last 40 years the American scholar and war critic Noam Chomsky has argued that there is a question missing in the perennial debates about whether the US should go to war against its apparently innumerable mortal adversaries. Hawks present claims about the threat of communism and terrorism that must be stopped, militarily, in far-flung lands, while the doves, who go along or not with a given war action in the beginning, ultimately argue on cost-benefit grounds that the (inevitable) escalation is too expensive fiscally or politically to continue. Few ask at the outset, as Chomsky observes, by what moral or legal right does the US bomb, invade or occupy another country, and so many.

In a similar way there is a missing question in the global discussion about human-induced climate change, and Bjørn Lomborg is in the vanguard of ensuring that this key question stays where it belongs . out of sight.

The background: beginning about a decade ago in his first book, The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World, Lomborg challenged "widely held beliefs that the environmental situation is getting worse and worse" and mocked the "dire" assessments by scientists and environmentalists that global warming was a serious threat. In a more recent book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming, he again mocked climate-change "hysteria", advising the world to "chill out" about man-made warming.

While in both books Lomborg conceded (in a few sentences) the fact of human-induced warming, he argued (in hundreds of pages) that it was "no catastrophe" by issuing grotesquely misleading claims . one after the other . in seeking to discredit the scientific basis of current and projected climate impacts. His reasoning was that if global warming isn't so bad, there is no need to reduce CO2 emissions to any significant extent.

Now that the ongoing published science on global warming has veered sharply toward worst-case scenarios across a range of climate impacts, in Smart Solutions to Climate Change, a new volume edited by Lomborg, he writes: "The risks of unchecked global warming are now widely acknowledged" and "we have long moved on from any mainstream disagreements about the science of climate change". This is the lipstick, but the pig is still a pig. This is because Lomborg still argues in this book, as he did in the others, that cost-benefit economics analysis shows that it is prohibitively expensive for the world to sharply reduce CO2 emissions to the extent required by the scientific evidence: "Drastic carbon cuts would be the poorest way to respond to global warming."

Here's where the missing question comes into play, since Lomborg does not seriously address the fundamental problem of rising atmospheric CO2 concentrations in the absence of global greenhouse reductions: what will happen to the earth and human civilisation when atmospheric CO2 concentrations rise . essentially unchecked, if we followed Lomborg's recommendations . to 450 parts per million, 550ppm, 700ppm, 800ppm; and when the average global temperature rises by 2C, 3C, and 4C to 7C?

Climate scientists have set 350ppm and a 2C average temperature rise (from 1750 to 2100) as the upper range targets to prevent a global climate disaster. Since we are already at 390ppm and since a 2C plus rise is a near certainty, how does Lomborg's appeal to forgo sharp reductions in CO2 emissions reflect climate science? He argues that there are "smarter solutions to climate change" than a focus on reducing CO2. This is hardly smart: it's insanity.

If Lomborg were really looking for smart solutions, he would push for an end to perpetual and brutal war, which diverts scarce resources and public focus from what Lomborg accurately says needs more money, including some of the research and policy projects recommended by the contributors to this volume. There might even be a few hundred billion dollars left to invest annually in new energy and mass transit economies, and science-mandated CO2 reductions. We're only two questions short of achieving those goals. Sounds pretty economical to me.

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 1:04 AM 0 comments

Friday, August 27, 2010

Chomsky - Disband NATO


It's been over 20 years since the Berlin Wall fell, yet the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO), a military group which was originally created to defend Western Europe from Russia, continues to exist, with 28 member states pledged to collectively defend one another in the face of outside aggression.

MIT linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky thinks it's time to disband the organization, which he believes is now an "international intervention force" that only exists to project U.S. military power on the other side of the globe.

"The official purpose of NATO was to defend Europe from the Russian hordes," Chomsky told Big Think. "With the Russian hordes gone, it should therefore have disbanded. Interestingly, that was not even seriously proposed.  Rather, NATO at once expanded to the East, in violation of pledges to Mikhail Gorbachev. ...  And since then its mission has expanded worldwide, serving as a U.S. intervention force, and to secure the global energy system on which the West relies."

In a 2009 video interview with Democracy Now!, Chomsky detailed how a succession of U.S. presidents has expanded NATO eastward, despite these assurances to Gorbachev: "Now we have to have a huge military establishment and military budget, and not to protect ourselves from the Russians, who are collapsing, but because—literally, because of the technological sophistication of third world powers," said Chomsky in the interview. He derided the idea that Third World technology could warrant NATO's continuing existence, and worried that the organization's push to expand is part of an energy grab.


Congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.), another voice in favor of disbanding NATO, told the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008 that the only gains from NATO's expansion would be for the U.S. military industrial complex—which would profit from arms sales to new members. He also warned that providing U.S. military guarantees to Eastern European republics would only further strain our military: "


This NATO expansion may well involve the U.S. military in conflicts as unrelated to our national interest as the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia," said Paul in a statement. "The idea that American troops might be forced to fight and die to prevent a small section of Georgia from seceding is absurd and disturbing. ... NATO should be disbanded, not expanded."


NATO's first Secretary General, Lord Ismay famously said after the organization was formed in 1949 that its purpose was to "keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down." In a post-Cold War world, these goals are long gone and the organization's annual budget of over $2.5 billion simply goes toward asserting U.S. military power in Europe and securing our energy interests, says Chomsky.


Why We Should Reject This

Alain Deletroz, the vice president of the International Crisis Group, a non-profit, non-governmental organization committed to preventing and resolving deadly conflict, calls it a paradox that some in the West should want to disband NATO right at the moment that the organization has become so attractive to former Warsaw Pact members. He says NATO has "splendidly served two very important goals: a) to protect western Europe during the Cold War; b) to help stabilize the continent after it was over."

Deletroz admits that NATO needs to redefine its mission, and suggests the organization should open its doors to Russia, saying "NATO membership has proved a powerful tool for military and political reforms in all new member states and if Russia wants to join the alliance it will have to reform its armed forces and set upon them a system of real democratic control."

He believes NATO can continue to be vital as "a military alliance that can play a crucial role in deploying quickly where needed to prevent conflicts or keep peace, with common criteria of engagements among member states."

David Hirschman on August 27, 2010, 12:00 AM


Nato air strike 'kills nine civilians'
05.03.07. Guardian. Two incidents involving US forces have left around 19 Afghan civilians dead since yesterday, prompting furious protests against the US and Nato. . In the first incident, up to 10 civilians were killed as a convoy of US marines fled after being attacked by a suicide bomber in a minivan in eastern Nangarhar province yesterday. … Then today Afghan officials said nine civilians had been killed after a Nato air strike hit a house during a firefight between US forces and militants, killing nine Afghans who lived there. … A count by the Associated Press, based on reports from Afghan, Nato and coalition officials, puts the overall civilian death toll in 2006 at 834, most from militant attacks. See also NASDAQ. story .

Investigation Into Afghan Deaths
05.03.07. BBC / Truthout. Afghan authorities have launched an investigation into the circumstances of a militant attack on a US Marine convoy in which eight civilians died. Thousands of local people took to the streets on Sunday to protest against the incident, accusing the Americans of deliberately firing on the civilians.

16 Civilians Killed as U.S. Troops Fire on Afghan Road
05.03.07. C. Gall, NY Times. American troops opened fire on a highway filled with civilian cars and bystanders on Sunday, American and Afghan officials said, in an incident that the Americans said left 16 civilians dead and 24 wounded after a suicide car bombing in eastern Afghanistan. One American was also wounded.


Report: Officers withheld Tillman death details
23.03.07. nfl. A Pentagon investigation will recommend that nine officers, including up to four generals, be held accountable for missteps in the aftermath of the friendly fire death of Army Ranger Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, senior defense officials said.

Statement on the Pentagon Briefing on Investigations of Pat Tillman's Death By Friendly Fire
27.03.07.Tillman family statement, Counterpunch.

Congressman Requests Hearing Into Tillman's Death

Tillman case could bring punishments
28.03.07. AP / local news watch. Two generals singled out for blame in the Pat Tillman case have retired since the Army Ranger was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan , but they remain within reach of the military justice system.

Top general tried to warn Bush on Tillman
31.03.07. AP / USA Today/legitgov. General Sought to Warn Bush Not to Say Tillman Died in an Enemy Ambush. Just seven days after Pat Tillman's death, a top general warned there were strong indications that it was friendly fire and President [sic] Bush might embarrass himself if he said the NFL star-turned-soldier died in an ambush, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press. It was not until a month afterward that the Pentagon told the public and grieving family members the truth that Tillman was mistakenly killed in Afghanistan by his comrades. The memo reinforces suspicions that the Pentagon was more concerned with sparing officials from embarrassment than with leveling with Tillman's family.

Tillman Probe: No Criminal Negligence
01.04.07. CBS. Army and Defense Department investigators said that officers looking into the incident passed along misleading and inaccurate information and delayed reporting their belief that Tillman was killed by fellow Rangers. The investigators recommended the Army take action against the officers. Among those blamed were the three-star general in charge of Army special operations as well as Tillman's regimental commander.


Iraq To Sue US, Britain Over Depleted Uranium Bombs » Depleted Uranium

Depleted Uranium

A True Weapon Of Mass Destruction
Depleted uranium is a waste obtained from producing fuel for nuclear
reactors and atomic bombs. The material used in civil and nuclear military
industry is uranium U-235, the isotope which can be fissioned. Since this
isotope is found in very low proportions in nature, the uranium ore has to
be enriched, i.e., its proportion of the U-235 isotope has to be
industrially increased. This pocess produces a large amount of radioactive
depleted uranium waste, thus named because it is mainly formed by the other
non-fissionable uranium isotope, U-238 and a minimum proportion of U-235.
American military industry has been using depleted uranium to coat
conventional weaponry (artillery, tanks and aircraft) since 1977, to
protect its own tanks, as a counterweight in aircraft and Tomahawk missiles
and as a component for navigation instruments. This is due to depleted
uranium having characteristics making it highly attractive for military
technology: firstly, it is extremely dense and heavy (1 cm3 weighs almost
19 grammes), such that projectiles with a depleted uranium head can
penetrate the armoured steel of military vehicles and buildings; secondly,
it is a spontaneous pyrophoric material, i.e., it inflames when reaching
its target generating such heat that it explodes.
After more than 50 years producing atomic weapons and nuclear energy, the
USA has 500,000 tonnes of depleted uranium stored, according to official
data. Depleted uranium is radioactive also and has an average lifetime of
4.5 thousand million years. This is why such waste has to be stored safely
for an indefinite period of time, an extremely costly procedure. In order
to save money and empty their tanks, the Department of Defence and Energy
assigns depleted uranium free of charge to national and foreign armament
companies. Apart from the USA, countries like the United Kingdom, France,
Canada, Russia, Greece, Turkey, Israel, the Gulf monarchies, Taiwan, South
Korea, Pakistan or Japan purchase or manufacture weapons with depleted
When a projectile hits a target, 70% of its depleted uranium burns
and oxidizes, bursting into highly toxic, radioactive micro particles.
Being so tiny, these particles can be ingested or inhaled after being
deposited on the ground or carried kilometres away by the wind, the food
chain or water. A 1995 technical report issued by the American Army
indicates that "if depleted uranium enters the body, it has the
potentiality of causing serious medical consequences. The associated risk
is both chemical and radiological". Deposited in the lungs or kidneys,
uranium 238 and products from its decay (thorium 234, protactinium and
other uranium isotopes) give off alpha and beta radiations which cause cell
death and genetic mutations causing cancer in exposed individuals and
genetic abnormalities in their descendents over the years.
In its 110,000 air raids against Iraq, the US A-10 Warthog aircraft
launched 940,000 depleted uranium projectiles, and in the land
offensive, its M60, M1 and M1A1 tanks fired a further 4,000 larger caliber
also uranium projectiles.

It is estimated that there are 300 tonnes of radioactive waste in the area
which might have already affected 250,000 Iraqis.
After the Gulf War, Iraqi and international epidemiological
investigations have enabled the environmental pollution due to using this
kind of weapon to be associated with the appearance of new, very difficult
to diagnose diseases (serious immunodeficiencies, for instance) and the
spectacular increase in congenital malformations and cancer, both in the
Iraqi population and amongst several thousands of American and British
veterans and in their children, a clinical condition known as Gulf War
Syndrome. Similar symptoms to those of the Gulf War have been described
amongst a thousand children residing in areas of the former Yugoslavia (Bosnia)
where American aviation also used depleted uranium bombs in 1996, the same
as in the NATO intervention against the Yugoslavia in 1999.

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 1:23 AM 0 comments

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Text of Chomsky visit to China 2010

6:00pm - Admission
7:00pm - Ceremony for the Conferment of the Honorary Doctorate on Professor Noam Chomsky
7:30pm - Break
7:45pm - Public Lecture by Professor Noam Chomsky Title: Contours of World Order: Continuities and Changes
9:00pm - Question and Answer Session
9:30pm - End of the Ceremony

Noam Chomsky spoke at Peking University on Friday, August 13th. Chomsky, famous for his political activism and his significant contributions to the fields of linguistics, cognitive science and philosophy, is one of the leading public intellectuals of the past century. At 82, the combative professor of linguistics shows no signs of retreating from the limelight. He has published three books in the past year and will undoubtedly publish more in the year to come. Before his talk, Chomsky was presented with an honorary doctorate from Peking University.

Chomsky delivered a short lecture to an audience of around 2,000 composed of faculty, journalists, and a large contingent of students. The lecture itself offered few new insights. Vaguely titled: Contours of World Order: Continuities and Changes, he began his talk by identifying what he saw as the two dominant threats to human society: "nuclear warfare" and "environmental damage."

On the subject of nuclear proliferation, Chomsky discussed at length Iran's nuclear program and the consolidation of the US as a military and political leader in the twentieth century. On environmental degradation, Chomsky glossed the threat of global warming, and ended with a rather bleak, even ominous assessment of the human condition: universal "consumer prosperity" is ecologically impossible. That is, economic development in China and India must be counterbalanced by a decline in Western wealth if the earth is to survive. What was likely intended to be a condemnation of overconsumption seemed instead a preface to Armageddon.

However, it seemed that most of the students present were familiar with Chomsky's work and few appeared surprised by the content of his talk.

If enthusiasm sometimes ebbed during the speech itself, it was revived during the Q&A.


Particularly memorable was Chomsky's charmingly candid and thoroughly unpretentious account of his own success in the intellectual world. When asked about his experiences as an undergraduate at University of Pennsylvania, Chomsky replied that he spent most of his time "playing handball in the gym and attending graduate courses." He added, with a hint of rebellious pride, "I actually had no credentials...the reason I was at MIT was that MIT didn't require credentials." Chomsky's playful irreverence toward academic institutions was greeted by more than a few smiles in the serious atmosphere of Beijing University.

But the true highlight of the night was a simple but compelling question posed at the beginning of the Q&A: "What can we do to make the world a more peaceful place?" After a brief pause, Chomsky's response was clear and pragmatic: "You can't do very much about the crisis in Congo" but "you can have an impact on your own society."

Chomsky's humanist message appeared to resonate with the student audience. Despite anchoring his discussion in complex theories about world development, Chomsky returned to the core principles of political activism in his answer. Problems are complicated, but the demand for action is simple. Even in an era where "global" has become a nagging, indispensable appendage to every word, social change begins at home, through meaningful action in the community. It is, I think, this confidence in rational, committed activism that has earned him so many young admirers.

By the last few questions, the bleak "contours of the world" had acquired a silver lining. Despite believing that we are teetering on the brink of destruction, Chomsky still believes in the potential of individual agency and the possibility of progress.

Reflecting upon the positive changes in MIT over the past fifty years, he said: "That's how changes take place, helpless individual people who collectively are able to carry it out." As Chomsky reminds us, change is not given, "you have to work for it." And, if we are indeed facing nuclear proliferation and ecological ruin, the work at hand is even more demanding, more urgent than ever.

At the end of the night, a student asked Chomsky what he does when he is "under pressure." Appropriately, Chomsky replied, as if it were the most natural thing in the world, "I go to work."

On 13 August, Noam Chomsky delivered a speech at the Peking University in Beijing. Chomsky, one of the leading public intellectuals of our age, is famous for his political activism and contributions to linguistic and philosophy. The talk, titled Contours of World Order: Continuities and Changes, was mostly about two dominant threats facing humanity: nuclear wars and environmental degradation.

While Chomsky has re-emphasized his criticisms on the United States, he has also expressed his opinions on China. In Chomsky’s view, emerging countries like China and India still have a long way to go to challenge the America. Of particular concern is the environmental cost of China’s development model, and the many internal and social problems that China has to tackle. This week, the Southern Metropolitan Daily publishes an interview with Chomsky. An excerpt of the interview is translated below.

Noam Chomsky in Peking University

南方都市报:全球一体化已被多数中国人接受,在过去的三十年中,尤其是中国加入W TO以后,绝大多数的中国人都从中受益颇多。但你对全球化和W TO的评价似乎很低。

SMD: Most Chinese have accepted globalization. In the past three decades, especially after China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO), many Chinese have benefited tremendously. But it seems that you see globalization in poor lights.

乔姆斯基:中国的发展和经济成就实质上与全球一体化没有太大的关系。这和贸易与出口有关,中国逐渐成了一个出口导向型国 家。没有人,包括我,会反对进出口,但那并不是全球化。事实上,中国已经成了东北亚地区生产系统的一个装配厂。如果你看一下整个地区,会发现这是一个非常 有活力的地区。中国出口量非常大,但这里头有些误解,中国的出口在很大程度上是日本、韩国以及美国等国的出口。这些国家给中国提供零部件和高科技,而中国 则将它们组装起来并进行出口,而这就被称之为“中国的出口”。

Chomsky: China’s economic achievement has little to do with globalization. It is related to trade and export. China has gradually become an export-oriented country. No one, myself included, is opposed to exports. But this is not globalization. In fact, China has become a factory in the Northeast Asian production system. If you look at the whole region, you will find it very dynamic. China’s export volume is enormous. But there is something we have overlooked. China’s export relies heavily on the exports of Japan, Korea and the US. These countries provide China with high-tech components and technologies. China is just doing the assembly, and labelling the final products as ‘Made in China.’

中国依靠其明智的政策的确发展得很好。但事实上,数百万人摆脱了贫困,但却也付出了很大的代价,而许多代价会转嫁给下一 代,如生态成本。经济学家不会考虑这些,但代价就是代价,总要有人来偿还,可能由你的孩子或孙子来偿还。这些真的和全球一体化没什么关系,和世界贸易组织 也没有什么关系。

China has developed rapidly by following wise policies. But while millions of people were lifted out of poverty, costs such as environmental degradation are high. They are merely transferred to the next generation. Economists will not worry about them, but these are costs that someone needs to pay for ultimately. It may be your children or grandchildren. These have nothing to do with globalization and the WTO.


SMD: Do you think the rise of China will change the world order? Will China play the role that the US is playing now?

乔姆斯基:我不这样认为,也不希望这样。你希望中国在全世界有800个军事基地,到处侵略别的国家,推翻政府,实施恐怖行 动吗?这就是美国在世界上的角色。我不认为这样的情况会发生在中国身上,也不认为能够发生,当然也不希望发生。中国的存在已经改变了世界秩序。中国和印 度,这两个国家占了世界人口的几乎一半,他们在增长,在发展,但相对西方来说,他们的财富只是一小部分。中国和印度都面临非常严峻的内部问题,所以他们还 有很长的路要走。我希望会有所改善。因此要把他们对世界的影响力与富裕国家相比较,没有任何意义。我希望他们能对世界产生良性的影响,他们也许能够。但是 必须仔细观察。

Chomsky: I don’t think so; neither do I hope so. Do you really hope to see a China with 800 overseas military bases, invading and overthrowing other governments, or committing terrorist acts? This is what the America is doing now. I think this will not, and cannot, happen on China. I do not wish it to happen neither. China is already changing the world. China and India together account for almost half of the world’s population. They are growing and developing. But relatively speaking, their wealth is only a small part of the world. Both countries still have long ways to go and face very serious domestic problems, which I hope will gradually be solved. It is meaningless to compare their global influences with those of rich countries. My hope is that they will exert some positive influences to the world, but this has to be watched carefully.

拿中国来说,你应该问问自己中国在世界的角色到底是什么。幸运的是,中国现在的角色不是侵略其它国家,巨大的军事开支等 等,但中国确实在扮演着某种角色。中国在消费资源,这有积极的一面也有消极的一面。如果巴西向中国出口,巴西经济会从中受益,但另一方面巴西经济也受到损 害。对巴西、秘鲁和其他一些资源生产国来说,发展问题之一是他们的经济主要依靠初级产品出口。这不是一种成功的发展模式。他们要改变经济模式,首先是解决 巨大的内部问题。同时变成生产者,而不仅仅是为其他生产者出口初级产品。

China should ask itself what role it wishes to take in the world. Fortunately, China is not assuming the role of an aggressor with a large military budget, etc. But China does have a role to play. It is am enormous consumer of resources, and there are pros and cons. For example, Brazil will benefit economically if it exports to China. On the other hand, its economy will also be damaged. For countries with abundant resources like Brazil and Peru, one problem is their reliance on exports of primary resources, which is not a good development model. To change their mode of development, they first need to solve their domestic problems and transform themselves into producers, not just exporting primary products to other producer countries.


SMD: Is the success of China a challenge to Western democracies?

乔姆斯基:让我们做一个历史的比较。对英国的民主来说,美国的发展是威胁吗?美国是从奴隶社会发展起来的,是从灭绝土著人 和奴隶制中发展起来的。这个模式适合其他国家吗?你希望中国学习这个模式吗?美国的确发展成为在很多方面领先的民主国家,但它的民主不是以这个模式发展出 来的,这个模式任何一个理智的人都不会愿意学习。

Let’s make a historical comparison. Was the rise of the United States a threat to democratic Britain? The United States was founded on the slaughtering of indigenous population and the slave system. Is this model suitable for other countries? Do you want China to learn from this model? It is true that the US has developed into a democratic country which is strong in many respects, but its democracy is not developed from this model, which any rational person would not want to imitate.


China is developing, but there is no evidence to prove that its internal development is causing a threat to the West. What is challenging the US is not China’s development, but its independence. That is the real challenge.

你能每天从报纸的头条看出来。现在美国外界政策的主要关注焦点是伊朗。2010年在外交政策界被称为“伊朗年”,伊朗被认 为是美国外交政策的主要挑战,世界秩序的主要威胁。美国对伊朗实施了单边的、严厉的制裁政策,但中国没有这样做。中国遵守联合国的制裁,但联合国对伊朗的 制裁轻到遵守与否无所谓,而中国没有遵从美国对伊朗的单边制裁。在我启程到中国来之前几天,美国国务院以一种非常有趣的方式对中国发出警告,他说中国要承 担起国际责任,也就是要遵守美国的命令。这就是中国的国际责任。

You can tell from every day’s headlines that the current focus of US foreign policy is Iran. The year 2010 is called ‘The Year of Iran.’ Iran is portrayed as a threat to US foreign policy and the world order. The US has imposed harsh, unilateral sanctions, but China has not followed suit. China has never followed the US lead. Instead, it supports UN sanctions, which are too weak to matter. A few days before I left for China, the US States Department warned China in a very interesting way. It said China has to bear international responsibilities, i.e. follow US orders. This is China’s international responsibilities.

这是标准的帝国主义,其他国家有责任按照我们的要求行事。如果不这样做就是不负责任。我想中国外交部的人听了一定都笑了。 但这就是帝国主义强权的标准逻辑。事实上,这也是伊朗为什么是威胁的原因,因为它不服从美国的命令。中国是个更大的威胁,因为如果一个大国不服从命令,麻 烦就大了,这就是美国面临的挑战。

This is standard imperialism, which is that other countries have to act according to our requests. If not, they are irresponsible. I think officials from the Chinese Foreign Ministry must laugh when they hear this. But this is the standard logic of imperialism. In fact, Iran becomes a threat because it does not follow US instructions. China is a bigger threat, as it is a big problem when a major power refuses to obey orders. This is the challenge that the US faces.

transscript, download mp3 video torrent avi WHERE? (please leave a comment if you know!)

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 6:16 PM 0 comments



In response to years of invitations and anticipation, Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT has decided to pay a 12-day visit to the mainland of China and Taiwan, giving public lectures and receiving honorary doctorates from two prominent universities.

This will be Chomsky.s first visit to the mainland of China and Taiwan. He will be the most important western intellectual to visit these parts of the world ever since the visits by Bertrand Russell and John Dewey to Beijing some 90 years ago. Thus it is not only an important event for linguists, but one for the entire academic, scholarly, and intellectual communities in these parts of the world.

As a scientist, Chomsky is known for his revolutionary work in establishing a .biolinguistic. approach to language study.taking language as the external manifestation of a genetically endowed structure (termed Universal Grammar), thus a product of nature and nurture, similarly to any other biological .organ.. The sweeping success of this approach since the late 1950s, known as the field of generative linguistics, opened up refreshingly new directions of research for scholars not only in linguistics, but also in psychology, philosophy, semantics, education, computer science and neuroscience. The rapid developments in these fields led to what has been termed .the 2nd cognitive revolution., with him being commonly regarded as the father of the modern cognitive science. Aside from this and related research, Chomsky is also widely (in fact more widely) known to the world for his unrelenting criticism of American foreign policy and mainstream media of the West, his passion for seeking concealed truth, and speaking out for the voiceless in world affairs. He is rated number 1 of the top 100 most influential public intellectuals of the world, and his works were among the top-10 most cited in the humanities and social sciences that include Shakespeare and Marx, with him being the only living one in that list. A most influential scholar of the past 50 years, he is sometimes referred to as Heir of the Enlightenment.

On this trip to Taiwan and the mainland of China, Chomsky will be giving four talks, and receive honorary doctorates from two prominent institutes. These events include, chronologically:

- August 9, 2010, visit Academia Sinica (Taipei), and give public lecture titled: .Contours of world order: continuities and changes..

- August 10, 2010, visit National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan, receive honorary doctorate, and give public lecture titled: .Poverty of stimulus: unfinished business..

- August 12, 2010, visit Beijing Language and Culture University and give his keynote speech, titled .Poverty of stimulus: unfinished business., to the 8th Conference of Generative Linguistics in the Old World (Asia).

- August 13, visit Peking University, receive honorary doctorate, and give public lecture titled: .Contours of world order: continuities and changes..

To commemorate these events and as an aid to the public, a cross-campus organizing committee formed by scholars from the mainland of China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan is publishing a special booklet in Chinese to distribute to the audiences of Chomsky.s talks. Selected articles in the booklet are posted on this website, which we hope you will find informative and enjoyable.

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 6:13 PM 0 comments

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chomsky about USrael's hypocrisy and war crimes.


Don't read, LISTEN to the interview:

Noam Chomsky on USrael

By Kathleen Wells

Internationally recognised as one of America's most
critically-engaged public intellectuals today, Noam
Chomsky spoke with me about Israel and its interplay
with the United States.

Kathleen Wells: Hi, I'm Kathleen Wells, political
correspondent for Race-Talk.     I'm speaking with Noam
Chomsky, professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology and renowned political activist
and writer. He has written over a hundred books on
linguistics, human rights, economics, and politics.
Thank you, Professor Chomsky, for taking the time to
speak with me this afternoon.

Noam Chomsky: Very pleased to be with you.

Kathleen Wells: Speak to me about the relation between
the United States and Israel. Specifically, address, as
you have previously stated, how every crime, violation
of international law, that Israel commits is done
through the direct participation and authorisation of
the United States.

Noam Chomsky: That's a ... As a descriptive statement,
that is pretty close to accurate. I mean "all" is a
very strong word but it is certainly generally true.
And, in fact, the United States has overwhelmingly
vetoed Security Council resolutions condemning Israeli
crimes and atrocities, prevented the Security Council
from calling on Israel to terminate aggression, and so
on and so forth. The descriptive comment is not really
controversial. There are interesting questions about
why it's true. There were also interesting questions
about the sources of support for this position in the
United States, which helps us explain why it is true.

The history is reasonably clear. This was not the case
up until 1967. In fact, before 1967, the relationships
were not very different from relationships among other
powers. There was sympathy and support for Israel,
which has many, many sources, including the Christian
Zionism, which is a very powerful force that precedes
and is numerically far stronger than Jewish Zionism.
But for somebody like, say, Harry Truman, raised in a
deeply Christian tradition, it was just taken for
granted that the Bible instructs us that God gave the
land of Palestine to the Jews. So it is kind of like in
his bones. And that's true for a very large part of the
American population, much more so than -- far more than
any other country.        So that is one factor, and
there are other factors.

But the major change in relationships took place in
1967. Just take a look at USA aid to Israel. You can
tell that right off. And in many other respects, it's
true, too. Similarly, the attitude towards Israel on
the part of the intellectual community -- you know,
media, commentary, journals, and so on -- that changed
very sharply in 1967, from either lack of interest or
sometimes even disdain, to almost passionate support.
So what happened in 1967?

Well, in 1967, Israel destroyed the source of secular
Arab nationalism -- Nasser's Egypt -- which was
considered a major threat and enemy by the West. It is
worth remembering that there was a serious conflict at
that time between the forces of radical Islamic
fundamentalism, centred in Saudi Arabia -- where all
the oil is -- and secular Arab nationalism, centred in
Nasser's Egypt; in fact, the two countries were at war.
They were fighting a kind of a proxy war in Yemen at
that time. The United States and Britain were
supporting the radical Islamic fundamentalism; in fact,
they've rather consistently done that - supporting
Saudi Arabia.      And Nasserite secular nationalism
was considered a serious threat, because it was
recognised that it might seek to take control of the
immense resources of the region and use them for
regional interest, rather than allow them to be
centrally controlled and exploited by the United States
and its allies.

So that was a major issue. Well, Israel effectively
destroyed Nasserite secular nationalism and the whole
Arab nationalist movement that was centred in it. That
was considered a major contribution to U.S.
geopolitical strategy and also to its Saudi Arabian
ally. And, in fact, that's when attitudes toward Israel
changed sharply and the U.S. support for Israel --
material, diplomatic, and other -- also increased

In 1970, there was another turning point. In 1970, the
Jordanian army (Jordan was a strong, close U.S. ally) -
the Jordanian dictatorship was essentially massacring
Palestinians during what's the month that's called
Black September. And the U.S. was in favor of that; it
supported that. It looked as though Syria might
intervene to support the Palestinians against the
attack by the Hashemite dictatorship. The U.S. didn't
want that to happen. It regarded it as a threat to its
Jordanian ally and also a broader threat, ultimately,
to Saudi Arabia, the jewel in the crown.

While the U.S. was mired in Southeast Asia at the time
-- it was right at the time, a little after the
Cambodia invasion and everything was blowing up -- the
U.S. couldn't do a thing about it. So, it asked Israel
to mobilise its very substantial military forces and
threaten Syria so that Syria would withdraw. Well,
Israel did it.   Syria withdrew. That was another gift
to U.S. power and, in fact, U.S. aid to Israel shot up
very sharply -- maybe quadrupled or something like that
-- right at that time.

Now at that time, that was the time when the Nixon ...
so-called "Nixon Doctrine" was formulated. A part of
the Nixon Doctrine was that the U.S., of course, has to
control Middle- East oil resources -- that goes much
farther back -- but it will do so through local,
regional allies, what were called "cops on the beat" by
Melvin Laird, Secretary of Defense.  So there will be
local cops on the beat, which will protect the Arab
dictatorships from their own populations or any
external threat. And then, of course, "police
headquarters" is in Washington. Well, the local cops on
the beat at the time were Iran, then under the Shah, a
U.S. ally; Turkey; to an extent, Pakistan; and Israel
was added to that group. It was another cop on the
beat. It was one of the local gendarmes that was
sometimes called the periphery strategy: non-Arab
states protecting the Arab dictatorships from any
threat, primarily the threat of what was called radical
nationalism -- independent nationalism -- meaning
taking over the armed resources for their own purposes.
Well, that structure remained through the 1970s.

In 1979, Iran was lost because of the overthrow of the
Shah and pretty soon the Khomeini dictatorship --
clerical dictatorship -- and the U.S. once tried to
overthrow that and supported Iraq's invasion of Iran,
and so on. But, anyway, that "cop" [Iran] was lost and
Israel's position became even stronger in the structure
that remained. Furthermore, by that time, Israel was
performing secondary services to the United States
elsewhere in the world. It's worth recalling that
through the -- especially through the 80s -- Congress,
under public pressure, was imposing constraints on
Reagan's support for vicious and brutal dictatorships.
The governments around the world -- say Guatemala --
the U.S. could not provide direct aid to Guatemala,
because -- which was massacring people in some areas in
a genocidal fashion up in the highlands -- Congress
blocked it.

Congress was also passing sanctions against aid to
South-Africa, which the Reagan administration was
strongly supporting South-Africa and continued to do so
right through the 1980s. This was under the framework
of the war on terror that Reagan had declared. The
African National Congress -- Mandela's ANC -- was
designated as one of the more notorious terrorist
groups in the world as late as 1988. [So] that it
[could] support South-African apartheid and the
Guatemalan murderous dictatorship and other murderous
regimes, Reagan needed a kind of network of terrorist
states to help out, to evade the congressional and
other limitations, and he turned to, at that time,
Taiwan, but, in particular, Israel. Britain helped out.
And that was another major service. And so it

Kathleen Wells: I want to come up to today, because I
only have 30 minutes.

Noam Chomsky: So, it basically continues. I mean, if we
go right up till this moment ...

Kathleen Wells: Exactly.


Noam Chomsky: - simply ask, where are the strongest
sources of support for Israeli actions? Well, pick the
newspapers. By far the most rabid pro-Israel newspaper
in the country is the Wall Street Journal. That's the
journal of the business community, and it reflects the
support of the business world for Israel, which is
quite strong. There's a lot of high-tech investment in
Israel. [Our] military industry is very close to
Israeli military industry. There's a whole network of
interactions. Intel, for example, is building its next
facility for construct development of the next
generation of chips in Israel. But, altogether, the
relations are very tight, very intimate, quite natural.
And it's not surprising that the main business journal
in the country would be supporting Israeli expansion
and power.

Take a look at the two political parties. Most Jewish
money goes to Democrats and most Jews vote Democratic.
But the Republican Party is much more strongly
supportive of Israeli power and atrocities than the
Democrats are. Then again, I think that reflects their
closer relations to the business world and to the
military system.

There is, of course, also a Jewish lobby - an Israeli
lobby -- APAC, which is a very influential lobby. And
so there are many... and there's Christian Zionism,
which is a huge element. Well, you know, all of these
combined to provide a background for U.S. support for
Israel, and they're facing virtually no opposition.
Who's calling for support of the Palestinians?

Kathleen Wells: Exactly, and so when you hear
statements being made that Israel is the only democracy
in the Middle East, and yet you see the occupation and
the blockade on Gaza, the occupation of East Jerusalem
and the West Bank, what shall one think about this

Noam Chomsky: First, let's ask about being the only
democracy in the region. First of all, it's not true.
There were free elections in Palestine in January 2006.
There were free elections in Palestine, carefully
monitored, recognised to be free. The victor was Hamas,
okay, centred in the Gaza Strip. Israel and the United
States instantly, within days, undertook perfectly
public policies to try to punish the Palestinians for
voting the wrong way in a free election. I mean, it
couldn't have been... you couldn't see a more dramatic
illustration of hatred and contempt for democracy
unless it comes out the right way.


 A year later, July 2007, the U.S. and Israel, together
with the Palestinian authority, tried to carry out a
military coup to overthrow the elected government.
Well, it failed. Hamas won and drove Fatah out of the
Gaza Strip. Now, here, that's described as a
demonstration of Hamas terror or something. What they
did was pre-empt and block a U.S.-backed military coup
to overthrow the democratically-elected government.

Kathleen Wells: What do you say to the fact that Hamas
is listed on the United States State Department
terrorist list? So they're characterised as terrorist?

Noam Chomsky: Yeah, they are. Because they do things we
don't like. The terrorist list has been a historic
joke, in fact, a sick joke. So take a look at the
history of the terrorist list. Up until 1982, Iraq --
Saddam Hussein's Iraq -- was on the terrorist list.

In 1982, the Reagan administration removed Iraq from
the terrorist list. Why? Because they were moving to
support Iraq, and, in fact, the Reagan administration
and, in fact, the first Bush administration strongly
supported Iraq right through its worst - Saddam, right
through his worst atrocities. In fact, they tried to
... they succeeded, in fact, in preventing even
criticism of condemnation of the worst atrocities, like
the Halabja massacre -- and others. So they removed
Iraq from the terrorist list because they wanted to
support one of the worst monsters and terrorists in the
region, namely Saddam Hussein. And since there was an
empty position on the terrorist list, they had to fill
it, so they added Cuba. Cuba's probably the target of
more terrorism than any country in the world, back from
the Kennedy years. Right?          In fact, just at
that time, there had been a rash of major terrorist
acts against Cuba. So Cuba was added to the terrorist
list to replace Saddam Hussein, who was removed because
the U.S. wanted to support him.

Now, you take a look through the terrorist list, yeah,
that's the way it is. So, for example, Hezbollah is on
the terrorist list. Well, you know, probably it's
carried out terrorist acts, but by the standards of the
U.S. and Israel, they're barely visible. The main
reason why Hezbollah is on the terrorist list is
because it resisted Israeli occupation of Southern
Lebanon and, in fact, drove Israel out of Southern
Lebanon after twenty-two years of occupation -- that's
called terrorism. In fact, Lebanon has a national
holiday, May 25th, which is called Liberation Day.
That's the national holiday in Lebanon commemorating,
celebrating the Israeli withdrawal from southern
Lebanon in year 2000, and largely under Hezbollah

Kathleen Wells: How would you characterise Hezbollah
and Hamas? How would you characterise them?

Noam Chomsky: Hezbollah happens to be the major
political grouping in Lebanon. It's the Hezbollah-based
coalition, handily won the last election in the year
2009. Now you know it's not a perfect election, but
it's one of the ... by the standards of U.S.-backed
dictatorships it was an amazing election, and they won
it. They didn't happen to win the largest number of
representatives because of the way the confessional
system works, but they won the popular vote by about
the same amount that Obama had won.

So they're the main political grouping in the country.
They largely -- almost completely -- control southern
Lebanon. They're a national Lebanese organisation.
They've ... they're charged with some terrorist acts
outside of Lebanon, maybe correctly. But again, if the
charges ... we take all the charges and weigh them
against U.S./Israeli violence, aggression, and terror,
they don't even count. But that's basically what they
are.     As far as Israel's concerned, Hezbollah's
position is they don't recognise Israel.  They don't
... they... but they say they're position is, well,
they'll accept any agreement with Israel that the
Palestinians accept; we're a Lebanese organisation.

What about Hamas? Hamas is a ... its background is it's
an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist
organisation, which would be a major competitor in
Egypt's elections, if Egypt permitted democratic
elections, which it won't.   The Egyptian dictatorship
-- which the U.S. strongly backs, Obama personally
strongly backs -- doesn't permit anything remotely like
elections and is very brutal and harsh. But they don't
... they hate the Muslim Brotherhood, and Hamas is an

In its early days, Israel supported Hamas as a weapon
against the secular PLO. Later, when Hamas really
crystallised, became a significant organisation, Israel
turned against them, and it became bitterly opposed to
them in January 2006, as the U.S. did, when they won a
free election. That was intolerable and they had to be

Hamas's position is that as a political party it does
not recognise Israel, but that doesn't mean much: the
Democratic Party doesn't recognise countries either. It
says that their position is that they're willing to
accept a two-state settlement in accordance with the
international consensus, which the U.S. and Israel have
blocked for 35 years. So they say, "Yes, we'll accept
that, but we don't want to recognise Israel." Well,
okay, that's their position. Are they a nice
organisation? No. I wouldn't ... I certainly wouldn't
want to live under their clerical rule. But compared
with organisations and states that the United States
strongly supports, they don't stand out as particularly
harsh, say Egypt, for example.

Kathleen Wells: So respond to those who defend Israel's
policy and state that Israel is surrounded by enemies.
Their Arab neighbours -- Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in
Palestine, Ahmadinejad in Iran -- they pose a threat to
Israel. They want to see Israel's destruction, and they
feel like these Arab countries are an imminent threat
to Israel. Give me your thoughts on those who defend
Israel's policies.

Noam Chomsky: Well, the truth of the matter is that
Israel and the United States, which act in tandem, are
a tremendous threat to the - mainly to the
Palestinians. In fact, while we're discussing the
potential threat to Israel that might exist, the United
States and Israel are crushing and destroying the
Palestinians. That's the live reality.

Now what about the threat? Well, yeah, there's a
potential threat, and Israel and the United States are
substantially responsible for it. I mean, if the U.S.
and Israel would accept the overwhelming international
consensus on a political settlement, that would very
sharply reduce the threat. But Israel and the U.S.
prefer Israeli expansion to diplomatic settlement and,
therefore, are blocking that settlement -- they're
alone. I mean, Europe, the non-aligned countries -- the
Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic States, which
includes Iran -- have all accepted the international
consensus on the two-state settlement. I mean, there
are details to be worked out, but the basic structure
is clear. For 35 years, the U.S. and Israel have been
blocking it. There are a few rare and temporary
exceptions, but that's basically the story. I don't
have time to run through all the details here.

Kathleen Wells: But what's the rationale?

Noam Chomsky: That creates...

Kathleen Wells: But what's the...

Noam Chomsky: The rationale's very simple.

Kathleen Wells: Exactly.

Noam Chomsky: They prefer expansion to security. That's
been explicitly true since 1971. I think the most
fateful decision that Israel and the U.S. made in this
regard was in February 1971 when President Sadat of
Egypt offered Israel a full peace settlement -- full
peace settlement; no conditions -- nothing for the
Palestinians, in return for Israeli withdrawal from the
occupied territories, and, in fact, he cared only about
Sinai.  Jordan made the same proposal a year later with
regard to the West Bank.    Israel had to decide, at
that point, whether to accept security -- which would
certainly have followed from the withdrawal from the
conflict of the major Arab military forces, primarily
Egypt, secondly Jordan -- whether to accept security or
to insist on expansion.  Now expansion at that time was
mostly into the Sinai. Israel was developing plans for
substantial expansion into the Egyptian Sinai,
including a major city, Yamit, supposedly a million
people, a lot of settlements, and so on. And that was a
very clear choice: do we choose expansion or security?
They chose expansion.


The crucial question is what would the United States
do? Well, there was an internal bureaucratic battle in
the U.S., and Henry Kissinger won out. He was in favor
of what he called "stalemate." A stalemate meant no
negotiations, just force. So the U.S. and Israel
proceeded with expansion. Sadat, for the next... he
made gesture after... move after move for the next year
or two to try to convince the U.S. to accept the
political settlement.  It was disregarded. He kept
threatening war if Israel continued to develop the
northeast Sinai.  It was dismissed. Then came the
October 1973 war, which was a very close thing for
Israel, the worst moment in its history. Well, at that
point, Kissinger and the Israeli leaders recognised
they can't simply dismiss Egypt, and they moved slowly
towards the Camp David Settlement in 1978, which pretty
much accepted what Sadat had offered in 1971 -- a
diplomatic catastrophe. Meanwhile, Israel has continued
its expansion, by then mostly into the West Bank, and
the U.S. was supporting it all the way, and so it

So, sure, if Israel continues to settle in the occupied
territories -- illegally, incidentally, as Israel
recognised in 1967 (it's all illegal; they recognised
it) -- it's undermining the possibilities for the
viable existence of any small Palestinian entity. And
as long as the United States and Israel continue with
that, yes, there will be insecurity.

Kathleen Wells: This is essentially an issue of land;
it's not a religious issue.   It's an issue of land,
and it's economics that's motivating Israel to expand.
Is that what you are saying?

Noam Chomsky: Primarily. In fact, the President of
Israel, Ezer Weizman, shortly before he became
President after 1967, pointed out, (he was then chief
of the Air Force) -- he said, "Look we could withdraw
from the occupied territories, but then we couldn't
live at the scale and style and grandeur that we would
prefer."  That's not an exact quote; words were
approximately to that effect. And, you know, that's
basically true.

The expansion into the West Bank is, you know, it's
kind of understandable. I mean, the parts of the West
Bank that Israel is taking over are, first of all, a
good part of the arable land: the pleasant suburbs of
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, which happen to be in the West
Bank; the major water resources, which are in the area
that Israel is taking over; the Jordan Valley, which is
arable land, of course, and essentially imprisons
what's left. And then Israel has been sending corridors
through the occupied territories.  The most important
one -- one of several -- is east of what's called
Jerusalem. Jerusalem is now a vastly-expanded area
which Israel has annexed in violation of Security
Council orders, as well as in violation of
international law.    And expanding east from there is
a corridor, started in the 1970s under Yitzhak Rabin,
now includes the town of Ma'ale Adumim. It basically
bisects the West Bank. There are two other corridors to
the north. It breaks up the remaining areas of the West
Bank into what Ariel Sharon -- the architect, one of
the main architects of the policy -- called Bantustans.


And, sure, as long as they do that, there is going to
be continuing ... it's understandable why they do it:
sure, they want that land, and they want the resources.
And it does, as Ezer Weizman said, it allows them to
live in a scale and character beyond what would happen
if they lived peacefully within their own territories.
And the U.S. backs them, so they can do it, and it's
continuing to back them under Obama. So, sure, their
position is: well, okay, let's just go ahead and do it.
And it does lead to insecurity, but that's the decision
they made in 1971.

Kathleen Wells: And you have stated that this expansion
is dangerous for Israel. Can you elaborate on that?

Noam Chomsky: Well, you already elaborated on it at the
beginning, when you said that they are facing threats.
When you expand into somebody else's territory and you
refuse to allow ... and you destroy the national - the
legitimate national aspirations of the indigenous
inhabitants, now restricted to about 22% of Palestine,
even in the international arrangements ... when you do
that, sure, you're going to lead to insecurity.    
Remember also that Israel has invaded its northern
neighbour, Lebanon, five times -- brutally, harshly,
plenty of terror, plenty of violence and no credible
pretext.* I don't have time to go through the details,
but I've done so in print. Well, yes, so Lebanon is
hostile, too. Lebanon happens to be a weak state; they
can't do much, but that leads to plenty of hostility in
the region.

With regard to Iran, Iran was a very close ally of
Israel's as long as it was under the Shah. Ahmadinejad
has issued what we call "threats against Israel."
They're not actually threats, and if you look at the
exact wording, he's repeating statements by Khomeini at
a time when Israel was pretty close to Iran and didn't
care about them.       He's saying, "Yes, in the end of
days Israel should disappear." Okay, not nice -- does a
lot of other rotten things; it's a horrible regime. But
to say that it's a threat to Israel is a bit extreme. I
mean, it's a ... and, in fact, to the extent that there
is a potential Iranian threat it would be ... it's
claimed that the Iranian nuclear program is a threat.

Well, okay, if you believe that, there are clear steps
to take: move towards a nuclear-weapons- free zone in
the region. Now, that would not terminate any potential
threat, but it would certainly mitigate it.
Nuclear-weapons-free zones are very important steps
towards reducing the threat of nuclear weapons and of
proliferation.       And, in fact, the U.S. is
committed to that. It agreed to it in 1995 and in the
Nuclear Review Conference just last May.         A
couple of weeks ago, Egypt, which leads the Non-Aligned
Movement at the moment [of] 118 countries, pressed very
hard for moving towards establishing a
nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region.            The
U.S. was pressed into a corner and couldn't disagree,
so said, "Sure, we agree in principle."  But Hillary
Clinton said, "Yes, but the time is not right".   And
the U.S. -- Obama -- hid behind the Israeli position,
which said, sure, let's do it but after this
comprehensive peace settlement, in which the U.S. and
Israel can delay indefinitely, as they've been doing.
So there are no steps toward a nuclear-weapons-free
zone, to which, incidentally, the United States is very
strongly committed.

The U.S. and Britain, when they invaded Iraq, tried to
provide a kind of a thin, legal cover for it. And the
legal cover was Security Council Resolution 687 from
1991, which called on Iraq to eliminate its weapons of
mass destruction program. And, as you recall, the U.S.
and Israel and the U.K. claimed that they had not done
so. Well, it turned out to be false, but they claimed
that they had not done so. But if you look at that
resolution, Article 14, it calls on the signers to move
to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone in their
region. So the U.S. and U.K., above everyone else, are
committed to this. But it isn't even discussed here.

So to talk about the Iranian nuclear threat, while
we're refusing to take the most elementary steps
towards eliminating any potential threat that might
arise sometime, is kind of ludicrous. In fact, if you
look [at] the ... there is now a declassified study
from last April from the Defense Intelligence Agency
and the Pentagon, assessing the military balance in the
region, the Iranian threat included, in particular; and
they point out that Iran's military doctrine is
essentially defensive, it's an attempt to deter
attacks, that Iran's military expenditures are
relatively low compared to the region and, of course,
minuscule as compared to the U.S. and that, if they're
developing nuclear weapons, it would be as a deterrent.

So whatever threat Iran poses, it's not a military
threat; it's a threat of independence.      Well,
Israel doesn't like that, the U.S. doesn't like that,
but to call that a threat -- while, Israel has a huge
nuclear capacity, has refused to sign the
Non-Proliferation Treaty, is rejecting calls from the
international agency -- International Atomic Energy
Agency -- to open up it's facilities to inspection,
backed by the U.S. and is, in fact, proceeding to crush
Palestinians. I mean, anybody watching this from Mars
would break down in hysterical laughter.

Kathleen Wells: Well, Israel is the only nation in the
Middle East which has nuclear weapons, but it has not
officially acknowledged that they have them.

Noam Chomsky: That's correct. And it is one of three
countries -- three nuclear states -- that have not
signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty: Israel, India, and
Pakistan, all of which are protected by the United
States in their nuclear weapons programs, to which the
U.S., in fact, contributes and has contributed. Those
are the three non-signers.

Kathleen Wells: And so...

Noam Chomsky: And that continues to this moment. I
mean, in this context, how can we even listen to Obama
saying he wants to get rid of nuclear weapons?

Kathleen Wells: And so, I mean, there is some cynicism
I hear in your voice so ... and it's understandable, I
would say. But so what do ... what can we expect to
happen, if there's not going to be ... the
international community is calling on the Middle East
to be a nuclear-free- zone and yet Israel and the
United States are not moving in that direction?

Noam Chomsky: Not only are they not moving in that
direction, but blocking it. Kathleen Wells: So ...

Noam Chomsky: And remember that the U.S. has a specific
commitment, over and above other countries, because of
the Iraq invasion.

Kathleen Wells: So where do we go from here?

Noam Chomsky: That's up to people like you, the
citizens of the United States. If we have ... if we
care about what our country is doing, we should proceed
to do something about it.

Kathleen Wells: So when you say we should proceed to do
something, get me some specifics. What should we do?

Noam Chomsky: We should be organising and acting to get
Congress to compel the administration to move towards
reducing the dire threat of nuclear weapons. And there
are many ways to do it. One is by establishing
nuclear-weapons-free zones. The Middle East is one
case, but it's not the only case. So, to mention
another, relevant here, the African Union did finally
agree to a nuclear-weapons-free zone, but it can't
implement it, and the reason it can't implement it is
because of the United States and Britain.

There is an island in the Indian Ocean, Diego Garcia,
which is claimed by the African Union; its part of
Africa. Britain and the U.S. -- it has bases for U.S.
nuclear weapons and nuclear submarines, and so on. The
population was kicked out by Britain so that the United
States could establish a major military base there.
That base is used -- it's a major military base -- it's
used for bombing of Middle East and Central Asia. Obama
is beefing it up very sharply -- both its nuclear
weapons capacity and its massive ordinance. In fact,
he's just sent there a couple of hundred so-called
bunker busters, the biggest weapons in the arsenal,
short of nuclear weapons, aimed at Iran. All of that's
going on right now.    Diego Garcia is excluded by the
U.S. and Britain from the African Union
nuclear-weapons-free zone, which means they can't
implement it.

Well, that's one case. The Middle East is another case,
there actually are others. But if we are interested in
non-proliferation, we should be compelling the U.S.
government to take concrete steps that are available
towards reducing the threat of war -- for example,
dismantling the military base in Diego Garcia and
terminating the threats of aggression against Iran and
moving towards mitigating the threat of use of nuclear
weapons or development of nuclear weapons. It can be
done in many ways, nuclear-weapons-free zones being the
most obvious. Kathleen Wells: But this is ...

Noam Chomsky: There is a lot we could do.

Kathleen Wells: But this isn't widely covered in the
U.S. media.

Noam Chomsky: That's a little bit of an understatement.
It isn't covered, period. Try to find some references.

Kathleen Wells: So how do American citizens get
informed on this issue? It's not covered ... Why is it
that we ...

Noam Chomsky: By people like you writing about it and
organising and educating: that's our job. We are not
thrust in jail for telling the truth about these
things. I'm afraid I have to take off. I have another

Kathleen Wells: Okay. I really appreciate you ... Can I
ask you one last question?

Noam Chomsky: Yeah.

Kathleen Wells: Okay. As a Jewish American, what would
you like to say to other Jewish Americans regarding

Noam Chomsky: Pretty much what I said in the 1970's. I
mean, I wrote at that time -- and I think it's even
more true today -- that those who call themselves
supporters of Israel are, in fact, supporters of
Israel's moral degeneration, increased isolation, and
possible ultimate destruction. I hate to say it, and I
hate to see it, but it's coming true.

Kathleen Wells: Okay. On that note, I think it went
well. Thank you very much. I appreciate you taking the
time with me, Professor Chomsky. Have a great

Noam Chomsky: Good to talk to you.

Kathleen Wells: Okay, bye-bye.

*On August 3, 2010, Hareetz reported that Israel and
Lebanon entered into a border clash that was spurred by
Israel's attempt to uproot a tree on Lebanon's soil.
The incident amounted to a thirty-minute firefight that
left three Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist,
and an Israeli officer dead.

On August 7, 2010, tensions between Israel and Lebanon
escalated when the Israeli Navy opened fire on a
Lebanese fishing boat. This clash marked the worst
confrontation between the two sides since Israel's 2006
incursion into Lebanon, during which about 1,200
Lebanese -- mostly civilians -- were killed.

On August 10, 2010, American lawmakers said that
because of the clash/firefight on August 3, U.S.
funding for Lebanon's military would be blocked/cut.


StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 1:08 AM 0 comments

Monday, August 16, 2010

Journalism Warning Labels GREAT IDEA


Journalism Warning Labels

Contents Not Verified

It seems a bit strange to me that the media carefully warn about and label any content that involves sex, violence or strong language — but there's no similar labelling system for, say, sloppy journalism and other questionable content.

I figured it was time to fix that, so I made some stickers. I've been putting them on copies of the free papers that I find on the London Underground. You might want to as well.

A sheet of stickers.

The articles these stickers are attached to are used strictly as an illustration: I'm not passing judgment on the specific articles or journalists. Hopefully that'll stop anyone claiming I've libelled them.

Statistics, survey results and/or equations in this article were sponsored by a PR company.

Let's start with the obvious one. It seems like half the content of the tabloids are made up of this: bits of 'research' put out by a PR team with the questionable backing of a cash-strapped university somewhere. Ben Goldacre talks about this much more competently than I ever could.

I'm not sure how these newspapers would fill their pages without these.

This article is basically just a press release, copied and pasted.

Oh yeah, that's what they use. I forgot.

Medical claims in this article have not been confirmed by peer-reviewed research.

The Daily Mail's attempt to classify everything as either 'causing' and 'curing' cancer is already well documented, but there's plenty of wacky medical claims in all the newspapers. Ooh, look, some healing crystals.

This article is based on an unverified, anonymous tipoff.

This sticker's mainly for celebrity articles: Starsuckers did a good job of showing just how little verification is frequently done.

To meet a deadline, this article was plagiarised from another news source.

To be fair, newspaper journalists have far too little time to do far too much, particularly with the steady collapse of print circulations. If a story breaks just before the deadline, they may just copy it: but it seems only fair to require labelling in a case like this.

This article contains unsourced, unverified information from Wikipedia.

...and we all know what happens when you do this.

Journalist does not understand the subject they are writing about.

Now this'd be fine, if journalists were willing or able to call upon expert sources to verify claims, and then to quote their responses. Otherwise you get front-page headlines about cures for cancer based on small irrelevant studies on mice.

Journalist hiding their own opinions by using phrases like 'some people claim'.

More common among pundits and comment writers than newshounds, but still worth flagging.

To ensure future interviews with subject, important questions were not asked.

Is there some celebrity with a wacky religion they're really touchy about? Don't worry: no-one on the gossip pages will dare ask them about it. They can't risk being blackballed.

Includes content written by Richard Littlejohn.

Enough said, really.

Make your own!

If you'd like your own set, grab an A4 13-by-5 sheet of stickers (they're labelled as '65 per sheet' or Avery L7651), and print out this PDF template. If you're in America, then Scott has kindly put together a US version that fits on Avery's Letter-size 5160 labels or equivalent.

StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 1:52 PM 0 comments


Now it becomes CONTAMINASTAN!!

KABUL, Aug. 16, 2010 (Xinhua News Agency) -- Afghanistan has discovered an oil field containing an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of crude oil, local media reported Monday.

The resource would be more than 10 times the size of the country's discovered oil reserves, according to Outlook Afghanistan, the leading newspaper of the country.

The huge oil resource has been discovered by Afghan geologists in cooperation with international geologists in the area between the country's northern provinces of Balkh and Sheberghan, Jawad Omar, spokesman for the Ministry for Mines and Industries, was quoted as saying.

Agence France-Presse First Posted 19:33:00 08/15/2010

Filed Under: Oil & Gas - Upstream activities

KABUL . Afghanistan's mining ministry announced Sunday that a new oil deposit with an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of crude had been discovered in the relatively peaceful north of the war-torn country.

"It's a totally new oil deposit, which extends in a triangle between Balkh, Hairatan and Shuburghan", ministry spokesman Jawad Omar told AFP.

"The reserves of the new deposit are estimated at 1.8 billion barrels of crude," he added.

Geologists are not expected to complete further assessments on the ground until January and then the deposit will be opened to tender, Omar said.

It is the sixth oil deposit discovery in Afghanistan. The largest are found in the Amu Daria river basin marking the border between Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tadjikistan.

There are others in Herat, in the west, Helmand in the south and Paktia in the southeast.

In late June, Afghanistan's mines minister Wahidullah Shahrani said he had been in talks with oil giants Total and ENI as well as Canadian firm Heritage Oil about exploration deals in Afghanistan.

I heard it on www.democracynow.org first.


Afghan president to eliminate private security within 4 months

The move appears to trump actions by NATO to rein in the contractors, which have incited public fury with incidents that have left civilians dead and injured. The guards are used extensively by the Western community.

By Laura King, Los Angeles Times

August 16, 2010|6:28 a.m.

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan .

President Hamid Karzai will shut down all private security firms operating in Afghanistan within four months, his spokesman announced Monday, sending ripples of alarm through a Western community that relied heavily on such protection.

The Afghan leader had said for months that he intended to call a halt to the operations of private security firms, which are not regulated by the Afghan government and have long been a source of friction between Karzai's administration and the West.

However, in announcing a fairly near-term deadline for the shutdown, the president appeared to preempt efforts by NATO's International Security Assistance Force to register private security contractors and set standards for their behavior.

The deadline could be used as a bargaining chip by Karzai in an ongoing dispute over corruption in his government. Those tensions escalated when the president recently moved to assert control over two Afghan bodies tasked with tackling fraud and graft, after the home of a senior Karzai aide suspected of bribery was raided.

Dozens of private security companies, some foreign and some Afghan, are thought to have a workforce numbering around 40,000 people. They vie for billions of dollars in contracts, many handed out by the U.S. military.

Western officials have expressed agreement in principle with Karzai's demand to rein in the security contractors, but the timetable could cause serious problems for foreign firms, diplomatic missions, the NATO force and others.

All over the capital, international organizations, restaurants, hotels and guesthouses are surrounded by high concrete blast barriers and . almost invariably . private guards.

Karzai has said Afghan security forces would take up the slack, but few here consider the Afghan police and army ready to shoulder the burden of providing general security. And even with the troop buildup ordered by President Obama, which is nearing completion, Western military forces are already spread thin.

The U.S. Embassy, which makes use of private security, has had no immediate comment on Karzai's decision, which is expected to be formalized with a decree later Monday.

Karzai's spokesman, Waheed Omar, told reporters in Kabul on Monday that "within four months, all private security companies will be disbanded." Nine days earlier, Karzai had made a speech pledging to scrap private security firms but did not set a deadline at that time.

As also happened in Iraq, security contractors in Afghanistan periodically have stirred public fury with incidents that have left civilians dead and injured. In theory, they are subject to Afghan law but, at times, have been whisked out of the country when prosecution looms.

At the end of July, a traffic accident involving contractors from DynCorp that killed four Afghans fueled furious anti-American protests in Kabul.

Karzai's move appears to have taken Western officials by surprise.

Hours before Omar's announcement, a Western military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Josef Blotz, offered an update on actions of a military task force set up in June to provide oversight of private security firms.

Blotz told reporters the transition away from contractors and to the Afghan army and police would "happen over time."


StumbleUpon PLEASE give it a thumbs up Stumble It!
Bookmark and Share
posted by u2r2h at 9:11 AM 2 comments