Category: Foreign Policy

U.S. Prepares to Jettison Al-Maliki

Posted by – August 29, 2007

I saw this story the other day:

By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer
Wed Aug 22, 8:58 AM ET

DAMASCUS, Syria – Iraq’s prime minister lashed out Wednesday at U.S. criticism, saying no one has the right to impose timetables on his elected government and that his country “can find friends elsewhere.”

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki blamed the U.S. presidential campaign for the recent tough words about his government, from President Bush and from other U.S. politicians.

Bush on Tuesday said he was frustrated with Iraqi leaders’ inability to bridge political divisions. But he added that only the Iraqi people can decide whether to sideline al-Maliki.

“Clearly, the Iraqi government’s got to do more,” Bush said. “I think there’s a certain level of frustration with the leadership in general, inability to work — come together to get, for example, an oil revenue law passed or provincial elections.”

Full article: AP: Iraqi PM lashes out at U.S. critics

Then the next day I saw this story:

CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) — A powerhouse Republican lobbying firm with close ties to the White House has begun a public campaign to undermine the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, CNN has confirmed.

This comes as President Bush is publicly taking great pains to reiterate his support for the embattled Iraqi leader.

Al-Maliki’s government has come under sharp criticism and scrutiny from Washington lawmakers and officials, as reflected in Thursday’s National Intelligence Estimate.

A senior Bush administration official told CNN the White House is aware of the lobbying campaign by Barbour Griffith & Rogers because the firm is “blasting e-mails all over town” criticizing al-Maliki and promoting the firm’s client, former interim Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, as an alternative to al-Maliki.

But the senior administration official insisted that White House officials have “absolutely no involvement” in the campaign to remove al-Maliki, nor have they given it their blessing.

“There’s just no connection whatsoever,” the official said. “There’s absolutely no involvement.”

When asked whether the White House will ask the prominent Republican lobbying firm to stop lashing out at al-Maliki, the official said, “I don’t rule it out.”

Pressed on why allies of the White House would be contradicting the president publicly, the senior administration official said of the lobbyists, “They’re making a lot of money.”

Full article: CNN: Powerhouse GOP firm working to undermine Iraqi PM

So basically, al-Maliki got a little rebellious under all the withering criticism, and also he won’t hand over the oil.

The next day, a major GOP firm is handed a fat contract to agitate against al-Maliki.

Coincidence? I think not.

And where would exiled former PM Allawi get that kind of money?
*cough* CIA *cough*

The lobbyists have even parked the domain name AllawiForIraq.com.

Hillary Clinton also said we should throw al-Maliki under the bus. As usual, she is on the same page with the neo-cons.

I would HATE to be al-Maliki. Worst job EVAR.
He’s surrounded by a zillion impossible catch 22s and is simply stalling.
Poor bastard.

I hope he flees before a bullet makes the decision for him.

Nick

This Day In History, U.S. Overthrows Iran Gov’t

Posted by – August 19, 2007

On this day, August 19, in 1953, the Americans and British overthrew the democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammed Mossadegh. Mossadegh ended (BP) British Petroleum’s monopoly over Iranian oil, and *gasp* nationalized their oil fields so that Iranians would benefit from their own resources.

The Western powers, angry at being cut out of the oil money, and fearing the wave of anti-corporate sentiment would allow Iran to fall under Soviet influence, imposed crippling sanctions on Iran, plunging their people into poverty and the country into chaos. Then the UK and U.S. decided to stage a coup d’etat.

Operation Ajax, led by the CIA, deposed and imprisoned Prime Minister Mossadegh, and installed sympathetic general Fazlollah Zahedi in his place. Not only did BP retain a hold over Iran’s oil, but Shell oil and other corporations got a piece of the pie.

Imagine what could’ve happened if Mossadegh had succeeded? Democracy may have spread from Iran all over the Middle East.
We stopped democracy cold. We don’t want democracy in the region.

In 2000, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright issued an official U.S. apology to the Iranian people for the overthrow. “We deposed your democracy. Sorry about that.”

CIA documents about the coup were also released in 2000, and they contained the first use of the term “blowback.”
And man, was there major blowback from Operation Ajax. It created deep and lasting rage that led directly to the Iranian Islamic Revolution, and continues to be reflected in the body counts of U.S. troops in the various wars in the region since then.

Happy un-democracy anniversary, Iran!

Nick

Stunning Video: Cheney Against Invading Iraq

Posted by – August 12, 2007

Dick Cheney in 1994: Invading Iraq Would Create Quagmire

WOW.

He made the exact same arguments the Dems made. He couldn’t have been more right.

I wonder what caused his 180 degree turn after he became CEO of Halliburton then VP….

Iraqi Jewish Woman Very Angry At War

Posted by – July 12, 2007

I found this on YouTube. It is testimony from Dahlia Wasfi, a physician with a Jewish mother (who fled the Nazis) and an Iraqi father, and she has done two long visits to Iraq recently to help during the war.

This testimony is riveting. She is very angry, screen-melting angry, about America invading her country. She is furious at the chaos, lack of water, and the WMD that the U.S. is using in Iraq (depleted uranium, napalm, white phosphorous). It’s such an inflammatory speech, I was initially reticent to post it here, but it is so compelling I had to. I consider her viewpoint unassailable, since she saw what’s happening in Iraq with her own eyes and we didn’t.

She says the Jewish motto “NEVER AGAIN” (never again should a people be destroyed) must extend to Iraqis too. I think this is the only moral approach.

If we’re in Iraq (supposedly for humanitarian purposes) without Iraq’s consent, isn’t that like rape, and doomed to fail?

Nick

New Newsweek Poll: Misinformed Population ALARMS Me!

Posted by – June 24, 2007


In a new Newsweek Poll first posted Saturday, 41% of Americans say Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was directly involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks . Thanks Dick Cheney! Thanks Rush Limbaugh! You are successfully duping a huge swath of the population.

However this is down from 49%, a plurality, that believed this lie in Newsweek’s polling in 2004.

Also in this poll, 20% of respondents said most 9/11 hijackers were Iraqis.

20% said the U.S. has found WMDs in Iraq (thanks Rush! thanks Rick Santorum, for repeating this lie!)

More were able to name the latest winner of “American Idol” than could identify the recently-appointed Chief Justice of the United States (not surprising).

What appalled me more was that half of Americans polled didn’t know that Libya does not border Iraq (the question was: which of these countries is NOT Iraq’s neighbor?)


You can read the raw numbers here: NEWSWEEK Poll June 23, 2007, Conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

We’re in deep trouble, ladies and gentlemen!

Nick

Giving Your Money to Evil, Saddam-style Dictators

Posted by – June 24, 2007

I’ve been increasingly angry lately (nothing new) about how the Republicans want to slash aid to poor and disabled Americans because “we can’t afford it” but have no qualms whatsoever about funneling BILLIONS of our money to the worst evil dictators imaginable.

Did you know we prop up the evil dictator in Ethiopia to the tune of $500 million a year? The New York Times did some stunning boots-on-the ground reporting last week on what the Ethiopian regime is doing to repress a rebellion in its Somali province–torturing women with pliers, etc.
Ethiopian-Americans are writing Congress and saying please stop funding this tyrant, Meles Zenawi (here is a YouTube video about this, it is awesome that dissidents are using the web to get the truth out). Expatriate dissident bloggers say the foreign aid only benefits Meles’ Cayman Island bankers. But Bush insists Ethiopia is an important ally in the “war on terra.”

Did you know we’re sending $120 million of taxpayer dollars to the government of Uzbekistan, that is universally regarded as one of the most corrupt, repressive regimes on Earth? To call these regimes EVIL is no exaggeration. Uzbekistan’s Saddam-style tyrant, Islom Karimov, is infamous for boiling dissidents alive, but we prop him up because he is “tough on terror.”



This is Uzbekistan dictator
Islom Karimov. He enjoys counting foreign aid money, long walks on the beach, and boiling opponents alive.

Bush has increased U.S. foreign aid by $5 billion, with the Democrats giving him standing ovations.
Don’t get me wrong, the Dems are not exempt from my ire. Clinton was just as bad about funding tyrannical regimes, and there are some liberals right now begging for more aid to authoritarian dystopias like Zimbabwe, and those people need to check themselves.

There seems to be a strange unanimity on both sides of the aisle that propping up “pro-American regimes” is “in U.S. interests,” no matter how brutally repressive their governments are. I would argue that letting one dime from the U.S. treasury assist despots who torture their own people is extremely damaging to American interests, and proves our rhetoric about “making the world safe for democracy” is crap.

Here’s what sparked my interest in this topic: on Bill Moyers Journal Friday, they had an incredible exposé about how DC lobbyists are perfectly willing to aid and abet evil dictatorships. Harper’s magazine investigative journalist, Ken Silverstein, posed as a representative of Turkmenistan, one of the most notorious Stalinist regimes ever, and talked to two major lobbying firms. These firms bent over backwards to get multi-million dollar contracts to do PR, damage control and lobbying for Turkmenistan. They said they work through fake front groups and set up phony events.

Watch and listen to this report

“Although there are distinct limits to what they can achieve, lobbyists are the crucial conduit through which pariah regimes advance their interests in Washington.” — Ken Silverstein

Advance their interests in Washington–i.e. legally bribe public officials to get huge aid packages of OUR MONEY for dictators.

Are American lobbying firms like the ones described in this story responsible for the millions in aid to these regimes? According to what Silverstein is reporting, yes.

We are a nation founded on the idea of destroying tyranny, not helping it.

Where the hell are the candidates running on a platform of “NO MONEY FOR TYRANTS!!” ???
I see no candidate stepping up to the plate.

This should make everyone FURIOUS!

And I don’t want to hear another word from politicians talking about “cost-cutting” and “unsustainable” social programs (Dems too) unless every single despotic scumbag is cut off the dole FIRST! Yes Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, this means you.

What happened to our own people mattering most? what happened to “America First?”
what about priorities?

Services and infrastructure for Americans is being cut to the bone, while we buy new palaces for dozens of new Saddams.

I AM OUTRAGED!

Nick

Why The Global Shortage of Good Leaders?

Posted by – June 7, 2007

There is a very disturbing worldwide trend going on.

In 1957 our president was Eisenhower and Israel’s PM was David Ben-Gurion. Say what you will about them, but they were competent. They weren’t bumblers or fools.

In 2007 Israel is headed by the failed mayor of Jerusalem and the U.S. is run by the Clown Car Administration. The Bushies could hardly govern their way out of a paper bag, much less effectively manage the myriad of complex crises we’re facing.

And this isn’t just an issue for the U.S. and its allies. There is a worldwide crisis of leadership now.

Europe has largely been led by various ineffective center-left or center-right coalitions that haven’t led their countries to greatness (i.e. where’s your cure for cancer, bitches? where’s your extraterrestrial colonization?)

Asia and Africa are largely ruled by regimes similar to that Uzbekistan dictator who boils dissidents alive. Russia is going fascist. Where is Iraq’s Thomas Jefferson? Al-Maliki was the best they could do?

This is a real down stroke, a moment of malaise (or outright malevolence) in history.

There have been countless periods like this throughout human history, but rarely in my lifetime has it been so noticeable. I’m feeling that Jack Johnson song “Where’d All The Good People Go?”

Where is our Gandhi? Where is our Martin Luther King? Where is our John Adams? Where is our Abraham Lincoln? Where is our FDR? Hell, I’d settle for a solid President Taft at this point.

What is causing this global shortage of competent leaders?

Is it solar flares?

Worldwide conspiracy to erode government and allow more lawlessness and corporate looting?

Global warming? The lack of pirates?

A historical law of diminishing returns? (Jamie’s suggestion)

Is it covert sabotage by time traveling zombies?

What do you think is causing the global shortage of good leaders?

On the horizon I don’t see a lot of hope either. I’ve been following the presidential primaries very closely (I’m fascinated by the issues and the debates) and the reaction the candidates elicit from me range from “ok” to “meh” to “NOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

But I can still be sold.

Nick

Inexorable Cycle of History?

Posted by – May 4, 2007


“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun” —
Ecclesiastes 1:9-14

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. Are the events shaping the U.S. just a part of an inexorable repeating cycle of history?

In the 1920s the wealth inequality grew to the point where only a select few were comfortable, and then with the drought and widespread agricultural failures (and a myriad of very debatable factors), the American economy collapsed, and there was a certain natural resetting of wealth, and then the boom years following WWII created the modern middle class.

Now since the 1990s we’re experiencing a mini-Gilded Age. The Golden 300,000 control our politics lock, stock and barrel. Robber barons seem to be back, and according to all the studies wealth inequality is worse than at any time since the 1920s, and resentment of the rich and demand for change is higher than at any time since then as well (check out this new Gallup poll).

Inequality is very bad; the prophets rail against it. Inequality caused a mob of hungry French women to storm Versailles and put two Royal bodyguards’ heads on pikes. Inequality caused the bloody railroad strikes of 1877, when state troops broke the strike with bayonets and Gatling guns.

My question is: is the consolidation of wealth until the poor can no longer afford to buy products from the tycoons (though I know it’s more complex), then economic collapse results, then we restart the cycle–is this just the unstoppable track history is on?

Given this cycle of a major economic depression every 100 yeahs or so, should we expect a collapse around the 2020s? Because of the staggering level of personal debt in this country, combined with our insane trade deficits, it doesn’t exactly take Nostradamus to predict that we’re one more straw on the camel’s back (drought, terrorism, global downturn) away from falling off the economic cliff into a major collapse.

Can we ever stop this cycle?

Other things are also so similar and seem stuck on the 100 year cycle as well. The polarization, the razor-thin (possibly stolen) elections, the money dominating politics, the imperialism defining the dawn of the 20th century is eerily similar to Bush’s that defined the beginning of the 21st.

Back then they waved the bloody shirt and shouted “Remember the Maine!” to justify the Spanish-American War (which was also expansionist and directly or indirectly to benefit corporate America).
Now politicians wave the bloody shirt and yell “Remember 9/11!” and “you haven’t learned the lessons of 9/11!” to justify our current wars.

It’s so similar. We racked up just under 3,300 KIA in the Spanish-American War too. And President McKinley may’ve been motivated by religious fervor as well. And Karl Rove cited McKinley as a model to follow.

Is this just an unstoppable cycle? Can we ever jump the tracks?

Nick

A Philadelphia Press political cartoon “Ten Thousand Miles From Tip to Tip” meaning the extension of U.S. domination (symbolized by a bald eagle) from Puerto Rico to the Philippines. The cartoon contrasts this with a map of the smaller United States of 100 years earlier in 1798.

Latest From The Iraqi Front, April 2007

Posted by – April 29, 2007


I wanted to post a quick note of my thoughts on the developing (and rapidly changing) situation on the Iraqi front.

Check out this story from the AP wire, Iraqi Insurgents Now Fighting Each Other. It describes how some of the Sunni insurgents are turning against al-Qaida:

MUQDADIYAH, Iraq — At least two major insurgent groups are battling al-Qaida in provinces outside Baghdad, American military commanders said Friday, an indication of a deepening rift between Sunni guerrilla groups in Iraq.

U.S. officers say a growing number of Sunni tribes are turning against al-Qaida, repelled by the terror group’s sheer brutality and austere religious extremism. The tribes are competing with al-Qaida for influence and control over diminishing territory in the face of U.S. assaults, the officers say. The influx of Sunni fighters to areas outside the capital in advance of the security crackdown in Baghdad may have further unsettled the region.

The Iraqis are going to work it out. They will crush al-Qaida and inevitably find some stability. We can best accelerate this process if we stop kicking the hornet’s nest and get out of the way.

As this Staff Sgt. put it, “this is our generation’s Vietnam,” and they are caught in a civil war they can’t win.

Is it “supporting the troops” to keep them in such an untenable situation?

American commanders cite al-Qaida’s severe brand of Islam, which is so extreme that in Baqouba, al-Qaida has warned street vendors not to place tomatoes beside cucumbers because the vegetables are different genders, Col. David Sutherland said.

Such radicalism has fueled sectarian violence in Iraq and redrawn the demographics of many mixed Sunni-Shiite towns in Diyala, where tens of thousands of Shiites have been forced to flee large population centers.

These guys are CRAZAAAAY!! Fruit segregation is nowhere in the Koran, but evidently this is something extremist groups are pushing. Check out this video:

The Iraqi people aren’t buying what the al-Qaida types are selling; they have nothing to offer but neurotic religious stringency and authoritarianism, and almost no one wants to live under that. Al-Qaida is already being marginalized and would have no meaningful support at all if there were no Western “Crusaders” in the region to attack (antipathy toward Europeans from Medieval times runs so deep that some Arabs paint houses blue to ward off “the blue-eyed devils”).

“Iraqis are sick of foreign people coming in their country and trying to destabilize their country.” —George W. Bush
The president was jabbing at the Iranians here; he has no ability to detect the irony of saying this while commanding 160,000+.foreign people in Iraq.

We toppled Saddam, our military was victorious. Now it’s a political clash between competing factions and, unfortunately, there’s little more we can achieve other than exacerbating the violence.

It’s past time to leave Iraq! No more wasted blood and treasure, please!

But of course, guys like Congressman Don Young say you should be executed for treason if you want to pull out. How do we find solutions in that climate?

Sadly, we will likely be bogged down in Iraq for years to come.

Nick

What The U.S. Can Learn From “Lawrence of Arabia”

Posted by – April 11, 2007

In my post, Why did they create the new nation of Iraq? I discussed T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) and his vision of the Middle East’s borders after WWI, which would’ve amounted to the Shias getting their own state in the Mesopotamian Basin, a single state for most of the Sunnis of what are now the fake nations of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and the whole region transitioning to Arab self-rule. The British shot down Lawrence’s proposal, because they were imperialists in the purest sense, and wanted an Empire of “civilized” and orderly Western governments sending them resources and profits.


The real T.E. Lawrence

It should almost go without saying that America is failing in Iraq today mainly due to our woeful ignorance of history and the nature of the region and its people.

We can learn a lot from the British Empire’s mistakes in their Mandate of Mesopotamia.

1) There is a natural tissue rejection of any foreign body. The Iraqis in 1919 and 1920 revolted against British rule. The Ayatollahs in Karbala and Najaf declared jihad against the English. The Kurds resisted as well. The area was only controlled with heavy bombing from the Royal Air Force and use of poison gas.

2) Subjugating people who don’t want to be subjugated is ugly. It was ugly when Saddam did it, it was ugly when the British did it, and it is ugly with our new version Subjugation 2.0 that we’re attempting today. It is immoral, and lends itself to atrocities. Facing the 1920 rebellion in Iraq, Winston Churchill wrote, “I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. I am strongly in favour of using poison gas against uncivilised tribes.” And use gas on tribes they did. “gas was used against the Iraqi rebels with excellent morale effect,” Churchill said. Phosphorus bombs were also employed. The West today acts outraged that Saddam gassed the Kurds, but had no problem selling Saddam said gas, nor with gassing rebellious tribes themselves decades earlier.

3) Iraq, and Arabs, are not what people think.
Iraq is a fake construct, and though Iraqis are now attached to the current territory, the borders were drawn by the British in such a way to engender instability and dependence on foreigners.

Everyone should watch Lawrence of Arabia. While it is flawed, it did win seven Oscars (including Best Picture) and it gives real insight into the turbulent birth of modern “Arabism” and the struggles with it today.

What struck me most in Lawrence of Arabia was that the concept of “Arab” is also a new construct, and an identity, to an extent, also imposed by outsiders. The line in the movie when the Bedouin chieftain Auda abu Tayi says “what’s an Arab? I am Howitat!” says it all. Not only did he not have a unified Arab national identity, he did not know what an Arab was!!! He knew only a tribal identity.

Then after Lawrence and the chieftains seized Damascus from the Ottoman Turks, the Howitat and the Harith tribes can’t agree who will control what city services. Water is offline because the Howitat who control electricity won’t coordinate with the Harith who control water and need power to run the pumps (or visa versa). “Being an Arab will be thornier than you suppose, Harith!” Auda abu Tayi says. They blame each other and despise each other. I don’t know what happens, I think they end up giving the British the water duties and eventually the Imperialists play the tribes off each other as further pretext for foreign rule, but Lawrence says “There may be honor among thieves, but there’s none in politicians” and leaves Damascus.

The Damascus situation and the failure of the independent Arab state post-WWI seems like an eerily similar forerunner of the disturbing reports coming out of Baghdad lately, with tribes in gridlock and some areas devoid of basic government services like water and trash collection because sectarians will attack anyone working for the government as a “collaborator.” One of the most powerful quotes in the movie that hits home today is when Lawrence says, “So long as the Arabs fight tribe against tribe, so long will they be a little people, a silly people – greedy, barbarous, and cruel…” and while this statement had plenty of imperialism behind it, it’s hard not to see insight in it given the current tribal bloodbath in Iraq.

Though decades of nationalist rule created a strong Iraqi identity (check out Hometown Baghdad for a great vlog by ordinary Iraqis) and many Iraqis demand the old borders and stability be maintained, much of the population seems to have reverted to the same kind of pre-national tribalism and sectarian infighting seen in Lawrence of Arabia. Once tyranny is removed, whether it be Saddam or the Ottomans toppled, Arab society seems to inexorably revert to the more basic tribal forms. When in crisis, you go with what you know.

WWI created the outlines for all the disasters that we have in the Mideast today. The British stacked up the House of Cards that was Iraq. Now the U.S. has toppled it, but doesn’t know what the cards and identities even mean as they try to stack something back up, and are probably just making it worse.

We would do well to heed the lessons of history, and abandon our fruitless quest to pacify and remake the Middle East. It’s 2007, and we should know better than to retrace British blunders.

Leave Iraq to Iraqis; it’s the only way.

“Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” — George Santayana.

Nick