Friday, October 23, 2009

At least now we know who's on our side

The antiwar movement retreats by Sharon Smith at Socialist Worker

Well, at least now we can tell the people who really oppose the wars apart from the Democrats who were only faking opposition for political advantage.

THE U.S. left has failed to effectively oppose the war in Afghanistan from its onset, when the U.S. population overwhelmingly supported the war on the pretext that "we were attacked."

That support has severely eroded, and polls show that a clear majority now wants to end the occupation. Yet many on the left have remained confused for the last eight years--ardently opposing the war in Iraq while remaining silent about the equally immoral war in Afghanistan.

This confusion has apparently been compounded by the election of Barack Obama, who initially opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Obama's Nobel Peace Prize notwithstanding, however, he has since embraced the aims of U.S. imperialism with gusto. U.S. troops and, perhaps more importantly, U.S. military bases remain in Iraq with no deadline for complete withdrawal.

Obama authorized a surge of 21,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan soon after taking office and is now pondering whether to send at least 40,000 more. These are no longer George W. Bush's wars. Obama has claimed them for himself. So far, the only consequence of the surge has been the resurgence of the Taliban resistance against U.S. occupation. Even his pledge to close the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay remains unfulfilled.

Warning, its dangerous to your health to pay too much attention to the positions of Democrats. You can suffer severe whiplash when they suddenly change direction. In this case, as the Democrats shift from campaign rhetoric that sounded vaguely antiwar to policies that escalate and expand the wars, the only way Democrats can even pretend to be in favor of 'peace' is if they espouse George Orwell's famous slogan that "War is Peace."

At what point will the people who vote Democrat because they want peace realize that they don't get peace when they elect Democrats?

So, what's Code Pink doing these days?
A waste of $30,400
AT A recent event hosted by the Democratic Party, Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans wasted $30,400 to have a dinner and then a photo-op with President Obama.

Code Pink used this as an opportunity to deliver a petition to the president signed by Afghan women stating that they want a say at the negotiating table and a commitment or time frame for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan.

The reply from Obama, at first, was incredulous stupidity. "What do you mean?" he said. "We have Hillary (Clinton) as my secretary of state."

Did they expect a different result? And, they spent $30,000 on that? Of course, I'm sure the Democrats loved that these suckers gave them $30,000. The really sad part is that this $30,000 will be used to elect more pro-war Democrats, and probably parts of it will be used to attack and defeat real candidates for peace. Great job Code Pink, you just helped to finance more of the pro-war politicians that we need to be trying to defeat.

BTW, remember back during the election when the Democrats were trying to tell us that it would be better for the left to have Obama as President, because he'd be more open to talk with the left and more receptive to its ideas? Well, here's the reality. If you want to waste $30,000, you can pay to attend an event with the President, and say something to him quickly in the receiving line. He won't have a clue what you are talking about, and there's not a chance this will change policies.

And notice what you do not see with Obama. This President that is willing to constantly meet and talk with Republicans never invites a group like Code Pink into the office to have a discussion on policy. Code Pink has adjusted is goals to suddenly support Obama's war in Afghanistan, and they give $30,000 to the Democrats, and they still can't talk to him beyond a meaningless few seconds at a photo op. What are the odds of a real anti-war group having its voice heard in this Democratic White House?

Well, at least we know by now for sure that the Democrats are not on our side. And if Code Pink is on our side, they have a particularly clueless way of trying to help since what they are doing is financing the pro-war candidates.

As the song lyrics used in the banner say, "Its all too clear we are on our own."

But that's not a bad thing. The biggest weakness of 'the left' in my time has been its constant willingness to be subservient to the Democrats. Its all too clear we are on our own. So, let's start organizing and acting like it. We'll quickly find that we have more power than we think.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

How low can we go?

US Vows to Stand By Israel Over Gaza War Crimes from

In a meeting today with America’s Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, Israeli President Shimon Peres condemned the UN for “spreading lies” in allowing the Goldstone Report’s consideration.

From the referenced Haaretz story:
Rice promised that the United States will continue to stand by Israel as a loyal friend in the fight against the Goldstone report.

The US just vowed to fight the United Nations for daring to issue a report that officially documents well-reported (outside the US corporate media that is) war crimes committed by Israel in its attacks on the civilian population of Gaza.

Read the Goldstone Report, its only 452 pages :), here

Here's a taste of what the US now unreservedly supports, and for which the US now 'vows to fight' the United Nations for daring to report.

The Mission investigated 11 incidents in which serious allegations of direct attacks with lethal outcome were made against civilians. There appears to have been no justifiable military objective pursued in any of them. The first two incidents concern alleged attacks by Israeli armed forces against houses in the al-Samouni neighbourhood of Gaza during the initial phase of the ground invasion. The following group of seven incidents concern the alleged shooting of civilians who were trying to leave their homes to walk to a safer place, waving white flags and, in some of the cases, following an injunction from the Israeli armed forces to do so. In the last of these seven cases, a house was allegedly shelled with white phosphorous, killing five and injuring others. Two further members of the family were allegedly shot by Israeli troops as they tried to evacuate the wounded to a hospital. In the following incident, a mosque was targeted during the early evening prayer, resulting in the death of 15. In many of the incidents, the Israeli armed forces allegedly obstructed emergency medical help to the wounded. A further incident concerns the bombing of a family house, killing 22 family members. In the last of the incidents described, a crowd of family and neighbours at a condolence tent was attacked with flechettes.
(I highlighted some of the more outrageous cases just so they don't get lost in all of this text. And this is just one example paragraph I went and found quickly by skimming the report. )

So, now the US supports the bombing of relatives gathered for a funeral, and the firing on people who want to aid the wounded, and on innocent civilians trying to move under a white flag? How low can we go? But hey, maybe Obama can give another nice speech to the Arab world and patch everything up.

Note of course that the US and Israel don't contradict any of the facts in the report. Instead, they attack its Jewish author as being an 'anti-Semite', and they attack the UN for ...

"The United Nations provides a stage for Ahmmadinejad, who threatens to annihilate Israel, and lets him stand judge," continued Peres.

Having a public debate on what Israel actually did in Gaza, (Israel acting with full US blessings of course), would be embarrassing. So, instead they attack any messengers who dare to report that message.

Gonna Party like its 1939

Mending Fences, Biden Assures Poland That U.S. Is Watching Over It from NY Times.

The title of this blog post is a joke. And, I'm guessing many Americans don't know enough history to get the joke. But, in Poland they certainly got it. In searching for something that explained the 'assurances' that Britain and France gave Poland in 1939, I instead found the following article on a website. And its author discusses Obama' recent decisions about missile bases on Polish territory by discussing the events of 1939 and the Polish point of view towards these events.

Americans may not get the joke, but the Poles most certainly do.

Struggle for the historic truth about September 1939

As a result of the failure of the international community to assure Poland’s security, the Polish people were subjected to inconceivable suffering with grave implications for many generations to come, the entire world was plunged into the greatest catastrophe ever, and the entire region of Eastern and Central Europe was enslaved for half a century. This tragic history teaches that the voice of Poland must be carefully taken into account while debating any international security arrangements.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

He must be a King!

Classic scene from Monty Python

Two peasants talking as a man in armor 'rides' by.
1st Peasant: "He must be a King."
2nd Peasant: "Why?"
1st Peasant: "He doesn't have shit all over him."

Modern 21st Century American version:

Two peasants, standing in the mud outside the auction that is foreclosing on their homes. A limo drives by, with a vague glimpse of a man in a suit in the back talking on the phone.

1st Peasant: "He must be a Senator."
2nd Peasant: "Why"
1st Peasant: "He doesn't have shit all over him."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Can you spit?

Where oppression comes from by Paul D'Amato via

Capitalism needs oppression. The Industrial Workers of the World used to have a saying that if all the workers of the world spit at the same time, the tiny capitalist class would drown.

Ok, everyone on three:
... 1
... 2

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Is the US supporting terrorists?

Five Iranian Commanders, 26 Others Killed by Suicide Bomber
US-Backed Jundallah Reportedly Claims Credit

by Jason Ditz, October 18, 2009, via

At least 31 people were killed today, many of them top commanders in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and 25 others were wounded in a suicide attack in Sistan-Balochistan.

The article has links on to BBC's reporting on the attack.

The exact extent of US backing for Jundallah is a matter of some dispute. Officials who privately acknowledge the relationship insist everything was careful worked to avoid Congressional oversight and that the relationship was “appropriate”, but the captured brother of Jundallah’s leader insists the US directly funded the group and has ordered them to carry out attacks.

So, is the US a supporter and financier of terrorist attacks?

Lets go back to what Seymour Hersh was saying and writing in the middle of 2008...

Preparing the Battlefield
The Bush Administration steps up its secret moves against Iran.

by Seymour M. Hersh in the New Republic

late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership. The covert activities involve support of the minority Ahwazi Arab and Baluchi groups and other dissident organizations.

and ...

“The Finding was focussed on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” The Finding provided for a whole new range of activities in southern Iran and in the areas, in the east, where Baluchi political opposition is strong, he said.

and ...
The Democratic leadership’s agreement to commit hundreds of millions of dollars for more secret operations in Iran was remarkable, given the general concerns of officials like Gates, Fallon, and many others. “The oversight process has not kept pace—it’s been coöpted” by the Administration, the person familiar with the contents of the Finding said. “The process is broken, and this is dangerous stuff we’re authorizing.”

Does anyone think that the 'oversight' process has gotten any better with complete Democratic control of the government? Can anyone picture the Democratic Congress that refused to investigate Bush ever having any real oversight over a Democratic President?

The language was inserted into the Finding at the urging of the C.I.A., a former senior intelligence official said. The covert operations set forth in the Finding essentially run parallel to those of a secret military task force, now operating in Iran, that is under the control of JSOC. Under the Bush Administration’s interpretation of the law, clandestine military activities, unlike covert C.I.A. operations, do not need to be depicted in a Finding, because the President has a constitutional right to command combat forces in the field without congressional interference. But the borders between operations are not always clear: in Iran, C.I.A. agents and regional assets have the language skills and the local knowledge to make contacts for the JSOC operatives, and have been working with them to direct personnel, matériel, and money into Iran from an obscure base in western Afghanistan. As a result, Congress has been given only a partial view of how the money it authorized may be used. One of JSOC’s task-force missions, the pursuit of “high-value targets,” was not directly addressed in the Finding. There is a growing realization among some legislators that the Bush Administration, in recent years, has conflated what is an intelligence operation and what is a military one in order to avoid fully informing Congress about what it is doing.

“This is a big deal,” the person familiar with the Finding said. “The C.I.A. needed the Finding to do its traditional stuff, but the Finding does not apply to JSOC. The President signed an Executive Order after September 11th giving the Pentagon license to do things that it had never been able to do before without notifying Congress. The claim was that the military was ‘preparing the battle space,’ and by using that term they were able to circumvent congressional oversight. Everything is justified in terms of fighting the global war on terror.” He added, “The Administration has been fuzzing the lines; there used to be a shade of gray”—between operations that had to be briefed to the senior congressional leadership and those which did not—“but now it’s a shade of mush.”

“The agency says we’re not going to get in the position of helping to kill people without a Finding,” the former senior intelligence official told me. He was referring to the legal threat confronting some agency operatives for their involvement in the rendition and alleged torture of suspects in the war on terror. “This drove the military people up the wall,” he said. As far as the C.I.A. was concerned, the former senior intelligence official said, “the over-all authorization includes killing, but it’s not as though that’s what they’re setting out to do. It’s about gathering information, enlisting support.” The Finding sent to Congress was a compromise, providing legal cover for the C.I.A. while referring to the use of lethal force in ambiguous terms.

That's a big block of quotes, but this is important stuff, and well worth reading. First item of note is that there are parallel CIA and military operations working in exactly this area of Iran and exactly with the sort of groups that appear to have started these attacks.

Listen to Seymour Hersh on Democracy Now! just after this article was published.

At the very end of the interview, he touches on ....
They would also like to create enough chaos in the country, bombings, sabotage, which is going up since this operation began. There’s always the connection but I do not have any empirical evidence for it. In the last four months, the latest incidents in terms of domestic violence, bombings, in attacks have gone up exponentially. We would like to the Iranian central government crackdown but in some vigorous weighed against these groups include a situation where there is sort of open dissidents, open warfare, then perhaps begin come in.

If we had a real Congress in a real democracy with real checks and balances, it would appear to be long since time for the Congress to investigate and understand exactly what lethal force is being used in this region where suicide bombs are going off ... and to put an end to it.

Killing 30 or more people with a bomb is wrong, and it is evil. The only way for peace is for all sides to agree that this is wrong, that this is evil, and that this can never occur.