Monday, January 7, 2008

A Law to Criminalize Sleep?

By James Clark

As winter approaches and the Santa Cruz homeless shelter at the armory opens, many are discussing the Santa Cruz sleeping ban.
Santa Cruz’s sleeping ban, which was passed in 1977, began as an attempt to control waste left by summer tourists who slept on the beaches or camped in local parks, but over time it has become something else.
According to attorney Kate Wells and members of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the law is “a human rights violation which criminalizes homelessness.” A debate on the sleeping ban aired on a local TV program, “Voices from the Village,” on Nov. 11.
The debate featured Mayor Ryan Coonerty, arguing against civil rights attorney Kate Wells and Don Zimmerman from the local chapter of the ACLU. Vice Mayor Cynthia Mathews spoke on the need for the debate, saying, “it’s a continuous issue here in Santa Cruz,” and that it needed to be discussed.
The camping ban, commonly called the sleeping ban, prohibits sleeping on public property between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8:30 a.m. It is also against the law to set up cooking equipment, or to cover oneself at night with the intention of sleeping.
A key question in the debate was whether or not the city of Santa Cruz was doing enough for the homeless population in the way of shelters and other support programs and services.
“In terms of overnight shelters, we have 252 beds,” Coonerty said. “We have long-term shelters for families, mainly the Rebele Family Shelter, and we have low-income transitional housing.” Coonerty added that the homeless population is estimated to be around 1,500, leaving over a thousand homeless people without temporary housing.
When the shelters are full the citations are waived, Coonerty said. Yet some are still concerned about the state of homelessness and the lack of temporary housing.
Leslie Fontillas, a Santa Cruz local, shared her thoughts. “If sleeping on the street is illegal then [the city] should pursue getting more shelters or more community support programs.”
Coonerty commented on the fact that though counties typically cover the costs of shelters and social workers, the city of Santa Cruz spends “millions of dollars during the year” and also has its own social workers.
The city has a downtown social worker, and Santa Cruz pays half of this salary, while the county covers the other half, Coonerty said. “We also have a homeless service officer who puts [the homeless] in contact with shelters, and other counseling services.”
Though the shelters can only service 252 people out of 1,500, between 30 and 60 tickets are issued on average each month.
“Personally, I think the choices people make are not that much affected by the sleeping ban,” said Don Lane, associate director for administration at the Homeless Services Shelter. “Most know how to avoid the sleeping ban. A lot of people are camping and sleeping, and out of those only one or two are getting a citation. Most people who are out there know what to do to avoid getting a citation.”
Coonerty summarized the purpose of the ban. “It was meant to set a standard,” he said. “It’s mostly a health and safety issue, you can’t just have people sleeping in parks and neighborhoods.”

Military Recruits Eager Despite Wartime

December 30th, 2007 1:24 pm

Navy 'Deppers' Ready For Training

By Robin Mero / Morning News

BENTONVILLE, AR -- Lucretia Radloff used a fat black marker to pen the Navy's 11 General Orders of the Sentry across her pink bedroom walls.

When she leaves for basic training in June, the 17-year-old enlistee must be ready to recite them from memory -- anywhere, anytime, to anyone who asks.

A tiny brunette with delicate features, Radloff wanted to be a seaman since junior high school. She sat recently across a table from her mother in Starbucks, drinking a sugary coffee, shoulders draped with her boyfriend's letterman jacket.

So determined was Radloff to join the Navy after high school, she convinced her parents to sign early enlistment papers a year before her 18th birthday. Once a month now, she goes to a delayed entry program -- or "DEP" -- meeting, with dozens of recruits, called "deppers." They loudly recite those orders. They submit to hundreds of push-ups. They learn when and who to salute (each time upon encountering an officer outside, or once on ship first thing in the morning).

[ ... ]

Tony Corbett said his boys inherited his adventurous spirit.

"We have a saying in our family, 'If you're not living on the edge, you're leaving too much room.'"


Service With A Smile

Reasons cited for joining the military by enlistees in the U.S. Navy Delayed Entry Response Program in Rogers.

* An education

* Make some good money

* I want to fly

* To accelerate my life

* Get out of Arkansas

* Better myself

* Travel

* Life experiences

* Get my life straight

* My dad was in the military

* To do something different



'Child Trafficking . . . Babies'

" ... Generally, foreign nationals work as temporary guides across borders or provide shelters and safe houses along the routes or harbour victims traveling by land. This seemingly innocuous transaction has taken such dimensions that Nigeriatoday has been dubbed an endemic country in the trafficking of human beings.

In a citation index drawn up by UNODC, Nigeria ranks as "very high" as an origin country, and together with Cote D'Ivoire and South Africa, they are frequently cited as destinations for victims trafficked from African countries, bringing with it negative portrayals and odium internationally.
Perhaps, this propelled government to enact the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Law Enforcement and Administration Act, 2003, which also created the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons and Other Related Matters (NAPTIP).  As a result, Nigeria is the first African country to enact such a law and establish a specific agency to implement it. Since its establishment, NAPTIP, in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies, international agencies like UNICEF, the Italian and Belgian governments, have collaborated towards reducing the incidence of this illicit phenomenon. According to NAPTIP, an estimated 4.5 million persons are trafficked internationally, while about  10,000 are trafficked from Nigeria annually.
Before now, many people never knew that Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Forced Labour (FL) constituted an offence. Reactions hitherto have vacillated between ignorance and indifference. Executive Secretary of NAPTIP, Mrs. Caroline Ndaguba said it has been difficult obtaining accurate statistics on the trafficking situation in Africa because of the nature of the illicit trade. Quoting an earlier report from UNICEF on the phenomenon, she said that four per cent of repatriated victims of international trafficking in Nigeria are children. The female/male ratio is seven to three. "Internal trafficking in Nigeria was also reported to be forced labour (32 per cent), domestic labour (31 per cent) and prostitution (30 per cent)," she said. Inadequate as the statistics may be, Ndaguba said they illustrated the magnitude of human trafficking in Nigeria and efforts that need to be made to combat the illicit trade.
The agency's interventions have been in prosecuting traffickers, rehabilitating victims, collaborating with nations and agencies to fight the scourge and generally creating awareness in the public about this new menace. NAPTIP however, disagreed that poverty is not the reason and can never be the reason for human trafficking, but greed. ... "

ELDH Declaration on "Democracy in Turkey and the Kurds"

The European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights
(ELDH) notes with the greatest concern the news that the Turkish
Constitutional Court has been asked by the General Prosecutor to ban the DTP
(Demokratik Toplum Partisi - Party of the Democratic Society).

The banning of political parties and the imprisonment of their political
leaders has a long tradition in Turkey. Very often, in contradiction with
democratic rights, the constitutional pretext has been claimed to be the
safeguard of the integrity of the Turkish state.

However, ELDH doubts whether the banning of political parties has really
served the integrity of the Turkish state and the welfare of the people who
live in Turkey, or if result has not been even fiercer conflict and more
violence. And even greater doubt is justified if the integrity of the
Turkish State is always of higher value then the Turkish democracy. If the
present Turkish Constitution allows the Court to ban political parties and
to imprison politicians just for their exercise of their freedom of
expression, this demonstrates that the Turkish Constitution is in urgent
need of amendment.

If DTP is banned this will demonstrate that the tradition of banning
political parties and imprisonment of their political leaders and members
continues. Military force and prohibition of political actions will cause
social problems which will complicate the solution of the question for years
and cause hatred between Kurdish and Turkish peoples which will take a long
time to overcome.

Instead of following a policy to suppress any pro Kurdish political
movements, rights and freedoms to improve the democratic struggle of the
Kurdish people should be provided and conditions for democratic solution of
the Kurdish problem should be introduced.

- ELDH will observe this case with high attention.

- ELDH demands also that the European Union, their bodies and their member
states do the same in order to decide which might be an adequate political

- ELDH asks all lawyers in Europe to support its initiative, by signing this

(, January 4, 2007)

IARPA: "one of the agency's primary interests will be culture (and linguistics)"

Intel Geek Squad Targets Culture, Language
By Sharon Weinberger
2 Jan 2008
 The newly created Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency -- one of the latest attempts to create a new DARPA-like entity -- has released a preliminary solicitation that gives a good indication of what one of the agency's primary interests will be -- culture (and linguistics). IARPA this month began soliciting proposals for the "Socio-cultural Content in Language Program":
IARPA’s SCIL Program is seeking innovative, creative, cutting-edge research to achieve advancements in technologies that significantly expand human language understanding. As a mirror of socio-cultural norms and principles, language reflects people’s beliefs, goals, intentions and relationships. This R&D program intends to explore automated methods of correlating socio-cultural features with human language indicators. The goal of the program is to develop new approaches to expanding our knowledge of context, meaning and identity.
It looks like IARPA may be targeting a slightly different niche than other agencies and offices working on socio-cultural issues, saying it does not want to continue "the standard  work done in Information or Content Extraction, Social Network Analysis nor Data Mining." IARPA, at least for this proposal, wants to correlate linguistics with socio-cultural characteristics.

In-sourcing the Tools of National Power for Success and Security

by Matt Armstrong

Military operations may neutralize immediate kinetic threats and strategic communications may make promises, but enduring change comes from systemic overhauls that stabilize unstable regions. Security, humanitarian relief, governance, economic stabilization, and development are critical for ultimate democratization. (1) These are the real propaganda of deeds. Without competent and comprehensive action in these areas, tactical operations are simply a waste of time, money, and life.

Bullets and bombs represent short-term tactical responses to a much larger strategic dilemma. Any text worth reading on insurgency or counterinsurgency recognizes and emphasizes the operational and strategic center of gravity is the people. Failing to address grinding poverty and disillusionment in regions creates fertile breeding grounds for extremists, terrorists, and insurgents to attack the national interests of the United States.

The U.S. must in-source the tools of national power that support and compliment reconstruction and stabilization efforts to pacify and stabilize regions. The National Security Strategy declares the need to bring all of the elements of America’s national power to bear to build the “infrastructure of democracy” and to be a champion of “human dignity”. But, instead of consistent, coherent, and coordinated, operations, the U.S. relies on ad hoc reconstruction and stabilization solutions heavily dependent on outsourcing in lieu of any substantial internal capacity. This outsourcing of national power also relies on ad hoc solutions as companies quickly assemble teams that too often operate outside of existing military and other governmental operations in the region. We all know this is a fundamental requirement, even if we do not realize it. Consider the discussions surrounding the “Phase IV” planning for Iraq that recalled the Marshall Plan for post-war Europe. Too frequently lost in those discussions was the strategic and operational planning by the U.S. in the years prior to the collapse of Germany, as well as the civil and humanitarian aid that followed the American and British forces in the march to Germany.

Today the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) is a solution to address the structural problems of America’s response to unstable regions. Based on a “whole of government” approach, this office will in-source the most essential tools of national power while centralizing the ability to effectively partner with private sector providers. However, this civilian-based requirement of “winning” the post-conflict struggle cannot move forward because of a combination of misunderstanding and domestic posturing.

What is S/CRS

Established by former Secretary of State Colin Powell just over a year after the invasion of Iraq, S/CRS was intended to provide a permanent capability for planning and executing civilian stabilization and reconstruction operations, the lack of which plagued U.S. efforts to prevail in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. The mission of S/CRS is to lead, coordinate, and institutionalize U.S. Government civilian capacity to prevent or prepare for post-conflict situations, and to help stabilize and reconstruct societies in transition from conflict or civil strife, so they can reach a sustainable path toward peace, democracy and a market economy.

A recent editorial by Senator Richard Lugar and Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice described the broad and bipartisan support for S/CRS: the President, the State Department, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and both the civilian and military leadership of the Pentagon support the expansion of S/CRS. But, the most public component of S/CRS, the Civilian Reserve Corps, it is just one part of the larger solution to in-source the tools of national power.

Last month, I sat down with Ambassador John Herbst, the Coordinator for (S/CRS) (2), to discuss a new approach based in the State Department. This approach is intended to in-source critical tools of national power to compel and secure conflict and post-conflict regions, including failed and failing states. As the Coordinator, Ambassador Herbst is responsible for coordinating and harmonizing a “whole of government” approach to bring the tools of America’s national power that integrates with the military as required but can also operate independently to manage and support reconstruction and stabilization operations. Our conversation stemmed from the desire to get the word out about S/CRS and to cut through the misconceptions that have emerged around one element of its expeditionary capability, the Civilian Reserve Corps.

Ambassador Herbst discussed the architecture envisioned by S/CRS for use in future stability operations. At the top the Country Reconstruction and Stabilization Group (CRSG), a senior-level policy coordination body which includes the S/CRS Coordinator, State’s regional assistance secretary and the relevant NSC senior director, and is supported by a staff secretariat. This secretariat is stood up on demand and controls the flow of information, manages top level implementation, and writes the civilian plan. It is run by S/CRS but all relevant agencies participate.

Below this is the Integration Planning Cell (IPC) staffed by civilian planners from all relevant agencies. Operating at the theater level, it is deployed to the Combatant Commander’s headquarters to harmonize military and civilian planning.

The next level is the Advance Civilian Team (ACT). The interagency ACT implements the CRSG-approved strategic plan. The ACT operates under Chief of Mission authority if the country has a functioning U.S. embassy or could help establish a more permanent U.S. mission in the absence of an embassy.

However how the deployable components of S/CRS will be staffed has attracted the most attention by the public. There are three expeditionary components of S/CRS to meet the needs of non-functioning governments. The skill sets in these pools range from typical State Department roles like crisis negotiation and economic analysis to those more typical of other government agencies (and state and local governments and the private sector) like engineers, rule of law (police, judges, lawyers), economists, public administration, health administration, port administration, city planners, agronomists, and so on to work on sewage, water, electricity, waste disposal and other infrastructure requirements of a stable region.

The first of the three levels of mobilization is the Active Response Corps (ARC). Currently at 10 people, the Lugar-Biden Bill (S. 613) would upsize this to 250 people. The ARC would be composed of dedicated civil servants from across USG, mostly from the State Department, USAID, but also from the Justice Department, the Agricultural Department, and others. The ARC is a quick reaction force, ready to deploy within 48 hours. When they are not deployed, they are training with or on temporary duty assignment, or TDY, to military and other USG elements, including the Defense Department, to train, build skills, and create linkages for global deployments. They will team and be integrated with military units as required. Today, S/CRS has personnel on TDY to the new Africa Command (AFRICOM) and works closely with other combatant commands including U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and Joint Forces Command (JFCOM).

The second element is the Stand-By Response Corps (SRC). The SRC members will come from virtually every agency and to augment the ARC. There will be about eight SRC members for each ARC member. Lugar-Biden would fund about 2,000 members. Unlike the dedicated personnel of the ARC, SRC members are full-time employees in other USG Agencies and this means they are not as available as ARC members and only train several weeks a year. Only 10-25% of the force is deployable at any one time with a 30-60 day call up period. Like ARC, SRC members are civil servants or Foreign Service Officers.

The third and most discussed element of S/CRS is the Civilian Reserve Corps (CRC). President George W. Bush referred to the CRC in the 2007 State of the Union speech. According to Ambassador Herbst, the CRC will be staffed with 500 “as soon as feasible” with the eventual goal of 2,500 members. Right now the CRC only exists on paper.

The President’s mention of CRC caused some to fear this was a move to outsource more of America’s national power when the reality is the opposite: unlike contracted resources in use today, this in-sourcing makes the CRC directly integrated with and accountable directly within the USG command and control. This corps is modeled after the military reserve system with four year “enlistments” and a to-be-determined number of weeks of training each year. Members will be deployable up to one year, but only up to 25% of the corps will be deployable at any given time. Unlike the other elements, the CRC requires a Presidential decision to deploy.

Problematic is that CRC members are not civil servants, Foreign Service Officers, or members of the military or National Guard. They are private individuals not under the protections of the Soldier-Sailor Relief Act and would acquire Civil Service status only when called up for a deployment. Even without details like pay scales and benefits worked out, however, Ambassador Herbst said that after the 2007 State of the Union, S/CRS received calls from over 70 people who sought out, found, and actually phoned S/CRS looking for a job.

In the words of Ambassador Herbst, CRC will tap into a “wellspring” of adventurous spirits wanting to change the world for the better. They are trained as civilian teams and work alongside the military. They will have area expertise, including regional and language skills. Lost in the hullaballoo over CRC is that it is really a quick reaction force of only up to 125 people to bring much needed skills to bear in post-conflict situations for strategic success.

Ambassador Herbst is confident that within one year of getting funding for CRC, he could have the CRC online and ready to serve. Ironically, due to inter-personnel management details agreed to on paper but still needing to be worked out, staffing the SRC is another story.

When it was created, S/CRS had 20 people. Two years later they were at 64. Today, they’re over 80. If the FY08 appropriation comes through, could jump to over 100. Funding issues do not impact their central staff, just project funding. Today, in some of the worst countries on the planet the U.S. is represented by S/CRS members already deployed.

The concept of S/CRS is a plug-n-play capability for quick and seamless integration of civilian reconstruction and stabilization experts with military commanders as needed. Conceptually similar to Tom Barnett’s SysAdmin, S/CRS creates a “blended” organizing entity with its own skills. It can extend American national power directly by hitting the ground running in post-conflict and conflict operations, but it can also deploy independently of the American military, such as on United Nations missions.

Why not contract out? The constant training and teamwork with all elements of USG is a significant advantage over reliance on outsourcing. Beyond crisis response and “preventative action” by S/CRS, there is an active acculturation of S/CRS by co-location and co-operation already underway.

“Americans have the wristwatches, but we have the time”

There exists a “Golden Hour” when the major combat operations have subsided or stopped and when the people are most ready for change. This is when reconstruction and stabilization operations begin to be felt by the host population (similar opportunities are evident in disaster relief operations). However, hastily organized operations like the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA) and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) scrambled to not only understand their mission, but stumbled through or simply bypassed integration and teaming with other government agencies and the military, and most notably in the case of the CPA, failed to focus on the fundamental needs the people. Operating in the Golden Hour is less costly, in terms of money and lives, than if we wait, but it takes foresight and commitment. (3)

Reconstruction and stabilization is not a new concept. In 2003, OHRA was created, followed several months later by the CPA. In 2004, S/CRS was stood up, and in 2005, the Defense Department issued Directive 3000.05 to guide “Military Support for Stability, Security, Transition, and Reconstruction Operations.” In the same year, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) opened their military liaison office. By the end of 2007, behind the scenes negotiations finally put S/CRS as the frontrunner to become the coordinator of reconstruction and stabilization. Despite this, after five years of false starts, the U.S. still lacks a clear mechanism to address the requirements of preventing and overcoming instability.

The title of the editorial co-written by Senator Lugar and Secretary of State Rice was no coincidence: A Civilian Partner for Our Troops. Beginning with his speech at Kansas State University, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates campaigned for a more civilian face on national security with an integrated approach to wielding national power. Secretary Gates made the “case for strengthening our capacity to use ‘soft’ power and for better integrating it with ‘hard’ power.” S/CRS is the hub that makes this possible.

The basic ingredients for enduring success include economic development, institution-building, the rule of law, good governance, and basic human services. U.S. reconstruction and stabilization efforts must be integrated into a comprehensive strategy encompassing all efforts of the U.S. through its various departments and agencies, and private sector, to maximize effectiveness. Measuring success is challenging, but fundamental progress on the foundation, not margins, of the pyramid of human needs will go far in denying extremists the support necessary to maintain their campaigns of hate and intimidation. The enemy knows this and targets reconstruction and stabilization efforts accordingly. Too often our response has been to drop these efforts instead of reinforcing, promoting, and integrating them into our strategy and local communication that builds buy-in and participation. We cannot buy support. We must link our success to the success of the local population and vice versa.

This is not about building ‘nations’ but creating structural capacity that leads to enduring institutions that will lead to a stable state that has a chance to become prosperous while denying sanctuary and ideological support to terrorists, insurgents, and extremists. Don’t build this capacity and the enemy will simply wait us out. Mao had shadow governments prepared to take over the administration of towns and villages when they were captured. These officials were designated for the task long before the take-over. (4) The Taliban makes it clear they are watching and will wait ten years if necessary to take control and carry-out retribution. If we fail to build the necessary capacity and structures and buy-in, the lives of our servicemen and women toward “victory” will be for naught.

Al-Qaeda and other groups have seen the inability of the U.S. to follow through on the promises of a better life in contested spaces. They attacked reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan because those were the most effective tools of public diplomacy in the struggle for the minds and wills of the population, the real propaganda of deeds.

The militarization of humanitarian aid does more than reinforce an image of a militaristic America it builds distrust in receiving populations. Allies are unlikely to support or participate in otherwise worthy missions if the U.S. only puts in its combat boots. In Africa, we can see the impact of a military-led engagement model. Promoting “our common goals of development, health, education, democracy, and economic growth in Africa” through the Pentagon’s AFRICOM is a step in the right direction.

Combatant Commands are looking to emphasize civil-military cooperation and maximize the “civilian face” of U.S. engagement. AFRICOM and SOUTHCOM in particular recognize the value of S/CRS in this area.

What’s the challenge?

By in-sourcing, the U.S. builds and exploits a reach-back capability to not only capture and institutionalize best practices but to draw in and leverage other USG-wide experts. Reliance on outsourcing continues and even promotes the ad hoc responses, inhibiting or preventing required institutional learning and connections.

What happens if funding for CRC falls through? Not surprisingly, the Pentagon is prepping for its own standing service in case CRC falls through, but Secretary Gates has emphasized he wants more civilian participation not more military control. A Center for Strategic and International Studies roundtable report remarked S/CRS is a response to the failure of the Pentagon to properly prepare for future operations the U.S. is likely to face. A Pentagon solution is better than nothing, but a civilian face is required. We must appreciate the perceptions created by leading with our combat boots. Secretary of Defense Gates noted the over reliance on hard power and hard power assets. When will the rest of USG realize it?

The Congressional Budget Office estimates S. 613 will cost less than $85 million in 2008 and $629 million over the 2008-2012 period. While this would be lost in the petty cash drawer of the Pentagon, it is a noticeable amount for State and a source of resistance by those opposed to expanding what many see as a dysfunctional department. However, S/CRS is positioned as a new entity that could help push State into a new model of engagement.

It is nearly a universal given that the bureaucracy of State could prevent the flexibility S/CRS requires, but there is hope. Ambassador Herbst reports directly to the Secretary of State and has the ear and interest of Secretary of Defense and others across USG. He is also more aware of what he must do as well as his limitations than say another former direct report to Secretary of State Rice who was charged with shaping the perceptions of the U.S. and recently returned home to Texas. Secretary Rice sees S/CRS’s mission as a legacy issue and apparently stands behind it.

Prominent House support comes from Representatives Sam Farr (D-CA) and Jim Saxton (R-NJ). In the Senate, Senators Richard G. Lugar, Joseph R. Biden, and John McCain are behind it.

Only Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) is opposed to it, although it seems his opposition is based only on the grounds that more government spending is bad. This narrow-minded view puts America in further danger and risks marginalizing lives already lost.

If Mao’s aphorism that the “richest source of power to wage war lies in the masses of the people” (5) is true, then the converse is also true. The population is more than a force multiplier against the “spoilers” of security and peace, they are the front line offence and defense required for implementing and protecting the solution. Information campaigns mean nothing without America’s demonstration of support for the people.

As a standing office, S/CRS not only brings skills, relationships, and high level attention to solutions, but would also monitor and direct attention to failing states. As a preventative action, this can help shore up failing states or S/CRS can design strategies that ensure a timely, effective USG response. In other words, the existence of S/CRS will allow for timelier and smarter interventions that can either prevent or mitigate a crisis. In brief, S/CRS will enable us to act in a more proactive manner and with a greater array of tools.

The U.S. needs to take a systematic, holistic “whole of government” approach to reconstruction and stabilization that puts the focus on meeting the basic needs of the people in these countries. This shouldn’t be about what the U.S. needs or wants, but what the people of the country in question need and want. Basically, when people are safe, secure, full (not hungry), engaged and comfortable, they have no need to fight or support terrorists. Terrorists work by instigating and sustaining instability, fear, and discomfort (disillusionment) and if the USG fights buys-in to this approach by fighting back with hard-power only, it just perpetuates the cycle.

The United States cannot afford to ignore the importance of reconstruction and stabilization operations and needs to champion these efforts now.

Matt Armstrong holds a Masters of Public Diplomacy and publishes the MountainRunner blog.


1. This list is adapted from the list in James Dobbins, The Beginner's Guide to Nation-Building, Rand Corporation Monograph Series (Santa Monica, CA: RAND National Security Research Division, 2007). The only change is a re-ordering of the last two items.


3. For more on this, see Anthony C. Zinni and Tony Koltz. The Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America's Power and Purpose. 1st ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

4. David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, 2005 Reprint ed. (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1968), 56.

5. Mao Tse-tung, Selected Military Writings of Mao Tse-Tung, 2nd (Second Printing) ed. (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1967).


Working night hours is worse than smoking

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has recently decided to include working night hours into the list of cancer-risk jobs. It already includes ultraviolet rays, carbon-black, engine exhaust, harmful staining agents, etc. Employees will thus have a right to claim a compensation for additional job hazard in the event they are forced to work at night.
Japanese scientists from the University of occupational and environmental health conducted one of such experiments. They observed 14,000 people during ten years. The research revealed that men working flexible hours suffered from prostate cancer more frequently than those males working only day-time hours.

Danish experts from the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology examined 7,000 women from 30 to 54 years of age. It turned out that those women who had to work at least six months of their work experience at night had higher chances for developing breast tumors.

Richard Stevens, a professor of the Connecticut University Health Center was the first scientist to observe the interconnection between night work and breast cancer in 1987.

The scientist investigated the reasons of breast cancer boom during the 1930s, when many enterprises started working 24 hours a day attracting millions of women to day and night-time labour.

Those working night hours develop a greater risk for various heart diseases too. Scientists from the University of Milan examined 22 male metallurgists who had a different number of night shifts every week.

Daily observance of their heart work showed that the heartbeat rate, the nervous system activity and the hormonal background did not undergo any changes during night shifts. In other words, the people were awake and working although their hearts and blood vessels were functioning as if the men were sleeping. It means that the physical and nervous activity was beyond their strength during night hours.

The head of the research Rafaello Furlan believes that the human body can not adapt to night activities, which subsequently results in heart ailments. However, scientists do not know certain mechanisms for these diseases to appear for the time being.

Scientists put forward several theories explaining the negative influence that night working hours have on human health.

First and foremost, a human being is a day-time living creature. Working at night and sleeping during the day upsets daily biorhythms and triggers various diseases.

A human organism produces melatonin, the hormone of sleep, at night. The hormone regulates biological rhythms as well as all other hormones. If a person does not sleep at night, the system malfunctions.

The night style of life is difficult per se. Residents of northern territories often suffer from the polar tension syndrome, caused by long dark winters, lack of vitamins, severe climate conditions and extremely light summers. A lack of sunshine is a serious test for a human being. It develops depression, often an implicit one.

The negative consequences of night-time working do not end here. Nausea, gastric indigestion, abdominal pains, diarrhea and the loss of appetite are the most common complaints of night shift employees. Such people suffer from gastric ulcer much more frequently.

Healthy sleep is a necessary condition for the normal functioning of the stomach. Night shifts frustrate the inner biological clock, which synchronizes food consumption and digestion.

To crown it all, night shifts often isolate the people from their families and friends, creating stressful situations.


Translated by Ksenia Sedyakina

Reading effortlessly ultra sensitive messages - The game was rigged

For years US eavesdroppers could read encrypted messages without the least difficulty
Sat, 29 Dec 2007 04:02:00
By Ludwig De Braeckeleer
(OhMyNews) -- For decades, the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been reading effortlessly ultra sensitive messages intercepted from all parts of the world. This extraordinary feat was not the consequence of the work of some genius cyber mathematician. Nor was it the result of the agency dominance in the field of super computers, which allegedly have outpaced their most direct rivals by orders of magnitude. The truth is far simpler and quite troubling. The game was rigged.

For half a century, Crypto AG, a Swiss company located in Zug, has sold to more than 100 countries the encryption machines their officials rely upon to exchange their most sensitive economic, diplomatic and military messages. Crypto AG was founded in 1952 by the legendary (Russian born) Swedish cryptographer Boris Hagelin. During World War II, Hagelin sold 140,000 of his machine to the US Army.

"In the meantime, the Crypto AG has built up long standing cooperative relations with customers in 130 countries," states a prospectus of the company. The home page of the company Web site says, "Crypto AG is the preferred top-security partner for civilian and military authorities worldwide. Security is our business and will always remain our business."

And for all those years, US eavesdroppers could read these messages without the least difficulty. A decade after the end of WWII, the NSA, also known as No Such Agency, had rigged the Crypto AG machines in various ways according to the targeted countries. It is probably no exaggeration to state that this 20th century version of the "Trojan horse" is quite likely the greatest sting in modern history.

In effect, US intelligence had spies in the government and military command of all these countries working around the clock without ever risking the possibility of being unmasked.

An Old and Venerable Company

In the aftermath of the Islamic revolution, Iran, quite understandably, would no longer trust encryption equipment provided by companies of NATO countries.

The Swiss reputation for secrecy and neutrality lured Iranians to Crypto AG, an old and venerable company. They never imagined for a moment that, attached to the encrypted message, their Crypto machines were transmitting the key allowing the de scri ption of messages they were sending. The scheme was perfect, undetectable to all but those who knew where to look.

Crypto AG, of course, denied the allegations as "pure invention." In 1994, the company issued a message in the Swiss press, stating that "manipulation of Crypto AG equipment is absolutely excluded."

On the Wikipedia page of Crypto AG, one can read: "Crypto AG rejected these accusations as pure invention, asserting in a press release that in March 1994, the Swiss Federal Prosecutor's Office initiated a wide-ranging preliminary investigation against Crypto AG, which was completed in 1997. The accusations regarding influence by third parties or manipulations, which had been repeatedly raised in the media, proved to be without foundation."

However, meetings between a NSA cryptographer and Crypto AG personnel to discuss the design of new machines have been factually established. The story was also confirmed by former employees and is supported by company documents. Boris Hagelin is said to have acted out of idealism. What is certain is that the deal for Crypto AG was quite juicy. In return for rigging their machines, Crypto AG is understood to have been granted export licenses to all entities controlled by the NSA.

Early Hints

A book published in 1977 by Ronald Clark (The Man Who Broke Purple: The Life of Colonel William F. Friedman) revealed that William F. Friedman, another Russian-born genius in the field of cryptography (he deciphered the Japanese code in World War II) and onetime special assistant to the NSA director, had visited Boris Hagelin in 1957. Friedman and Hagelin met at least on two other occasions. Clark was urged by the NSA not to reveal the existence of these meetings for national security reasons. In 1982, James Bamford confirmed the story in his book on the NSA: The Puzzle Palace. The operation was codenamed the "Boris project." In effect, Friedman and Hagelin had reached an agreement that was going to pave the way to cooperation of Crypto AG with the NSA.

Despite these very obvious hints, countries such as Iran, Iraq and Libya continued using the Crypto AG machines for encrypting their messages. And so did the Vatican, among many other entities.

Persian Suspicions

In 1987, ABC News Beirut correspondent Charles Glass was taken hostage for 62 days in Lebanon by Hezbollah, the Shi'ite Muslim group widely believed to have been founded by Ali Akbar Mohtashemi, when he was Iranian ambassador to Syria in the early 1980s.

Washington claimed that NSA had intercepted coded Iranian diplomatic cables between Iran's embassies in Beirut and the Hezbollah group. Iranians began to wonder how the US intelligence could have broken their code.

After the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian Airbus over the Persian Gulf on July 3, 1988, "Iran vowed that the skies would rain with American blood." A few months later, on Dec. 21, a terrorist bomb brought down Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Once more, NSA intercepted and decoded a communication of Iranian Interior Minister Ali Akbar Mohtashemi linking Iran to the bombing of Pan Am 103.

One intelligence summary, prepared by the US Air Force Intelligence Agency, was requested by lawyers for the bankrupt Pan American Airlines through the Freedom of Information Act.

"Mohtashemi is closely connected with the Al Abas and Abu Nidal terrorist groups. He is actually a long-time friend of Abu Nidal. He has recently paid 10 million dollars in cash and gold to these two organizations to carry out terrorist activities and was the one who paid the same amount to bomb Pan Am Flight 103 in retaliation for the US shoot-down of the Iranian Airbus."

Moreover, Israeli intelligence intercepted a coded transmission between Mohtashemi in Teheran and the Iranian Embassy in Beirut concerning the transfer of a large sum of money to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, headed by Ahmed Jibril, as payment for the downing of Pan Am 103.

The Iranians were now at a loss to explain how Western and Israeli intelligence agencies could so easily defeat the security of their diplomatic traffic. The ease with which the West was reading Iranian coded transactions strongly suggested that some may have possessed the decryption keys.

The Bakhtiar Murder

In April 1979, Shahpour Bakhtiar was forced to leave Iran as the last prime minister of the Shah. He returned to France where he lived in the west Paris suburb of Suresnes. In July 1980, he nearly escaped an assassination attempt. On Aug. 6, 1991, Bakhtiar and his personal secretary Katibeh Fallouch were murdered by three assassins.

Two of them fled to Iran, but the third, Ali Vakili Rad, was apprehended in Switzerland. One of the six alleged accomplices, Zeyal Sarhadi was an employee of the Iranian Embassy in Berne and a great-nephew of former president of Iran Hasemi Rafsanjani. Both men were extradited to France for trial.

On the day of his assassination and one day before his body was found with his throat slit, the Teheran headquarters of the Iranian Intelligence Service, the VEVAK, transmitted a coded message to Iranian diplomatic missions in London, Paris, Bonn and Geneva. "Is Bakhtiar dead?" the message asked.

Switzerland's Neue Zurcher Zeitung reported that the U.S. had provided the contents of encrypted Iranian messages to France to assist Investigating Magistrate Jean Louis Bruguiere in the conviction of Ali Vakili Rad and one of his alleged accomplices Massoud Hendi. This information was confirmed by L' Express.

The NSA interception and decoding of the message led to the identification of the murderers before the murder was discovered. From the Swiss and French press reports, Iranians now knew that British and American SIGINT operators had intercepted and decoded the crucially embarrassing message. Something was definitely wrong with their encryption machines.

The Buehler Arrest

Hans Buehler was a top Crypto AG salesman who had worked at the Zug company for 13 years. In March 1992, Buehler, a strongly built cheerful man in his 50s, was on his 25th trip to Iran on behalf of Crypto AG.

Then, on March 18, he was arrested. Iranian intelligence agents accused him of spying for the United States as well as Germany. Buehler was held in solitary confinement in the Evin prison located in the north of Tehran. He was interrogated everyday for five hours for more than nine months.

"I was never beaten, but I was strapped to wooden benches and told I would be beaten. I was told Crypto was a spy center that worked with foreign intelligence services."

Buehler never confessed any wrongdoing on his part or on the part of Crypto AG. It appeared that he had acted in good faith and the Iranians came to believe him. "I didn't know that the equipment was bugged, otherwise the Iranians would have gotten it out of me by their many methods."

Back to Switzerland

In January 1993, after nine months of detention, Crypto AG [or was it Siemens?] paid US$1 million to secure Buehler's freedom. During the first weeks after his return to Switzerland, Buehler's life was once again beautiful. The euphoria did not last long. Once more, his life came to an abrupt change. Crypto fired him and demanded repayment of the $1 million provided to Tehran for his liberation.

Back to Zug, Buehler began to ask some embarrassing questions about the Iranian allegations. And the answers tended to back up Iranian suspicions. Soon, reports began to appear on Swiss television and radio. Major Swiss newspapers and German magazines such as Der Spiegel picked up the story. Most, if not all, came to the conclusion that Crypto AG's equipment had been rigged by one or several Western intelligence services.

Buehler was bitterly disappointed. He felt nothing short of having been betrayed by his former employer. During all these years, Buehler never thought for a second that he had been unknowingly working for spies. Now, he was sure that he had done so.

Buehler contacted several former Crypto AG employees. All admitted to him, and eventually to various media, that they believed that the company had long cooperated with US and German intelligence agencies.

The Truth Emerges

One of these former engineers told Buehler that he had learned about the cooperation from Boris Hagelin Jr., the son of the company's founder and sales manager for North and South America. In the 1970s, while stranded in Buenos Aires, Boris Hagelin Jr. confided that he thought his father had been wrong to accept rigging the Crypto AG machines.

Stunned by the revelation, the engineer decided to take this matter directly to the head of Crypto AG. Boris Hagelin confirmed that the encryption methods were unsafe.

"Different countries need different levels of security. The United States and other leading Western countries required completely secure communications. Such security would not be appropriate for the Third World countries that were Crypto's customers," Boris Hagelin explained to the baffled engineer. "We have to do it."

The NSA-Crypto AG Collaboration

A Crypto AG official document describes an August 1975 meeting set up to demonstrate the capacity of a new prototype. The memorandum lists among the participants Nora L. Mackebee, who, like her husband, was an NSA employee. Asked about the meeting, she merely replied: "I cannot say anything about it."

During the '70s, Motorola helped Crypto AG in making the transition from mechanical to electronic machines. Bob Newman was among the Motorola engineers working with Crypto AG. Newman remembers very well Mackebee but says that he ignored that she was working for the NSA.

Juerg Spoerndli left Crypto AG in 1994. He helped design the machines in the late '70s. "I was ordered to change algorithms under mysterious circumstances" to weaker machines," says Spoerndli who concluded that NSA was ordering the design change through German intermediaries.

"I was idealistic. But I adapted quickly … the new aim was to help Big Brother USA look over these countries' shoulders. We'd say 'It's better to let the USA see what these dictators are doing,'" Spoerndli says.

"It's still an imperialistic approach to the world. I do not think it's the way business should be done," Spoerndli adds.

Ruedi Hug, another former Crypto AG technician, also believes that the machines were rigged.

"I feel betrayed. They always told me that we were the best. Our equipment is not breakable, blah, blah, blah. Switzerland is a neutral country."

Crypto AG vs. Buehler

Crypto AG called these allegations "old hearsay and pure invention." When Buehler began to suggest openly that there may be some truth to them, Crypto AG not only dismissed him on the spot, but also filed a legal case against him.

Yet Crypto AG settled the case out of court, in November 1996, before other former Crypto AG employees could provide evidence in court that was likely to have brought embarrassing details to light.

No one has heard from Buehler since the settlement. "He made his fortune financially," whispers an insider.

A Fuzzy Ownership

The ownership of Crypto AG has been to a company in Liechtenstein, and from there back to a trust company in Munich. Crypto AG has been described as the secret daughter of Siemens but many believe that the real owner is the German government.

Several members of Crypto AG's management had worked at Siemens. At one point in time, 99.99 percent of the Crypto AG shares belonged to Eugen Freiberger, the head of the Crypto AG managing board in 1982. Josef Bauer was elected to the managing board in 1970. Bauer, as well as other members of Crypto AG management, stated that his mandate had come from the German company Siemens.

The German secret service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), is believed to have established the Siemens' connection. In October 1970, a secret meeting of the BND had discussed how the Swiss company Graettner could merge with it. "The Swedish company Ericsson could be influenced through Siemens to terminate its own cryptographic business," reads the memo of the meeting.

A former employee of Crypto AG reported that he had to coordinate his developments with the "central office for encryption affairs" of the BND, also known as the "people from Bad Godesberg."

American "watchers" demanded the use of certain encryption codes and the "central office for encryption affairs" instructed Crypto AG what algorithms to use to create these codes.

Bakhtiar Murder Trial

"In the industry everybody knows how such affairs will be dealt with," says a former Crypto engineer. "Of course such devices protect against interception by unauthorized third parties, as stated in the prospectus. But the interesting question is: Who is the authorized fourth?"

On Dec. 6, 1994, a special French terrorism court convicted two Iranians of murdering Bakhtiar. Vakili Rad was sentenced to life in prison. But, to the dismay of all observers, Sarhadi was acquitted.

"Justice has not been entirely served for reasons of state," complained Bakhtiar's widow.

It appears indeed that France, Switzerland, the German BND and the NSA decided to let Sarhadi go free in order to preserve the "secrecy" of the Crypto AG cooperation with the NSA.

In 1991, the US and the U.K. indicted two Libyans for the bombing of Pan Am 103. To the surprise of many observers, the indictment did not mention those believed to have contracted the act of terror in spite of the fact that their guilt had been established by the interception of official communications by several intelligence agencies.

To many observers, justice was not served at the Lockerbie trial. Could it be that the US and U.K. governments decided to sacrifice the truth in order to preserve the (in)efficiency of their intelligence apparatus?

Ludwig De Braeckeleer has a Ph.D. in nuclear sciences. He teaches physics and international humanitarian law. He blogs on "The GaiaPost."

'Yugoslavia was an experimental terrain for several things'

by Rostam Pourzal

Diana Johnston is the author, most recently, of Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO and Western Delusions, and she translated Jean Bricmont's Humanitarian Imperialism from French a year ago.  This interview was conducted during the second week of November, 2007.

RP: During the 1990s, you were among the few Western journalists whose reporting on conflicts in the former Yugoslavia differed from the straight villains-versus-victims narrative of NATO that justified military intervention.  Why did so few even among left-leaning Western opinion-makers welcome alternative coverage of ethnic cleansing in the Balkans?

DJ: That is a question that I cannot easily answer, since the opinion-makers who rejected my coverage of the Balkans failed to explain their reasons to me.  For example, the editor of The Nation, who had requested my contributions, simply failed to respond to my messages from Kosovo offering on-the-spot coverage.  In These Times also rejected my articles from Kosovo without explanation.  Years later, I learned that a temporary junior editor wrote on a web site that I was banned because of a "long personal friendship with Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic."  In reality, I never even met Mira Markovic.

So it seems to me that various pretexts and lies were used to stigmatize my even-handed approach in response to pressures I am in no position to identify.

On an ideological level, it seems that once the public relations campaign of Ruder Finn, on behalf of Croatia and the Bosnian Muslim party of Alija Izetbegovic, succeeded in stigmatizing temporary prisoner camps set up by the Bosnian Serbs as a new "Auschwitz," the left felt obliged to denounce the "new Nazis."  The easy success of this campaign still seems very strange to me, and I can't help wondering about behind-the-scenes pressures in newsrooms and Congressional offices.  Why were there no reports on similar prisoner camps set up by the Bosnian Muslims and Croats at the same time?

I know of several journalists with years of experience of Yugoslavia who, like myself, were taken off the story.  They were replaced by inexperienced young reporters who seized the opportunity to build careers by meeting the editorial demand for stories about "Serbian atrocities."

Another factor is the tendency of leftists to side automatically with whatever groups claim to be oppressed minorities.  This leads to hostility toward those who are not in rebellion against the State, assumed to be repressive.  Overlooking the divisions that exist within each national population, and the possibility that things are not so simple as portrayed by groups seeking sympathy from Great Powers, all Albanians and Kurds are considered "good victims," while Serbs and Turks (or Iraqi Arabs, or Iranians) are dismissed as oppressors.  This attitude is easily exploited, or manipulated, by imperialist forces using divisions to break up States they don't like, notably in the Middle East.

RP: Did the perceived success of Bill Clinton's military solutions in Bosnia, Croatia, and later in Kosovo encourage the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq?

DJ: Yes, I even think that a major motivation for the 1999 "Kosovo war" was to demonstrate that the United States and NATO could wage a unilateral, unauthorized (by the UN Security Council) and thus illegal aggressive war and get away with it.  Aerial bombardment devastated Serbia's infrastructure, killed thousands of civilians, without causing a single casualty to the aggressors.  A NATO-sponsored War Crimes Tribunal indicted the victims of the aggression, not the aggressors.

Yugoslavia was an experimental terrain for several things: transforming NATO from a defensive into an offensive alliance, flouting UN authority and international law, undermining the principle of national sovereignty, and using ethnic differences to break up recalcitrant states and redraw international boundaries to favor U.S. clients.  These are lessons to be applied throughout the Middle East.

The Yugoslav wars also illustrated the effectiveness of reducing a problem, or a targeted country, to one demonized figure.  Milosevic, although elected several times, was reviled as a "dictator" and "the new Hitler."  Subsequently, Saddam Hussein and Ahmadinejad have been given the same treatment.  The people of Serbia, Iraq, or Iran vanish behind the figure of the demon.  Then they can be bombed remorselessly.

The success in Yugoslavia was easy in part because the Serbs were baffled at being attacked by nations (the United States, France, the UK) they considered their historic allies.  Their resistance was purely passive: effective military camouflage and anti-war demonstrations on bridges.  In psychological terms, this U.S. success was in fact a very poor indicator of what would happen when the United States invaded a non-European country such as Iraq.  But policy makers do not seem to have grasped this point.

RP: Surveying the media today, do you think the disastrous outcome of the "well-intentioned" occupation of Iraq has taught war cheerleaders among Western journalists some humility?

DJ: Humility?  That may be too much to ask.  In many cases, the tendency is simply to blame the Bush administration for doing a bad job, rather than for having undertaken a criminal enterprise that was bound to be disastrous.  However, there is evidently more reluctance expressed in the media, as well as among military officers and intelligence analysts, to plunge into yet another war.  The military opposition could be most significant.

RP: Russia's opposition did not prevent NATO from bombing Serbia and later instigating regime change there.  But Russia seems more assertive now.  Can one hope that President Putin's historic recent visit to Tehran blunts Washington's belligerence towards Iran?

DJ: Russia under Yeltsin was essentially absent.  Serbia was abandoned.  Putin is quite another story, and his stance in regard to Iran no doubt helps enforce the misgivings of those in Washington who oppose starting an additional war in the region.  Anyone sensible can see that an attack on Iran could lead to unforeseeable consequences, even though Russia is traditionally a cautious power.  Some U.S. leaders may figure that they can continue to get away with aggression, even on Russia's doorstep.  The Western media is demonizing Putin as a "dictator" rather than seeking to understand Russia's national interests.  This sort of arrogance is extremely dangerous.  It is reminiscent of the Austro-Hungarian Empire when it attacked Serbia in 1914 for a "short war" intended to destroy a weaker adversary.

RP: Speaking of critics, France has since the election of Nicolas Sarkozy leaped from the resistance camp to the thin front line of George Bush's so-called War on Terrorism.  In your assessment, how seriously has the official turnaround in Paris changed the outlook for a just peace in Lebanon, Palestine, and the Persian Gulf?

DJ: There has been an observable tendency among many foreign policy analysts in France to hope for the best, that is, to suggest that the reality of French interests in Lebanon may limit Sarkozy's alignment with the United States and Israel.  This looks to me like wishful thinking.  Sarkozy's determination to turn France into the major trans-Atlantic bridge between the United States and a militarized European Union seems to me to be real.

I have no inside knowledge of the thinking within the French foreign policy establishment, which I assume is divided.  Sarkozy's reversal may be welcomed by those who consider that, since the United States monopolizes influence over Israel, the only way to have any influence in the Middle East is to join the United States.  This is the rationalization that prevails in European chancelleries: we must join the United States in order to "have a seat at the table."

Sarkozy's ambition is evidently to make the European Union into a partner of the United States in what I call the "imperial condominium" (usually called the "international community").  This is the last gasp of Western imperialism, justifying itself by supposed "shared values."  It is a sharp shift from Chirac's (somewhat lackadaisical) support for a multipolar world, which was more attuned to the reality of a world where non-European powers are rising.

The French people have not been consulted on this policy shift.  One can guess that most would not agree, just as they did not agree with the EU constitution, which Sarkozy is now planning to force on them anyway, with new packaging.  Opposition to Sarkozy so far dwells on domestic issues.  But the danger of involvement in another war might arouse resistance -- or at least one can hope so.

RP: You wrote an expose in June about the new French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, in which you highlighted his habitual fondness for Western elite interests.  Since then, Germany and Austria have dismissed Sarkozy's and Kouchner's veiled threats against Iran.  Britain and Italy, too, seem less enthusiastic about confronting Iran than they were under previous leadership.  Can you see a scenario in which EU powers would act together either in support of or against US military intervention in Iran?

DJ: It is hard to see EU powers unanimously acting together on anything.  However, the effort is underway to create an institutional framework that can be used by a dominant majority, and given the present positions of France, the UK, and Germany, it is hard to imagine it being used against the United States.  That being the case, the best one can hope for is continuing disunity among EU powers.

RP:  In 1999, as questionable reports of ethnic cleansing and mass graves in Kosovo justified Clinton's massive bombing of Serbia, his moral standing was helped by well-publicized endorsement from Elie Weisel, a leading Holocaust awareness campaigner.  Now the Jewish American lobby is targeting Iran energetically and openly.  Are there similar ethnic boosters of military humanism in France today?

DJ: Yes and no.  Nobody is openly calling for France to go to war.  However, there seems to be an important potential cheering section for eventual U.S. or Israeli attacks on Iran.  In France, the "clash of civilizations" is fed mainly by distortions of Ahmadinejad's statements to suggest that Iran is openly planning a nuclear holocaust against Israel, and cries of alarm over the supposed threat of "islamofascism."  An example is the recent book by Bernard-Henri Lévy (see my article, "BHL and the Zombie Left," published on CounterPunch on November 1).  As in the United States, most Jewish citizens are probably against war, but prominent intellectuals and organizations who claim to represent Jewish people seek to rally support for Israel by arousing fear of anti-Semitism.  This actually tends to feed anti-Jewish feelings and risks causing dangerous divisions within French society.

RP: Significant segments of European left and green parties backed Washington's overthrow of the Taliban government in Afghanistan.  Do you detect any reduction in the appetite of Europe's enlightened class for humanitarian intervention?

DJ: Coming on the heels of the disaster in Iraq, the scandal surrounding the abduction of over a hundred Chadian children by the French organization called the "Arche de Zoé" has strengthened growing skepticism about humanitarian intervention.  Still, if Kouchner has his way, France will intervene somehow in Darfour.  As for Iran, the main argument for intervention is the alleged threat of "another Holocaust" should Iran possess nuclear weapons -- the same "weapons of mass destruction" scare used to justify attacking Iraq.  But human rights, especially concerning homosexuals and women, is [another] theme that helps weaken opposition to the idea of bombing Iran.

RP:  Iranian expatriates in France are mobilizing to resist Sarkozy's and Kouchner's threats against Iran.  Can they make a difference?  In your opinion, how can that community work with anti-war or against interventionist forces in France for maximum effect?

DJ: I regret to say that I am as yet unaware of these efforts.  What I have observed at meetings called recently to build an anti-war movement is the demand by certain Iranian expatriates in France that the movement must express opposition to the present regime in Iran.  They claim that the anti-war movement needs to gain "credibility" by supporting the political opposition.  It seems to me that, on the contrary, opposition groups want to gain credibility for themselves by being accepted by the anti-war movement.  In any case, their "neither-nor" approach, condemning "both sides" (as if Iran were threatening the United States!) has been opposed most strongly by the Americans Against the War, part of a coalition organizing an anti-war protest in Paris on November 17.  (Below, I append an English translation of a text I wrote in support of the AAW position.)  Perhaps the expatriates you mention are working with other local groups.  (A weakness of French anti-war efforts is the extreme sectarian fragmentation on the left.  The anti-war movement in Britain is much stronger and more united.)

In my view, Iranian exiles should separate their political struggles concerning internal Iranian politics from anti-war activities, to avoid the impression that they are trying to use both pro- and anti-war forces to advance their own political agendas, rather than to save their people from death and devastation.

RP: Thank you very much for your time.

Rapture Ready: The Christians United for Israel Tour

How Britain became party to a crime that may have killed a million people

Not having a written constitution allowed Blair and his advisers to go to war without reference to parliament or the public
George Monbiot
1 Jan 2008
The Guardian
If you doubt Britain needs a written constitution, listen to the strangely unbalanced discussion broadcast by the BBC last Friday. The Today programme asked Lord Guthrie, formerly chief of the defence staff, and Sir Kevin Tebbit, until recently the senior civil servant at the Ministry of Defence, if parliament should decide whether or not the country goes to war. The discussion was a terrifying exposure of the privileges of unaccountable power. It explained as well as anything I have heard how Britain became party to a crime that may have killed a million people.

Guthrie argued that parliamentary approval would mean intelligence had to be shared with MPs; that the other side could not be taken by surprise ("do you want to warn the enemy you are going to do it?"), and that commanders should have "a choice about when to attack and when not to attack". Tebbit maintained that "no prime minister would be able to deploy forces without being able to command a parliamentary majority. In that sense, the executive is already accountable to parliament". Once the prime minister has his majority, in other words, MPs become redundant.

Let me dwell for a moment on what Guthrie said, for he appears to advocate that we retain the right to commit war crimes. States in dispute with each other, the UN charter says, must first seek to solve their differences by "peaceful means" (article 33). If these fail, they should refer the matter to the security council (article 37), which decides what measures should be taken (article 39). Taking the enemy by surprise is a useful tactic in battle, and encounters can be won only if commanders are able to make decisions quickly. But either Guthrie does not understand the difference between a battle and a war - which is unlikely in view of his 44 years of service - or he does not understand the most basic point in international law. Launching a surprise war is forbidden by the charter.

It has become fashionable to scoff at these rules and to dismiss those who support them as pedants and prigs, but they are all that stand between us and the greatest crimes in history. The International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg ruled that "to initiate a war of aggression ... is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime". The tribunal's charter placed "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression" at the top of the list of war crimes.

If Britain's most prominent retired general does not understand this, it can only be because he has never been forced to understand it. In September 2002, he argued in the Lords that "the time is approaching when we may have to join the US in operations against Iraq ... Strike soon, and the threat will be less and easier to handle. If the UN route fails, I support the second option." No one in the chamber warned him that he was proposing the supreme international crime. In another Lords debate, Guthrie argued that it was "unthinkable for British servicemen and women to be sent to the International Criminal Court", regardless of what they might have done. He demanded a guarantee from the government that this would not be allowed to happen, and proposed that the British forces should be allowed to opt out of the European convention on human rights. The grey heads murmured their agreement.

Perhaps it is unfair to single out the noble and gallant lord. The British establishment's exceptionalism is almost universal. According to the government, both the Commons public administration committee and the Lords constitution committee recognise that decision-making should "provide sufficient flexibility for deployments which need to be made without prior parliamentary approval for reasons of urgency or necessary operational secrecy". You cannot keep an operation secret from parliament unless you are also keeping it secret from the UN.

Tebbit appears to have a general aversion to disclosure. In 2003, the Guardian obtained letters showing he had prevented the fraud squad at the MoD from investigating allegations of corruption against the arms manufacturer BAE, that he tipped off the BAE chairman about the contents of a confidential letter the Serious Fraud Office had sent him, and that he failed to tell his minister about the SFO's warnings. In October 2003, under cross-examination during the Hutton inquiry into the death of the government scientist David Kelly, he revealed the decision to name Kelly was made in a "meeting chaired by the prime minister". That could have been the end of Tony Blair, but a week later Tebbit sent Lord Hutton a written retraction of his evidence. No one bothered to tell parliament or the press; the retraction was made public only when the Hutton report was published, three months later. Blair knew all along, and the secret gave him a crushing advantage.

The discussion also reveals that Guthrie and Tebbit appear to have learned nothing from the disaster in Iraq. They are not alone. Just before he stepped down last year, Blair wrote an article for the Economist headlined "What I've Learned". He had discovered, he claimed, that his critics were both wrong and dangerous and that his decisions, based on "freedom, democracy, responsibility to others, but also justice and fairness", were difficult but invariably right. He called his article "a very short synopsis of what I have learned". I could think of an even shorter one.

We have yet to hear one word of regret or remorse from any of the main architects - Blair, Brown, Straw, Hoon, Campbell and their principal advisers - of Britain's participation in the supreme international crime. The press and parliament appear to have heeded Blair's plea that we all "move on" from Iraq. The British establishment has a unique capacity to move on, and then to repeat its mistakes. What other former empire knows so little of its own atrocities?

When people call our unwritten constitution a "gentleman's agreement", they reveal more than they intend. It allows the unelected gentlemen who advise the prime minister to act without reference to the proles. Britain went to war in Iraq because the public and parliament were not allowed to know when the decision was made, what the intelligence reports said, and what the attorney general wrote about the its legality. Had the truth not been suppressed, Britain could never have attacked Iraq.

Real constitutional reform requires much more than the timid proposals in the green paper on the governance of Britain, which are likely to appear in a bill in a few weeks' time. Yes, parliament should be allowed to vote on whether to go to war, yes the royal prerogative should be rolled back. But the prime minister, his diplomats, civil servants and generals would still decide which wars parliament needs to know about, which crimes could be secretly committed in our name. Real constitutional reform means not only handing power to parliament but also confronting the power of the hard, unaccountable people who act as if it is their birthright.,,2233793,00.html

'Never Again to Anyone'

Islamophobia and Holocaust Denial

Some reflections on Holocaust denial in the Muslim world: Finkelstein speaks at Islamophobia conference in Istanbul
8 Dec 2007
Transcript (MS Word) |
By Norman G. Finkelstein

A frequent allegation used to demonize Muslims is that Holocaust denial is widespread in the Muslim world. Recent remarks by President Achmadinejad of Iran seem to have reinforced this prejudice against Muslims.

No rational person can deny that during World War II the Nazis and their collaborators systematically murdered 5-6 million European Jews.

It is correct that no truth is sacred and that in the course of time even what seem to be the most obvious truths have frequently been shown to be false. It is equally correct that human beings are fallible, none has a monopoly on truth, and an overwhelming majority can be wrong while a minority of one can be right.

However serious persons are also very careful before rejecting an obvious truth that is supported by a vast amount of evidence. It requires more than showing that a fact here or there might be wrong to demolish a scholarly edifice constructed over many years and labored on by many competent minds.

In the case of truths that bear on moral concerns such as human suffering compassionate human beings are especially cautious to question established truths because of the needless offense and injury they might cause. Japanese would rightfully be outraged if someone were to say, But isn’t it possible that the U.S. did not drop an atomic bombing on Hiroshima?, just as Iranians would be rightfully outraged if someone were to say, But isn’t it possible that the U.S. did not overthrow the Mossadeq regime and the SAVAK did not torture political prisoners.

In addition, every culture, every religion honors the memory of the dead and one aspect of honoring that memory is respecting the specific circumstances of their deaths. It should be obvious that it is deeply offensive to rewrite these circumstances for the sake of political convenience or, worse, for amusement.

Yet, there are many understandable reasons why Holocaust denial is to be found in the Muslim world. The assertion that the Nazis exterminated millions of Jews in an assembly-line fashion does seem hard to believe. I remember a very decent Palestinian in a refugee camp whispering to me not in malice but in wonderment, Did it really happen? In fact many Jewish leaders in the West did not believe it themselves when witnesses from the death camps managed to escape and inform them.

Moreover, because Israel has consistently lied about the history of the Israel-Arab conflict, alleging that Palestine was empty before the Jews came and that the Arabs are responsible for all the wars Israel has fought, it is unsurprising that many Arabs would also conclude that Israel is lying about what happened to Jews during World War II.

It is also true that the Nazi holocaust has been used as a weapon to legitimize Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians as well as against its Arab neighbors. It is often said that because of the unique suffering of Jews during World War II it is understandable that Israel sometimes goes to extremes to defend itself. Because the Nazi holocaust has been used to deny Palestinians their rights, it was perhaps inevitable that some Palestinians would seek to deny the Nazi holocaust in order to “neutralize” this potent weapon.

However, another approach, which also has the virtue of being consistent with truth and morality, is to turn this weapon against Israel’s brutal policies. The meaning of the Nazi holocaust should not be Never Again to Jews but Never Again to Anyone. The lesson of the Nazi holocaust should not be to rank human suffering in order to diminish the horror of “lesser” forms of human suffering. Instead, as the epitome of human suffering the lesson of the Nazi holocaust should be to sensitize us to all forms of human suffering. Wherever there is mayhem and murder, wherever there is hunger and homelessness, wherever there is discrimination and degradation – there is the Nazi holocaust. That, at any rate, is the lesson my late parents, who survived the Nazi holocaust, taught me.

It might also be noted that the U.S. and Israel typically invoke the memory of the Nazi holocaust for the purpose not of averting the horrors of war but to justify inflicting them. Whenever the United States and Israel prepare to attack Muslims it is almost always the case that the leaders will be compared to Hitler. In the 1950s-1960s Nasser was compared to Hitler, in the 1990s and again in the 2000s Hussein was compared to Hitler. Now Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran are being compared to Hitler. Those who oppose the illegal war plans of the U.S. and Israel are accused of being like the appeasers of Hitler. It is hard to conceive a more cynical exploitation of the suffering of Jews during World War II than its use to justify murderous wars of aggression.

It should finally be said that before the so-called West deplores Holocaust denial in the Muslim world, it should take a closer look at itself.

The U.S.-imposed economic sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s were responsible for the deaths of many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. Respected United Nations officials called these sanctions genocidal, yet U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said that the “price is worth it.” She did worse than deny genocide; she justified it.

In the 1980s during the U.S.-backed wars in Central America, tens of thousands of Guatemalans, Salvadorans and Nicaraguans were killed. The Truth Commission of Guatemala called it a genocide. But in bestselling books nowadays it is said that these murderous wars are a model for how to defeat the insurgents in Iraq. Is this the meaning of Never Again?

In the 1960s-1970s during the U.S. aggression against Indochina, 3-4 million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians were killed. But the only question that is asked in the U.S. is, When will the Vietnamese apologize for what they did to us?

The Muslim world is demonized for denying the Nazi holocaust. And it is undoubtedly true that, however understandable, such denial is wrong. Indeed, it shames and demeans the deniers not those whose martyrdom is being questioned.

It is true that the U.S. does not deny the many holocausts it has committed. But this is because to deny a fact you first have to acknowledge its existence. The U.S. has not yet even taken this first step of acknowledging the existence of the numberless colossal crimes it has committed.

~ Link ~

Lipan Apache plea for help, Homeland Security deadline to seize lands January 7, 2007

By Brenda Norrell,
Posted on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 06:30:50 PM EST
Homeland Security issued a 30-day notice to south Texas land owners, which expires Monday, January 7, 2007, to seize private lands in Texas for the US/Mexico border wall.

Lipan Apache women and elders issued a call for help to resist the seizure of their lands.

By Margo_Tamez

This is a request for immediate intervention on behalf of indigenous land title holders of the rancheria of El Calaboz, La Paloma, and El Ranchito in South Texas. I am writing to you this evening as the indigenous peoples of El Calaboz, La Paloma and El Ranchito rancherias in South Texas express grave fear for their safety, their livelihoods, and being ripped violently apart from our sacred lands held in our communities prior to contact with Spanish settlers and empresarios, and thereafter, in continuity.

Elders, such as Eloisa Garcia Tamez, and others in our communities threatened with Eminent Domain, by the Department of Homeland Security and carried out by Secretary Chertoff, have authorized me to request immediate emergency intervention from the International Indian Treaty Council at this time.

The 30-day period which Chertoff forced upon the threatened communities will expire on January 7, 2008.

Today, an emergency national conference call was held to address key concerns of the South Texas independent indigenous rancherias whose lands are not only physically on the International Boundary (IB), but also whose traditional and titled lands (by Spanish, Mexican Republic and Texas Republic title) are dissected by the IB and are also in Tamaulipas, Mexico.

We are communities of both indigenous Hleh pai nde'--the Light Gray People, the independent Lipan Apache of the San Pedro de Carricitos Land Grant of 1786. As well we are communities of Basque-Nde' and Basque-Comanche peoples who are the First Peoples of the contact period after 1745 when Basque laborers toiled under harsh conditions and mixed in with the indigenous of the region to survive colonial mission, presidio, hacendado and empresario rulers.

Today the impacted communities of South Texas held a conference call with allies from Tohono O'odham, Yaqui, Jumano Apache, as well as a team of committed civil and human rights attorneys, land grant attorneys, human rights attorneys, activist organizations, and academic activist-scholars from the University of Texas system. We heard the voices of the first impacted communities of this horrendous 'border security project'--the voices of mothers, daughters, uncles, fathers, and grandparents whose lives and lands are currently under threat of eminent occupation on January 7, 2008.

Tonight, my mother, Eloisa Garcia Tamez, expressed to me that more and more elders are giving up--and considering surrendering to Secretary Chertoff, due to their advanced age, their sense of hopelessness, isolation and extreme fear of an impending sense of doom which the national media churns out daily on the television and papers--militarized violence.

This fear is not unfounded. Our community is all too familiar with militarization, as we are a hyper-militarized and occupied region.

My mother, tonight, fearfully recalled to me the reason why she believes some elders will surrender and sign the waiver which will forcibly relocate them. In the mid 1930's the army came to build the so-called 'secure levee'--which was forced upon the community. At that time the army constructed a dangerous levee system, against wishes of the the traditional indigenous farmers--my great grand parents and grand parents, grand uncles and grand aunts included. At that time, they forced a massive destruction of the traditional fields, and flooded our all of our families to the south of us. Women, children and elders were flooded out and vanished horrifically--a dramatic display of hyper-militarized power to dominate through terror, and bring my ancestors under the authority of the U.S. Army.

My mother retold me, tonight, that she remembers how during this time period the U.S. Army and Border Patrol ran their vehicles into the front doors of the small jacals (traditional shelters, or 'gowas'--wickiups) and how she ran and ran ... in fear of being run over and killed and seeing her family destroyed. She recounted how they burst open doors and forced their way in the homes and how she hid under the bed as the soldiers destroyed everything in their maniacal rampages against the indigenous. Thus, tonight, the elders, who were also vulnerable teens and young children at that time--again--specifically regarding the trauma associated with the U.S. Army Engineers' 'levee', are all too cognizant of the subversive ways of the U.S. government, forced occupation and militarized terror tactics. They fear that none will ever know that it will happen again--because the level of policing and Marshall law at the I.B. is so hyper militarized, so naturalized and so normalized that no one would even blink an eye if they are all overrun again.

Therefore, as the days draw close to the January 7 deadline, more elders who are sick, exhausted and overstressed by the national terror being focused upon the small and defenseless rancherias --are talking about surrendering.

We empathize with them and are encouraging them through our voices and prayers. However, my mother and many others, are gaining strength and productive structures to express and organize their outrage and sense of justice --from the national and international support pouring into us. We are firmly committed to the longer struggle for justice.

Our community has fought hand to hand with U.S. soldiers in prior waves of empire, and we will not, as my mother says, ever surrender. My mother gave me permission tonight to go forward and to request formally that the IITC step in on our behalf and respond with immediate intervention, for this is a struggle that is inclusive, and foregrounds an indigenous democracy--one that is horizontal and far-reaching. At this time, we invite you to join the Working Group.

The Working Group is holding a national press conference telephonic call on Monday, January 7, 2006.

We will keep you advised of further details regarding the legal and political defense of the land title holders of El Calaboz rancheria.

To Margo Tamez

From Bill Means, International Indian Treaty Council

As one of the founders and present Board Members of the International Indian Treaty Council I want to give my total support to saving your tradtional lands and comunities. You are right that unless there is massive support the US general public will never know or care about what is happening on the US-Mexico border. The continuous Human Rights violations by the US must be exposed. Is it only white people who are welcomed to the US? Where is the Statue of Liberty for the Southern Border of the US? Where is Ellis Island? Give Me your tired, your hungry, your huddled masses! Is this just for white people? The US policy on the US-Mexico border is totally racist! IITC is in support!

Toksha, Bill
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