Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Chomsky: "You have to turn people into pathological monsters who think that way"

Everywhere from high school and college campuses to bus stops and dinner tables, we hear a lot about what a "quagmire" and "costly mess" Iraq has become for the United States, now being blamed as a Republican war, for how the Bush Administration handled the occupation—that 'it should've been done this or that way'—and 'now that we're there we can't leave, it's our 'responsibility' to fix the problem we made because it'll only get worse if we leave—those people will kill each other', and so on.  What do you say to these arguments that seem to interweave with each other?  And what would you suggest in terms of what some might call an 'honorable solution'?  International measures, immediate withdrawal—both?


The position of the liberal doves during the Vietnam War was articulated lucidly by historian and Kennedy advisor Arthur Schlesinger, when the war was becoming too costly for the US and they began their shift from hawk to dove.  He wrote that "we all pray" that the hawks will be right in believing that the surge of the day will work, and if they are, we "may be saluting the wisdom and statesmanship of the American government" in gaining victory in a land that they have left in "wreck and ruin." But it probably won't work, so strategy should be rethought.  The principles, and the reasoning, carry over with little change to the Iraq invasion.


There is no "honorable solution" to a war of aggression—the "supreme international crime" that differs from other war crimes in that it encompasses all the evil that follows, in the wording of the Nuremberg Tribunal, which condemned Nazi war criminals to death for such crimes as "pre-emptive war." We can only seek the least awful solution.  In doing so, we should bear in mind some fundamental principles, among them, that aggressors have no rights, only responsibilities. 


The responsibilities are to pay enormous reparations for the harm they have caused, to hold the criminals responsible accountable, and to pay close attention to the wishes of the victims.  In this case, we know their wishes quite well.  Poll after poll has yielded results similar to those reported by the military in December, after a study of focus groups around the country.  They report that Iraqis from all over the country and all walks of life have "shared beliefs," which they enumerated: The American invasion is to blame for the sectarian violence and other horrors, and the invaders should withdraw, leaving Iraq—or what's left of it—to Iraqis. 


It tells us a lot about our own moral and intellectual culture that the voice of Iraqis, though known, is not even considered in the thoughtful and comprehensive articles in the media reviewing the options available to Washington.  And that there is no comment on this rather striking fact, considered quite natural.



Is there anyone saying the war was fundamentally wrong?


In the case of Vietnam, years after Kennedy's invasion, liberal doves began to say that the war began with "blundering efforts to do good" but by 1969 it was clear that it was a mistake that was too costly to us (Anthony Lewis, at the critical extreme, in the New York Times).  In the same year, 70% of the public regarded the war as not "a mistake" but "fundamentally wrong and immoral." That gap between public and elite educated opinion persists until the most recent polls, a few years ago.


In the media and journals, it is very hard to find any voice that criticizes the invasion or Iraq on principled grounds, though there are some.  Arthur Schlesinger, for example, took a very different position than he did on Vietnam.  When the bombs started falling on Baghdad he quoted  President Roosevelt's condemnation of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor as "a date which will live in infamy."  Now, Schlesinger wrote, it is Americans who live in infamy as their government follows the path of fascist Japan.  But that was a lone voice among elites.


Dissidents, of course, describe "the supreme international crime" as fundamentally wrong.  I haven't seen polls about public attitudes on this question.



What about when it is that people know to undertake more serious or severe resistance efforts after the point at which "the limits of possible protest" are reached?  In a letter to George Steiner in the NYR, in 1967, you gave the example of what this might look like, now 60 years ago during the Spanish Civil War, when people found it quite necessary to join international brigades to fight against the army of their own country; or, applied to Vietnam, the possible action one might undertake in such circumstances of travelling to Hanoi as a hostage against further bombing.  —That's pretty far-reaching, relatively speaking, to what we see in current resistance efforts today against the war.  What's your feeling about the possibilities for such methods today in relation to the Iraq war, border action, or other criminal policy in the Middle East and elsewhere?  Do situations have to get worse before people or individuals might deem this sort of action necessary? 


In the case of Vietnam, serious resistance began several years after Kennedy's invasion of South Vietnam.  I was one of a few people trying to organize national tax resistance in early 1965, at a time when South Vietnam, always the main target, was being crushed by intensive bombing and other crimes.  By 1966-67, refusal to serve in the invading army was beginning to become a significant phenomenon, along with support for resistance by organized groups, primarily RESIST, formed in 1967 (and still functioning).  By then the war had passed far beyond the invasion of Iraq in destructiveness and violence.  In fact, at any comparable stage, protest against the Iraq invasion considerably exceeds anything during the Indochina wars. 


As for living with the victims to help them or provide them some measure of protection, that is a phenomenon of the 1980s, for the first time in imperial history, to my knowledge, in reaction to Reagan's terrorist wars that devastated Central America, one of his many horrendous crimes.  The solidarity movements that took shape then have now extended worldwide, though only in limited ways to Iraq, because the catastrophe created by Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz and the rest is so extraordinary that it is almost impossible to survive in the wreckage—the main reason why reporting is so skimpy; it is simply too dangerous, unlike earlier wars of imperial aggression.


~ From: United States of insecurity ~

Musical Innerlube: Staffan Svahn - My Africa

Italy rightists raze Verona mosque

Italy's far-right, anti-immigrant Northern League party has started its mission in the new government with bringing down a mosque in the northern city of Verona.

"The mosque destruction reinforces Muslim fears of seeing the League in the ruling coalition," Ali Abu Shwaima, the head of Milan-based Islamic Centre, told IslamOnline on Saturday.

Bulldozers brought down last week a building housing a Muslim prayer room in the city.

"I never felt at ease with this mosque," Elisonder Antonneli, the head of Verona city council, said.

"This place will be turned into a park and a car parking space and will be named after (Italian writer) Oriana Fallaci."

Fallaci, who died in 2006, was notorious for anti-Islam stances.

Following the 9/11 attacks, the far-right writer published a book entitled "Rage and Pride" in which she ridiculed the Noble Qur'an.

She has also authored another book "The Force of Reason" in which she warned that Europe was turning into "an Islamic province, an Islamic colony" and that "to believe that a good Islam and a bad Islam exist goes against all reason."

The Northern League has four ministers in Silovio Berlusconi's government, including the portfolio of the Interior.

~ more... ~


Kimmie's incredible story

During all this time he did not see a doctor or a nurse: he had no medicine, only a few herbs. He became unconscious, his body seemed lifeless; it was decided that he must be dead.
His grave was being dug to bury him, but his mother refused to believe it. She screamed and started hitting his body and kept hitting him until he became conscious again.
That night the young Kimmie vowed to dedicate the rest of his life to making the world a better place for children.
Kimmie started volunteering at hospitals, which were understaffed, and caring for babies that were very sick and poor. He also got young people to clean up communities littered by debris of war.
At the age of 13, he founded The Voice of the Future Inc. (VOF) that was the first humanitarian organisation run by young people.
At the age of 15, Kimmie founded the Children's Disarmament Campaign. With the support of UNICEF, they lobbied for disarmament of child soldiers and to end civil war.
A year later he started Liberia's first Children Information Services. This helped former child soldiers mix into the community.
At the age of 17, Kimmie wrote a report on training of children by the Liberian Military. As a result, his life was under threat and he had to flee to America for his safety, leaving behind his mother.

In America he graduated from Amherst College. In 2002 Kimmie founded Youth Action International (a network of young people helping children affected by war).
Kimmie has continued working towards protecting children from war. He is the Director of Planning for the International Coalition for Children and Environment. He is on the board of several non-profit organizations.
In 2007 out of 1,000 candidates, Kimmie at the age of 25 won a Brick Award, which acknowledges and supports young social change makers aged 25 years and under.
~ Source: Peace News ~

Peace chain around Faslane Saturday 14th June 2008

Watch the Peace Chain Video (Youtube)

When? Saturday 14 June 2008 - 11.30am assemble, 12 noon march off to form Chain

Why? All the nuclear weapons held by the UK are based in Scotland. The Peace Chain is a peaceful protest against the UK Government's plan to build a new nuclear weapon system ('Trident replacement'), which would be at Faslane until 2055. Opinion polls show that 72% of the Scottish people are against the plan. The new system would cost £75 billion. What else could £75 billion buy? There are better ways to use this money.

The Peace Chain date marks several important anniversaries:

  • One year ago, 14 June 2007, the Scottish Parliament voted against the UK Government's plan for a new nuclear weapon system.
  • The day of the Peace Chain also sees the celebration of the 26 th birthday of Faslane Peace Camp.
  • 40 years ago, 14 June 1968, the first British nuclear patrol – HMS Resolution – sailed from Faslane.
  • This year is also the 50 th birthday of CND and its struggle against nuclear weapons.

In SCND's history never before has there been such concerted and widespread opinion against nuclear weapons in Scotland – both amongst elected officials and the general public – and so with this Peace Chain we intend to mark not only anniversaries of past events but a real hope for the future.

Where? We will assemble at Faslane Peace Camp, which is close to Helensburgh (35 miles from Glasgow). See Transport to Peace Chain.

How? We will be forming a chain of people and banners along the main perimeter fence at Faslane, which is about 2000m long. The fence has about 64 panels which will be divided into sections, with a marshal responsible for making sure each section is covered: setting people in place, keeping them in place and spaced out for the duration of the demonstration and distributing people/materials to cover the entire length.

As much as possible we want to link everyone, at least all the people in the same section, by a common chain. This can be made from anything that you like (that you think has a chance of withstanding the elements)! Bunting, rope, old sheets, washing line... SCND will bring as much material like this as possible but we need you come along with whatever you can. We welcome organised groups to sign up with us beforehand and to take responsibility for a certain length of the fence, whether this is 10m or 100m.

Individuals are welcomed to bring banners and signs to slot onto the chain.

~ more... ~


Syria: Russia’s friendship has its limits

Syria's growing relationship with Russia has given it a rare ally in its generally isolated position. However, Moscow plays only a limited role in supporting Damascus internationally, say Syrian analysts.

Syria has built stronger relations with Russia in the past few years. Moscow has refurbished some of its old military bases in the country, and has written off 70 per cent of Syria's debt.

According to a writer from Damascus, the relationship goes back a long way. The late president Hafez al-Assad "was smart about having a balance in his country's relationships that included both America and Russia" during the Cold War, he said.

The situation is different today, and Russia is hoping to regain some international leverage through the relationship with Syria, analysts say.

Russia is rebuilding a base in the port of Tartus for use by its Black Sea fleet. The facility was left empty for 16 years and when finished, will be Moscow's only military base outside the former Soviet Union.

Russian arms deals with Syria have raised tensions between Moscow and Israel. With the support of the United States, the Russians have offered to sponsor Middle East peace talks.

Moscow is looking to "regain its place in an international system now controlled by the United States", the writer said. "Russia is trying to rebuild its power by creating an atmosphere similar to that of the Cold War. There is no other explanation for restoring its military presence in the region."

Iraq photo diaries - Night raids


FDA & EMEA to increase cooperation

The Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) has set out its vision of how increased cooperation between the US and European Union can improve the pharmaceutical regulatory process.
Guidelines for collaboration between the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) were agreed at the TEC's second meeting.

With the regulatory bodies having to monitor an increasingly diverse global industry, the TEC believes it makes sense for the big regulatory bodies to pool resources.

One specific aspect of this broad policy is the launching of a pilot scheme for joint FDA and EMEA inspections of pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities in the US and EU.

In addition it is proposed that the two regulatory bodies undertake joint inspections of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) facilities in countries outside of the EU and US.
more... ~
The Transatlantic Economic Council is a political body to oversee and accelerate government-to-government cooperation with the aim of advancing economic integration between the European Union and the United States of America.

At the last EU-US Summit on 30 April 2007, Commission President Barroso, German Chancellor Merkel and US President Bush signed the "Framework for Advancing Transatlantic Economic Integration between the United States of America and the European Union"

Key elements of this framework were the adoption of a work programme of cooperation and the establishment of the Transatlantic Economic Council (TEC) to oversee, guide and accelerate the implementation of this work programme.

Liberal Pundits Offer Unprecedented Apology

Alternate Universe Washington, DC (AUP)--An influential group of liberal pundits and political commentators has formed a new organization to apologize for their columns on Ned Lamont's 2006 challenge to Joe Lieberman (R - Forallintentsandpurposes) and to call for their own resignations.

The organization, "Repentant Villagers," announced today that it would be issuing formal apologies to hundreds of liberal bloggers, including Duncan Black, Jane Hamsher, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, Glenn Greenwald, and "Digby," acknowledging that the progressive blogosphere was right about Lieberman after all. "No one could have anticipated the breach of the party," said Jonathan Chait, senior editor of the New Republic. "But Lieberman's recent op-ed, calling the Democratic Party insufficiently pro-American, is just sheer barking lunacy. I could never have seen this coming two years ago when I was calling Lieberman's critics 'a pack of crazed, ignorant ideological cannibals,' and I'm deeply sorry. It looks like I turned out to be the truly ignorant one in the end."

~ more... ~



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