Interesting story regarding the glorious victory at Najaf by the US and our valiant allies in The Independent:
US ‘victory’ against cult leader was ‘massacre’
By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad
Published: 31 January 2007There are growing suspicions in Iraq that the official story of the battle outside Najaf between a messianic Iraqi cult and the Iraqi security forces supported by the US, in which 263 people were killed and 210 wounded, is a fabrication. The heavy casualties may be evidence of an unpremeditated massacre.
Healing Iraq [several long articles with sources]
The Media Cover-up of the Najaf Massacre Atlantic Free Press
Robert H. Reid Analysis: Najaf Battle Raises Questions The Guardian, January 30, 2007
Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily Official Lies over Najaf Battle Exposed Inter Press Service
Stop the Massacres Being Done in Our Name No Questions Asked
Patrick Cockburn The Waco of Iraq? US “Victory” Against Cult Leader was a Massacre Counterpunch
See also: Keyword ‘Najaf’ on scanlyze
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
Let’s imagine that George W. Bush is intelligent, that he is not insane, and that he has a strategy at work in Iraq and Afghanistan. Let’s imagine further that Bush’s strategy is working as intended. What could that strategy be?
The Great Game/Containment
In this theory, the bombs fall on Baghdad and Helmand but the target is Moscow.
The term, The Great Game is attributed to a British Intelligence Officer, Lt. Arthur Connoly of the 6th Bengal Light Cavalry. He used the term in, Journey to the North of India through Russia, Persia and Afghanistan, London, Richard Bentley, 1834, to describe the rivalry between the British and Russian empire in Central Asia.
A similar theory, now called containment, was proposed in a famous article by George Kennan. In The Sources of Soviet Conduct, Foreign Affairs, July, 1947, Kennan, writing as “X”, proposed that the Soviet Union be crippled economically through an economic and cultural blockade, while it would be destabilized through covert actions and propaganda. He wrote,
…it will be clearly seen that the Soviet pressure against the free institutions of the western world is something that can be contained by the adroit and vigilant application of counter-force at a series of constantly shifting geographical and political points…
…we have in Russia today a population which is physically and spiritually tired. The mass of the people are disillusioned, skeptical and no longer as accessible as they once were to the magical attraction which Soviet power still radiates to its followers abroad. The avidity with which people seized upon the slight respite accorded to the Church for tactical reasons during the war was eloquent testimony to the fact that their capacity for faith and devotion found little expression in the purposes of the regime.
In these circumstances, there are limits to the physical and nervous strength of people themselves. These limits are absolute ones, and are binding even for the cruelest dictatorship, because beyond them people cannot be driven. The forced labor camps and the other agencies of constraint provide temporary means of compelling people to work longer hours than their own volition or mere economic pressure would dictate; but if people survive them at all they become old before their time and must be considered as human casualties to the demands of dictatorship. In either case their best powers are no longer available to society and can no longer be enlisted in the service of the state.
The idea here is that the chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan is not an aberration but is in fact calculated and intended. Doctrines of “asymmetrical warfare” hold that terrorism and armed propaganda are “force multipliers”… therefore we destroy the pillars of civil society so that our own “freedom fighters” can do their asymmetrical thing. This could be considered similar to the Sudanese strategy in Darfur, or the Contra war the US has conducted in Latin America, most notably in the 1980’s.
Peter Beaumont et al After the surge … what next? The Observer, Sunday January 14, 2007
David L. Grange, Asymmetric Warfare: Old Strategy, New Concern, National Strategy Forum Review Winter 2000
James Johnson Implications for the Ten Division Army: Selective Engagement or Managed Chaos Masters Thesis, US Army Command and Military Staff College, 1994
world’s largest producer of opium; cultivation dropped 48% to 107,400 hectares in 2005; better weather and lack of widespread disease returned opium yields to normal levels, meaning potential opium production declined by only 10% to 4,475 metric tons; if the entire poppy crop were processed, it is estimated that 526 metric tons of heroin could be processed; source of hashish; many narcotics-processing labs throughout the country; drug trade source of instability and some anti-government groups profit from the trade; 80-90% of the heroin consumed in Europe comes from Afghan opium; vulnerable to narcotics money laundering through informal financial networks
This is the full report of the opium survey of Afghanistan that the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime made public in September 2006. There was considerable alarm when it was announced that opium cultivation in Afghanistan rose to 165,000 hectares in 2006, a 59% increase over 2005.
This 6,100 tons of opium gives Afghanistan the dubious distinction of having nearly a monopoly of the world heroin market.
Major traffickers, warlords and insurgents are reaping the profits of this bumper crop to spread instability, infiltrate public institutions, and enrich themselves. Afghanistan is moving from narcoeconomy to narco-state.
While criminals prosper, the rest of society suffers. In Afghanistan, opium is choking development and democratization. The rule of the bullet and the bribe exists where there is no rule of law.
UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Opium Survey 2006
Britain fought two Opium Wars from 1834 to 1860 to force China to buy British opium. After World War II, the United States has fought a series of wars and proxy wars in the worlds major opium growing areas, including Burma, Laos, Thailand, Columbia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Kurdistan.
William E. Colby, Heroin, Laos, and the USA New York Review of Books, November 22, 1990.
Gary Webb, The Dark Alliance, San Jose Mercury News, 1996.
Jensen-Stevenson, Monika and Stevenson, William. Kiss the Boys Goodbye: How the United States Betrayed Its Own POWs in Vietnam. New York: Dutton (Penguin Books), 1990 [namebase entry]
Kwitny, Jonathan. The Crimes of Patriots: A True Tale of Dope, Dirty Money, and the CIA. New York: W.W. Norton, 1987. [namebase entry]
This is a common theory, the only twist here being that the intent would be not to obtain the oil but simply to drive up prices by restricting supply. As long as Saudi Arabia remains on board (how much longer?) the US-aligned corporations have enough excess capacity to meet the oil demand. So to guarantee profits, the Seven Sisters need not to obtain more supplies, thus putting yet more oil on the market; but to simply insure the destruction of the productive capacity of their rivals.
Divide and rule
In this scenario, the US would intentionally foment sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shiite in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and elsewhere. The US would favor the Shiia because they are in the minority and the idea would be to destabilize the Sunni regimes in particular Saudi Arabia, which has an economic stranglehold on the US by means of its massive investment portfolio and oil reserves.
Divide and Rule (wikipedia)
The theory of Permanent War is eloquently articulated in George Orwell’s novel, 1984:
The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed…
War, it will be seen, accomplishes the necessary destruction, but accomplishes it in a psychologically acceptable way. In principle it would be quite simple to waste the surplus labour of the world by building temples and pyramids, by digging holes and filling them up again, or even by producing vast quantities of goods and then setting fire to them. But this would provide only the economic and not the emotional basis for a hierarchical society. What is concerned here is not the morale of masses, whose attitude is unimportant so long as they are kept steadily at work, but the morale of the Party itself. Even the humblest Party member is expected to be competent, industrious, and even intelligent within narrow limits, but it is also necessary that he should be a credulous and ignorant fanatic whose prevailing moods are fear, hatred, adulation, and orgiastic triumph. In other words it is necessary that he should have the mentality appropriate to a state of war. It does not matter whether the war is actually happening, and, since no decisive victory is possible, it does not matter whether the war is going well or badly. All that is needed is that a state of war should exist.
George Orwell, 1984
The basic authority of a modern state over its people resides in its war powers. (There is, in fact, good reason to believe that codified law had its origins in the rules of conduct established by military victors for dealing with the defeated enemy, which were later adapted to apply to all subject populations. ) On a day-to-day basis, it is represented by the institution of police, armed organizations charged expressly with dealing with “internal enemies” in a military manner. Like the conventional “external” military, the police are also substantially exempt from many civilian legal restraints on their social behavior. In some countries, the artificial distinction between police and other military forces does not exist. On the long-term basis, a government’s emergency war powers – inherent in the structure of even the most libertarian of nations – define the most significant aspect of the relation between state and citizen.
In advanced modern democratic societies, the war system has provided political leaders with another political-economic function of increasing importance: it has served as the last great safeguard against the elimination of necessary social classes. As economic productivity increases to a level further and further above that of minimum subsistence, it becomes more and more difficult for a society to maintain distribution patterns insuring the existence of “hewers of wood and drawers of water.” The further progress of automation can be expected to differentiate still more sharply between “superior” workers and what Ricardo called “menials,” while simultaneously aggravating the problem of maintaining an unskilled labor supply.
The arbitrary nature of war expenditures and of other military activities make them ideally suited to control these essential class relationships. Obviously, if the war system were to be discarded, new political machinery would be needed at once to serve this vital subfunction. Until it is developed, the continuance of the war system must be assured, if for no other reason, among others, than to preserve whatever quality and degree of poverty a society requires as an incentive, as well as to maintain the stability of its internal organization of power.
Lewis Lewin, Report From Iron Mountain
Shock and Awe: A Strategy of Terror
The purpose of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq might be to establish for the world and the internal population, the utter ruthlessness of the Government and its willingness to use maximum force against those who disagree with its agenda.
A strategy of permanent war could be a means to establish dictatorship inside the US, suppress dissent, co-opt the media, and take control of the reins of power at home and abroad. The use of torture and concentration camps abroad will provide the legal and social acceptance of such measures in the
Fatherland, er, Homeland.
And finally the ever-popular,
All of the above!
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
With Reporters Like BBC Washington Correspondent Justin Webb, Who Needs Republican Spin-Doctors?
The BBC’s Washington correspondent Justin Webb is truly a fount of misinformation and undigested, regurgitated White House talking-points. Consider this effusion from the BBC website dated January 6, 2007:
But in a letter to the president, Senate Democratic Leader, Harry Reid, and House of Representatives Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said adding more combat troops would stretch the US military to breaking point with no strategic gain.
They instead urged a phased redeployment of US forces, starting in four to six months, with a re-emphasis on training, logistics and counter-terrorism operations in Iraq.
The BBC’s Justin Webb in Washington says this is an aggressive move from the Democrats, setting the stage for a huge political battle.
Mr Bush cannot be prevented from sending more troops [emphasis mine–HH], our correspondent says, but he may pay a big political cost if the deployment is carried out amid fierce congressional opposition.
(no byline but attributing these views to Webb)
This is wrong constitutionally, factually, and historically. The US Constitution, Article I, Section 7 provides that:
All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.
Article I, Section 8 further provides,
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States…
To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;
To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;
To provide and maintain a navy;
To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;
To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress…
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
Both the raising of taxes and the war-making power belong to Congress alone (it is this author’s view that the War Powers Act is an unconstitutional surrender and delegation of these powers to the Executive).
Further, as a practical matter, both the Second Indochina War (“Vietnam War” to Americans) and the US incursions into El Salvador and Nicaragua were stopped by Congressional action to disapprove or not approve funding for unauthorized war actions by the executive.
Compare Mr. Webb’s misinformation with this from CNN posted January 30, 2007:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate Republican on Tuesday directly challenged President Bush’s declaration that “I am the decision-maker” on issues of war.
“I would suggest respectfully to the president that he is not the sole decider,” Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pennsylvania, said during a hearing on Congress’ war powers amid an increasingly harsh debate over Iraq war policy. “The decider is a shared and joint responsibility,” Specter said.
The question of whether to use its power over the government’s purse strings to force an end to the war in Iraq, and under what conditions, is among the issues faced by the Democratic majority in Congress, and even some of the president’s political allies as well.
No one challenges the notion that Congress can stop a war by withholding the money to pay for it. [emphasis mine–HH]
In fact, Vice President Dick Cheney challenged the Democrat-controlled Congress to back up its objections to President Bush’s plan to put 21,500 more troops in Iraq by zeroing out the war budget.
Few expect such a drastic move, but there are other legislative options to force the war’s end, say majority Democrats and some of Bush’s traditional Republican allies.
The alternatives range from capping the number of troops permitted in Iraq to cutting off money for troop deployments beyond a certain date or setting an end date for the war.
[Note: not a permalink: article has changed since the above was quoted]
This is not the first time I have noted Mr. Webb spouting his pro-Republican fantasies, see:
And my previous comments to Justin Webb on the BBC:
The peculiar assertion by Justin Webb that the Democrats will somehow be blamed for the reputed actions of the Republican Congressman Foley is lacking in any factual basis. This piece is so poorly written it even fails to identify Congressman Foley as the subject, nor does it mention the allegations and evidence pertaining to the issue.
This blog entry is neither news reporting nor news analysis; it is blatant propaganda, pro-Republican pandering and “spin”. Such a preposterous assertion would require more proof than the off-topic quote from a conveniently unnamed and therefore unverifiable “former staffer in the Clinton White House”.
Justin Webb’s reporting is a disgrace to the BBC and to all journalists everywhere and he should resign, or be made redundant immediately.
It is, however, neither the alleged actions of one individual congressman nor of one partisan, biased reporter which will be determinative of the races in other contested Congressional districts. Rather, it will be the fact that the US is bogged down in a war it is losing (Afghanistan) and a war which is already lost (Iraq), coupled with the ongoing assault on the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions and the rolling collapse of the economy and de-industrialization of the US which will drive the American people to vote Democratic this November.
–Henry Edward Hardy, posted at bbc.co.uk 6 October 2006
“I predict that the Democrats will get the blame for this [Foley scandal] in the end and not quite know how to avoid it.” –Justin Webb, Oct. 6, 2006
Mr. Webb, please have the courtesy and intellectual honesty to admit how wrong you were in writing those words and how utterly foolish, partisan and ill-informed they look in the aftermath of the Democratic landslide.
–Henry Edward Hardy, posted at bbc.co.uk 10 November 2006
Move Over Scott Mclellan, Justin Webb Has Drunk The Kool-Aid
Why the internet will revolutionise politics
We are Biased, Admit the Stars of BBC News
Justin Webb [BBC biography]
On The Lam
With “reporters” like Justin Webb, who needs spin-doctors?
Copyright © 2006, 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
March on Washington to Oppose War January 27, 2007
Join together to march for peace and justice in Washington, DC on January 27, 2007! Many lobbying and additional legal, nonviolent protest activities are planned in conjunction. Please go if you can or join in local activities wherever you may be.
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy
Microwave experiments cause sponge disasters
OMG! Here’s some really important news on CNN. Even the household sponge could be a threat. Amazing. Forget Iraq, I think I’ll go buy some home improvement, household security and entertainment items!
• Some who tried to sanitize germy sponges in microwave got unpleasant results
• News outlets got complaints of odors, ruined appliances
• Researchers advise that the sponges must be WET before going in microwave
Copyright © 2007 Henry Edward Hardy