John Furie Zacharias
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Thunderstorms Anywhere

Thunderstorms in the Imajica



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Thursday, November 30, 2006
Iraq: A study of oil


 Iraq is no fucking video game
Well, it seems that the President's recent foreign policy trip has revealed the obvious fact that many people in the Middle East dislike Bush nearly as much as people here in the United States.  Political leaders must also sense that Bush is becoming even more irrelevant to the long term security and prosperity in the region.  Even Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Malaki acted like GOP candidates acted earlier this month during their political campaigns and avoided being tied too closely with Bush.  Malaki has his nose in the winds of political change and is hedging his bets.

Here is an obvious observation.  Baghdad is in such chaos that Bush and al-Malaki could not meet there in the heavily guarded Green Zone.  It has been widely reported that PM al-Malaki's decision to meet with Bush in Amman, Jordan caused his own supporters in the Iraqi parliament to temporarily boycott his government.

Dan Murphy reports in the Christian Science Monitor how the Bush/Cheney administration leaked a memo to the New York Times disparaging al-Maliki and explaining options in Iraq even before the President landed in Amman to meet with the Iraqi PM.  This current Bush/Cheney administration has a foreign policy and resulting diplomacy that can only be described as schizophrenic.

Put yourself in the shoes of anyone around the world that has to deal with George W. Bush.  I can only imagine that the leaders of many nations in the world -- friend and foe -- can only pray to their individual God and beseech that they stay in office or live long enough to see the departure of this nutbag and his fellow crazies from the White House. 

If you were anyone living in the world -- besides an American citizen with no historical perspective, possessing the attention span of less than one day, and usually fed disinformation and useless fluff from our McMedia establishment -- you wouldn't trust an American president either.  Dealing with the United States for a majority of countries is like swimming naked with a great white shark whose belly is full of gold.  You hope you might get some prosperity, but you could be ripped to shreds in the process.

Do your own research

Learn about Operation Ajax: how our American CIA overthrew the democratically elected Iranian leader, Dr. Mossadeq, in the 1950s.  We installed the Shah of Iran who brutalized the population with his Savak secret police. Why did we do this?  Oil.

When the Islamic Revolution occurred in Iran, the Shah was deposed and Iranians took our U.S. embassy.  The Iranians held our citizens hostage for over a year.  We have not had normal diplomatic relations with Tehran ever since.

When Reagan was in office, we funded both sides of the Iran-Iraq war.  How immoral is that?  We sold billions of dollars of weapon systems to both governments, Iraq openly and Iran covertly.  We provided Hussein with the chemical weapons he used to kill tens of thousands.

When it became apparent that Hussein was winning the war, George H.W. Bush (41) used his Kuwaiti contacts to provoke Hussein.  That administration encouraged Kuwait to drill sideways into oil fields in Iraq. At the same time, Bush 41 didn't even suggest that Hussein's growing anger and subsequent invasion would be a problem, giving him an unspoken green light.

Why do you think Hussein was so incredibly surprised that Bush 41 launched the Gulf War?  Hussein got pwned.  We got cheap oil.

The Clinton administration maintained the no-fly zones for its 8-year-long duration, and kept the betrayed and very pissed-off Saddam Hussein in the Sunni box in central Iraq surrounding Baghdad.  Meanwhile, the Kurds in the north prospered and Baghdad suffered under U.N. sanctions. (Trivia: Saladin was a Kurd)

In 2000, Bush 43 is (s)elected.  In 2003, Bush decides to knock the entire hornet's nest out of the tree.

Why? Oil.

While George Bush's father called on the Kurds in the north and the Shia in the South to overthrow Hussein, now that the idiot son has Saddam Hussein weeks away from an appointment with the exectioner, he is now courting the Sunni Arab nations in the region to save his Democrusader ass.  It's not going to happen.  He's lost Iraq to al-Qaeda Sunni extremists and extremist Shia loyal to Tehran.  Good job, fucktard.

George Bush and the PNAC neocons who were jobless after the end of the cold war with the Soviet Union now have to live with the results of their ideological, illogical and schizophrenic meddling in the affairs of other nations.  Friends and foes are now simply watching the reaping of the seeds sown by the PNAC poster boy in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Iraqi PM al-Maliki is also a politician.  He knows he has to swim with the great white shark, but he also knows that Bush will be long gone before the hundreds of thousands of Moqtada al-Sadr supporters and his growing Mahdi militia will be gone from Iraq.

When the Bush/Cheney administration was publicly making their case to invade Iraq, all I could think about was how long the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has endured. America is not liberating anyone.  We have an occupying military force in Iraq because the neocons want Iraq to eventually evolve into a government that will be our friend, sell us cheap oil, and oppose the Iranian influence in the region.

Here's the core problem with Bush's victory in Iraq plan, other than it seems to be failing miserably.  People basically don't like to have their country invaded or occupied.  Whenever any repressive Middle Eastern regime has power, they generally only allow their citizens one outlet of freedom.  Whereas westerners have freedom of speech and expression to vent their disagreements with their government, the sole outlet left to many communities in the Middle East to express their outrage lies in the religious sector.  This has the effect of secret, private radicalization of religious adherants.  This religious extremism has occurred in a dozen repressive regimes.

What can we do? Let's leave the Shia-Sunni historical battle for them to work out. They don't need Americans in the middle.  Our presence in Iraq only unites them against our troops.

How many U.S. Marines' lives is it worth to you for driving that gas-guzzling SUV, mini-van, or pickup truck?  If only a fraction of U.S. consumers made smarter choices, our demand for foreign oil would be dramatically reduced and the Middle East would not be the "strategic national concern" that it currently is.


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Tuesday, November 28, 2006
GooTube Twosday

Many people are aware of the vast differences between our western concept of law and justice and that of nations using various interpretations of Islamic Sharia law.  Not all nations with muslim populations use Sharia as law, but some nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia are quite strict and even have Religious Police to enforce a strict interpretation.

The following short video concerns one young woman, Nazanin Fatehi, who faces death by hanging very soon under Iranian law.  Visit savenazanin.com for more information.

This video is a film documentary (48 minutes) that was recently produced concerning another young woman in Iran, Atefah Sahaaleh, who was sentenced to death simply for unchaste behavior.  Either through mistake or a corrupt judiciary, Atefah was thought to be 22 years old, when in fact she was only 16.  Unfortunately, this fact didn't seem to come to light until after she was killed.

 


Sunday, November 26, 2006
Iraq: No magic bullets


It appears the Bush/Cheney administration has started to wake up and smell reality concerning Iraq.  What was the alarm clock that awoke the White House from its dream of a Middle East subsidiary of BushCo?  Personally, I think it was millions of Americans expressing their opinion at the voting booth.  It's just extremely unfortunate that Americans waited until 2006 to send a message to its leaders that should have been sent in 2004.  Smart leadership in 2004 really would have improved the chances for a successful outcome in Iraq.  Staying the course has only allowed Iraq to spiral downward into further chaos.

Now that the very idea of a unified Iraq is about to fly off the edge of a cliff, and now that Bush and Cheney are no longer busy campaigning everyday for the Republican party, the White House can now focus their attention on what really matters.  Everyone would like a positive outcome in Iraq, but is it too late?

The Iraq Study Group

The release of any information from the much anticipated Iraq Study Group report was purposefully delayed until after the November elections and the ISG report is not expected to be made public until the end of the year.  Nonetheless, the ISG did meet with the Bush/Cheney administration and cabinet members on November 13th.

Some speculation about some of the ideas that the ISG may have given the administration has focussed on possible diplomatic engagement with Iran and Syria.  From previous statements, James Baker and Robert Gates both seem to share this approach.  I don't hold out much hope for direct diplomatic talks from Bush/Cheney neocons, but I do see some opportunity for third party intermediaries to accomplish some success in this approach.

Certainly, if the Iraq Study Group suggested to the White House to start to engage Iraq's neighbors, the administration has started with their allies in the region first.  As the South African based Mail and Guardian reports, Vice President Dick Cheney flew into Saudia Arabia for a one-day meeting with King Abdullah, and another key ally, Jordan, is hosting a meeting between Iraqi PM al-Maliki and President Bush next Wednesday -- but getting all the players to focus singularly on Iraq without everyone dragging in other issues will be difficult.

The Levin Plan

About two months ago, the much-respected and current Republican Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John Warner (VA) and the incoming Democratic Chairman, Carl Levin (MI) visited Iraq.  They met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, and other cabinet ministers in the Iraqi government. I watched their press conferences when they returned.  VA Senator Warner could not echo the positive proclamations coming from his political party's White House. You could see the anguish on his face and hear it in his voice.

On November 13th, MI Senator Carl Levin gave a press conference, obstensibly to outline the priorities of his upcoming term as chairman.  You can watch the entire press conference with RealVideo via C-Span, here.  Iraq is the obvious first priority, and about six minutes into his statements, Senator Levin got unusually animated when he spoke about the way forward in Iraq:

The American people are not accepting the Presidential view, which is that we are, quote, "we are absolutely winning," a view expressed by the President just a few weeks ago. They're not accepting the Vice President's view of a few weeks ago, "full speed ahead in Iraq."

Those sound like statements that were made years ago in Iraq. Those were statements made just a few weeks ago -- ignoring the obvious reality on the ground in Iraq -- that we're getting deeper and deeper into a hole; that we should stop digging; and that we should look for alternatives in order to promote the chances of success in Iraq.

As many of you know, it's been my belief, which is shared by about forty Senators in the Senate who voted for the Levin-Reed resolution, that the way in which we can promote the chances of success in Iraq is by putting pressure on the Iraqi leadership to reach political compromises which are essential to ending the violence, and ending the insurgency, and avoiding civil war. They, and they alone, are going to decide whether they're going to have a nation or whether they're going to have an all-out civil war.

We have given them the opportunity at huge cost of blood and treasure to have a nation, should they choose it. But it is up to them, not us, not our brave, and not our valiant troops. It's up to the Iraqi leadership. Do they want a civil war or do they want a nation?

And, to just to continue to tell them that we're going to give them whatever protection we're able to give them in a Green Zone does not promote the decision which only they can make. It does not force them to take steps to resolve those differences.

They've made promises to each other. They've made promises to the world. They were supposed to consider amendments to their constitution within ninety days of the beginning of the assembly. They did not keep that promise.

They adopted a very formal, signed, plan to reduce the violence in Baghdad. It was a plan which the Prime Minister gave great promotion to, he talked about in public, just a few months agos. When we there on our last trip, the prime minister told us that it was going to be signed that night, and it was, on October 3rd.

Just a month ago, there was a signed agreement among the factions that they would act to end the violence in Baghdad, and in Iraq. They have not kept that agreement.

And so, I've reached a conclusion -- which again, I reached long ago -- that as long as the Iraqis believe that we're there in some open-ended way, that we're then taking the pressure off them to make some very difficult decisions about sharing power and resources; ending this insurgency; ending this connection of their police to the militias; and ending, even yes, the connection between the army, apparently, and the militias, of which there was evidence just in this last weekend's New York Times.

These are significant, damaging characteristics of the current police and army. It's got to end. But, it's not going to end, if they think we're an ongoing, unending, security blanket for them in the so-called Green Zone in Baghdad.

It's very much worth it to watch the entire video from this press conference in order to understand the transcript segment I've made for you, to hear the emphasis in his words, and to listen to the media question-and-answer segment in which he also speaks about the Iraq Study Group, aka the Baker-Hamilton Commission.

Senator Levin's other main priority is oversight.  This should be interesting to observe over the next few years, as Senator Levin will be Chairman of the Armed Services Committee and sit on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.  Those future hearings are sure to make some headlines.


Audio Clip Info


Thursday, November 23, 2006
Darth Cheney Iraq Iran


 Cheneys World

On this Thanksgiving Day holiday, I thought I should try to think of some things for which I should be thankful as an American.  Mostly, I'm thankful the political system seemed to work two weeks ago and the will of the America people seemed to envision the beginning of some kind of correction in the future course of our country.

Unfortunately, I have no temptation to relax or celebrate the Democratic Party's Congressional victory very much because there remains the stark reality that the Bush/Cheney administration is still in power for about the next 800 days.  A lot can happen in two years.

Remember how after the 2004 Bush/Cheney election victory, I started referring to George Bush as The Democrusader when I heard his inaugural address?  Similarly, former Reagan administration official, editor and author, Paul Craig Roberts, referred to Andrew Bacevich's book, The New American Militarism and warned us all about the foolishness of Empire and Militant Christianity:

The new American militarism has abandoned the Founding Fathers, deserted the Constitution, and unrestrained the executive. War is a first resort. Militarism is inconsistent with globalism and with American ideals. It will end in abject failure.

The world is a vast place. The US has demonstrated that it cannot impose its will on a tiny part known as Iraq. American realism may yet reassert itself, dispel the fog of delusion, cleanse the body politic of the Jacobin spirit and lead the world by good example. But this happy outcome will require regime change in the US.

Roberts wrote this two years ago, thousands of casualties ago, and before the Military Commissions Act of 2006 stripped us all of basic legal rights.  The good example of legalizing torture for the rest of the regimes in the world is not something anyone in the U.S. should politically justify.  We've only started down the path to regime change.

Darth Cheney still has imperial dreams in the broader Middle East.  Bush seems to be mentally unravelling even further in the face of his grand failures.  Bush 41 is emotionally crushed to hear what people really think of his idiot son.  With their domestic political egos badly damaged, I still fear the warmongers in the White House may continue their plan for declaring victory in Iraq by simply changing the subject and waging war with Iran.

When I wrote Rush to the Next War last month, I didn't have the benefit of reading Seymour Hersh's last article.  However, the details he fleshes out in his article should be taken seriously.  Yoda has the access, foshizzle.  Almost everyone agrees that the same mechanisms are being used to go to war with Iran as were used to go to war with Iraq.

Politically, the Bush/Cheney adminstration says it offers diplomacy, but offers none. They simply prefer regime change to a diplomatic solution with Iran.  The Iranian Directorate was set up this year in the same Pentagon office as Cheney's infamous Office of Special Plans, that cooked up all the pre-war intelligence on Iraq.

The Pentagon office is stove-piping raw intelligence reports to Darth Cheney's office again, to the horror and dismay of the Central Intelligence Agency.  The Israelis are training Kurdish Special Units in the north of Iraq and our own Special Ops teams are making incursions into Iranian territory for recon and intel gathering.

As I said before, don't expect the Democratic Party to stop a war with Iran, if Darth Cheney wants it.  Even Democratic celebrities like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have already supported a hard-line with Tehran.  Additionally, the Congressional leadership change doesn't seem to hopeful for peace, either.

The chairman for the House International Relations Committee will be Representative Thomas Lantos from California.  He's a known tool for AIPAC -- and as the Detroit-based, award-winning columnist, Bill Gallagher, just recently reminded us -- Lantos was in charge of the infamous pre-Gulf War hearings hoax, 15 years ago:

The Democrats can make a difference, but their new majority status brings a real obstacle to peace in the Middle East. Rep. Thomas Lantos, D-Calif., is set to become chairman of the House International Relations Committee. Lantos' views are in complete conformity with the Likud Party and AIPAC.

Lantos lost all credibility in the first Gulf War. That's when he held a hearing on Saddam's invasion of Kuwait and helped foster one of the great lies in that episode. Lantos brought in a compelling witness who described Iraqi troops going into a hospital in Kuwait City, disconnecting infants from neonatal units and taking the expensive equipment to Baghdad.

The beautiful, tearful young woman spoke in excellent English as she told the committee about Saddam's ruthless infanticide. Her story became one of the most repeated arguments for the need to drive Saddam from Kuwait.

Lantos said his star witness could not be identified for her "protection." Months later, the truth emerged. The woman was the daughter of Kuwait's ambassador to the United States and she was here at the time of the invasion. Her whole story was a hoax, used to sell the war.

Lantos knew who she was, but lied to his colleagues and the world about her act. The Democrats should not allow Lantos to dictate policies on the Middle East.

The American, Israeli, and Islamist warmongers have an infrastructure of power and propaganda. They will likely lash out and force events, when they're cornered or have to compromise their agenda.  These people need to be denounced -- whether or not they may make their arguments for war in practiced, polite and calm tones of voice on television -- or raucous and spontaneous outrage on the streets.

Extremists, and xenophobes, and fearful people, will call for more war, more determination, and more sacrifice for victory by "us over them."  Peaceful-minded Americans, Israelis, and Muslims around the globe need to remain mindful and take heed. The next two years may be troubling times as the two competing visions of the future of Our Little Spinning Ball of Mud® intensifies and when these opposing visions of war and peace are forced down the funnels of decision and future human events.

 






Sunday, November 19, 2006
Bush Cheney Rumsfeld Gates


JfZ remembers Rumsfeld

Earlier this month, I blogged about some of the immediate political ramifications of the Bush/Cheney administration's decision to replace Donald Rumsfeld with Robert Gates as U.S. Secretary of Defense.  And, I had a little snarky fun in doing so.  I admit it.  Now, I think it might be time to more seriously review some very recent history before we get too overly hopeful that some of these post-election changes of political personality will have on the future of our Little Spinning Ball Of Mud ®.

Certainly, other than Bush and Cheney themselves, Rumsfeld has been the public face of the Bush/Cheney administration's so-called War on Terror.  Contemporary authors have already written and future historians will write volumes (assuming we all live long enough to need historians) about Donald Rumsfeld's prosecution of the Afghan and Iraq wars.

Rumsfeld is this generation's Robert McNamara -- and oddly enough -- both reviled Secretaries of Defense hovering over the operations of failed military strategies of flawed foreign policies are similar in many ways.  They even look similar in appearance.  Read the resumès of both people.  Both were very successful as corporate executives.  Most notably, McNamara in the automotive industry at Ford Motor Company and Rumsfeld in the pharmaceutical industry at Searle.  Both were hailed as successful and analytical reformers.  Perhaps, future presidents should take note and will look beyond corporate America for future leaders of the Department of Defense.

One of the most publicized Vietnam-era, anti-war, anti-pentagon personal acts of protest happened when Norman Morrison, a Quaker, set himself on fire in front of Robert McNamara's office window.  While it only took a post-election, politically self-serving administration to remove Donald Rumsfeld last week, I feel most compelled to point out an odd symmetry of self immolation.

Sadly, the day before Donald Rumsfeld resigned, Malachi Ritscher, an Illinois artist and anti-war protestor, also set himself on fire on the side of a Chicago freeway during rush hour traffic to publicize his final and ultimate protest against the Iraq war.

It is sad to me because no one except the indymedia and the blogs noticed, or seemed to care, even though he left his own obituary online protesting the war.  Beside major corporate media ignoring the story, the solitary Chicago Sun Times article seemed to ridicule his act as a futile gesture and basically labelled him as mentally ill.

Despite the fact that we now live in the information age, are we all too cynical, or just programmed and brainwashed to accept the mass violence of Iraq or the personal tragedy as unnoteworthy?  Is it Iraq-fatigue?  If a white blonde girl set herself on fire to protest war, would Barbie Doll sales go down?

It is fairly clear to people who have been paying attention to the Pentagon for the last five years, Rumsfeld didn't play well with others, except with his future retirement community neighbor and Project for a New America Century (PNAC) co-founder, vice president Dick Cheney.  One of the reasons for not accepting Rumsfeld's earlier resignations was the domino theory of politics -- once Rumsfeld fell, people would call for resignation or impeachment of the next one up in the dysfunctional chain of command.

Rumsfeld was key to enacting Cheney's policies, but jealous of George Tenet's CIA because the CIA already had plans for Afghanistan ready when 9/11 happened and the Pentagon did not.  The CIA had been dealing with their warlords in Afghanistan for 20 years.  Rumsfeld was arrogant, turf-protecting, and thought little of anyone in other agencies, like Powell or Rice in the State Department.  Afghanistan and Iraq are slipping into the abyss because of the Bush/Cheney admistration's Katrina-syndrome.  Despite all the inspiring political talk, they continue to fail.

So, now Donald Rumfeld will be gone if Robert Gates is confirmed as the next Secretary of Defense by the U.S. Senate.  Even at age 75, Rumsfeld will likely spend his retirement testifying in front of Congressional committees and courts of law around the country for various ongoing civil rights lawsuits.  He will likely not leave the country, as he is currently being brought up on war crimes charges in German federal court, now.

Suggested Reading/Research:

New Yorker Magazine - "How Donald Rumsfeld reformed the Army and Lost Iraq"
by Peter J. Boyle.

Washington Post: - "National Security special section"
by multiple authors

ACLU.org - "Gitmo to Abu Ghraib Torture Hard Facts Timeline PDF
by ACLU.org staff

Democracy Now! - "JfZs video and transcripts search"
by Google advanced search

Frontline - "Rumsfelds War"
by PBS, WGBH

 



A film worth watching:
The Fog of War - Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara
Staring Barry Goldwater



 
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