They just got a different tool to use than we do: They kill innocent lives to achieve objectives. That's what they do. And they're good. They get on the TV screens and they get people to ask questions about, well, you know, this, that or the other. I mean, they're able to kind of say to people: Don't come and bother us, because we will kill you. Bush - Joint News Conference with Blair - 28 July '06

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pope's 'wave of hate'

[...] The Vatican said it hoped the "wave of hate" sweeping the world did not lead to "grave consequences" for the church.

Elsewhere there was a mixed reaction to the Pope's attempt to assuage his critics, with some calling off protests but others saying it was not enough.

Benedict said comments that the prophet Mohammed had brought "things only evil and inhuman", which he had quoted in a speech, did not reflect his own view. Link

db: "The Pope is either a fool or something a lot worse" - that was said by a brainy erudite brilliant person. But it's not my view, really.

Afghan operation - "significant" success killings

[...] NATO said more than 400 insurgents had been killed in Operation Medusa, the alliance's biggest ground offensive against an increasingly active Taliban.

The Taliban denied suffering such heavy losses. Link

db: 400 'Taliban' dead. No farmers, no kids, no women, no innocents of any kind. Islamofascists every one. Be happy.

[db is still out of it for a little while ]

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sadly there will be no posts for little a while.
Def Brain

Monday, September 11, 2006

Protest disrupts Blair's Lebanon press conference


Tony Blair was today confronted with Lebanese fury over his stance on Israel's attack on the country this summer.

A woman protester paraded in front of him and Lebanese Premier Fuad Siniora as they staged a joint press conference in Beirut, waving a banner and shouting: "This is an insult to the families of thousands of Lebanese who have died. Shame on you, shame on you, Mr Blair."

As security guards bundled her away, both Mr Blair and Mr Siniora appealed for calm.

The lone protest matched that of others in the streets of Beirut, with demonstrators infuriated by Mr Blair's refusal to call for an immediate ceasefire from Israel in the bloody conflict which raged in July. Link

Flag Waving Labanese Crowds Greet Blair

Why Protect Saudi Royals and Pakistani Military?

by Gerald Posner

Miami Herald

On Wednesday, President Bush admitted officially for the first time that the CIA held some foreign terror suspects abroad. In his remarks, he spoke about Abu Zubaydah, whom I discussed at length in Chapter 19, ''The Interrogation,'' of my 2003 book, Why America Slept.

Bush acknowledged some of the information I disclosed, that Zubaydah was wounded when captured, that he did not initially cooperate with his interrogators and that eventually when he did talk, his information was, according to Bush, "quite important.''

Bush credits Zubaydah with helping, in part, to capture terror kingpin Khalid Sheik Mohammed, giving information that stopped a previously unknown terror strike from happening, and providing details about other al Qaeda operatives.

But Bush did not mention what I had disclosed -- that Zubaydah had also named three Saudi princes -- one of whom was the king's nephew -- and the chief of Pakistan's air force, as his chief contacts in those two countries. Moreover, Zubaydah told American investigators that two of those he named -- and for which he provided their private telephone numbers -- had advance knowledge about the 9/11 attacks.

It would be nice to pursue the investigation of these men, but all four named by Zubaydah are now dead. As for the three Saudi princes:

* The king's 43-year-old nephew, Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, died of either a heart attack or blood clot, depending on which report you believe.

* The second, 41-year-old Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Turki al-Saud, died the following day in a one-car accident.

* And the third Saudi prince named by Zubaydah, 25-year-old Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabir, died, according to the Saudi Royal Court, "of thirst.''

The head of Pakistan's Air Force, Mushaf Ali Mir, died together with his wife and fifteen of his top aides when his plane blew up -- suspected as sabotage -- in February 2003. Read more

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Guantanamo comes to Disneyland

Families visiting Disneyland on their holiday this week saw a life-size Guantanamo bay inmate standing inside the Rocky Mountain Railroad ride at Disneyland in Anaheim California.

The sculpture, consisting of an inflatable doll dressed in an orange jumpsuit with its hands and feet manacled remained in place for one and a half hours before Disneyland's security staff shut down the ride and removed it amid fears over public safety. Link

Ramallah: T shirt protest against Blair 'peacemaker'

British woman Kirsty (surname not known) who lives in Ramallah, wears a T shirt protesting about Prime Minister Tony Blair, seen at rear, during the joint Press Conference between Blair Minister and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the Presidential Compound in Ramallah, West Bank , Sunday Sept.1 0 2006.

UK agents had role in IRA bombings


The controversy over claims that Britain allowed two IRA informers to organise 'human bomb' attacks intensified this weekend.

A human rights watchdog has handed a report to the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which concludes that two British agents were central to the bombings of three army border installations in 1990.

Meanwhile the Police Ombudsman's Office in Belfast confirmed it is investigating allegations by the family of one victim that the bomb in Newry on 24 October 1990 could have been prevented.

The British Irish Rights Watch report will also put the focus back on the alleged MI6 agent 'J118'. Army intelligence officer turned whistleblower Martin Ingram has alleged 'J118' was Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinnesss.

The Mid Ulster MP strenuously denies Ingram's allegations and has claimed the speculation is fuelled by the Democratic Unionist Party. Read more

Martin Ingram Blog here

Only 1000 more troops needed to 'cleanse' Afghanistan


British commanders in Afghanistan believe they could "cleanse" large areas of the country of Taliban fighters with an extra 1,000 troops.

[...] The Sunday Telegraph has learnt that Brig Butler [commander of British forces in southern Afghanistan] wants to launch a series of carefully planned "manoeuvre operations" against the insurgents which would leave the Taliban "crippled" and render it "impotent" as a fighting force for years.

Brig Butler, who is described as a "military doctrine purist" is understood to base his plans on a model used by the American marines to flush out and kill hundreds of insurgent fighters in Fallujah in Iraq in November 2004.

The plan would involve assaulting strongholds with large numbers of troops supported with Apache attack helicopters and American A10 ground attack aircraft. Once the Taliban fighters have fled or been killed another stronghold would be attacked. Read more

db: Let's cleanse and cripple - Fallujah style. And if that doesn't win hearts and minds nothing will. I can't think why Captain Leo Docherty resigned.

The USSR did a lot of 'cleansing' - and they had 120,000 troops. But they were stupid Soviets, not enlightened NATO forces - who only need another 1000.

Blair pays tribute to Olmert at lame duck photo-op

"I know from my own experience as a leader how difficult situations of conflict are and I would like to pay tribute to the quite exceptional character Mr Olmert had shown in his leadership of Israel."

db: Whilst this war criminal love-fest was occurring there were big demos taking place in Israel against Olmert's leadership. It is no secret how reviled Blair is at home. Hence these boys want to help each other a little. So we get Olmert 'the courageous' and Blair 'the peacemaker'. Mahmoud Abbas will play along with it tomorrow..

Afghanistan: Top soldier quits over 'shocking' violence

Sunday Times

THE former aide-de-camp to the commander of the British taskforce in southern Afghanistan has described the campaign in Helmand province as "a textbook case of how to screw up a counter-insurgency".

"Having a big old fight is pointless and just making things worse," said Captain Leo Docherty, of the Scots Guards, who became so disillusioned that he quit the army last month.

"All those people whose homes have been destroyed and sons killed are going to turn against the British," he said. "We've been grotesquely clumsy - we've said we'll be different to the Americans who were bombing and strafing villages, then behaved exactly like them."

[...] "We're now scattered in a shallow meaningless way across northern towns where the only way for the troops to survive is to increase the level of violence so more people get killed. It's pretty shocking and not something I want to be part of." Read more

Saturday, September 09, 2006

UN: New terror strategy, no definition of terrorism

The UN general assembly adopted a long-awaited strategy to combat terrorism, though many nations lamented that it does not include a definition or say anything about states that commit terrorist acts.

[...] Few nations sent their UN ambassadors to attend the general assembly session where the strategy was adopted. That is often a sign that nations do not see it as a hugely symbolic event or are not entirely satisfied with it. Link

Why 'victory' in first phase of war on terror unravelled

by Patrick Cockburn - Read in full [spoiler below]

The British Government was warned what might happen. Generals admitted privately that in Afghanistan and in Iraq British soldiers could end up penned into their encampments unable to move outside its fortifications. It is nevertheless strange that the Government, having become entangled in a messy guerrilla war in Iraq, should make exactly the same mistake in Afghanistan.

db: Strange? Blair!

Ismail Haniyeh: A policy of punishment


Despite the historic responsibility of successive British governments for what has befallen our people, from the Balfour declaration to the catastrophe of dispossession, Palestinians had hoped that the new generation of British politicians might break with the past and stand for truth and justice in the Middle East.

Regrettably, however, the last decade has witnessed the most unfair and one-sided British policy towards the region since the creation of the state of Israel in our homeland close to 60 years ago. The problem has been the unquestioning attachment of Tony Blair's government to the Clinton and then Bush administrations, which have seen the Middle East through Israeli eyes only.

Despite Israeli war crimes against our people and assassinations of our leaders, the Palestinians introduced to the region one of the most transparent democratic experiences ever. The response of the British government has been to back the US and Israel in imposing boycotts and sanctions, in a blatant act of collective punishment. Since the legislative elections in January 2006, the Palestinian people have endured an effective state of siege and economic and diplomatic boycotts, and the Israeli military machine has been given free rein. During July and August, Israeli occupation troops killed 251 Palestinians, about half of them civilians - without a word of criticism from the British government.

Mr Blair plans to visit our country this weekend. Is this a public relations exercise as he enters his last days of premiership, or is he bringing some new initiative to break the deadlock created by his and his friend's policies? It might have been an opportunity for me, as the elected Palestinian prime minister, to have one-to-one discussions with him, but that is not possible, since his government has decided not to recognise mine. Not only that, his government decided to punish my people as well, for electing me and my fellow MPs, many of whom have been in Israeli detention since they were kidnapped from their homes and offices. The arrest of these ministers and MPs - five ministers, 33 MPs, including my deputy and the speaker of the legislative council - is a violation of the most fundamental principles of democracy, but this appears to be immaterial to Mr Blair. For him, three captured Israeli soldiers are far more important than 10,000 Palestinian detainees.

Here in Palestine we wonder what the British public thinks of the Blair government conduct that has brought about untold hurt to the Palestinian people. We know why our people are being collectively punished. It is because we refuse to give up our right to freedom and independence.

At the heart of our region's problems is the Israeli occupation, which has brought about endless suffering and disasters. If you wish to do the right thing, Mr Blair, then work for the end of occupation without further delay. Our message to Labour party delegates as they assemble this month is not to allow those who stand with our oppressors to divert you from your values and historic association with freedom movements around the world.

We receive signals here that the British public is unhappy about what Blair's government has been doing to our people. We know for sure that the majority of the British people did not approve of the invasion of Iraq. We greatly commend them for such a stance and thank them for sympathising with us in our plight. It is only through justice that peace will prevail in our region and Muslims, Christians and Jews once again live in harmony. Link

db: Love him or loath him 1. He is NOT looking to create a 'radical Islamic empire' stretching from Southampton to Singapore. 2. He is not seeking to impose Sharia law - if that's any of our business 3. He is not an ally of OBL 4. He came to power via open and free elections 5. He is willing to negotiate around a solution based on pre 1967 borders - as per the 'Palestinian Prisoners Document'. Whilst the document does not seem to resolve all issues, that is where negotiation must play its part. As long as Britain and the US 'don't talk to terrorists' progress cannot be made - and without US pressure Israel will be content to leave things much as they are. Until the pressure cooker explodes.

Pakistan deal may offer Afghans hope, Britain says


A peace deal between Pakistan and pro-Taliban militants could serve as a model for neighbouring Afghanistan where the government and foreign forces are battling a resurgent Taliban, a British minister said.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's government signed the deal on Tuesday in which militants in the North Waziristan region on the Afghan border agreed to stop launching attacks on Pakistani forces, and over the border in Afghanistan.

In exchange, militant prisoners were released, weapons were returned, and the army withdrew to barracks.

Critics fear the treaty could create a refuge for the Taliban and al Qaeda militants. Some analysts saw the deal as ceding control of the region to the militants.

But British Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Kim Howells said on Saturday the deal, under which tribal elders would take responsibility for security, could hold out some hope.

"We'll have to see how it turns out. It's very much an experiment ... but it's got some interesting prospects," Howells told a news conference in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

Howells said the pact was not made with the Taliban but with tribal elders. According to a copy of the document obtained by Reuters, it was struck with elders as well as "local mujahideen and Taliban". Mujahideen are Islamic holy warriors.

"One wonders if it could be applied to the other side of the Afghan border," Howells said.

[...] "It's certainly worth looking at. There has to be consent among the local population if there is to be any progress made. There can't be only a military victory, it's impossible." Link

db: There won't be a 'military victory', period. The recognition of this fact ideally comes before hundreds of troops and thousands more civilians meet their death. It's difficult to see though how serious engagement with armed groups in Afghanistan can take place whilst the Bush/Blair binary narrative of 'good' [the 'civilised world'] versus 'evil' [misc. 'Islamofascists'] continues to dominate.

Tony Blair 7/4 To Be History by New Year's Day

William Hill make Tony Blair odds-on to cease to be Prime Minister in 2007, quoting odds of 2/5 for that to happen - but William Hill say that their customers are betting that Tony Blair will leave office on or before December 31, 2006 - and have slashed the odds about that happening from 5/1 to just 7/4. Link

Friday, September 08, 2006

Execution date awaits Tony Blair

The Age

How can he stay? Think of the months ahead: Labour falling further in the polls, the Tories gloating, neither journalists nor public servants nor the world at large paying any heed to his policy statements because they might soon be undone.

Imagine a cabinet meeting where he and his successor-in-waiting, Chancellor Gordon Brown, butt heads on a vital issue: what minister is going to back the Prime Minister when he'll soon be gone?

Hear the constant talk of frozen government, panicked MPs calling for renewal to counter a resurgent Conservative Party, the tedious demand every time he fronts a microphone: when are you going?

How long can Tony Blair stay? Will he make it to Christmas? The questions abounded after Mr Blair announced on Thursday (early yesterday Melbourne time) that he would quit within a year, but defiantly resisted calls to set an exact time. Mr Blair insisted on going his own way, believing that a use-by date would leave him fatally undermined. He is already. Read more

It's not 'anti-Semitic' to kick Blair's arse

At the Labor [sic] Party conference in Manchester, Blair's colleagues will castigate him more for his support for Israel in the Lebanon war than for his domestic policies. Israel will have to take note of the anti-Semitic undercurrents in this. Link

db: Anti-Semitic undercurrents? What has that got to do with anything? Sikh, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist or Jew, if you attack civilians and kill with impunity - backed by the leader of 'the free world' and also our dear neocon prime minister - you are going to get some bad press. It will not help if your nation happens to have a reputation for indulging in extrajudicial killing, illegal occupations, assassination, murder, racism and other brutalities.

So Blair will, I hope, get a major kicking for backing Israel's bombardment of Lebanon - not because of Israel's Jewishness - but because it was morally repugnant.

Gordon Brown on ID cards, GWoT, and 'courageous' Blair

Gordon Brown today writes for Rupert Murdoch's Sun 'news' paper in an attempt to pacify sponsors of the neo-Labour project by showing his 'metal' in relation to the GWoT, his continuing devotion to the 'courageous' Blair, and his willingness to take Britain further down the road towards a police state. Whilst we don't have a problem with 'standing shoulder to shoulder' with the American people - as opposed to US sleaders [sleazy leaders] - it's rather sad that Brown has gone out of his way to come across all Blairite.

Clearly Brown and Blair did a deal earlier in the week and the Sun exclusive is part of a campaign designed to convey to the world - most importantly the career makers [and breakers] in Washington and News Int. that should Britain get lumbered with Gordon as PM the Neoconservative torch will not flicker. And no, he isn't too concerned at this stage of the game that Brit voters have had a gut full of blindly following the US in all matters concerning security/foreign policy. That comes later when he needs a vote.

How much of this he actually means we don't know. But if I were a Labour Party member I would assume that he means all of it - and back someone else.

Excerpt: In a few days, I will visit New York, and reaffirm to the American people that Britain - under the courageous leadership of Tony Blair - stands now as then, shoulder to shoulder with them.

...When encrypted data takes weeks to decipher and thousands of email and phone contacts need to be checked, all across dozens of countries, it is obvious to me that the police need more than 28 days to investigate. So - as well as money - we must ensure our police have the powers they need.

...We must also strengthen our border controls and enhance our ability to identify suspects before they have the chance to strike. So, alongside the national ID card scheme, our next step must be the introduction of biometrics in new passports and visas, and the screening of all passengers.

And besides targeting the terrorists themselves, we must win the battle for hearts and minds in their communities.

Not quite sure what he means by 'their communities' - or why he has left it so long to suggest that an alternative to killing everybody might be a good idea.

Radical Islamic Empire in your back yard danger

Bush Rant

BUSH: We've learned more about their dark and distorted vision of Islam. We've learned about their plan to build a radical Islamic empire stretching from Spain to Indonesia.

db: For sure?

BUSH: ... that's what they have told us....


Bin Laden and his deputy Zawahiri are still in hiding.

Al Qaida has continued its campaign of terror, with deadly attacks that have targeted the innocent, including large numbers of fellow Muslims.

The terrorists and insurgents in Iraq have killed American troops and thousands of Iraqis.

Syria and Iran have continued their support for terror and extremism.

Hezbollah has taken innocent life in Israel and succeeded briefly in undermining Lebanon's democratic government.

Hamas is standing in the way of peace with Israel.

And the extremists have led an aggressive propaganda campaign to spread lies about America and incite Muslim radicalism.

The enemies of freedom are skilled and they are sophisticated. And they are waging a long and determined war.

[Start really insane rant here]

BUSH: The free world must understand the stakes of this struggle. The free world must support young democracies. The free world must confront the evil of these extremists. The free world must draw full measure of our strength and resources to prevail. Link

db: The free world MUST KILL ALL DEM BAD DUDES as listed above, and their families, friends and anyone who happens to be standing near them. And as all this killing prompts more normal folks to turn into TERRORISTS because we killed their husbands, wives, kids or friends we will KILL THEM TOO and so on, and so on [until we prevail]. Amen.

78.7% of Lebanese rate Nasrallah good or excellent


A majority of Lebanese believe their country and Hezbollah won the month-long war with Israel and applauded the militant group's chief Hassan Nasrallah. A poll in the Thursday's edition of the English-language Daily Star newspaper said 78.7 percent of respondents thought Nasrallah had demonstrated a good or excellent performance during the war, launched by Israel after Hezbollah staged a cross-border raid and captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12.The poll showed that 57 percent approved of Hezbollah's action in snatching the soldiers while 34 percent were against it. Read more

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Blair: British public 'comes first' in important stuff

Today Blair made a statement in which he promised that he will no longer be party leader by this time next year. He also took a swipe at those who neglected to consider the significance of the great unwashed - joe public - in matters as 'important' as which Labour neocon lords it over them:

"I think it's important for the Labour party to understand, and I think the majority of people in the party do understand, that it's the public that comes first and it's the country that matters, and we can't treat the public as irrelevant bystanders in a subject as important as who is their prime minister." Link

Given this sudden genuine reverence for the views of the public in matters of importance he may like to consider the following:

Nearly three quarters of the public (73 per cent) believe that "the British Government's foreign policy, especially its support for the invasion of Iraq and refusal to demand an immediate ceasefire by Israel in the recent war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, has significantly increased the risk of terrorist attacks on Britain".

Moreover, three fifths (62 per cent) agree that "in order to reduce the risk of future terrorist attacks on Britain the Government should change its foreign policy, in particular by distancing itself from America, being more critical of Israel and declaring a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq". Link

It is also predicted [you heard it here first] that Blair will be a strong contender for some recognition in 2007 from the Nobel Foundation because, as he says in his statement linked above:
"We've got the blockade on the Lebanon lifted, today."
Hurrah for Tony!

'Islamic fascists' swimming in oil

What have the Islamofascists/Islamic Fascists/uncooperative Muslims got that 'we' want to control? - see below excerpt from Juan Cole including the magical Ellipse:

If you want to know what is really going on, it is a struggle for control of the Strategic Ellipse, which just happens demographically to be mostly Muslim. Bush has to demonize the Muslim world in order to justify his swooping down on the Strategic Ellipse. If demons occupy it, obviously they have to be cleared out in favor of Christian fundamentalists or at least Texas oilmen. And what is the Strategic Ellipse?

Three more British troops killed in Afghanistan

Afghanistan: Bumper dope harvest

Three British soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan today, the Ministry of Defence said.

Following the death of one soldier in a landmine explosion in Helmand earlier today, the MoD said tonight that two further soldiers had died. Of those, one was a soldier who had been seriously injured in an incident last Friday, a spokesman said.

Four other British soldiers were also reported to have been "very seriously wounded" in today's explosion.

Another soldier received less serious injuries in the incident in the north of the southern Helmand province today at 12.20pm local time (0850 BST), the MoD said. Read more

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

"No ideological devide" - just 'crap' foreign policy

Excerpt from Tony Blair's letter to Tom Watson following Mr Watson's announcement of his resignation:

"There is no fundamental ideological divide in the Labour party for the first time in 100 years of history."
Blair is without doubt as delusional as Margaret Thatcher was at her peak.

The fact is, the [current] leader of the British Labour Party is a Neoconservative. Never has this been made more clear than when, against popular opposition in both party and country, he stood shoulder to shoulder with Bush and Olmert whilst the latter bombed Lebanon 'back twenty years' - killing over a thousand - who were mostly civilians, including a high proportion of children.

Blair's loyalty is to US interests as espoused by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle et al. Not to Labour, and not to Britain. If that's not a 'fundamental ideological divide' i don't know what is. The sooner he fucks off the better.

Blair hit by wave of resignations

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Blair told to stay out of Ramallah


Several Palestinian public institutions, political factions and figures on Monday declared British Prime Minister Tony Blair persona non grata in Ramallah, saying his planned visit to the city was a "provocation against the feelings of the Palestinian people."

[...] Blair's main task is to appear as a peace-maker to stave off sharp criticism in his country and around the world following his refusal to support a cease-fire initiative in Lebanon," the statement added. "He wanted to give Israel's army generals enough time to complete their destructive mission."

According to the authors of the statement, Blair is also "seeking to appease the Arabs and Muslims in light of his biased policies in favor of Israel and his backing for the American adventures. He's trying to create the impression that he is making peaceful efforts to find a solution to the Palestinian cause."

The statement pledged to prevent Blair from achieving his goals.

"We won't allow him to do that; we must not give him the opportunity to appear as a peace-maker because he's a man of violence and a war-maker," it said.

"He's not coming here for peace, but to save his extremist policy and his support for the American policy, which has harmed British interests. On top of all this, his policy regarding the Palestinian issue was always biased toward Israel and has contributed to the starvation of the Palestinians." Link

Blair to quit "with the crowds wanting more" Memo

Note: The following story is not a spoof

Daily Mirror

A sensational memo leaked to the Mirror reveals how Labour experts are planning Tony Blair's exit from No10.

The retirement blueprint aims to promote the "triumph of Blairism" and allow the PM to quit on a wave of euphoria after 10 years in office.

The secret strategy - drawn up by a small group of loyalists - is well under way.

Mr Blair's "farewell tour" includes plans to appear on Blue Peter, Songs of Praise and Chris Evans' radio show.

The five-page memo, drawn up by a close-knit group around the leader including party guru Philip Gould, suggests the PM is nearer to stepping down than he publicly admits.

It warns: "Time is not an unlimited commodity."

And more concerned with his place in history than the success of his policies, the paper - seen by the Mirror - boasts: "His genuine legacy is not the delivery, important though that is, but the dominance of new Labour ideas...the triumph of Blairism.

"As TB enters his final phase he needs to be focusing way beyond the finishing line, not looking at it.

"He needs to go with the crowds wanting more. He should be the star who won't even play that last encore. In moving towards the end he must focus on the future."

The plan to spin Mr Blair's exit and to promote him as a PM the public will be sad to see the back of is bound to anger Gordon Brown, favourite to succeed him. The document accepts the pair's strained relationship could deteriorate further. Read more

db: Our sources in Westminster told us that it was the intention of Blair loyalists to recruit Leni Riefenstahl to direct an appropriate film tribute - unfortunately she died in 2003.

Patrick Cockburn: Another fatal day in the 'war on terror'


Yesterday was another black day in the "war on terror". Across the Middle East, wave upon wave of violence engulfed the region and paid testament to the new, bloody reality five years on from 11 September.

The focus of some of the violence yesterday, the victims of attacks in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Jordan, were Britons. Be they military or civilian, British citizens are increasingly at risk everywhere in the area because Britain is seen as the closest political and military ally of the US.
A group of tourists were looking at the remains of a Roman amphitheatre in the heart of Amman, the capital of Jordan, yesterday morning when a lone gunman approached them, shouting "Allahu Akbar" - " God is Great" - and opening fire. One Briton was killed and six other people, including two UK nationals, were wounded. A Jordanian man was arrested for the shooting. Hundreds of miles away across the great stony desert dividing Jordan from Iraq, a British military unit came under attack at Ad Diyar, north of Basra. A roadside bomb tore apart their vehicle, killing two British soldiers and severely wounding a third. The deaths bring the total number of British dead in Iraq to 117. Still further east in Kabul, Afghanistan, a suicide bomber in a car blew himself up beside a British convoy, killing one British soldier and wounding three others, one of them seriously. Four Afghans were also killed.

It may be egocentric to write only of British dead. They are but a small percentage of the casualties in the multiple crises which are now cross-infecting each other in the Middle East.
Abdul Rahman Imran, a Palestinian I met in Nablus in the West Bank yesterday, spoke with anger of the plight of his people while the world looks away. In July and August, 251 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army. Half of them were civilians, including women, children and the elderly, the Israeli daily Haaretz said.

It may soon become uncommon for a day to pass without a Briton, soldier or tourist, to be killed somewhere in the Middle East. It is dangerous to be a foreigner in any part of Iraq but I noticed last year that my Iraqi translator had started stressing to anybody we met that I was Irish rather than British. He claimed that The Independent was a well-known Scandinavian publication. Mr Imran is just one of many in the region whose outrage at the British and US governments is growing every day. "I want to kill Bush and Blair because of what they have done to us," he said. "They are against Islam whether it is in Palestine, Iraq or Afghanistan."

To Tony Blair, due to visit Israel next weekend, the problem is very straightforward. Speaking in Los Angeles last month he produced a terrifyingly over- simple view of the Middle East saying "the Iraqi and Afghan fight for democracy is our fight. Same values. Same enemy." He claimed that "we have to empower Moderate, Mainstream Islam to defeat Reactionary Islam". The American and British governments will apparently decide in future just who belongs to the latter strand of Islam and go to war with them. They will have their work cut out. The Britons who were killed yesterday in attacks across the Middle East died at the hands of very different people. The suicide bomber in Kabul was almost certainly sent on his mission by the Taliban, who are fundamentalist Sunni Muslims.

The Taliban might not even recognise as Muslim the men, almost certainly Shia in the south of Iraq, who planted the roadside bomb that killed two British soldiers north of Basra.

I have spent most of my time since 2001 in Afghanistan and Iraq. The reason for the rise of radical Islam is foreign occupation. Iraq had a secular tradition. Fanatical Islamic groups made little headway under Saddam Hussein not only because he persecuted them but because they had little popular support.

But the five million-strong Sunni community in Iraq almost entirely supported armed resistance to the US occupation. Fanatical Islamic groups were for the first time operating in a friendly environment.

At one moment in the past year the many Sunni insurgent groups debated whether they should try to hammer out a common platform. They eventually decided that their differences were too deep for unity on most issues but they were all agreed on opposition to the occupation and they concluded this was sufficient to hold them together.

One of the most extraordinary aspects of Tony Blair's analysis of militant Islam is his blindness to the extent to which foreign invasion and occupation has radicalised the region and legitimised militant Islam. For instance this weekend a group of Palestinian students in Jerusalem were debating the impact of the war in Lebanon on Palestinian fortunes. The issue which most interested them was the reason why Hizbollah was able to withstand Israeli attacks compared with the failure of secular nationalist movements such as Fatah, led by Yasser Arafat for so many years.

Across the Middle East secularist and nationalist regimes are being discredited by the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Lebanon. Most governments in the region are corrupt patronage machines backed by brutal security services. They are close to the US but have little influence over it. All are becoming unstable in a way not seen since the 1960s.

The attack by a lone gunman in Jordan holds another dangerous message. At the end of 2001 I was able to stroll through the streets of Kabul and Kandahar without fear of being attacked. I drove between the two cities in a taxi. The same was true in Baghdad under Saddam Hussein and during the first months of the occupation. In 2003 I drove down to Basra in southern Iraq and up to Mosul in the far north without incident.

If I tried to repeat any of these journeys in Iraq or Afghanistan today I would certainly be killed. The rest of the Middle East is becoming more dangerous by the day.

The real reason of the increasing violence in the Middle East is the return to imperial control and foreign occupation half a century after the European colonial empires were broken up. This is the fuel for Islamic militancy. This is why fanatical but isolated Islamic groups can suddenly win broader support. Governments allied to the US and Britain have no legitimacy. The attempts by America and Britain to crush Islamic militancy across the Middle East are making sure it will become stronger. Link

Monday, September 04, 2006

Lessons From Iraq and Lebanon

The Great Equalizer - Excerpt

What is now occurring in the Middle East reveals lessons just as relevant in the future to festering problems in East Asia, Latin America, Africa and elsewhere. Access to nuclear weapons, cheap missiles of greater portability and accuracy, and the inherent limits of all antimissile systems, will set the context for whatever crises arise in North Korea, Iran, Taiwan... Venezuela. Trends which increase the limits of technology in warfare are not only applicable to relations between nations but also to groups within them - ranging from small conspiratorial entities up the scale of size to large guerilla movements. The events in the Middle East have proven that warfare has changed dramatically everywhere, and American hegemony can now be successfully challenged throughout the globe. Read more

State Terror

ICH - War is not a solution for terrorism

Howard Zinn [Excerpt]

Beyond the futility of armed force, and ultimately more important, is the fact that war in our time inevitably results in the indiscriminate killing of large numbers of people. To put it more bluntly, war is terrorism. That is why a "war on terrorism" is a contradiction in terms. Wars waged by nations, whether by the United States or Israel, are a hundred times more deadly for innocent people than the attacks by terrorists, vicious as they are.

The repeated excuse, given by both Pentagon spokespersons and Israeli officials, for dropping bombs where ordinary people live is that terrorists hide among civilians. Therefore the killing of innocent people (in Iraq, in Lebanon) is called accidental, whereas the deaths caused by terrorists (on 9/11, by Hezbollah rockets) are deliberate.

This is a false distinction, quickly refuted with a bit of thought. If a bomb is deliberately dropped on a house or a vehicle on the grounds that a "suspected terrorist" is inside (note the frequent use of the word suspected as evidence of the uncertainty surrounding targets), the resulting deaths of women and children may not be intentional. But neither are they accidental. The proper description is "inevitable."

So if an action will inevitably kill innocent people, it is as immoral as a deliberate attack on civilians. And when you consider that the number of innocent people dying inevitably in "accidental" events has been far, far greater than all the deaths deliberately caused by terrorists, one must reject war as a solution for terrorism. Read more

db: What's even worse is when the civilised, suited, often 'democratic' state terrorists bomb a whole residential area - not because they suspect that it houses so-called 'terrorists' but because they seek to change the demographics - by killing or driving out those they deem sympathisers thereof.

British military loses three men in Iraq and Afghanistan

The Times

In a black day for the UK military, two British troops were killed near Basra in Iraq and a third soldier attached to the Nato mission in Afghanistan died in a suicide bomb attack on his convoy in Kabul. Link

Israel plans war with Iran and Syria

The Times


The Israeli defence establishment believes that Iran's pursuit of a nuclear programme means war is likely to become unavoidable.

"In the past we prepared for a possible military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities," said one insider, "but Iran's growing confidence after the war in Lebanon means we have to prepare for a full-scale war, in which Syria will be an important player."

[...] "Fixed targets are hopelessly vulnerable to precision bombing, and with stealth bombers even a robust air defence system doesn't make much difference," said Richard Perle, a leading neoconservative.

"If they had acted against Syria during this last kerfuffle, the war might have ended more quickly and better," Perle added. "Syrian military installations are sitting ducks and the Syrian air force could have been destroyed on the ground in a couple of days." Link

"Placating terrorists"

Daily Mail

M. Phillips

[...] More than 30 Muslim groups, along with Muslim MPs and peers, demanded that the Government change its foreign policy in order to placate terrorists. This blackmail was followed by a demand from other representatives that a pair of Islamic religious festivals should become official holidays and that Islamic laws relating to marriage and family life be applied in Britain. These were not moderate attitudes.

In Australia, the government has adopted a robust approach to such extremism. It has said that those Muslims who want to live under sharia law should leave the country, and that Australian Muslim leaders need to denounce terrorism in all its forms around the world. Link

db: Nobody serious desires to 'placate terrorists' - however when British foreign policy dictates that this government stands by, encourages, our so-called 'partner' in the so-called WoT to bomb Lebanon 'back twenty years' in a systematic and comprehensive display of state terror - killing and maiming civilians on a massive scale including a high percentage of children - then it's clear that all MP's, not just Muslims, but all right thinking MP's have a duty to tell this government that Britain's status as poodle to the US neoconservatives, Christian right and Israel must not continue.

As for the writer's horror that some Muslims in this country seek recognition of Islamic laws relating to marriage and family life surely that is their right isn't it - to seek changes to the system in their favor? They need to build a case and win the argument through democratic means, but why should Malanie Phillips or anyone else be listened to when they are telling British Muslims what to think, or to dream? The key for those who seek these changes is that they adopt a democratic strategy to bring them about. They should be encouraged to do so - not censored - or threatened with 'deporation' - whereupon the debate and the strategy would go underground.

And lastly, until a fair and honest definition of 'terrorism' is thought up - one that includes state terror such as that meted out to the Lebanese - and one that does not preclude the right to resist an occupation purely because those resisting happen to be followers of Islam - then calls for universal condemnation by Muslims of terrorism 'in all its forms' is meaningless. And why restrict this solemn declaration to Muslims? Let's include governments too.

Reid admitted January that army is overstretched

The new head of the British Army, Sir Richard Dannatt, has warned that his soldiers can only "just" cope with the demands placed on them by ministers.

Speaking before 14 personnel were killed in Afghanistan, he told the Guardian that troops "are fighting at the limit of their capacity".

Foreign Office Minister Kim Howells said he did not think that the British Army was overstretched.

Meanwhile, one UK soldier was killed by a suspected suicide bomber in Kabul.

Gen Dannatt, who took over from Sir Mike Jackson last week, said: "We are running hot, certainly running hot.

"Can we cope? I pause. I say 'just'." Link

db: 'Stretched', 'running hot' or 'overstretched' - fact is it's not sustainable however the government chooses to spin facts or pervert language. For the record, again:

Scotsman - 27.1.2006: [...] the mission to the unstable Helmand province in southern Afghanistan will leave the army overstretched even by the Ministry of Defence's own measures, Dr [John]Reid admitted.

Brainwashing British Zombie Terror Alert

NEW powers to clamp down on the "glorification" of terrorism have been used to smash a suspected attempt to brainwash and recruit a new cell of British suicide bombers. Link

"Detectives believe that while the group was still being radicalised, no targets had been identified and any possible terrorist attack was a long way off"

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Blair Hitler Eugenics Gimmick - Tony Benn

Government plans to identify potential troublemakers even before they are born have been denounced as "eugenics" by former Labour Cabinet minister Tony Benn.

Mr Benn dismissed the plan as one of "a million new gimmicks" outlined by the Prime Minister.

"This one about identifying troublesome children in the foetus - this is eugenics, the sort of thing Hitler talked about," he told BBC Five Live.

Mr Benn, who stood down as an MP in 2001, added: "I just think that people don't believe him any more." Link

db: Blair will be gone soon.

Hundreds of suspected Taliban killed


NATO and Afghan forces killed more than 200 suspected Taliban guerrillas with air strikes and artillery fire in a major offensive in a volatile province in southern Afghanistan, the alliance said Sunday.

A statement said four soldiers with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force also died and seven were wounded in the fighting in Panjwayi district, about 10 miles from the city of Kandahar.

The casualty counts could not be independently confirmed because the government ordered vehicles to stay off roads leading to the area and reporters were unable to gain access to the battle zone. There was no indication of bodies being taken to local hospitals.

"Reports indicate that more than 200 Taliban fighters have been killed since Operation Medusa began early Saturday morning," the NATO force said in a statement.

[...] NATO said there were no reports of civilian casualties, despite the heavy weight of fire being used. An Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, Gen. Zahir Azimi, said earlier in the day that a number of civilians were killed. Read more

db: The killing will get a lot worse. What isn't certain is just how many civilians will be slaughtered - and for what. It's common to hear how we 'must not fail' - but what is the definition of success? The picture originally painted by John Reid was always abstract, Des Browne is a puppet, and Blair is of course a neocon poodle bitch. That leaves George Bush - the cowboy who believes that we are fighting an army of terrorist Taliban "Islamic fascists" - who belong to the same fascist army as Hizbollah, Hamas, Iraqi resistance, Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, AQ and others. Given that "we don't talk to terrorists" or even state actors who are presented as 'the enemy' it all really does appear quite hopeless. Particularly for civilians - and also those in the services unfortunate enough to be at the sharp end of Blair's war[s].

Locals concerned by 'Jihad training school'

"You're not local are you?"

According to the Independent newspaper anti-terrorism cops yesterday raided Britain's first home-grown jihad training school - in the Sussex village of Crowborough.

The Independent quotes the esteemed News of the World whose 'Home Office source' said "The training was extreme and macho. It involved endurance in bad weather and bonding. In that sense it was like combat training. They were being groomed for terror."

The Independent also quotes a 'local' person - who refused to be named - who said rumours had been circulating for "some time" that the school was being used to teach young Muslim extremists. "The school does nothing to integrate in the community. You rarely see any of the pupils or people associated with the school in the village."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Afghanistan opium boom


Afghanistan's opium harvest this year has reached the highest levels ever recorded, showing an increase of almost 50 percent from last year, the executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said Saturday in Kabul.

He described the figures as "alarming" and "very bad news" for the Afghan government and international donors who have poured millions of dollars into programs to reduce the poppy crop since 2001.

He said the increase in cultivation was significantly fueled by the resurgence of Taliban rebels in the south, the country's prime opium growing region. As the insurgents have stepped up attacks, they have also encouraged and profited from the drug trade, promising protection to growers if they expanded their opium operations.

"This year's harvest will be around 6,100 metric tons of opium - a staggering 92 percent of total world supply. It exceeds global consumption by 30 percent," Mr. Costa said at a news briefing. Link
db: "Very bad news for the Afghan government" - not the more affluent members!

Afghanistan: 36 Brits killed in 5 years, 31 in 6 months

BBC News

14 Britons killed in Afghanistan

Fourteen British service personnel have died after their aircraft crashed in Afghanistan, the MoD has said.

Twelve RAF personnel, a Royal Marine and an Army soldier were on board the RAF Nimrod MR2 which came down in the southern province of Kandahar.

The reconnaissance jet belonged to the Nato-led force battling the Taleban.

Officials said the crash appeared an accident. Tony Blair said it would "distress the whole country" but the mission in Afghanistan was "vital".

[...] The crash brings the death toll of UK forces personnel in Afghanistan to 36 since the start of operations in November 2001. Link

db: The BBC tells us that with the latest losses 36 Brits have been killed in mission impossible since 2001. From that a quick mental calculation says around 7 Brits have died on average per year. What this story doesn't make clear is that 31 of the 36 who have perished in this Blairwar have done so since March 2006, hence the rate of attrition illustrated by the BBC is about one tenth of the current reality.

Is the Middle East Heading for Peace or War?

Dar Al-Hayat

Patrick Seale

The root cause of violence in the Middle East - and of anti-Western terrorism outside it - is the unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict. To say this has become a commonplace.Israel's occupation and colonization of Palestinian and Syrian territory for close on 40 years is, without doubt, the main grievance feeding the fury and sense of injustice of the Arab and Muslim world. It is not, of course, the only grievance. America's smashing of Iraq, and its attendant horrors, runs a close second, followed by the incomprehensible savagery of Israel's recent onslaught on Lebanon, which has left the country in ruins and turned a fifth of its population into refugees.

Feeding the bitter sense of outrage and the thirst for revenge is the fact that the United States, a superpower supposedly responsible for international order, has itself created a climate of international anarchy by its own behaviour and its extraordinary support for Israel's wars.

History is likely to conclude that, by its actions, President George W Bush's administration has created more terrorists than any other in the whole history of the United States.

Many observers fear that if an urgent and determined attempt is not made soon to resolve the region's conflicts once and for all, violence and terror will become endemic, as has already happened in Iraq. In that event, the Arabs, Israel and the West will all be condemned to great suffering as their conflicts become irreconcilable.These concerns have caused several current and former world leaders to call for the convening of an international conference to seek, in the words of President Jacques Chirac of France, 'a global and durable settlement' of the region's conflicts. Mahmud Abbas, the beleaguered president of the Palestinian Authority, has echoed this call for an international conference to save Gaza and the West Bank from further intolerable hardship.

Appeals for America to assume its responsibilities for peace have also come from former President Jimmy Carter - who, by his writings and speeches, has emerged as the anguished conscience of American foreign policy - and also from such distinguished former national security advisers as Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

In France, a former foreign minister, Herve de Charette, has recently published in Le Figaro a blueprint for an overall settlement, based on an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders with minor adjustments.

Why then has the peace process not been revived with great urgency? Part of the problem is that the men in power in the United States and Israel seem to have no interest in a peaceful settlement of the region's conflicts, but continue to think that they can rout their enemies and impose their will by brute force. In other words, they cling to a belief in a military solution of the region's problems, even though the evidence from Iraq to Afghanistan, and from Palestine to Lebanon all points in an altogether different direction.

Rarely have the minds of key decision-makers been so confused by mistaken assumptions and plain errors, some probably unwitting, others deliberate. Under the influence of right-wing pro-Israeli neoconservatives - and especially of Eliott Abrams, chief adviser on the Middle East at the White House's National Security Council -- President Bush appears to believe that all the violence in the Middle East can be attributed to 'Islamo-fascists who hate freedom.' Such primitive thinking would be laughable if the consequences were not so deplorable.

Even a normally balanced Israeli military analyst like Ze'ev Schiff has recently written that the Lebanon war 'was part of a developing global conflict.' This is a mistake. The resistance movements in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Palestine and Lebanon, and indeed al-Qaida itself, do not all dance to the same tune. Each has its own agenda, its own methods and its own ideology. They are not part of a global threat. The one thing they have in common is a burning wish to get rid of oppressive foreign occupation. Men like Elliot Abrams, and his Likudnik colleagues at the Pentagon and in Vice-President Dick Cheney's office, have persuaded a gullible President of the possibility of transforming the 'Greater Middle East' in a pro-American and pro-Israeli direction by means of pre-emptive strategies and regime change. This is a disastrous policy error. It is now clear that Bush's 'global democratic revolution' is nothing but a crude attempt to impose U.S. and Israeli dominance.

Another gross mistake often made by Bush and his advisers is to believe that if the U.S. does not defeat the 'terrorists' in Iraq, they will attack the U.S. on its home ground. This is the opposite of the truth. It is because of American violence in Iraq and Israel's violence in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories that the U.S. and its British ally have become targets of terrorist attacks.

Another example of mischievous misinformation is the hyping of the alleged threat from Iran's nuclear activities. Although inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have so far detected no evidence of Iranian weapons production, it has become axiomatic in many quarters that Iran's modest programme is a threat to mankind!

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert regularly portrays Iran as a deadly threat to his country. Ari Shavit, a respected commentator in Haaretz, wrote that an Iranian bomb would be 'the most serious challenge to Israel's existence since the establishment of the state.

'Influential Americans, in turn, continue to portray Iran as posing a grave strategic threat to U.S. national security - a threat which needs to be actively confronted. As if to leave no doubt about America's bellicose intentions, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld recently declared that the U.S. would not be prevented from fighting another war - he clearly had Iran in mind - by its commitment to waging war in Iraq.These fears are misjudged. It is widely accepted in intelligence circles that even if Iran intended to build a bomb, which is by no means certain, it would need five to ten years to do so. Moreover, any use of such a bomb by Iran would be suicidal and could, in any event, be easily deterred by the vastly more powerful nuclear arsenals of the U.S and Israel.

If Iran is indeed seeking to acquire a nuclear weapon, it is not to attack others, but to protect itself from attack. The real concern of the U.S. and Israel is not of a nuclear strike by Iran, but rather that Iran, and its allies in Syria and Lebanon, may acquire some protection against attack by them. In other words, Israel and the U.S. reject any sort of a 'balance of deterrence' which might restrict their freedom of action.As Iran seems determined to pursue its perfectly legitimate attempt to master the uranium fuel cycle for peaceful purposes, a confrontation with the U.S. and Israel cannot be ruled out. If military action seems for the moment improbable, and if Russia and China refuse to agree sanctions against Iran at the Security Council, then Washington will very probably impose its own punitive sanctions outside the UN framework.

Part of the present dangerous uncertainty in the Middle East stems from the shock Israel has suffered in Lebanon, a shock similar to the one the U.S. is suffering in Iraq. It is the shock of failing to win -- and what this means in terms of their own and the world's perception of their power.

Ari Shavit, the commentator quoted above, summed it up when he wrote the other day that 'there will be no peaceā€¦ without restoring Israel's power.'This, too, is another grave mistake because it suggests that Israel has been so wounded in its self-esteem and its sense of security that it needs to win another war before it can contemplate making peace.

All in all, the Middle East seems to be heading for more conflict rather than any serious attempt at conflict resolution. Israel and its superpower ally seem a long way from recognising that a lasting peace is made by negotiation and mutual compromise and not by one side imposing its terms on a defeated enemy. Link