The Nether-World

May 26, 2007

Under The Weather

Filed under: Civil Liberties, Fruitbats, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Nu Labour, UK Politics — netherworld @ 4:33 am

Sorry about the lack of posts. I seem to have come down with some nasty lurgy which is making staring at a computer screen for any great length of time give me a headache (not to mention the blocked sinuses, fever, aching muscles and hacking cough), and stringing a coherent sentence together is difficult. So as a total cop-out, here are ten other stories collected over the week (in no rational order) that are worth reading:

  • Ministry of Truth on John Reid’s latest attack on our freedoms.

  • Mask of Anarchy on McDonald’s efforts to to have the word “McJob” removed from the dictionary.

  • Rachel has returned from her honeymoon only to face yet more abuse from a batshit cyber-stalker and is asking for help.

  • Grimmerupnorth on why Jon Cruddas is a dishonourable hypocrite who should not be elected to the Deputy Leadership.

  • Not Saussure on yet another attack on our civil liberties by our wonderful government.

  • Blood & Treasure on the latest ratcheting up of the hate campaign against Iran.

  • Ten Percent on America’s renewed sabre rattling against Iran and on just who is really supporting Fatah al-Islam in Lebanon.

  • Lenin’s Tomb on the secret air war in Iraq.

  • Tears for Lebanon on the misery that the Lebanese people are facing.

  • Obsolete on Margaret Hodge’s latest outburst in favour of the BNP (supported by Hazel Blears no less).

Hopefully I’ll be back to ‘normal’ blogging as soon as I feel a bit better.

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April 21, 2007

What John McCain Would Do If He Became President

Filed under: Iran, US Politics — netherworld @ 4:56 am

Just when you thought the Republicans couldn’t get any more stupid…

And John McCain’s response when criticised for his wit? “Please, I was talking to some of my old veterans’ friends,” he said. “My response is, lighten up and get a life.” Maybe that should be “lighten up and take a life”. John McCain is getting quite a reputation for being an idiot these days.

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April 5, 2007

Common Sense Prevails – For Now

Filed under: Bliar, Iran — netherworld @ 2:49 pm

Thankfully, the crisis over the sailors and marines captured by the Iranians seems to be over and they are now home. In the end common sense prevailed and both sides sought to de-escalate the crisis before it evolved into something more frightening. There are lessons to be learned from this story, the main one being that dialogue and diplomacy are far more effective than hysteria and threats. This crisis ended despite Tony Blair not because of him. Blair’s intervention provoked the Iranians into changing their minds about releasing Faye Turney and to consider putting all the captives on trial. It may have ended sooner than it did if he hadn’t gone crying off to the UN. The Security Council seems to have realised how unhelpful this tactic of Blair’s was and watered down its statement. Even the European Union, which was far more supportive, balked at the prospect of imposing further sanctions on Iran as Britain hoped for.

The propaganda put out by Britain failed dismally too. It was just too difficult to portray the captives as being humiliated when they were shown to be healthy, eating well and relaxed even though there was obviously a degree of stress and the confessions and letters were extremely unlikely to have been voluntary. No matter how it is spun, there is clear contrast between the pictures we saw of the British personnel and the now infamous pictures we’ve seen of prisoners of the Americans, be it Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo.

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Compare and contrast

Blair’s statement on hearing the news of the release of the captives showed that his policies had failed and he had to resort to lies (as usual) saying that there were no negotiations.

“Throughout we have taken a measured approach – firm but calm, not negotiating, but not confronting either.”

That simply isn’t true. There were obviously plenty of negotiations going on behind the scenes. These negotiations led to the release of one of the Iranians captured by the Americans and an agreement to allow consular access to the others (it will be interesting to learn how they are being treated). So much for Bush’s no “quid pro quos”. The rhetoric was obviously toned down on both sides too. After returning from the Iranian new year holiday, cooler heads decided to end this crisis swiftly and President Ahmadinejad was instructed to release the captives, which he did with a theatrical touch at yesterday’s press conference and succeeded in surprising everybody concerned. Margaret Beckett expressing “regret” for the incident obviously helped a bit too.

Some sterling work was done by Craig Murray in pointing out that both the British and the Iranians were both wrong in their assertions that they were able to definitively tell in whose waters the sailors were in and getting the media to accept this point. It now seems likely that there will be some bilateral talks between Britain and Iran to prevent a similar incident.

As to the question of who came out best from the diplomatic wrangling, I’d say that both sides won because conflict was averted (for now). Hardliners on both sides will not be pleased, however. It does seem though that Iran comes out better from this saga at the moment. Blair has a new problem now. As long as British military personnel were held by the Iranians, he could manipulate public opinion to supporting war with Iran. Unfortunately, the Iranians had the temerity to spoil his plans by treating the captives humanely and then releasing them. So Blair has to switch to plan B and subtlety accuse the Iranian regime of being responsible for the deaths of four British soldiers in Iraq while pretending that he is doing no such thing.

“Now it’s far too early to say that the particular terrorist act that killed our forces was an act committed by terrorists who were backed by any elements of the Iranian regime, so I make no allegation in respect of that particular incident.

“But the general picture, as I have said before, is there are elements at least of the Iranian regime that are backing, financing, arming, terrorism in Iraq.”

Subtle as a brick! He’ll make as much political capital as he can out of this but I bet he won’t go to the funerals of any of the dead soldiers. Tony needn’t worry, he’ll probably get his war. There will no doubt be more provocations of the Iranians and America is sending yet another aircraft carrier, USS Nimitz to the Persian Gulf, apparently to relieve USS Eisenhower. We shall have to see. Common sense may have averted war for now but it is a rare commodity in Downing Street and the White House.

It is an interesting coincidence that this saga happened at about the same time as David Hicks is about released from Guantanamo to Australian custody to serve nine months for “providing material support to terrorism” provided that he

… agreed to several conditions including withdrawing allegations he had been abused by US authorities, before or after his transfer to the Guantanamo prison in 2002.

Also the release of British resident, Bisher al-Rawi from Guantanamo after four years without being charged with anything, much of which was spent in solitary confinement. His friend Jamil al-Banna is still there. His crime seems to be refusing to join MI5 and the British abducted the two men in Gambia on false allegations and handed them over to American ‘Justice’. That Britain is complicit in these crimes is beyond doubt, a point not lost on the Iranians.

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March 24, 2007

Thi Iranian Crisis

Filed under: Iran, israel, UN — netherworld @ 10:15 pm

In previous reporting about the crisis with Iran, I mentioned that with all the naval power being used to by the West to pressure the regime, there was an increased possibility of an incident taking place that could escalate into something more serious. Sooner or later, the provocations and intimidations being used both rhetorically and physically were going to bear fruit. It looks like this is what is happening with the reports we are hearing of 15 British sailors being captured by Iran.

A degree of caution is needed in talking about this latest incident as we do not have all the facts yet. But already there are more than one way of looking at this story. We could just accept the majority of media reports that stress that the British sailors were *not* in Iranian waters and were captured as part of a planned effort by the Iranians in order to use them as bargaining chips in the nuclear issue negotiated at the UN Security Council (more on that shortly). Or we could be open to the possibility at least that the sailors either did accidentally ‘stray’ into Iranian waters and were legitimately arrested for it. There is also the possibility that the intentions of the sailors were more sinister. At the moment there is no way of knowing the truth and so it’s probably wise to reserve judgement for the moment and restrict ourselves to speculation.

On thing I think we can take for granted is that any ‘confessions‘ made by the sailors while in Iranian custody can be taken with a pinch of salt. Both Britain and Iran are claiming they have evidence that proves the sailors were where each side says they were (either in Iraqi or Iranian waters respectively). Until this evidence is examined and made public no real determination as to who is right can be made. The last time this happened, back in 2004, it seems that the British personnel were indeed in Iranian waters and though this story is being repeated in the media, the point that British military were not where they were supposed to be on that occasion is not being stressed.

There is another fact that we can take for granted. With British personnel in Iranian custody, it will be much easier to turn public opinion against Iran and justify any future attack on that country. In this respect this incident is a propaganda coup for those who want a conflict with Iran. And if Iran thought that capturing British sailors would help them in this respect then it may well have shot itself in the foot. So far the Iranians have been fairly competent in their diplomacy and military actions, so it seems a little strange that they would resort to such a clumsy tactic now unless they thought they were genuinely defending their territory. However, the provocations on the Iranian regime have escalated sharply over the last three years with the American neo-cons, and, of course, Israel salivating at the prospect of another war.

As well as the British and American naval build-up in the Persian Gulf, there is also the ‘surge’ of American troops in the region and the deployment of Patriot missile batteries. And, of course, the extreme provocation of Iran with the recent kidnap of Iranian diplomats or consular staff by the Americans. This alone may be seen by the Iranians as a justification for its actions.

We cannot detach this incident from the activities at the UN Security Council which has just unanimously passed a new resolution against Iran over its alleged (but unproven) nuclear weapons program. This resolution means a tougher sanctions regime on Iran and strangely, expresses the hope that it will lead to further negotiations. I’d argue that this resolution will have the opposite effect and negotiations will be more difficult to achieve, particularly when America is so reluctant to negotiate (or do anything which doesn’t meet with Israel’s approval). Some of the ambassadors at the UN tried to argue for a nuclear free Middle East but were unable to get their message articulated in concrete terms. It seems that the main powers do not want a nuclear free Middle East but instead one where there is a single nuclear armed power which can impose its will over its neighbours. For this reason the new resolution is unfair and one should question just what pressures were put on the countries that had reservations about this misuse of international law by the powerful. Iran was predictably unimpressed by the new sanctions but shows no inclination to bend to the will of America, Britain and Israel the UN. Before long Iran will feel compelled to use its biggest asset as a weapon – oil. If Iran decides that the world needs a reminder of how dependent it is on oil and cuts the flow of it through the Strait of Hormuz then prices will soar and war will be inevitable. Just to show how sensitive the oil market is, look what happened to oil prices when 15 British sailors were captured.

On the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War, no one should need reminding of the the dangers of pre-emptively attacking an unpleasant regime.

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February 28, 2007

Help Make Ugly Rumours Number One

Filed under: Bliar, Iran, Iraq, Protest — netherworld @ 2:15 pm

*UPDATED*

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This is one of the best ideas the Stop The War Coalition has come up with; to get an anti-war song into the charts on the fourth anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq. And the idea seems to be working. At last Saturday’s massive protest, thousands of people bought the song using their mobile phones after it was successfully plugged by George Galloway. The song is actually quite good in my opinion; soulful and funky at the same time, and it has been a while (as far as I know) since a song has entered the charts which has any meaningful content.

The Song is called WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? and it is a cover of an Edwin Starr song played by a band called Ugly Rumours. If that name sounds familiar, it should – it’s the same name as Tony Blair’s student band. According to Music Week magazine, early sales suggest the song will go into the top 10, the BBC reports.

Ben Grey, who produced the song, told the BBC News website: “We wanted to try and reach the people who might be more into watching X-Factor than listening to politics.

“Marches and rallies can be dismissed and ignored but a hit record will mean everyone is talking about this issue.”

Next month marks the fourth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq.

Mr Grey said: “Imagine what a message it would send to the world if this record was number one during that anniversary.”

So, by now, hopefully, you’ll be wondering how to get hold of the song. I’ll leave it to the Stop The War Coalition to explain:

Thousands of protestors on yesterday’s magnificent TROOPS OUT / NO TRIDENT demonstration used their mobile phones to buy the Tony Blair spoof record WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR.
http://www.uglyrumours.com

We need your help. Join the many thousands who have already bought WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? and we can get it into the Top 10. Buying the record is extremely simple. There are two methods:

If you have a mobile phone, all you have to do is text PEACE1 to 78789. This will charge £1.50 to your mobile phone bill and you will immediately get a text message explaining how you will receive WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

To buy the record online, go to http://tinyurl.com/33j4oj and follow the instructions for downloading WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

For just £1.50 you can get a prime minister into the charts with a song for peace, but of course we want to do more than embarrass Tony Blair. We want his warmongering in Iraq and Afghanistan to end immediately. We want to help stop plans to attack Iran. We think Tony Blair should be held accountable for war crimes. Getting the spoof Blair record into the Top 10 can play a part in publicising the anti-war message, which represents the view of the majority in this country who oppose the Bush-Blair wars.

Please buy WAR – WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? now and encourage as many people as you can to do the same.

TO BUY:

  1. Mobile Phone text message PEACE1 to 78789
  2. or

  3. Download at http://tinyurl.com/33j4oj

Demonstrations are all well and good, and, of course, very necessary, but they do tend to be ignored and the police, with the help of the media, are less than honest about the numbers of people who turn up. Making this single Number One in the charts will send a strong message to Tony Blair and his gang of warmongers and pile even more embarrassment onto him. That’s £1.50 well spent as far as I’m concerned. Here is the video on YouTube to entice you further (plays better second time).

*UPDATE*

I’m hearing from Lenin’s Tomb that the BBC has already banned the single as it entered the Top Ten, fearing that its anti-war message will offend our very pro-war government. Needless to say, I think this is a very dumb move by the BBC. Banned songs have a tendency to rocket up the charts and if questions are asked in Parliament about the banning of the song (as George Galloway MP is threatening to) then that will be even more publicity for the song and further embarrassment, not just for the Prime Minister, but also for the BBC.

This demonstrates what a good idea the producing and publicising of this single was. Now there is even more of a reason to buy this single. Please buy the single from here or text “peace1” to 78789 and strike a blow not just for peace but also for freedom of expression.

 

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February 25, 2007

The February Stop The War Protest In London

Filed under: Bliar, Bush, Democracy, Iran, Iraq, Protest — netherworld @ 3:40 am

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All in all, the Stop The War protest was a fun day out as well as a serious exercise in democracy and (it seems) the only way to get heard these days. I emerged from Hyde Park Corner tube station into pouring rain thinking that it would be as miserable an experience as the tube journey (no Northern or Victoria lines so the Piccadilly line was very overcrowded). Anyway the weather cleared up shortly after I met up with Rachel and the rest of the day was very pleasant.

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It was obvious from the beginning that this was going to be a very large demonstration, there were hoards of people at Speakers Corner and the march didn’t get started until about 1:30 PM and people were still arriving. We positioned ourselves close to some excellent drummers to keep our energy up and we were entertained by some performers dressed in funky day-glow skeleton costumes, a bit like a 21st Century Danse Macabre I thought, only funnier.

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The route the march took was down Park Lane then down Piccadilly into Haymarket and finally into Trafalgar Square for the rally. That short distance took over two hours which should help give an idea of how many people there were. Sky News was apparently reporting ‘several hundred people’, I heard that the police said there were 10,000 protesters while the organisers claimed 60,000 (George Galloway said it was 100,000). From the ground it was impossible to tell but based on previous demonstrations I guessed (and this is just a guess) between 40,000 and 50,000 people turned up. Both Rachel and I had the foresight to take our hip flasks with us. Mine had Cognac and Rachel’s had whiskey and when you’re shuffling along a few swigs definitely helps. We also had whistles so we could contribute to the drumming and chanting.

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Meanwhile, back at Blairwatch H.Q., Tom had the good idea of live blogging the event, the plan being that I’d send pictures from my camera phone and he’d put them on-line. So I put away my digital camera and tried taking pictures on the mobile. I then spent what seemed like the best part of an hour fiddling with the settings in previously unseen menus because although my phone has a nice 1.3 mega pixel camera, you can’t send any picture via MMS which is more than 100 kb in size. Luckily Rachel came to the rescue and sent a steady stream of photos to Blairwatch with her phone until I sorted mine out.

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Trafalgar Square was totally packed when we arrived and it was very difficult to move about. However, we did eventually manage to find a way to the top of some steps where we watched some of the speeches. The best speech by far was that of Mark Thomas.

 

George Galloway too made a rousing speech. The organisers had erected a large video screen so even at the distance we were at, we could see whoever was speaking. The sound was very clear too, so well done to the organisers for that.

 

When Yvonne Riddley started speaking we took that as our hint to call it a day and locate a nice cosy pub for some refreshment (after a bit of a search we settled on Le Garrick and very nice it was too). After that it was time to brave the tube again and it was even more crowded than before.

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I didn’t watch any news reports on television about the event but you can see the BBC report on-line here. You can also see more photos on my Flickr site. Hopefully the demonstration succeeded in showing the Government just how much opposition there is to the Iraq war and to the renewal of Trident. I hope it also sent a warning to Blair about involving himself in the coming war in Iran. The people are no longer buying the bullshit he’s been peddling and they are sick of the continuous wars that will be his legacy.

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Anyway it was a fun way to make the point, all the more so by having such good company.

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More Bloggage and some nice pictures over at Lenin’s Tomb. There are also good reports from The Disillusioned Kid, The Heathlander and Devises Melting Pot. If I find any more reports I’ll post the links. Feel free to let me know in the comments of any more reports.

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February 12, 2007

The Coming War On Iran

Filed under: Iran, Iraq, israel, Protest, US Politics — netherworld @ 10:42 am

I have been trying to avoid writing about Iran for the last week or so; partly in order to focus on other issues and partly because it is such an awful and depressing situation that it’s easy to become obsessed with it. However, the drumbeat of war is getting louder so it’s time for an update.

On February 24 there will be another demonstration in London against the Iraq war and the looming war in Iran. In my next post I’ll provide details, but this is roundup is to show why we need to protest. It’s been nearly four years since the invasion of Iraq and all the lies we were told in the build up to it. History is now repeating itself. Just as Iraq was demonised with disinformation, so Iran is today. America insists it is not planning for a war with Iran, however all the signs point to the contrary. In fact former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy believes World War III has already begun. It seems that Gen. Leonid Ivashov, the former chief of staff of the Russian Army, was right when he said that there would be an attack “within weeks” predicting that it would start in April:

“we will see the informational warfare machine start working. The public opinion is already under pressure. There will be a growing anti-Iranian militaristic hysteria, new information leaks, disinformation, etc.”

Lo and behold, what do we see now?

The United States is moving closer to war with Iran by accusing the “highest levels” of the Iranian government of supplying sophisticated roadside bombs that have killed 170 US troops and wounded 620.

The allegations against Iran are similar in tone and credibility to those made four years ago by the US government about Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction in order to justify the invasion of 2003.

Senior US defence officials in Baghdad, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they believed the bombs were manufactured in Iran and smuggled across the border to Shia militants in Iraq. The weapons, identified as “explosively formed penetrators” (EFPs) are said to be capable of destroying an Abrams tank.

How very timely! Note the “speaking on condition of anonymity“. Perhaps they are not as certain as we are being led to believe by some media outlets.
Juan Cole, American professor of Modern Middle East History has a little more detail. He debunks the New York Times article which claims that:

In the last three months of 2006, attacks using the weapons accounted for a significant portion of Americans killed and wounded in Iraq, though less than a quarter of the total, military officials say.

Sounds quite authorative and convincing doesn’t it? However Juan cole says:

This claim is one hundred percent wrong. Because 25 percent of US troops were not killed fighting Shiites in those three months. Day after day, the casualty reports specify al-Anbar Province or Diyala or Salahuddin or Babil, or Baghdad districts such as al-Dura, Ghaziliyah, Amiriyah, etc.–and the enemy fighting is clearly Sunni Arab guerrillas. And, Iran is not giving high tech weapons to Baathists and Salafi Shiite-killers. It is true that some casualties were in “East Baghdad” and that Baghdad is beginning to rival al-Anbar as a cemetery for US troops:

Hmmm, the assertions aren’t quite so convincing now are they? As always, it’s the timing of these claims that are suspect. As America makes these claims and denies provoking Iran, a third Navy carrier group is about to follow the second carrier group already steaming toward the Persian Gulf. At the same time as this news emerges, we hear that Israel has been testing a missile system as a “message to Iran“. And this is of course after numerous Israeli threats and an alleged attempt to drop nuclear bombs on Iran.

Iran in the meantime still maintains that its nuclear programme is peaceful and that it poses no threat to Israel. Of course America, Britain and Israel refuse to believe the Iranian claim. As John Pilger points out:

Unlike Israel and the United States, Iran has abided by the rules of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it was an original signatory and has allowed routine inspections under its legal obligations – until gratuitous, punitive measures were added in 2003, at the behest of Washington. No report by the International Atomic Energy Agency has ever cited Iran for diverting its civilian nuclear programme to military use. The IAEA has said that for most of the past three years its inspectors have been able to “go anywhere and see anything”. They inspected the nuclear installations at Isfahan and Natanz on 10 and 12 January and will return on 2 to 6 February. The head of the IAEA, Mohamed El-Baradei says that an attack on Iran will have “catastrophic consequences” and only encourage the regime to become a nuclear power.

Compare this threatening behaviour with the complete lack of concern about Israeli plans to build a nuclear power station despite having an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a reputation for flaunting international law as well as a habit of bombing its neighbours and ethnically cleansing the illegally held land it has conquered. As Pilger mentions, Israel has not signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran has and wants to stay within the rules.

Iran is not defenceless; it too has been testing missiles and it has a formidable military bolstered by a state of the art air defence system purchased from Russia. On top of this, it can create havoc in Iraq and Lebanon and also destabilise oil supplies by blocking the narrow Strait of Hormuz through which 20 percent of the world’s oil passes. But it is unknown whether it can see off an American/Israeli attack. A war, if it happens, will be conducted largely from the air. If there is to be any invasion, it would be in the small area known as Khuzestan where 90 percent of Iran’s oil comes from (ironically this was the area Saddam Hussein tried to invade with American backing).

The calls for attacking Iran are, of course, coming from the neo con part of the Bush administration personified by Dick Cheney and advised by the American Enterprise Institute. The plan is to taunt Iran into doing something which would give America an excuse to respond. It is assumed that an attack on Iran would disguise the total failure of the Iraq mission. The Bush administration is now planning for the inevitable failure of the ill-advised “surge”. This bare faced aggression has prompted Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (of all people) to make some very critical statements about America.

“What is a unipolar world? No matter how we beautify this term it means one single centre of power, one single centre of force and one single master…

“It has nothing in common with democracy because that is the opinion of the majority taking into account the minority opinion…

“People are always teaching us democracy but the people who teach us democracy don’t want to learn it themselves.”

Needless to say, his statements have sparked a war of words between Washington and Moscow. Putin might be a fine one to talk about democracy and abuse of power but that doesn’t make what he said about America any less true.

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February 8, 2007

Melanie Phillips And Her Vitriol Against Independent Jewish Voices

Filed under: Iran, israel, Lebanon, Media, Palestine — netherworld @ 5:23 pm

When I heard the news that a group of Jews had got together to speak out against Israeli aggression and to disassociate themselves from the right-wing Zionists claiming to speak for them, I breathed a sigh of relief at this very positive development. Finally some prominent Jewish voices are speaking out loudly enough to be heard above the surrounding din of extremism. I read the articles about Independent Jewish Voices and watched the recent Newsnight programme which featured rabbi David Goldberg and the poisonous Melanie Phillips.

It wasn’t much of a debate I’m afraid. Rabbi Goldberg is far too cultured and genteel to deal with a foaming-at-the-mouth wingnut like Melanie Phillips. Too long a pause in his considered replies would be exploited by the rabid bitch. Even so Melanie was fairly restrained on TV. I don’t know what possessed me to look, but I stumbled upon her webpage and found everything she meant to say… and it really is sickening. It just had to be fisked. So at risk of bringing on another attack by GIYUS, Israel’s little army of cyber soldiers who I’ve seen off before, here goes:

*Deep Breath*

February 8, 2007

Jews for genocide

On Monday night, I debated on BBC TV’s Newsnight with Rabbi David Goldberg, one of the signatories of a group styling itself ‘Independent Jewish Voices’, an unlovely collection of congenital Israel-bashers, many of whom are unfortunately prominent in British public life and are lionised by the rest of the intelligentsia who share the same venomous prejudice.

What does it tell you Melanie, that a number of prominent Jews are prepared to finally speak out against Israeli injustices after remaining silent for so long? They were lionised by the population long before they broke their silence and their prominence in public life is due to their talents in their different professions. When it comes to “venomous prejudice”, do you ever read any of the garbage you write? This latest offering of yours for example has more “venomous prejudice” than I’ve seen in an article for a long time.

Their main beef is that the Board of Deputies of British Jews dares to defend Israel in the name of the Jewish community. It has no right to do so, it seems, because it does not speak for them. Hello? The Board of Deputies?? Are they kidding? The Board is almost entirely silent on the subject.

No Melanie, their main beef seems to be (as Tom from Blairwatch says) that Jewish opinion in the UK and US is being efficiently corralled by PR into narrow support for the Israeli extreme right and their neo-con buddies in the UK and US. They want to speak for themselves, get it?

And since when were many of these signatories part of the British Jewish community anyway? Although some do identify themselves with it, many of them maintain either the most tangential or even no connection with the community or with Judaism whatever. It embarrasses them. The only time they ever identify themselves as Jews is in order to vilify the Jewish nation state, when — grotesquely — they use their ethnic Jewish identity to armour-plate themselves against the charge of Jew-hatred by wrapping themselves in the mantle of Jewish victimisation.

So because their views don’t coincide with yours, suddenly they are not Jews, is that right? Have you explained that to any of the rabbis who have signed up to Independent Jewish Voices. You didn’t do that on Newsnight when you ‘debated’ with rabbi David Goldberg. I’m sure he would be very surprised to learn that he doesn’t identify himself as a Jew. Are you aware that there is a difference between ‘Jew‘ and ‘Zionist‘? Apparently not.

And here they are again indeed posing as Jewish martyrs. Their complaint is that the Jewish establishment is trying to silence them in their heroic attempt to tell the truth about Israel, in which cause it is they who speak with the authentic voice of Jewish conscience. This is just surreal. These signatories are never out of the media with their revolting rants against Israel. Editors fawn respectfully over their every utterance. They dominate the discussion.

I don’t think ‘martyrs‘ is quite the right word is it? Is that what they call themselves? They speak with their own consciences. The media is not a monolith, some media outlets spout the same garbage you do (although usually with less of the “venomous prejudice” which you use). If their views seem to prevail, it might just possibly mean that they are right and you are wrong. Have you thought of that? No, of course not.

On the contrary, their intention is to silence others. The Board of Deputies — made of representatives who are elected by synagogues and other communal organisations and which therefore speaks for the mainstream British Jewish community — is not even to be allowed by these goons to say anything about Israel because, on the rare occasions when it does so, it dares to defend it. The voice of the Jewish mainstream is to be silenced — because they disagree with it.

You’re putting the cart before the horse again Melanie. It is not them who are trying to silence others. The stifling of debate is done by nasty bullies like GIYUS, the on-line army of cyber soldiers sponsored by the Israeli government to shut down any debate which might expose Israel’s crimes. If you are criticising Independent Jewish Voices for getting together to put forward a counter argument, how come you make no mention at all of GIYUS who behave in a manner far more in keeping with your unsubstantiated racist rants.

The essence of the signatories’ complaint, however, is even more offensive. They object to people saying rude things about them in response to what they say about Israel. They just can’t stand the criticism — and so want to silence their critics. They think freedom of speech means they are free to speak, but others are not free to speak about what they say. They think if the defenders of Israel call them names — ‘antisemites’, ‘betrayers’, ‘self-haters’ — this is stopping them from exercising their freedom of speech; but when they themselves call the defenders of Israel names — ‘the far right’, ‘sanitisers of war crimes’ or just ‘insane’ —they are merely stating demonstrable truths.

Sorry, who is it that can’t stand criticism and tries to silence their critics? Is anyone preventing you from speaking? No, I thought not. Are you denying that critics of Israel are called ‘anti-Semites’ and if they happen to be Jewish are called ‘betrayers’ or ‘self-haters’? You imply as much in your third paragraph. You really don’t read the crap you write do you? Either that or you have the memory of a goldfish. As for the labels used against the rabid rantings from your side of the ‘debate’, ‘the far right’, ‘sanitisers of war crimes’ and ‘insane’, well they seem perfectly apt to me, particularly the latter.

Enough of their ludicrous and self-serving bleating. What they say about Israel is loathsome, and fully deserves the maximum opprobrium. On Newsnight, Goldberg trotted out the usual canard that mainstream Jews object to any criticism of Israel. Not true. What his lot serve up is not criticism. It is instead a monstrous campaign of demonisation and delegitimisation based on systematic lies, libels and distortions which presents Israel, the historic victim of almost sixty years of Arab and Muslim aggression and ethnic cleansing from the Jews’ historic homeland, as the aggressors, regional bullies and oppressors of the innocent. Thus these people not only scapegoat the Israeli victims of aggression, but sanitise their killers and thus encourage them still further in their murderous project.

Can we also have an end to your ‘self-serving bleating’ please? What is loathsome is the attempt to justify mass murder of civilians, ethnic cleansing, starvation, house demolitions, assassinations, annexation of land and theft. I notice in your ravings that you fail to address those issues other than the anodyne lie that it’s all self defence. I can see the pattern now in your diatribe; you accuse your opponents of the very crimes Israel is guilty of. Hence saying that Israel is the “historic victim of almost sixty years of Arab and Muslim aggression and ethnic cleansing from the Jews“. Before 1948 there was no Israel, and the inhabitants of that land (the Palestinians) have been, and are still being driven out by people who are for the most part from eastern Europe. Melanie, it’s you who is spouting the canard, and only the people who regularly consume your drivel would believe it.

The group’s founding declaration is: ‘Those who claim to speak on behalf of Jews in Britain and other countries consistently put support for the policies of an occupying power above the human rights of the occupied people.’ But the rights of the Palestinians are being infringed for one reason only: that they are intent upon destroying Israel and murdering its citizens. Israel’s legitimate self-defence in this war of annihilation being waged against it is thus represented here entirely falsely as aggression. That of course is the trick of Palestinian propaganda, which has appropriated the history of Jewish victimisation and turned it on its head, casting the Palestinians as the new Jews and the Israelis as the Nazis — a vile inversion which has been swallowed in its entirety by the signatories to this declaration and by many others on the left.

Everyone has the right to defend themselves. If Israelis have the right to defend themselves against resistance, then the Palestinians have the right to resist occupation and indiscriminate slaughter. Both sides of this conflict are guilty of atrocities, Israeli atrocities are on a much vaster scale however. They might not be on the same scale as those of the Nazis but there certainly seems to be a strong whiff of Nazism in Israel’s behaviour. What else would you call it when one of the world’s best equipped and well trained armies uses its might against a people armed with rocks, Kalashnikovs, RPGs and primitive rockets little better than fireworks, and who are so desperate that some of them are willing to blow themselves (and civilians) up. You cannot deny that Israel is the stronger force and uses that force inappropriately contrary to international law.

On Newsnight, Goldberg stunningly dismissed the hundreds of rockets that have been fired from Gaza into Israel since Israel’s disengagement from that territory as being of no consequence. Thus this self-styled champion of human rights simply refuses even to acknowledge Jewish victimisation, while professing concern only for those who are trying to wipe the Jews out. This man is supposed to be a rabbi? This is not morality, but pathology.

Goldberg didn’t dismiss the hundreds of rockets fired fired from Gaza into Israel, he merely pointed out (or tried to) that the rockets fired pale in comparison to the thousands of shells fired into Gaza. The rockets do occasionally kill and maim. Israeli shells and missiles create a much, much higher death toll. I challenge you to deny that. It is you Melanie, who dismisses the obvious imbalance and disproportionality here. By drawing attention to this fact, rabbi Goldberg was fulfilling his duty as a religious leader and human rights activist.

What has been the Palestinian response to Israel’s disengagement from Gaza? An unending barrage of rockets on Israeli towns and the building of tunnels and import of weaponry in order to unleash even greater death and destruction upon Israel. What has been Israel’s response to Palestinian aggression? Israeli hospitals are currently treating more and more Palestinians injured in the clashes between Fatah and Hamas — people who have been trying to kill Israelis and are now being given medical care in Israeli hospitals on equal terms with Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. Just who is upholding human rights here, and who is trying to extinguish them?

Israel never really left Gaza. Oh, yes the settlers were removed (and some of them relocated to the West Bank thus exacerbating that situation) but the borders were sealed with no easy way for Palestinians to travel, or trade. They have no access to the sea or air. They are in effect, imprisoned in a giant overcrowded concentration camp and subject to regular Israeli bombardment which for the IDF must be like shooting fish in a barrel. If poor defenceless Israel wasn’t maiming Palestinians, they wouldn’t need to be treated in Israeli hospitals. It should go without saying that if Palestinians had their own well equipped and properly staffed hospitals, they wouldn’t need Israeli ones either, but Israel wouldn’t allow that. That would be too much like independence wouldn’t it? No, far better to show how humane and upholding of human rights Israel is by treating the Palestinians that have been blown to pieces by Israel in Israeli hospitals.

The phenomenon of this Jewish fifth column for Arab and Muslim terror is now doing serious damage to the struggle for survival not just by Israel but by the west in general. Two writers have recently produced withering critiques of these people and the harm they are doing: Bruce Bawer, author of While Europe Slept, and Professor Alvin Rosenfeld, whose article has horrified American liberal Jews who refuse to acknowledge their own faces in Caliban’s mirror.

I find it incredible that you would accuse Jews who object to the wanton violence of Israel as a fifth column. Have you looked up the meaning of that term Melanie? Here it is:

A clandestine subversive organization working within a country to further an invading enemy’s military and political aims.

Now, does that term fit for a group of Jews concerned with Israeli atrocities? I would argue not. In fact if you drop the ‘clandestine’ the term would be fit much better to organisations like AIPAC in the USA or Labour Friends of Israel, Conservative Friends of Israel or Lib Dem Friends of Israel. The clue (seeing as you don’t have one) is “invading enemy’s military and political aims“. Who is doing the invading Melanie? And under the pretense of it being self defence… hmmm what does that remind me of?

One of the most painful aspects of all of the Jewish tragedy is that, throughout the unending history of Jewish persecution — from the medieval Christian converts to Marx and beyond —Jews have figured, for a variety of reasons, as prominent accomplices of those who wished to destroy the Jewish people. These signatories are firmly in that lamentable tradition. And since today’s principal battleground is — as the Islamists well understand but we in the west do not — the battleground of ideas, the contribution of these Israel-bashing Jewish intellectuals to the cause of those who hate Jews, the west and human rights is immense.

No one is denying that Jews have suffered terribly in the past because of European barbarism throughout the ages. It’s a series of shameful episodes in our History. But speaking of History, look at how well Jews and the Muslims you so obviously hate got on in the past. Why should Muslims have to pay for European crimes. If you need a direction to point that huge chip on your shoulder, European Christians would be a more logical target. The current problems between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East stem largely from the theft of Muslim land, aided and abetted once again by European colonial powers. The suffering of Jews in the past does not give some of them the right to commit similar crimes now.

When Daniel Pipes was recently drowned out by Islamists at the University of California-Irvine, this (via LGF) was what they were saying:

They have no future. And it’s just a matter of time before the state of Israel will be wiped off the face of the earth.[Crowd: Takbir! Allahu akbar!] Justice will be restored then. Those people who are there legitimately … the people there will, will rule. There will be no injustice any more there. So just keep on doing what we’re doing. Our weapon, our jihad, our way of struggling in this country is with our tongues. We speak out, and we deflate their morale, and this is the best we can do right now….[Crowd: Takbir! Allahu akbar!]

Fine, go ahead and quote some angry nutcases in a crowd and try to imply that this is the view of all Muslims if you must. As I said earlier, the only people you’ll convince are the idiots who devour your trashy vitriol with such gusto. Even in the passage you quote are words which defeat your ‘argument’. “Our weapon, our jihad, our way of struggling in this country is with our tongues. We speak out…” Wow, Melanie, who’s afraid of free speech now?

At a time when Iran is threatening to nuke Israel into kingdom come, the words of the prophet come to mind: your destroyers are among you.

So Iran is threatening to nuke Israel is it? Are you sure? Would you be so kind as to find me the relevant quote which shows that intention? It wouldn’t be this would it? Oh you really are gullible aren’t you Melanie? Whilst on the subject of nuking people, perhaps you would like to explain this:

A recent strike by nuclear-armed Israeli Air Force fighter-bombers bound for targets in Iran was turned back after being intercepted by U.S. fighters over Iraq, this reporter has learned.

Two sources have independently confirmed the encounter, which took place on January 7, 2007. Though the first informant offered few details beyond an initial tip, a second source long-known by this reporter to have well-placed U.S. and “non-U.S.” military and government contacts provided specific information regarding the raid, which was aimed at the radical religious ayatollahs holding ultimate power in Iran.

What’s it to be Melanie, blanket denial or a claim of “self defence”? We’ve heard plenty of Israeli denials before, followed by admissions of “mistakes”.

Having struggled though all that appalling crap I now need to lie down in a darkened room for a while.

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January 25, 2007

Bush: Give War A Chance – Fisking The State of The Union Speech

Filed under: Bush, Iran, Iraq, US Politics — netherworld @ 6:50 am

George Bush’s State of The Union speech smacked of desperation. He had to plead with congress to support his plans to escalate the war in Iraq. Right from the start of his speech there were references to Iraq and Iran. I’m not going to fisk the whole speech, that would take too long (easy though it is). No, I’m just going to fisk the part that deals with the escalation of his war, and that happens to be most of his speech. The much-heralded change of direction on the environment and global warming was about three short paragraphs inserted to throw a bone to the new Democrat congress. From environmental issues Bush went on to “stable supply of energy” which inevitably led him into his favourite subject, war.

Extending hope and opportunity depends on a stable supply of energy that keeps America’s economy running and America’s environment clean. For too long our nation has been dependent on foreign oil. And this dependence leaves us more vulnerable to hostile regimes, and to terrorists — who could cause huge disruptions of oil shipments, and raise the price of oil, and do great harm to our economy.

He might just as well have said “And this dependence leaves foreign regimes more vulnerable to the hostile USA“. In the end his new energy policy was nothing of the sort, just some non-specific statements of his plans to cut the use of petroleum by 20 percent in ten years, encourage more use of ethanol and bio diesels and rely on technology to get him out of the mess he’s in. It also probably means redoubled efforts to destroy the pristine environment in Alaska.

Once again Bush invoked the memory of 9/11 before launching into the main thrust of his speech. In fact he referred to September 11 no less than six times.

With the distance of time, we find ourselves debating the causes of conflict and the course we have followed. Such debates are essential when a great democracy faces great questions. Yet one question has surely been settled: that to win the war on terror we must take the fight to the enemy. (Applause.)

I don’t recall that issue being settled Mr Bush. Taking the fight to the enemy, as you put it, has devastated a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 and filled it with terrorists when previously there were none.

From the start, America and our allies have protected our people by staying on the offense. The enemy knows that the days of comfortable sanctuary, easy movement, steady financing, and free flowing communications are long over. For the terrorists, life since 9/11 has never been the same.

Life has never been the same for most of the people Iraq since its destruction. As for protecting your people, well the families of over 3,000 soldiers might not agree.

Our success in this war is often measured by the things that did not happen [like victory]. We cannot know the full extent of the attacks that we and our allies have prevented, but here is some of what we do know: We stopped an al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airplane into the tallest building on the West Coast. We broke up a Southeast Asian terror cell grooming operatives for attacks inside the United States. We uncovered an al Qaeda cell developing anthrax to be used in attacks against America. And just last August, British authorities uncovered a plot to blow up passenger planes bound for America over the Atlantic Ocean. For each life saved, we owe a debt of gratitude to the brave public servants who devote their lives to finding the terrorists and stopping them. (Applause.)

Those successes of course cannot be attributed to the war in Iraq. In fact they can’t all even be properly verified. To mention the alleged plot to blow up planes with baby milk, shampoo and hair gel is ridiculous. That so-called plot is looking like a bit of a damp squib and shameless fear-mongering.

Every success against the terrorists is a reminder of the shoreless ambitions of this enemy. The evil that inspired and rejoiced in 9/11 is still at work in the world. And so long as that’s the case, America is still a nation at war.

This might be a good time to remind ourselves that 15 of the 19 hijackers of the 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia and the plot was launched from Afghanistan which was ignored by you after its invasion so you could focus on Iraq which had nothing to do with 9/11. I can’t help noticing that you haven’t caught Bin Laden yet.

In the mind of the terrorist, this war began well before September the 11th, and will not end until their radical vision is fulfilled. And these past five years have given us a much clearer view of the nature of this enemy. Al Qaeda and its followers are Sunni extremists, possessed by hatred and commanded by a harsh and narrow ideology. Take almost any principle of civilization, and their goal is the opposite. They preach with threats, instruct with bullets and bombs, and promise paradise for the murder of the innocent.

“In the mind of the terrorist”? Which terrorist? Are you suggesting that disparate factions in Iraq think that the war began before September 11? Okay another reality check. Al Qaeda is about three percent of the insurgency in Iraq. Perhaps it might be an idea to focus a bit more on the other 97 percent of your enemy.

Our enemies are quite explicit about their intentions. They want to overthrow moderate governments, and establish safe havens from which to plan and carry out new attacks on our country. By killing and terrorizing Americans, they want to force our country to retreat from the world and abandon the cause of liberty. They would then be free to impose their will and spread their totalitarian ideology. Listen to this warning from the late terrorist Zarqawi: “We will sacrifice our blood and bodies to put an end to your dreams, and what is coming is even worse.” Osama bin Laden declared: “Death is better than living on this Earth with the unbelievers among us.”

Some, of course, just want you and your forces out of their country. Overthrowing moderate governments is something the USA has been doing for decades; Chile and Iran (with Britain) spring instantly to mind. Saddam’s regime can hardly be described a moderate but Iraq was in much better shape before it was visited by “the cause of liberty”. Zarqawi’s notoriety was, as we know, a product of the invasion. Before that he was just a common al Qaeda thug.

These men are not given to idle words, and they are just one camp in the Islamist radical movement. In recent times, it has also become clear that we face an escalating danger from Shia extremists who are just as hostile to America, and are also determined to dominate the Middle East. Many are known to take direction from the regime in Iran, which is funding and arming terrorists like Hezbollah — a group second only to al Qaeda in the American lives it has taken.

So was Iran this powerful before the destruction of Iraq, or is this phenomenon too a result of your invasion? As for Hezbollah, well its not universally recognised as a terrorist group. It holds seats in the Lebanese Parliament

The Shia and Sunni extremists are different faces of the same totalitarian threat. Whatever slogans they chant, when they slaughter the innocent they have the same wicked purposes. They want to kill Americans, kill democracy in the Middle East, and gain the weapons to kill on an even more horrific scale.

What Shia and Sunni resistance groups share is a desire to get Americans and their allies out of their country where they have no right to be. Whether or not they want democracy or dictatorship is no business of America and the sectarian violence between these factions is again the result of the invasion. And a real democracy cannot flourish under occupation anyway. If you hadn’t invaded innocents wouldn’t be slaughtered on this scale. Before going on about weapons yet again wouldn’t it be better to get at least some credible evidence. This situation in Iraq is much more complicated than a simple Sunni Shia divide.

In the sixth year since our nation was attacked, I wish I could report to you that the dangers had ended. They have not. And so it remains the policy of this government to use every lawful and proper tool of intelligence, diplomacy, law enforcement, and military action to do our duty, to find these enemies, and to protect the American people. (Applause.)

And every unlawful and improper tool as well. This strategy will only create more extremists. It’s a vicious circle that is being exacerbated.

This war is more than a clash of arms — it is a decisive ideological struggle, and the security of our nation is in the balance. To prevail, we must remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred, and drove 19 men to get onto airplanes and to come and kill us. What every terrorist fears most is human freedom.

If you really wanted to “remove the conditions that inspire blind hatred”, you’d get out of the region or at least be a balanced broker in the Israel/Palestine conflict.

— societies where men and women make their own choices, answer to their own conscience, and live by their hopes instead of their resentments. Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies — and most will choose a better way when they’re given a chance. So we advance our own security interests by helping moderates and reformers and brave voices for democracy. The great question of our day is whether America will help men and women in the Middle East to build free societies and share in the rights of all humanity. And I say, for the sake of our own security, we must. (Applause.)

This seems like a false argument to me. In fact the same statement could be used to argue the case for America’s withdrawal. Newsflash – America is not helping, its making matters far worse for the inhabitants of the region and for American security. When you say “Free people are not drawn to violent and malignant ideologies“, how do you explain the neo con ideology which is steeped in blood?

In the last two years, we’ve seen the desire for liberty in the broader Middle East — and we have been sobered by the enemy’s fierce reaction. In 2005, the world watched as the citizens of Lebanon raised the banner of the Cedar Revolution, they drove out the Syrian occupiers and chose new leaders in free elections. In 2005, the people of Afghanistan defied the terrorists and elected a democratic legislature. And in 2005, the Iraqi people held three national elections, choosing a transitional government, adopting the most progressive, democratic constitution in the Arab world, and then electing a government under that constitution. Despite endless threats from the killers in their midst, nearly 12 million Iraqi citizens came out to vote in a show of hope and solidarity that we should never forget. (Applause.)

As soon as the Syrians left Lebanon, the Israelis moved in… funny that. Now Lebanon is on the brink of civil war as well, largely thanks to your refusal to swiftly end last Summer’s war. The elections in Iraq were fought on sectarian lines resulting in the current increase in violence. We’ve recently seen the new democratic Iraq lynching, torturing and murdering in the same way Saddam did. Women are more oppressed than ever. Way to go Bush. Remind me again why we invaded.

A thinking enemy watched all of these scenes, adjusted their tactics, and in 2006 they struck back. In Lebanon, assassins took the life of Pierre Gemayel, a prominent participant in the Cedar Revolution. Hezbollah terrorists, with support from Syria and Iran, sowed conflict in the region and are seeking to undermine Lebanon’s legitimately elected government. In Afghanistan, Taliban and al Qaeda fighters tried to regain power by regrouping and engaging Afghan and NATO forces. In Iraq, al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists blew up one of the most sacred places in Shia Islam — the Golden Mosque of Samarra. This atrocity, directed at a Muslim house of prayer, was designed to provoke retaliation from Iraqi Shia — and it succeeded. Radical Shia elements, some of whom receive support from Iran, formed death squads. The result was a tragic escalation of sectarian rage and reprisal that continues to this day.

So you are implying that the Taliban, Syrians, Iranians, al Qaeda, Hezbollah and other assorted Shia and Sunni groups in Iraq are in fact all the same enemy with the same objectives and motivations. It stretches credibility somewhat. Another newsflash; the new democratic Iraqi government that you installed also has death squads. You seem to be blaming the region-wide chaos on everyone but yourself. Of course the killers bear much of the responsibility but don’t you think it’s a bit of a coincidence that when America interferes with a state chaos invariably ensues?

This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we’re in. Every one of us wishes this war were over and won. Yet it would not be like us to leave our promises unkept, our friends abandoned, and our own security at risk. (Applause.) Ladies and gentlemen: On this day, at this hour, it is still within our power to shape the outcome of this battle. Let us find our resolve, and turn events toward victory. (Applause.)

The fight you’re in is the one everyone with any sense predicted you’d be in. I’m afraid it would be like you to leave your promises unkept and your friends abandoned. That’s what happens when you lose wars… remember Vietnam? Oh yes, you avoided that conflict. And don’t kid yourself, you lost this war a long time ago. The sooner you recognise that the more lives will be saved.

We’re carrying out a new strategy in Iraq — a plan that demands more from Iraq’s elected government, and gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission. Our goal is a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security, and is an ally in the war on terror.

No you’re, not your carrying on with the same failed strategy of before and making impossible demands on a weak puppet government to disguise your own ineptitude. Your stated goal is absolutely unrealistic and unobtainable. The best you could manage at this stage is an exit with a modicum of dignity. Iraq is wrecked and I doubt it can be fixed with any strategy let alone one that’s already proved to be a failure.

In order to make progress toward this goal, the Iraqi government must stop the sectarian violence in its capital. But the Iraqis are not yet ready to do this on their own. So we’re deploying reinforcements of more than 20,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Iraq. The vast majority will go to Baghdad, where they will help Iraqi forces to clear and secure neighborhoods, and serve as advisers embedded in Iraqi Army units. With Iraqis in the lead, our forces will help secure the city by chasing down the terrorists, insurgents, and the roaming death squads. And in Anbar Province, where al Qaeda terrorists have gathered and local forces have begun showing a willingness to fight them, we’re sending an additional 4,000 United States Marines, with orders to find the terrorists and clear them out. (Applause.) We didn’t drive al Qaeda out of their safe haven in Afghanistan only to let them set up a new safe haven in a free Iraq.

20’000 new troops will make little or no difference. This terrorist hunt is a fools errand, you may get one or two but they will be replaced and the rest will melt away only to reappear again later. That’s the problem with this kind of asymmetrical war, you can’t win it in the conventional way. All you’re going to achieve is more resentment and more violence.

The people of Iraq want to live in peace, and now it’s time for their government to act. Iraq’s leaders know that our commitment is not open-ended. They have promised to deploy more of their own troops to secure Baghdad — and they must do so. They pledged that they will confront violent radicals of any faction or political party — and they need to follow through, and lift needless restrictions on Iraqi and coalition forces, so these troops can achieve their mission of bringing security to all of the people of Baghdad. Iraq’s leaders have committed themselves to a series of benchmarks — to achieve reconciliation, to share oil revenues among all of Iraq’s citizens, to put the wealth of Iraq into the rebuilding of Iraq, to allow more Iraqis to re-enter their nation’s civic life, to hold local elections, and to take responsibility for security in every Iraqi province. But for all of this to happen, Baghdad must be secure. And our plan will help the Iraqi government take back its capital and make good on its commitments.

Yes, the people of Iraq do want to live in peace so why not let them. Their weak puppet government will collapse. You might delay the collapse but you can’t prevent it. The pledges this government has given you are pledges they have given before and failed to deliver on. It is incapable of performing in the way you want it to. A sectarian government will behave in a sectarian way. And as for oil revenues, well, we know where they’re going don’t we?

My fellow citizens, our military commanders and I have carefully weighed the options. We discussed every possible approach. In the end, I chose this course of action because it provides the best chance for success. Many in this chamber understand that America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far-reaching.

No George, you replaced the military commanders who (like most people it seems) disagreed with your plan. You chose this course of action because you want to retain control of Iraq and either you are so deluded that you have convinced yourself that you know better than the experts or you are so arrogant that you cannot admit that you are utterly wrong (it’s probably both). America has already failed in Iraq, the country is utterly wrecked and likely to fragment along ethnic, tribal and religious lines. If you haven’t already, you will soon be seeing the “grievous and far-reaching consequences” of your failure.

If American forces step back before Baghdad is secure, the Iraqi government would be overrun by extremists on all sides. We could expect an epic battle between Shia extremists backed by Iran, and Sunni extremists aided by al Qaeda and supporters of the old regime. A contagion of violence could spill out across the country — and in time, the entire region could be drawn into the conflict.

This is what is happening now. Many people predicted this would happen but they were sidelined just as the people warning you about the current escalation have been sidelined. The presence of American troops in Iraq is only making matters worse. It can’t be fixed, that’s the tragedy and that’s why you shouldn’t have invaded.

For America, this is a nightmare scenario. For the enemy, this is the objective. Chaos is the greatest ally — their greatest ally in this struggle. And out of chaos in Iraq would emerge an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources, and an even greater determination to harm America. To allow this to happen would be to ignore the lessons of September the 11th and invite tragedy. Ladies and gentlemen, nothing is more important at this moment in our history than for America to succeed in the Middle East, to succeed in Iraq and to spare the American people from this danger. (Applause.)

And who caused this chaos? If chaos is the greatest ally of your enemies, why create it? What evidence do you have to support your assertion that Iraq had any intention or capability of harming America before the invasion? If one of the lessons of September 11 was not to allow failed states to emerge, you have shown how much you have learned from 9/11 by turning Iraq into a failed state when before it was merely another brutal dictatorship supported by America.

This is where matters stand tonight, in the here and now. I have spoken with many of you in person. I respect you and the arguments you’ve made. We went into this largely united, in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure. Our country is pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, and I ask you to give it a chance to work. And I ask you to support our troops in the field, and those on their way. (Applause.)

You are not pursuing a new strategy in Iraq, you are pursuing the same failed strategy as before and ignoring the findings of the Baker Hamilton report which at least offered a more sensible alternative. You ask to be given a chance for your plan to work… you’ve had four years to make it work and the situation in Iraq gets worse every day. The best way to support your troops is to bring them home rather than sending in any more.

The war on terror we fight today is a generational struggle that will continue long after you and I have turned our duties over to others. And that’s why it’s important to work together so our nation can see this great effort through. Both parties and both branches should work in close consultation. It’s why I propose to establish a special advisory council on the war on terror, made up of leaders in Congress from both political parties. We will share ideas for how to position America to meet every challenge that confronts us. We’ll show our enemies abroad that we are united in the goal of victory.

Hang on a minute, at the beginning of your speech you said: “…To extend this nation’s prosperity; to spend the people’s money wisely; to solve problems, not leave them to future generations“. Now you’re saying that future generations will have to clear up the mess you’ve made. It doesn’t matter what new advisory councils you create, we’ve already seen that you ignore advice that doesn’t fit in with your world view. If one thing out of all this should be clear to you it is that America is deeply divided and if it does come together it will unite against you and your agenda if it hasn’t already.

And one of the first steps we can take together is to add to the ranks of our military so that the American Armed Forces are ready for all the challenges ahead. (Applause.) Tonight I ask the Congress to authorize an increase in the size of our active Army and Marine Corps by 92,000 in the next five years. (Applause.) A second task we can take on together is to design and establish a volunteer Civilian Reserve Corps. Such a corps would function much like our military reserve. It would ease the burden on the Armed Forces by allowing us to hire civilians with critical skills to serve on missions abroad when America needs them. It would give people across America who do not wear the uniform a chance to serve in the defining struggle of our time.

How long before you are forced to re-introduce the Draft? People aren’t exactly falling over themselves to join the military these days are they? Your plans to hire non-military citizens to join in your “crusade” seems pretty close to a draft of sorts, or if not a draft then a mercenary army. What if they decline your generous offer to “serve in the defining struggle of our time“?

Americans can have confidence in the outcome of this struggle because we’re not in this struggle alone. We have a diplomatic strategy that is rallying the world to join in the fight against extremism. In Iraq, multinational forces are operating under a mandate from the United Nations. We’re working with Jordan and Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the Gulf States to increase support for Iraq’s government.

America is increasingly isolated and everyone knows that. Even the British are trying to extricate themselves from this quagmire. Your “coalition of the willing” is dwindling to the point where it will consist of just the USA. The United Nations, which you ignored in order to launch this illegal war, does give a limited mandate for occupation thanks to the bullying of member states and a desire to try and sort out the appalling mess. Soon it too will come to the conclusion that America is part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia are all worried about sectarian violence spilling over into their territories and the marginalisation of Sunnis. Their support is qualified to say the least.

The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Iran, and made it clear that the world will not allow the regime in Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons. (Applause.) With the other members of the Quartet — the U.N., the European Union, and Russia — we’re pursuing diplomacy to help bring peace to the Holy Land, and pursuing the establishment of a democratic Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in peace and security. (Applause.) In Afghanistan, NATO has taken the lead in turning back the Taliban and al Qaeda offensive — the first time the Alliance has deployed forces outside the North Atlantic area. Together with our partners in China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, we’re pursuing intensive diplomacy to achieve a Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons. (Applause.)

The CIA has found no evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. Are you going to launch another war on faulty intelligence and lies? It certainly looks that way at the moment. You have done nothing so far to help the creation of a Palestinian state. What you have done is allow Israel to continue to build illegal settlements on Palestinian land. You have also starved the Palestinian people, a collective punishment on them for democratically electing a government that you (and Israel) don’t like. Until that is put right there is no chance of security for Palestinians and Israelis. In Afghanistan the Taliban is resurging and looking impossible to completely defeat. By attacking Iraq you took your eyes off the ball. And as for your efforts to achieve a “Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons“, well, I seem to remember North Korea testing a nuclear bomb not too long ago… yet another miserable failure Mr Bush.

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January 21, 2007

Spot The Obstacle to Peace

Filed under: Bush, Iran, Iraq, israel, Syria, US Politics — netherworld @ 9:54 am

Amidst all the turmoil in the Middle East, there are some attempts being made in certain diplomatic circles to try and stabilise the region. One country however seems to be doing its level best to scupper these small efforts. No prizes for guessing who it is.

DUBAI (AFP) – Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is urging the United States to talk with Syria, claiming in an interview that Damascus “supports” Iraq in fighting the insurgency.
Source

DAMASCUS (Reuters) – Syria on Saturday condemned insurgent attacks on the U.S.-backed Iraqi army and security forces, describing them as “terrorism”, in another shift in the Damascus government’s position toward its neighbour.
Source

BERLIN (AFP) – US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has reiterated Washington’s opposition to talking to Syria or Iran to get their help in easing unrest in Iraq.
Source

Here’s some other examples that I referred to obliquely in a previous post.

Israeli officials have confirmed that the Foreign Ministry knew about a series of peace talks that have taken place in Europe between Syrians and an Israeli team headed by a former senior diplomat. The teams discussed Israel handing back the Golan Heights, which it has occupied since the Six Day War in 1967, to Syria under a formula providing for President Bashar Assad to stop giving support to Hamas and Hizbollah and to distance his regime from Iran.
Source

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The White House denied media reports that Israelis and Syrians reached understandings for a peace treaty in secret unofficial talks over the past two years.
Source

Oh, and there’s this.

Iran offered the US a package of concessions in 2003, but it was rejected, a senior former US official has told the BBC’s Newsnight programme.

Tehran proposed ending support for Lebanese and Palestinian militant groups and helping to stabilise Iraq following the US-led invasion.
Source

And these are just examples of what has been happening on various diplomatic fronts. Only a lunatic would want the various wars in the Middle East to continue, only a lunatic could think that a disastrous policy can be put right by repeating it, and only a lunatic would want to start yet another war in the region. Unfortunately, a lunatic is running the United States of America.

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