Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'm back, and the Constitution has not gotten any better

Sandy Levinson

I have now returned from Australia, a refreshingly democratic country in many respects, though the Australian Senate emulates one feature of our own in giving each of the six states equal representation (12 senators). This means that Tasmania has the same representation as does the approximately 25 times greater population of New South Wales. One decidedly attractive aspect of the Senate, though, is that it is selected through proportional representation, which means that a number of parties, beyond the two major parties, as in the House of Representatives, are represented in the "upper house." But, for now at least, enough about the Australian constitution.

Alas, the US Constitution looks no more attractive on my return than it did when I left over a month ago. Indeed, the current imbroglio over Georgia indicates why we are so ill-served by those parts of our 18th century document that have proved impervious to any kind of Ackermanian or Griffinian non-Article V amendment. Begin with the fact

that George Bush is both basically an ignoramus about the history and politics of Russia and Georgia and the very lamest of lame ducks. If one really takes seriously some of the fevered rhetoric that has been used in regard to the invasion of Georgia, one might believe that we would want a far more informed leader and, more to the constitutional point, one who was not such a lame duck. He may have legal authority, but he has no genuine political authority to make any truly binding commitments in behalf of the US. John McCain is behaving with spectacular irresponsibility, being interested only in winning the election and not at all in forging a complex policy that might make some sense in the world within which we actually live. (I fear that I will offer basically similar criticisms of Barack Obama in coming days, since he also has little incentive actually to ask himself what a responsible President, as against a presidential candidate, would do at the present time.) The debate about expanding NATO to include Georgia is exemplary, alas. Does any non-lunatic believe that what used to be called "the West" should pledge to go to war should Russia make incursions on that particular NATO ally, even if those incursions were arguably triggered by adventurist policies of an inexperienced Georgian president perhaps encouraged by the McCain adviser/lobbyist hired to promote Georgian interests come hell or high water? (Imagine our own response, incidentally, if the late and unlamented Soviet Union in 1962, instead of placing missiles in Cuba, had offered Cuba full membership in the Warsaw Pact and the pledge of military retaliation against the US should we invade the country. Of course, Kennedy did offer a pledge of no-invasion as part of the deal to remove the missiles, but that's another matter. As a constitutional matter, could he really bind future presidents? Does devotion to a promise made to Nikita Khrushchev really explain why we haven't invaded Cuba in the past 46 years?)

Perhaps Senator McCain would be just as truculent were he actually president. But the one thing we can be confident of is that our Constitution, with its byzantine method of electing presidents while keeping in power discredited lame ducks (for a full ten weeks after the election, recall), generates no incentive for candidates to behave responsibly when demagoguery appears to be the best path to election. Another thing we can be confident of, needless to say, is that the person elected, whether McCain or Obama, will quickly break a number of "campaign promises" upon taking the oath of office and discovering that it is finally time to become really serious with regard to the tasks of the presidency. (Indeed, one suspects that they already know some of the "promises" that will be quickly shelved, knowledge they will obviously not be sharing with the country, whatever their commitment to "straight talk" or changing the nature of our degraded political discourse.

Even if one recognizes that far more than our defective Constitution explains the degraded nature of our political "debate," one should recognize that it does nothing whatsoever to help and generates its own harms.


Prof. Levinson:

... though the Australian Senate emulates one feature of our own in giving each of the six states equal representation (12 senators)....

... but they're eminently more sensible people, so they deserve a bit bigger share of "democracy". You know, like the fine folks of Wyoming....


Darn, I had “fix Constitution before Professor Levinson returns from Australia” right here on my to-do list. The time does fly. On the bright side, I was able to “pick up drycleaning” and “mow lawn.”

Fortunately, we have outsourced the Georgian problem to the French. What with their kick-ass Constitution, we can consider that problem solved.

The (at least partially) empirical question is whether some sort of "shadow" government in waiting would be more likely to offer more responsible policy alternatives during the election. My initial hypothesis is yes, but it does seem to be an empirical question. Is anyone familiar with such a study?

It would, of course, be a totally different system of leadership selection, with successful leaders working their way to the top through the party organization. Under such a system neither McCain nor Obama would be the presumptive nominee (and, neither would Bush have been, though his father might well have). The other obvious advantage would be the capability of taking over the government on short notice.

I fear that you've already addressed this in one of your books I've neglected to read, but how, exactly, would you amend the Constitution to obviate (a) the lame duck problem, and (b) generate incentives for candidates to behave responsibly? I gather you'd like a quicker turnaround between Election Day and inauguration, but it isn't November yet, so I don't see how the Constitution's at fault - unless you'd like to repeal the 22nd Amendment? In the first place, I don't see how that would fix our particular lame duck problem; if Bush were allowed to run for re-election, he'd lose by a landslide, so you'd still have a lame duck in office. Second, while I'm sure you would've loved it if Clinton had been able to serve another four or even eight years, the 22nd Amendment has also saved us from third terms for Reagan or Eisenhower - neither of whom were probably healthy enough to serve, both of whom would've covered it up and run anyway if given the chance. As for incentivizing responsible campaigning, I have no clue how that can be done, save by a much more critical press corps than the one we've got.

Well Sandy, I'm pretty sympathetic to your views generally, but it's a little hard to to imaigine how any Constituion could defend us from voters who are willing support an incompetent fool like George Bush or a fascist gangster like Dick Cheney.

I agree with Chaukovsky that it is an interesting empirical question (which I have not sufficiently studied, alas) as to whether "shadow governments" do indeed offer more reasonble policy proposals than do American politicos running for office.

I am ambivalent about the 22nd amendment. Given the powers of the modern presidency, plus the boost that is given any president by the fact that he/she is also head of state, I think that democratic values are served by the limitation. On the other hand, this means that a second-term president not only inevitably loses the clout attached to the possibility of running for re-election, but also doesn't have the incentive of accountability that running for re-election might bring. That is why I am willing to describe a second-term president, especially, as a "constitutional dictator" in at least certain domains.

After the Georgian invasion of South Ossetia, there was a policy vacuum in the US that could have been filled by any influencial politician.

No one filled it. It took nearly 2 days for Bush to formulate a characteristically unhelpful response. Instead, Sarkosy fills it.

The US is friends with Georgia, but Saakashvili doesn't think to tell anyone in the U.S. that he is going to launch a enormous military surprise attack on a Russian proxy territory in his own country? Did he really think the United States takes his campaign promises at face value: as his literal military policy? Did no one (like the CIA) get a sniff about what his aims were, and communicate them to Bush, in order that they might ask Saakashvili explicitly?

Maybe I am giving the US admistration too little credit. Perhaps their aims are partly aligned with Russia. Undermine Saakashvili with first silence, and now comic braggadocio (it is comic: his citizens just have to look at their country now), because he cannot possibly now advance US interests in Georgia.

All constitutional settlements devised by man are as imperfect as is our own nature. All such settlements must of necessity evolve to survive.

In the UK our unwritten constitution evolves, often so gradually that it takes an historian to ascertain with the benefit of hindsight just what the constitutional settlement was at any given point in time, but evolve it has and with increasing speed in the last 50 years.

In other countries the changes are more marked. Consider the history of France from the date of American Independence: 1789 - Revolution; 1792 - 1st Republic (to include the Convention, the Directory, and the Consulate); 1804 - 1st Empire; 1814 - Restoration of the Monarchy; 1830 - July Revolution and Monarchy; 1848 - 2nd Republic; 1852 - 2nd Empire; 1870 - 3rd Republic; 1940 - Vichy Etat Francais; 1944 - Provisional Government (De Gaulle 1); 1946 - 4th Republic; 1958 - 5th Republic (De Gaulle 2 and successors) - and the constitutional amendments passed in July this year were the 24th set of amendments to the Constitution of the 5th Republic and passed by a 1 vote whisker!

Perhaps it is unsurprising that De Gaulle asked in 1962: "How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?"

So in that context, the US Constitutional settlement has proved remarkably stable.

May I suggest that part of the reason for that stability results from the flexibility of the common law inheritance and the influence of Magna Carta - which remains relevant in an era of constitutional change in our own monarchy (see the 2005 address of Lord Woolf Magna Carta: a Precedent For Recent Constitutional Change.

Perhaps Professor Levinson's acute perceptions of constitutional deficiencies are but the consequence of 8 years of an Executive which has not played by the rules - the unwritten conventions which make any constitution work.

In 2003 Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said:

"On the whole, the United States judicial system leaves a favorable impression around the world. But when it comes to the impression created by the treatment of foreign and international law in United States courts, the jury is still out." Justice Sandra Day O’Connor - 28 October 2003

One of the blogs I visit is that of a Justice of the Peace in West London The Magistrate's Blog on which a "lay" Justice of the Peace reflects with much humanity on the woes of our criminal justice system. I was struck by this post on 8th August this year:

"Oh My America!

As I type this I am watching Peter Ackroyd's programme about the Thames, and I have just been stirred by a shot of the memorial at Runnymede, celebrating 'Freedom Under The Law'.

I have been a lifelong admirer of the American dream, one that has delivered freedom and prosperity to unprecedented numbers of people, and has in the last century unselfishly spent blood and treasure to liberate the Europe from which its ideals and principles spring in large part.

That's why Magna Carta struck such a chord. The barbarians who currently hold power in America have junked more than 200 years' worth of freedom under the law in an obsession to avenge the unbearable hurt of 9/11. If the Founding Fathers could see what is being done in their name at Guantanamo, with its travesty of legal process, they would surely weep.

The memorial that moved me to write this was paid for by American lawyers. They owe it to their nation to redress the wrongs now being perpetrated."

I suggest that now in 2008, Justice O'Connor's jury is back.

The problem is that of undue deference by the Courts to the Executive. When the courts abandon their duty in areas where the need for judicial control is well-established - magna carta and habeas corpus issues spring to mind - what hope is there for control of the Executive in other areas?

I was therefore very pleased to read about the sua sponte decision of the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in the Maher Arar civil litigation Center for Constitutional Rights Press Release. Are the US judiciary at last coming to a sense that something has gone terribly wrong ?


The fact that Messrs. Bush and McCain have condemned the Russian invasion of Georgia has nothing to do with our Constitution. Under any democratic system, one will have election promises and one will have lame ducks who do not wish to run again or will be term limited.

As for blaming America first for the Russian invasion, c'mon Sandy. Are you actually arguing that the Georgians deserved to be invaded for desiring to enter into a defensive alliance with NATO? This argument is analogous to asserting that the British were at fault for the Nazi invasion of Poland because it had the temerity to enter into an alliance with a nation bordering Germany.

The problem is that of undue deference by the Courts to the Executive. When the courts abandon their duty in areas where the need for judicial control is well-established - magna carta and habeas corpus issues spring to mind - what hope is there for control of the Executive in other areas?

At least since the Civil War, US courts have always deferred to the Executive during war time and then slowly but surely curbed the excesses as the emergency ebbed. That's tragic for the victims at the time, but the long-term rules have been progressive.

This comment has been removed by the author.

As for blaming America first for the Russian invasion

I read the post 3 times, and I still don't see where the US is blamed for the Russian attack.

I wondered how long it would take Neocon Bart to chip in with the Neocon party line.

The media are allowing the Bush/McSame lot to misrepresent the Russian actions as aggression.

They forget the Georgian attack into South Ossetia on 7th August killing an estimated 2,000 civilians, sending 40,000 South Ossetians fleeing over the Russian border, and destroying much of the capital, Tskhinvali.

That attack was unprovoked and took place a full 24 hours before any Russian soldiers moved into South Ossetia.

It is worth remembering that both South Ossetia and Abkhazia are enclaves where an ethnic minority is in the majority surrounded by a state of which they they do not wish to be a part - much like Kosovo was within Serbia.

I wonder whether McSame people, particularly Randy Scheunemann, whose firm, Orion Strategies, has received $800,000 in fees from the Georgian government over the last four years, did not secretly encourage their protégé Saakashvili to take the fatal step on 7th August with assurances of support which was not and could not be forthcoming just in order to enable McSame to posture as a pro-cold war leader at a critical stage in the election.

This post on the Belgravia Despatch McCain: Let's Compound the Blunder! is worth a read.

There also has to be some understanding of the Russian point of view. Russia had 23 million dead in WW2 - that's nearly 14% of the population as opposed to the 1% of the UK, or 0.32% of the USA. The idea of of satellite buffer zone between Russia and Germany dies hard. They have not forgotten Napoleon either.

We also have to be understanding of Polish and other East European sensibilities. The Poles have no reason to love either Russia or Germany - they lost 16% pf their population in WW2, the Lithuanians 13%, the Latvians 11%, etc.

But that is why I also mistrust Zbigniew Brzezinski on this issue and I am concerned that Barak Obama may be taking this cold-war armchair warrior's advice on this crisis.

This crisis is a playbook straight out of the Brzezinski doctrine: "Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some five hundred years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power. The key to controlling Eurasia is controlling the Central Asian Republics."

This is the guy who declared in 1998:-

"Question: And neither do you regret having supported the Islamic fundamentalism, having given arms and advice to future terrorists?

Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold war?

Question: Some stirred-up Moslems? But it has been said and repeated Islamic fundamentalism represents a world menace today.

Brzezinski: Nonsense!"

Brzezinski is not to be trusted on any matter relating to Russia.

Yes, there may have to be peacekeepers while this problem is sorted - and it may well have to end with a Balkan-style redefinition of boundaries, or some kind of federal approach, but a mainly EU force other than under the NATO banner will be much less objectionable.

And for what it is worth, membership of NATO is not within the sole gift of the United States of America but requires a unanimous vote of the NATO Council.

Both the Bush Administration and the geriatric chappy the Neocons are pushing for president might do well to remember that.


They forget the Georgian attack into South Ossetia on 7th August killing an estimated 2,000 civilians, sending 40,000 South Ossetians fleeing over the Russian border, and destroying much of the capital, Tskhinvali...

South Ossetia is part of Gerogia, thus Georgia could not have "attacked into" its own country.

There was a ceasefire between Moscow supported Ossetian separatists and the Georgians . Both sides claim the other violated the ceasefire.

The only folks who claim that the Georgians killed 2000 civilians and displaced 40,000 more in South Ossetia are the Russians.

The Russians invaded almost immediately after the ceasefire broke down, which implies that they were poised to move and the ceasefire breakdown was a pretext for invasion.

Most of the world is condemning the Russian invasion, not some cabal of neo cons.

Finally, it is amazing that you are defending Russian aggression on the grounds that Russia deserves a buffer territory made up of conquered countries. Are the Russians afraid Armenia might invade?

"The media are allowing the Bush/McSame lot to misrepresent the Russian actions as aggression."

What is it with the left and being apologists for Russian aggression? Did Stalin pay his bribes in the form of annuities, so that you're still being paid off?

Russia engineered a separatist movement in part of Georgia, had them attack the rest of Georgia, and used the Georgian response as a pretext to launch a pre-planned and prepared invasion of the entire country. Even as we write, the Russian forces are continuing their war against Georgia, they didn't even slow down when they negotiated the cease fire.

Oh, and Sandy? It hasn't gotten any worse, either.

There also has to be some understanding of the Russian point of view. Russia had 23 million dead in WW2 - that's nearly 14% of the population as opposed to the 1% of the UK, or 0.32% of the USA. The idea of of satellite buffer zone between Russia and Germany dies hard. They have not forgotten Napoleon either.

While I'm in general agreement with the rest of your post, I don't see how this relates to Georgia. Georgia can't serve as a buffer against Germany, and it's pretty hard to come with some country for which it could. I don't think Russia is worried about a buffer here; it's worried about the actions of the breakaway countries to its west.

Both sides claim the other violated the ceasefire.

That is a complete load of crap. Geogia blatantly tried to use the Olympics as cover for an attack on Ossetia. It blew up in their faces. And now we're supposed to go to war with Russia because of their stupidity? That is completely insane.

BDP: Finally, it is amazing that you are defending Russian aggression on the grounds that Russia deserves a buffer territory made up of conquered countries.

Wha wha whaaa? Isn't the idea of a buffer zone analogous to "protecting American interests"? Aren't you the most vocal proponent of the might-makes-right "international law only applies to those incapable of defending themselves" group on this board?

I have to tell you that one of the shining moments for GWB's foreign policy (and I mean that without any sarcasm) was when he appropriately called the Russian response "disproportionate" and "unacceptable."

In my mind, Russia has clearly--provoked or not--overstepped its bounds. To pretend that such overextensions are a purely Russian characteristic, however, is ridiculous. It boggles the mind that self-appointed representatives of the Right can flip logic so easily without a moment's concern about their own consistency.

I wonder if Brett is sufficiently familiar with the intricacies of Georgian history to support his assertion that Russia "engineered a separatist movement" in Georgia. My impression (and it no more than that) is that ethnic tensions between various groups in Georgia have a long history. See, e.g., Bruno Coppieters, "In Defence of the Homeland: Intellectuals and the Georgian-Abkhazian Conflict," in Coppieters and Huysseune, eds., Secession, History and the Social Sciences, Brussels University Press, 2002. Georgian nationalism, I am afraid, is every bit as virulent as Russian nationalism.

I am curious, incidentally, why the United States is so assertive that the principle of "territorial integrity" applies to Georgia in a way that it did not apply to Yugoslavia or Serbia.

The Russian ambassador has just announced that Georgia can "forget about" recovering its Ossetian territory lost to Russia. It is unknown whether Russia intends to annex the conquered territories or simply create a puppet state.

PMS, your contention that "the idea of [conquering] a buffer zone analogous to "protecting American interests" is nearly as offensive as the contention advanced before that the Russian conquest of Ossetia is somehow the fault of the United States and Georgia.

sandy levinson said...

I am curious, incidentally, why the United States is so assertive that the principle of "territorial integrity" applies to Georgia in a way that it did not apply to Yugoslavia or Serbia.

Yugoslavia disintegrated by the mutual (dis)agreement of the ethnic groups cobbled together by the European powers after WWI. The various parties made historical claims on each other's land, none of which were legally binding. The alternatives were to allow them to continue slaughtering one another to settle the claims or to simply separate the ethnic groups as they stood at the time of the interventions.

There is no comparison between separating the parties after the disintegration of Yugoslavia and Russia's conquest of Ossetia for itself to punish a neighboring country for getting too close to its EU and US rivals.

The Russians do not appear to be content with Ossetia. Russian armor is "patrolling" within 15 miles of the Georgian capital now as the Russians delay signing the ceasefire which the Sec State has claimed they agreed to.

The Russians do not appear to be content with Ossetia. Russian armor is "patrolling" within 15 miles of the Georgian capital now as the Russians delay signing the ceasefire which the Sec State has claimed they agreed to.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 3:00 PM

It sounds like you need to get your ass to Georgia and join the fight.

PMS, your contention that "the idea of [conquering] a buffer zone analogous to "protecting American interests" is nearly as offensive as the contention advanced before that the Russian conquest of Ossetia is somehow the fault of the United States and Georgia.

I'm glad you take offense at the comparison. If I learned anything from my conservative upbringing in the Cold War, it's that we should strive to be better than the Russians. Now get cracking.

Well all this not-so informed debate over Georgia looks like fun, but I'm still a little curious about the original post. You claimed that

the current imbroglio over Georgia indicates why we are so ill-served by those parts of our 18th century document that have proved impervious to any kind of Ackermanian or Griffinian non-Article V amendment

but I'm at a loss as to which parts are serving us so ill. Bush can't very well step down before the election takes place, and even without the 22nd Amendment he'd still be a lame duck, just as Herbert Hoover was a lame duck in 1932. I doubt the party would be so suicidal as to nominate him, so you'd probably have the same exact situation that you have now. The only constitutional reform that could address this problem would be some sort of recall mechanism, or votes of no confidence that trigger elections, but I don't take you to be arguing for such a fundamental change. I should also add that one factor that does ameliorate the lame duck problem a little is that second-term Presidents are typically succeeded as their party's nominee by their Vice President - perceptions of whom are always closely bound up with the approval rating of the President - so that, even if there's not the same amount of accountability that running for re-election produces, there's still an incentive to behave reasonably well so that your party's candidate doesn't become tarnished by association.

The only constitutional reform that could address this problem would be some sort of recall mechanism, or votes of no confidence that trigger elections, but I don't take you to be arguing for such a fundamental change.

Without quibbling about the details, Prof. Levinson does make substantially that argument.

Neocon Bart wrote:-

"South Ossetia is part of Gerogia [sic], thus Georgia could not have "attacked into" its own country."

Of course, secession is a dirty word in the US lexicon - unless you happen to be from one of the "old Southern families of the Confederacy" but this crisis is not in the state of Georgia and there is no General Sherman to scorch the earth as he marches through enforcing the Federal will.

Perhaps someone can take the time to explain to poor dear Bart that the Ossetians are not Georgians but ethnic Russians originally from the Russian plains. They were pushed into the Caucasus mountains by the 13th Century Mongol invasions.

South Ossetians want to join up with their ethnic brethren in North Ossetia, which is an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation. More than half of South Ossetia's inhabitants have Russian passports which gives Russia a legitimate interest in their desire to join up with North Ossetia.

As Professor Levinson, observes, the ethnic tensions between Ossetians and Georgians are of some antiquity. I would add that the whole of the South Caucasus is something of a tinderbox which is why the OSCE has been trying to mediate and keep the peace, not just in Georgia (which has two attempted secessions on its hands) but also in the Armenian/Azeri conflict which may blow up at any time.

Tension has been building since the election of Saakashvili in 2004. He was only prepared to offer South Ossetia some autonomy within a single Georgian state - but in 2006 South Ossetians voted in an (unofficial) referendum to press for complete independence.

No doubt because the Georgian forces were trained by gung-ho US and IDF advisers, the failed Georgian attack made use of air power and missiles in urban territory - the first no-no of any peace enforcement operations (cf Fallujah or Gaza). And don't tell me that the US Military did not know it was going to happen - they surely cannot be that incompetent.

As a consequence of the bungled operation of the Georgians to retake control of South Ossetia, I would put the chances of the Ossetians now accepting mere regional authonomy anytime this millenium at something between 0-5%. Further, in Abkhazia to the west, Sergei Bagapsh has vowed to expel all remaining Georgian forces and Russia has sent thousands of reinforcements, saying it will not allow Georgia to carry out a similar bungled operation on a second front.

The separatists actually have quite a good case in human rights terms and the inept blustering of the Bush Administration, backed by McSame, is not going to make a blind bit of difference. Several years of OCSE efforts to resolve this by peaceful means have been thrown away in a few hours.

My take is that the Russians will stand their ground and continue support for the ethnic Russians. I do not say that their intervention was not a gross over-reaction, but then the Bush Administration has not exactly been a paragon of moderation in its military adventures either.


Good heavens man! Is there any gang of fascist thugs ranging from Baathist butchers, Islamic terrorists and now ex KGB strongmen for which you are not an apologist?

Hitler made the same ethnic arguments as Putin when he conquered Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland to free the Volk.

Your claim that the Georgians encouraged by US military training somehow started this war with Russia is about as believable as the German staged attack by "Polish troops" on August 31, 1939 followed by a German invasion of Poland the next day.

I am going to assume that you are simply ignorant of basic military operations rather than acting as an intentional Russian propagandist, so let me clue you into some basic facts of military life.

It is logistically impossible to gather intelligence for the Russian civilian leadership about this alleged Georgian "invasion" of their own territory, have the civilian leadership make a decision to go to war in Georgia, plan the operation, deploy the troops and then carry out the invasion in only 24 hours. This is especially true with the Russian bureaucracies, which are hardly known for their decisiveness and flexibility.

In order to pull off this invasion of Georgia in only 24 hours after the ceasefire broke down, the Russians (like the Germans before them in Poland) had to have planned the invasion and staged its troops along the border long before the Georgians supposedly attacked Ossetia. The story about the Russians reacting to a Georgian attack was pure propaganda which does not pass the laugh test with anyone with any military knowledge.

BTW, it was interesting that, after you made the excuse that Russia is invading neighbors merely because it needs buffer states to protect it from imaginary invasions, a Russian general made a very thinly veiled threat to nuke Poland if it has the temerity to stage a defensive SDI unit. You never know when an SDI unit might attempt to take Moscow.

long before the Georgians supposedly attacked Ossetia

There was no supposedly about it. Georgia definitely attacked first. Obviously the Russians were ready for it.

As for being an apologist for fascist thugs, there is no one better at that than you.

The story about the Russians reacting to a Georgian attack was pure propaganda which does not pass the laugh test with anyone with any military knowledge.

And yet, that is exactly what happened. The president of Georgia has admitted it. The only laugh test here is getting through the BS you spew on a daily basis.

You never know when an SDI unit might attempt to take Moscow.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 9:29 PM

You were terrified that Iraq was going to attack us.

You and Putin appear to have a lot in common. In fact, the only thing that surprises me about this little war is that you're not on Russia's side. They are acting exactly as you propose that we should act.

"Bart" has the LTM of a garden slug:

["Bart", to Mourad]: I am going to assume that you are simply ignorant of basic military operations rather than acting as an intentional Russian propagandist, so let me clue you into some basic facts of military life.

IIRC, Mourad has already said he has at least as much military service as you, "Bart". You seemed to accept that at one time. Are you now calling him a liar, or do you just have memory deficiencies?

[more "BartSpew"]: Good heavens man! Is there any gang of fascist thugs ranging from Baathist butchers, Islamic terrorists and now ex KGB strongmen for which you are not an apologist?

Hitler made the same ethnic arguments as Putin when he conquered Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland to free the Volk.

Ummm, there was Kosovo....

And then there was Dubya with Iraq (and for that matter, all of the poor Arab countries just 'yearning to be free'...) That is maybe a closer match, because that attack was based on lies, and hardly "freed" anyone (except of their homes and/or lives)


Neocon Bart wrote:-

Good heavens man! Is there any gang of fascist thugs ranging from Baathist butchers, Islamic [sic] terrorists and now ex KGB strongmen for which you are not an apologist?

The suggestion that I am an apologist for the Baath, or for salafist terrorists (to use "Islamic" in this context is a blasphemy), or for the ex KGB is a defamatory libel. If, which I deny, I were indeed an apologist for "fascist thugs", I would be in Bart's camp defending George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the gang of Neoconservative 'loathsome spottted reptiles' for whom Neocon Bart, on his own admission, is a very junior and not very effective shill.

In relation to "Baathist Butchers" Bart conveniently forgets the support given by the Neoconservatives to Saddam Hussein.

September, 1980. Iraq invades Iran. The beginning of the Iraq-Iran war.
February, 1982. Despite objections from Congress, President Reagan removes Iraq from its list of known terrorist countries.
December, 1982. Hughes Aircraft ships 60 Defender helicopters to Iraq (used to gas the Kurds and the Iranians)
1982-1988. Defense Intelligence Agency provides detailed information for Iraq on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for air strikes and bomb damage assessments.
November, 1983. A National Security Directive states that the U.S would do "whatever was necessary and legal" to prevent Iraq from losing its war with Iran.
November, 1983. Banca Nazionale del Lavoro of Italy and its Branch in Atlanta begin to funnel $5 billion in unreported loans to Iraq. Iraq, with the blessing and official approval of the US government, purchased computer controlled machine tools, computers, scientific instruments, special alloy steel and aluminum, chemicals, and other industrial goods for Iraq's missile, chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs.
October, 1983. The Reagan Administration begins secretly allowing Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Egypt to transfer United States weapons, including Howitzers, Huey helicopters, and bombs to Iraq. These shipments violated the Arms Export Control Act.
November 1983. George Schultz, the Secretary of State, is given intelligence reports showing that Iraqi troops are daily using chemical weapons against the Iranians.
December 20, 1983. Donald Rumsfeld, lately Bush Jnr's Defense Secretary, meets with Saddam Hussein to assure him of US friendship and materials support.
July, 1984. CIA begins giving Iraq intelligence necessary to calibrate its mustard gas attacks on Iranian troops.
January 14, 1984. State Department memo acknowledges United States shipment of "dual-use" export hardware and technology. Dual use items are civilian items such as heavy trucks, armored ambulances and communications gear as well as industrial technology that can have a military application.
March, 1986. The United States (with Great Britain) block all Security Council resolutions condemning Iraq's use of chemical weapons, and on March 21 the USA becomes the only country refusing to sign a Security Council statement condemning Iraq's use of these weapons.
May, 1986. The US Department of Commerce licenses 70 biological exports to Iraq between May of 1985 and 1989, including at least 21 batches of lethal strains of anthrax.
May, 1986. US Department of Commerce approves shipment of weapons grade botulin poison to Iraq.
March, 1987. President Reagan bows to the findings of the Tower Commission admitting the sale of arms to Iran in exchange for hostages. Oliver North uses the profits from the sale to fund an illegal war in Nicaragua.
Late 1987. The Iraqi Air Force begins using chemical agents against Kurdish resistance forces in northern Iraq.
February, 1988. Saddam Hussein begins the "Anfal" campaign against the Kurds of northern Iraq. The Iraq regime used chemical weapons against the Kurds killing over 100,000 civilians and destroying over 1,200 Kurdish villages.
April, 1988. US Department of Commerce approves shipment of chemicals used in manufacture of mustard gas.
August, 1988. Four major battles were fought from April to August 1988, in which the Iraqis massively and effectively used chemical weapons to defeat the Iranians. Nerve gas and blister agents such as mustard gas are used. By this time the US Defense Intelligence Agency is heavily involved with Saddam Hussein in battle plan assistance, intelligence gathering and post battle debriefing. In the last major battle with of the war, 65,000 Iranians are killed, many with poison gas. Use of chemical weapons in war is in violation of the Geneva accords of 1925.
August, 1988. Iraq and Iran declare a cease fire.

August, 1988. Five days after the cease fire Saddam Hussein sends his planes and helicopters to northern Iraq to begin massive chemical attacks against the Kurds.
September, 1988. US Department of Commerce approves shipment of weapons grade anthrax and botulinum to Iraq.
September, 1988. Richard Murphy, Assistant Secretary of State: "The US-Iraqi relationship is... important to our long-term political and economic objectives."
December, 1988. Dow chemical sells $1.5 million in pesticides to Iraq despite knowledge that these would be used in chemical weapons.
July 25, 1990. US Ambassador to Baghdad meets with Hussein to assure him that President Bush "wanted better and deeper relations". Many believe this visit was a trap set for Hussein. A month later Hussein invaded Kuwait thinking the US would not respond.

August, 1990 Iraq invades Kuwait. The precursor to the Gulf War.

July, 1991 The Financial Times of London reveals that a Florida chemical company had produced and shipped cyanide to Iraq during the 80's using a special CIA courier. Cyanide was used extensively against the Iranians.
August, 1991. Christopher Droguol of Atlanta's branch of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro is arrested for his role in supplying loans to Iraq for the purchase of military supplies. He is charged with 347 counts of felony. Droguol is found guilty, but US officials deny any knowledge of his crimes.
June, 1992. Ted Kopple of ABC Nightline reports: "It is becoming increasingly clear that George Bush Sr., operating largely behind the scenes throughout the 1980's, initiated and supported much of the financing, intelligence, and military help that built Saddam's Iraq into [an aggressive power]."

July, 1992. "The Bush administration deliberately, not inadvertently, helped to arm Iraq by allowing U.S. technology to be shipped to Iraqi military and to Iraqi defense factories... Throughout the course of the Bush administration, U.S. and foreign firms were granted export licenses to ship U.S. technology directly to Iraqi weapons facilities despite ample evidence showing that these factories were producing weapons." Representative Henry Gonzalez, Texas, testimony before the House.

February, 1994. Senator Riegle from Michigan, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, testifies before the senate revealing large US shipments of dual-use biological and chemical agents to Iraq that may have been used against US troops in the Gulf War and probably was the cause of the illness known as Gulf War Syndrome.

August, 2002. "The use of gas [during the Iran-Iraq war] on the battle field by the Iraqis was not a matter of deep strategic concern... We were desperate to make sure that Iraq did not lose". Colonel Walter Lang, former senior US Defense Intelligence officer tells the New York Times. The role of the US in the development of Iraq's biological weapons programme has already been put in issue in the US Congress. But it has not been given overmuch attention in the US mass media. It appears that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the non-profit American Type Culture Collection sent samples of live germ warfare agents to Iraqi sites that UN weapons inspectors later determined were part of Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program.

When asked in a Senate hearing by Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) about reports that Hussein acquired bio-weapons materials from the US, US Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said he had no knowledge of it.

""We have a paper trail," Byrd retorted. "We not only know that Iraq has biological weapons, we know the type, the strain, and the batch number of the germs that may have been used to fashion those weapons. We know the dates they were shipped and the addresses to which they were shipped. We have in our hands the equivalent of a Betty Crocker cookbook of ingredients that the US allowed Iraq to obtain and that may well have been used to concoct biological weapons."

This chronology of the United States' sordid involvement in the arming of Iraq can be summarized in this way: The United States used methods both legal and illegal to help build Saddam's army into the most powerful army in the Mideast outside of Israel. The US supplied chemical and biological agents and technology to Iraq when it knew Iraq was using chemical weapons against the Iranians. The US supplied the materials and technology for these weapons of mass destruction to Iraq at a time when it was know that Saddam was using this technology to kill his Kurdish citizens. The United States supplied intelligence and battle planning information to Iraq when those battle plans included the use of cyanide, mustard gas and nerve agents. The United States blocked UN censure of Iraq's use of chemical weapons. The United States did not act alone in this effort. The Soviet Union was the largest weapons supplier, but England, France and Germany were also involved in the shipment of arms and technology.

Neocon Bart would be ill-advised to contest the proposition that support for "Baathist Butchers" was a hallmark of both the Reagan and the Bush Senior administrations until Saddam turned his attentions to Kuwait.

Even after Saddam gassed the Kurds in 1988, the Bush Snr administration thought it proper to keep sending weapons to Iraq.

According to House Committee on Government Operations report "Strengthening the Export License System," from July 18 right up until the day Iraq invaded Kuwait, the Bush administration approved of $4.8 million in advanced technology product sales to Iraq -- the end-user being Iraq's Ministry of Industry and Military Industrialization (MIMI), which was identified in 1988 as a facility for Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs report, "the Reigle report" stated that the US last delivered a pathogen to Iraq on 28th November 1989. Business Week has reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director sent former Sen. Donald Reigle a list of "all biological materials, including viruses, retroviruses, bacteria and fungi, which CDC provided to the government of Iraq from October 1, 1984, through October 13, 1993." Not a pretty record, but matched by other US allies including France, Germany and the United Kingdom

When a truce between Iraq and Iran was arranged, Iraq found the war had cost it dear. Its $30 billion in foreign currency reserves had been converted into debts of $80 billion, owed largely to the Gulf monarchies and Western powers. The Iraqi oil industry had been crippled from Iranian attacks and oil revenue had declined substantially. The Bush Administration had expected Iraq to reward it for the support it had provided during the Iran-Iraq war. It had hoped there would be preferential opportunities for US interests in the post-war state. As these failed to materialise, US opinion started to swing against Iraq. A 12th January 12, 1990 State Department policy document set the new tone. After stating that in the Gulf region, “For the US, the starting point is oil,” the document concluded that while it might be preferable to support an important regional ally, there was no power suitable for that role. It said:-

"“The US was comfortable with actively supporting the Iranian build-up in the 1970s because (1) we trusted Iran and (2) Iran was willing and able to assume the role of defender of our oil interest. The US trust in Iran was based on mutually shared perceptions on the nature of the Soviet threat, about the need to preserve the political status quo in the Gulf, and about the importance of Israel’s security. While the US is prepared today to act unilaterally to defend its interests in the Gulf, in an ideal world it would be preferable to do so in concert with a friendly, regional hegemon. However, none of the Gulf powers have (a) the capability to play that role and (b) share a vision of Gulf order with which we are comfortable. Iraq, for example, might meet requirement (a) - especially for the northern Gulf - but not (b). Saudi Arabia meets requirement (b) but not (a).”

The document concluded noting that a “key objective” will be to “force Saddam to make hard choices.”

The Bush Senior Administration expected Saddam Hussein to reward the USA by creating a more favourable climate for the US oil majors to operate in Iraq. As is by now well known, in a move which can only be characterised as insane, Saddam Hussein elected to invade Kuwait, thereby forfeiting all the support he had received from the West and the Arab World in his war against Iran. Saddam may even have believed that the USA would stand by and allow this to happen.

He could not have been more mistaken. George Bush Senior was to characterise the move as "a betrayal". There followed the 1st Gulf War, in which a large coalition with UN support proceeded (largely at Saudi-Kuwaiti expense) to liberate Kuwait.

[It appears from Bart's that Neocon Bart's only active service during his military service was a drive-on role in the rout of Saddam's army]

But for whatever reason, the Bush Senior Administration was not prepared to topple the Saddam Hussein regime. In very little time, George Bush Senior assembled a massive international coalition and, with the full support of the United Nations, Saddam Hussein's forces were removed from Kuwait. The reasons why George Bush Snr elected to leave Saddam Hussein in power at the end of the 1991 Gulf War were hotly debated. It is now generally accepted that this was at the behest of Gulf States in the coalition who did not want to risk a majority Shia administration which would support the Shia in their own states in a post-Saddam Iraq and made this a condition of their financial underwriting of the US costs of going to war.

[Well, Bush Junior has achieved a majority Shia administration in Iraq]

On February 15, 1991, speaking to a crowd of workers on the floor of a U.S. munitions factory, President George H. W. Bush declared, "...The Iraqi military and the Iraqi people [should] take matters into their own hands and force Saddam Hussein the dictator to step aside."

On learning of this, the dissident Shi'a Arabs in the south of Iraq rebelled. The Kurds in the north rebelled also. Within three weeks all the Kurdish area was in revolt, the towns of Ranya, Sulemaniye, Arbil, Dahuk, Aqra, and Kirkuk were under Kurdish control, and the province of Mosul was under siege. The Global Security web site is one of the best-informed and most reliable non-classified sources of information on military and security matters. This is an extract from their page on Operation Provide Comfort:-

"The massive defeat of the Iraqi military machine tempted the Iraqi Kurds to revolt against the Baghdad regime. Encouraged by American radio broadcasts to rise up against their ‘dictator’, the Kurds of northern Iraq rebelled against a nominally defeated and certainly weakened Saddam Hussein in March of 1991. Shortly after the war ended, Kurdish rebels attacked disorganized Iraqi units and seized control of several towns in northern Iraq. From the town of Rania, this sedition spread quickly through the Kurdish north. Fear of being drawn into an Iraqi civil war and possible diplomatic repercussions precluded President Bush from committing US forces to support the Kurds.

Within days Iraqi forces recovered and launched a ruthless counteroffensive including napalm and chemical attacks from helicopters. They quickly reclaimed lost territory and crushed the rebellion.

Knowing the possible repercussions of further actions by Iraq, more than one million refugees headed toward the mountains of Iran and Turkey. Conditions deteriorated rapidly as crowds grew by the hour. There was no food, shelter, or water. It was still winter in the mountains, with temperatures plunging far below freezing each night. Press reports indicated as many as 3 million people fleeing, with the Iraqi Army still in pursuit. By April 2nd over a million Kurds had fled Iraq (approx. 800,000 Kurds in Iran, 300,000 in southeastern Turkey and another 100,000 along the Turkish/Iraq border. By the first week of April, 800 to 1,000 people, mostly the very young and the very old, were dying each day."

If the Bush Senior Administration had determined that that it could not proceed into Iraq and secure the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, why on earth were there "American radio broadcasts encouraging an uprising against the Iraqi dictator" ?

There were undoubtedly deals struck between the neighbouring Gulf states (notably Saudi Arabia and Kuwait), who were financing the war, about the post-war status of Iraq. Also the Government of Turkey had always been paranoid about separatist movements among its own Kurdish population. These considerations may well explain the reference in the Global Security report to "possible diplomatic repercussions" preventing assistance to the Kurds.

But the CIA above all organisations ought to have been well aware of Saddam Hussein's propensities - in particular acts of mass murder - and with that knowledge, then inciting the population to rebellion without having any intention of providing assistance was a thoroughly unprincipled and irresponsible act. An act of betrayal.

Saddam Hussein turned his Republican Guard on the Kurds and crushed the uprising. As the Republican Guard proceeded, well over a million Kurds fled in unprecedented numbers to the Turkish and Iranian borders. Iran accepted the Kurdish refugees, but Turkey refused them entrance. Refugees on the Turkish border were stranded on mountainsides exposed to the winter weather, and because trucks could not reach them there was a desperate lack of food and materials from which to build shelter. Turkey allowed foreign journalists into the area, and the world watched as thousands of Kurds died.

Western governments responded by dispatching supplies through Turkey and by direct airdrops to the refugees. Turkey's President Turgut Ozal proposed that the United Nations take over territory in northern Iraq and establish a safe haven for the Kurds but this did not proceed. At a European Community meeting in Luxembourg, Britain's Prime Minister John Major presented a proposal for a protected Kurdish enclave; the plan was endorsed by the other European leaders, and about a week later was endorsed by the United States as well. The operation which resulted from the Major government's proposal was known as Operation Provide Comfort and essentially it involved declaring the area of Iraq above the 36th parallel, which includes Arbil, Mosul, Zakho, and Dahuk, as a "no-fly zone" prohbited to Iraqi aircraft. The no-fly zone was regularly patrolled by aircraft from the United States, Great Britain, France, and Turkey, mainly from NATO bases in Turkey. The initial operation was titled "Operation Provide Comfort" which was in time replaced by "Operation Northern Watch".

The present leadership of Georgia would do well to remember the perfidy of the Reagan/Bush Senior administrations in relation to the Kurds. They were encouraged in their uprisings and, when push came to shove, they were left to die in their thousands gassed from aircraft with chemical and biological weapons supplied by the USA.

They should remember that the same Neocons are in the policy driving seats and they might see a certain parallel in the declaration of US Defense Secretary Gates ruling out any military intervention in Georgia.

I very much suspect that having been encouraged to confront Russia (certainly by the McSame camp if not more directly), the Georgians have now been hung out to dry - just like the Kurds were.

Neocon Bart also wrote:-

"Your claim that the Georgians encouraged by US military training somehow started this war with Russia is about as believable as the German staged attack by "Polish troops" on August 31, 1939 followed by a German invasion of Poland the next day.

"The story about the Russians reacting to a Georgian attack was pure propaganda which does not pass the laugh test with anyone with any military knowledge. It is logistically impossible to gather intelligence for the Russian civilian leadership about this alleged Georgian "invasion" of their own territory, have the civilian leadership make a decision to go to war in Georgia, plan the operation, deploy the troops and then carry out the invasion in only 24 hours. This is especially true with the Russian bureaucracies, which are hardly known for their decisiveness and flexibility."

The trouble with that assertion is that everyone with an interest in the region (except, apparently, Neocon Bart) well knew that this was coming.

Start with an article by Dimitri Trenin of the Carnegie Foundation dated 13 October 2006 from which the following passages are extracts:-

"Georgia, a country of some 4 million residents, confronts the immensely bigger Russian Federation. Yet, Georgia is obviously seeking to change the status quo despite the vehement opposition of its much mightier neighbor. Key to Georgia’s success is to have the world to accept what Tbilisi has been saying all along, i.e. that there is no Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, nor a Georgian-Ossetian one. Instead, there is a conflict between Georgia and Russia, which resents Georgia’s independence and self-determination, and wants to subjugate it again.

From this perspective, provoking Russia into strong-arm moves, ideally the use of force, though also ideally on a small scale, would appear smart. Once the Russians start shooting (and, however incredibly, there are still some Russian enthusiasts around of a “small and glorious war” in the Caucasus), the conflict could be transformed, and Russia would lose any pretence to being a neutral arbiter/peacemaker, staying above the fray. Russia would also lose any remaining “moral equivalence” with Georgia in the eyes of the Western public.

Georgia, by contrast, would be able to turn to the West, in particular the U.S., for support, arguing that it had become a front-line state facing a revisionist power on its doorstep. To the West, this would mean that the conflict would have outgrown not only the internal Georgian dimension, but also the Georgia-Russian one. Eventually, Russia will be seen as a rogue state on a rampage.

The United States would then have to lead an international effort to make Russia retreat. Should this be successful, Russia would suffer a major humiliation, and her recent assertiveness in the CIS would be placed in check, and her recent gains reversed. This in turn would open the way to a new era of peacekeeping/conflict resolution in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, this time under the auspices of a Western-led international organization. Russian peacekeepers would be replaced by others, drawn from NATO member states (esp. in the Black Sea region) and some CIS nations, such as Ukraine....

U.S. policies with regard to Georgia are linked to the prospects of promoting democracy and Western orientation in the South Caucasus/Black Sea region, and assuring a secure corridor for transporting Caspian oil and gas to Europe. At the same time, the U.S. seeks to prevent Russia’s resurgence as the hegemonic power in the region. Thus, U.S. and Russian interests clash where it comes to geopolitics and geo-economics.

In this situation the U.S. has a choice. One option would be to continue a policy of restraint, making sure that direct military confrontation between Georgia and the two separatist enclaves, and between Georgia and Russia is avoided. Thus, it was U.S. pressure that was reputed to be behind the Georgian decision to release the four Russian officers soon after their arrest. This policy would particularly seek not to antagonize Russia. The calculation here is, that, given time and a certain measure of Western and protection, Georgia can evolve into a stable country, a friend and ally of the U.S., and do so without much cost as to U.S. relations with Russia.

Another option would be a much riskier policy of backing Georgia all the way, and forcing Georgia’s Western integration on an enraged Russia. This policy would inevitably raise U.S.-Russian competition to a new pitch, make it much less “soft”, and logically lead to embracing containment of Russia across the board. This, in turn, would result in a major shift in Russia’s foreign policy toward direct opposition to the U.S. As a result, the post-Cold War pattern of relations among the major powers would become not merely more competitive, but, in the case of Russia and the U.S., more adversarial and actually hostile. Then, somewhere not too far down the road, Russia would be back as a foreign policy priority for the United States, but in a negative way.

[perhaps prophetic analysis ?]

Then this article dated 4th August 2008 [3 days prior to the Georgian Offensive in South Ossetia] by Liz Fuller published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty:-

Is Georgia Gearing Up for Armed Intervention in South Ossetia?

The authorities of the unrecognized breakaway Republic of South Ossetia have rejected three times, most recently earlier this month, successive offers by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to grant the region "the broadest autonomy" within a unitary Georgian state. On 25 and 26 July, Georgian officials accused South Ossetians acting under orders from Russian military intelligence of staging a car bombing in central Georgia in February that killed three people, and they alleged that the same group of saboteurs has missiles capable of shooting down aircraft. Could those allegations herald an imminent military operation to bring South Ossetia back under Tbilisi's control?

Taking the oath of office in January 2004, Saakashvili pledged to restore Georgia's territorial integrity by bringing its three former autonomies back under the control of the central government.

Saakashvili succeeded within months in triggering the ouster of Aslan Abashidze, the authoritarian leader of the Republic of Adjara (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," 11 May 2004). Following last August's spectacular failure to repeat that scenario on the first attempt in the South Ossetia, Saakashvili unveiled in his 21 September 2004 address to the UN General Assembly a plan for resolving peacefully Tbilisi's decade-old conflicts with South Ossetia and Abkhazia by offering the two regions "the broadest conceivable autonomy" within a unitary Georgian state. But the leaders of both unrecognized republics rejected that offer out of hand (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," 24 September 2004). Saakashvili repeated that offer on two subsequent occasions. In a speech to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in January he again offered "the broadest autonomy" to both South Ossetia and Abkhazia (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," 28 January 2005).

Saakashvili stressed that under the model he proposed, South Ossetia would enjoy a greater degree of autonomy within Georgia than does its neighbor, the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, within the Russian Federation.

Saakashvili explained in his address to PACE that Tbilisi's proposal comprises "a constitutional guarantee of autonomy, that includes the right to freely and directly elected local self-governance -- including an executive branch and a parliament for South Ossetia. South Ossetia's parliament will...control...issues such as culture, education, social policy, economic policy, public order, the organization of local self-governance and environmental protection." South Ossetia would also, Saakashvili said, have representatives in the national government, parliament, and judiciary. He further said Tbilisi is ready to discuss with the South Ossetian leadership "innovative ideas" including free economic zones, and to permit that leadership to tailor its economic policies to local needs.

Saakashvili proposed a three-year transition period during which a mixed Georgian-Ossetian police force would be set up under the guidance of international organizations, and the South Ossetian army would be absorbed into the Georgian armed forces. He appealed to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Council of Europe, the EU, the United States, and Russia to support and facilitate the peace process.

But South Ossetia's President Eduard Kokoity again rejected Saakashvili's offer, arguing that South Ossetia is an independent state, if not recognized as such. When Saakashvili convened an international conference in Batumi earlier this month to discuss his South Ossetian peace initiative, both South Ossetia and Russia, which commands the three-nation peacekeeping force deployed in the South Ossetian conflict zone since 1992, failed to send representatives. (Kokoity's personal representative Vazha Khachapuridze was quoted by the Georgian newspaper "Rezonansi" on 15 July as saying Kokoity has his own proposals for ending the conflict. Those proposals have not yet been made public, however, although Kokoity may have discussed them with Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh during their talks in Gagra on 26 July.)

Addressing the Batumi conference on 10 July, Saakashvili said he is prepared to have South Ossetia's autonomous status formally written into the Georgian Constitution. He also offered South Ossetia 15 minutes of airtime on Georgian public television and radio, and to pay pension arrears that have accrued since the conflict was effectively frozen in 1992, reported. International participants at the Batumi conference lauded Saakashvili's offer, as did OSCE Chairman In Office Dmitrij Rupel, according to Caucasus Press on 14 July. But that international endorsement may have been prompted at least in part by relief that Saakashvili had stopped trying to portray the standoff over South Ossetia as one between Georgia and Moscow, and thus play the international community off against Moscow in his favor.

Moreover, the very term "autonomy" is so totally discredited across the former Soviet Union that any conflict-settlement proposal based on it is bound to be rejected, as Akhmed Zakaev, European envoy of slain Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov, pointed out in an analysis posted on in August 2004. Zakaev noted that within the Soviet Union, the so-called autonomous republics and oblasts, including the Chechen-Ingush ASSR (and the South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast), provided minimal concessions to the specific needs of the titular nationality or ignored those needs totally, a policy that instilled in the Chechens and Georgia's Ossetians the impression that they were "second-class citizens."

Nor are residents of South Ossetia unlikely to have been swayed by Saakashvili's pledge to formalize the region's autonomy within the Georgian Constitution. Many of them will remember how the Georgian parliament in late 1990 abolished with one stroke of the pen South Ossetia's status as an autonomous oblast within Georgia, in direct violation of a pre-election pledge by then Georgian leader Zviad Gamsakhurdia.

In addition, South Ossetian leaders have on several recent occasions expressed concern at the measures taken by Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili since his appointment to that post late last year to strengthen the Georgian armed forces (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," 22 July 2005). Okruashvili was born in Tskhinvali, the South Ossetian capital, and as interior minister played a prominent role in the abortive assault on South Ossetia in August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 27 August 2004). He has consistently taken a more hawkish stance on South Ossetia than has Saakashvili.

Tensions in the South Ossetian conflict zone have worsened in the past two months as the result of the shooting by Georgian police of several alleged Ossetian criminals and the abduction in retaliation of four Georgians in early June. Those events have fuelled the perception, both among outside observers and within the Georgian Army, that Tbilisi will launch a new military offensive once it is convinced that the South Ossetian leadership has rejected all possibilities for resolving the conflict peacefully. Georgian Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili's allegations on 25 July that Ossetians perpetrated a series of terrorist atrocities in Georgia, and on 26 July that they have weaponry capable of downing civilian aircraft, could be intended to provide the rationale for such an operation."

If Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (financed by the US Informationn Agency) well know what was going on, I find it very hard to believe than not one of its 20 million listeners was located inside the Department of Defense, the State Department or within its former sponsor, the CIA.

And if, through sheer bloody incompetence, the Administration had its eye off the ball, does any one imagine that the Russians do not listen pretty assiduously to broadcasts from a US semi-official source on matters on which they have an interest?

It may also be interesting to refer to to Turkish press op-eds published yesterday - to be found in translation on the Turkish Daily News site. Turkey has a very great interest in the conflict because of the transit of the Baku-Tiblisi-Ceyhan piplies through Georgia.

Here is just one extract by foreign affairs commentator Semih Idiz:-

"One is of course justified in questioning Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili's intelligence as a leader. It is not clear what drove him to believe that provoking the Russian bear would not rebound on his small and powerless country.

Of course the explanation is that the United States egged him on in such a way that he got overconfident and believed that the Americans in particular would come to his assistance no matter what.

If this indeed is the case, it is truly naive.

What is also disturbing from Turkey's point of view is the idea that Saakashvili got his courage from his notion that a strategic project like the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, or BTC, would be enough to rally the West in military support of his country against Moscow. If true, this means that he was looking at the BTC as a device by whose means he could promote his political agenda. As far as Ankara is concerned, on the other hand, this is a project which not only has great significance for Turkey, but for the whole region's development.

This in turn requires added effort on the part of all concerned to ensure stability in the region, and stay away from anything that could increase instability in an already highly volatile part of the world. Rather than contribute to stability, Saakashvili did the opposite. There is no way of course, that this could be pleasing for Turkey.

So it must be writ large that the Georgian leader played a terrible poker game and lost badly, including most likely having lost South Ossetia and Abkhazia for good.

Having said all this, one has to also underline the fact that there is absolutely no logical justification for the overreaction by Moscow which, if it had not been prevented by growing international pressure, would no doubt have gone as far as occupying Tbilisi, until some kind of a pro-Russian puppet regime was established there.To think that Washington would risk going to war with Russia over tiny Georgia means that even if you sit in the driver's seat, you have not taken note of the realities that go to make up the road you are traveling on."

To which commentary I add that there is very little doubt that McSame and his campaign team have played a role in his for McSame's benfit - not Georgia's. This post is alreadly overly long, but I refer anyone interested to Robert Sheer's piece Georgia War a Neocon Election Ploy?

Some may think that this has little relevance to Professor Levison's original post - I disagree - the Founding Fathers did not contemplate an Executive which could operate totally out of control. They wished an Executive less powerful and more accountable than that of the mother country which had abused their loyalty. I wonder whether that can be remedied within the US constitutional settlement which I think worked very well until the advent of the "military/industrial complex" of which Eisenhower warned.

See also Michael Dobbs in the Washington Post:
We Are All Georgians? Not So Fast

There goes Lisa's bro's weekend preparing to respond to Mourad, point by point, while his DUI clients are drying out.


Before we continue the discussion, please use links and abbreviated quotes rather than filibustering here with 8000 word unattributed quotes from wikipedia.

1) When it appeared that Iran could very well win the war with Iraq, take Iraqi oil fields to the south and thereby threaten the Gulf OIl, the US provided some minor assistance to Iraq to check Iran. The US has no problem, nor should it have a problem, supporting one dictatorship against another in a war if it serves our national interest. We did so supporting Stalin to check Hitler.

2. The slanders about the US knowingly assisting Iraq with its chemical weapon manufacture and use against Iran have no basis. You are welcome to cite primary eyewitness or documentary evidence of this if you can. Wikipedia or unsubstantiated claims by reporters without personal knowledge are not primary sources.

3. Not taking affirmative action to block sales of goods to Iraq is not the same as affirmatively supporting the government.

4. George I's encouragement of the Shia and Kurds to rebel followed by our withdrawal was a betrayal of the first degree. I was present on the ceasefire line when Saddam was slaughtering the Shia and the local towns people begged us to stay as we pulled out to go home, abandoning many of them to death and mass graves. This is why I have been so adamant that we finish the job this time around while you have been more than willing to allow the terrorists to continue where Saddam left off.

5. The argument that the US somehow encouraged the Georgians to provoke Putin's invasion is an obscene lie that does not improve with repetition.

6. The fact that those privy to Russia's ambitions "knew the invasion was coming" does not excuse it. The Western Allies also knew that Hitler would not stop with Czechoslovakia. Your apologia for Putin is not becoming more persuasive.

7. Finally, you have descended into paranoid conspiracy theories with the nonsense about the US somehow causing the Russian conquest of Georgia to influence the US elections. I am sure you also believed that George I also negotiated with the Iranians to keep the US hostages until Reagan had won the election. Pathetic.

Mourad left out the Iraqi attack against the USS Stark. It worth asking oneself how Iraq was able to get away with this. The Reagan administration strongly supported Saddam through his worst atrocities, even to the point of allowing him to get away with killing three dozen American sailors. One sign of how pathetically low some "patriots" will sink is their defense of Saddam for killing these sailors and nearly sinking the Stark.

To gain some understanding of how supportive Bush senior was of Saddam Hussien, you can look at the New York Times story about how Bush was angering congress in his support of the dictator. According to the New York Times, "There was widespread indignation on Capitol Hill last month when the Bush Administration publicly urged lawmakers to resist growing sentiment to punish Iraq economically after President Hussein's recent threat to attack Israel with chemical weapons." ("U.S. Weighs Sanctions on Iraq Over Baghdad's Oil-Dispute Tactics", NYT, July 27, 1990, Section A; Page 2, Column 1; Foreign Desk).

The Reagan and Bush administrations were highly supportive of Saddam, so much so that he could blow up an American ship and threaten Israel with chemical weapons, and still receive backing of the successive administrations.

Some of the readers of this blog need to go back and look at the record.

This comment has been removed by the author.


The Reagan and Bush administrations were highly supportive of Saddam, so much so that he could blow up an American ship and threaten Israel with chemical weapons, and still receive backing of the successive administrations.

You have to understand: That is realpolitik (the same stuff that has had us supporting the most milgnant thugs across the globe the last half century). Here's how "Bart" 'explains' it:

["Bart"]: The US has no problem, nor should it have a problem, supporting one dictatorship against another in a war if it serves our national interest. We did so supporting Stalin to check Hitler.

Stalin being, of course, the big bugaboo of 'Merkun RW political thought, the one that killed more millions that Hitler ever did (when such assertion suits their purposes). But no matter, an enemy's an enemy when convenient, and an ally when convenient. No principles need apply.

Of course, the other sentence in that paragraph by "Bart" gives the game away:

["Bart"]: When it appeared that Iran could very well win the war with Iraq, take Iraqi oil fields to the south and thereby threaten the Gulf OIl, the US provided some minor assistance to Iraq to check Iran.

"What's our oil doing under Mossadegh's/the Ayatollah's/Saddam's sand....."

... said sentiment being responsible for the present Iranian antipathy to us (see Stephen Kinzer's "All The Shah's Men" for the sanguinary details).


It is amusing observing the libs here spin themselves silly opposing the US when it did and did not act militarily against Iraq.

The only logical consistency in these contradictory position is that they always oppose the United States.

Why is that?


I note you do not deny any one of the facts set out for your consideration.

Here are a first set of reference - none from Wikipedia:-

1. December 30, 2002
2. Jonathan Broder. Nuclear times, Winter 1990-91
3. Kurt Nimno. AlterNet. September 23, 2002
4. August 29, 2002
5. ABC Nightline. June9, 1992
6. Counter Punch, October 10, 2002
7. Riegle Report: Dual Use Exports. Senate Committee on Banking. May 25, 1994
8. Timeline: A walk Through Iraq's History. U.S. Department of State
9. Doing Business: The Arming of Iraq. Daniel Robichear
10. Glen Rangwala. Labor Left Briefing, 16 September, 2002
11. Financial Times of London. July 3, 1991
12. Elson E. Boles. Counter Punch. October 10, 2002
13. Iran-Iraq War, 1980-1988.
14. Columbia Journalism Review. March/April 1993. Iraqgate
15. Times Online. December 31, 2002. How U.S. Helped Iraq Build Deadly Arsenal
16. Bush's Secret Mission. The New Yorker Magazine. November 2, 1992
17. Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia: Iran-Contra Affair
18. Congressional Record. July 27, 1992. Representative Henry B. Gonzalez
19. Bob Woodward. CIA Aiding Iraq in Gulf War. Washington Post. 15 December, 1986
20. Case Study: The Anfal Campaign.



The following is a list of the US suppliers of WMD material to Iraq - taken from the expurgated version of Iraq's WMD declaration pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1441

Honeywell - Spectra Physics - Semetex - TI Coating - Unisys - Sperry Corp - Tektronix - Rockwell - Leybold Vacuum Systems -
Finnigan-MAT-US - Hewlett-Packard - Dupont - Eastman Kodak - American Type Culture Collection - Alcolac International - Consarc -

Carl Zeiss - U.S - Cerberus (Ltd) - Electronic Associates - International Computer Systems - Bechtel - EZ Logic Data Systems, Inc. - Canberra Industries Inc. - Axel Electronics Inc.

US Gov AEC Labs at Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Sandia.

You may recall that no sooner had the Iraqi Declaration been delivered to the UN there was an undignified scramble by the Bush Administration to "sanitise" it before delivery to the non-permanent members of the Security Council. It appears that many pages were removed from the expurgated version. There has never been a satisfactory explanation of why the declaration was given by the UN to the USA at all, nor of what the removed pages contained. The expurgated report was delivered to the elected members of the Security Council in time for their meeting on 19th December 2002. Reuters news agency quoted a diplomat as saying that the USA felt disclosure of the names of suppliers could be embarassing.

Necon Bart wrote:-

"The US has no problem, nor should it have a problem, supporting one dictatorship against another in a war if it serves our national interest."

More realistically, the problem has been that the "New American Century" of the Neoconservatives has been very happy to support dictatorships whenever it was perceived to be in the US interest to do so and "the US interest" has nearly always been defined as the economic interest of US corporations rather than the interests of the American people.

Bart may recall that in about 14 BC, Augustus, the first and the greatest Roman Emperor, caused to recorded and published throughout the Roman Empire a summary account of his long reign which is perhaps the most famous Latin inscription surviving from the pre-Christian era. The surviving copy is inscribed on marble in a building which was a temple of Augustus in Ankara, the capital of modern Turkey. It is believed the original was inscribed on 6 tables on bronze pillars in front of the Mausoleum of Augustus in Rome. It is known as the Res Gestae Divi Augustus There are cribs available of which this is one on the MIT web site The Deeds of the Divine Augustus translated by Thomas Bushnell

The Neocons have canonised Reagan but this is to view his era through some very rose-tinted spectacles. I wrote a Res Gestae for Reagan while watching the Gipper's funeral on TV (I may have posted this before - if so, please excuse the repetition)

The Res Gestae of Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the United States of America

"1. In my 26th year, I became a film actor making 53 files over a 20-year film career. In World War II, I served my country in Hollywood with the US Army and Army Air Force making over 400 training films for the Army Air Force and leaving active service with the rank of Captain.

2. After World War II, my fellow screen actors elected me to the presidency of the Screen Actors' Guild entrusting me with the defence of the members' interests. Those I considered to be my enemies because of their political views, I drove into exile by my testimony as a friendly witness on 23rd October 1947 before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

3. Although in 1950 I campaigned for the California Democratic candidate in her race against Richard Nixon for the US Senate, in 1952 and 1956, I supported the Republican candidate for the presidency leading a movement known as "Democrats for Eisenhower".

4. In 1954 I was hired as a propagandist by the mega enterprise, General Electric Corporation, and I hosted television shows and much else. My training at GEC honed my communications skills and in 1960 I once more worked to seduce Democrats from allegiance to their party's candidate by campaigning under the label of "Democrats for Nixon".

5. My time with GEC gave me an important understanding of how business operates. GEC fired me because I had in error criticised the Tennessee Valley Authority whose commercial favour GEC wished to have. Understanding that the business of America is business and that the political process cannot function without the gold of the corporations, in the same year I switched my formal political allegiance to the Republican Party.

6. In 1964 I gave my final film performance in "The Killers", in which for the first and only time in motion pictures, I played the bad guy. I then turned to full-time bad guy work as co-chair of California Republicans for Senator Goldwater. In my speech - A Time for Choosing I attacked the wicked Lyndon Johnson's Great Society programme which sought to give unnecessary wealth to the poor and deprived plebeians by means of the monstrous expedient of taxing the wealth of the corporations and the rich citizens. My speech served to to convince many right-wing millionaires that I had the communications skills to "sell" Neoconservatism to the American plebs.

7. With the financial support of my rich business friends I ran for the office of Governor of California and was accorded the victor's laurels by the voters of that state. Upon assuming office in 1967, I rewarded my business friends by imposing on the state a 10% reduction in expenditure thus reducing the ability of the impoverished to obtain luxuries such as mental health care and education which were unnecessary for their station in life.

8. The people of California rewarded me in 1970 by re-electing me as Governor of their state. In my second consulate, I removed 300,000 plebeians from the public dole. However, I was unable cut taxes and was forced to impose on Californians the largest tax increase any state had ever demanded in American history.

9. I was loyal to President Nixon, only admitting that he had deceived the American people on 6th August 1974 three days before he resigned to avoid the indignity of impeachment for his high crimes and misdemeanours. I refused office under Gerald Ford because I thought him too liberal and I challenged him for the Republican nomination in 1976 but was defeated.

10. In the1980 presidential race I vied with the incumbent President, one Jimmy Carter, who had not learned the lesson that morality is a luxury that presidents cannot afford. My friends rewarded me with $10.6 million of "independent" contributions to the campaign while my opponent received only an inconsequential $28,000. The American plebs rewarded me with their trust and I was sworn into office on 20th January 1981 as the 40th President of the United States of America.

11. Despite an inherited Federal deficit of $100 billion I launched a programme of tax cuts for the rich and of cuts in welfare and social programmes for the poor which created a new underclass of severely disadvantaged people in American society. At first I had difficulty in getting my plans through Congress but I was helped by a failed assassination attempt. During my two terms in office I managed to almost triple the Federal Deficit. Thanks to my fiscal policies, by 1st November 1982, I succeeded in putting nearly 9 million Americans out of work, the highest number since the Great Depression. By 1st January 1983 I had caused the jobless total to reach the new height of 11.5 millions.

12. On 8th March 1983, I delivered my great Evil Empire speech before a gathering of so-called evangelical Christians. Considering that such people claim to follow the misguided teachings of some nonentity or other from far off Judea, whom it appears they call by the ludicrous title of "Prince of Peace", my oration was received surprisingly well. It is of course the great state contracts for weapons which enable the corporations to make profits and therefore my Strategic Defense Initiative, which the plebs called "Star Wars", was very well received by the merchants, although foolish scientists claimed that no workable weapon was capable of deployment.

13. In August 1982, I sent US Marines to Lebanon to keep peace between warring Lebanese factions, but on 23rd October 1983, 241 US Marines were killed by a suicide bomber. O Varus, give me back my legions !

14. I gave enthusiastic support to many generals and military leaders from the lands of Latin America, among them the generals of Argentina and El Salvador, General Pinochet of Chile, General Montt of Guatemala and the Contras of Nicaragua. All these valiant warriors were fighting foolish governments elected by ignorant people infected with the democratic virus. With my support and the weapons I supplied, the warriors were able to slay thousands and, wondrous to behold, made many of their people simply disappear.

15. Notwithstanding the legal prohibition on the funding actions in support of the Nicaraguan Contras which some foolish senators and representatives of the plebs in the Congress enacted by the ludicrous Boland Amendment to the War Powers Act, I continued to give the Contras my support. In my State of the Union Address of 9th May 1983, I sought the support of Congress against the lawfully elected Sandinista government and described the Nicaraguan Contras as "freedom fighters". In that speech I also announced support for the Mujahhidin in Afghanistan. When Congress did not support my plans for Nicaragua, I caused my spies to arrange clandestine funding of the Contra's heroic efforts, inter alia, by the secret sale of weapons to Iran.

16. In pursuit of my crusade against communism, I did not hesitate to overthrow foreign governments. On 25th October 1983 I invaded the sovereign state of Grenada and subdued its foolish leaders, an act regrettably declared to have been an unlawful aggression by the UN General Assembly. I was forced to use my supreme authority to veto a similar foolish resolution in the UN Security Council.

17. The arrangements I made for my spies to conduct covert actions in support of the Iran Contras later caused the United States of America to be found to have acted unlawfully by the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Fortunately, these judges have no armies at their disposal and I was able to treat their judgment with contempt.

18. In December 1983 I sent a certain Donald Rumsfeld as my envoy to repair relations with Saddam Hussein the dictator of Iraq and provide him with assistance and support in his battles against the wicked Iranians. I later approved the sale of "dual use" equipment to him which unfortunately he used to gas some Kurdish barbarians who apparently did not appreciate the benefits of Iraqi citizenship. But thus it was that I benefited our great merchants by arranging the sale of arms to both sides in the Iran-Iraq war.

19. In 1984 I reviewed the Kirkpatrick Doctrine of my UN Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick. The stupid woman had attempted to justify my support for Third World dictatorships with bad human rights records with a philosophy based on the dubious proposition that the communist states which the United States opposed were "totalitarian" regimes while the third-world dictatorships which the United States supported were but "authoritarian" ones. I have never liked logomachy. The Kirkpatrick doctrine was strongly criticised by some ignorant liberals among the senators because it involved a little bloodshed, perhaps quite a lot, and even though my dictator allies were, for quite moderate pension contributions, creating a favourable climate for US corporations to do much lucrative trade with the countries they controlled. In a stroke of genius I was inspired to reformulate Kirkpatrick's babblings as the Reagan Doctrine, which stated that the USA would henceforward support any anti-communist insurgency. By this means the state could still support right-wing dictatorships and more generally any insurgents against any government I disliked. It was sufficient to decree that my enemies were communists.

20. On 11th August 1984, I mistakenly quipped into a microphone that I thought was off air, "My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes". A few liberals were unhappy but I received a surprising number of missives supporting the concept.

21. On 4th November 1984 and in my 73rd year the American plebs rewarded me with supreme power for a further 4 years. At the election I received 59% of the popular vote, 49 states and 525 electoral college votes. My forlorn opponent Walter "Fritz" Mondale was supported by only one insignificant state with miserable 10 electoral college votes. Geriatrics can still rule.

22. The Reagan doctrine enabled me on 27 March 1985 to sign off on National Security Directive 166 authorising assistance to the Mujahiddin in Afghanistan which seemed like a good idea at the time. If these barbarians had succeeded in killing off all the Russian soldiers from the evil empire we would have rejoiced and we should find it easy to exterminate them later should they prove troublesome.

23. Throughout my presidency I was careful to ignore the AIDS epidemic which is actually beneficial since it attacks persons who indulge in unnatural vice. Unfortunately in October 1985 I was compelled to announce that I would make AIDS research a priority when some lovesick matrons learned that a certain faggot named Rock Hudson had died of the disease. I 'prioritised' the research by cutting funding for it.

24. I authorised the bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi in April 1986 in retaliation for the bombing of a disco in Berlin where a US serviceman was killed. These rag-heads need to be taught lessons in a manner they understand and slaughter of their women and children from the air is always effective. I learned that from Saddam Hussein.

25. On 25th November 1986, my Attorney General was forced to admit that between $10-30 million earned from illegal arms sales to Iran had been equally illegally diverted to aid the Contras. Since impeachment seemed a distinct possibility, I appointed a Commission with orders to review matters as slowly as possible. When I was compelled to testify to the Tower Commission I was unfortunately suffering from amnesia and was unable to assist them in clarifying the role of my underlings. On 26th February 1987, the Tower Commission Report was delivered to me. I arranged for it to be printed and sold by Bantam Books. It concluded that, "confused and unaware", I allowed myself to be misled by dishonest staff members who organized the trade of arms to Iran for hostages held in Lebanon and pursued a secret war against the Nicaraguan government. The report charged that I had failed to "insist upon accountability & performance review" allowing the National Security Council process to collapse. The impertinence of these people. Unfortunately for my enemies I could still appeal to the American plebs. A model defence to executive branch wrongdoing is set out in my 1987 Iran Contra speech which should serve as a useful example for my Republican successors.

26. On 19th December 1986 my enemy Lawrence Walsh was appointed independent counsel to investigate Iran Contra and what little is in the public domain about Iran Contra is now documented in the Walsh Report.

27. In my Brandenberg Gate speech of 12th November 1987, I make a bid for the credit for détente with the Soviet Union. My words: "General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" went down well with my ever credulous sheeple. After all it was only two years since my spiritual guide Margaret Thatcher had told me after she had met Dear Gorby in 1985 that he was a man we could do business with. How wise dear Margaret is, such a comfort to me and, unlike my devoted Nancy, she has no truck with astrologers.

28. On 8th December 1987, Gorbachev and I signed the INF treaty, which only eliminated 4% of the our nuclear arsenals but it was the first U.S.-Soviet treaty to provide for destruction of nuclear weapons and to provide for on-site monitoring of the destruction. Leading conservatives were critical of the treaty, but I think it was a good idea.

29. My good friends Oliver North, John Poindexter, and two others were indicted by a federal grand jury on 16th March 1988 on charges of conspiring to defraud the U.S. government by secretly providing funds and supplies to the Contra rebels fighting the government of Nicaragua. These ignorant lawyers simply do not understand that we must support our allies. Fortunately, documents can be classified and presidential pardons can be procured.

30. On 31st May 1988 I did my question and answer bit at Moscow State University beneath gigantic bust of Lenin. "We do not know what the conclusion will be of this journey, but we’re hopeful that the promise of reform will be fulfilled. In this Moscow spring, this May 1988, we may be allowed that hope: that freedom, like the fresh green sapling planted over Tolstoy’s grave, will blossom forth at last in the rich fertile soil of your people and culture." I forget who Tolstoy was. Certainly I remember no ally of that name.

31. I did my bit of campaigning for George Bush Senior. I did not consider he would long survive as President since he was too much the gentleman, but he was my faithful deputy and in any event I needed him to grant some presidential pardons after the inauguration. The plebs duly elected him as my successor on 8th November 1988 and he delivered the pardons I had sought.

32. On 11th January 1989, I delivered my Farewell Speech to the American people from the White House.

33. On 5th November 1994, I informed my loyal subjects that my amnesia had in fact been diagnosed as Alzheimer's disease and that I was withdrawing completely from public life. It appears my memories will gradually fade to nothing so at least no-one else will be able to ask me any more impertinent questions. This was my 83rd year."

The point I am trying to make is that it was the failure of the late President Reagan to observe and uphold the rule of law and to practise what he preached which must exclude him from the ranks of the great Presidents of the United States.

It is the like failure of his Neoconservative spiritual heir, George Walker Bush, which make him unfit for the high office he presently holds.

Neocon Bart would have people drink the Kool Aid and vote for more of the McSame.

The only logical consistency in these contradictory position is that they always oppose the United States.

Well, you could try looking for a moral consistency.

Jesus was a liberal, after all.


I note you do not deny any one of the facts set out for your consideration.

Which part of my previous blanket denial did you not understand?

The slanders about the US knowingly assisting Iraq with its chemical weapon manufacture and use against Iran have no basis

Here are a first set of reference - none from Wikipedia

None of these sources provides any primary source evidence of what I denied.

The following is a list of the US suppliers of WMD material to Iraq - taken from the expurgated version of Iraq's WMD declaration pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1441

All dual use civilian equipment which could potentially be converted to WMD was included on this list, whether it was or was not in fact converted and whether the suppliers had any knowledge of wrongful Iraqi intent.

However, by concluding that the equipment was intended for WMD manufacture by the Iraqis in order to make the false accusation that the US also knew Iraq would wrongfully convert the equipment, you are doing a good job admitting the legal basis for the subsequent liberation of Iraq the following year for violation of the 1991 Ceasefire.

It is an interesting conundrum you have constructed for yourself.

BTW, your Reagan sour grapes written as the entire world - friends and former rivals alike - paid homage to the man who fundamentally changed the world for the better is humorous.

mattski said...

The only logical consistency in these contradictory position is that they always oppose the United States.

Well, you could try looking for a moral consistency.

It is morally consistent to avoid war until the enemy makes it clear that he will not relent peacefully.

BTW, Jesus dealt with the spiritual rather than the temporal and advised to render unto Caesar those things which are Caesar's because, in the end, they are meaningless in the spiritual world. Those of all persuasions who cite Jesus as a supporter of their political creed miss his point entirely.

It is morally consistent to avoid war until the enemy makes it clear that he will not relent peacefully.

"Makes it clear," eh? To who? Persons of sound judgement or persons crippled by fear and other unwholesome desires such as greed?

Here's another way to look at it, Bart: If I--we--employ unprovoked aggression, as Bush did against Iraq, then I have given license to anyone else to do the same. Bush's actions sent a clear message to the world: it's a free-for-all and let brute force rule. For violence is the solution to our problems.

The LA Times reporting today has largely put the lie to the claims of Russia and its apologists.

> The Russians started the deployment for their invasion of Georgia last April after Georgia asked for membership in NATO.

> HRW cannot find the 2000 Ossetians which Russia claimed and some here happily parroted the Georgians massacred 12 hours before the invasion. HRW can only confirm 44 dead, without mention of whether the dead were separatist combatants. However, HRW is having no trouble finding the victims of the Russian invasion all over Georgia.

> Far from encouraging Georgia to retake its own province of Ossetia as some here have claimed, the State Department specifically warned Georgia against giving the Russians an excuse to invade, notifying them that they were not yet members of NATO and there would be no aid.

As I stated from the outset, Ossetia was merely an excuse for Russia to launch an invasion which was planned and staged months previously to punish Georgia for getting too close to the West. Georgia 2008 = Poland 1939.

Pointing out a fact about world events is not the same as opposing the United States. That seems obvious, but amazingly some people don't seem to understand that.

There are uncontroversial facts about U.S. support for Saddam. In this case its particularly easy to find out about the enthusiastic support because of the public record. It's similar to the record of supporting mujahedeen terrorists, or "freedom fighters" as they were known back then - if you take your head out of the sand you can go back and find congressmen literally boasting about the amount of aid shipped to these guys. The NYT quoted a figure of $2 billion (by the end of the 80's) of public money, excluding covert aid, as the amount of assistance given to islamic fundamentalist mujahadeen. Of course, there's the Rambo movie, too.

Pointing this out doesn't somehow logically imply that one opposes the United States (sorry to all the minimally intelligent readers, but these things have to be pointed out for some on this discussion thread). As Langsetmo pointed out above, some people have an enemy-of-my-enemy "realist" approach to endorsing foreign policy. So supporting Saddam while he tortured and massacred his own people is perfectly acceptable, as long he was doing something for our side.

It's not a principled approach, and it reveals stunning hypocrisy when these same folks try to appeal to the evilness of Saddam as a reason to attack Iraq.

Obviously its especially pathetic to see when someone continuously gets caught doing so, only to try to change the subject to the inconsistency of "libs" who point out awkward facts.

At least a minimally consistent "realist" would say that he or she doesn't care what Saddam does to "his own" people (ignoring what the Kurds and Shia might think about that label), and try to justify policy toward Iraq in terms of costs and benefits to the United States, or whatever country he happens to support.

Of course if you are a befuddled half-wit, far away from being a realist, you might have neither understanding of history or U.S. foreign policy . . . which would explain the confused and almost random references to moral considerations mixed with arguments from the necessity of maintain American power.

Bart wrote:-

"However, by concluding that the equipment was intended for WMD manufacture by the Iraqis in order to make the false accusation that the US also knew Iraq would wrongfully convert the equipment, you are doing a good job admitting the legal basis for the subsequent liberation of Iraq the following year for violation of the 1991 Ceasefire."

Not so. Everything Iraq declared on its WMD list was supplied before the invasion of Kuwait. Therefore Iraq had complied with UNSC Resolution 1441 - which is why the joint US/UK inspection teams found no WMD post invasion.

On 15th September 2004, Kofi Annan was interviewed on the BBC world Service. He pointed out that the invasion was not sanctioned by the UN security council or in accordance with the UN's founding charter. A treaty signed by the USA. The interviewer then asked him if he was saying the the war was illegal. He replied: "Yes, if you wish." He then added: "I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN charter. From our point of view and from the charter point of view it was illegal."

The world is in consequence now a more dangerous place. The rule of international law established after WW2 has been substituted by war at the whim of the President of the United States. And this has not escaped the notice of the Russians and the Chinese.

As I noted earlier on this thread, Russia has the memory of two invaders, Napoleon and Hitler, both of whom nearly succeeded. Russia has always wanted therefore to have buffers between it and potential enemies.

Given the US willingness to go to war without UN authority, Russia does have strategic reasons not to want NATO to right up to its borders.

The following are quotations from the article in the LA Times to which Bart refers states:-

"The whole world community tried to convince Georgia not to do this," the European diplomat said. "But someone crossed the border."

At the Pentagon, the first inkling of what was to come was a small sign: U.S. military trainers who were working to prepare Georgian troops for their upcoming deployment to Iraq at a training base in Vaziani, just southeast of Tbilisi, suddenly found themselves without students. "When their units didn't show up, or at least didn't show up in force," a senior military official said, "there was an indication something unusual was going on."

Within hours, war engulfed the southern Caucasus. The U.S.-trained and -equipped Georgian troops took Tskhinvali and began defeating the Russian troops. "The first 12 to 20 hours, Georgia had the momentum," the European diplomat said. "It controlled almost all of South Ossetian territory."

But Russian troops and fighter jets began quickly swarming into South Ossetia, Abkhazia and ultimately Georgia. Russians dispatched two special forces units, though independent analyst say it is difficult to determine whether the Russian commandos were in place coincidentally because of a military exercise the previous week or were brought in specifically for a war.

"It was a huge miscalculation on the part of our government," said Tornike Sharashenidze, an analyst at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs. "They underestimated the possible reaction."

Indeed, and there is another straw in the wind: Since 1992 UN Peacekeepers have been on the cease fire line between Abkhazian and Georgian forces. On 9th August they withdraw at the request of the Abkhazian authorities. Under the terms of the EU brokered cease-fire, Russia may take "additional security measures" in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Medvedev is reported in the Turkish press on Saturday as saying that Russia was the "guarantor" of the interests and lives of those in South Ossetia and Georgia's other separatist region of Abkhazia.

"We don't want to cut relations with anyone, but nevertheless I'll tell you that we have fulfilled and will continue to fulfil our peacekeeping mandate. If someone continues to attack our citizens, our peacekeepers, we will of course respond in just the same way we have responded. There should be no doubt about this."

I expect that means that Russian troops inside the two enclaves won't be going anywhere soon.

My guess is that the NATO Council may not be happy to admit Georgia as a member for so long as the South Ossetia and Abkhazia disputes are unresolved.


Our national interests in the Middle East are twofold - (1) protecting the oil on which our economy relies and (2) promoting democracy in the area to promote peace under the theory that democracies do not attack one another and are less likely to create terrorist movements.

The war between the Iraqi and Iranian dictatorships was a war between two evils. Supporting the lesser of the two evils (Iraq after it started losing the war) to check the greater evil (Iran within spitting distance of the oil which we rely) is hardly a wrong. The alternative would have been worse.

The Persian Gulf War and its completion in the Iraq War was more clear cut. There was only one evil in both wars. Iraq directly threatened his neighbors and the oil upon which we relied. After a decade of ceasefire, that threat had not diminished. Liberating Iraq served both of national interests in the region.

"Bart" is confoozed:

It is amusing observing the libs here spin themselves silly opposing the US when it did and did not act militarily against Iraq.

The only logical consistency in these contradictory position is that they always oppose the United States.

Nonsense. There's a difference between an ill-advised and illegal invasion of a country (based on lies), and a healthy reluctance to actually go shake their hands and give them aid. Despite "Bart"'s descent into logical fallacies (the fallacy of bifurcation here), one could both oppose Saddam, think he's a ruthless dictator, and also think the U.S. should not go manufacturing excuses to go in and overthrow him, creating turmoil in that region, and getting many thousands killed (including well over 4000 U.S. soldiers).

The approach that lacks consistency is that of supporting him and helping him, and then going to war and overthrowing him.


... as the entire world - friends and former rivals alike - paid homage ...

You can count me out of that hagiographic orgy, "Bart". And FWIW, I don't think it unseemly to speak ill of the dead (perhaps something that stayed many a tongue) when the dead are malevolent criminals and thugs (mere incompetence and stoopidity I will let slide, as such is -- in many cases -- an inherent attribute refractory to any attempts at self-improvement).


"Bart" blasphemes:

BTW, Jesus dealt with the spiritual rather than the temporal...

Misrepresenting the views of a certain Essene Jew hardly shows any familiarity with the teachings of such. Go read your Bible, "Bart". There's a lot there that you have yet to learn ... if you want to understand his lessons.

Just a few hints: Search:

"without sin"

"other cheek"

"closet" and "pray"


["Bart"]: Our national interests in the Middle East are twofold - (1) protecting the oil on which our economy relies....

... as I said above, "what's our oil doing under Iraq's sand?"

"Bart"'s probably sufficiently clueless so as to not recognise the original line from where that paraphrase came from.


BTW, Jesus dealt with the spiritual rather than the temporal...

Then what in tarnation did he go dispensing all that temporal advice for?

Um, I mean fer!?

Bart wrote:-

"Our national interests in the Middle East are twofold - (1) protecting the oil on which our economy relies and (2) promoting democracy in the area to promote peace under the theory that democracies do not attack one another and are less likely to create terrorist movements."

Why did George W. Bush choose to invade Iraq? When one is dealing with a personality like that of George Bush Junior it is dangerous to assume that the President's reasons for any particular course of action would have been entirely rational.

Several sympathetic books about Bush and his faith make a big deal of his deciding to run for president after hearing a Texas minister named Rev. Mark Craig preach about how Moses had been called to service by God. Bush's mother reportedly turned to her son after the sermon and said, "He was talking to you." Stephen Mansfield, author of The Faith of George W. Bush, goes on to say: "Not long after, Bush called James Robison (a prominent minister) and told him, 'I've heard the call. I believe God wants me to run for President.' " Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention heard Bush say something similar: "Among the things he said to us was: I believe that God wants me to be president."

After 9/11, the sense among his supporters that God had chosen him increased. "I think that God picked the right man at the right time for the right purpose," said popular Christian broadcaster Janet Parshall. Gen. William "Jerry" Boykin, who got in trouble for derogatory comments about Islam, argued that it must have been God who selected Bush, since a plurality of voters hadn't. "Why is this man in the White House? The majority of America did not vote for him. He's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."

Time magazine reported, "Privately, Bush talked of being chosen by the grace of God to lead at that moment." World Magazine, a conservative Christian publication, quoted White House official Tim Goeglein as saying, "I think President Bush is God's man at this hour, and I say this with a great sense of humility." And, of course, Bush himself is reported as saying that he heard a voice telling him to invade: "God told me to strike at al Qaida and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did." - Bush to Mahmood Abbas, quoted in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

What may distinguish George Bush Jr from the late and unlamented Saddam Hussein, is that Saddam Hussein certainly never had much regard for the religion he claimed to profess other than as a propaganda tool - as opium for a believing people, while Bush may indeed believe that his 'voices' really do come from the Almighty.

I believe that the Bush/Blair "Enterprise of Iraq" had its origins in decisions taken many years ago, particularly under the presidency of the late Ronald Reagan, the first truly Neoconservative Administration in the USA.

Iraq was an artificial creation out of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I. Like all countries in the Gulf it was exploited for its oil wealth and foreign policy of both the European powers and of the USA towards the country was often driven by the major oil companies.

The Baath Party was installed in an endeavour to keep the country away from the Soviet bloc and in the interests of the oil majors. President Reagan chose to arm the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, to fight a proxy war with Iran.

George Bush Senior wrongly expected the USA to be rewarded with pro-Western policies in return for US support during the Iran-Iraq war - instead, Saddam Hussein chose to make a grab for the oil wealth of Kuwait. There followed the lengthy stand-off of the UN Sanctions - which impoverished the people of Iraq but had little effect on the dictatorship.

On 31st March 2003 Time Magazine published First Stop Iraq an article suggesting that Bush had decided to "take out" Saddam by March 2002.

But former Treasury Secretary, Paul O'Neill, provided the material for a savage memoir of his time in the Bush White House ("The Price of Loyalty, by Ron Suskind") which something of an embarrassment for the Administration. According to O'Neill, just 10 days after the Bush inauguration and eight months before the 11th September 2001 terrorist attack on the USA, removing Saddam Hussein was "Topic A" on the president's list of priorities.

"It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying: 'Go find me a way to do this'," O'Neill told CBS television. He also told Time magazine: "In the 23 months I was there, I never saw anything that I would characterise as evidence of weapons of mass destruction."

And Mr O'Neill's revelations to Mr Suskind included thousands of pages of documents, including a Pentagon memo entitled "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts" which includes a list of foreign companies eyeing Iraqi oilfields and maps potential areas for exploration.

This has reinforced claims that key figures in the Bush Administration, and in particular Vice-President Cheney, the oilman-turned-Vice-President had an unhealthily close relationship with corporate America and in particular with its oil industry which led them to push for regime change in Iraq for reasons unconnected with any threat from weapons of mass destruction.

There can be no doubt that, in part, the underlying rationale for the decision was intimately connected with the long standing US strategy of doing almost anything to ensure security of access to oil supplies from the Arabian Gulf.

By the end of World War I, it had became apparent that the US oil and gas reserves were not such as to enable the USA always to remain self-sufficient. This position has deteriorated since World War II. Cheap oil and gas had fed the extraordinary post-war boom and since World War II, the US Department of Defense has always been paranoid about the security of oil supply.

Historically, the USA has been concerned to ensure access, not just in terms of the ability to purchase oil at the terminal of an exporting state like any other purchaser but also in terms of controlling a number of the exporting states so that oil will never be denied to US purchasers as a political or economic weapon. It has sought to do so by supporting regimes which were "friendly" to the US oil majors and it has in the past acted to change regimes it thought were inimical to those interests - notably in Iran and Iraq. It also wishes for economic reasons to keep the price it has to pay for oil as low as possible.

This has been a policy common to all US post-war administrations and doctrinally what the policy means is that the USA wants to have oil supplies in at least two overseas countries in the hands of US corporations. Another facet of the doctrine is that there should be at least one source available to the USA in the Western Hemisphere and another separate one in the Eastern Hemisphere. Hence the propensity of the USA also to interfere in the politics of Latin-American producing countries (eg Venezuela) as well as in the Arabian Gulf.

In the years between the two world wars of the last century, US policy on oil was to protect its domestic market from foreign influence while seeking to break up the colonial agreements in the Middle East which reserved oil concessions to the European colonial powers. After the Aramco finds in Saudi Arabia, Aramco practically wrote the Middle East part of the State Department's briefings on foreign policy.

The greed of all the international oil companies led to the Middle East nations taking national control of exploration and production, increasingly confining the international majors to downstream operations.

But there is insecurity of supply if countries inimical to you can turn the taps on and off whenever they like. America has never forgotten how the oil embargo brought Japan into World War II.

In the immediate post-war period, the USA was self-sufficient in oil. When the Aramco finds in Saudi Arabia were first made, the USA did not need to import oil and Aramco had to sell its production to Europe - which needed it but had no dollars to pay for it. Some very complex barter deals had to be worked out.

Not for the mighty USA the obligation (which its economic rivals Japan and China have) of finding the totality of their oil supply from third countries paying the world market price of the day. US strategic policy is to control the oil under the ground and of the valves at the point of shipment so that, if necessary it can direct the supply towards the USA at prices below the world market price.

Self-sufficiency is no longer the US position and that is a major US strategic worry. As the figures below show, US dependency on Gulf oil is set to increase rather than decrease. But the real prize is Chinese dependency on Gulf oil. Chinese dependency on Gulf oil is set to skyrocket and the USA would very much like to be in control of that dependency.

That means having US companies in control of sufficient production - and at the moment US companies control no Mid-East production and are confined to downstream trading operations.

If one looks at the US Energey Information Administration's web site page Persian Gulf Background, one finds the following summary:

In 2006, the Persian Gulf countries (Bahrain, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) produced about 28 percent of the world's oil, while holding 55 percent (728 billion barrels) of the world's crude oil reserves. In 2006, the Persian Gulf countries combined exported 18.2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) including about 17 million bbl/d via the Strait of Hormuz representing roughly one-fifth of world oil supply. The group exported the remaining oil via pipelines through Turkey to the Mediterranean and Saudi Arabia to the Red Sea. OECD gross oil imports from Persian Gulf countries averaged about 10.4 million barrels per day (bbl/d) during 2006, accounting for 31 percent of the OECD's total net oil imports. U.S. gross oil imports from the Persian Gulf were 2.2 million bbl/d during 2006, accounting for 17 percent of the US total net oil imports. Besides oil, the Persian Gulf region also has sizeable reserves (2,509 trillion cubic feet -- Tcf) of natural gas, accounting for 41 percent of total proven world gas reserves.

In 2002-3 the US Energy Information Administration was warning of the growing problem of consumption: These are notes I took from the web site in 2003:-

1. In the projections for the International Energy Outlook 2002 (IEO-2002), world energy consumption was projected to increase by 60 percent over a 21-year forecast horizon, from 1999 to 2020. Worldwide energy use grows from 382 quadrillion British thermal units (Btu) in 1999 to 612 quadrillion Btu in 2020. That projection has been revised upwards for the 2003 Outlook to 640 quadrillian Btu. Demand for Petroleum continues to grow.

2. Despite the events of the past year, much of the growth in worldwide energy use is still expected in the developing world, as it has been in past editions of the Outlook. In particular, energy demand is developing rapidly in Asia, where demand for energy is expected to more than double over the forecast period. An average annual growth rate of 3 percent is projected for energy use in developing Asia, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the total projected increment in world energy consumption and 69 percent of the increment for the developing world alone.

3. Throughout the past several decades, oil has been the world’s dominant source of primary energy consumption, and it is expected to remain in that position with a 40-percent share of total energy consumption over the 1999-2020 period. The oil share of the world energy pie does not increase in the forecast because countries in many parts of the world are expected to switch from oil to natural gas and other fuels, particularly for electricity generation. Its share of total energy consumption is expected to remain constant because of its predominance in the transportation sector, where energy use is projected to grow robustly over the next two decades.

4. In 1999, developing nations consumed 58 percent of the amount of oil consumed in the industrialized world, but by 2020 they are expected to consume almost 90 percent as much oil as the industrialized world. In urban centers of the developing world, car ownership is often seen as one of the first symbols of emerging prosperity. Per capita motorization in much of the developing world is projected to more than double between 1999 and 2020, although population growth is expected to keep motorization levels low relative to those in the industrialized world. For example, the U.S. per capita motorization level in 2020 is projected at 797 vehicles per thousand persons, but in China—where motorization is expected to grow fivefold over the forecast horizon—the projected motorization level in 2020 is only 52 vehicles per thousand persons.

5. World oil consumption is projected to increase by 2.2 percent annually over the 21-year projection period, from 75 million barrels per day in 1999 to 119 million barrels per day in 2020 requiring an increment to world production capability of almost 44 million barrels per day relative to current capacity. Oil movements to industrialized countries represented more than 70 percent of the total petroleum exported by OPEC member nations and almost two-thirds of all Persian Gulf exports. By the end of the forecast period, OPEC exports to industrialized countries are estimated to be about 6.2 million barrels per day higher than their 2000 level, and more than half the increase is expected to come from the Persian Gulf region.

6. OPEC petroleum exports to developing countries are expected to increase by more than 17.0 million barrels per day over the forecast period, with more than half of the increase going to the developing countries of Asia. China, alone, is likely to import about 7.2 million barrels per day from OPEC by 2020, virtually all of which is expected to come from Persian Gulf producers. North America’s petroleum imports from the Persian Gulf are expected to almost double over the forecast period.Petroleum product consumption in North America is projected to increase by 10.3 million barrels per day from 1999 to 2020, at an average annual growth rate of 1.8 percent. This is by far the largest expected increase among the industrialized regions.

The conclusions which flow from the public EIA documents were inescapable. Both world and US dependency on the Arabian Gulf as a source of oil supply was set to increase.

While the United States was importing 55% of its daily petroleum consumption, only 28% came from OPEC countries and only 14% from the Middle East Gulf States. By contrast, Japan must import all its petroleum. 86% came from OPEC countries and 79% from Gulf States.

Furthermore, the dependency of Asia on Arabian Gulf oil was set to increase even more dramatically than the US dependency. US dependence on supplies from the Arabian Gulf region was set to double over the years to 2020.

European operators have seen the writing on the wall and are co-operating with OPEC producers in new forms of partnership, but the far right habits of the controlling minds of the US majors die hard - which is why they are so influential in the Bush Administration. The US is also worried by the increasing role of the Euro as an international trading currency. It does not like the prospect of oil being traded in a currency other than dollars. The reason is that for so long as international trade is conducted in dollars, the USA can export part of its deficit to the countries obliged to trade internationally using its currency. Oil is the major international trade commodity. Thus the more production US companies control, the slower the inevitable decline in the use of the US dollar as the international trade currency.

A key to an understanding of the Bush Administration's energy policies is a report entitled "Strategic Energy Policy Challenges For The 21st Century" commissioned by James Baker, the former US Secretary of State under George Bush Snr, and submitted to Vice-President Dick Cheney in April 2001 - a full five months before September 11. The report was commissioned and written by the experts of the US oil and energy industries and it did not mince its words:-

This Independent Task Force Report outlines some of the hard choices that should be considered and recommends specific policy approaches to secure the energy future of the United States. These choices will affect other U.S. policy objectives: U.S. policy toward the Middle East; U.S. policy toward the former Soviet Union and China; the fight against international terrorism, environmental policy and international trade policy, including our position on the European Union (E.U.) energy charter, economic sanctions, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and foreign trade credits and aid. The Bush administration is in a unique position to articulate these tradeoffs in a non-partisan manner and to rally the support of the American public. U.S. strategic energy policy must prioritize and coordinate domestic and foreign policy choices and objectives, where possible.

As the 21st century opens, the energy sector is in critical condition. A crisis could erupt at any time from any number of factors and would inevitably affect every country in today’s globalized world. While the origins of a crisis are hard to pinpoint, it is clear that energy disruptions could have a potentially enormous impact on the U.S. and the world economy, and would affect U.S. national security and foreign policy in dramatic ways.

While oil is still readily available on international markets, prices have doubled from the levels that helped spur rapid economic growth through much of the 1990s. And with spare capacity scarce and Middle East tensions high, chances are greater than at any point in the last two decades of an oil supply disruption that would even more severely test the nation’s security and prosperity.

How the United States and indeed the rest of the world got into this difficulty is a long and complicated story. The situation did not develop overnight. But one of the fundamental reasons it could develop is unambiguous. The United States has not had a comprehensive, integrated strategic energy policy for decades. Instead, many factors were allowed to converge to contribute to today’s critical energy situation. Infrastructure constraints, inadequate infrastructure development, rapid global economic expansion, the lack of spare capacity and the changes in inventory dynamics, a lack of trained energy sector workers, and the unintended side effects of energy market deregulation and market liberalization all contributed to the critical energy situation.

Through the 1980s and 1990s, the centerpiece of U.S. energy policy has been to foster, at home and abroad, deregulated markets that efficiently allocate capital, provide a maximum of consumer choice, and foster low prices through competition. U.S. policy also favored diversity of supply, both geographically and in terms of energy sources. Domestically, infrastructure needs have been left to market forces. This hands-off policy has generally led to lower real energy costs. But this, in turn, has brought a dramatic slowdown in efficiency gains and a potentially dangerous complacency about energy supplies, energy efficiency, demand management, and conservation.

Tax policy was not utilized—as it was in Europe and Japan—to discourage use of hydrocarbons or to promote environmentally friendly fuels. Transportation's share of petroleum use had risen to 66 percent by 1995 from 52 percent in 1970, and could hit 70 percent by 2010 if new technologies are not put in place.

For the most part, U.S. international oil policy has relied on maintenance of free access to Middle East Gulf oil and free access for Gulf exports to world markets. The United States has forged a special relationship with certain key Middle East exporters, which had an expressed interest in stable oil prices and, we assumed, would adjust their oil output to keep prices at levels that would neither discourage global economic growth nor fuel inflation. Taking this dependence a step further, the U.S. government has operated under the assumption that the national oil companies of these countries would make the investments needed to maintain enough surplus capacity to form a cushion against disruptions elsewhere. For several years, these assumptions appeared justified.

But recently, things have changed. These Gulf allies are finding their domestic and foreign policy interests increasingly at odds with U.S. strategic considerations, especially as Arab-Israeli tensions flare. They have become less inclined to lower oil prices in exchange for security of markets, and evidence suggests that investment is not being made in a timely enough manner to increase production capacity in line with growing global needs. A trend toward anti-Americanism could affect regional leaders’ ability to cooperate with the United States in the energy area.

The resulting tight markets have increased U.S. and global vulnerability to disruption and provided adversaries undue potential influence over the price of oil. Iraq has become a key "swing" producer, posing a difficult situation for the U.S. government.

U.S. unilateral sanctions as well as multilateral sanctions against oil-producing countries have discouraged oil resource investment in a number of key oil provinces, including Iraq, Iran, and Libya. U.S. sanctions policy has constrained capacity expansion to some extent in Iran and Libya, although the unilateral aspect of the U.S. action limited its impact. In the case of Iraq, the U.N. sanctions imposed as a result of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait have had a severe effect on potential Iraqi production.

Sanctions’ role in constraining investment in several key OPEC countries has aggravated the global problem of spare production capacity, which is now less diversified among a number of large producers than was the case twenty years ago. The consequent lack of competition has contributed to high prices. Most of today’s spare productive capacity is located in Saudi Arabia. And Saudi Arabia’s high, and growing, level of production and the lack of significant spare unutilized capacity outside the kingdom have spotlighted that country’s critical role in determining the state of current and future oil markets, in turn creating unique political pressures. Iran and Iraq accuse Saudi Arabia of seeking higher production rates to accommodate the economic interests of the United States, Japan, and Europe at the expense of the needs of local populations, creating internal pressures in the Arabian Gulf region against a moderate price stance. Bitter perceptions in the Arab world that the United States has not been even handed in brokering peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have exacerbated these pressures on Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and given political leverage to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein to lobby for support among the Arab world’s populations.

Over the past year, Iraq has effectively become a swing producer, turning its taps on and off when it has felt such action was in its strategic interest to do so. Saudi Arabia has proven willing to provide replacement supplies to the market when Iraqi exports have been reduced. This role has been extremely important in avoiding greater market volatility and in countering Iraq’s efforts to take advantage of the oil market’s structure. Saudi Arabia’s role in this needs to be preserved, and should not be taken for granted. There is domestic pressure on the GCC leaders to reject cooperation to cool oil markets during times of a shortfall in Iraqi oil production. These populations are dissatisfied with the "no-fly zone" bombing and the sanctions regime against Iraq, perceived U.S. bias in the Arab-Israeli peace process, and lack of domestic economic pressures. A diplomatic dialogue that emphasizes common U.S.-GCC goals and programs should be pursued at the highest levels to minimize the potential for tension over these other issues.

There are, however, some trade-off issues. Working together with the GCC could restrict some of the U.S.’ freedom of movement on security and foreign policy actions that might be desirable with regard to Iraq or the Arab-Israeli conflict from a U.S. point of view.

The timing might not be appropriate for a major initiative to solve the Arab-Israeli conflict in a comprehensive manner, but it is important to reduce immediate tensions and violence in that conflict. While this is a tenet of U.S. foreign policy for other reasons, it can also be helpful to the oil situation in ensuring that the two issues do not become linked and are kept on separate tracks. Iraq has been engaged in a clever public relations campaign to intersect these two issues and stir up anti-American sentiment inside and outside the Middle East. The bombing of Iraq by the United States led coalition in February 2001 spurred anti-U.S. demonstrations in support of Iraq in traditional U.S. allies such as Egypt. Moreover, Saddam Hussein is trying to recast himself as the champion of the Palestinian cause to some success among young Palestinians. Any severe violence on the West Bank, Gaza, or Southern Lebanon will give Iraq more leverage in its efforts to discredit the United States and U.S. intentions. A focus on the anti-Israeli sympathies of some Arab oil-producing countries diverts attention from the repressive nature of the Iraqi regime. Instead it rewards Iraq in its claim to Arab leadership for "standing up to the United States for ten years." Israel will assert its right to defend itself from terrorist or other attacks, so it is important that both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict are given a stake in avoiding conflict and violence. Creating an atmosphere where both sides are willing to show restraint can be an important goal for U.S. diplomacy on this issue.

Iraq remains a destabilizing influence to U.S. allies in the Middle East, as well as to regional and global order, and to the flow of oil to international markets from the Middle East. Saddam Hussein has also demonstrated a willingness to threaten to use the oil weapon and to use his own export program to manipulate oil markets. This would display his personal power, enhance his image as a "Pan Arab" leader supporting the Palestinians against Israel, and pressure others for a lifting of economic sanctions against his regime.

The United States should conduct an immediate policy review toward Iraq, including military, energy, economic, and political/diplomatic assessments. The United States should then develop an integrated strategy with key allies in Europe and Asia and with key countries in the Middle East to restate the goals with respect to Iraqi policy and to restore a cohesive coalition of key allies. Goals should be designed in a realistic fashion, and they should be clearly and consistently stated and defended to revive U.S. credibility on this issue. Actions and policies to promote these goals should endeavor to enhance the well-being of the Iraqi people. Sanctions that are not effective should be phased out and replaced with highly focused and enforced sanctions that target the regime’s ability to maintain and acquire weapons of mass destruction. A new plan of action should be developed to use diplomatic and other means to support U.N. Security Council efforts to build a strong arms-control regime to stem the flow of arms and controlled substances into Iraq. Policy should rebuild coalition cooperation on this issue, while emphasizing the common interest in security. This issue of arms sales to Iraq should be brought near the top of the agenda for dialogue with China and Russia.

Once an arms-control program is in place, the United States could consider reducing restrictions on oil investments inside Iraq. Like it or not, Iraqi reserves represent a major asset that can quickly add capacity to world oil markets and inject a more competitive tenor to oil trade. However, such a policy will be quite costly as this trade-off will encourage Saddam Hussein to boast of his "victory" against the United States, fuel his ambitions, and potentially strengthen his regime. Once so encouraged and if his access to oil revenues were to be increased by adjustments in oil sanctions, Saddam Hussein could be a greater security threat to U.S. allies in the region if weapons of mass destruction (WMD) sanctions, weapons regimes, and the coalition against him are not strengthened. Still, the maintenance of continued oil sanctions is becoming increasingly difficult to implement. Moreover, Saddam Hussein has many means of gaining revenues, and the sanctions regime helps perpetuate his lock on the country’s economy.

Another problem with easing restrictions on the Iraqi oil industry to allow greater investment is that GCC allies of the United States will not like to see Iraq gain larger market share in international oil markets. In fact, even Russia could lose from having sanctions eased on Iraq, because Russian companies now benefit from exclusive contracts and Iraqi export capacity is restrained, supporting the price of oil and raising the value of Russian oil exports. If sanctions covering Iraq’s oil sector were eased and Iraq benefited from infrastructure improvements, Russia might lose its competitive position inside Iraq, and also oil prices might fall over time, hurting the Russian economy. These issues will have to be discussed in bilateral exchanges.

Middle East Gulf crude oil currently makes up around 25 percent of world oil supply, but could rise to 30–40 percent during the next decade as the region’s key producers pursue higher investments to capture expanding demand for oil in Asia and the developing world. If political factors were to block the development of new oil fields in the Gulf, the ramifications for world oil markets could be quite severe.

There have been discussions in several important oil producing countries, notably Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, to reopen their upstream oil and gas sectors to foreign investors to garner the necessary finance and technology for the massive investment necessary—estimated at anywhere from $6 to $40 billion. This reopening is important and should be on the bilateral U.S. agenda with these countries. The Department of State, together with the National Security Council, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Commerce should develop a strategic plan to encourage reopening to foreign investment in these important states of the Middle East Gulf. While there is no question that this investment is vitally important to U.S. interests, there is strong opposition to any such reopening among key segments of the Saudi and Kuwaiti populations. This opposition must be taken into account so that pursuit of the investment program does not fuel anti-Americanism in these countries or destabilize their ruling regimes.

More oil could likely be brought into the market place in the coming years if oil-field development could be enhanced by participation of U.S. companies in countries where such investments are currently banned, particularly in Libya where frozen U.S. assets remain in limbo. Resources are large and, with major contributions of foreign investment capital, large additions to production rates could be accrued in the coming two to three years.

Efforts should be made through cooperation and collaboration with Congress to phase out or drop sanctions that are no longer relevant to U.S. strategic objectives. Sanctions regimens that are ineffective should be reevaluated and restructured to increase their chances of producing the desired outcomes. An easing of sanctions in any particular country might conflict with other U.S. policy goals and must be reviewed in this context. However, the costs of prolonging these sanctions, both in terms of energy policy and foreign policy, must also be taken into account. The government needs to weigh arguments that sanctions are needed to restrain revenues of regimes whose policies are hostile to U.S. interests against the reality that imposition of oil sanctions on too many regimes at once can be ineffective and can have cumulative adverse effects. When they are effective they can also reduce market competition and contribute to overall higher oil price levels, higher U.S. vulnerability to disruption, and higher revenues for the very same adversaries. The latter can especially be the case when world markets are tight and other suppliers will not or are unable to increase supply to make up for the loss from the sanctioned country.

This report, written largely by the US energy industry, made a lot of very sensible suggestions. By way of examples, it recommended action to reverse the trends for motorists to use SUV's. It recommended review of the hostile US attitude to the global warming debate and to Kyoto. It recommended a review of policy towards the Arabian Gulf countries - recognising the inevitable fact of US and world dependence on Arabian Gulf supplies. But it also recognised that US oil and energy policy dictates were in conflict with US policy on the Israel-Palestine issue.

Right from the time he took office, President Bush talked about "an energy crisis". Vice-President Dick Cheney was appointed to head a Task Force to come up with recommendations. The best that can be said about the public report of the Task Force is that it contains some very pretty pictures.

But Michael Renner, writing in Foreign Policy in Focus in January 2003 said this:-

"But there is no escaping the fact that the Middle Eastand specifically the Persian Gulf region remains the worlds prime oil province, for the U.S. and for other importers. Indeed, the Cheney report confirms that by any estimation, Middle East oil producers will remain central to world oil security. The Middle East currently accounts for about 30% of global oil production and more than 40% of oil exports. With about 65% of the planet's known reserves, it is the only region able to satisfy the substantial rise in world oil demand predicted by the Bush administration. The Cheney report projects that Persian Gulf producers alone will supply 54-67% of world oil exports in 2020.

Saudi Arabia is a pivotal player. With 262 billion barrels, it has a quarter of the worlds total proven reserves and is the single largest producer. More importantly, the Saudis have demonstrated repeatedly after the Iranian revolution, and following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait that they are prepared to compensate for losses from other suppliers, calming markets in times of turmoil. Today, Riyadh could raise its production of 8 million barrels per day (b/d) to 10.5 million b/d within three months, making up for any loss of Iraqi oil during a U.S. military assault.

The pariah state of Iraq, however, is a key prize, with abundant, high-quality oil that can be produced at very low cost (and thus at great profit). At 112 billion barrels, its proven reserves are currently second only to Saudi Arabia's. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that additional probable and possible resources could amount to 220 billion barrels. And because political instability, war, and sanctions have prevented thorough exploration of substantial portions of Iraqi territory, there is a chance that another 100 billion barrels lie undiscovered in Iraqs western desert. All in all, Iraq's oil wealth may well rival that of Saudi Arabia.

At present, of course, this is mere potential - the Iraqi oil industry has seriously deteriorated as a result of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, the 1991 Gulf War, and inadequate postwar investment and maintenance. Since 1990, the sanctions regime has effectively frozen plans for putting additional fields into production. It has also caused a severe shortage of oil field equipment and spare parts (under the sanctions regime, the U.S. has prevented equipment imports worth some $4 billion). Meanwhile, questionable methods used to raise output from existing fields may have damaged some of the reservoirs and could actually trigger a decline in output in the short run.

But once the facilities are rehabilitated (a lucrative job for the oil service industry, including Vice President Cheney's former employer, Halliburton) and new fields are brought into operation, the spigots could be opened wide. To pay for the massive task of rebuilding, a post-sanctions Iraq would naturally seek to maximize its oil production. Some analysts, such as Fadhil Chalabi, a former Iraqi oil official, assert that Iraq could produce 8-10 million b/d within a decade and eventually perhaps as much as 12 million.

The impact on world markets is hard to overstate. Saudi Arabia would no longer be the sole dominant producer, able to influence oil markets single-handedly. Given that U.S.-Saudi relations cooled substantially in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, rifts that may widen further, a Saudi competitor would not be unwelcome in Washington. An unnamed U.S. diplomat confided to Scotland's Sunday Herald that a rehabilitated Iraq is the only sound long-term strategic alternative to Saudi Arabia. Its not just a case of swapping horses in mid-stream, the impending U.S. regime change in Baghdad is a strategic necessity.

Washington would gain enormous leverage over the world oil market. Opening the Iraqi spigot would flood world markets and drive prices down substantially. OPEC, already struggling with overcapacity and a tendency among its members to produce above allotted quotas (an estimated 3 million barrels per day above the agreed total of 24.7 million b/d), might unravel as individual exporters engage in destructive price wars against each other."

So look at the position as it was perceived in 2002-3: Iran already in the hands of a regime which the US strategists fear might one day turn off the taps for political reasons. Saudi Arabia is wobbly and the House of Saud might one day fall to a Wahhabi fundamentalist regime also prepared to turn off the taps for political reasons. Terrorists or revolutionaries might succeed in blocking the Straits of Hormuz. It does not take a genius to work out that if one's No 1 producer in the region is looking dodgy, attention must turn to the No 2 producer with the world's second largest known reserves and - surprise, surprise - that just happens to be Iraq.

And if there were to be a friendly and pro-US and pro-Israel government in Baghdad, then with, perhaps, just the "teeniest" of border adjustments, a secure pipeline to the Mediterranean could substantially decrease the risk of tanker supply routes being choked off at the Straits of Hormuz. And, of course, such a re-alignment of the supply routes could be of immense economic benefit to the principal US ally and client state in the region, the State of Israel.

The USA has previously intervened to ensure access to both Iraqi and Iranian oil. An Anglo-American coup in Iran removed a Prime Minister who threatened to nationalise US-UK oil interests. In 1963 The CIA engineered the overthrow of the Iraqi President Qasim who had dared to form OPEC and challenge the IPC monopoly of Iraq oil concessions.

In March 2005 Greg Palast wrote an article, for BBC Newsnight Secret US plans for Iraq's oil which he follows up with this article
OPEC and The Economic Conquest of Iraq

In fact, most of the details of the Neocon scheme were at one time published on the Heritage Foundation's web site - whence they appear to have since disappeared.

The Administration' problem was how to "sell" an invasion of Iraq to the American public, who had been unhappy about the international deployment of American forces since the end of the Vietnam war. It is shocking, but the evidence is that the tragedy of 11th September 2001 was regarded by the Neoconservatives, as "an opportunity" to put their plans to invade Iraq into effect.

There can be no doubt that the Bush Administration hawks were right: the tragedy of 11th September 11th, 2001 created a climate of fear and anger in American public opinion. For a very long time Americans had thought themselves immune from the direct effects of wars and the attentions of terrorists - at least within the continental United States.

No American city had ever experienced the fate of Berlin, Hamburg, Hiroshima or London in World War II. The farms of rural America have never known the effects of high level bombing from B52 bombers and the use of chemical defoliants such as Agent Orange, as did the people of Cambodia and Vietnam. Unlike the people of Northern Ireland and other UK cities, the people of New York have had little experience of terrorism - in fact New York was long a fertile fund raising area for the IRA bombers.

Then a few terrorists, profiting from the abysmal lack of security at US Airports, turned aircraft into missiles.

On 12th September 2002, just one day after the emotionally charged ceremonies marking the first anniversary of the Al Quai'da terrorist attack on the twin towers of the New York World Trade Centre, George W. Bush addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations. He said:-

We know that Saddam Hussein pursued weapons of mass murder even when inspectors were in his country. Are we to assume that he stopped when they left ? The history, the logic, and the facts lead to one conclusion: Saddam Hussein's regime is a grave and gathering danger. To suggest otherwise is to hope against the evidence. To assume this regime's good faith is to bet the lives of millions and the peace of the world in a reckless gamble. And this is a risk we must not take."

As Bush's speech to the United Nations made clear, the Bush Administration case to the American people and the world that action against Iraq was needed was founded on two propositions:-

(i) that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction which it could use; and

(ii) that there was a "real and present danger" that Iraq would itself use such weapons or give them to Al-Quai'da terrorists for use against the United States and its allies.

During October 2002 congressional debate on a war powers resolution, President Bush was on the campaign trail for the November US Mid-Term elections. In speech after speech he asserted the existence of a real and present danger to America.

Since then, the Administration has "spun" its Iraq war to the American people as having been justified to protect the American people from terrorism. And it succeeded. An amazing proportion of the US public actually believes that the September 11 hijackers were Iraqi. Even more American citizens mistakenly believe that Iraq promoted, planned and funded the attacks. Many more believe that Al-Quai'da and Baghdad were mutually supporting.

So, I agree with Necon Bart that the Enterprise of Iraq was primarily about oil. But it was not about WMD, or "bringing "Democracy Lite" to Iraq - those were pretexts.

As to a call to service from God, this might suggest:



Consider that NATO did not fall in line with Bush/Blair in Iraq. But NATO did subsequently join in Afghanistan, perhaps more distant from Europe than Iraq. Why? Might NATO have been concerned with the energy reserves of former Soviet sattelites in Central Asia, second only to or perhaps even greater than reserves in the Arab Middle East? And since Russia controls the pipelines from Central Asia that provide fuel to eastern Europe, and has limited flow for political reasons from time to time, perhaps NATO (designed originally to thwart the Soviets) needs a base in Central Asia to "secure" national security interests in Central Asia energy. Look at a map of U.S. bases in EurAsia and their relationships to Russia. Might Russia have reason to be concerned without the protection of two vast oceans?


And consider, lifestyles without adequate oil supplies in the U.S. Bad news in the pocketbooks although there might be some good news:


Does this suggest why DUI beneficiaries, like you know whom, support George W. (Moses) Bush?

And keep in mind, the campaign known as "Operation Iraqi Freedom" was originally conceived as "Operation Iraqi Liberation." I guess "OIF" was preferable to "OIL" as an acronym.


The UN and NATO both supported intervention in Afghanistan because they regard that country as the training ground for salafist (islamist) terrorists.

There is a pattern of disaffected 1st and 2nd generation immigrants in Europe being recruited to go to study in the tribal areas in Pakistan and in Afghanistan inside the terrorist brainwashing and training infrastructure first set up during the Reagan Administration.

These operations are financed by drug money. Most of the heroin on the streets in Europe comes from Afghanistan and increasingly cannabis resin too.

See the UN World Drug Report (warning: 8.66MB file):-

"The area under opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan rose by 17% in 2007 to 193,000 ha. This was the largest area under opium poppy cultivation ever recorded in Afghanistan, surpassing the 2006 record cultivation figure. The increase itself was less pronounced than in 2006, when the increase was 33%. Similar to the year before, Afghanistan accounted for 82% of the global area under opium poppy in 2007. Over two thirds of the opium poppy cultivation was located in the southern region of the country, where the southern province of Hilmand alone accounted for 53% of total cultivation. Encouragingly, the number of provinces which were free of poppy in Afghanistan went up from 6 in 2006 to 13 in 2007.

The extent of cannabis cultivation in Afghanistan appears to be approaching that of Morocco. In 2007, the area under cannabis in Afghanistan was equivalent to more than a third of the area under opium cultivation. UNODC estimates suggest that cannabis cultivation in Afghanistan increased from 30,000 ha in 2005 to 50,000 ha in 2006 and 70,000 ha in 2007."

The drugs still flow flow across the Durand line into the trial areas of Pakistan where they are refined into herorin. This has been been big business since the Mujahiddin deliberately tried to turn the Russian troops in Afghanistan into addicts. Very successfully. The heroin economy in Pakistan under the patronage of the ISI (army intelligence services) is reckoned to be bigger that total government tax revenue.

However, of late the pattern has changed - heroin is increasingly being refined inside Afghanistan under the protection of warlords, in particular General Dostum. See this article by Craig Murry quondam UK Ambassador in Uzbekistan Britain is protecting the biggest heroin crop of all time:

"Afghanistan was not militarily winnable by the British Empire at the height of its supremacy. It was not winnable by Darius or Alexander, by Shah, Tsar or Great Moghul. It could not be subdued by 240,000 Soviet troops. But what, precisely, are we trying to win?

In six years, the occupation has wrought one massive transformation in Afghanistan, a development so huge that it has increased Afghan GDP by 66 per cent and constitutes 40 per cent of the entire economy. That is a startling achievement, by any standards. Yet we are not trumpeting it. Why not?

The answer is this. The achievement is the highest harvests of opium the world has ever seen. ...

Our economic achievement in Afghanistan goes well beyond the simple production of raw opium. In fact Afghanistan no longer exports much raw opium at all. It has succeeded in what our international aid efforts urge every developing country to do. Afghanistan has gone into manufacturing and 'value-added' operations. It now exports not opium, but heroin. Opium is converted into heroin on an industrial scale, not in kitchens but in factories. Millions of gallons of the chemicals needed for this process are shipped into Afghanistan by tanker. The tankers and bulk opium lorries on the way to the factories share the roads, improved by American aid, with Nato troops.

How can this have happened, and on this scale? The answer is simple. The four largest players in the heroin business are all senior members of the Afghan government - the government that our soldiers are fighting and dying to protect.

When we attacked Afghanistan, America bombed from the air while the CIA paid, armed and equipped the dispirited warlord drug barons? especially those grouped in the Northern Alliance to do the ground occupation.

We bombed the Taliban and their allies into submission, while the warlords moved in to claim the spoils. Then we made them ministers.

President Karzai is a good man. He has never had an opponent killed, which may not sound like much but is highly unusual in this region and possibly unique in an Afghan leader. But nobody really believes he is running the country. He asked America to stop its recent bombing campaign in the south because it was leading to an increase in support for the Taliban. The United States simply ignored him. Above all, he has no control at all over the warlords among his ministers and governors, each of whom runs his own kingdom and whose primary concern is self-enrichment through heroin.

My knowledge of all this comes from my time as British Ambassador in neighbouring Uzbekistan from 2002 until 2004. I stood at the Friendship Bridge at Termez in 2003 and watched the Jeeps with blacked-out windows bringing the heroin through from Afghanistan, en route to Europe.
I watched the tankers of chemicals roaring into Afghanistan. ...

That General Dostum is head of the Afghan armed forces and Deputy Minister of Defence is in itself a symbol of the bankruptcy of our policy. Dostum is known for tying opponents to tank tracks and running them over. He crammed prisoners into metal containers in the searing sun, causing scores to die of heat and thirst. Since we brought 'democracy' to Afghanistan, Dostum ordered an MP who annoyed him to be pinned down while he attacked him. The sad thing is that Dostum is probably not the worst of those comprising the Karzai government, or the biggest drug smuggler among them.

Our Afghan policy is still victim to Tony Blair's simplistic world view and his childish division of all conflicts into 'good guys' and 'bad guys'. The truth is that there are seldom any good guys among those vying for power in a country such as Afghanistan. To characterise the Karzai government as good guys is sheer nonsense. Why then do we continue to send our soldiers to die in Afghanistan? Our presence in Afghanistan and Iraq is the greatest recruiting sergeant for Islamic militants. As the great diplomat, soldier and adventurer Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Alexander Burnes pointed out before his death in the First Afghan War in 1841, there is no point in a military campaign in Afghanistan as every time you beat them, you just swell their numbers. Our only real achievement to date is falling street prices for heroin in London.

Former Ambassador Murray is something of a voice crying in the wilderness, but I am not convinced that the Afghanistan conflict is going well - and nor could it because of the distraction of the Bush/Blair "Enterprise of Iraq".

And, of course, the USA is only partially involved in the ISAF efforts - it has a separate structure with "Enduring Freedom" and the Northern Alliance and there are those who say that the two operations are often at cross purposes.

BTW, Shag, I do not think that Necon Bart is doing other than spread the lies and half-truths which have been fed to him (and so many others). As a very junior 'loathsome spotted reptile', a 'Wormwood' rather than a 'Screwtape', Bart is simply parroting the Neocon 'party line'.

There used to be something of a convention that while the Executive might classify sensitive material, it did not actually lie or seek to deceive the Congress or the American people. Eisenhower was probably the last Republican President who tried to play by these rules.

Since the establishment of the far right Neocon foundations (in particular the American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society etc) there is now a huge Neocon propaganda machine which seeks to manipulate US public opinion.

The Enterprise of Iraq is probably the biggest example of the manipulation of public opinion. A war about oil missold to the public as a 'war on terrorism'.

It has, of course, very largely failed. Iraq's oil has not been denationalised. Nor will it be. Three of the largest producers in the Arabian Gulf are now all very unstable: Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Iran. The NYME contract for lite sweet crude for September delivery is trading right now at US$114.03/bbl and in London Brent crude for October is trading at US$112.94. As the recession deepens in both the USA and in Europe, industrial demand may falter. So prices may also falter in the coming months.

But in 2001 the USEIA was projecting prices to reach $27 per barrel in 2001 dollars ($48 per barrel in nominal dollars) at the end of 2003. The current USEIA projection is:-

"WTI crude oil prices, which averaged $72 per barrel in 2007 (Crude Oil Prices), are projected to average $119 per barrel in 2008 and $124 per barrel in 2009. Regular-grade motor gasoline retail prices, which averaged $2.81 per gallon in 2007, are projected to rise to an average of $3.65 per gallon this year and $3.82 per gallon in 2009. The weekly price of regular-grade gasoline, which peaked at $4.11 per gallon on July 14, averaged $3.81 per gallon on August 11, a decrease of 30 cents. Gasoline prices are expected to continue falling slowly, averaging just less than $3.80 per gallon over the next few months."

THE EU problem with Russia is not so much oil, but gas. Russia supplies much of Europe's gas. Germany 36%, Turkey 64%, Cezch Republic 79%, Poland 47%, Hungary 54%, Slovakia 100%, Finland 100% - to give but a few examples. That dependency cannot be simply transferred, there are not sufficient LNG carriers in the world to transport the quantities of gas needed.

See this Russia NaturalGas

That is why the EU is going to be more nuanced about confronting Russia over some of the post Stalin/USSR territorial disputes of the former Empire than the people in Foggy Bottom (such an apt name for the US State Department).

mourad said...

Why did George W. Bush choose to invade Iraq? When one is dealing with a personality like that of George Bush Junior it is dangerous to assume that the President's reasons for any particular course of action would have been entirely rational.

Once again, your political views cloud your understanding of our political system.

A large bipartisan majority of Congress voted the authority and the funding for the Iraq War. Mr. Bush did not simply issue a decree doing so.

But former Treasury Secretary, Paul O'Neill, provided the material for a savage memoir of his time in the Bush White House ("The Price of Loyalty, by Ron Suskind") which something of an embarrassment for the Administration. According to O'Neill, just 10 days after the Bush inauguration and eight months before the 11th September 2001 terrorist attack on the USA, removing Saddam Hussein was "Topic A" on the president's list of priorities.

You may want to review Doug Feith's book "War and Decision," which details exactly what was discussed concerning Iraq and when along with extensive documented annotations. Mr. O'Neill as Sec Treasury is hardly a military expert and was not present for many of these meetings.

In sum, after 9/11, the US had no real evidence as to who attacked the WTC and Pentagon and was speculating that it was al Qaeda with potential help from a number of hostile regimes including Iraq.

The planning on what to do with Iraq did not really begin until after the Afghanistan operation was completed, which for obvious reasons was the first priority.

The preservation of Iraq's oil infrastructure was indeed the top priority after taking down the Baathist dictatorship in the US Iraq War plans. This is as it should be given that oil was meant to be the primary means of support for the new democratic Iraq.

As to your tome concerning US energy policy, let me cut to the chase for you. We have sufficient domestic energy reserves to supply ourselves with 3-5 times the known Saudi oil reserves here in the Colorado/Utah/Wyoming oil shale alone. The US would be well advised to remove government roadblocks to all oil resources to avoid further dependence on the Middle East and Russian oil.

You may want to review Doug Feith's book "War and Decision," which details exactly what was discussed concerning Iraq and when along with extensive documented annotations.

How do you know that Doug Feith is lying? He's still breathing.

It appears that Mourad is not alone among his British countrymen in their substantial ignorance concerning the colonies across the pond, as the Telegraph reports:

A poll of nearly 2,000 Britons by YouGov/PHI found that 70 per cent of respondents incorrectly said it was true that the US had done a worse job than the European Union in reducing carbon emissions since 2000...

The survey showed that a majority agreed with the false statement that since the Second World War the US had more often sided with non-Muslims when they had come into conflict with Muslims. In fact in 11 out of 12 major conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims, Muslims and secular forces, or Arabs and non-Arabs, the US has sided with the former group. Those conflicts included Turkey and Greece, Bosnia and Yugoslavia, and and Kosovo and Yugoslavia.

Asked if it was true that "from 1973 to 1990 the United States sold Saddam Hussein more than a quarter of his weapons," 80 per cent of British respondents said yes. However the US sold just 0.46 per cent of Saddam's arsenal to him, compared to Russia's 57 per cent, France's 13 per cent and China's 12 per cent...

[Then again this ignorance is shared by some of the Yanks on this forum as well.]

Almost a third of Britons believe that "Americans who have not paid their hospitals fees or insurance premiums are not entitled to emergency medical care"; by law such treatment must be provided.

More than half the respondents believed that polygamy is legal in some US states, while it is illegal in all US states.


[Then again this ignorance is shared by some of the Yanks on this forum as well.]

Baghdad, could you please point to where anyone in here has said that the US sold Iraq more than 25% of it's arsenal? Thanks!

Bart, my dear junior 'loathsome spotted reptile'

You wrote:-

In sum, after 9/11, the US had no real evidence as to who attacked the WTC and Pentagon and was speculating that it was al Qaeda with potential help from a number of hostile regimes including Iraq.
The planning on what to do with Iraq did not really begin until after the Afghanistan operation was completed, which for obvious reasons was the first priority.

In other words, the Congress was duped in to granting the authorisation for the use of military force against Iraq, just as the UK parliament was duped into voting to participate in the 'Enterprise of Iraq' by manufactured pseudo-intelligence - a very great deal of it emanating from Douglas Feith's Office of Special Plans. He is certainly a much more serior loathsome spottted reptile than you are and, pray God, he will one day be impeached, so that he may be precluded from ever again holding an office of the United States.

Your comment is also an admission that the case put to the UN by the Administration was fabricated.

The "Enterprise of Iraq" was launched on a lie (or, rather, lots of lies). That is what makes Neoconservatism unacceptable in a democracy.

I am only sorry that 'Poodle Blair' was a co-conspirator.

And in case you have not noticed, operations in Afghanistan are very far from completed even now. There is a resurgence of the Taliban and unless greatly reinforced, the US/ISAF operations may not succeed. In particular the folly of dealing with the Northern Alliance has yet to be understood by the present Administration. Further, there is the Talibanisation of Northern Pakistan which may shortly put the government there at risk of collapse.

The point I made about Iraq was not the preservation of its oil infrastructure, but the failure of the Neocon plans to privatise the oil industry on terms favourable to the US oil majors.

PS - Exxon thought it had oil from shale cracked until it gave up in 1982. Shell does have a promising experimental ICP technology under trial at Mahogany Ridge. But it is just that, experimental. There are problems (water needs - pollution - greenhouse gas). Best published estimates are that the region could produce between 2 to 5 bbd which is not an overly great contribution to a present US daily consumption of 21 bbd, 10 bbd of which are imported. Yes, Bart, oil from shale might be viable in, say, 25 years - and if it can be extracted commercially and in a sustainable way - why not? But don't bet the farm on it solving US energy problems any time soon.

"Bart" lies:

Almost a third of Britons believe that "Americans who have not paid their hospitals fees or insurance premiums are not entitled to emergency medical care"; by law such treatment must be provided.

False. The hospital must stabilise the patient if they're suffering from an "emergency medical condition" (but not necessarily provide treatment for the underlying condition), and may ship them off to another facility (who may in turn do the same thing). Not to mention, this is hardly required of all hospitals; it applies only to those that receive federal funds (albeit this is essentially all such hospitals with a few notable exceptions).



PS - Exxon thought it had oil from shale cracked until it gave up in 1982.

Yes, there's lots of petrochemicals present in oil shales (and tar sands too!), primarily because there's lots of said shale. "Bart" thinks that we should just go extract it all, and tell the Ay-rabs (and Hugo, I assume) to go FOAD.

But I've travelled the U.S. quite a bit, and I've seen the wonderful open pit mines out west. They are profoundly ugly ... and polluting. And open pit mines are about the only way you can extract shale economically; shaft mining can only be feasibly be used for concentrated products such as coal. "Bart" would like us to turn the vast expanse of the Western states into huge bloody scars on the face of the earth; giant ugly open pits with the shale detritus piled on high in slag heaps as monuments to our stupidity. Yes, that will show those Ay-rabs....

And that's not even taking into account the fact that shale oil extraction is not economical right now, even using such crude extraction techniques....

"Bart": Take your hands off my Earth ... and step back sloooooowwwwllllyyy.


"Bart" would like us to turn the vast expanse of the Western states into huge bloody scars on the face of the earth

Baghdad, if you promised to stay on your property while they start digging around/through you, I might support this idea.


The British belief about the absence of proper medical care in the USA may or may not be well founded, but there is a reason for it. In the UK, as in all other EU countries, we each have a credit card sized piece of plastic certifying our entitlement to heath care in our own country. This entitles us to use the health care systems of all other EU countries when we travel. So I am afraid that we have the habit of simply getting on a plane to go off on holiday without thinking too much about the potential consequences of a holiday accident.

I am afraid that we have all read horror stories of Brits who have taken the family to Disneyland or some such US vacation and come a cropper because of the absence of proper and effective medical insurance. Obviously it's quite wrong for my compatriots simply to assume that the USA has the sort of social insurance we take for granted in Europe.

On oil for shale, the new technology Shell is pioneering does not involve mining in the conventional way Fortune Report on CNN Money. There are still a lot of unknowns - especially in relation to water resources - but the point is that while the process may well be commercially viable in, say, 20 years' time, it will only impact by about 5% on US needs, so the impact on the US need for imported oil will be minimal. There is no "quick fix".

Either way, oil for shale is an irrelevance to the proposition that the true motivation for the invasion of Iraq was the US desire to control Iraqi oil to its benefit, which puts the impetus within the Administration clearly within the Cheney/Rumsfeld axis. From the US national security point of view that may have been a perfectly understandable objective.

But that is not what the Congress, the people, or the international community were told and that is a case of the Executive altering the constitutional balance intended by the Founding Fathers, because the power to declare war is a congessional power and to exercise judgment on such a grave matter, the Congress must be told the truth.


1) There was no "manufactured intelligence" according to both your Parliament and our Congress, not to mention the complete lack of evidence.

2) Feith has a great deal of fun demolishing the leftist myths around the "Office of Special Plans." OSP consisted of a couple and later one intern who summarized (not changed) intelligence from all sources for briefs to DoD because DoD's principles were being inundated with raw intelligence reorts which took hours to review.

Feith described waking up at 4am each day and spending the next three hours before getting to work plowing through largely useless reports. The reason for the mass of reports was bureaucratic CYA. The intelligence providers did not want to be accused of failing to provide policy makers with intelligence on the next attack, so they provided everything whether it was actionable or not.

3) The problems in Afghanistan are being projected from Pakistan. While there is something close to 0% chance of the Pakistani government falling bacause a few thousand Taliban have set up camp in the border areas, the question does remain whether the Pakistanis will do anything about the Taliban.

4) The oil shale can be recovered under current technology at $45 to $60 per barrel. When oil prices fell, the recovery of oil shale became cost prohibitive and was abandoned. However, oil prices will remain well above the cost of oil shale recovery for the foreseeable future. The only real obstacles are federal and state government regulations.

5) The argument that additional oil resources will take some years to get fully online and thus should not be pursued is completely bogus. This is the equivalent of arguing that children should not be educated because it will take over a decade to complete. Thus, the obvious answer to that nonsensical retort is that the sooner we start, the sooner we will be awash in oil.

The bottom line is that the alternatives of wind, solar and hydrogen power will not be cost effective for decades, if ever. The objective of the Greens is too artificially raise the cost of oil and natural gas to make the alternatives appear feasible.

Feith has a great deal of fun demolishing the leftist myths around the "Office of Special Plans."

I had a chance to watch Feith on The Daily Show. The only one who got demolished there was Feith. It was so bad that the entire audience was laughing at him.

The oil shale can be recovered under current technology at $45 to $60 per barrel. When oil prices fell, the recovery of oil shale became cost prohibitive and was abandoned. However, oil prices will remain well above the cost of oil shale recovery for the foreseeable future. The only real obstacles are federal and state government regulations.

Baghdad, this bullshit is easily debunked with a quick Google search.


Thus, the obvious answer to that nonsensical retort is that the sooner we start, the sooner we will be awash in oil.

Of course, the obvious answer to your nonsensical retort is that the sooner we develop renewable energy sources, the sooner we can stop swimming in oil.

"Bart" DePalma:

1) There was no "manufactured intelligence" according to both your Parliament and our Congress, not to mention the complete lack of evidence.

There's the forged Niger documents. There's the "Dodgy Dossier". There's Powell's Pile'O'Crapola presentation to the U.N. (complete with those wonderful "diagrams" of mobile weapons labs. And then there's this.

To deny that there was "manufactured intelligence" is to show a detachment from reality sufficient to warrant clinical intervention.


"Bart" DePalma still hasn't figured out why Franks gave Feith the "FSMOTFTE" appellation:

2) Feith has a great deal of fun demolishing the leftist myths around the "Office of Special Plans."

Like Feith is going to say anything incriminating (or anything else "against interest"). But why he expects anyone but a RWA True Believer™ to believe him is beyond me ... or any sapient creature.


Economics of oil shale.

Economics of oil shale.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 2:45 PM

Baghdad, you should read your own links. There is nothing in there that shows that oil shale is a better solution for energy than renewables.


I take it that even you would not disagree with the conclusion of the Silverman Commission expressed in the covering letter of its report:-

"We conclude that the Intelligence Community was dead wrong in almost all of its pre-war judgments about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. This was a major intelligence failure. Its principal causes were the Intelligence Community's inability to collect good information about Iraq's WMD programs, serious errors in analyzing what information it could gather, and a failure to make clear just how much of its analysis was based on assumptions, rather than good evidence. On a matter of this importance, we simply cannot afford failures of this magnitude.

After a thorough review, the Commission found no indication that the Intelligence Community distorted the evidence regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. What the intelligence professionals told you about Saddam Hussein's programs was what they believed. They were simply wrong."

Of course, if you are a "loathsome spotted reptile", you can believe almost anything. In your own words:

"Feith described waking up at 4am each day and spending the next three hours before getting to work plowing through largely useless reports. The reason for the mass of reports was bureaucratic CYA. The intelligence providers did not want to be accused of failing to provide policy makers with intelligence on the next attack, so they provided everything whether it was actionable or not."

In other words, he "re-evaluated" the original reports and information because nothing came which fitted the conclusion he wished to come to and instead he latched onto the unreliable and in the event incorrect information which happened to fit his pre-conceptions.

So the USA went to war on a false premise. On information which the Silverman Commission concluded was "dead wrong". On what objecively speaking was a lie, presented as truth.

As a consequence of which 24,865 Iraq's were killed in the first 2 years of the invasion of which 1,281 were children Iraq Body Count/Oxford Researcg Group Dossier.

On 26th April 2002, James Zogby published a statement on Feith's appointment concluding with this:-

"In the private sector, Feith is free to hold whatever views he wishes to hold, associate with whomever he wishes to associate, and do whatever legitimate business comes his way. But serious questions must be asked whether or not someone with his views and associations can fairly serve in a critical post at the Department of Defense. I, for one, am terrified at the prospect. He is ideologue with an extreme anti-Arab bias, and his role in the sensitive position of chief architect of U.S. defense policy can, I believe, have grave consequences for the United States and its relations with the entire Arab world.

Zogby 2002 Statement<

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." Matthew 7: 15-20

You wrote:-

The problems in Afghanistan are being projected from Pakistan. While there is something close to 0% chance of the Pakistani government falling bacause a few thousand Taliban have set up camp in the border areas, the question does remain whether the Pakistanis will do anything about the Taliban.

Please will you stop being one of the "ravening wolves" spreading misinformation about Afghanistan/Pakistan. You are only a very junior "loathsome spotted reptile" and on this one you demonstrably do not know what you are talking about.

Pakistan is the 2nd largest Muslim country in the world. The best estimate of its population is that it is rather greater than that of Russia at about 170 millions. You cannot understand Pakistan without understanding the Khilafat Movement. Reagan's protégé Zia-Ul-Haq was himself an Islamic militant, a disciple of Abul A‘la Maududi (1903-1979), the founder of Khilafat.

Zia-Ul-Haq profoundly islamicised the Army and in particular the ISI (military intelligence). During his dictatorship, the Mujahiddin were trained and brainwashed in Pakistan before progressing on to Afghanistan, Al-Quaida supporters were placed in all the most sensitive army intelligence positions - and the Afghanistan heroin trade was processed in Pakistan.

Fast forward through another democratic intermission to Musharraf - supported by - guess who - George W. Bush. This from 2003:-

War on Terror: Holy War 101 Ron Moreau, Sami Yousafzai and Zahid Hussein - Newsweek - 1st December 2003

"Abdul Bari's school day begins at 4 a.m. The freckle-faced, outgoing 9-year-old, an Afghan poppy farmer's son, wakes up on the tile floor he shares with four dozen other students at the Jamia Uloom Islamia religious academy, in the untamed mountains of Pakistan's tribal areas. After morning prayer services, he fixes tea for the older boys and himself, eating a bit of bread before classes start at daybreak. Students spend most of the day reciting the Qur'an; memorizing every one of its 6,666 verses is the main requirement for graduation. Still, this madrassa is the only formal schooling most of these boys will ever have. So they learn civics from a white-bearded scholar named Amanullah, 65, who teaches them about the Taliban. "There was a real Islamic regime," the old man says. "They fixed 25 years of problems in no time, using Islamic laws."...

The Afghan war, code-named Operation Enduring Freedom, is getting nastier. In the last six months--the bloodiest period since the Taliban's fall in late 2001--hundreds of people have been killed, many of them civilians, including two foreign relief officials and nearly a dozen Afghans working for international agencies. Last week the United Nations announced that it was suspending its refugee-repatriation program and pulling all foreign workers out of southeastern Afghanistan. "We're going to have to refight Enduring Freedom because we didn't finish the job," predicts retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of U.S. Central Command.

Even among senior Bush aides, concern is rising over the mess that festered in Afghanistan while the White House fixated on Iraq. The war's No. 1 target, Osama bin Laden, is still in business. His Taliban friends have regrouped and are doing their best to sabotage the reconstruction. Two weeks ago, in the old Taliban stronghold of Spin Buldak, a new audiotape was released, purportedly of the group's leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, rallying his followers. "If you claim to be among the faithful, why can't you be ready for sacrifice?" the voice on the tape demands.

Abdul hears such calls to arms incessantly. Hardscrabble madrassas like his, in the north Waziristan town of Mirali, are where many Taliban leaders got their start two decades ago during the CIA's war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Today, those jihad academies continue to indoctrinate new generations of holy warriors, passionately loyal to the banner of radical Islam and inured to lives of hardship. Such schools pose a grave challenge to the Bush administration's plans for the region. "How do we stop those who are financing the radical madrassa schools?" asked Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a recently leaked memo. "Is our current situation such that 'the harder we work, the behinder we get?' " More than a year ago Pakistan's leader, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, promised to defang the madrassas. Instead, he formed a political alliance with the schools' radical Islamist supporters against the mainstream secular opposition. "Musharraf talks a lot, but nothing happens," says Maulana Abdul Qadr, principal of the Darul Uloom Zuberia madrassa, near Peshawar.....

Musharraf's job often seems hopeless. Not even the mullahs know how many madrassas Pakistan has. The government's latest guess is 27,000 or more. Many are peaceable institutions wishing only to train devout Muslims, not warriors or terrorists. But others steep their students in the doctrine of holy war and function openly as jihad enlistment centers. Many youngsters take inspiration from older schoolmates. Zahidullah, 31, a grad student in Islamic law at the Bahrul Uloom madrassa in Pakistan's northern mountains, boasts of how many recruits he has gained for the outlawed Kashmiri guerrilla force Harkatul Mujahedin: "Many youths here are anxious to join the jihad when I tell them stories of our heroic Islamic resistance against Indian aggression."

Some schools provide far more than recruitment services, providing safe havens, supply depots and clandestine meeting sites. Last summer, according to Pakistani intelligence sources, a group of senior Taliban leaders secretly gathered to discuss strategy at a madrassa some 20 miles south of Peshawar. The Afghans told their local contacts that Mullah Omar was calling for new recruits to intensify the war against America. In September Pakistani security forces raided another madrassa in Karachi, hauling in more than a dozen Indonesian and Malaysian students, including Rusman Gunawan, younger brother of the notorious Qaeda lieutenant Hambali. Gunawan remains in custody without charges under Pakistan's antiterror laws.

In recent months, thousands of young Afghan men have swarmed to madrassas just inside Pakistan. In Baluchistan's Chaman district, directly across the border from the Taliban's home province of Kandahar, at least 300 madrassas are filled to bursting. Pakistan's Army has lined the desolate frontier with high earthen berms, concertina-wire fences and watchtowers, but nothing stops the traffic of fighting-age Afghans--in either direction. "There is a constant stream of them," says Hafiz Hameedullah, head of a seminary in the town of Chaman, right on the border. "It's hard to find accommodations for all the newcomers." On the Afghan side, meanwhile, the influx of madrassa students and graduates has helped to produce Taliban battle units as large as 100 fighters, where a year ago the guerrillas were mustering squads of barely a half-dozen men....

Any effort to combat radical teachings is complicated by the fact that Pakistan desperately needs its madrassas. Without them, an estimated 1.5 million young Pakistanis would get no formal education at all. According to a recent analysis by the U.S. Agency for International Development, Pakistan spends only 2.2 percent of its GDP on public education, the tiniest share for any country in South or Southeast Asia. And Pakistan's jihadis are more than ready for a fight. "If Musharraf tries to crack down on madrassas, there will be a flood of blood in the streets," says Maulana Anwar Ali Shah, principal of one of Pakistan's biggest schools, the Jamia Islamia Taalemulqiran madrassa in Peshawar.

Because Bush concentrated on arming Musharraf, giving aid and weapons to the large Pakistan army with an ideology close to thatt of the Taliban(!) and did absolutely nothing towards reforming the Madrassas the position is if anything today more precarious than it was in 2003.

There are not as you assert "a few thousand Taliban", there are many, many thousands of extremists in Pakistan.

As you may have noticed, Musharraf has just resigned to avoid impeachment. Whether the present civilian coalition will survive very long remains to be seen. But, its ability to do anything about the FATF and the Madrassas is very questionable because the Army and the ISI are both so thoroughly involved with the "jihad" - not to mention the heroin.

The next six months will be critical - and, unfortunately, the Neocon lunatics will still be in charge of the Washington asylum for at least that period.

And, of course, if the "loathsome spotted reptiles" have their way, there will be the McSame idiocy - no change in the management of the asylum there.

Lord Deliver Us!


1) The Silverman Commission is correct to the extent that CIA (and every other intelligence agency in the Western world) overestimated the scope of Saddam's remaining WMD. In reality, he "only" possessed 500+ liters of Sariin and Mustard gas, several containers of live biological agents, several tons of yellow cake uranium and active nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs never found by the UN inspectors. I am assuming that the convoys of vehicles to Syria transporting tons of industrial equipment tagged by the UN did not also include further WMD weapons, although our weapons inspectors are unsure. These are all violations of the Ceasefire, returning Iraq to a state of war with the United States.

The US went to war on several premises, not just WMD. All of the premises, including WMD, were valid. The scope of the WMD threat was simply less than CIA had estimated.

Even if one incorrectly assumes arguendo that Saddam had destroyed all of his WMD and WMD programs, an intelligence error in assuming the existence of WMD and WMD programs is not a lie, which is making a false statement knowing it is false. Saddam's version of events given to his FBI minder was the he intentionally misled other nations to believe that Iraq possessed a large stockpile of WMD as deterrent. The supreme irony is that his misrepresentations finally caused the military invasion and his demise that he sought to avoid.

3) Would you care to make a standing wager $100 that the Islamists in Pakistan will not overthrow the Pakistani military and the Pakistani government (which are generally the same thing) over the next year with options to renew the wager if we both care to do so?

The Pakistani military and especially their intelligence service do have connections to and use the Islamists when it suits them against Afghanistan and India, but they are hardly going to allow their tools to take their power.

If an army of Islamist extremists did form overnight and actually threatened the overthrow of Pakistans military and government, Pakistan's only hope to avoid the fate of Taliban ruled Afghanistan would be a McCain Administration sending in the US military because Mr. Obama has no concept of or stomach to use military force and would most likely fecklessly call for a useless UN resolution as he did when Russia invaded Georgia.

The US went to war on several premises, not just WMD. All of the premises, including WMD, were valid.

Numbnuts, the fact that none of those premises turned out to be true makes them NOT valid.

The scope of the WMD threat was simply less than CIA had estimated.

The understatement of the century.

In fact, there was no WMD.

Of course, anyone paying attention to the UN inspectors in Iraq had a pretty good idea that the claims about Iraqi WMD being made by scum like Bart were completely unfounded. It took a lot of lying to get people to ignore the findings of the UN inspectors.

n reality, he "only" possessed 500+ liters of Sariin and Mustard gas, several containers of live biological agents, several tons of yellow cake uranium and active nuclear, biological and chemical weapons programs never found by the UN inspectors.

But they exist!, I tellya.... Maybe somewhere in Syria ... or Iran ... or up some neocon flack's a$$....

Thank goodness we got rid of "Crazy Curt" Weldon. But we still have to put up with the "28%er 'dead-enders'" such as Baghdad Bart here.....


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So not content with being an apologist for the illegal invasion of Iraq, you are now hoping McSame will go into Pakistan.

Pakistan is now in a very difficult transition which I pray will work but I am not foolishly sanguine about the outcome.

But the very last thing the world needs just now is for the next leader of the free world to be another dangerous (and criminal) fool.

Lord Deliver Us!

Back to the subject of the thread...

NPR interviewed the lead investigator for HRW in Georgia.

While being excruciatingly diplomatic so Russia will not kick HRW out of occupied Georgia, the investigator was forced to admit that she could find only two dozen Ossetian casualties from the Georgian attempt to take back their territory, not the 2000 dead in Russian propaganda and parroted without question here.

When asked if she observed evidence of ethnic cleansing, the investigator could not offer and evidence of Georgian ethnic cleansing of Ossetians as alleged in Russian propaganda and parroted here. However, she did admit that Ossetian militias freely admitted to burning down Georgian villages. They explained that this was permissible becaues the Georgian's were "lesser people" who were themselves guilty of burning Ossetian women and children alive. When asked for evidence of these burnings, the Ossetian militiamen admitted that they never observed this themselves, but heard the Russian television reporting it. Here is but one example of Russian provocation which set off the war.


Georgia and the USA may be winning the propaganda war in the sort of international media you read, but there is an underlying reality.
What you apparently do not understand is that whether you like it or not, there are disputes about what should constitute the territory of the Georgian state, in particular as regards South Ossetia and Abhkhazia. Under the OCSE arrangements, thoese disputes are "frozen" while a diplomatic resolution of them is sought.

The important statement yesterday was not that of the NATO meeting but that of the OSCE meeting which took place at the same time:-

"BRUSSELS, 19 August 2008 - The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb, issued the following statement on today's decision by the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna to increase the number of unarmed military monitoring officers to the Mission to Georgia by up to 100:

"I am pleased to announce that as a result of intensive diplomatic efforts by all parties concerned, the 56 participating States of the OSCE have today agreed at a special Permanent Council meeting to increase the number of military monitoring officers in the OSCE Mission to Georgia by up to 100. The decision foresees the immediate deployment of 20 military monitoring officers in the areas adjacent to South Ossetia. The rest of the additional military monitoring officers will be sent subject to a new decision of the Permanent Council on the modalities of their deployment, which will be proposed by the Chairmanship without delay. I have also asked the Head of the OSCE Mission to Georgia to redeploy to South Ossetia the existing eight monitors. Special attention should be paid to the situation in the Akhalgori region. I hope that today's decision by the OSCE will contribute to the full implementation of the ceasefire agreement and facilitate the prompt opening of humanitarian corridors to assist the civilian population and prepare for a return of refugees and internally displaced persons. "I also hope that the OSCE military monitoring officers will very soon be ensured safe and free movement throughout Georgia. I wish to express my sincere gratitude to the Russian Federation and Georgia for the constructive approach and fruitful work of their respective delegations to the OSCE in Vienna."

NATO is conducting a delicate balancing act. See this BBC Report in particular:

"This is a mark not so much of Nato's relative weakness in this dispute - it does indeed have few levers with which to play - but it is more an acknowledgement that we live in a much more complex world where ties between Russia and the West have a number of dimensions - not least an energy relationship - and a freeze could hurt the Europeans more than it would hurt Russia....

This is not about an expansionist state with an ideology bent on world domination, but a major power eager to establish a sphere of interest in its own backyard and jealously guarding what it sees as the approaches towards its own frontiers - what Russians have traditionally called the "near abroad."...

In other words, Nato's doors will remain open to countries like Georgia and indeed Ukraine. To underscore the parallel importance of these two countries to the alliance, Georgia is now to be offered a Nato-Georgia commission along the lines of a similar body linking the bloc and Kiev. This - in Georgia's case - is largely a symbolic manifestation of the alliance's resolve. But the message could not be clearer: these countries have a democratic choice to opt for the "trans-Atlantic" camp and Russia is not going to be allowed any veto over their ambitions. There is going to be practical help for Georgia too: aid in rebuilding its shattered infrastructure, its air traffic control system and ultimately its military defences too.

So far then, Nato seems to have passed the Georgia part of this test. Everyone, of course, has conveniently forgotten that Georgia can never in practical terms be part of Nato until its territorial disputes with Abkhazia and South Ossetia are resolved.

Nato has never imported unfinished business into the alliance - certainly not unfinished business that threatens to turn into a military conflict with Russia. So resolving the Abkhaz and South Ossetian disputes is essential if Georgia is ultimately to join Nato's ranks. And that, of course, requires engagement with Russia."

NATO only ever had one practical purpose: to provide Europe with a nuclear umbrella during the cold war. The Bush Administration has sought to misuse NATO by using it to offer membership to newly democratic states in Europe as a kind of pre-entry into the EU but without thinking first whether the country in question was ready for EU membership and certainly without understanding the concerns of Russia. Europe on the other hand has been trying the method which has been tried and tested - to so integrate Russia into the European economy that war becomes unthinkable. That involves accepting a step by step approach - sometimes with set-backs.

The plain fact of the matter is that the EU does not want hostilities with Russia and vice versa - if for no other reason that the EU now relies so extensively on Russia for its gas supplies that it cannot risk the taps being turned off while Russia desperately needs the revenue from those same gas supplies for its economic development.

So, whether Bush/McSame like it or not - this will be resolved in good time throught the OSCE processes - not through NATO and unless and until the territorial issues have been resolved, neither Georgia nor the Ukraine will be offered NATO membership by the required unnanimous vote of the NATO Council.

And matters have not been helped by McSame and his paid lobbyists for Georgia shooting their mouths off on matters on which their "cold war" mentality is unwelcome in Europe. We've had enough of US unilateralism and exceptionalism over the last 8 years with war dead in Iraq and nothing much else to show for it.

Neocon Bart wrote above:-

The Pakistani military and especially their intelligence service do have connections to and use the Islamists when it suits them against Afghanistan and India, but they are hardly going to allow their tools to take their power. If an army of Islamist extremists did form overnight and actually threatened the overthrow of Pakistans military and government, Pakistan's only hope to avoid the fate of Taliban ruled Afghanistan would be a McCain Administration sending in the US military because Mr. Obama has no concept of or stomach to use military force and would most likely fecklessly call for a useless UN resolution as he did when Russia invaded Georgia.

The Pakistan transition is going to be very dangerous. This is from the influential Pakistani newspaper "Dawn" - 20 Aug 2008:-

"Now that the political leadership is firmly in control, the United States does not want any ambiguities about ISI’s role in the war on terror, says a State Department official. In an exclusive briefing to Dawn, the official also said the United States wanted President Pervez Musharraf to be treated with respect even after his ouster. Since officials conducting such briefings are not named, Dawn cannot identify the official who explained in detail how the United States stayed engaged with Pakistani leaders throughout the process that led to a peaceful resolution of the impeachment dispute.

“I think it is going to be very important that every organisation, every institution, is completely lined up to protect the nation,” said the official while explaining how Washington expected Pakistan’s political leadership to fight terrorism. “That means there can’t be any ambiguities about ISI anymore,” said the official. Asked if there were ambiguities about ISI’s role in the war on terror, the official said: “Sure, there have been for years.”

Asked if the United States made sure that Mr Musharraf was not arrested or tried for alleged violations of the Pakistani Constitution, the official said: “I would not say we had made sure. We have always said he is a friend of ours and he needs to be treated with respect.” Asked if the US would continue to use its influence to ensure that Mr Musharraf was not arrested or tried after his ouster, the official said: “Our desire to see him treated with respect will always be the case. How it plays out, what exact deals they make, is up to them.”

The official said the United States also encouraged Britain and Saudi Arabia to get involved in the process that led to Mr Musharraf’s resignation. The Saudis sent their intelligence chief Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz and the British sent their former ambassador in Islamabad, Mark Lyall Grant, to negotiate the terms for Mr Musharraf’s departure.
Full Text of Report

The President of the Pakistan Supreme Court Bar Assocation, Aitzaz Ahsan, who led the movement for the reinstatement of the sacked Judges has accused one of the UK go-betweens of setting up a deal to have Musharaff resign and escape impeachment BBC Report

Meanwhile the Government seems not to be in control of the ISI:-

"Meanwhile, the ruling alliance that was formed after the February elections appears to have degenerated into an unsavoury union of strange bedfellows. But there are some sectors, traditionally handled by the army, where life goes on as usual. The military statistics released by the Pentagon late last month suggest an almost 40% increase in attacks by Taleban militants in eastern Afghanistan. Nato forces believe this is due to increased infiltration by militants from sanctuaries in the adjacent Pakistani tribal region. On the eastern front, the peace process with India seems to be coming under stress following recent border clashes between Indian and Pakistani troops across the Line of Control (LoC) that divides the disputed Kashmir region.

The response of Pakistan's pro-establishment analysts is - the militants are not in our control, and the Indians are encircling us both from their spy stations in Afghanistan and from across the Line of Control in Kashmir. But observers in India and Afghanistan believe that while the new Pakistan People's Party (PPP) government struggles to find its feet, the country's top intelligence outfit, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), is resurrecting the Indian threat as a means to divert attention from its "strategic assets" - Islamic militants - in the region.

The Pakistani government, led by the reputedly anti-establishment PPP, appears to be in two minds on the issue.

During his visit to the United States this week, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani put on a brave face amid allegations that the ISI was tipping off militants about the moves of coalition troops in Afghanistan. "Actually, ISI is a great institution," he told CBS in an interview. "As far as this is concerned [that] some of them... are sympathetic to the militants, this is not believable."

But just days before this statement, Mr Gilani himself had issued an order putting the ISI under the Interior Ministry, a step clearly intended to bring the service under more direct civilian control. Eyebrows were raised when he had to rescind that order within six hours, presumably after a shocked military ratcheted up the pressure on his government.
BBC Report

Meanwhile, a Taliban Commander in South Waziristan gave his viewpoint:-

"The Taleban are committed to their word," he says. "The onus is now on the government - whether they hold to their word, or remain in the alliance with the US." If that persists, Commander Mehsud says, the militants will have no choice but return to their path of resistance. "We do not want to fight Pakistan or the army. But if they continue to be slaves to US demands, then we our hands will be forced. "There can be no deal with the US." BBC Report

Both in Afghanistan and the FATF there has been excessive reliance on air power to seek to compensate for a lack of boots on the ground and that is having the inevitable effect of alienating the local population. They are reverting to the Taliban. This from an AFP Report:-

"Clashes and kidnappings in Kapisa and Wardak provinces, which neighbour Kabul, have stepped up, while the road between the capital and southern city of Kandahar has become one of the most dangerous in the country. "The recent attacks around Kabul are good indicators that the Taliban are reaching Kabul," said Afghan historian, researcher and political analyst, Habibullah Rafi. "In a pre-planned program, we see now that they are reaching Kabul step by step," he told AFP. He said the militants were using "passages" to reach the city, such as Sarobi, Kapisa, Logar and Wardak. The heavily secured capital, which normally sees less of the near daily extremist attacks in the southern and eastern borders with Pakistan, last month suffered it deadliest suicide attack - a blast on the Indian embassy that killed around 60 people.

Kabul was on lockdown Monday, the anniversary of Afghanistan's defeat of the British army 89 years ago, with 7,000 police on stepped-up security duty after warnings from international forces of possible attacks. Another analyst, Haroun Mir, said the tactic of closing in on the capital was something used by Afghan fighters during their resistance to the Soviet occupation of the 1980s. "If you look at what happened during the Soviet times, Kabul was surrounded by mujahedeen forces," said Mir, a co-founder of the Afghanistan Centre for Research and Policy Studies.

"Now you are seeing the same thing happening again . . . and the government is unable to prevent it," he said. "It is a deliberate tactic." Attacks are increasing on the main roads into the city from Jalalabad in the east and Kandahar in the south, with growing focus on supply and fuel tankers, he said. Several militants attacked one such convoy on the Kabul-Kandahar road on Sunday, leaving nine private security guards dead and about 30 rebels slain in the counterattack. The Senlis Council think-tank issued a statement last week saying that recent attacks in and around Kabul showed the Taliban were closing in on the capital, with Wardak province largely under rebel control. The think-tank said the Taliban had a permanent presence in more than half - 54 per cent - of Afghan territory.
AFP report on

All this goes to show that the Afghan/Pak situation is deteriorating, not improving, and that overly simplistic assertions, whether from our own "loathsome spotted reptile" (or from John McSame) only go to demonstrate a lack of understanding of both the political and the military complexities of the situation.

People who were wrong on Iraq cannot be trusted to be right on Afghanistan/Pakistan.

Here is but one example of Russian provocation which set off the war.

What the fuck are you talking about? You provided evidence that Georgia launched an attack on Ossetia. You provided no evidence that Georgia was provoked into that attack.


I realize that the EU is being blackmailed by Russia impliedly threatening to stop its energy supplies. Starting with Reagan, the US warned Europe that they were placing themselves in that position. They listened to Reagan, but then went ahead after the Cold War was won, believing the nonsense about the "end of history." Now, they are further neutered than before.

This is just one of a myriad of examples why I cannot take the EU seriously as a world player.


The BBC claim that the Taliban control much of the country is baseless nonsense. However, I did find it interesting to learn recently that the Taliban shifted away from the south where the US had been routinely decimating them to move against the EU troops on guard duty in the north thinking that they would not have to fight.

The EU has made it clear that they will not fight. I wonder if the Taliban are now trying to bloody the EU to make them cut and run.

The BBC claim that the Taliban control much of the country is baseless nonsense.

No, your claims to the contrary are basesless nonsens. The reports from imbedded journalists make it quite clear who controls the country.


Name one hamlet, nevertheless a city, in Afghanistan which the Taiban controls.

There is a fundamental difference between being able to infiltrate an area and controlling which apparently completely escapes you and the BBC reporters.

Our SF are almost certainly infiltrating Iran to deal with various Iranian mischief in the area, but they do not control any part of Iran.

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Let's get one thing clear for the sake of those who might otherwise be misled by your nonsense, the Georgia situation is a "both to blame" one and anyone who thinks otherwise really doesn't know too much about the history of the matter.

For a little learning on the subject, try Abkhazia and South Ossetia: heart of conflict, key to solution: George Hewett. You might also try reading what Mikhail Gorbachev wrote in the Washington Post on 12th August: A Path to Peace in the Caucasus

Obviously, as a "loathsome spotted reptile", you will only know what you have picked up from the Neocon propaganda machine.

But if you had had any practical experience of peace-keeping, or of peace enforcement, or of nation-building, or even of international civil dispute resolution at a reasonably substantial level, then you would have the wit to realise that the OSCE process or something like it is the only kind of process which can - over time - resolve the deep-rooted ethnic problems at the origin of this dispute. What the process certainly did not need was the wanton encouragement given by paid lobbyists and others (including McSame) to Saakashvili. The patient work of the OSCE since 1992 has thereby been put back by possibly 25 years.

As for your equally clueless comment on the Afghan/Pak situation, if you think the US operations in that area are going so well, so be it, but there are many better informed persons who think otherwise. Reality will hit you sooner or later.

You also wrote this:-

"The EU has made it clear that they will not fight. I wonder if the Taliban are now trying to bloody the EU to make them cut and run."

Bart, you may have once have been an officer in the US Army, but you are certainly no gentleman. For your information 112 UK service members have died on active service in Afghanistan. Pro rata to the US population that is equivalent to 565 fatalities which is about level with the US figure. The French lost 21 personnel only yesterday. Are comments like that typical of your idea of how to make friends and influence people among your country's allies? If so, Uncle Sam did not get much of a bargain for the brief period during which you had the honour to serve in his uniform.

Whenever I read your drivel, nothing springs more to mind than a cricketing bon mot from the time of the late great England CaptainFred Trueman:

A fielder let a ball through his legs. "I'm sorry, Mr Trueman", he said, "I should have kept my legs together".

"Nay, lad", said his captain, "thy mother should've".

Name one hamlet, nevertheless a city, in Afghanistan which the Taiban controls.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 12:30 PM

It appears that they control most of the country. US forces were being observed by the Taliban from the moment they left their base to the moment they returned to base. US forces did not appear to have the same capability. When they set up an observation post, the Taliban has already covered the location with at least 8 IEDs.

I'm not sure how you define control, but it seems to me that the people who can walk down Main St without worrying about being blown up are in control. That would be the Taliban.

Do "free trade" and "free markets" apply to energy? Must there be both a willing seller and a willing buyer?

Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm & constant.
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