Saturday, April 15, 2006

Rushed for time today see my other blog for more on Rummy.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

From the 'what the f...' department

I heard a story on the The World last night that said David Duke got a degree from a Ukrainian university. Not being able to believe my ears, I went to David Duke's web site and sure enough...

"Jewish leaders in Ukraine are condemning the actions of a major university in Ukraine (MAUP) for awarding a full doctorate to the notorious American anti-Semite David Duke. MAUP, an acronym for the largest university system in Ukraine, awarded the controversial former KKK leader and American politician, David Duke, a PhD in History after a successful completion of exams and all doctoral academic requirements, and a spirited Doctoral Defense in an art-adorned academic conference hall adjacent to the office of the MAUP President Prof. Georgy Tchokin."

Maybe, democracy isn't such a good thing after all. In any case, what the hell is David Duke doing in Ukraine and why are Ukrainian professors giving him history degrees? The mind boggles.

Mutiny on the Rummy.

Yet another general has called for Rummy to go. Is that four, or five, I'm losing count.

The WaPo reports that retired Army Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004-2005, was offered a promotion and the the number two position in Iraq but decided to resign because he couldn't work with Rummy(Imagine that!)."We need leadership up there that respects the military as they expect the military to respect them. And that leadership needs to understand teamwork," Batiste says.

Another retired general, Army Maj. Gen. John Riggs, says "everyone pretty much thinks Rumsfeld and the bunch around him should be cleared out."

We can't fire Rummy now, we need him to plan the invasion of Iran. Regime change doesn't happen all by itself you know. He'd better hrry though. because it looks like he's about to lose his entire staff of generals.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Smoking guns at the White House:

The WaPO reports that two days before W. said, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction," referring to two trailers that the administration was selling as mobile chemical laboratories:

"A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons...The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped 'secret' and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories."

I guess, in this case, the president didn't find this information significant enough to declassify in the "public interest." Scott McClellean says the Post story is another example of "reckless reporting." NPR reported today that he said such a preliminary report wouldn't have made its way to the president. Of course, that may be true, but if he didn't know whether they was evidence of chemical weapons before the report came in, why did he come out and shoot his mouth off?

The report goes on to say:

"The trailers -- along with aluminum tubes acquired by Iraq for what was claimed to be a nuclear weapons program -- were primary pieces of evidence offered by the Bush administration before the war to support its contention that Iraq was making weapons of mass destruction."

Remember those aluminum tubes?

In August of 1995 Hussein Kamal, Saddam's son-in-law and chief of all weapons projects in Iraq, defected to Jordan and spilled the beans on Saddam's lack of WMD.

In regard to centrifuges he said:

"There were centrifuges. It was a department of the Ministry of Agriculture. It was situated at Al Salih...They manufacture their own centrifuges in two ways. One way was from maraging steel and the second Â? using carbon fibres. All centrifuges worked but they preferred the ones made of carbon fibre. With carbon fibre centrifuges, the speed of 60,000 rounds per minute was achieved and they were about to go to 100,000. This would be done in a different area but the activity was stopped by the war."

No mention of aluminum tubes I can see there.

He also told the inspectors, "I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons - biological, chemical, missile, nuclear were destroyed." Some in the CIA and the administration discounted this and, in fact, Colin Powell used his defection as a further reason to go to war.

Powell said in his imfamous speech to the UN on Feb. 5 2003: "It took years for Iraq to finally admit that it had produced four tons of the deadly nerve agent, VX. A single drop of VX on the skin will kill in minutes. Four tons. The admission only came out after inspectors collected documentation as a result of the defection of Hussein Kamal, Saddam Hussein's late son-in-law."

What he didn't mention, naturally, was that part about destroying all the WMD.

Barton Gellman wrote in an article in the WaPo in Jan. of 2004 that he has found proof that Kamal was telling the truth. Gellam writes:

"The new evidence appears to be a contemporary record, from inside the Iraqi government, of a pivotal moment in Baghdad's long struggle to shield arms programs from outside scrutiny. The document, written just after the defection of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law on Aug. 8, 1995, anticipates the collapse of cover stories for weapons that had yet to be disclosed. Read alongside subsequent discoveries made by U.N. inspectors, the document supports Iraq's claim that it destroyed all production stocks of lethal pathogens before inspectors knew they existed.

"Hossam Amin, then -- and until his April 27 arrest -- the head of Iraq's National Monitoring Directorate," wrote a damage report to Saddam's son Qusay that, Gellam writes, "now suggests that Kamel left little or nothing out."

"Just before his 'sudden and regrettable flight and surrender to the bosom of the enemy,' Amin wrote, 'the traitor Hussein Kamel' received a detailed briefing on 'the points of weakness and the points of strength' in Iraq's concealment efforts."

This is the smoking gun if there ever was one. They knew from the guy who actually destroyed the WMD that Iraq had nothing. If they were sceptical about the veracity of what he was saying, all doubts should have evaporated when he went back to Iraq and Saddam had him killed.

Brazil can teach us a lesson.

The NYT reports that Brazil has found a way out of its dependence on fossil fuel. For the past thirty years Brazil has been trying to get the oil monkey off their backs and they appear to have succeeded. They turn sugar cane into ethanol; a perfect renewable and cheap energy source, which also produces a lot less greenhouse gases. They can get 8 times as much energy out of sugar cane as we do out of corn and they don't have to use fossil fuel to produce it. And they don't waste anything in the process; the residue of the cane stalks is compressed into a juice which is used to generate the energy to make the ethanol and the other byproducts go into the fertilizer to grow the cane; a virtuous circle if I ever saw one.

The coolest thing about the whole thing is their "flex-fuel" motors that allow drivers to turn from ethanol to gas with the flip of a switch. 70% of all cars on the road in Brazil, 1.1 million vehicles by the end of this year, are now run by flex-fuel engines. The NYT quotes Vincente Lourenco from General Motors do Brasil as saying, "motorists liked the flex-fuel system from the start because it permits them free choice and puts them in control." Barry Engle of Ford do Brasil says, "From the consumer standpoint, it’s wonderful, because you get flexibility and you don't have to pay for it."

How about that; freedom of choice for the consumer and cheap energy that doesn't promote global warming? And an added benefit is that Brazil doesn't have to spend trillions of dollars on its military to protect its only source of energy. Why aren't we doing this?

George Bush talks a good game about our need to end our addiction to oil, but he's basically president Gas. As long as he's in office there's not a chance in hell we'll be going down the road to energy independence, but a less oil drenched president in the future might be able to get us to kick the habit. Obviously, it took the Brazilians thirty years to get to this point, but they're not the most powerful nation on Earth, either.

We spent a billion dollars in the sixties to make spaceships to go to the moon, powered by hydrogen fuel cells and computers that consisted metal wires wrapped around a tube with indentations for "on and off" (1and 0). If we could do all that with duct tape and bailing wire, we ought to be able to figure out how to run our cars on plants in this age of super computers and high-tech toothbrushes.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

More "wild speculation."

Willaim Arkin in the WaPo writes that:

"The public needs to know first, that this planning includes preemptive plans that the President could approve and implement with 12 hours notice. Congress should take notice of the fact that there is a real war plan -- CONPLAN 8022 -- and it could be implemented tomorrow."

Second, the public needs to know that the train has left the station on bigger war planning, that a ground war -- despite the Post claim yesterday that a land invasion "is not contemplated" -- is also being prepared. It is a real war plan; I've heard CONPLAN 1025."


The Nuclear Information Project says:

"At the end of September 2006, the Joint Functional Component Command for Space and Global Strike is scheduled to achieve Full Operational Capability (FOC). That event builds on Global Strike capabilities developed over many years to provide new offensive strike options to the President against proliferators of weapons of mass destruction."

"...the nuclear counterproliferation mission was controversial because it appeared to broaden rather than reduce the role of nuclear weapons. The attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in September 2001 removed those constraints and led to the formulation of new guidance that has spawned a highly offensive Global Strike mission with prompt or even preemptive strike planning against imminent threats anywhere on (and under) the face of the Earth."

Millions could be at risk from W.'s nuclear threats.

Yesterday W. finally got around to talking about Sy Hersh's story in the New Yorker that says Bush is planning on possibly using nukes in any attack on Iran. It's all "wild speculation," he says. The WaPo reports he "emphasized that his doctrine of preempting threats does not necessarily mean the United States has to use force to stop other countries from developing weapons of mass destruction."

W. says, "I know here in Washington prevention means force. It doesn't mean force, necessarily. In this case, it means diplomacy." Of course it does, that's why according to Hersh so many officers are thinking about resigning if W. doesn't take the nuclear option off the table.

Hersh said on CNN:

"What I'm writing here is that if this [plan to use nukes] isn't removed and I say this very seriously, I've been around this town for 40 years, some senior officers are prepared to resign. They're that upset about the fact that this plan is kept in. And one thing about our military, they're very loyal to the president, but they're getting to the edge. They're getting to the edge with not only Rumsfeld, but with Cheney and the President."

It's about time these officers start honoring their oath to the constitution and not to whoever happens to be president. As Lt. General Newbold said in an article in the NYT, "We must never again stand by quietly while those ignorant of and casual about war lead us into another one and then mismanage the conduct of it." has information on the effects of the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNE) If it were actually used in Iran, millions of people could be killed and the fallout of such an attack would spread over a large swath of the Middle East and South Asia.

Anyone, who seriously thinks a "limited" nuclear stike by a "bunker buster" can be achieved in Iran ought to be relieved of their duty immediatly and locked up in a looney bin.

A "Free Executive Study" finds that "current experience and empirical study indicate that earth-pentrator weapons cannot penetrate to depths required for total containment of the effects of a nuclear weapon."

For a one kiloton bomb: "The same yield and weather conditions, the number of casualties from an earth-penetrater detonated a few at a few meters depth, is for practical purposes, equal to that from a surface busrt of the same weapon yeild...For attacks near or in densely populated urban areas using nuclear earth-penetrater weapons on hard and deeply buried targets (HDBTs), the number of casualties can range from thousdands to more than a million."

Iraq from 50,000 feet.

Today the Inquirer published a column by Maj. Kevin Kelly, an F-14 fighter pilot with the New Jersey Air National Guard who is currently deployed in Iraq. He writes of the great pride he feels to be serving with all the brave soldiers fighting day-in-and-day-out to secure freedom for the Iraqi people. I share his feeling of pride in our fighting people wherever they're deployed overseas and this is precisely why I think we should bring those the troops home from Iraq as quickly as possible. It may have been a "spectacularly good thing to get rid of Saddam Hussein and his rapist heirs," but that great mission was accomplished over three years ago. Why are we still there now? Why are good men and women with their whole futures ahead of them still dying every day in Iraq? And in his flights over Iraq everyday has the Major been able to find any evidence of WMD, because I thought that was the reason stated by our "war president" for the invasion in the first place.

Since there never were any WMD, the rationale for our continued presence in Iraq has shifted to "helping the Iraqis with their fledgling democracy." Is this cause "righteous" enough for us to remain in Iraq for as long as our forces have been in Germany, Japan and South Korea? Is it worth our blood and treasure to keep 133,000 U.S. troops in harm's way for as long as it takes the various religious and tribal factions to settle their century's old blood feuds? Is Maj. Kelly asking the future mothers of America to possibly sacrifice their son's and daughter's lives to secure a democratically elected theocracy led by Muktada al-Sadr?

The "vast majority" of Iraqis may be grateful to us that we saved them from Saddam Hussein and his brutal regime, but they're certainly not grateful to us now for our seemingly endless military presence there. Our occupation has inadvertently killed perhaps a 100,000 Iraqis and the country is vastly worse off now then it was before we arrived. Iraq now has an infant mortality rate higher than that of Haiti, it has less electricity, less potable water, rampant violence and a total lack of security; which keeps children at home and not at school for fear of being blown up or kidnapped. Is all of this pain and suffering we've inflicted really "among the noblest things we have ever done?"

A growing number of Iraqis, hundreds of whom are dying every week in the cross-fire of our noble cause to bring them democracy ---a democracy that their leaders clearly don't want --- are increasingly seeing us as the enemy, not the insurgents. We may not be "intimidated by bullets," but neither are the insurgents. We cannot "win" a war against an enemy who is willing to blow himself up to drive us out of his homeland. Unless we are willing to suffer an equal amount of casualties in a decade's long struggle for Iraqi "democracy," which the American people are not, we should take the rose colored glasses off and face the reality of the situation.

Retired Lt. General Gregory Newbold recently said that the decision to invade Iraq "was done with a casualness and swagger that is the special province of those who have never had to execute these missions--- or bury the results." If Maj. Kelly truly believes Iraqi democracy is worth all the blood and flag-draped coffins, I would suggest he put his money where his rhetoric is and sign up for an infantry deployment.

Monday, April 10, 2006

"Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."

Sy Hersh writes in his piece in the New Yorker that the brain trusters in the administration now consider Iran's Mahmoud Ahmandinejad to be this year's new Hitler. In fact, this "crisis" is so serious that the only way to counter the threat presented by Mahmoud Hitler might be the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Where have we heard this before?

Remember when the neocons argument for regime change in Iraq was that Saddam was the new Hitler? A typical example of this hype was Shimon Perez, the former Israeli Labour PM, saying that postponing an attack on Saddam would be "taking maybe the same risk that was taken by Europe in 1939 in the face of the emergence of Adolph Hitler."

It's the same rhetoric all over again. The Munich metaphor that was used back then is now being employed to justify an attack on Iran, and by the same people. Once again, the Israelis are the ones most worked up about Iran getting its hands on a nuke and they're lobbying hard for us to do something about it.

The WaPO reported yesterday, "The administration is also coming under pressure from Israel, which has warned the Bush team that Iran is closer to developing a nuclear bomb than Washington thinks and that a moment of decision is fast approaching."

I understand the Israelis are concerned about a country that would try to get a nuke while its president is calling for Israel's destruction, but is a full scale war with Iran in our best interests?

This is nothing new, Israel has been working the Iran angle for a long time. Long before Dick Cheney rolled out the maps of Iraq's oil wells in 2001, and before the Bush administration started pitching the idea of invading Iraq in 2002, the Israelis were trying to sell us on the idea of taking care of Iran.

Back in the nineties, Labour MP and former minister Mosche Sneh was saying things like, Israel "cannot possibly put up with a nuclear bomb in Iranian hands," warning darkly that, "if Western states don't do their duty Israel will find itself forced to act alone, and will accomplish the task by any means." By any means, meaning the nuclear option.

Just imagine what kind of trouble we'd be in if Israel nuked a Muslim country! This thinly veiled blackmail threat was reiterated by Cheney to justify us going after Iran when he said, "Given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel, the Israelis might well decide to act first, and let the rest of the world worry about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterwards."

Is this any way to run our foreign policy? We have to take out perceived threats to Israel before they do something stupid and leave us to clean up the mess? Who is the super power here and who is the country the size of Rhode Island?

MAD in the Middle East:

Nuclear deterrence in the Middle East is based on the old Cold War formulation of Mutually Assured Destruction, but in this case MAD is on steroids and is literally mad. George Bush says Iran is a "global threat to world peace," but I don't think most Americans are looking at this "threat" the same way he or the Israelis are. If we're going down the road to Armageddon for Israel, we'd better understand just how far they're prepared to go first.

This is a pretty crazy neighborhood we're dealing with and we're already way over our heads in Iraq. Obviously, Ahmadinejad is as batty as they come, but Israel also has a few nuts of its own. The reason the Israelis see a nuclear Iran as such a dire threat is that they see there's little chance that any attack on Iran, even a nuclear one, would wipe that country off the face of the map. However, Israel could very easily be wiped off the map, hence the understandable fear of nukes in the hands of the Mullahs.

In his excellent book "The Gun and the Olive Branch," David Hersh quotes Hebrew University's professor Martin van Creveld and his pessimistic appraisal of Israel's potential reaction to another existential threat, at the time the second Intifada. If Israel were going to be destroyed by the terrorists, there was only one thing to do:

"We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force...Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: 'Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.' Our armed forces...are not the thirtieth strongest in the world, but rather the second or third. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that will happen, before Israel goes under." [Indymedia]

Of course, he was hoping this would never happen...unlike Ephraim Kison. Kison wrote in the Jerusalem Post on April 26, 1975 that Israel needed the bomb because it could never win an arms race with all its Arab neighbors. Such a race, therefore, even with U.S. money and arms, was ultimately self-defeating:

"Our one and only alternative to our gradual destruction by arms race is to develop a nuclear deterrent of our own. It's our single chance for telling our enemies and our one friend: that's it, we're not playing anymore....Sooner or later we'll have to say it out loud. Sooner or later we'll have to announce: if any Arab army crosses this green line, we reserve the right to use atomic weapons, and if he crosses the red line, we'll drop the bomb automatically, even if this whole country is blown up by nuclear retaliation. You don't believe it? Try us!

Are we really prepared for what could happen if we're seen to be nuking Iran for Israel? This is not to say that I think the government of Israel is contemplating an apocalypse, but this kind of mentality does play right into the hands of some of George Bush's most hardcore religious supporters and their fevered visions of the coming Rapture. This is not just me saying this, Republican strategist Kevin Phillips has written that George Bush has messianic tendencies of his own that tract with those "end timers" so enamored of Bush and his crusade against Islam.

So, are we as Americans really prepared to fight Norman Podhoretz' World War IV to the death with "militant Islam" if Sy Hersh is right about this? The media is staying far, far away from this story and "experts" like John Pike are dismissing the whole thing as the administration simply using psychological warfare against the Iranians. It's strange that he's saying this now because back in 2003 he said, "Within two years, either the US or Israelis are going to attack Iran’s (nuclear sites) or acquiesce in Iran being a nuclear state." (Of course, John Pike also said Willy Pete was a harmless chemical and all those burned bodies in Fallujah looked more like decomposing bodies then victims of shake and bake.)

The administration says it’s focused on a diplomatic solution to the standoff with Iran, but then again W. said that before Iraq too. So, the assurances of pundits and political flaks that there's nothing to this talk of "shock and awe" over Tehran is not so reassuring. All the "responsible" journalists and talking heads are tut tutting Sy Hersh again, and W. is calling it "wild speculation," but is what he reports really so far fetched, based on what happened before and after Iraq?
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