Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Who Makes The Middle East?

Courtesy Of:
By Ran HaCohen
November 29, 2006

A revealing book I have recently read about the present Middle East is Joris Luyendijk's Almost Human. Luyendijk was a Dutch journalist who spent several years (1998-2003) in Arab countries as well as in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, working for two Dutch quality newspapers and for the television. His background as a social science student, his command of Arabic and his academic research in Egypt, as well as the fact that he deserted the journalistic profession, all give him a unique critical perspective on the "Middle East," both as an actual reality and as a permanent media item. In fact, the gap between these two – between the Mideast's reality and its Western image – is the true subject of the book.

How It All Starts:

Luyendijk sheds light on the actual mechanisms of Middle East reporting. The na├»ve news consumer in the West probably imagines the following standard routine: There is, say, a shooting incident in Alexandria, Egypt; the diligent journalist there urgently phones home (Amsterdam, in this case) and reports; and the news editors put the item in the lineup, or on the proper page in the paper. Nothing like it takes place in reality. A more accurate description, as Luyendijk explains, would be: an international news agency (Reuters, AFP, etc.) runs the story from one of their thousands of anonymous informants. CNN (or some other American news giant) deems it important enough to report. The Dutch editor in Amsterdam calls his reporter in Cairo: "Listen, CNN says something about a shooting in Alexandria, what do you know about it?" The poor reporter, obviously, doesn't know anything about it: after all, Cairo is hundreds of miles away from Alexandria, and the Egyptian state-controlled news channels haven't said a word about the incident, and might not do so for another two weeks, or, more likely, may never say a word at all. Since a live interview with the Dutch reporter is scheduled in no time, the best he can do to answer the typical question – "Let's turn live to our reporter in Cairo: What's the atmosphere in Egypt right now?" – is order a room service and ask the waitress what she would say about such an eventuality.

Global reporting on the Middle East is thus in the hands of a very small number of (mostly American) editors who rely on a handful of international news agencies and set the tone for the entire Western media. It goes without saying that their selection of what's news and what's not is not objective nor even representative.

What Do We Know:

The fact is, Luyendijk argues, that we actually know nothing about the Arab world. Our understanding of the world in general via the press is based on a hidden assumption: that of democracy. When a Western reporter in, say, Switzerland tells us what the Swiss think of gay marriage, of German tourists, or of their new prime minister, we assume that one can know what the Swiss think, and that the reporter does know it. But this presupposes a relatively free and democratic environment. If there were no opinion polls in Switzerland, no free elections, no free press; if a Swiss citizen asked to answer a short questionnaire by an anonymous voice on the phone had to fear a subsequent nighttime visit by the secret service demanding explanations – than the whole idea of "public opinion" would not work. But this is precisely how things are in Egypt, Jordan, and almost everywhere else in the Middle East (with the exception of "smaller" Israel, or at least its Jewish portion): there are no free media, no reliable polls, and no way to conduct public opinion research.

All this leaves the stage to the mercy of Western pride and prejudice. The selection of news items (violence, catastrophes, religious fanaticism, court intrigues – Yes; humor, traffic accidents, daily life in general – No), combined with Western projections of "how things must be over there" and the inability to quantify and verify data in a free stream of information (the very basics of responsible journalism) clear the field to reporting that mostly echoes Western prejudices. The image of the Middle East is made mainly in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles, shaping, rather than shaped by, the scanty stream of information coming from Cairo, Amman, or Baghdad.

News From the Holy Land:

Luyendijk spent some time in Israel/Palestine, or "the Holy Land," as he cautiously calls it. The circumstances here, as he describes, are extremely different. If the main problem in the Arab world was a lack of information, due mainly to a lack of democratic freedom and to authoritative regimes, basically turning the reporter's professional life into hell, Israel was a journalistic heaven. Luyendijk describes an overwhelming, perfectly oiled propaganda machine, super-professionally run by the Israeli government and army. The reporter is spoiled by an endless stream of information, perfectly tuned to his needs. The Israelis spoil their guests with exhaustive lists of eloquent speakers, from academic talking heads to common people, ready to say in any of some 40 different languages those precious sound bites that television loves so much. You need a Dutch-speaking West Bank settler who lost a spouse in a terror attack? No problem, here are several phone numbers, here are the quotes, here's an expert's view, here's some recent footage. The foreign reporter can just sit back in his armchair, and the Israeli PR machine will do his work better than he could ever dream of. In a matter of hours after a suicide attack, the Israeli army can take you to the bomber's family, to hear a proud and delighted father wishing all his children would follow his brave son and kill Jews and heathens. Luyendijk, in an exceptional effort, stayed behind and managed to talk to such a family more intimately, in Arabic, off camera; that's when different voices can be heard, not only giving background information but expressing true pain, trauma, even anger at those who so quickly brought the bomber's bleeding organs back to his shocked family, wrapped in a plastic bag. But these voices can be heard only later, in private, and mostly off the record, in order not to breach Palestinian solidarity and dignity codes. You may use such stuff in a newspaper report, but it's lost on television.

The Ramallah Lynching Revisited:

Luyendijk illustrates the overwhelming Israeli media superiority in the notorious lynching of two Israeli soldiers in Ramallah in October 2000, cynically exploited by Ehud Barak's government to mobilize home and international support for the murderous oppression of the Intifada. Luyendijk shows how the Israeli propaganda machine, followed by the Western media, portrayed the event as that of two innocent Israelis abused and killed by a Palestinian mob, their corpses thrown out of a window in Ramallah – we all remember the pictures. The Palestinian side of the story was left unheard: the two uniformed Israeli soldiers entered the autonomous Ramallah during the mass funeral of a Palestinian child, whose body was found in an Israeli settlement a day before: that's why so many media teams happened to be in Ramallah at the time. Rumors spread that the soldiers invaded Ramallah in order to spill even more Palestinian blood. This does not excuse their killing, but two uniformed occupier's soldiers violating Palestinian autonomous territory during a funeral of a murdered child is a very different story from the one that stayed in the Western collective memory – namely, as yet another instance of the eternal framing "They are killing innocent Jews" (file under anti-Semitism, Holocaust, etc.).

These are just some of so many insights found in Luyendijk's book, which is written not as a polemic or a political manifesto, but as a kind of an outsider's report on Western coverage of the Middle East. The book is currently available in Dutch only; I hope some English-language publisher will pick up the glove and translate it.


US Masking 'Invasion' Of Somalia With Peacekeeping

Courtesy Of: yahoo News
From: Agence France-Presse
Tue Nov 28, 2006
11:09 AM ET

ASMARA (AFP) - Eritrea has lashed out at the United States for allegedly masking an "invasion" of Somalia by backing a UN Security Council resolution that would authorize peacekeepers for the country.

In a new sign of deteriorating relations between Washington and Asmara, Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu accused the United States Tuesday of supporting a proposal that could destabilize the entire Horn of Africa.

"The peacekeeping force has been totally authored by its architects -- the United States," he said. "It is against the wishes of the Somali people, and the US is using the peacekeeping force to cover its invasion in Somalia."

Washington plans to introduce a draft resolution at the Security Council this week to authorize a regional peackeeping mission and ease a 1992 arms embargo against Somalia in order to keep it equipped.

The move is aimed at bolstering the weak but internationally recognized Somali government, which is on the verge of all-out war with powerful Islamists in control of Mogadishu and much of southern and central Somalia.

...Some diplomats and analysts fear that UN Security Council approval of the peacekeeping force, which the Islamists have vowed to fight, will lead to broader regional conflict, a sentiment echoed by Ali Abdu.

"It would have very dire consequences, not only for Somalia, but on security and stability in the whole region," he said. "The solution lies in the hands of the Somalis, who should be left alone to solve their own problems."

His comments come amid growing tension between the United States, which is among those accusing Asmara of meddling in Somalia, and Eritrea, which says Washington is using Ethiopia to fight the Islamists...


"Surrender To The Taliban"

Courtesy Of: The Telegraph
By Ahmed Rashid in Islamabad
Last Updated: 8:21 am GMT

--Accept defeat by Taliban, Pakistan tells Nato--

Senior Pakistani officials are urging Nato countries to accept the Taliban and work towards a new coalition government in Kabul that might exclude the Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

Pakistan's foreign minister, Khurshid Kasuri, has said in private briefings to foreign ministers of some Nato member states that the Taliban are winning the war in Afghanistan and Nato is bound to fail. He has advised against sending more troops.

Western ministers have been stunned. "Kasuri is basically asking Nato to surrender and to negotiate with the Taliban," said one Western official who met the minister recently.

...Lt Gen Ali Mohammed Jan Orakzai, governor of the volatile North West Frontier Province has stated publicly that the US, Britain and Nato have already failed in Afghanistan. "Either it is a lack of understanding or it is a lack of courage to admit their failures," he said recently.

Gen Orakzai insists that the Taliban represent the Pashtun population, Afghanistan's largest and Pakistan's second largest ethnic group, and they now lead a "national resistance" movement to throw out Western occupation forces, just as there is in Iraq.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The "Gaza-Solution" And The Ongoing War On Islam

By Mike Whitney

“People do not forget. They do not forget the death of their fellows, they do not forget torture and mutilation, they do not forget injustice, they do not forget oppression, they do not forget the terrorism of mighty powers. They not only don’t forget; they also strike back.” Harold Pinter, Nobel Laureate

The central tenet of American foreign policy hasn’t changed since the early 1980s when Secretary of State Henry Kissinger summarized our involvement in the Iraq-Iraq War saying, “I hope they kill each other.” Kissinger’s dictum reveals the basic racial and religious odium which animates the current policy and has become the organizing principle for maintaining the global empire.

Now that the Muslim world has been systematically ravaged from the southern-most part Gaza to the northern tip of Afghanistan, we can see that the application of the Kissinger Doctrine is an effective method for decimating societies where coveted resources are located.

By all accounts, it’s been a huge success.

The policy seems to be working best in Iraq, where provocative counterinsurgency operations have incited a massive sectarian war. The conflict produces an ever-increasing number of civilian casualties many of whom have been killed by other Iraqis. No doubt Kissinger is gratified that his theory is working out so splendidly.

The western media portrays the disaster in Iraq as the natural upshot of years of repression under the former dictator, Saddam Hussein. But, Saddam had nothing to do with the violence which is ripping Baghdad apart. That’s just a way of pacifying the American public so they can go on their Christmas buying-spree without pangs of remorse. In fact Saddam is no different than America’s other tyrant-friends in Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan. He simply stood in the way of Big Oil’s dream of direct control of Iraq’s resources and created a likely rival for “good friend” Israel.

The violence in Iraq is entirely America’s doing; just follow the bloody footprints straight to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. There's no need to look any further.

The Bush team has ignited a firestorm in Iraq which has swept through the capital and countryside; pitting Arab against Arab, and Muslim against Muslim. That was the object from the very beginning. Now that the violence is spinning out of control and could cross borders into neighboring countries, the grown-up members of the policy-establishment, like James Baker, are getting jittery and want to see a change of direction. Baker isn’t bothered by the death and destruction as long as it is carried out with discretion and doesn’t disrupt other imperial projects in Latin America, Africa, and Central Asia. But Iraq has swallowed American foreign policy whole; leaving Bush little time (or resources) to deal with other urgent matters in the rest of the world.

The military is over-extended and bogged down, the situation on the ground is chaotic, and American prestige has taken a beating. The advocates of “creative destruction” have released the genie from the bottle and energized the anarchic forces of regional rebellion. Now, the outcome is anyone’s guess. What is certain, though, is that Bush’s plan for an endless source of cheap gas and security for Israel has taken a ruinous turn for the worse.

Israel has a different perspective on the turmoil in Iraq. Olmert has embraced the neoconservative ideal of “positive instability” and clings to the notion that toppling foreign regimes and disrupting Arab countries improves his chances for regional dominance. In fact, just last week Olmert opined that the war in Iraq has actually been “better for the safety and security of Israel”. Olmert still believes that Israel’s imperial aspirations are fortified by attacking and fragmenting other countries in the Arab world. No doubt, his response comes as no surprise to anyone in the region.

It’s easy to see how the assassination of Lebanese parliamentarian Pierre Gemayel fits perfectly with Olmert’s world view. If violence breaks out between the various Lebanese groups, then the Christians will serve as a “proxy army” for Israeli interests. What could be better for Olmert? That means he wouldn’t have to restart the 34 Day War and risk the lives of Israeli troops. He could just sit back a watch as his Lebanese neighbors tear themselves apart in a second civil war and hopefully weaken arch-rival Hezbollah in the process.

No wonder Olmert’s popularity is soaring at 18%.

The Gaza-Solution:

American hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as Israel’s war in Lebanon are part of a broader plan for remaking the Middle East to meet the needs of American oil corporations, banking giants and Israel. The war on terror provides the thinnest of cover for military operations which are clearly colonial in nature. The Pentagon makes no effort to conceal their overall objectives. In fact, Defense Department’s maps are available to the public which outline the area of the Middle East and Central Asia as CentCom; the central battlefield in the global resource war. What more proof does one need that the entire region is in the gun-sights of the Washington warlords?

The most regrettable part of the current conflict is the way in which Muslims have been subject to subtle, but deliberate vilification. This may have more to do with geography than race, but the result is the same. Muslims never appeared on the radar of public opinion before 9-11, now they are regular targets of right wing, xenophobic tirades and carefully crafted government fear-mongering.


Not likely.

Bush and Blair have assured us that “this is not a war against Muslims”, but neither has done anything to silence the racist abuse which spews daily from radio talk-shows or from the op-ed pages of major newspapers. Tom Friedman frequently uses his column to remind us of the problems which are particular to Islam and which can be easily overcome by simply complying with the diktats of Washington and Tel Aviv. Friedman’s annoying paternalism and prejudice is widely shared in the mainstream media where unreflective buffoons are all-too eager to blame the victims of occupation, exploitation and corporate vandalism.

If Muslims believe that the war on terror is actually a war against Islam; it’s because all the facts point to that conclusion. Sober leaders in the foreign policy establishment should carefully consider the implications of this strategy before continuing down this path. Waging a culture war against one and a half billion Muslims who occupy the lands where we get our vital resources does not auger well for our long-range interests. America’s economic viability is held together by a webbing of pipelines, tankers, oil platforms and oil facilities. All of these are vulnerable to the attacks of terrorists, guerillas, dissidents or disgruntled enemies of the empire.

Are we prepared to fight them all?

A “war of civilizations”; is the misguided progeny of neoconservative fanatics. Their plan is now writ large across the entire region so everyone can see that the US-Israeli war is actually directed at Muslims alone.

This is a huge mistake for which we will all pay dearly.

The war on terror is the greatest public relations swindle of all time. Just look at a map!?! We’re not fighting terror; we’re repositioning military assets to control crucial pipeline routes and oil fields. The administration’s objectives are as plain as day to anyone who knows the least bit about landlocked supplies of oil and natural gas in Central Asia and 60% of the world’s oil in the Middle East. If American industry controls these reserves they can control China’s growth, maintain US military superiority, and force the world to use the debt-plagued greenback into the next century.

Unfortunately, America’s ongoing aggression requires a scapegoat; an unwitting victim that they can demonize and portray as a imminent threat to U.S. national security.


Now we have Muslim-only gulags scattered across the planet where every imaginable method of torture is employed with complete impunity.

We topple their regimes, shame their women, defile their holy book, train their repressive security-forces, incite violence between their religious sects, bomb their cities and mosques, and jail anyone who appears the least bit suspicious.

If we are not “at war with Muslims” then why is the concertina-wire still stretched around Ramadi, Tal Afar, and Falluja? Why the Madras’ still being bombed in Northern Pakistan? Why is Abu Ghraib still overflowing with prisoners? Why are Muslim scholars still refused entry into the United States and Muslim civilians kept off airplanes? Why does right-wing radio still flood the air-waves with their racist bile and anti-Islam vitriol?

And why does the United States still stubbornly refuse to condemn Israel’s criminal attacks on the Palestinians, like last week’s bombing of Beit Hanoun where an entire family was butchered in their sleep?


Bush’s plan for Muslims has been clear since he assembled his flagship-gulag at Guantanamo Bay and presented it as the main icon of the new world order. If Bush wants to prove his sincerity, then he should release Gitmo’s inmates and order the facility be bulldozed into rubble. It is an abomination that should offend anyone with a trace of decency.

We know Bush’s plan for Muslims, because it is identical to that of his ideological-twin, Olmert. They both believe that the final solution to the “Muslim problem” lies in the Gaza Model.

The Gaza Strip is the world’s largest prison camp containing 1.5 million Palestinians. They are limited in their movements and have no reliable access to food, medical aid, clean water, electricity or employment. They do not control their borders, air space, roads or coastline. And, even though their elected officials have none of the powers that are normally associated with national sovereignty, they have been under constant siege by Israeli forces that aggressively destroy any nationalist movement which operates beyond Tel Aviv’s control.

Israel claims the absolute right to kill, detain, abduct or torture anyone it sees fit without providing any means for a legal defense. They show the same disdain for Palestinian human rights as they do for the 60 separate resolutions passed by the United Nations. Israel does as it pleases.

Nothing about the Gaza “open-air” detention facility is accidental. It’s a model that has been meticulously developed over 39 years to create a permanent state of imprisonment for the “undesirables” who have legal title to the land. If we look across the Middle East into Central Asia, we can see that the same fundamental principles for subjugation are being applied to Muslims throughout the region.

The Gaza Model is the logical corollary of Bush’s war on terror. It provides a means for dealing with the people in resource-rich lands who stand in the way of America’s corporate-political expansion. At its core, it is a strategy for “pacification” through segregation, containment and brutality. These are the grim requirements for America’s continued dominance into the next century.

The war on terror is fueled by belligerence, deception and unrelenting aggression against innocent people in their own countries. It is terrorism pure and simple. Bush will deny this, but it is true just the same.
Effects Of The ill-Advised CIA Plot In Iran

Courtesy Of: Press Of Atlantic City
From: Scripps Howard News Service
Published: Monday, November 27, 2006
By John M. Crisp

Now that Iran looms on our horizon, here's a story that every American should know. Journalist Sandra Mackey tells it in "The Iranians," as does Daniel Yergin in "The Prize," his monumental history of oil. But the best extended version of the story that I've read is in "All the Shah's Men" by Stephen Kinzer. Although other historians have told this story as well, I suspect that the average American has never heard of Mohammad Mossadegh and Operation Ajax. To make a long story short:

Kinzer says that democracy dawned in Iran in 1891 when the shah's wives - he had a harem of around 1,600 - gave up smoking in protest of the shah's sale of the tobacco concession to the British. In fact, the shah, Nasir al-Din, sold concessions of all sorts - mineral rights, railroads, banks - to foreigners in order to support his extravagant tastes. But the shah's son committed an even greater treachery on his own country by selling the oil concession to William Knox D'Arcy in 1901, granting exclusive rights to Iranian petroleum to the British for a period of 60 years.

The unfavorable terms of this concession, as well as many other abuses of monarchial power, led to the Iranian Revolution of 1905, the diminishment of the shah's power, the establishment of a parliament and the beginnings of a democratic tradition in Iran. In the meantime, D'Arcy discovered oil, a resource that suddenly became enormously valuable when Britain converted its coal-burning warships to oil just before World War I.

Naturally, the British favored a friendly, compliant monarchy to balance the power of the parliament, which might have other ideas about the extremely unfavorable terms of the petroleum concession. They found their man in Reza Khan and staged a coup in 1921. Reza soon became the shah, a dictatorial leader who suppressed the parliament and fathered Mohammad Reza, who Americans know as the shah of Iran.

The succession of Mohammad Reza, a weak leader with the personality of a playboy, provided an opportunity for the parliament to reassert power in Iran, which it did, under the leadership of Mohammad Mossadegh, a well-educated eccentric who had opposed the shah for many years. By 1951, Mossadegh was the prime minister, and he had emerged as an international spokesman for a global wave of anti-colonial nationalism. He addressed the United Nations and appeared on the cover of "Time" magazine. When Britain refused to renegotiate the exploitative terms of its oil concession, Iran nationalized the petroleum industry, to Britain's great consternation.

The British hinted at an armed invasion and planned a coup, but were unable to acquire the cooperation of President Truman, who had more sympathy for the emerging nationalism of the former colonies than for the old colonial powers. Things changed, however, when Eisenhower became president in 1952. The Dulles brothers, John Foster as secretary of State and Allen as CIA director, both devoted anti-Communists, convinced Eisenhower to support a coup that would depose Mossadegh and restore the power of the shah to stand as a bulwark against the U.S.S.R.

Operation Ajax, planned and financed by the CIA and orchestrated by Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of Teddy Roosevelt, was pulled off in August 1953. Hundreds died. Mossadegh was sent to prison for three years and spent the last 11 years of his life under house arrest. Supported by the U.S., the shah became a dictator who controlled Iran with secret police and terror until he was deposed in 1979, when, some historians believe, the U.S. hostages were taken in order to prevent another restoration of the Shah, like the one that occurred in 1953.

Although most Americans never knew or have forgotten this story, many Iranians have not, and the effects of Operation Ajax persist. But the point of the story isn't to berate ourselves over an unseemly intervention into Iran more than 50 years ago. We should note, however, that the story implies that the current radical regime in Iran isn't inevitable, nor does it enjoy the support of all Iranians. Our diplomacy should be careful not to weaken moderates by overly demonizing the leadership. As bad as its leadership is at present, the country itself isn't inherently evil and it retains echoes of a short-lived democratic tradition in its past.

John M. Crisp teaches in the English Department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas. Email:

Copyright Scripps Howard News Service


Software Will Let Users Dodge Government Internet Censorship

Courtesy Of: The Business Technology Network
By K.C. Jones
November 27, 2006

Developers from the University of Toronto plan to release software this week that will allow residents in restrictive countries to gain uncensored Internet access through friends' and family members' home computers.

The Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre for International Studies announced Sunday that it will release psiphon, a "human rights software project," under General Public License, by Friday. The system, part of the lab's CiviSec Project, is funded by the Open Society Institute.

It is not entirely bulletproof, but developers say it will be difficult for censors to identify and block psiphon.

People in free countries can install the free login with usernames and passwords provided by administrators, and surf the Web.

The people living under censorship (the software developers call them psiphonites) never make a direct connection to Web sites through their own computers. The psiphon Web site contains a warning that bypassing censorship may be against the law and users should seriously consider the risks and potential consequences.

It may be interesting to see how the system goes over in China, where officials claim that, despite studies showing otherwise, they have trouble with access, not deliberate Internet restrictions.


The Secret Government

--The Constitution In Crisis--

Courtesy Of:
From: PBS
By Bill Moyers
RunTime: 21:42

Provided By:
I have much more to show you. Come this way.

It aired on PBS in 1987 and is as good a It aired on PBS in 1987 and is as good as anything on the tape (must see). Moyers is a very respected TV journalist who also worked for Lyndon B. Johnson and has a very professional approach. He interviews many different people involved with the CIA and other government agencies. His documentary gives quite an overview of what has actually happened in the last 50 years regarding the CIA and the cold war (including Iran, Guatamala, Cuba, Viet Nam and Chile). He features such people as Ralph McGeehee and Phil Retinger (both former CIA agents), Rear Admiral Gene La Rocque (Ret. U.S.N.), Theodore Bissell (active in the CIA at the time), Sen. Frank Church and many others. Moyers is so very credible. The full video "The Secret Government" is 90 minutes - this segment is edited by Frank Dorrel to 20 minutes. ...

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Origin Of The Palestine-Israel Conflict

(The Complete Text)

Published By: Jews For Justice In The Middle East

As the periodic bloodshed continues in the Middle East, the search for an equitable solution must come to grips with the root cause of the conflict. The conventional wisdom is that, even if both sides are at fault, the Palestinians are irrational "terrorists" who have no point of view worth listening to. Our position, however, is that the Palestinians have a real grievance: their homeland for over a thousand years was taken, without their consent and mostly by force, during the creation of the state of Israel. And all subsequent crimes - on both sides - inevitably follow from this original injustice.

This paper outlines the history of Palestine to show how this process occurred and what a moral solution to the region's problems should consist of. If you care about the people of the Middle East, Jewish and Arab, you owe it to yourself to read this account of the other side of the historical record.


The standard Zionist position is that they showed up in Palestine in the late 19th century to reclaim their ancestral homeland. Jews bought land and started building up the Jewish community there. They were met with increasingly violent opposition from the Palestinian Arabs, presumably stemming from the Arabs' inherent anti-Semitism. The Zionists were then forced to defend themselves and, in one form or another, this same situation continues up to today.

The problem with this explanation is that it is simply not true, as the documentary evidence in this booklet will show. What really happened was that the Zionist movement, from the beginning, looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the indigenous Arab population so that Israel could be a wholly Jewish state, or as much as was possible. Land bought by the Jewish National Fund was held in the name of the Jewish people and could never be sold or even leased back to Arabs (a situation which continues to the present).

The Arab community, as it became increasingly aware of the Zionists' intentions, strenuously opposed further Jewish immigration and land buying because it posed a real and imminent danger to the very existence of Arab society in Palestine. Because of this opposition, the entire Zionist project never could have been realized without the military backing of the British. The vast majority of the population of Palestine, by the way, had been Arabic since the seventh century A.D. (Over 1200 years)

In short, Zionism was based on a faulty, colonialist world view that the rights of the indigenous inhabitants didn't matter. The Arabs' opposition to Zionism wasn't based on anti-Semitism but rather on a totally reasonable fear of the dispossession of their people.

One further point: being Jewish ourselves, the position we present here is critical of Zionism but is in no way anti-Semitic. We do not believe that the Jews acted worse than any other group might have acted in their situation. The Zionists (who were a distinct minority of the Jewish people until after WWII) had an understandable desire to establish a place where Jews could be masters of their own fate, given the bleak history of Jewish oppression. Especially as the danger to European Jewry crystalized in the late 1930's and after, the actions of the Zionists were propelled by real desperation.

But so were the actions of the Arabs. The mythic "land without people for a people without land" was already home to 700,000 Palestinians in 1919. This is the root of the problem, as we shall see.

Click on the next chapter:

Early History of the Region
The British Mandate Period 1920-1948
The UN Partition of Palestine
Statehood and Expulsion - 1948
The 1967 War and Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza
The History of Terrorism in the Region
Jewish Criticism of Zionism
Zionism and the Holocaust
General Considerations
Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel
Intifada 2000 And The "Peace Process"
Views Of The Future
Conclusion I For Jewish Readers
Conclusion II

British Success Built On 'Misery & Suffocation' Of Slave Boats

Courtesy Of: The Independent
By Genevieve Roberts
Published: 27 November 2006

Some 562 men, women and children made up the human cargo of the slave ship Feroz. Crammed beneath grate-covered hatchways between the decks, left to stew amid the stench of faeces and rotting bodies, each bore the mark of their owner, branded on their skin with a red-hot iron.

After boarding the ship bound for Brazil, Reverend Robert Walsh wrote: "The space was so low that they sat between each other's legs and [were] stowed so close there was no possibility of their lying down or changing their position by night or day. The [children] seemed indifferent as to life or death, and when they were carried on deck, many of them could not stand.

"It was not surprising that they should have endured much sickness and loss of life in their short passage. They had been out but seventeen days, and they had thrown overboard no less than fifty-five, who had died of dysentery and other complaints. Many of the survivors were seen lying about the decks in the last stage of emaciation and in a state of filth and misery not to be looked at."

In 1829, Reverend Walsh patrolled the seas off the coast of Africa on behalf of the British government, enforcing the law prohibiting the slave trade passed two decades earlier in 1807. He confiscated slave ships and sent their prisoners back to Africa.

Yet before abolition in 1807, the "misery and suffocation" endured on board those ships was widely ignored by Britain.

Trading in African slaves allowed Britain to become a world economic power and financing the Industrial Revolution.

Some 28 million Africans were transported and sold into slavery between 1450 and the early 19th century.

British slave vessels alone sailing between 1698 and 1807 carried more than three million slaves, according to estimates by historian David Richardson. Liverpool was the principle slaving port and half of all vessels would dock in the north west of England. London, Bristol and Glasgow shared the remaining spoils.

Ships laden with metal goods, textiles, guns and alcohol would set sail from one of the British ports for the West African coast. The goods would be traded for a cargo of people picked up from slave forts from Senegal to Nigeria, and transported across the Atlantic to the Caribbean or North America. Of the 50,000 slaves transported each year, up to 20 per cent would die from starvation, suicide and disease during the "middle passage". Reverend Walsh wrote: "Many destroyed one another in the hopes of procuring room to breathe; men strangled those next them, and women drove nails into each other's brains. Many unfortunate creatures took the first opportunity of leaping overboard and getting rid, in this way, of an intolerable life."

Olaudah Equiano, a slave captured from Iboland in Nigeria by the British and carried to Barbados in the 1770s, wrote that the "loathsomeness of the stench" and "brutal cruelty" of the white people on his passage to Barbados led him to "wish for the last friend, death." Accounts of slavery by Equiano, Ignatius Sancho and Ottabah Cugoan were persuasive in swaying public opinion. William Wilberforce, MP for Hull, founded the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade in 1787

In 1807, after 20 years of lobbying, the slave trade in the British colonies was abolished. The US followed in 1808. And in 1833, the year of Wilberforce's death, the Abolition of Slavery Act was passed.


A Recovering American

Courtesy Of:
RunTime: 08:20
Readng Presented at "Rapunzel's" Coffee House.

"This war on terrorism, is not about protecting us from terrorism. It's about allowing us to use terrorism."

A License To Kill: The CIA's Use Of Terrorism

--Terrorism Debacles In The Reagan Administration--

Courtesy Of: The Future Of Freedom Foundation
By James Bovard
Posted June 9, 2004

Many Americans are unaware of the dark side of U.S. foreign policy’s past. Some conservatives think that Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy began and ended with the thwarting of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, there were many other U.S. actions during his reign that did not reflect favorably on the U.S. government’s devotion to human rights.

There were few common-places that offended Reagan more than the old saying that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” — a delusion that he said “thwarted ... effective anti-terror action.” As he explained,

Freedom fighters do not need to terrorize a population into submission. Freedom fighters target the military forces and the organized instruments of repression keeping dictatorial regimes in power. Freedom fighters struggle to liberate their citizens from oppression and to establish a form of government that reflects the will of the people.

In contrast, “Terrorists intentionally kill or maim unarmed civilians, often women and children, often third parties who are not in any way part of a dictatorial regime,” he declared. He especially admired the “Nicaraguan freedom fighters ... fighting to establish respect for human rights, for democracy, and for the rule of law within their own country.” Similarly, Secretary of State George Schultz declared in a June 24, 1984, speech, “It is not hard to tell, as we look around the world, who are the terrorists and who are the freedom fighters.”

A few weeks before the 1984 presidential election, news broke that the CIA had financed, produced, and distributed an assassination manual for the Nicaraguan Contras fighting the Marxist Sandinista government. The manual, entitled “Psychological Operations in Guerrilla War,” recommended “selective use of violence for propagandistic effects” and to “neutralize” (i.e., kill) government officials. Nicaraguan Contras were advised to lead

demonstrators into clashes with the authorities, to provoke riots or shootings, which lead to the killing of one or more persons, who will be seen as the martyrs; this situation should be taken advantage of immediately against the Government to create even bigger conflicts.

The manual also recommended

selective use of armed force for PSYOP [psychological operations] effect.... Carefully selected, planned targets — judges, police officials, tax collectors, etc. — may be removed for PSYOP effect in a UWOA [unconventional warfare operations area], but extensive precautions must insure that the people “concur” in such an act by thorough explanatory canvassing among the affected populace before and after conduct of the mission.

This was not the CIA’s first Nicaraguan literary project. In 1983, it had paid to produce and distribute a comic book entitled “Freedom Fighter’s Manual,” a self-described “practical guide to liberate Nicaragua from oppression and misery by paralyzing the military-industrial complex of the traitorous Marxist state without having to use special tools and with minimal risk for the combatant.”

The comic book urged readers to sabotage the Nicaraguan economy by calling in sick, goofing off on their jobs, throwing tools into sewers, leaving lights and water taps on, telephoning false hotel reservations, dropping typewriters, and stealing and hiding key documents (sage advice later followed by numerous high-ranking Reagan administration officials). The comic book also included detailed instructions on making Molotov cocktails, which, it suggested, could be thrown at fuel depots and police offices.

At the time when news of the assassination manual leaked out, the Contras had a sordid human-rights record. A human-rights group, Americas Watch, accused the Contras in early 1985 of atrocities against unarmed women and children as part of its “deliberate use of terror.” In March 1985, the International Human Rights Law Group submitted a report based on 145 sworn statements from Nicaraguans showing the Contras guilty of “a pattern of brutality against largely unarmed civilians, including rape, torture, kidnappings, mutilation and other abuses.” The Marxist government was also up to its elbows in blood and oppression and may have killed more innocent people than did the Contras.

Reagan administration officials quickly conceded that the CIA manual was “clearly against the law” and violated Reagan’s 1981 executive order banning political assassinations. In the final presidential campaign debate, Reagan promised that “whoever is guilty [of preparing the manual], we will deal with that situation and they will be removed.” CIA director William Casey sang a different tune, insisting that the goal of the manual was to help guerillas be persuasive in “face-to-face communication” and that the manual’s “emphasis is on education, not on turning a town into a battlefield.”

In a news conference the day after his reelection victory, Reagan dismissed the entire controversy as “much ado about nothing.” Reagan administration officials stressed that the manual did not specifically call for assassinations. However, as a confidential 1954 CIA assassination manual warned, “No assassination instructions should ever be written or recorded.”

A few weeks later, the White House announced that several “lower level” CIA employees were receiving letters of reprimand or suspensions for “poor judgment and lapses in oversight” because of the manual. Word later leaked out that Casey blocked any punishment of the two senior CIA officials involved with producing and distributing the manual, including one who admitted he was “fully responsible” for the document. In closed testimony to a congressional committee, Casey declared, “There’s no reason to discipline them for one little slip-up.”

In an era when Reagan denounced terrorists as “uncivilized barbarians,” U.S. government policies were not always over enlightened. The CIA provided other helpful publications to its Latin American friends, including its 1983 torture instruction classic, “Human Resource Exploitation Training Manual.” This CIA manual stressed that when a “new safehouse is to be used as the interrogation site ... the electric current should be known in advance, so that transformers or other modifying devices will be on hand if needed.” An intelligence source later explained to the Baltimore Sun, “The CIA has acknowledged privately and informally in the past that this referred to the application of electric shocks to interrogation suspects.”

A license to kill

In late 1984 Reagan authorized the CIA to covertly train and equip anti-terrorist operations and groups in the Middle East. The Washington Post later reported that he signed an order on November 13, 1984, that was widely perceived by intelligence officials as a “license to kill” — providing U.S. agents with “go-anywhere, do-anything” authority, according to one former White House official. The Post reported that “any actions under the orders would be ‘deemed lawful’ if conducted in ‘good faith.’”

On March 8, 1985, a massive car bomb detonated near the Beirut suburban home of a radical Muslim leader, killing 80 people — mostly women and children — and injuring 200. The bomb failed to kill the Muslim cleric. Supporters of the cleric strung a giant “MADE IN USA” banner across the blast site. A few weeks after the bombing, one U.S. government official bragged to the Washington Post that CIA and U.S. military training of anti-terrorist units in Lebanon had “been very successful.” National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, in a speech entitled “Terrorism and the Future of Free Society,” announced, “We cannot and will not abstain from forcible action to prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist acts where conditions merit the use of force.”

In mid May 1985 news broke in Washington that the car bomb attack had been carried out by people hired by a CIA-trained group of Lebanese intelligence personnel. The news set off a firestorm of CIA denials and foreign denunciations. Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward later wrote that CIA director William Casey told him that he had arranged the bombing through the Saudi government.

Bombing Libya

In March 1986, U.S. and Libyan forces clashed off the Libyan coast, with Libyan patrol boats getting hammered. On April 5, a bomb exploded in a West Berlin discotheque, killing an American soldier and wounding 50 others. U.S. officials stated that intelligence intercepts identified Qaddafi as the source of the attacks. Pentagon counterterrorism chief Neal Koch later noted that other circumstances leading to a U.S. attack on Libya included

the persistent and irritating posturing of Libyan strong-man Moammar Gadhafi; growing public and congressional disenchantment with the Reagan administration’s failure to deal with terrorism — especially Middle Eastern terrorism; intra-governmental pressures, with elements within the administration at war with each other; and finally, the fact that Libya was simply considered the easiest target among terrorist-supporting nations.

On April 14, 1986, Reagan ordered the U.S. Air Force and Navy to attack Libya. He announced hours after the bombing began that the United States had launched strikes against the “terrorist facilities” and other “military assets” and headquarters of Qaddafi. He declared, “Self-defense is not only our right, it is our duty. It is the purpose behind ... a mission fully consistent with Article 51 of the UN Charter.”

One F-111 bomber dumped its load on a residential neighborhood, also damaging the French embassy. The Pentagon postponed admitting responsibility for several days even though a weapons officer on the F-111 immediately sent word about the mistake. Libya said the raid killed more than 30 people and wounded almost 100. One F-111 crashed during the operation, resulting in two American deaths.

On the night of the attack Reagan proclaimed in a televised address, “The Libyan people are a decent people caught in the grip of a tyrant.” But, while the U.S. government insisted that the killing of civilians was an accident, a Voice of America broadcast that night warned the Libyan people,

The people of the U.S. bear Libya and its people no enmity or hatred. However, Colonel Qaddafi is your head of state. So long as Libyans obey his orders, then they must accept the consequences. Colonel Qaddafi is your tragic burden. The Libyan people are responsible for Colonel Qaddafi and his actions. If you permit Colonel Qaddafi to continue with the present conflict, then you must also share some collective responsibility for his actions.

When asked by a reporter whether Qaddafi was “losing his grip” on Libya, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger replied,

There may well be some of the people ... unhappy with him who are trying to take matters into their own hands. In other words, people who have read the lesson that this attack was supposed to administer.

The U.S. portrayal of Qaddafi as a near all-powerful dictator — at the same time it did not hesitate to punish his victims for the sins of their leader — set precedents for the treatment of the Serbian and Iraqi people in the 1990s.

Though the bombing was supposed to teach Qaddafi a lesson, it apparently did not stop him from sending agents to blow up Pan Am 103 in December 1988, killing 270 Americans, British, and others. Though Reagan spent his entire time in office warring against terrorism, far more American civilians died in terrorist attacks at the end of his reign than at the beginning. Yet terrorism lost none of its political value as a hobgoblin. The Reagan administration almost totally escaped bearing responsibility for its failures to deliver promised protection to Americans.

James Bovard is author of the forthcoming The Bush Betrayal as well as Lost Rights (1994) and Terrorism and Tyranny: Trampling Freedom, Justice and Peace to Rid the World of Evil (Palgrave-Macmillan, September 2003) and serves as a policy advisor for The Future of Freedom Foundation. Send him email. Sheldon Richman is senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation, author of Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State, and editor of The Freeman magazine. Send him email.


"Return To Sender" (Car Bombs, Part 2)

Courtesy Of:
Compiled and Edited By Tom Engelhardt
By Mike Davis
Posted April 14, 2006
At 1:33 am

In the first part of his unique history of the car bomb, "The Poor Man's Air Force," Mike Davis (author of the only significant book on the Avian flu, The Monster at Our Door, and Planet of Slums, a startling analysis of the way significant parts of our planet have been rapidly urbanizing and de-industrializing all at once) took us up through a crucial moment in 1984. It was then that Hezbollah sent the Reagan administration into flight in Lebanon with its massive suicide car bombings and perhaps altered the state of our planet forever. In the second part of his history, we enter a "return to sender" world in which the sponsorship of "surrogate terrorism" blows back all over the globe and the car bomb becomes a near universal weapon of destruction. Tom
Car Bombs with WingsA History of the Car Bomb (Part 2)By Mike Davis

The CIA's Car Bomb University (the 1980s):

"The CIA officers that Yousef worked with closely impressed upon him one rule: never use the terms sabotage or assassination when speaking with visiting congressmen."

-- Steve Coll, Ghost Wars

Gunboat diplomacy had been defeated by car bombs in Lebanon, but the Reagan administration and, above all, CIA Director William Casey were left thirsting for revenge against Hezbollah. "Finally in 1985," according to the Washington Post's Bob Woodward in Veil, his book on Casey's career, "he worked out with the Saudis a plan to use a car bomb to kill [Hezbollah leader] Sheikh Fadlallah who they determined was one of the people behind, not only the Marine barracks, but was involved in the taking of American hostages in Beirut… It was Casey on his own, saying, ‘I‘m going to solve the big problem by essentially getting tougher or as tough as the terrorists in using their weapon -- the car bomb.'"

The CIA's own operatives, however, proved incapable of carrying out the bombing, so Casey subcontracted the operation to Lebanese agents led by a former British SAS officer and financed by Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar. In March 1984, a large car bomb was detonated about 50 yards from Sheikh Fadlallah's house in Bir El-Abed, a crowded Shiite neighborhood in southern Beirut. The sheikh wasn't harmed, but 80 innocent neighbors and passersby were killed and 200 wounded. Fadlallah immediately had a huge "MADE IN USA" banner hung across the shattered street, while Hezbollah returned tit for tat in September when a suicide truck driver managed to break through the supposedly impregnable perimeter defenses of the new U.S. embassy in eastern (Christian) Beirut, killing 23 employees and visitors.

Despite the Fadlallah fiasco, Casey remained an enthusiast for using urban terrorism to advance American goals, especially against the Soviets and their allies in Afghanistan. A year after the Bir El-Abed massacre, Casey won President Reagan's approval for NSDD-166, a secret directive that, according to Steve Coll in Ghost Wars, inaugurated a "new era of direct infusions of advanced U.S. military technology into Afghanistan, intensified training of Islamist guerrillas in explosives and sabotage techniques, and targeted attacks on Soviet military officers."

U.S. Special Forces experts would now provide high-tech explosives and teach state-of-the-art sabotage techniques, including the fabrication of ANFO (ammonium nitrate-fuel oil) car bombs, to Pakistani intelligence service (or ISI) officers under the command of Brigadier Mohammed Yousaf. These officers, in turn, would tutor thousands of Afghan and foreign mujahedin, including the future cadre of al-Qaeda, in scores of training camps financed by the Saudis. "Under ISI direction," Coll writes, "the mujahedin received training and malleable explosives to mount car-bomb and even camel-bomb attacks in Soviet-occupied cities, usually designed to kill Soviet soldiers and commanders. Casey endorsed these despite the qualms of some CIA career officers."

Mujahedin car bombers, working with teams of snipers and assassins, not only terrorized uniformed Soviet forces in a series of devastating attacks in Afghanistan but also massacred leftwing intelligentsia in Kabul, the country's capital. "Yousaf and the Afghan car-bombing squads he trained," writes Coll, "regarded Kabul University professors as fair game," as well as movie theaters and cultural events. Although some members of the National Security Council reportedly denounced the bombings and assassinations as "outright terrorism," Casey was delighted with the results. Meanwhile, "by the late 1980s, the ISI had effectively eliminated all the secular, leftist, and royalist political parties that had first formed when Afghan refugees fled communist rule." As a result, most of the billions of dollars that the Saudis and Washington pumped into Afghanistan ended up in the hands of radical Islamist groups sponsored by the ISI. They were also the chief recipients of huge quantities of CIA-supplied plastic explosives as well as thousands of advanced E-cell delay detonators.

It was the greatest technology transfer of terrorist technique in history. There was no need for angry Islamists to take car-bomb extension courses from Hezbollah when they could matriculate in a CIA-supported urban-sabotage graduate program in Pakistan's frontier provinces. "Ten years later," Coll observes, "the vast training infrastructure that Yousaf and his colleagues built with the enormous budgets endorsed by NSDD-166 -- the specialized camps, the sabotage training manuals, the electronic bomb detonators, and so on -- would be referred to routinely in America as ‘terrorist infrastructure.'" Moreover the alumni of the ISI training camps like Ramzi Yousef, who plotted the first 1993 World Trade Center attack, or his uncle Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who allegedly designed the second, would soon be applying their expertise on every continent.

Cities under Siege (the 1990s):

"The hour of dynamite, terror without limit, has arrived."

-- Peruvian Journalist Gustavo Gorritti, 1992

Twenty-first century hindsight makes it clear that the defeat of the U.S. intervention in Lebanon in 1983-84, followed by the CIA's dirty war in Afghanistan, had wider and more potent geopolitical repercussions than the loss of Saigon in 1975. The Vietnam War was, of course, an epic struggle whose imprint upon domestic American politics remains profound, but it belonged to the era of the Cold War's bipolar superpower rivalry. Hezbollah's war in Beirut and south Lebanon, on the other hand, prefigured (and even inspired) the "asymmetric" conflicts that characterize the millennium. Moreover, unlike peoples' war on the scale sustained by the NLF and the North Vietnamese for more than a generation, car-bombing and suicide terrorism are easily franchised and gruesomely applicable in a variety of scenarios. Although rural guerrillas survive in rugged redoubts like Kashmir, the Khyber Pass, and the Andes, the center of gravity of global insurgency has moved from the countryside back to the cities and their slum peripheries. In this post-Cold-War urban context, the Hezbollah bombing of the Marine barracks has become the gold standard of terrorism; the 9/11 attacks, it can be argued, were only an inevitable scaling-up of the suicide truck bomb to airliners.

Washington, however, was loath to recognize the new military leverage that powerful vehicle bombs offered its enemies or even to acknowledge their surprising lethality. After the 1983 Beirut bombings, the Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico began an intensive investigation into the physics of truck bombs. Researchers were shocked by what they discovered. In addition to the deadly air blast, truck bombs also produced unexpectedly huge ground waves.

"The lateral accelerations propagated through the ground from a truck bomb far exceed those produced during the peak magnitude of an earthquake." Indeed, the scientists of Sandia came to the conclusion that even an offsite detonation near a nuclear power plant might "cause enough damage to lead to a deadly release of radiation or even a meltdown." Yet the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1986 refused to authorize the emplacement of vehicle barriers to protect nuclear-power installations and made no move to alter an obsolete security plan designed to thwart a few terrorists infiltrating on foot.

Indeed, Washington seemed unwilling to learn any of the obvious lessons of either its Beirut defeat or its secret successes in Afghanistan. The Reagan and Bush administrations appeared to regard the Hezbollah bombings as flukes, not as a powerful new threat that would replicate rapidly in the "blowback" of imperial misadventure and anti-Soviet escapades. Although it was inevitable that other insurgent groups would soon try to emulate Hezbollah, American planners -- although partially responsible -- largely failed to foresee the extraordinary "globalization" of car bombing in the 1990s or the rise of sophisticated new strategies of urban destabilization that went with it. Yet by the mid-1990s, more cities were under siege from bomb attacks than at any time since the end of World War Two, and urban guerrillas were using car and truck bombs to score direct hits on some of the world's most powerful financial institutions. Each success, moreover, emboldened groups to plan yet more attacks and recruited more groups to launch their own "poor man's air force."

Beginning in April 1992, for example, the occult Maoists of Sendero Luminoso came down from Peru's altiplano to spread terror throughout the cities of Lima and Callao with increasingly more powerful coche-bombas. "Large supplies of explosives," the magazine Caretas pointed out, are "freely available in a mining nation," and the senderistas were generous in their gifts of dynamite: bombing television stations and various foreign embassies as well as a dozen police stations and military camps. Their campaign eerily recapitulated the car bomb's phylogeny as it progressed from modest detonations to a more powerful attack on the American embassy, then to Bloody-Friday-type public massacres using 16 vehicles at a time. The climax (and Sendero's chief contribution to the genre) was an attempt to blow up an entire neighborhood of "class enemies": a huge ANFO explosion in the elite Miraflores district on the evening of July 16 that killed 22, wounded 120, and destroyed or damaged 183 homes, 400 businesses and 63 parked cars. The local press described Miraflores as looking "as if an aerial bombardment had flattened the area."

If one of the virtues of an air force is the ability to reach halfway around the world to surprise enemies in their beds, the car bomb truly grew wings during 1993 as Middle Eastern groups struck at targets in the Western Hemisphere for the first time. The World Trade Center attack on February 26 was organized by master al-Qaeda bomb-maker Ramzi Yousef working with a Kuwaiti engineer named Nidal Ayyad and immigrant members of the Egyptian group, Gama'a al-Islamiyya, headed by Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman (whose U.S. visa had reputedly been arranged by the CIA). Their extraordinary ambition was to kill tens of thousands of New Yorkers with a powerful lateral blast that would crack the foundations of one WTC tower and topple it on its twin. Yousef's weapon was a Ryder van packed with an ingenious upgrade of the classic IRA and Hezbollah ANFO explosive.

"The bomb itself," writes Peter Lange in his history of the bombing, "consisted of four cardboard boxes filled with a slurry of urea nitrate and fuel oil, with waste paper as a binder. The boxes were surrounded by four-foot tanks of compressed hydrogen. They were connected by four 20-foot-long slow-burning fuses of smokeless powder wrapped in fabric. Yousef balanced on his lap four vials of nitroglycerine." The conspirators had no difficulty parking the van next to the load-bearing south wall of the North Tower, but the massive explosive proved too small -- excavating a four-story deep crater in the basement, killing 6 and injuring 1,000 people, but failing to bring the tower down. "Our calculations were not very accurate this time," wrote Ayyad in a letter. "However we promise you that next it would will [sic] be very precise and the Trade Center will be one of our targets."

Two weeks after the WTC attack, a car bomb almost as powerful exploded in the underground parking garage of the Bombay Stock Exchange, severely damaging the 28-story skyscraper and killing 50 office workers. Twelve other car or motorcycle bombs soon detonated at other prestige targets, killing an additional 207 people and injuring 1,400. The bombings were revenge for sectarian riots a few months earlier in which Indian Hindus had killed hundreds of Indian Moslems. The attacks were reputedly organized from Dubai by exiled Bombay underworld king Dawood Ibrahim at the behest of Pakistani intelligence. According to one account, Dawood sent three boats from Dubai to Karachi where they were loaded with military explosives. Indian customs officials were then bribed to look the other way while the "black soup" was smuggled into Bombay.

Corrupt officials were also rumored to have facilitated the suicide car bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on March 17, 1993 which killed 30 and injured 242. The next year, a second "martyr," later identified as a 29-year-old Hezbollah militant from southern Lebanon, leveled the seven-story Argentine-Israel Mutual Association, slaughtering 85 and wounding more than 300. Both bombers carefully followed the Beirut template; as did the Islamist militant who drove his car into the central police headquarters in Algiers in January 1995, killing 42 and injuring over 280.

But the supreme acolytes of Hezbollah were the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, the only non-Moslem group that has practiced suicide car bombings on a large scale. Indeed, their leader Prabhaakaran "made a strategic decision to adopt the method of suicide attack after observing its lethal effectiveness in the 1983 suicide bombings of the US and French barracks in Beirut." Between their first such operation in 1987 and 2000, they were responsible for twice as many suicide attacks of all kinds as Hezbollah and Hamas combined. Although they have integrated car bombs into regular military tactics (for example, using kamikazes in trucks to open attacks on Sri Lankan army camps), their obsession and "most prized theater of operation" in their struggle for Tamil independence has been the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, which they first car-bombed in 1987 in a grisly attack on the main bus terminal, burning scores of passengers to death inside crowded buses.

In January 1996, a Black Tiger -- as the suicide elite are called -- drove a truck containing 440 pounds of military high explosives into the front of the Central Bank Building, resulting in nearly 1,400 casualties. Twenty months later in October 1997 in a more complex operation, the Tigers attacked the twin towers of the Colombo World Trade Center. They managed to maneuver through barricades and set off a car bomb in front of the Center, then battled the police with automatics and grenades. The following March, a suicide mini-bus with shrapnel-filled bombs affixed to its sideboards was detonated outside the main train station in the midst of a huge traffic jam. The 38 dead included a dozen children in a school bus.

The Tamil Tigers are a mass nationalist movement with "liberated territory," a full-scale army and even a tiny navy; moreover, 20,000 Tiger cadres received secret paramilitary training in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu from 1983 to 1987, courtesy of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and India's CIA -- the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). But such sponsorship literally blew up in the face of the Indian Congress Party leadership when Indira's son and successor Rajiv was killed by a female Tiger suicide bomber in 1993. Indeed, the all-too-frequent pattern of surrogate terrorism, whether sponsored by the CIA, RAW, or the KGB, has been "return to sender" -- most notoriously in the cases of those former CIA "assets," blind Sheik Rahman and Osama bin Laden.

The Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995 was a different and startling species of blowback, organized by two angry U.S. veterans of the Gulf War rather than by Iraq or any Islamist group. Although conspiracy theorists have made much of a strange coincidence that put Terry Nichols and Ramzi Yousef near each other in Cebu City in the Philippines in November 1994, the design of the attack seems to have been inspired by Timothy McVeigh's obsession with that devil's cookbook, The Turner Diaries. Written in 1978, after Bloody Friday but before Beirut, neo-Nazi William Pierce's novel describes with pornographic relish how white supremacists destroy the FBI headquarters in Washington D.C. with an ANFO truck bomb, then crash a plane carrying a hijacked nuke into the Pentagon.

McVeigh carefully followed Pierce's simple recipe in the novel (several tons of ammonium nitrate in a parked truck) rather than Yousef's more complicated WTC formula, although he did substitute nitro racing fuel and diesel oil for ordinary heating oil. Nonetheless, the explosion that slaughtered 168 people in the Alfred Murrah Federal Building on April 19, 1995 was three times more powerful than any of the truck-bomb detonations that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and other federal agencies had been studying at their test range in New Mexico. Experts were amazed at the radius of destruction: "Equivalent to 4,100 pounds of dynamite, the blast damaged 312 buildings, cracked glass as far as two miles away and inflicted 80 percent of its injuries on people outside the building up to a half-mile away." Distant seismographs recorded it as a 6.0 earthquake on the Richter scale.

But McVeigh's good-ole-boy bomb, with its diabolical demonstration of Heartland DIY ingenuity, was scarcely the last word in destructive power; indeed, it was probably inevitable that the dark Olympics of urban carnage would be won by a home team from the Middle East. Although the casualty list (20 dead, 372 wounded) wasn't as long as Oklahoma City's, the huge truck bomb that, in June 1996, alleged Hezbollah militants left outside Dhahran's Khobar Towers -- a high-rise dormitory used by U.S. Air Force personnel in Saudi Arabia -- broke all records in explosive yield, being the equivalent perhaps of twenty 1,000-pound bombs. Moreover, the death toll might have been as large as the Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1993 save for alert Air Force sentries who began an evacuation shortly before the explosion. Still, the blast (military-grade plastic explosive) left an incredible crater 85-feet wide and 35-feet deep.

Two years later, on August 7, 1998, al Qaeda claimed the championship in mass murder when it crashed suicide truck bombs into the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, in a replay of the simultaneous 1993 attacks on the Marines and the French in Beirut. Located near two of the busiest streets in the city without adequate setback or protective glacis, the Nairobi embassy was especially vulnerable, as Ambassador Prudence Bushnell had fruitlessly warned the State Department. In the event, ordinary Kenyans -- burnt alive in their vehicles, lacerated by flying glass, or buried in smoldering debris -- were the principal victims of the huge explosion, which killed several hundred and wounded more than 5,000. Another dozen people died and almost 100 were injured in Dar-es-Salaam.

Sublime indifference to the collateral carnage caused by its devices, including to innocent Moslems, remains a hallmark of operations organized by the Al-Qaeda network. Like his forerunners Hermann Goering and Curtis LeMay, Osama bin Laden seems to exult in the sheer statistics of bomb damage -- the competitive race to ever greater explosive yields and killing ranges. One of the most lucrative of his recent franchises (in addition to air travel, skyscrapers, and public transport) has been car-bomb attacks on Western tourists in primarily Moslem countries, although the October 2002 attack on a Bali nightclub (202 dead) and the July 2005 bombing of hotels in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh (88 dead) almost certainly killed as many local workers as erstwhile "crusaders."

Form Follows Fear (the 1990s):

"The car bomb is the nuclear weapon of guerrilla warfare."

-- Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer

A "billion-pound explosion"? One meaning, of course, is the TNT yield of three or four Hiroshima-size atomic weapons (which is to say, only a smidgen of the explosive power of a single H-bomb). Alternately, one billion (British) pounds ($1.45 billion) is what the IRA cost the City of London in April 1993 when a blue dump-truck containing a ton of ANFO exploded on Bishopsgate Road across from the NatWest Tower in the heart of the world's second major financial center. Although one bystander was killed and more than 30 injured by the immense explosion, which also demolished a medieval church and wrecked the Liverpool Street station, the human toll was incidental to the economic damage that was the true goal of the attack. Whereas the other truck bomb campaigns of the 1990s -- Lima, Bombay, Colombo, and so forth -- had followed Hezbollah's playbook almost to the letter, the Bishopsgate bomb, which Moloney describes as "the most successful military tactic since the start of the Troubles," was part of a novel IRA campaign that waged war on financial centers in order to extract British concessions during the difficult peace negotiations that lasted through most of the 1990s.

Bishopsgate, in fact, was the second and most costly of three blockbuster explosions carried out by the elite (and more or less autonomous) South Armagh IRA under the leadership of the legendary "Slab" Murphy. Almost exactly a year earlier, they had set off a truck bomb at the Baltic Exchange in St. Mary Axe that rained a million pounds of glass and debris on surrounding streets, killing 3 and wounding almost 100 people. The damage, although less than Bishopsgate, was still astonishing: about 800 million pounds or more than the approximately 600 million pounds in total damage inflicted over 22 years of bombing in Northern Ireland. Then, in 1996, with peace talks stalled and the IRA Army Council in revolt against the latest cease-fire, the South Armagh Brigade smuggled into England a third huge car bomb that they set off in the underground garage of one of the postmodern office buildings near Canary Wharf Tower in the gentrified London Docklands, killing two and causing nearly $150 million dollars in damage. Total damage from the three explosions was at least $3 billion.

As Jon Coaffee points out in her book on the impact of the bombings, if the IRA like the Tamil Tigers or Al Qaeda had simply wanted to sow terror or bring life in London to a halt, they would have set off the explosions at rush-hour on a business day -- instead, they "were detonated at a time when the City was virtually deserted" -- and/or attacked the heart of the transport infrastructure, as did the Islamist suicide bombers who blew up London buses and subways in July 2005. Instead, Slab Murphy and his comrades concentrated on what they perceived to be a financial weak link: the faltering British and European insurance industry. To the horror of their enemies, they were spectacularly successful. "The huge payouts by insurance companies," commented the BBC shortly after Bishopsgate, "contributed to a crisis in the industry, including the near-collapse of the world's leading [re]insurance market, Lloyds of London." German and Japanese investors threatened to boycott the City unless physical security was improved and the government agreed to subsidize insurance costs.

Despite a long history of London bombings by the Irish going back to the Fenians and Queen Victoria, neither Downing Street, nor the City of London Police had foreseen this scale of accurately targeted physical and financial damage. (Indeed, Slab Murphy himself might have been surprised; like the original ANFO bombs, these super-bombs were probably a wee bit of serendipity for the IRA.) The City's response was a more sophisticated version of the "ring of steel" (concrete barriers, high iron fences, and impregnable gates) that had been built around Belfast's city center after Bloody Friday in 1972. Following Bishopsgate, the financial press clamored for similar protection: "The City should be turned into a medieval-style walled enclave to prevent terrorist attacks."

What was actually implemented in the City and later in the Docklands was a technologically more advanced network of traffic restrictions and cordons, CCTV cameras, including "24-hour Automated Number Plate Recording (ANPR) cameras, linked to police databases," and intensified public and private policing. "In the space of a decade," writes Coaffee, "the City of London was transformed into the most surveilled space in the UK and perhaps the world with over 1500 surveillance cameras operating, many of which are linked to the ANPR system."

Since September 11, 2001, this anti-terrorist surveillance system has been extended throughout London's core in the benign guise of Mayor Ken Livingstone's celebrated "congestion pricing" scheme to liberate the city from gridlock. According to one of Britain's major Sunday papers:

"The Observer has discovered that MI5, Special Branch and the Metropolitan Police began secretly developing the system in the wake of the 11 September attacks. In effect, the controversial charging scheme will create one of the most daunting defence systems protecting a major world city when it goes live a week tomorrow. It is understood that the system also utilizes facial recognition software which automatically identifies suspects or known criminals who enter the eight-square-mile zone. Their precise movements will be tracked by camera from the point of entry… However, civil liberty campaigners yesterday claimed that millions had been misled over the dual function of the scheme, promoted primarily as a means of reducing congestion in central London."

The addition in 2003 of this new panopticon traffic scan to London's already extensive system of video surveillance ensures that the average citizen is "caught on CCTV cameras 300 times a day." It may make it easier for the police to apprehend non-suicidal terrorists, but it does little to protect the city from well-planned and competently disguised vehicle bomb attacks. Blair's "Third Way" has been a fast lane for the adoption of Orwellian surveillance and the usurpation of civil liberties, but until some miracle technology emerges (and none is in sight) that allows authorities from a distance to "sniff" a molecule or two of explosive in a stream of rush-hour traffic, the car bombers will continue to commute to work.

The "King" of Iraq (the 2000s):

"Insurgents exploded 13 car bombs across Iraq on Sunday, including eight in Baghdad within a three-hour span."

-- Associated Press news report, January 1, 2006

Car bombs -- some 1,293 between 2004 and 2005, according to researchers at the Brookings Institution -- have devastated Iraq like no other land in history. The most infamous, driven or left by sectarian jihadists, have targeted Iraqi Shiites in front of their homes, mosques, police stations, and markets: 125 dead in Hilla (February 28, 2005); 98 in Mussayib (July 16); 114 in Baghdad (September 14); 102 in Blad (September 29); 50 in Abu Sayda (November 19); and so on.

Some of the devices have been gigantic, like the stolen fuel-truck bomb that devastated Mussayib, but what is most extraordinary has been their sheer frequency -- in one 48-hour-period in July 2005 at least 15 suicide car bombs exploded in or around Baghdad. The sinister figure supposedly behind the worst of these massacres is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian arch-terrorist who reportedly criticized Osama bin Laden for insufficient zeal in attacking domestic enemies like the "infidel Shias." Al-Zarqawi, it is claimed, is pursuing an essentially eschatological rather than political goal: a cleansing of enemies without end until the Earth is ruled by a single, righteous caliphate.

Toward this end, he – or those invoking his name -- seems to have access to an almost limitless supply of bomb vehicles (some of them apparently stolen in California and Texas, then shipped to the Middle East) as well as Saudi and other volunteers eager to martyr themselves in flame and molten metal for the sake of taking a few Shiite school kids, market venders, or foreign "crusaders" with them. Indeed the supply of suicidal madrassa graduates seems to far exceed what the logic of suicide bombing (as perfected by Hezbollah and the Tamil Tigers) actually demands: Many of the explosions in Iraq could just as easily be detonated by remote control. But the car bomb -- at least in Al-Zarqawi's relentless vision -- is evidently a stairway to heaven as well as the chosen weapon of genocide.

But Al Zarqawi did not originate car bomb terrorism along the banks of the Tigris and Euphrates; that dark honor belongs to the CIA and its favorite son, Iyad Allawi. As the New York Times revealed in June 2004:

"Iyad Allawi, now the designated prime minister of Iraq, ran an exile organization intent on deposing Saddam Hussein that sent agents into Baghdad in the early 1990s's to plant bombs and sabotage government facilities under the direction of the CIA, several former intelligence officials say. Dr. Allawi's group, the Iraqi National Accord, used car bombs and other explosives devices smuggled into Baghdad from northern Iraq… One former Central Intelligence Agency officer who was based in the region, Robert Baer, recalled that a bombing during that period ‘blew up a school bus; schoolchildren were killed.'"

According to one of the Times' informants, the bombing campaign, dead school kids and all, "was a test more than anything else, to demonstrate capability." It allowed the CIA to portray the then-exiled Allawi and his suspect group of ex-Baathists as a serious opposition to Saddam Hussein and an alternative to the coterie (so favored by Washington neoconservatives) around Ahmed Chalabi. "No one had any problem with sabotage in Baghdad back then," another CIA veteran reflected. "I don't think anyone could have known how things would turn out today."

Today, of course, car bombs rule Iraq. In a June 2005 article entitled, "Why the car bomb is king in Iraq," James Dunnigan warned that it was supplanting the roadside bomb (which "are more frequently discovered, or defeated with electronic devices") as the "most effective weapon" of Sunni insurgents as well as of Al Zarqawi, and thus "the terrorists are building as many as they can." The recent "explosive growth" in car ownership in Iraq, he added, had made it "easier for the car bombs to just get lost in traffic."

In this kingdom of the car bomb, the occupiers have withdrawn almost completely into their own forbidden city, the "Green Zone," and their well-fortified and protected military bases. This is not the high-tech City of London with sensors taking the place of snipers, but a totally medievalized enclave surrounded by concrete walls and defended by M1 Abrams tanks and helicopter gunships as well as an exotic corps of corporate mercenaries (including Gurkhas, ex-Rhodesian commandos, former British SAS, and amnestied Colombian paramilitaries). Once the Xanadu of the Baathist ruling class, the 10-square-kilometer Green Zone, as described by journalist Scott Johnson, is now a surreal theme park of the American way of life:

"Women in shorts and T-shirts jog down broad avenues and the Pizza Inn does a brisk business from the parking lot of the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy. Near the Green Zone Bazaar, Iraqi kids hawk pornographic DVDs to soldiers. Sheik Fuad Rashid, the U.S.-appointed imam of the local mosque, dresses like a nun, dyes his hair platinum blond and claims that Mary Mother of Jesus appeared to him in a vision (hence the getup). On any given night, residents can listen to karaoke, play badminton or frequent one of several rowdy bars, including an invitation-only speakeasy run by the CIA."

Outside the Green Zone, of course, is the ‘Red Zone' where ordinary Iraqis can be randomly and unexpectedly blown to bits by car bombers or strafed by American helicopters. Not surprisingly, wealthy Iraqis and members of the new government are clamoring for admission to the security of the Green Zone, but U.S. officials told Newsweek last year that "plans to move the Americans out are ‘fantasy.'" Billions have been invested in the Green Zone and a dozen other American enclaves officially known for a period as "enduring camps," and even prominent Iraqis have been left to forage for their own security outside the blast walls of these exclusive bubble Americas. A population that has endured Saddam's secret police, U.N. sanctions, and American cruise missiles, now steels itself to survive the car bombers who prowl poor Shiite neighborhoods looking for grisly martyrdom. For the most selfish reasons, let us hope that Baghdad is not a metaphor for our collective future.

[This article -- a preliminary sketch for a book-length study -- will appear next year in Indefensible Space: The Architecture of the National Insecurity State (Routledge 2007), edited by Michael Sorkin.]

Mike Davis is the author most recently of The Monster at Our Door: The Global Threat of Avian Flu (The New Press) and Planet of Slums (Verso). He lives in San Diego.

Copyright 2006 Mike Davis