Tuesday, July 17, 2007

British Terror

By Margaret Kimberley
Bar Editor and Senior Columnist
Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Tony Blair is out as British Prime Minister, but remains an unrepentant racist and sub-imperialist poodle.

He has been given a new job, as Middle East "peace envoy." What a joke.

How can a man who took an unwilling nation into war against Iraq become a peace envoy?

Blair is the worst of the lot, a kiss-ass to George Bush who has placed his country in the cross-hairs of worldwide Muslim anger.
Blair has elevated state terror to a level of British national identity - the terror that superpowers exert on smaller peoples - and now the chickens are coming home to roost, with a British label.
Yet the criminal complains, "Why should anyone feel angry about us?"
"What's more, British troops are risking their lives trying to prevent the killing. Why should anyone feel angry about us? Why aren't they angry about the people doing the killing?" - former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Why is anyone angry at Britain?
Perhaps it is because the British are some of the people doing the killing. Maybe they are angry because Tony Blair left office proclaiming the rightness of occupying Iraq and killing 600,000 people.
Those crazy Arabs and Muslims, they get mad at the strangest things.

It is an understatement to say that Tony Blair left office as Prime Minister of Great Britain under a cloud. He followed George W. Bush like a poodle, or perhaps more like a toad.

Former president Jimmy Carter assigned blamed to Blair along with Bush for causing America's increasing unpopularity throughout the world.
"It's a shameful and pitiful state of affairs and I hold your British Prime Minister to be substantially responsible for being so compliant and subservient."
"Blair followed George W. Bush like a poodle, or perhaps more like a toad."

Blair is shameless in his belief that killing human beings is acceptable as long as it is done by a government run by white people.

Not content to have spent the last six years following Bush like a little shadow, Blair didn't even have the decency to disappear into the sunset and shut up.

After giving Britons a collective sigh of relief upon leaving number 10 Downing Street, Blair again began running for new offices.

After rumors of a Carlyle Group corner office and a European union presidency, Blair assumed the role of Middle East peace envoy.
He will represent Europe, the United States, Russia and the United Nations while simultaneously keeping the rest of the world from laughing or loosing their lunch at the prospect of a true believer in occupation and empire being an honest broker for peace.
The Arab world was unimpressed with Blair's desperate desire to remain employed and a center of world attention.
The Syrian newspaper Tishrin asked,

"How could a liar, who is directly connected with Washington and who is a staunch proponent of the extremist rightist ideology, be a peace envoy?" (*link Tishrin)

Good question.
The damage done by Tony Blair's actions will not disappear over night.
The failed attacks in London and suicide car bombing in Glasgow were reminders that the British have a long way to go in disentangling themselves from Uncle Sam.

The bombings that took place on July 7, 2005 and the recent attempts remind the world that "fighting them over there" does little good in preventing attacks "over here."

When leaders "over here" show contempt for humanity and their right to live, they can't expect peaceful outcomes on their own soil.
Reaction to the terror plots was typically racist and asinine.

Arabs and Muslims were depicted as the only crazed fanatics on earth, when in fact white Christians and Jews are causing more death and destruction than anyone else.
Not only did Blair have the unmitigated gall to claim that he can now be a peace maker, but he disgracefully thumped the bible on his way out the door.

As he left office in a whirl of last minute attention seeking he also announced that he had converted to Catholicism.
While Blair was allowed to profess piety with a straight face, many British Muslims again felt compelled to express their opposition to terror and disassociate their religion from it.

Will British Christians and Jews ever be asked to make similar denunciations?

Will Catholics be asked to denounce Blair and his terrorist acts?

The Archbishop of Canterbury ought to tell the world that he too denounces war and that it is supremely unchristian.
War waged by governments is as much a terrorist act as a suicide bombing.

The victims of soldiers' bullets and bombs dropped from planes suffer as much as anyone caught in a suicide bombing.

Every terror act or even failed act in Britain is an omen for America.

Eight years elapsed between attacks on the World Trade Center. It would be the height of arrogance and denial to think that September 11, 2001 would be the last time that Americans would lose their lives because of anger and hatred directed at their government.

Unfortunately the object of Blair's affection still resides in the White House.

He has adamantly declared that withdrawing from Iraq will be his successor's problem.

Unless he or Dick Cheney are impeached they will find a rationale for bombing Iran.

Americans will have to live with the threat of terror unless their leaders forsake empire building.
The prospect is terrifying, but no more so than for Iraqis or Afghans.

There is some justice involved after all. However, it is unlikely that any lessons will be learned.

Blair's clueless question, "Why should anyone feel angry about us?" is sadly shared by millions of people in his country and in the United States.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgandaReport.Com .

Ms. Kimberley' maintains an edifying and frequently updated blog at freedomrider.blogspot.com.

More of her work is also available at her Black Agenda Report archive page.

"Bush Is Leading A Crusade Against Us"

Jul. 16, 2007 20:08
Updated Jul. 17, 2007 9

"President Bush is leading a new crusade against the Palestinians," Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Sami el-Zuhri, said on Monday night, adding that the group would "neither recognize the occupation nor give up the armed struggle."

Speaking in response to the US president's speech about peace prospects for the Middle East, Zuhri told Al Jazeera that Bush's declarations about the establishment of a Palestinian state were "empty declarations aimed at dividing the Palestinians."

...The US had been looking to build momentum earlier this year on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, but suffered a setback when Hamas took over Gaza.

The speech, initially planned to be delivered closer to the five-year anniversary of Bush's articulation of a two-state solution in June of 2002,was pushed back...But the administration decided to move ahead with it now, partly because of the urgency of the Palestinian situation in the wake of Hamas's growing strength and to bolster the recently tapped Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad, in his new office.

...In his speech, Bush portrayed the situation among the Palestinians as a moment of struggle between moderates and extremists which fits into the larger battle America is engaged in the region.

Bush announced that plans to give $59 million to fund security reform will be boosted to $80 million, and that upwards of $225 million will be available in loans to reinvigorate the Palestinian economy. The president also called for the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, in which US, European, Arab and international monetary organizations participate, to convene in order to bolster assistance.

The State Department also indicated that with the US sending money to the Palestinians, other parties would increase their efforts. At the same time, Bush said it was up to the Palestinians to take action.

"This is a moment of clarity for all Palestinians," Bush said. "And now comes the moment of choice."

He also stressed the US commitment to Israel. "They should be confident that the United States will never abandon its commitment to the security of Israel as a Jewish state and homeland for the Jewish people."

...Aaron David Miller, who advised six secretaries of state on Arab-Israeli negotiations and is now a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said that Bush's speech was "too little, too late" when it came to making an impact on the Palestinian reality and helping Abbas.

"To change the situation on the ground, you'd really need a much broader strategy sustained over an 18-month period," he said. Miller, who is writing a book on "The Much Too Promised Land," also questioned the decision to call a conference for the fall.

Meetings of this sort are usually done in order to launch a process or conclude it, and the parties are at neither stage right now, he said.

Ultimately, according to Miller, what matters is how the US acts, and whether those actions are part of a decision to prioritize the Palestinian issue over the year-and-a-half remainder of Bush's term and engage in active diplomacy.

"The talking isn't as important as the doing," he said. "We have very little credibility on this issue. Words aren't enough any more."

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

After Iraq, Pakistan?

After Iraq, Pakistan?

Is Worrying About Pakistani Nukes Serving To Keep Us In Iraq?

By Charles Knight
Published On Friday, July 13, 2007

The bloody assault by Pakistani troops on the Islamic militants occupying The Red Mosque in Islamabad just might mark the beginning of the end of the Musharraf regime and the beginning of a period of radical destabilization for Pakistan — a prospect that causes great consternation in the West where commentators remind us that Pakistan is nuclear-armed and bin Laden has remained at large in its untamed northern provinces.
Some...national defense experts have already been imagining the scenario of the US military intervening in Pakistan to prevent nukes from getting into the hands of al Qaeda — scary scenes of terrorists stealing away with a few devices in the chaos that engulfs the country after Musharraf is ousted.
Two such experts are Frederick Kagan, leading neo-con and fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and Michael O’Hanlon of Brookings and a likely under-secretary of Defense in the next Democratic administration.

The Stanley Foundation has brought together a series of paired experts to “bridge the divide” between left and right in Washington and reestablish a stable bipartisan center.

Kagan and O’Hanlon have coauthored “The Case for Larger Ground Forces”, The Stanley Foundation, April 2007 ( http://www3.brookings.edu/views/articles/ohanlon/2007april_kagan.pdf ).

In this paper they recommend increasing the size of America’s land forces (Army and Marine Corps) by 100,000. This is, of course, very similar to the current official plan to increase these services by 92,000.

The paper discusses a number of threats and scenarios which might “require” the deployment of ten and hundreds of thousands of US troops abroad.

The most demanding of these scenarios is the radical Islamic Pakistan scenario which is so fanciful and extraordinary that I have quoted that section in it entirety below.

I comment briefly on it afterwards.

“Of all the military scenarios that would undoubtedly involve the vital interests of the United States, short of a direct threat to its territory, a collapsed Pakistan ranks very high on the list. The combination of Islamic extremists and nuclear weapons in that country is extremely worrisome. Were parts of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal ever to fall into the wrong hands, Al Qaeda could conceivably gain access to a nuclear device with terrifying possible results. Another quite worrisome South Asia scenario could involve another Indo-Pakistani crisis leading to war between the two nuclear armed states over Kashmir.”

The Pakistani collapse scenario appears unlikely, given that country’s relatively pro-Western and secular officer corps. But the intelligence services-which created the Taliban and also have condoned, if not abetted, Islamic extremists in Kashmir-are more of a wild card. In addition, the country as a whole is sufficiently infiltrated by fundamentalist groups-as the attempted assassinations against President Mubarak (sic) make clear-that this terrifying scenario of civil chaos must be taken seriously.

Were this to occur, it is unclear what the United States and like-minded countries would or should do. It is very unlikely that “surgical strikes” could be conducted to destroy the nuclear weapons before extremists could make a grab at them.

It is doubtful that the United States would know their location and at least as doubtful that any Pakistani government would countenance such a move, even under duress.

If a surgical strike, a series of surgical strikes, or commando-style raids were not possible, the only option might be to try to restore order before the weapons could be taken by extremists and transferred to terrorists. The United States and other outside powers might, for example, come to the aid of the Pakistani government, at its request, to help restore order.

“Alternatively, they might try to help protect Pakistan’s borders (a nearly impossible task), making it hard to sneak nuclear weapons out of the country, while providing only technical support to the Pakistani armed forces as they tried to put down the insurrection. One thing is certain: given the enormous stakes, the United States would have to do anything it could to prevent nuclear weapons from getting into the wrong hands.

“Should stabilization efforts be required, the scale of the undertaking could be breathtaking. Pakistan is a very large country. Its population is more than 150 million, or six times that of Iraq. Its land area is roughly twice that of Iraq; its perimeter is about 50 percent longer in total. Stabilizing a country of this size could easily require several times as many troops as the Iraq mission-a figure of up to one million is easy to imagine.

“Of course, any international force would have local help. Presumably some fraction of Pakistan’s security forces would remain intact, able, and willing to help defend the country. Pakistan’s military numbers 550,000 Army troops; 70,000 uniformed personnel in the Air Force and Navy; another 510,000 reservists; and almost 300,000 gendarmes and Interior Ministry troops. But if some substantial fraction of the military broke off from the main body, say a quarter to a third, and was assisted by extremist militias, the international community might need to deploy 100,000 to 200,000 troops to ensure a quick restoration of order. Given the need for rapid response, the United States’ share of this total would probably be over half-or as many as 50,000 to 100,000 ground forces-although this is almost the best of all the worst-case scenarios.

“Since no US government could simply decide to restrict its exposure in Pakistan if the international community proved unwilling or unable to provide numerous forces, or if the Pakistani collapse were deeper than outlined here, the United States might be compelled to produce significantly more forces to fend off the prospect of a nuclear Al Qaeda.”

There used to be a popular piece of strategic wisdom that said, “Never get involved in a land war in Asia.” Good advice… and, of course, we are now deep into Afghanistan and Iraq.

It seems once you throw off restraint and reject wisdom you might as well plunge deeper into dangerous territory; at least that seems to be the preference of the nascent bipartisan center now trying to regain its footing after being tripped up in Iraq.

It is tempting to conclude that these guys are just nuts.

Certainly they haven’t learned much from the adventure in Iraq which they both supported.

But we shouldn’t dismiss them; there are some powerful forces in Washington that want this kind of thinking to be part of the “new center”.
Kagan and O’Hanlon greatly underestimate the troops needed to invade and stabilize (read ‘occupy’) Pakistan.

Pakistanis are not fond of Americans and they won’t see us as liberators. They are likely to put up the same sort of fight that Iraqi Sunnis have against occupation.
Hard evidence suggests that the pacification of Iraq would have required 500,000 troops (not the 150,000 that Rumsfeld insisted was sufficient.)

Kagan and O’Hanlon point out that Pakistan is six times are large in population.

So why do they say “a figure of up to one million is easy to imagine” when the Iraq experience indicates that up to three million would be needed in Pakistan?
My guess is that they figured people would stop reading it they included a scenario that requires three million Americans deployed to Pakistan. So instead they offer a Rumsfeldian fantasy.

If the “new center” in Washington were seriously considering interventions abroad that might require up to 3 million troops deployed they would need to start providing basic training to a significant portion of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 — and that, of course, means conscription. Really!

If Kagan/O’Hanlon Pakistani chaos scenarios require a military response from the U.S. we need to get serious about a major re-make of our Army.

We need a structure much more like we had during World War II — capable of mobilizing millions of soldiers to fight in and occupy territory overseas.
We have a relatively small professional Army these days, fundamentally unsuited for this sort of mission.

It is not for an imagined Pakistani chaos that the Army and Marine Corps are now in the process of growing by 92,000, but rather to make possible the routine extended deployment of 75,000 troops to the Persian Gulf including up to 60,000 in Iraq.

That is what we should expect first and foremost from the ‘new center’. And if we don’t like that prospect (say 50,000 troops still in Iraq in 2020) we should call them on it.

We should also argue strongly to put an end to the American strategy of offensive counter-proliferation wars.

The first one in Iraq has been a disaster.

We must not let Republicans or Democrats lead us into others in Iran, Korea, or Pakistan.
Charles Knight, co-director Project on Defense Alternatives, can be emailed at:


Iraq: Partition Fears Begin To Rise

By Ali al-Fadhily
Jul 17, 2007, 11:03

BAGHDAD, Jul 16 (IPS) - Many Iraqis are now beginning to see the rising sectarian violence as part of a larger plan to partition the country.

"Americans want to alter the shape of our cities, dividing Iraqis into ethnic and sectarian groups living separately from each other," Khali Sadiq, a researcher in statistics at Baghdad University told IPS.

"They are not doing this directly, but they have obviously given room to militias and Iraqi forces to do the job," he said. "We are more than halfway towards a sectarian Iraq."

A recent report has raised further suspicions that there is a U.S.-backed plan to partition the capital city, and possibly the country along sectarian and ethnic lines.

According to the Initial Benchmark Assessment Report issued by the White House Jul. 12, "the government of Iraq has made satisfactory progress towards enacting and implementing legislation on procedures to form semi-autonomous regions."

The report also states that the U.S.-backed Iraqi government formulates "target lists" of Sunni Arabs.

These lists are compiled by the Office of the Commander-in-Chief, which reports directly to U.S.-backed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The report says fabricated charges are brught to purge Sunnis from the Iraqi security forces.
Samara city, 100 km north of Baghdad, seems to be one of the current targets of this demographic change.

The bombing of the shrine of al-Askari in February 2006 ignited a sectarian wave of violence that swept Iraq.

Shia clerics in Baghdad and other Iraqi provinces who are supportive of the occupation began to speak of a need to change the city from predominantly Sunni to predominantly Shia.
Shula and Hurriya in western Baghdad, and most areas on the eastern bank of Tigris River are now purely Shia after years of killings by death squads.

It has been known for over a year now that Shia death squads have been operating out of the U.S.-backed Ministry of Interior, often in the guise of the Facilities Protection Service (FPS).
The FPS was created under extraordinary circumstances.

The U.S. occupation authorities and the Iraqi leaders working with them set up several new army and police forces under the supervision of the Multi National Forces (MNF).

It was decided that each ministry could establish its own protection force away from the control of the ministries of interior and defence.

The FPS was established Apr. 10, 2003, the day after the fall of Baghdad, under Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) order 27.

This document states:

"The FPS may also consist of employees of private security firms who are engaged to perform services for the ministries or governorates through contracts, provided such private security firms and employees are licensed and authorised by the Ministry of Interior."

Global Security.Org, a U.S.-based security research group, says:

"The Facilities Protection Service works for all ministries and governmental agencies, but its standards are set and enforced by the Ministry of the Interior. It can also be privately hired. The FPS is tasked with the fixed site protection of ministerial, governmental, or private buildings, facilities and personnel."

But evidence has emerged that this and other police forces have been taken over by Shia militia.
Capt. Alexander Shaw, head of the police transition team of the 372nd Military Police Battalion, a Washington-based unit charged with overseeing training of all Iraqi police in western Baghdad, has said:

"To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure we're ever going to have police here that are free of the militia influence."

Shaw said about 70 percent of the Iraqi police force had been infiltrated, and that police officers are too afraid to patrol many areas of the capital. Many Iraqis today believe this is part of an intentional plan to divide Iraq along sectarian lines.

"They (death squads) evicted many of our good Sunni neighbours and killed many others," Abu Riyad of the predominantly Shia Shula area told IPS.

"We protected them for a while, but then we could not face the militias with all the support they had from the Iraqi government and the Americans. It is a terrible shame that we have to live with, but what can we do?"
On the other hand, many Sunni Iraqis seemed unwilling to evict their Shia countrymen -- for a while. But people in one mixed area of Baghdad described strange developments.

"It is true that our neighbours did not evict us, but then the Americans swept the area and local fighters had to disappear from the streets," Hussein Allawi, a Shia who lived in a predominantly Sunni neighbourhood told IPS.

"A group of masked strangers then entered the town right under American soldiers' eyes. Only then did we realise that we must leave, and that our good neighbours could not help us any more."

Many such stories are told around Baghdad.

"We had to leave our house in Isskan in the western part of Baghdad," Dr. Fadhil Mahmood, a Sunni, told IPS. "A Shia friend of mine telephoned me to leave the house instantly because he heard some people were heading there to kill me and evict my family."

Mahmood said that his neighbours later told him that death squads arrived half an hour after he left his home.
(*Ali, our correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively in the region) (END/2007)

Dangerous New Philippino Terrorism Law

Philippines: New Terrorism Law Puts Rights At Risk

Source: Human Rights Watch
16 Jul 2007 23:51:16


Reuters and AlertNet are not responsible for the content of this article or for any external internet sites. The views expressed are the author's alone.

New York, July 17, 2007) ? A new counterterrorism law in the Philippines contains overbroad and dangerous provisions which could allow authorities to hold detainees indefinitely and engage in spurious prosecutions, Human Rights Watch said today.

The Human Security Act of 2007, passed by the Philippine Congress in February and signed by President Gloria Arroyo in March, took effect on July 15.

Numerous civil society leaders, religious figures, and human rights advocates have criticized the law, and the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism has called for the law to be repealed or for its implementation to be delayed.

"The vague language of the Human Security Act invites the government to misuse it," said Joanne Mariner, terrorism and counterterrorism director at Human Rights Watch.

"The Philippine Congress should repeal or revise the act to comply with human rights standards."

Human Rights Watch said that the new law contains an overly broad definition of terrorism, and overly harsh mandatory penalties applicable even to minor violations of the law.

The law provides for the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without adequate procedural protections, and permits persons apprehended in the Philippines to be rendered to countries that routinely commit torture, as long as the receiving government provides assurances of fair treatment.
Human Rights Watch said the Philippines was not adequately utilizing its existing legal system to prosecute perpetrators of bombings and other human rights abuses.

Human Rights Watch expressed concern about several of the new law's provisions:

Article 3 defines terrorism as the commission of certain crimes, including murder, piracy, kidnapping, arson, and the destruction of property, that "sow[] and creat[e] a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand." The act sets the mandatory sentence for the crime of terrorism at 40 years without parole.

Human Rights Watch is concerned that this definition is vague and overbroad, and could allow the government to transform less serious offenses, such as vandalism, or legitimate acts of protest, into crimes punishable by a mandatory 40-year sentence.

Under this definition, for example, a political protestor demanding that the president resign, who sets fire to an effigy (committing arson or destruction of property), could conceivably be charged with terrorism and, if convicted, sent to prison for 40 years.

Article 4, defining conspiracy, is likewise overbroad, setting a punishment of 40 years in cases where "two or more persons come to an agreement concerning the commission of the crime of terrorism . . . and decide to commit the same." Because prosecutions under article 4 are possible even where no overt act has occurred, the provision compounds the problems with overbroad language in article 3.

This could have a chilling effect on peaceful critics of the government seeking to hold political protests.

Human Rights Watch is also concerned about article 17 of the act, which allows regional trial courts to declare a group of persons to be a "terrorist and outlawed organization, association, or group," and seize its assets and search its financial records, among other actions.

Such a declaration can be made in cases where it is shown a group has engaged in terrorism (as defined in the overbroad language in article 3) but also in cases in which the government shows the group is "organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism," another term which is subject to the vague definition of terrorism in article 3.

While the organization is supposed to be given due notice and opportunity to be heard, it and its members face a serious loss of rights without the benefit of a full judicial process.

Human Rights Watch also raised concerns about articles 18 and 19 of the new law, which regulate the detention of terrorism suspects.

Article 18 doubles the period that the police can detain persons without judicial supervision, allowing up to three days of custody before the detainees must be brought before a judge. In a country where mistreatment in detention remains a major concern, this provision opens the door to further abuse.

Article 19, which covers cases of "actual or imminent terrorist attack," (a term that is not defined and could potentially encompass less serious crimes, as discussed above), allows detention beyond three days if the police obtain the written approval of a court or a "municipal, city, provincial or regional official."

Because the provision sets no express limit to the allowable period of detention in such cases, it could conceivably be used to justify indefinite detention.

Notably, the Philippines authorities have a history of holding suspects for extended periods without arraignment or trial, raising concern that the new law might essentially legitimize these abusive practices.

In addition, although the legislation purports to ban the practice of rendition ? the unlawful transfer of a person to another country ? it actually sets out broad exceptions to this ban.

Those exceptions, which allow a detainee to be handed over to another government without a formal extradition proceeding if the detainee's testimony is needed for a terrorism-related trial or police investigation, sanction the handover of terrorism suspects based on official assurances of fair treatment in the receiving state.

As Human Rights Watch has documented in a series of reports, such diplomatic promises are an ineffective safeguard against torture and other human rights abuses.

A positive aspect of the new law is its ban on the use of torture, threats, and coercion against detainees. The law expressly provides that any evidence obtained by such means is inadmissible in any judicial or administrative proceeding.
Human Rights Watch recognizes that the Philippines has experienced numerous bombings and other attacks against civilians in recent years, and that the government has a strong and legitimate interest in prosecuting persons suspected of plotting mass violence.

But Human Rights Watch cautioned that using overbroad and potentially abusive legislation would not advance the counterterrorism agenda.

"What the Philippines really needs is not a new and dangerously broad counterterrorism law, but better efforts to make its current justice system work," Mariner said.

Hezbollah Kidnapping, Not Declaration Of War

Bishara: Hezbollah Did Not Declare War On Israel Last Summer

By Yoav Stern,
Haaretz Correspondent
Last Update - 23;22 16/07/2007

Balad Chairman Azmi Bishara said Monday that Hezbollah did not declare war on Israel last summer, nor did it determine the timing of the war.

The former MK made the comments at a conference in Lebanon marking the one-year anniversary of the outbreak of the war, which erupted July 12, 2006 after Hezbollah killed three Israel Defense Forces soldiers and abducted two others...Five other soldiers were killed in the ensuing rescue attempt.

"Israel is known for planning and deciding in advance on the reason for war," said Bishara, adding that he believed the abduction of IDF troops is a "common type of operation."

...He added that there is no need to continue the debate as to whether Lebanon was victorious in the war, given that it has become a political argument.

He slammed Hezbollah's political rivals, saying they have spent 17 years debating or not they had emerged victorious.

Bishara said that last summer's war brought "liberation, victory, and the endowment of defeat in 33 days."

Diverting Attention, NeoCon Style

We're All Gonna Die

By William Rivers Pitt
T r u t h O u t Columnist
Friday 13 July 2007


We are all wired into a survival trip now.
[Hunter S. Thompson]

Who can forget the incredible scandal that erupted back in May of 2002?

Around about the middle of that month, details began to emerge about the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing that specifically warned Bush about Osama bin Laden's determination to strike the United States.

Wait. Actually, everyone forgot, because two days later, the Bush administration unleashed a blizzard of dire warnings about impending terrorist attacks. FBI Director Robert Mueller intoned such attacks were "inevitable," and the Department of Homeland Security announced the imminent, explosive destruction of all American railroads, along with the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.

Who can forget the incredible scandal that erupted back in June of 2003?

Over the course of two days, reports emerged about serious doubts held by the CIA regarding the credibility of the administration's claim Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. On the heels of this, Congress unfurled its 9/11 report, which criticized all levels of the Bush administration for its performance before and during the attacks.

Wait. Actually, everyone forgot, because the Bush administration unleashed another blizzard of warnings about impending terrorist attacks. Specifically, the Department of Homeland Security warned terrorists were, once again, preparing to attack the United States with suicide missions using commercial airliners as bombs.

Who can forget the incredible scandal that erupted back in December of 2003?

9/11 Commission chairman Thomas Keane declared the attacks of 9/11 should have been prevented. The next day, a Federal appeals court ruled against the administration on the case of suspected terrorist Jose Padilla, stating Padilla could not be held indefinitely without being charged.

Wait. Actually, everyone forgot, because the Bush administration increased the terrorism threat level to Orange and claimed more suicide planes were about to come zooming out of the sky. Six international flights were diverted due to potential terrorist actions of some passengers who were later identified as an insurance salesman, an elderly Chinese woman and a five-year-old boy.

Who can forget the incredible scandal that erupted back in May of 2004?

Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared on Meet the Press and stated the intelligence on Iraqi WMD he'd been given for his UN presentation had been "inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading." Horrifying new pictures of the torture, rape and murder of prisoners by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison became public. The American military accidentally bombed a wedding party in Iraq, killing 40 civilians.

Wait. Actually, everyone forgot, because FBI Director Mueller and Attorney General John Ashcroft announced they had reports from multiple sources of al Qaeda's "specific intention to hit the United States hard." The threat levels were not raised, but dire warnings of impending catastrophe were offered by the administration for the next several days.

The recipe is simple, like the directions on the back of a shampoo bottle. Damaging reports of Bush administration malfeasance emerge.

Warnings of imminent terrorist-borne doom immediately follow, all spread far and wide by said Bush administration. Lather, rinse, repeat.

There are many more instances of this curious timing to be found, but apparently, no one in the administration is concerned this dubious pattern - spreading fear among the populace to change the subject, an act of terrorism itself - might start to wear thin.
Who is going to forget the incredible scandals of June and July of 2007?

The Bush administration leaves Nixon in the dust by commuting the prison sentence of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

This action strongly suggests the existence of a quid pro quo between Libby and Bush's people to cover up the criminal activities of powerful officials like Vice President Dick Cheney, who had recently claimed his office wasn't part of the executive branch to avoid handing papers over to the National Archives.

The administration deploys spurious claims of Executive Privilege to avoid subpoenas regarding the patently illegal NSA wiretapping of American citizens. That privilege is extended to deny Congressional access to Harriet Miers, former White House counsel, regarding the issue of fired US attorneys. Contempt charges are threatened against Miers, and the NSA subpoena stonewall comes closer to getting openly challenged in court. Alberto Gonzales is exposed as having lied to the Senate in his testimony about FBI abuses of the Patriot Act.

Few of the benchmarks for success in Iraq are met. Desperate to halt a tide of GOP defections from his Iraq policy, Bush again coughs up the totally discredited link between 9/11 and Iraq, saying, "The same people that attacked us on September the 11th is a crowd that is now bombing people, killing innocent men, women and children."

The House again votes to withdraw American troops from Iraq. A new Harris poll on Bush's approval rating is published. The number reads 26 percent.

Wait. Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff all but guarantees devastating new terror attacks against the United States this summer. He bases this warning on a "gut feeling." White House spokesman Tony Snow threatens that withdrawal from Iraq would bring terrorism "to a shopping mall near you."

Meanwhile, al Qaeda is alleged to be as secure in Pakistan and Afghanistan as they were before 9/11, yet no one in the administration connects this new security to the drain of resources happening in Iraq.

Additionally, no one in the administration points out the fact that, if Chertoff's gut is indeed correct, and we are indeed attacked again, responsibility for that attack will fall upon those who manufactured war in Iraq.

Never mind the fact that if an attack is allowed to happen, even a minor one, more of our constitutional rights and protections will be eviscerated by the very same people who failed to stop it again.

Will everyone forget about the scandals of June and July 2007 amid these deadly warnings of coming death?

Lather, rinse, repeat.

William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times and internationally bestselling author of two books: "War on Iraq: What Team Bush Doesn't Want You to Know" and "The Greatest Sedition Is Silence." His newest book, "House of Ill Repute: Reflections on War, Lies, and America's Ravaged Reputation," is now available from PoliPointPress.

Cracks In Zionism

By Charley Reese
july 17, 2007

One of the myths created by the Israeli lobby is that Jews around the world are unanimous in their support of Israel, regardless of what it does. That's not true and never has been true.
Modern political Zionism, whose ideology demands a Jewish state with a Jewish majority, was invented by an Austrian journalist and for decades struggled desperately.

It wasn't God who created the modern state of Israel. It was British colonialism, the U.S., the Soviet Union, and Zionists.

Only about a third of the world's Jews choose to live in Israel, despite nearly a century of efforts to persuade Jews to immigrate.

There were many early Jewish critics of Zionism, and there still are, despite modern Zionists adopting fascist tactics to silence debate.

Joel Beinin, a Jewish liberal who has been on the receiving end of the campaign to silence critics of Israel, had this to say in a recent article reprinted on Znet:

"Organizations claiming to represent American Jews engage in a systematic campaign of defamation, censorship and hate-mongering to silence criticism of Israeli policies. They hollow the ethical core out of the Jewish tradition, acting instead as if the highest purpose of being Jewish is to defend Israel, right or wrong.

"Why discredit, defame and silence those with opposing viewpoints? I believe it is because the Zionist lobby knows it cannot win based on facts. An honest discussion can only lead to one conclusion: The status quo in which Israel declares it alone has rights and intends to impose its will on the weaker Palestinians, stripping them permanently of their land, resources and rights, cannot lead to a lasting peace.

"We need an open debate and the freedom to discuss uncomfortable facts and explore a full range of policy options. Only then can we adopt a foreign policy that serves American interests."
Avigail Abarbanel, a native-born Israeli Jew who lived there 27 years before emigrating, has even harsher words:

"Palestinian citizens of Israel live under an arbitrary and brutal police state. Their dealings with Israeli bureaucracy are not just frustrating but can be outright dangerous.

"The Palestinians in the Occupied Territories live under a Pinochet-like regime. They can and do disappear in the middle of the night. They are blindfolded, cuffed, beaten, humiliated, taken to unknown locations with no information given to them or their families, tortured physically and psychologically and incarcerated indefinitely, often without charges and regardless of whether they are guilty of anything.

"Israel is not a nice country. It is a powerful police state founded on pathological paranoia with only a veneer of civility, carefully crafted and maintained for the consumption of those who still believe in the myth of Israeli democracy."
You might want to send that paragraph to the next politician you hear repeating AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) propaganda that "Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East."

Abarbanel is a psychotherapist, and her article appeared on the Web site ElectronicIntifada.net, which I highly recommend as a source of information about the Middle East.

America badly needs an open and frank debate, based on facts, with no name-calling.

Our politicians are as timid as an introverted baby when it comes to Israel.

The Israeli lobby likes to boast about defeating candidates who don't toe the Israel-right-or-wrong line.

As a tip to the not-completely-gutless politicians, the way to handle that is to make AIPAC an issue in the campaign.
A group of Zionist leaders is meeting in Israel as I write this, worrying about an increase in criticism of them for stifling debate. They are not invincible.

They can't silence any American unless the American succumbs to fear of being called names, and I learned as a child that sticks and stones can break bones, but words can't hurt you.

Whiping Whom Off The Map???

By: Dr. Elias Akleh
15 July 2007

Since the establishment of their terrorist state on usurped Palestinian land Israelis keep regurgitating their phobic mantra “Arabs want to wipe Israel off the map” in order to draw international sympathy, and to cover up their war crimes throughout the Arab World. To build their divinely racist “God’s promised Jewish only” state from Nile to Euphrates Israeli government is conducting the policy of graduated wiping Palestinians off their own existence.

Israel had, so far, successfully wiped Palestine off the map. Palestine had become to be known as occupied territories, disputed territories, and finally West Bank and Gaza Strip. Palestine, a name used for the last three thousand years, to describe the land between Mediterranean shores west to Jordan River east, and from Lebanon north to Egypt south, can no longer be found on any modern map.


Israel was established and built on Zionism, a colonialist expansionist political movement based on religiously elitist ideology (God’s chosen people), and a complete denial of the other. Its ultimate goal is to build a super power state, which they hope would eventually exceed the US in controlling the globe, within the heart of the Arab World to control their resource-rich region. Its first step was to establish Israel in place of Palestine and to win (force) its international legitimacy through imperial power (unfortunately might is still right in our age).

Thus Palestinians became the primary target of Zionist terror and occupation to evacuate the land, since an independent viable Palestinian state would negate the essence of Israel’s right to exist on occupied land, and would put an end to the Zionist’s expansionist dreams. The birth of the Zionist entity is based not only on wiping Palestine off the map, but also wiping all Palestinians, their history and their culture off existence. Zionist Israel, thus, had adopted a graduated genocidal policy against Palestinians in specific and against Arabs in general.

Zionists perceived seeds of conflict among Arabs due to the variety of their culture, ethnicity, and religious backgrounds. To build their divinely racist Jewish-only Greater Israel from Nile to Euphrates through the division of Arabs, Zionist Israel developed its own expansionist geopolitical policy inspired from and akin to the German Nazi geopolitical policy of 1890 to 1933 of dividing Europe into smaller states to be swallowed up by strong Germany.

Where Nazi Germans prescribed to a biological elitist ideology of the superior pure Arian blood (the Superman), Zionist Israelis prescribed to a divine elitist ideology of the superior pure Jewish blood (God’s chosen people).

In occupied Palestine Israel differentiates between Christian and Muslim Palestinians, between Fatah and Hamas, between West Bank and Gaza Strip, and between citizens of one town and the other.

Within the neighboring Arab states (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Iraq) Israel is inciting conflict and hatred between the citizens of those countries and Palestinian refugees, between Christians and Muslims, between Shiites and Sunni Muslims, between Kurds and Arabs, and between different political parties.
On the Palestinian front Israeli government had adopted a three-dimensional graduated genocidal policy.

First comes uprooting Palestinians from their land and towns and transferring them to neighboring countries.

Second is perpetrating massacres and ethnic cleansing through military incursions, shelling, and air raids against Palestinian communities to coerce the rest of them to immigrate.

Third is the distortion and destruction of all physical, cultural, and historical evidence tying Palestinians to the land.
Palestinian villages have been completely demolished (wiped off existence), Palestinian culture was hijacked and many had been claimed to be Jewish, and history was distorted to reflect Palestinians as invader terrorist Muslim tribes from the Saudi Desert that never had any right in God’s Promised Land.

Israel has sought to negate, falsify, demonize and wipe off every aspect of Palestinian life to a point where ex Israeli PM Golda Meier stated in 1969: “There is no such thing as Palestinians, they never existed.”

The policy of wiping Palestine off the map and wiping Palestinians off existence had been adopted early since the founding of Zionism.

Here follows quotes of only few of noted Zionist leaders:

Theodor Herzl, father of political Zionism, had written in his diaries in 1898, “The Palestinians would be spirited across the border.”

Israel Zangwill, a British Zionist Jew, is known for his slogan “A land without a people for a people without a land” describing Zionist dream of Israeli state in Palestine.

This slogan, though, was invented by a Zionist British Member of Parliament Lord Shaftsbury, who in 1853 wrote to Foreign Minister Aberdeen that Greater Syria was “a country without a nation in need of a nation without a country… the ancient and rightful lords of the soil, the Jews”.

Chaim Weitzman, the first president of Israel, saw no room for Palestinians in Palestine. In his autobiography, “Trial and Error”, he wrote “Palestine will become as Jewish as England is English.”

In chapter four of his book, “Birth of Palestinian Refugee Problem”, Israeli historian Benny Morris wrote about Yousef Weitz, the director of the Jewish National Fund’s Land Department, a man noted for his strong Zionist convictions.

Weitz wrote in his diary on December 20th 1940: “It must be clear that there is no room in the country for both people (Palestinians and Jews) … the only solution is a Land of Israel, at least a western Land of Israel without Arabs. There is no room here for compromise … There is no way but to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries … Not one village must be left, nor one Bedouin tribe.”

In 1948 Weitz was given the task of creating the “Transfer Committee”, which supervised the destruction of evacuated Arab villages, and repopulating others with recent Jewish immigrants in order to make any return of Palestinian refugees to their villages impossible.
Many Palestinian villages, which survived destruction during 1948 war, were later erased (wiped off) after the war.

Records of the Association of Archeological Survey, housed in the Rockefeller Museum in Jerusalem, show that a plan to wipe off Palestinian villages was implemented jointly by the Israeli Lands Administration and the Jewish National Fund in 1965, and was carried on for several years.

The plan intended to wipe off all traces of Palestinian villages in order to destroy any hope for the Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

The Israeli Association of Archaeological Survey was established in 1964 to issue permits for the destruction of Palestinian villages. By 1967 this association had approved the wiping off of about 100 villages inside 1948-occupied Palestine (Israel). After 1967 the Association turned its attention to destroy Palestinian villages in West Bank and Golan heights.

On December 2006 Roni Bar-On, Israeli Interior Minister declared his ministry’s approval on a plan to demolish more than 42,000 homes of Palestinian Bedouins in Negev Desert. This plan will wipe off 45 Palestinian villages housing more than 86,000 Palestinian Bedouins, who in 1958 were evacuated out of their land and confined to a piece of land in the desert known as the Triangle.

Although paying taxes to Israeli government like any other town, these 45 villages were not recognized by the Israeli government, and received no civil services at all.

The destruction of Palestinian history and culture, and the wiping off Palestinian names of towns and replacing them with Jewish names was accelerated to a point where Moshe Dyan, a previous Israeli Defense Minister, bragged about it in a lecture he gave at the Technion University in Haifa in March 19th 1969.

He stated: “we came here to a country that was populated by Arabs, and we are building here a Hebrew, a Jewish state; instead of the Arab villages, Jewish villages were established.

You even do not know the names of those villages, and I do not blame you because these villages no longer exist.

There is no single Jewish settlement that was not established in the place of a former Arab Village.

You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you because geography books no longer exist. Not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not here either.

Nahlal arose in the place of Mahlul, Kibbutz Gv’at in the place of Jibta, Kibbutz Sared in the place of Huneifis, and Yehushua in the place of Tel al-Shuman.

There is not a single place built in this country that did not have a former Arab population.”
(Haaratz, April 4th, 1969).
The policy of wiping off Palestinian names and replacing them with Jewish names was adopted by first Israeli PM David Ben Gurion since the establishment of Israel in 1948 when he established a special committee from historians, geographers, geologists and Torah experts, whose task was to wipe off the Canaanite and Palestinian Arabic names and substitute them with Jewish names.

So Tel Rabi’ became Tel Aviv, Al-Quds became Urushalaim, Um Rashrash became Eilat, Shu’fat became Nevi Yachob, Beit Jala became Gilo, Za’tara became Tabbuch, Beisan became Beit Shean, Qualandia became Atarot, Beit Mahseer became Beit Me’er, Artof became Hartuv, and so on.

Israeli government came up with a set of despotic laws to justify its robbery of Palestinian property.

For example the “Expulsion of Invaders” amendment to land laws was designed to allow Israel to expel Palestinians from their land under the excuse that Palestinians are invaders. Palestinian refugees, who tried to return to their land, are considered invaders by Israel.

The law of “Abandoned Properties” is designed to make it “legal” for Israeli government to seize any land belongs to absent (evacuated, transferred) owners.

This law “legalized” the general confiscation of almost 450 Palestinian villages and associated farm land that were later either wiped off or Judaised.

According to a report drawn up in 1952 Israel had succeeded in expropriating all Palestinian quarters in mixed towns, 73,000 rooms in abandoned houses, 7800 Palestinian shops, workshops and warehouses, 5 million Palestinian pounds in bank accounts, and most importantly 300 thousand hectares of land (see Simha Flapan’s “The Birth of Israel; Myths and Realities” p. 107) Israel is intent on destroying all Palestinian and Islamic cultural city landmarks.

Religious places and buildings, especially Muslim mosques, were claimed as Jewish, destroyed, neglected to collapse, and turned into museums, art galleries, whore houses, clubs, senior citizens shelters, and stables for farm animals.

Muslim Palestinians were not allowed to renovate or build new mosques. Renovation and strengthening the bases of Al-Aqsa mosque was hindered by Jerusalem municipality. Building permits were withheld, and building materials were not allowed to pass through old gates to the mosque.

The ancient Islamic Council building and its adjacent Islamic “Ma’man Allah” cemetery in West Jerusalem are important historic and cultural Palestinian landmarks.

The Israeli government is destroying the internals of the Islamic Council building to build western-style apartments, and digging up the cemetery to build a Jewish Museum of Tolerance on its place.

What hypocrisy!!!
Israel had always rejected, obstructed, or violated all peace treaties with Arabs since 1948 for fear of establishing permanent borders and repatriating Palestinian refugees, as explained explicitly by their first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in his “The War Diary 1948/9”.

For Zionists peace means the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes (a demographic threat to the pure exclusive Jewish state), and specifying permanent borders putting an end to Zionist expansionist dreams.

In December 1948 the UN established a Palestine Conciliation Commission (PCC) with representatives from US, France and Turkey to mediate between Arabs and Israel.

Peace negotiation held in Lausanne, Switzerland on April 26th 1948. Israel was forced to attend negotiation after US threatened to prevent Israel’s admission to the UN.

In the negotiation Arabs offered Israel peace and recognition providing Israel implements UN resolution 194 of returning Palestinian refugees to their homes.

Israel rejected the offer.

Oslo Agreement was forced on Israel by Bush, the father, to appease Arab Gulf states, which joined his first Gulf War against Iraq, knowing very well that Israelis will eventually circumvent the Agreement somehow, and they did.

Benjamin Netanyahu, in June 1996, gave his famous three “NO”s to peace process: no withdrawal, no Palestinian State, and no refugee’s return.

Dov Weisglass, Sharon’s senior adviser and one of the initiator of Sharon’s disengagement plan, stated “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process. And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda.” (Ha’aretz, October 6th 2004)

Israel has also rejected the generous peace offer of March 2003 by the Arab League, which promised recognition, putting an end to all resistance, and full diplomatic relations with ALL Arab states.

This offer would have fulfilled Israelis’ dreams and aspirations for the peace they claim to always have called for.

Yet Israeli PM Ariel Sharon, at the time, responded by driving his tanks into all major Palestinian cities.

Israel also rejected all Syrian peace offers, and violated all agreements with the Palestinian Authority.

Zionist Israeli settlers are worse than their government in their terrorist genocidal attacks against Palestinians.

Zionist settlers have their own underground terrorist militias allegedly formed to protect their settlements.

Given implicit permission by their government, and under the protection of the Israeli army, terrorist militias routinely attack Palestinian farmers, burn their crops, cut and uproot their trees, burn their shacks, poison their water wells, shoot and poison their farm animals, terrorize and assault members of International Solidarity Movement, who travel to Palestine to protect farmers in their fields and students on their way to schools.

Some of these extremist militias (Shlomo Dvir, Yarden Morag and Ofer Gamliel) planted car bombs near Palestinian high schools in Jerusalem’s suburbs in April 2002. Others (Chahr Zliger, Naom Federman, and undisclosed other terrorists) arrested in September 2003, planned to bomb many Islamic mosques, including al-Aqsa mosque, across West Bank at the same day.

The extremist settlers encourage such terrorist acts against Palestinians and consider them religious duty.

This could be seen in the way the settlers of Keryat Arba’ had sanctified the terrorist Baruch Goldstein by building a shrine for him and calling him a saint.

Goldstein had shot 29 Muslim prayers in the back and injured 129 others while praying in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron in February 1994.

Settlers’ terror increased up to a point where, in April 27, 2005, Amnesty International (AI) urged the Israeli occupation authorities to launch immediate probes into the Jewish settlers' poisoning of Palestinian agrarian fields.

The Israeli government ignored such a request.
Despite all the media cover up, and the Zionist propaganda, the international community, on the civic level, understands and sympathizes with the Palestinian just cause. Many civil walks and protests demanding justice for Palestinians take place in major cities all over the world. People from all over the world join International Solidarity Movement to travel to Palestine to protect Palestinians from Israeli terror, and to protest Israeli imprisoning wall designed to choke Palestinian towns.

Polls, especially in Europe, had shown that Israel is considered the most dangerous threat to world peace even before Iran.

Unfortunately the blackmail of World Zionist Organization and the pressure of the pro-Zionist neoconservative American administration and that of AIPAC made criticizing Israel a “political suicide” as described by previous American President Jimmy Carter.
World leaders and politicians had ignored the plight of Palestinian people.

They had ignored the illegal establishment of the terrorist state of Israel on usurped Palestine, ignored Israeli massacres against Palestinian civilians, the destruction of their villages, and the expulsion of almost 750 thousand Palestinian out of their homes, ignored the right of return for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees and the implementation of UN resolution 194 of 1948 demanding their return to their land, ignored the suffering of Palestinians under Israeli terrorist occupation for the last 60 years, denied the Palestinians’ right of self-defense and resisting occupation, as guaranteed by UN charters, and called this right terrorism, ignored Israeli terrorism, on the other hand, and called it self-defense, ignored and turned against the UN democratic principles when they rejected the Palestinian government that was elected by the most democratic election as witnessed and testified by UN and international well known monitors, and imposed financial and economic siege to starve Palestinians for their democratic process.
As the international political community, alas including some Arab leaders, had shown sympathy for the capture, as a war prisoner, of the Israeli soldier (Shalit), who was sent to Gaza Strip to shell and destroy the homes of Palestinian civilians and to kill their women and children, and expressed their understanding of the Israeli terrorist war against Lebanon (July 2006) in response to the capture of two Israeli soldiers sent across Lebanese borders to incite anticipated trouble, this international “civilized” community expressed no sympathy towards the 12 thousand Palestinian civilians, including women and children, rotting in miserable Israeli jails after being snatched out of their families in the middle of the night from their homes, nor did they express any understanding for the Palestinian attacks against Israeli settlers, who usurped Palestinian land.

The international community knows that Israel is perpetrating ethnic cleansing against Palestinians, yet none of its governments is doing anything about it or objecting it, giving Israel the wrong message that it is OK to kill Palestinians.

That is why wiping Palestinians off existence is still going on until today.

Palestinians have long joined native Australians and Native American Indians in the category of “endangered species”.

Today it is Palestinians; tomorrow it is the rest of Arab nations.

* Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer of Palestinian descent, born in the town of Beit-Jala. Currently he lives in the US.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What Do We Mean By Europe?

By Charles Westin
Professor, Stockholm University

Sun., Sep. 10, 2006 / Sha`ban 17, 1427

Europe has different meanings depending on one's focus.

It is first of all a geographical entity, one of the world's six inhabited continents. Europe and Asia differ from the other continents in that they make up one contiguous landmass.

The division between Europe and Asia is not genuinely geographical but rather historical and cultural.

Europeans see Europe as a life-world that is distinctly different from the historical and cultural regions of Asia.

Europe may be seen as a community of values and ideas, the origins of which may be traced back to the forging of the Judeo-Christian religious traditions, Greek philosophy and democracy, and Roman jurisprudence and military organization.

But the European legacy also owes so much to the Moors of Spain and Portugal, and to the Ottomans in the Balkans.

The Renaissance from which modern European thought sprung was a product of Islamic culture and the links that Islamic culture provided back to the knowledge and philosophy of European antiquity.
To some people the European type represent a "racial" category of fair-skinned peoples, which stand out in contrast to the darker skinned peoples of Africa and Asia.

Europe is of course also a political space. Its territory is divided into 43 states and some semi-autonomous regions.

Internal Divisions:

What are the most significant internal divisions of Europe?

The answer pertains to historically rooted power structures and their impact on national self-conceptions and identities today.

A basic East-West divide coincides more or less with the ancient boundary between Orthodoxy and Catholicism dating back to the first council of Nicaea in AD 325.

A somewhat more indistinct North-South divide roughly coincides with the northern boundary of the Roman Empire, which more or less corresponds to the division between Greek and Russian Orthodoxy and the historically more recent one between Catholicism and Protestantism.

The four quadrants of Europe thus outlined are by no means fixed and unchangeable, but highly dependent on power structures and political alignments.

Moreover, these quadrants make sense in terms of historical and political experiences that are fundamental to an understanding of the deeper roots of conflict that have ravaged the continent for centuries.

Peripheral Regions:

We may, moreover, speak of frontier regions in the European peripheral regions.

Spain and Portugal have, for example, extended Europe into Africa and South America, but also brought Africa and South America back into Europe.

The United Kingdom above all, but to some extent also the Scandinavian countries, have extended the European concept to North America (the United States, Canada, and Greenland).

Russia is a frontier region linking Europe with Asia.

And finally, the Balkan states represent historical and cultural linkages between Europe and the Muslim Middle East.

A Long Pattern Of Violence:

Europe has a bad historical record as far as intergroup violence is concerned.

One should, of course, be careful to pass judgment on acts committed far back in time by applying the moral standards that are associated with our own times.

However, one does need to recognize that current expressions of racism, ethnic cleansing, discrimination, etc. are part of a long pattern.

Anti-Semitism manifested itself in the prohibition for Jews to own land. Nor were they entitled to engage in certain professions or to settle in various cities. In Eastern Europe they were forced into ghettos and were repeatedly the victims of brutal pogroms.
The expulsion of the Jews and Moors from Spain in 1492 was of great significance because racial criteria were employed (for the first time) to justify the mass-expulsion and cultural destruction.

The significant point was that even Jews and Moors who had converted to Christianity were expelled.
Some Jewish historians regard this expulsion as a catastrophe (almost) comparable with the Nazi genocide of the European Jewry.

Roma, Sinti, and other traveling people have histories of vicious processes of social exclusion.

In a number of countries, indigenous territorial minorities (Basques, Britons, Celts, Saami, etc.) have fought an uneven battle for recognition and language rights.

The Nazi Holocaust was the culmination, but not the end, of five centuries of radicalized treatment of minority groups in Europe and of non-European peoples in the colonial empires.

Charles Westin is a Professor of Migration and Ethnicity Studies at Stockholm University.

Related Links:

First Muslims in Europe Charter
Muslims in Greater Europe
Muslims In Europe: Germany, France And Great Britain
Immigration And Integration
Daring to Be Euro Muslims (1)
Daring to Be Euro Muslims (2)

IDF Preparing For "All-Out-War"

General who served in Second Lebanon War says army's premise now completely different than before war which 'proved we were wrong in 2000 when our military power was aimed at Palestinian terror; now we realize that we should be preparing for something completely different'

By Haman Greenberg
15:48 , 07.16.07

"The IDF is preparing itself for an all-out war, and this is a major change in the military's working premise following the Second Lebanon War," said Major-General (res) Eyal Ben-Reuven, who served as the Northern Command chief’s deputy during the war.

"By preparing for an all-out war, we can also deal with Palestinian terror, and not the other way round, as it was believed so far," Ben-Reuven said at an Institute for National Security Studies conference covering the different aspects of war.

When conflict breaks out with Syria, he said, Israel will face a challenge, because the Syrians "will be willing to take military and civilian hits but will strive to harm the Israeli home front in order to gain future achievements in a political process and to further split Israeli society.

"Therefore, the IDF's mission will be very focused and will have to be quick, in order to neutralize as quickly as possible the strategic areas threatening Israel's soft underbelly, thus preventing Syria reaching its coveted goals."

Ben-Reuven explained that in order to carry out such missions successfully, an extensive ground operation will be needed, and for this purpose the IDF is currently renewing its maneuvering abilities, including training and perfecting technology.

According to the major-general, if such ground operations were carried out during the Second Lebanon War, it would have ended very differently.

The IDF was not defeated in the Second Lebanon War, said Ben-Reuven, but failed in utilizing its strength and realizing its goals due to poor military and political leadership.

"The war was a harsh slap on the face and proved that we were wrong in 2000, when our readiness and military power was aimed at Palestinian terror, and now we realize that we should be preparing for something completely different."

Ben-Reuven, who was recently in charge of training senior military commanders, pointed out that the army must change its view on this matter.

"Someone who was a good regimental commander will not necessarily be a good divisional commander. It doesn't work that way on the modern battlefield. One must undergo the appropriate training in order to understand their job well," he said.

Former Military Intelligence head Major-General (res.) Aharon Ze'evi Farkash also spoke at the conference.

Ze'evi addressed the Lebanese problem, saying Hizbullah was currently dealing with political struggles and strengthening, including arming itself with short and long range rockets.

Farkash also pointed out that the war with Lebanon may actually increase chances of Israel and Lebanon reaching a settlement following the internal processes in Beirut.

Insurgents Adapting Faster To U.S. Defenses

By Peter Eisler - USA Today
Posted : Monday Jul 16, 2007 8:15:07 EDT

...The evolution of IEDs in Iraq parallels the evolution of the tools the Pentagon has used to combat them. The placement of the IEDs, the ways they’re triggered, the explosives they employ — all of that has changed time and again as U.S. forces have tried different ways to detect, disable or protect themselves against the devices.

Much of the raw material used by insurgents to make IEDs — artillery shells and explosives, such as TNT and C-4 — was looted from Iraqi military ammunition caches that were not secured by U.S. forces immediately after the invasion, according to a March report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm.

“Not securing these conventional munitions storage sites has been costly,” the GAO wrote.

The looted material has given insurgents ammunition to “construct IEDs ... and maintain the level of violence.”

Early IEDs were relatively small and straightforward, often a 155mm or 152mm artillery shell hidden in a wall or embankment along a road. Insurgents would run wire from the device to a hand-held trigger, which they could activate from a nearby hiding place.

As U.S. troops figured out how to detect those IEDs, by spotting the wires or a suspicious character nearby, insurgents began using remote triggers — car key fobs, garage door openers, cell phones — to detonate the devices from greater distances.

They also turned to more powerful explosives, sometimes “daisy-chaining” multiple artillery rounds to boost destructive force.

By March 2004, “they were using daisy chains, 155mm rounds, maybe seven, eight in a row,” says Army Maj. Myles Caggins, who led a support company in Diyala province.

“And they had a little ruse: One IED blows up, everyone stops, and as people walk up to investigate, more blow up. The techniques changed.”

In late 2003, as troops scoured Iraqi scrap yards for steel to fashion “hillbilly armor” for Humvees, the Pentagon began ordering add-on armor kits for the vehicles, including hardened steel doors and side panels. By May 2004, under pressure from Congress, the Army had delivered 7,000 kits; more arrived in the months that followed.

Around that time, troops also started getting their first large-scale deliveries of jammers: devices that can be mounted in a vehicle or, in some cases, carried in a backpack, to block the wireless signals insurgents used to set off IEDs.

The Insurgents Adapted Faster.

By early 2004, they’d begun burying IEDs under roads, so they would blast up through the thin floors that proved to be the Achilles’ heel of even the armored Humvees. And the use of those buried IEDs grew steadily over the next 18 months, as more armored Humvees reached the field.

The triggers changed, too. As more jammers arrived, insurgents reverted to hard-wired devices or switched to pressure-plate IEDs, which go off when a vehicle rolls over them.

By 2006, U.S. troops were seeing “baking trays,” in which C-4 is sandwiched between metal plates and set to explode when compressed by a vehicle.

“They have adapted every time we’ve come up with a new way to defeat them,” says Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., a combat veteran and critic of the war.

Now, they’re adapting again, using IEDs that employ explosively formed projectiles. Those devices fire a metal slug that becomes a molten projectile as it travels towards its target. They are so powerful that they’ve been described as capable of slicing through an Abrams tank.

The Pentagon is developing yet another armor kit — this time to put on already armored vehicles, including MRAPs and Humvees — that can protect against EFPs.

From the start, the insurgents “made a decision to attack our tactical mobility ... and they’ve chosen the IED as the way to do that,” says retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former chief of the U.S. Central Command.

“This is the first war where we’ve faced an enemy that’s adapted better than we have at a tactical and operational level. We had IEDs from Day 1. ... What have we done to adapt? Nothing.
“The best counter to the IED is to get into the head of the guy who’s planting it. If he’s doing it for a buck, give him a better job. If he’s doing it because he’s pissed off, give him some promise of a better life,” Zinni adds.

“If you say there has to be a technical solution, a silver bullet, you’re not going to win.”

Occupation Is Main Problem In Iraq

Monday, July 16, 2007,
Jamadi-us-sani 30, 1428 A.H.

HAWIJAH, Iraq: The main problem we have here is the occupation, the Iraqi soldier says before joining Americans troops on a mission to win hearts and minds in his hometown of Hawijah.

If the occupier leaves everything will be better.

Brit Cop Wants Indefinite Internment Back

Lock Terror Suspects Up Indefinitely Say Police

By Mark Townsend and Jamie Doward
Sunday, July 15, 2007
London Observer

One of Britain's most senior police officers has demanded a return to a form of internment, with the power to lock up terror suspects indefinitely without charge.
The proposal, put forward by the head of the Association of Police Chief Officers (Acpo) and supported by Scotland Yard, is highly controversial.

An earlier plan to extend the amount of time suspects can be held without charge to 90 days led to Tony Blair's first Commons defeat as Prime Minister. Eventually, the government was forced to compromise on 28 days, a period which Gordon Brown has already said he wants to extend.

The Observer understands that the Acpo proposal has been discussed in meetings between Brown and senior police officers.

Whitehall sources said the PM was receptive to the association's demands, but believes an upper detention limit is essential to avoid a de facto Guantanamo Bay based in the UK.

Ken Jones, the president of Acpo, told The Observer that in some cases there was a need to hold terrorist suspects without charge for 'as long as it takes'.

He said such hardline measures were the only way to counter the complex, global nature of terrorist cells planning further attacks in Britain and that civil liberty arguments were untenable in light of the evolving terror threat.
Jones, a former chair of Acpo's counter-terrorism committee, said: 'We are now arguing for judicially supervised detention for as long as it takes. We are up against the buffers on the 28-day limit. We understand people will be concerned and nervous, but we need to create a system with sufficient judicial checks and balances which holds people, but no longer than a day [more than] necessary.

'We need to go there [unlimited detention] and I think that politicians of all parties and the public have great faith in the judiciary to make sure that's used in the most proportionate way possible.'

The Proposal Has Provoked Anger Among Civil Rights Groups.

'It is coming to the point when we have to ask serious questions about the role of Acpo in a constitutional democracy,' said Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty.

'We elect politicians to determine legislation and we expect chief constables to uphold the rule of law, not campaign for internment.'
Internment was last used in Britain during the Gulf war against Iraqis suspected of links to Saddam Hussein's army.

It has also been used against terrorist suspects in Northern Ireland and Germans during the Second World War.

Jones said the increasingly international element of the terror threat made evidence-gathering a longer and more difficult process. He argues that a system is required where suspects can be arrested earlier than those suspected of involvement in more traditional crime.

'We can't let the threat develop to the point we ordinarily would, because the potential for a suicide bomber to take hundreds of lives is too awesome to merely contemplate, and so we are into the evidence-gathering phase much earlier,' he said.

'Then we are into judicially supervised detention. The fact is that these cases do take much longer to investigate. The reach of an investigation can be global. We are using a system designed to protect the rights of a suspect of a routine criminal case in the United Kingdom and we are pushing it to its limit.

'We should never have got involved in the 90-day debate. In hindsight, we should have said that we needed an extraordinary mechanism to give us the ability to investigate these complex cases under judicial supervision,' said Jones.

Moves to extend the police's power to hold suspects will be dealt with in a security bill in the autumn.

Jones also admitted Acpo had discussed problems of control orders, used as a form of house arrest for suspects, with the government.

'Clearly it's an idea that does need a refreshed view on it. But the solution of doing nothing is not an option really,' he said of the orders, which have been criticised after a number of those supposedly under their control absconded.

Jones's comments chime with those made by the man in charge of reviewing the government's terrorism laws.

Lord Carlile of Berriew said problems with the immigration service and Passport Agency left terrorists free to move in and out of Britain...