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"They hate us for our values"

This is Bob Wall's first headline piece for Webdiary but for regular Webdiarists he requires no introduction. Bob regularly posts updates on events in the United States on Kerryn Higgs'  The irises and Patrick Fitzgerald. Variously Bob predicts an ignoble demise of the Bush government in the courts. Time will tell, but meanwhile he has provided us with an extraordinary collection of links and updates spanning three months of eventful time. Here he brings back to our attention one scandal which must never, ever be forgotten.

by Bob Wall

The name Abu Ghraib became notorious when photographs of abuse of Iraqi prisoners became public. That a prison notorious under the ousted regime should again be the scene of gross abuses of human rights under US control focuses attention on one of the standard rationales used by the administration to explain 9/11 - "They hate us for our values".

The administration was quick to punish a "few bad apples" and try to sweep the matter under the carpet. They succeeded to a large extent as the matter became largely a concern for antiwar critics but not of the more general public. It bubbled away beneath the surface until becoming a focus of attention again with the recent release of further photographs: here in Australia on SBS television, while the US, possibly in response to the renewed interest in the matter, has recently announced that it will close Abu Ghraib.

Events at Abu Ghraib should not be forgotten nor treated in isolation. Bagram, secret renditions and Guantanamo Bay are names and behaviours that require attention. They are not behaviours of governments that uphold the principles of democracy but rather those that demean and diminish democracy and do great discredit to those who perpetrate them. Then there is the blowback, not only in how Coalition troops might be treated if they were captured but in fomenting hatred of the West in those who perceive themslves as targets. This can be seen in attitudes to the US presence in Iraq.

Salon.com has now released The Abu Ghraib Files composed of 279 photos and 19 videos and and account of events and investigations of the events:

Although the world is now sadly familiar with images of naked, hooded prisoners in scenes of horrifying humiliation and abuse, this is the first time that the full dossier of the Army's own photographic evidence of the scandal has been made public. Most of the photos have already been seen, but the Army's own analysis of the story behind the photos has never been fully told. It is a shocking, night-by-night record of three months inside Abu Ghraib's notorious cell block 1A, and it tells the story, in more graphic detail than ever before, of the rampant abuse of prisoners there. The annotated archive also includes new details about the role of the CIA, military intelligence and the CID itself in abuse captured by cameras in the fall of 2003.

The Bush administration, which recently announced plans to shut the notorious prison and transfer detainees to other sites in Iraq, would like the world to believe that it has dealt with the abuse, and that it's time to move on. But questions about what took place there, and who was responsible, won't end with Abu Ghraib's closure.

In fact, after two years of relative silence, there's suddenly new interest in asking questions. A CID spokesman recently told Salon that the agency has reopened its investigation into Abu Ghraib "to pursue some additional information" after having called the case closed in October 2005. Just this week, one of two prison dog handlers accused of torturing detainees by threatening them with dogs went on trial in Fort Meade, Md. Lawyers for Army Sgt. Michael J. Smith argue that he was only implementing dog-use policies approved by his superiors, and Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the former commander of military intelligence at Abu Ghraib, was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony at Smith's trial.

There is much more and much more to it than a "few bad apples". What do you see when you confront these images and the processes that created the environment in which the abuses occurred? What sense, if any, does it make?

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Thankyou James

Thanks James. There's nothing quite like Webdiary to help research a question. This one is going to take me longer to have a good look at, but initially I'm still disappointed. I still haven't found a statement supporting or promoting the Khmer Rouge, though the author of this one quotes the Wall Street Journal to refer to Chomsky's "heroic efforts to disprove the bloodbaths in Cambodia." Why quote the Wall Street Journal? Show me the heroic efforts!

If you do find it, I'd love a reference to any apology or retraction by Chomsky as well. That would be extremely helpful to me.

I feel it's time to make a qualification here. Some of Delong's arguments about Chomsky's polemical style, and his selectivity of facts, especially in his shorter works like What Uncle Sam Really Wants, absolutely ring true. Ear makes the same point. I can't pretend that I haven't been among those undergoing disillusionment with Chomsky, a disillusionment that has been going for five years or more now. Any disillusionment involves some pain. I read a lot of Chomsky in my formative years and he had a big influence on my political development so I have to figure out where it all goes - that's my lot, and it's not going to shock me terribly to be disillusioned further.

But the whole point about Cambodia in Manufacturing Consent, which I have read, was not about 'supporting' anything. It was about a comparison of media attention on Khmer Rouge brutality (absolutely acknowledged) to the brutality of a government that the US supports - that of Indonesia. The point was that the US media was all over the horrors of Cambodia but for some reason barely covered the horrors of Indonesia, and asked the question why. The general theme, that media has a natural habit of condemning the crimes of enemies and overlooking the crimes of friends, seems pretty pertinent still, and it gets lost in this "Chomsky supported the Khmer Rouge" thing (which I'm still trying to pin down, but now know which book it comes from), in a similar way that any criticism of America is accused of being "support for Sadam".

Does John Howard support genocide in West Papua? 

Thanks David

Thanks David. But if that's the best the claimants can make about Chomsky's support for and promotion of the Khmer Rouge, Chomsky's reputation is barely sullied. It's five snippets connected by dots, which even then remain apparently carefully worded and almost beg for their context.

I'm trying to track down a copy of the book to have a look for myself, but a reply to Delong's article argues that Chomsky (and the co-author Herman) were here citing the work of another author, whose thrust was a condemnation of the KR, and that in a time of very little evidence they were citing a range of sources, and left open a range of conclusions. To anyone who reads the Delong article David cites, I recommend the reply, which leaves Delong's intellectual integrity looking at least as shaky as Delong's critique was designed to leave Chomsky's.

Actually, Delong's credibility suffered a collapse of its own for me when he claimed that "Only a nut-boy loon would argue" that US intervention in the Balkans arose from anything but humanitarian concerns. I wouldn't know otherwise by the way - certainly not for sure - but all of the history I've studied (much more than most; less than some) tells me that military intervention always has motives of power or loot, and the job of any analyst is to try to figure them out. Delong actually discounts the possibility with a sweeping insult of anyone who dares.

Where are we if we can trust noone? If humans are wired to win the game against each other rather than together rejoice in uncovering the mystery of the infinite, it occurs to me that we actually are doomed.

Re: Did Chomsky support the Khmer Rouge?

My reference to the Khmer Rouge was meant as an example of a movement demanding ideological "purity." I was not implying that Noam Chomsky supported the KR. I don't know whether he did or didn't. I have plenty of criticisms of Chomsky but they have nothing to do with Cambodia or the Khmer Rouge.

No worries

Yep, I realise I was using just the mention of Chomsky to digress and make my enquiry. It wasn't necessarilly directed at you Will, but ok, I'll count you as one who does not claim that Chomsky supported the Khmer Rouge. Anyone else?

Despicable Double Standards

Ted Rall's essay Pandering To The Poor provides another example of the rank hypocrisy of the USA's commitment to democracy, and some insight into why so many people like myself despise American foreign policy.
When the hated despots of nations like Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan loot their countries' treasuries, transfer their oil wealth to personal Swiss bank accounts and use the rest to finance (in the House of Saud's case) terrorist extremists, American politicians praise them as trusted friends and allies. But when a democratically elected populist president uses Venezuela's oil profits to lift poor people out of poverty, they accuse him of pandering.

to whom it may concern

If one examines yahoo's max graph closely, it looks suspiciously like it has a logarithmic scale. For the mathematically challenged, that means a straight-line increase on such a chart is not a straight-line, as one might normally understand it.

Look at my 2nd chosen period: starting in early '95 it goes up from under 500 to 1000 in about 3 years, then to nearly 1500 in somewhat less than 2 years. In actual fact, if the line were exactly straight and if it doubled in one period then it would re-double after the next equal period; keep that up an' it's through the roof quick-bloody-smart - an' that would look like a spike, no?

I've just scanned a bit of "The Indian tortoise and the Chinese hare," enough to see that Gareth Eastwood could be suspected of trying to have a bit of a lend of me. Hmmm? Try this fetched-in-a-flash quote: "Recent M3 figures are certainly unpleasant and worrisome. M3 has been growing at an annual rate of 7.5 percent or double the most recent rate of GDP growth (subject to a revision.) [And remember your 1.8% 'core' inflation figure?] Since Bush took office money supply M3 has risen by 40%. The Fed prints it and the government spends it as can be seen by growing government participation in growth numbers." And then they're gunna stop publishing M3, why that d'y s'pose that is?

Riddle me this, Mr Eastwood: exactly where does the money come from, to build those mighty deficits? And having been conjured up from YOU KNOW WHERE, where do you think it goes to?

And while I'm popping questions, so's to say, I might as well 'go for broke':

Riddle me this, Jay White: With a Public debt like this one: 64.7% of GDP (i.e. of $US12.4 trio = about $US8 trio), who's gunna pay what taxes an' when, to pay any, let alone all of that off? Not to mention anyone trying to reduce an external debt like this one: $8.837 trio (30 June 2005 est.)

PS Note to CIA: With all due respect, I couldn't give a s**t (about what the US does); apart from the truth, all I care about is stopping the killings - Oh yeah, and the rip-offs, and the greenhouse...)

Where's this going, Phil?

Phil Kendall writes, "With all due respect, I couldn't give a s**t (about what the US does); apart from the truth, all I care about is stopping the killings - Oh yeah, and the rip-offs, and the greenhouse...)"

With all due respect Phil, for a guy who "couldn't give a s**t" about this topic you are writing quite a bit about it.

With further due respect, Phil, where are you going with this discussion about US monetary policy? Other Webdiarists, including myself, share your concerns about the Bush Administration's fiscal profligacy and its long-term economic consequences (including monetary implications). Are you aiming for a serious discussion of US economic policies, of which there is certainly much to criticise, or were you bringing up the "printing money" thing as just another example of the overall perfidy and greed of America? You know - They Hate Us for Our "Values"?

All the US economic numbers you've cited - growth of money supply, public debt, budget deficits - are items of genuine concern, but they all have to be viewed in context. The context being the overall size of the US economy, the world economy, other nations' fiscal and monetary policies. US monetary practices, as I understand them, are pretty much in line with those of most other major economic players in the world - UK, the Eurozone, Japan, Australia, etc. So there may be problems in the global economy and monetary system, but I don't see how they are uniquely American. Indeed, the biggest monetary crises of the past few decades have emanated from countries other than the US - Mexico and Argentina are two examples that spring to mind. The US played a big role in bailing out the Mexicans in that case, under the leadership of US Treasury Secretary Rubin.

I share your concerns about global warming, killings,and rip-offs. All serious problems, no question about it.

So what's your point?

More on printing money

Phil, re “Even more impressive, Gareth, is if you click the 'max' on your graph; you can see that it went from below 500 at start '95 to about 1500 by 2000.” So that means from 1995 to present the S&P 500 has risen by whopping 11%pa (roughly the same as the historical average return). Not getting much value for “printing money” are they.

Maybe this means that the Fed “printed money” like mad from 1995 to 2000 then stopped for two years and started again in 2003?

Phil, re house prices, you only provided one quarter’s worth of housing data? I’m not questioning the fact that US house prices have done well in recent times, I’m just not sure of the magnitude and historical context.

Phil, re Asian savings, I think you’re confusing “printing” money with borrowing money, the latter by itself has little impact on inflation. All the US treasuries on issue require regular coupon payments back to said Asian investors and ultimately on maturity the principal will have to be repaid as well. There’s no need for a budget deficit when you’re “printing money”. There’s a reason it’s called “printing money” you have to produce physical notes, the Fed doesn’t even need to involve US treasuries in the process. The only relationship between a budget deficit and “printing money” is that you might do the latter to help reduce the former like in Zimbabwe. Maybe Japan should give it a go, might help reduce their massive government debt which is far greater than America’s.

Money supply and inflation

Michael Coleman, I know we’ve been through the money supply thing previously here. I still don’t agree with the money supply growth equals certain inflation line and neither does the Economist. This is what the Economist has to say: “Although it is a poor predictor of inflation, monetary growth can be a handy leading indicator. In many countries, there is a clear link between the growth of the real broad-money supply and that of real GDP.”

Michael I think you are a little harsh on core inflation. The idea is to remove extraordinary price changes to get a feel for the base or long term inflation trend. There are many different ways to do this and there is admittedly a degree of subjective judgement involved. However, your statement that “the official rate of price inflation including food and energy has consistently exceeded this fraudulent 'core' rate for years” is false. By definition core inflation will always come back to CPI. I found a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas which shows the relationship between five different measures of core inflation and ordinary CPI. The study graphs data from 1968 to 2000 and it illustrates my point. You can see that core inflation has fluctuated above and below CPI for the last 30 years.

Energy Costs Not Going Down

Hi Gareth. I think you missed my point about the relevance of 'core' inflation in an environment of rapidly rising energy costs.

The period covered by the graph you cited ends in 2000, but the core rate has consistently been lower than the figure including energy and food since early this decade. I seriously doubt that energy prices will fall significantly given the demand pressures of five billion people aspiring to consume like we do. The days of excess production capacity in energy appear to be well and truly over.

Food prices are also under strong upward pressure. Climate change, fresh water shortages, rapidly rising production and transport costs and lots of rapidly expanding money supply chasing a relatively static pool of commodities will keep food prices rising.

How about you slap me around the head with an "I told you so" next time the figure including energy and food comes in lower than the core rate for two quarters in four? Surely, this must happen regularly for the core figure to be relevant.

500 to 1500 in 5yr = 24.6%pa

Even more impressive, Gareth, is if you click the 'max' on your graph; you can see that it went from below 500 at start '95 to about 1500 by 2000.

Is my maths wrong or your calculator busted?

Note that from around 1500, the index dropped to about 800 during Bush's 1st term then began climbing again as the illegal invasion of Iraq took place. War's good for US economy, or what?

As for US housing, you could look here: "Fourth Quarter 2005 Appreciation Up 12.5 Percent On An Annualized Basis", an average rise of 9.5% over 5 years with annualised highs nearing 20% in some places. How many 1st-time homebuyers could keep up with that? Like, their take-home pay goin' up that fast, with a 1.8% 'core' CPI? Also, if there was a significant dip as we've seen with S&P500 then the 9.5 reported may be misleadingly low. "The Phoenix metro area recorded the fastest growth in home values during 2005, with a 41.2 percent rise." Gasp! 'Defense' spending?

Gareth: "how can Asians investing their savings in USD denominated assets be considered evidence of the Fed 'printing money'?"

At a rough guess, mate, it's the (un-earned?!) $US that the US are printing, used by the US to splurge on imports (giving rise to those massive deficits), $US that end up as 'spare dough' in the surplus (ie Asian) countries. This dough then comes sloshing back to the US to be 'invested' in US stocks (bidding up prices), bonds, mortgages etc - as it has nowhere else to get 'parked', except possibly at no interest as cash 'reserves'. Note that dollars are fungible, capital inflows could free up domestic dollars (from borrowing against your house, say and f**k the future) for plunging into stocks.

Jay White admits that the US deficit could be partially 'financed' by borrowing o/s; this is just another variation on the 'recycling petro-dollars' scam.

See this from The Economist. Quote:

To sustain the current arrangement, they will have to keep buying more and more dollars as America's current-account deficit widens. Asian central banks are already exposed to enormous potential losses in local-currency terms should their currencies appreciate against the dollar. It would be prudent for them to diversify their reserves, but that could send the dollar tumbling. Larry Summers, a Treasury secretary under President Clinton, calls this the "balance of financial terror": in effect, America relies on the costs to Asian central banks of not financing its deficit as assurance that financing will continue indefinitely.

Note the words: "as America's current-account deficit widens," and yawning ever wider... and an ex-Treasury secretary calls this the "balance of financial terror."

The operative word here being terror.

Inflation In The Money Supply

Repurchase agreements are another way of increasing total money supply. Repos are the significant new component added to M2 to produce M3, the money supply figure that (as of 20th March) the US Federal Reserve no longer publishes. The volume and value of repos have grown at double digit pace for years.

Official figures reveal that M3 has grown by more than 8.2% for the twelve months ending mid March 2006. US Government issued debt has grown by more than 6.7% over the same period, and as this withdraws money from M3, the overall real growth in money supply is running at double digit pace. History suggests that when growth in money supply exceeds growth in GDP, price inflation always follows.

The so-called core rate of price inflation is now a stupid, meaningless joke. Excluding energy and food prices was meant to account for fluctuations above and below the mean rate. Note that the official rate of price inflation including food and energy has consistently exceeded this fraudulent 'core' rate for years.

I can't find the source at the moment, but I recently saw figures that showed the UK to be winning the money supply expansion stakes. If I recall correctly, their M3 was expanding by 11.9% per annum.

800 to 1300 in 3yr = 17.5%pa

G'day again Gareth.

Is my maths wrong or your calculator busted?

1200 - 1300 in 5yr is 1.6%pa

Phil, did you open my link? Or did you amend the timeframe to suit your argument? I used five years because that is what Yahoo Finance has as the longest recent period for charting. Next chart goes back over 50 years. However, if you look at the 50 year chart you'll notice that the S&P 500 has not spiked in recent times compared to historical gains. There is no evidence of some extraordinary boom in US equity markets that would support your argument.

Phil, are you going to address my other questions re Gold, property values etc?

Is the Fed printing money?

Phil Kendall, re “I have pointed out that there is indeed inflation underway, and give as examples stocks and house prices.” The NASDAQ and Dow Jones equity indices are well below record highs and the S&P 500 (includes America’s 500 largest and most liquid listed stocks) has hardly moved in the last five years. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea where American housing prices are in relation to historical and fair value terms. Do you know of a site or link that has housing data to illustrate your claim? Phil, if rising equity and property values were evidence of a nation “printing money”, I think you would have a much stronger case for our own RBA over the last ten years.

Re “The gold price is also skyrocketing” are you suggesting a rising world Gold price is evidence of the Fed “printing money”? Could you explain hows this works.

I don’t see anything in your ‘Australian’ link that “connects US printing money to inflation”. The article is about Ben Bernanke’s thesis which proposes the idea that the US current account deficit may be partly driven by enormous Asian savings invested in USD assets.

Re “On the 'what you see is what you get' basis, we can see the US dollars piling up (glut-of-savings)” I don’t get this, how can Asians investing their savings in USD denominated assets be considered evidence of the Fed “printing money’?

tip of the iceberg?

Re: US economy, Gareth Eastwood.

G'day Gareth, and thanks for the link.

No doubt, you've heard of "Lies, damned lies & statistics"?

I seem to recall, that only a fraction (if any at all) of the recent massive inflation of house prices, ie getting as high as around 20% per year, is included in Aus' CPI figures. (Some specialist statistician may care to comment as to why that may be so.) I have nominated asset 'bubbles' as visible tips of inflation plus the considered excessive o/s accumulation of 'reserves'. Even if those domestic 'bubbles' can be 'hidden' from our internal CPI by 'dodgy' statistical measurements, they are not hidden from the general populace; house affordability is now said to have fallen to similar low levels last seen when Keating was blamed for world-wide sky-high interest rates. Sooo, inflation may not exactly be what they say it is, but more like what we see. As far as domestic inflation as reported goes, there are several possible factors at work; exporting jobs, importing cheap(er) labour, less hours worked or just falling real wages, importing cheap foreign junk, etc.

Depends on your point of view I suppose, but however cheap (we say less expensive), no DVD-driven flat-panel TV can compensate for having to eat pet-food whilst living under a bridge - one might think.

US economy

Jay, Phil US core inflation came in at 1.8% for 2005, thus I don't think the Fed is "printing money". The US economy has its problems but I bet the French would love a piece of their 4.7% rate of unemployment.

voodoo economics (1); Jay White & conspiracy framing

We assume that anything posted here is by design (as opposed to coincidence say, or outright negligence), even if only to pass the WD moderators.

So, it's not just what one says that's important, but also how one says it. (Here, I'm thinking of 'framing' as pioneered perhaps, by Luntz. See [1].)

All the more bemusing then, some of the stuff from Jay White. Here are a few quotes from posts starting with "economic conspiracy theory" and through to "printing money":

"This conspiracy theory is meant wholly and solely for the ears of the economic illiterate." (See conspiracy[2].)

"The option of 'printing money' is there although outside of the Fed Chairman making this decision high on crack cocaine I do not see this as a likely outcome." (More on this later.)

"Pretending that the US monetary system works on a different plane ... is abject nonsense. I suggest for your own mental health you stay away from [web]sites ..."

"One Nation decided ... home spun economic advice ... the bright idea that turning on the printing presses ... although it was comically idiotic ... one part yokel, one part lunatic and one part pub politics ... ponzi scheme ... when I think of One Nation the Greens party always comes to mind ... " (Apart from anything else, here a totally gratuitous swipe at the Greens, just how off-the-planet - err, theme, is that? Not to mention pretty abusive, or the observable fact that the Libs picked up One Nation policies practically holus-bolus.)

Then Jay concludes with this liddle bewdie: "I personally in my mind's eye see him going on to run a 9/11 conspiracy site with the planes being remote controlled from the grassy knoll..."

What's next from you, Jay? Elvis sighted in Area 51?

-=*=-

Refs:

[1] Luntz.

The complete Frank Luntz playbook is now available in searchable text format. Several versions are available ie via here, thanks Rob at realitique.

Note that if one were to choose the PDF, one is recommended to download it first ({right-click} the link and select 'save target as') then browse with the Acrobat Reader, rather than opening directly through the browser (saves time & possibly line-costs). Also, before opening any Luntz, eye-protection could be considered (armoured glass) and the BS-filter set to 'full industrial strength'.

[2] conspiracy n. (pl. -ies) 1 secret plan to commit a crime; plot. 2 conspiring. [Latin: related to *conspire]

conspiracy of silence n. agreement to say nothing.

Note that a critical element of any conspiracy is secrecy. If the US is printing money (it is, even Jay will allow that), then it is hardly doing it in secret. The question is whether the US is printing responsibly, a theme which Jay evades, except in demanding 'Show me the hyper-inflation!' I have pointed out that there is indeed inflation underway, and give as examples stocks and house prices. The gold price is also skyrocketing, I wonder what else? But it's not just me who connects US printing money to inflation, try this: 'the glut-of-savings argument'. Wood puts it down to excessive savings, which is about par for the (neoCon) course; ie blame the victim.

Facit: On the 'what you see is what you get' basis, we can see the US dollars piling up (glut-of-savings), and we can see asset 'bubbles'. Surely it's only a small step to ask: where (the bloody hell) are all these dollars coming from?

Hamish Alcorn on conspiracy theory: "that the 'conspiracy theorist' charge can be used to dismiss a theory without engaging its detail..."

More to come on facts vs. assertions.

Money Doesn't Talk, It Swears.

I have an interesting story about some financial matters for those who seem to like discussing such things.

But first, what they say in public doesn't always reflect what their analysis indicates.

'An internal staff report by the United States Embassy and the military command in Baghdad provides a sobering province-by-province snapshot of Iraq's political, economic and security situation, rating the overall stability of 6 of the 18 provinces "serious" and one "critical." The report is a counterpoint to some recent upbeat public statements by top American politicians and military officials.

The report, 10 pages of briefing points titled "Provincial Stability Assessment," underscores the shift in the nature of the Iraq war three years after the toppling of Saddam Hussein. Warnings of sectarian and ethnic frictions are raised in many regions, even in those provinces generally described as nonviolent by American officials.

There are alerts about the growing power of Iranian-backed religious Shiite parties, several of which the United States helped put into power, and rival militias in the south. The authors also point to the Arab-Kurdish fault line in the north as a major concern, with the two ethnicities vying for power in Mosul, where violence is rampant, and Kirkuk, whose oil fields are critical for jump-starting economic growth in Iraq.'

The ambassador has spoken of these concerns which are not reflected by senior members of the Administration.

Now to an article that paints a nasty picture. It concerns the body armour used by US troops in Iraq.

Those who have read the article and watched the videos might agree that perhaps Maj. Gen. Sorenson could put his money where his mouth is and volunteer to don the Interceptor armour for a series of rigorous tests. Somehow I doubt he would.

The lack of concern for Iraqis is quite obvious and this is further evidence to add to much that has previously been posted, that there is not a lot of concern in some quarters, for their own troops.

Not that rare a phenomenon.


Whither Iraq?

Iraq - Three years on.

A cruel and bloody civil war has started in Iraq, a country which Bush and Blair promised to free from fear and establish democracy. I have been visiting Iraq since 1978, but for the first time, I am becoming convinced that the country will not survive.

Three suicide bombers disguised themselves as women yesterday and, with explosives hidden by long black cloaks, killed 79 people and wounded more than 160 when they blew themselves up in a Shia mosque in the capital.

The slaughter of Shia Muslims in the Buratha mosque will probably lead to revenge attacks against Sunni Arabs whose community harbors the Salafi and jihadi fanatics who see the Shia as heretics, as worthy of death as Iraqi Christians or American or British soldiers. Ever since the bombing of the al Askari shrine in Samara on 22 February, the Shia militias have retaliated whenever Shias are killed.

The bombing of the mosque, a religious complex linked to the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, pushes Iraq well down the road to outright civil war between Sunni and Shia Arabs.

Jalal Eddin al-Sagheer, the preacher in the Buratha mosque, declared: "The Shia are the target and it's a sectarian act. There is nothing to justify this act but black sectarian hatred."

Three Wars, and more to come?

There is no longer one war raging in Iraq. There are now at least three different, though overlapping ones, and very soon their number could rise to four.

The first war, of course, is the already nearly three-year-old Sunni Muslim insurrection against both U.S. forces and the democratically elected Iraqi government in Baghdad. This is the war that understandably has preoccupied the American public, Congress and Bush administration policymakers.

But since the Feb 22 bombing of the al-Askariya, or Golden Mosque, in Samara, the Sunni insurgents have succeed in provoking a massive and far-ranging grassroots Shiite reaction against them. This has been flaring on a far vaster scale on both sides than the Sunni insurgents -- originally led by a combination of former Saddam Hussein Baath party loyalists and al-Qaida extreme Islamists -- wanted to achieve.

And it could spread.

Khalilzad told the British Broadcasting Corp. that political contacts among Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders were improving, but that within the general population, "polarization along sectarian lines" was intensifying — in part due to the role of armed militias.

Khalilzad warned that "a sectarian war in Iraq" could draw in neighboring countries, "affecting the entire region."

"That's a possibility if we don't do everything we can to make this country work," Khalilzad said. "What's happening here has huge implications for the region and the world."

Bush wanted to be a war president. He has plenty already and more coming, even without Iran. But why not go for broke?

They are doing their best.

Efforts by the United States to split the Shi'ite United Iraqi Alliance (UIA) and deny interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari his claim to head the next government could well prove counter-productive to long-term U.S. objectives in both Iraq and the larger region, according to some specialists here.

Not only has heavy-handed U.S. intervention in negotiations to create a new government deepened divisions among the various factions, they say, but efforts to marginalize Jaafari – epitomized by secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's snub during her trip with British Foreign Minister Jack Straw to Baghdad earlier this week – risk empowering groups that are much more closely tied to neighboring Iran.

What did Condi mean? Why they really hate us.

Many people in the Middle East hate the regimes under which they live. That of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, for example. If you read Human Rights Watch reports on the torture of imprisoned antiwar demonstrators you'll get some inkling of why many fear and despise Mubarak's government. That sentiment is reflected in the ideology of, for instance, the Muslim Brotherhood which, while de facto the largest opposition political party, is banned from fielding candidates for office. It's perfectly understandable. They don't hate others' freedoms but their own lack of them.

Many hate western imperialism, which carved up the Arab lands after World War I, abetted the formation of Israel, installed puppet rulers, intervened arrogantly into inter-Arab quarrels, and (with the U.S. in the lead) insisted on maintaining sanctions against Iraq that killed half a million children. They hate U.S. Middle East policy.

No wonder the administration had to spin it.

To Richard Tonkin, who put the Sy Hersh article elsewhere, it does make you wonder just how enlightened we are.

on inflation and "printing money"

Just on inflation and "printing money" anyone remember when One Nation decided "mainstream Australia" needed some of their home spun economic advice? They had some guy running about as their opposition treasurer or something? Long time ago and hard for me to recall the exact details.

He decided in all his wisdom and vote chasing that the farmers needed a interest free loan of about 400 mil or so. This fellow then got the bright idea that turning on the printing presses (printing money)  would be a way to achieve this without anyone paying! Because Japan (in the midst of deflation) was doing it! Naturally he was completed hammered, unfairly even, this amount of money would have hardly led to Uganda part two, although it was comically idiotic.

It did though have the effect of proving once and for all what happens when you take one part yokel, one part lunatic and one part pub politics and mix the three together (as if the ponzi scheme of taxation the easy tax was not enough). Strangely, when I think of One Nation the Greens party always comes to mind. I wonder why that is?

Anyway getting back to the original question I always wondered what happened to that guy? I personally in my mind eye see him going on to run a 9/11 conspiracy site with the planes being remote controlled from the grassy knoll or something similar.

That's democracy folks, giving everyone equal say at least helps the world go round.

Re: inflation and printing money

Jay White, correct me if I'm wrong. I thought the US Federal Reserve, though it can "create" new monetary reserves by outright purchase (via the Open Market Committee) of Treasury securities, rarely actually does this. Thus the model of the Fed just "printing money" isn't really a good description of how US monetary policy actually operates. And that other nations' or alliances' (e.g. EU) monetary practices are roughly similar, with similar constraints. So that the end result is that the US dollar is no more or less inherently "fiat" than other major currencies?

My Econ 101 understanding is that, in general, new reserves can be created by issuing treasury securities, with the constraints that doing so puts upward pressure on interest rates and downward pressure on the dollar. The Bush Administration has been able to run up such big deficits because there are still plenty of buyers for the T-securities (e.g. China) who still consider the full faith and credit of the US Gov't a safe investment guarantee. Given this framework, who cares what currency Iraqi or Iranian, or Venezuelan oil is traded in? Dollars, Euros, whatever.

I do agree the Bush Admin.'s profligate ways are going to come back and bite the next few presidents on the bum.

paying back the deficit

Phil Kendall, although your latest post has nothing to do with the debate about US dollars for oil your latest set of questions are quiet sensible (for this thread anyway).

"One question is though, if the deficits just keep getting bigger, who's gunna pay all that interest? Especially as 'Treasury interest rates are rising?' - Oh, I just remembered; they'll probably just print more $US. Q: Did you read through my refs? If so, you might'a found this: 'But nothing good lasts forever. From reaching a high of $117.2 billion in August 2005, the TIC reports are showing a steady decline in foreign inflows, down to $74 billion in December, and $78 billion for January, the last month for which data are available'."

Well the short answer is the US will have to pay for the deficit. How could you believe it would be any other way?

The interest can be paid as a percentage against GDP (hope for continued growth rates outstripping inflation) or by tax rises or by reducing spending. Or perhaps a combination of all three. The option of "printing money" is there although outside of the Fed Chairman making this decision high on crack cocaine I do not see this as a likely outcome. This of course in the current situation would cause high inflation. Very, very bad.

I have never said the current deficit is not a problem for the US. In fact it is a big problem and it will have to be addressed soon. This though is not a conspiracy theory just a simple case of mathematics. It is impossible to continue buying something you have not got the money on hand for or are not likely to have. This theory realism works in the same way for the US as it does for any other nation or person.

To cut a long answer short if faith is lost in the US dollar than all those greenbacks "sloshing" around the world you speak off will find themselves on the market and in quick order. What happens with a product when supply outstrips demand? Yes you see a reduction in the price of the product, in this case the US dollar.

The worth of any product is factored in before money is "loaned". What you are seeing happening at the moment with deficits has nothing to do with conspiracy theories about US dollars being traded for oil, and that was what I was originally saying. Pretending that the US monetary system works on a different plane of existence to all others where the same rules do not apply to it as they do to others is abject nonsense.

I suggest for your own mental health you stay away from sites attempting to have you believe that in some way it does.

Some commentaries on M&W

I came across a couple of pieces on the Mearsheimer & Walt paper by accident while looking for something else on SBS Radio.

They are at Does the US put its interests after Israel's? (Marvin Kalb - a critic) and Israel lobby report finds support (Phillip Wilcox - the report has merit). Both are MP3s a bit over 2MB. They are also available as Real Audio.

irrational exuberance

G'day Jay, and thanks for your prompt reply. I do understand that deficits may be financed by borrowing - and therefore also, by paying interest. I did in fact say so: "dough that is otherwise loaned back to the US to prop-up massive US deficits."

One question is though, if the deficits just keep getting bigger, who's gunna pay all that interest? Especially as "Treasury interest rates are rising?" - Oh, I just remembered; they'll probably just print more $US. Q: Did you read through my refs? If so, you might'a found this: "But nothing good lasts forever. From reaching a high of $117.2 billion in August 2005, the TIC reports are showing a steady decline in foreign inflows, down to $74 billion in December, and $78 billion for January, the last month for which data are available."

The nasty thing about this is that with a projected $975 billion current-account deficit for this year, the US is no longer getting what it needs from the world to maintain its lifestyle. The foreign-capital food supply is dwindling just as the hunger increases." Now that's talking about foreign-held $US being exchanged for (interest bearing) US debt; mortgages or bonds, say. BUT: that still leaves all those $US sloshing around in 'reserves', i.e. 'money' just lying around somewhere (perhaps "stuffed in their mattresses"); going nowhere & earning nothing.

More than $US2.5trio, as listed in my "gentlemen if you please..." The bigger the deficits, the greater the pain & the bigger the slosh - of otherwise worthless $US paper. In a nut-shell: there's far too much $US paper sloshing around, chasing too few desirable objects; a classic pre-condition for inflation. Which we can actually *see* happening right now, with our very own eyes, in stocks & house prices, say. And that $US2.5trio and growing. (All of those bubbles, just waiting to go *pop*?) Next...

Phil kendall

Phil kendall "A note on consumption. A lot of it is being paid for by borrowing, perhaps most dangerously by people borrowing against inflated house prices (price may not correlate well with value; what if prices fall?) Aus is tracking US on borrowed-money based consumption, but without the 'advantage' of having the US' reserve currency rip-off available".

The US also pays for its deficits by borrowing. The instruments are called US bonds. These attract interest for the investor hence why the money is loaned. This in itself carries a slight risk to the lender and nobody has ever stated otherwise. The interest payable is balanced against that risk. Hence the existence of credit rating agencies.

By the way there have been three bond defaults I can think of in the last hundred years. Twice by Russia and one by Argentina. This means next time these nations go looking for a loan the interest (reward)  payable goes up along side the risk involved in giving said loan.

At the moment both the US and Australia have a triple A rating.

economic conspiracy theory

Phil Kendall: "1. That after busting the "Bretton Woods" system in 1971, the US established an essentially worthless 'fiat' currency, referred to as $US".

The US did not "bust" the system. They actually attempted to hold onto it like grim death. I suggest you do more reading in this area. If their "fiat" currency is almost "worthless" what currency is not "worthless"? The US dollar is worth that which somebody else will pay for it. As of today 1 Aussie dollar buys  0.7315 US dollars.

"2. In an attempt (however deliberate but largely successful) to promote that fiat to 'reserve' status, the US 'negotiated' (perhaps intimidated might be more apposite) with (by me otherwise unspecified parties, but probably including all or most of OPEC), to ensure that oil would be traded exclusively in $US (thus notionally supplanting gold with oil, and no further correspondence on gold, please.)"

US dollars are traded for the simplicity of the matter. For example it is not unusual for business A in Australia to say buy from business B in the third world and use US dollars. In fact this is the likely outcome. The US hardly negotiates this outcome. The US dollar is used because it is easily the most and exceptable and transferable currency.

"3. That the US may simply print 'money' and does so, whilst the rest of the world must earn it. There is nothing unusual in this; the keyword here is 'responsibly' - as Weimar showed, too much printing can lead to run-away inflation. (Think stock exchange, housing.)"

Any nation can print money at anytime. That is why countries have Reserve Banks to take care of these options.

"The US pays for the goodies (flat-screen TVs, DVDs etc) with $US and China uses some'a that dough to buy oil, which is then burnt (the oil, not the dollars). Start again; earn, burn. When the US, on the other hand, wants to buy oil, it may simply print a few more $US. Get the trend yet"?

Well China could simply print Yuan at any time and swap it for US dollars, no? I mean you said it yourself if this were the case and it got out of control the results would be inflation, hyper inflation at that. This would work exactly the same for the US and their printing machines. I do not see hyper inflation in the US do you?

"4. The US is deeply in deficit, both on its external foreign account and internal govt account. Nothing much to argue about there, except perhaps responsibility and sustainability? Q: Well, is it responsible? A: Possibly a moral question, leave it for now. BUT: if it is wrong (IMHO it is) and/or goes wrong (IMHO less 'if', more 'when'), then obviously not. Q: OK, is it sustainable? A: Only for as long as the rest of the world plays along".

Has no relevance to your argument that the US needs oil traded in US dollars.

"The point has been made, that currencies are freely tradeable. Well, so what? Switching to-from $US still leaves someone holding a bag full of (worthless!) paper, a process akin to shuffling the deck-chairs on the Titanic. Really".

Well the paper is not worthless now is it? I have just told you what it is worth today in Australian dollars. Nobody and I mean nobody goes out searching for worthless currency. If this were the case half of Africa would be high flying.

"So along comes the possibility of some alternative, namely the EURO. First Saddam starts selling oil in EUROs then blam! "Shock and Awe". Then Iran suggests an EURO oil bourse, and the US threatens to nuke 'em. Just coincidence?"

What makes the EURO any more worthwhile than the US dollar? Personally I would pick my preferred denomination as the US dollar at this point in time due to reasons I have already outlined. Each to his own I guess.

Any nation is free to trade in whatever currency they like. Hell if they want payment in physical gold they can ask for that as well. Due to transportation costs it may add a little extra to the price of the goods though making said goods a little less attractive.

"I've already mentioned the asset booms underway, ie stock exchange, housing. These are an indicator of inflation, although the clever-dicks who publish inflation figures largely ignore these asset bubbles (quaint term for possible diaster?)"

No they don't. The rest of your summary than drifts off into other non-related areas to the issue at hand. That being that nations are forced by threats of military action to trade in US dollars.

This conspiracy theory is meant wholly and solely for the ears of the economic illiterate.

gentlemen if you please...

... could we suspend hostilities, however briefly?

"Hedge funds combined turn over more greenbacks in one day than all the oil in the Middle East put together. This argument / conspiracy theory is plain silly and relies on the ear of the economic illiterate."

"I must say this currency thing has left me totally bemused as well, ... This whole ratbag Iran bourse thing bringing down global capitalism wouldn't be another theory of the profoundly ignorant by any chance?"

"Something else. I can quote it out of context as well as anybody. If I was so minded."

Now, gents (you know who you are), paying full attention?

Keywords: currency; fiat, reserve and/or worthless, deficits, (ir-)responsibility and (un-)sustainability.

I present the following hypothesis, as a 'possible description of some large part of reality':

1. That after busting the "Bretton Woods" system in 1971, the US established an essentially worthless 'fiat' currency, referred to as $US.

2. In an attempt (however deliberate but largely successful) to promote that fiat to 'reserve' status, the US 'negotiated' (perhaps intimidated might be more apposite) with (by me otherwise unspecified parties, but probably including all or most of OPEC), to ensure that oil would be traded exclusively in $US (thus notionally supplanting gold with oil, and no further correspondence on gold, please.)

3. That the US may simply print 'money' and does so, whilst the rest of the world must earn it. There is nothing unusual in this; the keyword here is 'responsibly' - as Weimar showed, too much printing can lead to run-away inflation. (Think stock exchange, housing.)

As an aside, to illustrate the difference between 'printing' and 'earning', think: if you wanna buy oil, where can you get the dough? China, for example, manufactures lots'a stuff 'on the cheap', then sells it say, to the US. (In the process transferring jobs to China, along with energy consumption and any associated pollution - which in the case of China, is lots.) The US pays for the goodies (flat-screen TVs, DVDs etc) with $US and China uses some'a that dough to buy oil, which is then burnt (the oil, not the $s). Start again; earn, burn. When the US, on the other hand, wants to buy oil, it may simply print a few more $US. Get the trend yet?

4. The US is deeply in deficit, both on its external foreign account and internal govt account. Nothing much to argue about there, except perhaps responsibility and sustainability? Q: Well, is it responsible? A: Possibly a moral question, leave it for now. BUT: if it is wrong (IMHO it is) and/or goes wrong (IMHO less 'if', more 'when'), then obviously not. Q: OK, is it sustainable? A: Only for as long as the rest of the world plays along.

Some figures: "As of December[05], the International Monetary Fund lists Japan's reserves at $847 billion, China's at $819 billion, Taiwan's at $253 billion, South Korea's at $210 billion, Russia's at $194 billion, and India's at $137 billion."

Discussion: with the exception of the direct quotes, the rest is 'spontaneous me'. The amounts of the reserves listed above demonstrate starkly that the US (IMHO), is not just printing money, but printing too much. If these surplus countries can't do anything with the stuff, it's useless - and therefore worthless. Consider the situation: things are running relatively smoothly, each country buying what raw materials it needs, each country buying a) what they want, in the US case or b) what they can afford, in the case of all others, yet great wads of $US are piling up. Can't spend 'em, can't do anything else with 'em: is that just worthless 'paper', or what?

The point has been made, that currencies are freely tradeable. Well, so what? Switching to-from $US still leaves someone holding a bag full of (worthless!) paper, a process akin to shuffling the deck-chairs on the Titanic. Really.

So along comes the possibility of some alternative, namely the EURO. First Saddam starts selling oil in EUROs then blam! "Shock and Awe". Then Iran suggests an EURO oil bourse, and the US threatens to nuke 'em. Just coincidence? Maybe. Of course it could be a matter of opinion as to which money is how worthless; but we're interested in what really happens, so let's just stick to 'following the money'? The point to be made here is, by offering an (honest!) choice, countries in surplus may be able to use their own savings on their own behalf, thus freeing up dough that is otherwise loaned back to the US to prop-up massive US deficits, thus forcing the US to be slightly less dishonest. Hmmm?

A note on consumption. A lot of it is being paid for by borrowing, perhaps most dangerously by people borrowing against inflated house prices (price may not correlate well with value; what if prices fall?) Aus is tracking US on borrowed-money based consumption, but without the 'advantage' of having the US' reserve currency rip-off available.

I've already mentioned the asset booms underway, ie stock exchange, housing. These are an indicator of inflation, although the clever-dicks who publish inflation figures largely ignore these asset bubbles (quaint term for possible diaster?) The effect can be seen on us, we the people however, by the ballistically increasing unaffordability of housing, say. Worse, if true inflation is taking place, it decimates anybody's non-inflating-asset based reserves, ie cash, etc - so much for savings accounts.

I could hazard a summary: the US is embarked on a dangerous experiment; living on extreme deficits which, it seems, it doesn't even intend to pay for. This is a bit suss to say the least (responsibility, sustainability), but also possibly deeply immoral, considering that it's (the US) consuming world resources, not just at a fantastic rate 'for free' (5% of worlds' population but takes 25% of resources), but it (the US) won't even consider moderating in the face of a possible greenhouse catastrophe.

Now, I call myself a seeker of truth, so I'm interested only in genuine and informed dialogue.

Any takers?

PS a few refs:

Greater China
PART 1: Core contradictions
By Henry C K Liu
Mar 22, 2006
Henry C K Liu is chairman of a New York-based private investment group. His website is at HenryCKLiu.com
[asia times]

US living on borrowed time - and money 03/28/06
Julian Delasantellis is a management consultant, private investor and professor of international business in the US state of Washington [asia times]

Lastly, Mark Sergeant's The Economist ref, thanks Mark. Quote:

To sustain the current arrangement, they will have to keep buying more and more dollars as America's current-account deficit widens. Asian central banks are already exposed to enormous potential losses in local-currency terms should their currencies appreciate against the dollar. It would be prudent for them to diversify their reserves, but that could send the dollar tumbling. Larry Summers, a Treasury secretary under President Clinton, calls this the "balance of financial terror": in effect, America relies on the costs to Asian central banks of not financing its deficit as assurance that financing will continue indefinitely.

These may be hard going, but they - or something like them - are pre-requisite to any reasonable discussion - always IMHO, of course.

Of course my writings tend to polemics; I become angry at any unfairness, and what the US is doing to the world is just so unfair, so contrary to "Truth, Justice and the American Way" as well as being outright bloody dangerous, that I could just spit.

Basically, boys, I've given you lots to think about, and let's not ignore resource-rent. Interesting to see what your reactions will be, keeping in mind some 'scalded cat' performances over M-W, hmmm?

Avagoodweegend.

On Competence.

Phil, it is gratifying that when material is posted for consideration that someone not only considers it but develops it. Thanks.

Having looked at the graphic material in articles I have linked such as that contained in the Dahr Jamail article and the salon.com material which is the basis of this thread, I would hate to think oil companies making big profits was one of the reasons behind the invasion. There is plenty of evidence to suggest it was.

Thank you for the Spinning the Tubes link, handy to revisit previous exposes of the deceptions that were practised. Reading Doug Feith's comments supports Mark Sergeant's view ("On the doubtful assumption that the US administration is even vaguely competent..."). Tommy Franks was quite accurate in his assessment of Feith. Some of Feith's comments remind me of Monty Python sketches.

Here is an item of interest - it is an interview with Ray McGovern, former CIA senior analyst.

McGovern thinks Bush should be tried for crimes against humanity. There are other issues, such as the reasons for the invasion, covered.

60 minutes, RealPlayer audio.

Robert Dreyfuss - Cutting and running.

Too late, the urgency of the crisis in Iraq, and the sheer ugliness of its civil war, seems finally to be dawning on the Bush administration. As usual, President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and their stalwart secretaries of state and defense, are johnnies-come-lately in their ability to understand how far gone Iraq is. Perhaps, as has been the case in the past, that is because they continue flagrantly to disregard what they are told by analysts in the U.S. intelligence community. Before, during, and after the invasion of Iraq, with a rising sense of alarm, the CIA, the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), and other agencies warned the Bush-Cheney team that the destruction of Iraq's central government could tumble the country into a civil war. In 2004, of course, the president famously dismissed such CIA warnings as "just a guess." Well, guess what, Mr. President? It's civil war. And it isn't pretty.

Meanwhile, Condi washes her hands.

Since the Iraqi elections in January, US foreign service officers at the Baghdad embassy have been writing a steady stream of disturbing cables describing drastically worsening conditions. Violence from incipient communal civil war is rapidly rising. Last month there were eight times as many assassinations committed by Shia militias as terrorist murders by Sunni insurgents. The insurgency, according to the reports, also continues to mutate. Meanwhile, President Bush's strategy of training Iraqi police and army to take over from coalition forces - "when they stand up, we'll stand down" - is perversely and portentously accelerating the strife. State department officials in the field are reporting that Shia militias use training as cover to infiltrate key positions. Thus the strategy to create institutions of order and security is fuelling civil war.

Rather than being received as invaluable intelligence, the messages are discarded or, worse, considered signs of disloyalty. Rejecting the facts on the ground apparently requires blaming the messengers. So far, two top attaches at the embassy have been reassigned elsewhere for producing factual reports that are too upsetting.'

Rummy is not happy with Condi.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said he did not know what Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was talking about when she said last week that the United States had made thousands of "tactical errors" in handling the war in Iraq, a statement she later said was meant figuratively.

Speaking during a radio interview on WDAY in Fargo, N.D., on Tuesday, Rumsfeld said calling changes in military tactics during the war "errors" reflects a lack of understanding of warfare. Rumsfeld defended his war plan for Iraq but added that such plans inevitably do not survive first contact with the enemy.

General Shinseki told Rummy his plans were wrong before the troops got anywhere near Iraq.

A defence the perpetrators could use if they were to face charges for their crimes is one of mental incompetence.

currency argument is silly

Mark Sergeant: "Geoff Pahoff and Jay White, do you think that the US might consider the value of the USD, and its status as the global reseve currency, a vital strategic interest?"

Well if they do running a huge war based deficit is not the way to go about keeping it that way. The money spent so far would have been enough to buy every drop of oil Iraq had.

The US has the premium currency because it has the largest and most stable economy. Oil makes up a small percentage of that overall economy.

Hedge funds combined turn over more greenbacks in one day than all the oil in the Middle East put together. This argument / conspiracy theory is plain silly and relies on the ear of the economic illiterate.

Personally I would prefer some knuckleheaded nation switch to the Euro. At least when they switch back it will make this whole silly debate easier to explain.

petrol cheaper than water

Geoff Pahoff, the whole thing is very curious indeed.

In real terms oil was actually more expensive in the early 80's. From memory I think it reached its peak in 1982. Also if you wander into a petrol station and actually look around you will find a litre of petrol is $1.22 - $1.40 Aus dollars whilst a litre of water goes for around $2.50.

The water falls from the sky and does not have to undergo a very intensive refining process. I think the world being brought to its knees by nations such as Iran and their economy is greatly over stated.

As I have said hedge funds do more business in one day than all of these places and their oil combined.

Petrodollars

Geoff Pahoff and Jay White, do you think that the US might consider the value of the USD, and its status as the global reseve currency, a vital strategic interest?

Do you agree with this conclusion from the The Economist (It's not a book, Geoff, but it does have some long words)?

A slow, steady shift out of dollars could perhaps be handled. But if America continues to show such neglect of its own currency, then a fast-falling dollar and rising American interest rates would result. It will be how far and how fast the dollar falls that determines the future for America's economy and the world's. Not even Mr Greenspan can forecast that.

In this commentary, blogger KipEsquire ridicules the Economist piece for leaving out the politics, and in particular (for this discussion) he argues that

The dollar is the still the unit of accounting for the world's oil markets (ie, "petrodollars"). That also is practically guaranteed for at least another generation or two.

That "practical guarantee" has, in fact, been secured by the invasion of Iraq and the belligerent attitude to Iraq. I doubt it was the primary motivation in either case, but (on the doubtful assumption that the US administration is even vaguely competent) it should have been a significant factor in the analysis of economic impacts.

All Stand Please. THE ECONOMIST Speaks.

Mark old son, for what it's worth I've subscribed to The Economist since February 1982. Never missed an issue. Big words and all. It's a great paper, I read it, I can thoroughly recommend it and I know it well warts and all.

Something else. I can quote it out of context as well as anybody. If I was so minded.  

spinning the tubes

G'day Bob.

Howard knew, at least on or before 04 Feb '03 that the tubes story was nuthin' but rubbish; and he said so on 07 Jul '03:

IRAQ: WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION

I refer to the report by Marian Wilkinson in the Sydney Morning Herald of 7 July 2003 (“Canberra knew of Iraq doubt”).

I have been advised by the relevant Australian agencies that they have no record of having received any report by Ambassador Wilson as referred to in the article.

The article also canvassed the differing views among US agencies about whether aluminium tubes purchased by Iraq were designed to enrich uranium. Australian agencies were aware of the debate in the United States about the purpose of the aluminium tubes. I made no reference to aluminium tubes in my statement to Parliament of 4 February or subsequently.

Also, Four Corners did an excellent program on the topic: Spinning the Tubes was first broadcast on Monday 27 Oct '03.

Little Cover-ups.

Phil, "I, for one, totally underestimated just how bad our situation is, then there's the greenhouse..."

There are major issues facing the world yet Bush has mired the US in Iraq.

Last week I posted a story about Bush having been informed of doubts as to the veracity of the aluminium tubes claim. Here is a follow up.

'There are several things we can take from this. The first is that, according to Waas, since October 2002 there has existed a smoking-gun that proved Bush had been told that some intelligence officials thought the tubes were for conventional weapons, not nukes -- well before he repeated the tale in his 2003 speech. The administration did acknowledge under fire six months after the speech that one chunk of evidence of Saddam’s nuke ambitions – the alleged procurement of uranium -- was wrong. But Bush's advisers largely defused that controversy by insulating the president from it. Meanwhile, the administration leaned heavily on the tubes story, which was central to its rationale for war.

It's already known that some administration officials had pre-invasion doubts about the tubes, and that Bush more or less was told about those doubts. But Waas’s discovery, presuming he's right, is a big step forward. It constitutes concrete proof of those doubts -- and concrete proof of the extent to which Bush had been informed of these doubts before the invasion.

That leads to the second, equally important point. Waas also reports that Rove thought as early as the summer of 2003 that the document was radioactive enough to potentially destroy Bush's re-election chances. Waas adds that Bush advisers thought that if doubts about the tubes came out, it would be much harder to shield Bush from criticism for them than it was for the uranium tale -- because there apparently existed hard evidence that the president had been told of those doubts.'

Little cover-ups to conceal big cover-ups. The more people that are indicted the more likely the big cover-ups will be exposed.

Here is a "what if" the US had not invaded Iraq.

Joseph Stiglitz interviewed on the costs of the war.

There are other issues that should have been dealt with instead of the torture and murder of innocent people. Time is getting short.

resource rent, and other revolting rip-offs

G'day again Bob; in "New Justification" above, you said:

"Expletive deleted.
On OIL, I posted an article by Greg Palast earlier about a possible reason oil was they key. More can be found at his website. Follow the Iraq Oil link.
These are offered for consideration."


From Bob's The Guardian/Greg Palast ref (here via ICH), this:

"... means colossal profits for Big Oil, and that makes Dick's ticker go pitty-pat with joy. The top oily-gopolists, the five largest oil companies, pulled in $113 billion in profit in 2005 -- compared to a piddly $34 billion in 2002 before Operation Iraqi Liberation. In other words, it's been a good war for Big Oil."


NB: from $34bio to $113bio; it's a lot - and oil volumes are hardly up much if any at all; 'just' the price(!) - And some thanks must be given here to 'our' Rupert, who said that the illegal invasion of Iraq would bring us $US25 oil... my local per litre price went up 16¢ in one go to 134.9 this week, just in time for Easter, too.

OK: don't you just love it, when something turns up to confirm what you've already got 'out there'?

Ta-ra!

See Kenneth Davidson in today's theAge:

"And if the Government can't rise above its nuclear obsession, it might give some thought to the taxing regime suitable to a quarry - including a resource-rent tax so we can share some of the profits of the now largely foreign-owned mining industry."


Now, over at "Imagine... / send in the cavalry?", I said

"Perkins [Confessions of an Economic Hit Man] describes some of the ways of how the US is ripping-off the world, there are others; a particular favourite of mine being the revolting resource-rent rip-off racket, a story for another day, perhaps."

Looks like that 'another day' could be today.

Er – but what does resource-rent mean, I imagine I hear you say?

In a nut-shell, resource rent is the difference between the cost of diggin' somethin' up and the price paid by the mugs at market. In the case of Iraqi oil, an accepted estimate of production cost (including a very generously 'fair' profit to the producer) of $US1 compares with the current 'market price' of say $US61 (or 71, 81, ???), giving $US60 as remainder, aka the resource rent. After deducting any royalties and possible taxes (both how low?) the bulk of the resource rent that remains is pocketed by the producing entity as extra, unearned 'super-profit'. (Hence, one supposes, the 'rent-seeker' slight.)

(Not so incidentally, "Iraq is estimated to have 265 billion barrels of unproven reserves and 125 billion barrels of proven reserves" - at that rate (265) at that price (61) there's a potential of Oh, say: $US16.2trio gross available. Hmmm, No bloody wonder...)

This super-profit resource-rent rip-off occurs across all mining I've supposed, not just oil – and Davidson's piece confirms this. If you ask the question 'Who owns this Earth / Country / individual citizen's paddock / mineral underlying this paddock', if the answer is not 'the individual' then it's 'the whole country' or generalised perhaps, to 'the whole wide world'. The answer is definitely not the miners – yet that's who pockets the lions' share. Q: Just how fair is that? A: Not at all. It's taking from the rightful owners, without adequate recompense. Q: how does this differ from stealing? A: I can't see how. As we now see, there is the possibility of a resource-rent tax. But, if this isn't even applied(!) or doesn't approach 100%, then it's utterly unfair – and a rip-off. Boo! Hiss!

And that, daaarlings, is how the already obscenely fat cats are getting ever fatter. Look at Davidson's conclusion again: "so we can share some of the profits..." - it means that at the moment, the mining sector is ripping us off wholesale; we the people, and our wide-brown land with it. We can actually see this rip-off happening with oil: from $34bio to $113bio! Coming direct from our pockets...

PS Calling Geoff Pahoff; your message in "The Lobby Lunges" is not clear (or has been garbled). Did somebody light a bamboo sliver under one'a your fingernails and if so who with what? Over...

pointing out faults is easy

Michael Park It appears on this board the US's biggest critics put way more stock in the "American" way than any of its supporters ever would.

How else do you explain a topic about values degenerating into arguments about a few now punished yokels operating in a jail when so many evil things on a much larger scale are happening in the world? Pointing out faults in a person or a nation for that matter is the easy part.

It does not improve the situation nor indeed the world. In fact going off this thread I would suggest that when it comes to answers on how to improve the world most are totally devoid of any. Hence the need for the conspiracy theory security blanket.

As you are obviously an intelligent person I simply say beware the constant US bashers. They would be doing this no matter what the US was doing in the world. I believe Iraq is merely a backdrop and excuse for many of them to vent their true feelings about this nation and its people and its lifestyle.

One day you may indeed see their real true faces and I suggest you may not like even a little bit what you see.

Currency not worth going to war about

Michael Park, I have no idea where the story about the US wanting to protect oil being traded in US dollars actually came from. It is however not even slightly correct. A nation is free to ask for any denomination it wishes for. The US dollar just happens to make the most sense.

People are free to trade in Euros any time they wish. It does however come with a risk element. For example if the economy in France tanks and this is indeed possible this will lead to a volotile Euro and so on. Trillions of dollars and other currencies are swapped every day. This is not an unusual event. Hedge funds combined would do more business every day on speculation than all the oil in the world put together.

It is hardly worth going to war over!

A Penny For Their Thoughts? Nope. Too Much.

I must say this currency thing has left me totally bemused as well, Jay.

$US, $A, $C, Yen, Euros, Sterling, what the hell? You can swap them in a second with one punch on a computer key. Or buy a hedge to protect your position with two taps.

This whole ratbag Iran bourse thing bringing down global capitalism wouldn't be another theory of the profoundly ignorant by any chance?

Why do we bother with them? We'd be better off debating with the flat-earth society. At least the chances are they've read a book.

The fates, the architects & the mugs

G'day Bob, & thanks for the 'fates of the architects' link. Although Bolton gets a mention, he should have his own entry, even if only to remark that he's now been given the job of further degrading the UN.

I fully agree that the (ir-)responsible architects are in the Nuremberg class, but not 'just' that, they're setting extremely dismal 'low water marks' for governance and democracy in general. And as for the UN, I now reluctantly have to agree with some detractors' estimation: as useless as an ash-tray on a motor-bike. It's partly Australia's and other such mental midgets' fault but the maximum blame, as for the almost innumerable other sins, is 'earned' by the US - no more of the same!

I see some of 'the opposition' in here rabbiting on about how the US didn't need to illegally invade Iraq to gain control of any oil; the US already having had such control. As often, there's a grain of truth in this, specifically by a) most of the world's 'oil-majors' are US (and a few UK), and b) the (forced) use of the US$ for oil trades. The first means that the oil-majors benefit from the gross, insidious and unfair oil 'resource rents' and the second, that the US fiat currency can be and is being printed to match the US fancy, rather that any serious practicality.

This last in turn can lead and is leading to asset bubbles (stock market, housing) and another perhaps unexpected 'undesirable', namely the nations accumulating US$ surpluses can use their US$s to buy up bits of the US (and UK, Aus) - which they're doing. The recent imbroglio resulting from the purchase of P&O by an ME concern illustrates this perfectly.

Rather than being depreciated, our happy little pro-war, pro-US band are to be encouraged, perhaps only so are we to be reminded of the dismal appreciation, thought capabilities and morals out there in La-La-TV/MSM-land. Shudder further, when you realise that this band could represent some of the cream of the crop, ie those actually capable of driving an internet keyboard. The vast rest? Probably irretrievably vegetating in front of their DVD driven flat-panel TVs, and it certainly is a 'lucky break' that their votes split pretty-well 50:50 on most questions.

This thread was/is about how 'they hate us for our values', as illustrated by the revolting perversions by the US in Abu Ghraib. Those perversions were a shock, but could have been anticipated; look to the 'School of Assassins', etc. The US has a looong history (too bloody long!) in this respect. However, I think Abu Ghraib is just the tip of a very large - and dirty - iceberg. Unintended consequences have naturally arisen (this time thanks, Murphy!); here I have in mind Perkins' Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, Pape's Dying to Win and the latest heart-flutter from M-W. (My initial mention of M-W was as a consequence of reaction to my loose 'cabal' assertion, but try this "They call themselves, self-mockingly, the Cabal" from Seymour M Hersh via your architects' link.) The "Sturm und Drang" continues, see the Australian today.

Seldom if not never in the field of human endeavour has so much S**T been shoved by so few.

I, for one, totally underestimated just how bad our situation is, then there's the greenhouse...

Not For The Sqeamish

DemocracyNow! on Guantanamo and an interview with journalist Zaki Chehab on the Iraq insurgency.

Now for the confronting story. Dahr Jamail on US atrocities. Has internal links - some of which lead to slideshows of Iraqi casualties and dead. Caution - very graphic.

Robert J. Lifton is a prominent American psychiatrist who lobbied for the inclusion of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders after his work with U.S. veterans from Vietnam. His studies on the behavior of those who have committed war crimes led him to believe it does not require an unusual level of mental illness or of personal evil to carry out such crimes. Rather, these crimes are nearly guaranteed to occur in what Lifton refers to as "atrocity-producing situations."

Several of his books, such as The Nazi Doctors: Medical Killing and the Psychology of Genocide, examine how abnormal conditions work on normal minds, enabling them to commit the most horrendous crimes imaginable.

Tom Englehardt presents an extract from Noam Chomsky's new book Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy:

In 2002, White House counsel Alberto Gonzales passed on to Bush a memorandum on torture by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). As noted by constitutional scholar Sanford Levinson: "According to the OLC, ‘acts must be of an extreme nature to rise to the level of torture… Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death.'" Levinson goes on to say that in the view of Jay Bybee, then head of the OLC, "The infliction of anything less intense than such extreme pain would not, technically speaking, be torture at all. It would merely be inhuman and degrading treatment, a subject of little apparent concern to the Bush administration's lawyers."

Remaking the world in their image? The least one can say is that they are hypocrites although sociopaths might also be an apt description. What has happened to those who began this mess? Here are the fates of the architects.

The story is not over - Hadley is in the sights of Patrick Fitzgerald and much could flow from that process.

US already controls the world's oil

Angela Ryan "The reasons for peace and US success: hegemony for US. and complete control of oil... (ie less reliance upon Israel and Saudi for Middle east foot hold. And oil, peace would also give profit to US companies investment in sale of Iraqi public companies.This is different to those invested in Kurdish areas)".

Actually believe it or not the US already controls the world's oil. It does not have to invade anybody. It is called the US dollar and it does by the way convert quite easily into Euros.

The US will and can always find somebody willing to sell them what they want. He who has the gold makes the rules. There is no such thing as Arab unity and never has been. By the way whilst reading through your favoured Mid East documents find out where most of the material came from to make the wall. And it came with a discount no less.

If you need somebody to side with against the US here is a heads up. Look towards Eastern Europe and the added bonus is you will not get any tricky questions about religion.

Saddam's real mistake.

"Actually believe it or not the US already controls the world's oil. It does not have to invade anybody. It is called the US dollar and it does by the way convert quite easily into Euros."

Yes indeed Jay, and Saddam's real error - the one occasioning the rather huge backflip from administration officials such as the constantly falling upwards Condi Rice's  2001 assessment "Saddam is no threat" to  03's "mushroom clouds" - was the dictator having the hide to trade his not inconsiderable oil in Euros. Can't possibly have a "petro-Euro" in place of the "petro-dollar" now can we?

Didn't look much better when Iran decided to follow similar paths and create its own exchange. Things don't look too much better for that "Axis of Evil" member - even though it's backed the Euro thing.

Well said Jay.

olive branch declined; the never-ending story

Will Howard: "Not only are such theories impervious to factual refutation ...”

Ooops!

That's an admission of the utter futility of even attempting to disprove M-W's thesis; thaaank you very much.

Outside of a few & now admittedly futile anti-thesis 'facts' (or more correctly, factoids), we've had only opinion & assertion - in other words, exactly my "'Tis!" - "'Tisn't!"

What, then, can we say for the M-W thesis?

To refresh: M-W suggest that a) "the Israel Lobby" is successful and b) the result is bad, both for the US & for Israel - and I add not just bad for them, but also bad for us, we the people, and that all over the world.

I acknowledge that there may be no single identifiable entity that is "the Israel Lobby", but nevertheless there can be an overall effect of the many & various lobby groups; we need to examine just what happens.

There can be no doubt that the US massively supports Israel politically, economically and militarily. I was gunna say 'morally', but really daaarlings, it's more like 'immorally' - IMHO, of course.

To support my 'no doubts', here is an article which lists some hardly controversial facts; in the interest of brevity, no quotes (but you, gentle reader, are encouraged to read the article).

Posit: there is no such thing as a free lunch. Vis-à-vis the US, this manifests itself as 'do nothing for no dosh (unless forced)'. Now, does the US get repaid in any meaningful way (i.e. $s) for its support of Israel? Silly question! - Ergo: 'the force' applied must be immense. And, where could this force come from? (You, gentle reader, may be able to hazard a guess.)

QED for "the Israel Lobby" is successful - again IMHO, if you like.

Now, long story short. We all know the situation in Israel/Palestine, a running sore with 60 years of almost continuous bloody violence. What we need to know here is: could "the Israel Lobby" have anything to do with the situation 'on the ground'? I've stated it before but it's always worth a repeat: either the proven effectiveness of the lobby is here somehow thwarted, or it's not brought to bear at all. Again I address you, gentle reader: what if "the Israel Lobby" (in the US, remember) said "Behave or else?" to Israel via the massive support givers, i.e. the US govt, hmmm?

Second part, Iraq. Again, we all know the situation 'on the ground'. Only in the neoCons' wild and wettest dreams was Iraq ever gunna work; everyone else had more realistic reservations (massive understatement). Some - many, possibly the great majority were anti-war - but B, B & H just didn't listen. The US is busily making many new and dedicated to the point of deadly enemies, both for themselves and their 'great mates', Israel. And once more, I leave it to you, gentle reader, to hazard a guess: is what the US doing in Iraq any good? (On balance remember; the surviving 'free' Iraqis won't be much use to Israel, and we think(!) that the US only has eyes for the oil); so are they doing any good for the US and for Israel - and for us, we the people?

IMHO QED for the result is bad - but don't take my word for it, make up your own mind, as I'm sure you will. Schluss & Tschüss!

The Lobby Lunges

I've had enough of this bloke.

Time we took him out.

I'll make a phonecall.

No olive branch

My comment about conspiracy theories - "such theories [are] impervious to factual refutation ...” - was simply to point up the triviality of this type of unthinking. Theories that purport to explain everything, explain nothing. Thus it is with "The Lobby."

Back To The Topic.

Phil Kendall, indeed, "stop the killing" and also the renditions and torture:

The Amnesty International Report on renditions.

The above link takes you to RawStory for their summary which has a link to the report.

Then there are the casualties - Part 3 of the LA Times story on US casualties.

Is the US really at war?

President Bush, sticking to a script like a five-year-old clinging to a security blanket, insists that the United States can bring democracy to Iraq and other Middle East countries at the point of an American bayonet. So convinced is he of that, he has made death America’s best-known export.

Not everyone is convinced, however. A refreshing dissent was voiced during Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s recent visit to the United Kingdom. There Douglas Hurd, Margaret Thatcher’s former foreign secretary, said what has long needed to be said: “It is quite possible to believe ... that essentially the path [to democracy] must grow from the roots of its own society and that the killing of thousands of people, many of them innocent, is unacceptable, whether committed by a domestic tyrant or for a good cause upon being invaded.”

It was Thatcher, of course, who bullied Bush’s father into war against Iraq in 1991 to undo the invasion of Kuwait with the admonition “Don’t go wobbly, George.” Much of younger George’s conduct can be understood as his attempt to correct what he saw as his dad’s error in not going all the way to Baghdad. In retrospect, dad’s “error” looks positively sage. No wonder the first President Bush is reported to be disenchanted with his son’s conduct in office.

The son never tires of reminding us that we are at war and that he is a war president. That’s reason enough to be skeptical of the claim. There is a sense in which “we” are at war. The U.S. government, acting in our name, invaded a country (that never threatened us), defeated its army, overthrew its government, and now is killing people in an attempt to subdue forces that object to the foreign presence. Innocent civilians, inevitably, are among the casualties inflicted by American firepower.

Claiming to be "at war" covers a multitude of sins. Or crimes, if you prefer.

bait & switch

G'day Michael Park, G'day Will Howard.

Left vs right, or was that centre?

Let's invoke the 'pottery-barn rule': if you quote someone/source, then you own it, eh?

You use it as a proxy, so's to say; what s/he says is in your name.

Sooo, when Peretz says "idealists and realists, rightists, leftists, centrists, Christians, Jews, nonbelievers" (it's from your ref) then it's as if you'd said it?

If there were to be any lingering doubt on the matter, you (Will Howard) also quoted this: "In what can only amount to a wet dream of the more disreputable and/or unthinking wing of the antiwar and antiglobalisation “movements” of the 'left'..."

-=*=-

Basically, boys, we're off-topic. Yes, I did introduce M-W, in response to certain stimuli. And I really don't mind pursuing the topic, but really, daaarlings, I've said it before: I couldn't give a flying f**k about what Israel does - an' that 60 years looong; apart from the truth, all I care about is stopping the killings - Oh yeah, and the rip-offs, and the greenhouse...

One thing is, however, quite certain, an' that is there's lots'n lots'a killin' goin' on, over there near the 'old' Palestine, and next-door in Iraq.

The killing is being done, when not by the Israelis (US armed and supported), then directly by the minions of mad George himself, but not just: also, by 'representative democracy' in our name (whether we like it or not - an' mostly, we don't); and where 'our' means we the people, of the US, UK and Aus.

I tried to make it simple, which you then poo-pooed (probably on account of your purported advanced sophistication or some-such), BUT: if there is an "Israel Lobby" (there is), and if it influences US politics (it does; massive understatement) then it is only to be determined, whether a) the "Israel Lobby" dunnit and/or whether b) all this killin' is in the best interests of the US, Israel and/or us, we the people.

Just to keep things 'honest', here's alternative theory for y's: if the "Israel Lobby" wanted to stop the killing, why doesn't it say so (or you, for that matter)? We can see what's going on, you know... ie Israeli helicopter gun-ships shooting rockets into populated areas; if the "Israel Lobby" could do anything at all, it ort'a be able to stop that sort'a brutality? Sooo, is it not interested in stopping it, or is it impotent?

I'm willing to say: time will tell, with a side-bet on 'killing is not good', OK? Or do you boys wanna go another round of "'Tis!" - "'Tisn't?"

(Pssst! One more time: stop the killings!)

Left vs right, or was

Let's invoke the 'pottery-barn rule': if you quote someone/source, then you own it, eh?

You use it as a proxy, so's to say; what s/he says is in your name.

Sooo, when Peretz says "idealists and realists, rightists, leftists, centrists, Christians, Jews, nonbelievers" (it's from your ref) then it's as if you'd said it?

And so it continues Phil Kendall. To purloin your propensity for multiple letters: nooo, it does not. You have the most remarkable ability to attribute to me things I have not written.

I posted the reference for the benefit of Will Howard. I posted without comment from myself other than to note that I believe the "Lobby" to be somewhat more powerful that the review gave credit for. But then, I've already attempted to point that out. No harm in trying again I suppose.

I did not take ownership of it and to say so is quite ridiculous, not to say plagiarism. I would ask that you please re-read the post and point out where I have used it to support an argument I have made - let alone taken "ownership" of it.

"...both Howard and Park have come out in great detail and all the force they can muster (be it manufactured or borrowed) to denigrate M-W's (good) work. Apart from the only slightly denigratory quotes, their fulminations are pretty-well 'full-on'."

This really is tiresome Mr Kendall. As a matter form, please quote me my "great detail" and "force" (manufactured or borrowed) and my "full-on" fulminations.

I'll make it easy for you: it isn't there. Further, in an effort to make it all as plain as can possibly be, the next time I post a reference that I feel some contributor may wish to read, I will deny all ownership - no matter the "force" or whether it be  manufactured or not.

Stop the killings

Phil Kendall, I couldn't agree more. But you won't find anyone, even the most hawkish Israeli expansionist, or the most radical Hamasista, who "promotes" killing. They just have various moral thresholds at which they say killing is "justified."

Also I would not quote anything to support my position that I did not intend to take responsibility for. Thus the quote "In what can only amount to a wet dream of the more disreputable and/or unthinking wing of the antiwar and antiglobalisation “movements” of the 'left'..." is a point I agree with and stand by. There is a "wing" of the "left" that has completely stopped thinking, and they just eat up this "The Lobby" theory. Parts of the "right" have also endorsed the M&W working paper. David Dukes of KKK infamy has praised the good professors, saying this endorses what he has been saying all along.

I've commented previously on the appeal of conspiracy theories like M&W's. They are truly beautiful, in a perverse way. Once you buy the initial premise, you can stop thinking, and simply float down the streams of unconsciousness that emanate from the seminal idea. Not only are such theories impervious to factual refutation, but you can even turn the refutation around and use it as "proof" of the theory. You did just that, by citing Michael Park's and my criticisms of the theory as proof there must be something to it. Reminds me of the "She's a Witch!" scene in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

Phil, you did indeed try to make it simple. I refuted that "simple" theory ("The All-Powerful LOBBY") on the basis of the facts as I understand them and common sense as I understand it. (For example "The Lobby" theory cannot explain the US interventions in the Balkans in the 1990's, on behalf of Muslims, at the behest of Europeans, by a White House chockful of Jews. It also cannot explain why, if Israeli interests are so paramount in Washington, the US hasn't invaded Iran, the explicit source of concern for the Israeli security establishment for many years. Thoughts on these points, Phil?) I have no special advanced sophistication or "some-such." I'm an intelligent bloke who can read and think. That's all.

Speaking of baiting and switching, you say "if the "Israel Lobby" could do anything at all, it ort'a be able to stop that sort'a brutality? Sooo, is it not interested in stopping it, or is it impotent?"

Make up your mind, Phil. If The Lobby really existed, was as all-powerful as you say, and was really as bloodthirsty as you suggest, why on Earth would they want to stop the killing?

My answer is there is no "Israel Lobby." That is, there is no single, monolithic "Israel Lobby." There are many lobby groups, some rather hawkish like AIPAC, others far more "peacenik" like Tikkun, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom, Meretz USA, Peace Now, etc. All of these latter groups have indeed led the way in calling for the killings to stop. Go have a look at their websites.

Another point you seem to ignore is that the killings are being done by both sides against each other. You rather simplistically present it as a one-sided conflict. So now presumably you will be demanding that all the Arab lobby groups in the USA (CAIR etc.)should also be calling for a stop to the killings. (To their credit, many have done just that.)

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