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Cease fire! ...

Cease fire! ... pause ... consider accounts ... then move toward truce or regroup and trounce?

by Craig Rowley

Tonight seems to be the eve of the hoped for ceasefire in the conflict in southern Lebanon and northern Israel.  If all falls into place tomorrow there is a real opportunity to make a play for a greater peace, if only the pause in hostilities can be translated into something longer lasting and further reaching.  Will all those involved in the immediate conflict, and more importantly the war by proxy behind it, just give peace a chance? Or is hope in what is possible only false promise and do we face the prospect that, more probably, the parties will be taking us to the brink again before the year is out?

Comment on the recent post by Professor Jeffrey Sachs - The Middle East's Military Delusions  - has prompted me to look back over Should Iran be attacked? a post by Professor Joseph S Nye we published in May.

Professor Nye's post commenced with the question that reports had suggested was being explored by President George W Bush and his administration, and it becomes clear on reading the post that he sees how costly use of force against Iran would be (and he's not just talking about financial costs). Professor Nye concluded his post by offering some points to think about on policy alternatives the U.S. could take up and in the early part of our conversation thread we started exploring what could be done instead of attack, what the application of some clear thinking could come up with, and what might make up the steps on a better path to dealing with the potential threat represented by Iran's nuclear program.

Despite the promising start we didn't really build on the momentum. (It would be good if we could now, particularly as the translation of a ceasefire into truce can only come from new thinking by the parties involved.) I felt that in both the thread following Nye's post and that following Sachs' we didn't really bring the shift in U.S. foreign policy positions on Iran into focus and, from the basis of a better understanding of why such a shift occurred, develop ideas about how it could be shifted again to a position with better prospects for bringing about a little more peace.

That shift in U.S. foreign policy positions I speak of is evident in these quotes:

"...President Clinton and I welcomed the new Iranian President's call for a dialogue between our people.... Now we have concluded the time is right to broaden our perspective even further."

Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks Before the American-Iranian Council
March, 2000 

"Iran aggressively pursues these weapons and exports terror, while an unelected few repress the Iranian people's hope for freedom ... States like these, and their terrorist allies, constitute an axis of evil, arming to threaten the peace of the world ... "

President George W. Bush
The President's State of the Union Address
January, 2002

"I think it's best I just leave it that all options should be on the table, and the last option is the military option."

President George W. Bush
on CBS's "Face the Nation" program
January 2006

Now we can debate whether the shift has been substantial or otherwise. Some take the 'last option' emphasis to signify that U.S. policy toward Iran has not shifted to a totally militaristic stance. Some see a shift from a policy prescription based on the premise that a dialogue could be opened and diplomacy would work, to one where plans to attack are being (or have been) worked up.

I understand that at the beginning of George W. Bush's presidency there were two groups in the administration waging an intense struggle over policy on Iran. The U.S. government went month after month without an official policy at that time.

Then the attack on America on September 11, 2001 created an entirely new strategic context for U.S. relations with other nations and certainly this was true with respect to its approach to Iran. There was a choice to make and official U.S. policy on Iran had to be determined.  Within the broader response to September 11 - the global war on terrorism - there were (and there continues to be) a variety of strategic options, various opportunities.

One was the choice of immediate response focus and the Bush administration decided on destroying the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and the al-Qaeda network it had harboured.  When you think about it selection of this option opened a choice about how to deal with Iran. Washington could begin a period of extraordinary strategic cooperation between America and Iran in order to support the action to be taken in Afghanistan, it could select a status quo strategy leaving Iran on the sidelines to wonder whether it would be drawn in at some stage, or it could plot the point when Iran would become the priority in prosecuting the long war on terrorism and start preparing for it.

Gareth Porter, a historian and journalist who writes regularly on U.S. policy in Iran and Iraq for Inter Press Service, has reported that as America began preparing for the military operation in Afghanistan, the then Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Ryan Crocker held a series of meetings with Iranian officials in Geneva. Iran offered search-and-rescue help, humanitarian assistance, and even advice on which targets to bomb in Afghanistan. The Iranians, who had been working for years with the main anti-Taliban coalition, the Northern Alliance, also advised the Americans about how to negotiate the major ethnic and political fault lines in the country.

By November 2001, the U.S. Office of Policy Planning had written a paper arguing that there was “a real opportunity” to work more closely with Iran on al-Qaeda. This would have been a smart strategy to take up if your interests were in genuinely separating terrorist organisations from the sponsorship of states.  You aim to gain the cooperation of states considered sponsors of terrorism and say, ‘We will take you off the state-sponsors-of-terrorism list if you do the following.’” 

What happened instead was that a State of the Union Address was being prepared for President George W. Bush to deliver in January 2002 that included Iran in the “axis of evil”.   In the weighing up of the carrot and stick balancing act some wanted the U.S. to come on strong with the stick.

In the weeks after 11 September 2001, President Bush had been sent this letter supporting a "broad and sustained campaign" of military action by the US.  How much influence the authors of that letter from the Project for a New American Century actually had on the President's decision-making is a matter of speculation.  It may have had more to do with a President going gaga over reports that Iran was the source of an arms cache intercepted on route to Gaza. Whatever the case, it is clear that President Bush, the Commander-in-Chief, champion of the Coalition of the Willing and leader of the free world, decided that to engage with any of those on the state-sponsors-of-terrorism list was a concession to terrorism, a reward for bad behaviour. There would be no deals done with naughty boys. U.S. policy would be that Iran could never be treated as a sovereign equal on any issue. Iran was in the "axis of evil".

President Bush’s axis-of-evil speech was followed by talk of Iran deliberately “harbouring” al-Qaeda cadres who had fled from Afghanistan and signals came from the Bush administration discrediting the promising prospect of cooperation between Tehran and Washington as a means for Iran to obtain U.S. concessions. By May 2002, the Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei denounced the idea of negotiations with the United States as useless.

From the perspective of some the "real opportunity", ripe for the taking, was left to wither. From the perspective of others, Bush administration saying no to negotiations and taking a hardline with Tehran was the right thing to do.  By September 2002, the U.S. was set on a security framework that shifted its foreign policy away from decades of deterrence and containment toward a more aggressive stance of attacking enemies before they attack America.  With momentum building for military action against Iraq's Saddam Hussein, with the White House setting out the Doctrine of Preemptive War, and saying it would never negotiate with terrorists (nowadays at term that seems all inclusive of organisations such as al-Qaeda and all nations on the state-sponsors-of-terrorism list), what other conclusion would Iran come to than that the path ahead might lead to more than the invasion of the neighbour it had even less love for than Afghanistan?

As the tension mounted amongst those searching for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq where they weren't located,  the only other member of the "axis of evil" without the bomb was feeling tense too.  What would the Iranians have made of President Bush telling the American people on 16 October 2002 that: "I have not ordered the use of force. I hope that the use of force will not become necessary"?  What would they then have made of what happened on 19 March 2003 when they witnessed the 'shock and awe' of the invasion of Iraq?  If they made haste in making the bomb, then perhaps it shows all the more what waste junking the "real opportunity" was.

Not everyone saw the "real opportunity" as totally wasted. The two contending camps within U.S. foreign policy setting circles struggled again in 2003 over a proposal by realists, like Colin Powell and Richard Armitage, to reopen the Geneva channel with Iran that had been used successfully on Afghanistan in 2001-2002.  It would not have been easy given that by June that year a number of 'experts' were saying Iran would have nuclear weapons by 2006, but somehow Richard Armitage was able by October to say in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

"Iran is a country in the midst of a tremendous transformation, and I believe American policy can affect the direction Iran will take ... United States policy is, therefore, to support the Iranian people in their aspirations for a democratic, prosperous country that is a trusted member of the international community ... As President Bush noted when talking about Iran last week, not every policy issue needs to be dealt with by force."

Though it was not really clear whether the American policy that would 'affect the direction Iran would take' included any carrot or just a thumping big "evil" regime changing stick. And by the end of 2003, Howard Dean (at that time the Democrat presidential frontrunner), was saying U.S. President George Bush has a "schizophrenic foreign policy" regarding Iran:

"Earlier this year, Bush said Iran was part of the Axis of Evil, now we're shipping food, medicine and other supplies to alleviate the suffering of ordinary Iranians. There seems to be a chronic disconnect in the Bush administration between the Iranian people and the actions of the Iranian government. The president needs to make up his mind -- is Iran evil or not?"

In January 2004, more of those shipments of food, medicine and other supplies would be much needed in Iran. Bush may not have made up his mind to use force to beat the bad guys and win out against "evil", but then Bam felt the brutal forces of nature that northern winter and the suffering people of Iran where to be in the Bush administration's thoughts and prayers. By the end of 2004, thoughts and prayers had once again turned to thoughts of bringing to bear that big stick. A new, more aggressive policy on Iran was said to have the backing of then secretary of state-designate Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser.

At the start of 2005, Dick Cheney had placed Iran at the top of Washington’s list of world trouble spots and said that he feared that Israel might strike Tehran in order to eliminate its nuclear threat. “We don’t want a war in the Middle East if we can avoid it,” said Mr Cheney in January 2005. 

A month later Senate Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid, was renewing criticism that Iran had been left on what he called 'a back burner' during the Bush administration. "Our policy on Iran has been a non-policy," he said. "The negotiating regarding the nuclear facilities in Iran have [sic] been conducted by other countries. We have not been a player in that, and I think that is too bad. As important as Iran is to a settlement of the problems we have in the Middle East the president should personally be involved. Certainly we shouldn't leave this to other countries."  California Democrat Bob Filner was echoing Howard Dean calling U.S. policy on Iran contradictory. "We have been going on this schizophrenic policy of preparing for war perhaps, which I think is a dangerous situation, just in a military fashion we seem to be overstrained to our limits just with Iraq and Afghanistan, and to try an even more problematic situation would be difficult for our nation," he said. 

At about the same time, John Bolton, the State Department's top international security official, was echoing Dick Cheney saying publicly that Israel might attack Iran's nuclear sites because the Jewish state has "a history" of such actions (referring to Israel's 1981 bombing raid on Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor). 

President George W. Bush would later make 'clear' in his 2005 State of the Union address that he wanted a peaceful solution to the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.  In the UK, Tony Blair would echo Bush saying "I don't know of anybody planning military action against Iran", news of which would break on the same day as Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said his government 'has no intention' of launching a strike against Iranian nuclear installations and two days after U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he had never authorised sending reconnaissance planes over Iran to spy on it. 

By April 2005, state delegations of Iranian-Americans across the U.S. had come together for the first ever National Convention for a Democratic, Secular Republic in Iran was held in Washington. They declared their resounding support for democratic change in Iran and called for "third option" in policy toward Tehran, first introduced by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, at the time the president-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.  The third option: 'No to Appeasement, No to War, Yes to Democratic Change by the Iranian People'.

By June 2005, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the hard-line mayor of Tehran who had invoked Iran's 1979 revolution and expressed doubts about rapprochement with the United States in his campaign to become President, was 'elected' under circumstances seen by the U.S. and most of the democratic world as far more controversial than a hanging chad ever could be. A month later, outgoing President Mohammad Khatami said the prospect of dialogue resuming between the United States and Iran was more distant. "We are further from it (a resumption of dialogue) today than we have been for some years," he said.  He couldn't see a "real opportunity" for dialogue arising again.

By the end of 2005, influential Republican congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, a Bush loyalist who chairs a House of Representatives subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia, expressed frustration over President Bush's approach to Iran. She wasn't just saying pressure was building for a tougher U.S. policy. Ros-Lehtinen said she did not believe the administration had a clear idea of "what they want to do there and what is the end game". Get out the big stick in other words.

At the beginning of this year Iran’s new hard-line President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said the Islamic Republic’s 1979 Islamic revolution was a great movement and a stepping stone to a final “great event” in the world. And you can understand why those who dismissed the "real opportunity" would now want that big stick so bad. By June a growing chorus of critics on the American right were saying the Bush administration is being soft on Iran and other so-called "enemies of freedom." Events of the past month give them all the more reason to raise the volume. But if there were a way to get back to what were once "real opportunities", if a way could be found, a firm and fair way, to have Iran take those steps needed for it to be taken off the state-sponsors-of-terrorism list without anyone being wiped of any map, would they tune in? 

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Removing Iranian 'claim' by solving the Israel-Palestine issue

Will, we do see things differently.  Where you see making progress in resolving the conflict between Israel and Palestinians as potentially "giving implicit legitimacy to the Iranian strategy of wrapping themselves in the Palestinian flag",  I see it removing the opportunity for the Iranian regime to keep wrapping themselves in the Palestinian flag. 

Where you believe it would be an injustice to the Palestinians, and to the Israelis, to use progress on the path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians as a means of defusing Iran, I see rectifying this problem (which I absolutely believe needs to be solved because it is indeed the right or just thing to do) has a flow-on benefit - it could help in defusing Iran.

I  agree that it should be put to Iran that they join the international community in seeking to resolve the conflict by whatever framework the international community agrees.

Interesting point about Israel's position on Bushehr. I'd like to learn more about that. Where did you see/hear about it?

Iran And Good Faith

The Israel-Palestine issue should be resolved on its own merits for the sake of Palestinians and Israelis. But there is a real danger in linking it to other issues, such as Iran or even the Golan Heights. Any situation that Tehran or Damascus can portray as a "retreat" by Israel or the US will result in a hardening of attitudes and claims of victory. They have form. The suicide attacks on the peacekeeping Marines and French in Beirut in 1982 which led to the Reagan pullout suddenly made Hezbollah a major player and led to the adoption of the suicide/murder attack as a terrorist tactic around the world.

Why? Because in their eyes it worked. It forced the "enemies of Islam" to retreat. The Israeli unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, intended to lead to a settlement of the Golan Heights issue and peace with Syria, instead consolidated Hezbollah as an armed to the teeth proxy of Iran and Syria that became a strategic threat to Israel while the world looked on. As it is once again.

Israel's withdrawal from Gaza was portrayed as a military victory for Hamas ( and therefore Iran), as predicted, and strengthened Hamas and its rejectionist front. This contributed to the election victory. Hopefully the present ceasefire will hold but more likely it is being used to re-arm and re-group Hamas just like how it was intended. As Hezbollah is being re-armed and re-grouped right now while the world and the UN look on   

Iran sees the Israel/Palestine dispute as in its strategic interests and will do what it can to keep it on the boil. That is why it has sabotaged every peace initiative since Oslo.

Propaganda is as propaganda does

Craig Rowley: "For today though a simple question for you Jay: Do you realise that your pushing a 'propaganda thread' meme as part of a rather pathetic campaign against Bob Wall makes you a propagandist?" 

Huh? I am merely posting my opinion Craig. And in my opinion it is propaganda.

A bit like the Iranian President pretending he cares about Palestinians whilst evidence suggests that like most other Arab nations, he clearly does not.

Now why Craig would he wish to help a group that is majority Sunni whilst attempting to help groups fighting the very same sect of religion in another nation? Clearly this is not rational behaviour. Or it is in fact a classic bait to (con) convince the unsuspecting and easily manipulated.

A short answer for now

Jay, as I said, I'll get to the Sunni-Shia proxy war issue when I've time to do so. However, for now I can give you the short answer to your specific question (paraphrased):

Q. Why would [the Iranian President] wish to help a group that is majority Sunni whilst attempting to help groups fighting the very same sect of religion in another nation?

A. His wishes have never been conveyed to me so I can't really know why. 

Perhaps the religion of the people one wants to help plays no part in one's desire to help them.  Perhaps it does.

I've questioned the sincerity of Iranian concern for the plight of the Palestinians myself (on this very thread in fact). 

And I see it as a question that merits further discussion, so I'll come back to share my views on it later.

One thing that is central to my view is that, regardless of whether Iran's support for Palestinians is sincere or otherwise, solving the problems that have lead to Palestinian suffering is something that needs to be done.

The sooner, the better. 

Solving those problems could cut out of the equation whatever reason it is that Iran says it has for its involvement.

Disarmament blues

Another point about the Iran nuclear confrontation:

The already-acknowledged major nuclear powers have missed opportunity after opportunity to make serious steps towards nuclear disarmament and overall non-proliferation. This is a failure on a global and regional level. The biggest opportunities came in the wake of the fall of Communism and shortly thereafter the first Gulf War. The West (US and NATO allies), especially, did little to seize their big chance IMO.

There's still opportunity even now. For example, debate is starting in the UK over replacing their sub-based Tridents. Here's a good chance for the West to show some leadership - don't replace the British Tridents, but put British nuclear deterrence under joint British-NATO control (which is really what is anyway). The US, UK, France,  China, and Russia could reduce their stocks of nukes, and agree on a Central Asia/Mideast nuke-free zone. The Egyptians have recently re-warmed an old proposal along these lines, and I've heard little response.

I think the people who are really scared of a nuclear-armed Iran, are not so much the Israelis, but Arab powers like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Israel is worried of course, but at least knows it has its own deterrent. Turkey, as a NATO member, is protected by the NATO nuclear umbrella.

A Question For Craig the Knowledgeable

Craig Rowley I might just borrow a link from the Bob Wall propaganda thread:

The gulf's two military powers, Sunni-Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, are lining up behind their warring religious brethren in Iraq in a potentially explosive showdown, as expectations grow in both countries that America is preparing a pull-out of its troops.

The Saudis are understood to be considering providing Sunni military leaders with funding, logistical support and even arms, as Iran already does for Shia militia in Iraq.

The strategy — outlined in an article last week by Nawaf Obaid, a senior security adviser to the kingdom's government — risks spiralling into a proxy war between Saudi and Iranian-backed factions in the next development in Iraq's vicious sectarian conflict.

Saudi Arabia, America's closest ally in the Arab world, is considering backing anti-US insurgents because it is so alarmed that Sunnis in Iraq will be left to their fate — military and political — at the hands of the Shia majority.

However, a Saudi government spokesman said yesterday that Mr Obaid's view "does not reflect the kingdom's policy, which uphold the security, unity and stability of Iraq with all its sects."

Now this begs the question, why would Iran wish to support Palestine and its clear Sunni majority? Are you sure they are not using this issue as a little bit of a con job over, let's just say, the more gullible members of western society?

A question in return for Jay White

Interesting question you've raised Jay White and I'll come back to it when I've time available to put together something more comprehensive on what some, such as Ted Galen Carpenter at the Cato Institute, have been calling the Sunni-Shia 'proxy wars'

For today though a simple question for you Jay: Do you realise that your pushing a 'propaganda thread' meme as part of a rather pathetic campaign against Bob Wall makes you a propagandist? 

An open letter from the dark side of the moon

Bush should write an open letter to the "noble" Iranian people. If only for shits and giggles.

That somebody could put up something like that from a religious dictator in the hope people may take it seriously makes me feel proud. Proud that in the great democracy we live in even some of our most foolish members get an equal say.

I can feel another OPEC meeting coming on.

"Noble Americans" letter

Craig, I see Ahmadinejad's letter was provided in English, so the translation was presumably done by some of his own people(?). It is interesting that he dated it with the Gregorian date rather than the Islamic date; this detail may be meaningless but it may have some significance.

Defusing the Situation

To continue the discussion about the Iran confrontation, here are a few thoughts about defusing tensions.

On the "West's" side (US, EU, NATO, Israel):

1) Cut the belligerent rhetoric. Quit talking (esp. Pres. Bush) about "all options being on the table," implying use of force. We know already. The Iranians know already. We know military planners have contingency plans for attacking Iranian nuclear facilities. So what? Military planners have contingency plans for all kinds of things, from alien invaders from beyond the galaxy, to invading Zimbabwe. There's no need to belabor the point.

2) Keep making clear, if it's not already (apparently not) that the West's concern with the Iranian nuclear program only concerns enriching fuel to weapons-grade.

3) Declare a "no first use" of nuclear weapons policy for the region. Better yet, keep NATO and US nukes outside the radius of the Iranian Shahab medium-range missiles as a good-will "we'll-keep-ours-holstered-if-you-do-too" gesture. Again, if it came to it, the US could still nuke Iran from Missouri it it had to. The Iranians know that. They're not stupid. No need to belabor the point.

For the Iranians

1) Drop the belligerent rhetoric. Quit parading those Shahab missiles around with "Death to Israel" emblazoned on the sides, and all the rest of the dreary theatrics you seem to so love. The Israelis know you hate them; no need to belabor the point. They're not thrilled about you either, but they're not calling for you to be "wiped from the pages of history."

2) Drop the Holocaust stuff. No more cartoon contests, and no more Holocaust "conferences." Do you seriously believe anyone thinks you have a genuine academic interest in mid-20th Century European history? However you've been offended by Danish cartoons or German opera productions, or Dutch films, none of these offenses were done by Jews or Israelis. Find some other way to spite the "free speech" of the West. Run a contest making fun of the Pope, or a conference questioning whether Christians really were persecuted by the Romans, or something.

That's some short-term steps. Long-term "eyes on the prize"-type stuff is in my earlier post on the "Should Iran Be Attacked thread (I still have seen very little constructive engagement on my points).

Will we're in vehement agreement again

G'day Will.  I'm pleased to say we are once again in 'vehement agreement'. This time on the solution focused points you've provided today.  Good points; well made. 

The point you made later in the day about disarmament is also one I agree with.

And, if I recall my first impressions correctly, I also thought your proposed longer-term solution suggestions made much sense too.  I'll look at that earlier post again and come back to share some "constructive engagement" when time permits.

Ahmedinejad to the 'noble Americans'

A few Webdiarists might count themselves amongst the 'noble' Americans that Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has addressed in the following letter, and it would be great if you could share your views on what you make of what the Iranian President has put to you:

President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad
Letter To The American People

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

O, Almighty God, bestow upon humanity the perfect human being promised to all by You, and make us among his followers.

Noble Americans,

Were we not faced with the activities of the US administration in this part of the world and the negative ramifications of those activities on the daily lives of our peoples, coupled with the many wars and calamities caused by the US administration as well as the tragic consequences of US interference in other countries;

Were the American people not God-fearing, truth-loving, and justice-seeking , while the US administration actively conceals the truth and impedes any objective portrayal of current realities;

And if we did not share a common responsibility to promote and protect freedom and human dignity and integrity;

Then, there would have been little urgency to have a dialogue with you.

While Divine providence has placed Iran and the United States geographically far apart, we should be cognizant that human values and our common human spirit, which proclaim the dignity and exalted worth of all human beings, have brought our two great nations of Iran and the United States closer together.

Both our nations are God-fearing, truth-loving and justice-seeking, and both seek dignity, respect and perfection.

Both greatly value and readily embrace the promotion of human ideals such as compassion, empathy, respect for the rights of human beings, securing justice and equity, and defending the innocent and the weak against oppressors and bullies.

We are all inclined towards the good, and towards extending a helping hand to one another, particularly to those in need.

We all deplore injustice, the trampling of peoples' rights and the intimidation and humiliation of human beings.
 
We all detest darkness, deceit, lies and distortion, and seek and admire salvation, enlightenment, sincerity and honesty.

The pure human essence of the two great nations of Iran and the United States testify to the veracity of these statements.

Noble Americans,

Our nation has always extended its hand of friendship to all other nations of the world.

Hundreds of thousands of my Iranian compatriots are living amongst you in friendship and peace, and are contributing positively to your society. Our people have been in contact with you over the past many years and have maintained these contacts despite the unnecessary restrictions of US authorities.

As mentioned, we have common concerns, face similar challenges, and are pained by the sufferings and afflictions in the world.

We, like you, are aggrieved by the ever-worsening pain and misery of the Palestinian people. Persistent aggressions by the Zionists are making life more and more difficult for the rightful owners of the land of Palestine . In broad day-light, in front of cameras and before the eyes of the world, they are bombarding innocent defenseless civilians, bulldozing houses, firing machine guns at students in the streets and alleys, and subjecting their families to endless grief.

No day goes by without a new crime.

Palestinian mothers, just like Iranian and American mothers, love their children, and are painfully bereaved by the imprisonment, wounding and murder of their children. What mother wouldn't?

For 60 years, the Zionist regime has driven millions of the inhabitants of Palestine out of their homes. Many of these refugees have died in the Diaspora and in refugee camps. Their children have spent their youth in these camps and are aging while still in the hope of returning to homeland.

You know well that the US administration has persistently provided blind and blanket support to the Zionist regime, has emboldened it to continue its crimes, and has prevented the UN Security Council from condemning it.

Who can deny such broken promises and grave injustices towards humanity by the US administration?

Governments are there to serve their own people. No people wants to side with or support any oppressors. But regrettably, the US administration disregards even its own public opinion and remains in the forefront of supporting the trampling of the rights of the Palestinian people.

Let's take a look at Iraq . Since the commencement of the US military presence in Iraq , hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed, maimed or displaced. Terrorism in Iraq has grown exponentially. With the presence of the US military in Iraq , nothing has been done to rebuild the ruins, to restore the infrastructure or to alleviate poverty. The US Government used the pretext of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq , but later it became clear that that was just a lie and a deception.

Although Saddam was overthrown and people are happy about his departure, the pain and suffering of the Iraqi people has persisted and has even been aggravated.

In Iraq , about one hundred and fifty thousand American soldiers, separated from their families and loved ones, are operating under the command of the current US administration. A substantial number of them have been killed or wounded and their presence in Iraq has tarnished the image of the American people and government.

Their mothers and relatives have, on numerous occasions, displayed their discontent with the presence of their sons and daughters in a land thousands of miles away from US shores. American soldiers often wonder why they have been sent to Iraq.

I consider it extremely unlikely that you, the American people, consent to the billions of dollars of annual expenditure from your treasury for this military misadventure.

Noble Americans,

You have heard that the US administration is kidnapping its presumed opponents from across the globe and arbitrarily holding them without trial or any international supervision in horrendous prisons that it has established in various parts of the world. God knows who these detainees actually are, and what terrible fate awaits them.

You have certainly heard the sad stories of the Guantanamo and Abu-Ghraib prisons. The US administration attempts to justify them through its proclaimed “war on terror.” But every one knows that such behavior, in fact, offends global public opinion, exacerbates resentment and thereby spreads terrorism, and tarnishes the US image and its credibility among nations.

The US administration's illegal and immoral behavior is not even confined to outside its borders. You are witnessing daily that under the pretext of “the war on terror,” civil liberties in the United States are being increasingly curtailed. Even the privacy of individuals is fast losing its meaning. Judicial due process and fundamental rights are trampled upon. Private phones are tapped, suspects are arbitrarily arrested, sometimes beaten in the streets, or even shot to death.

I have no doubt that the American people do not approve of this behavior and indeed deplore it.

The US administration does not accept accountability before any organization, institution or council. The US administration has undermined the credibility of international organizations, particularly the United Nations and its Security Council. But, I do not intend to address all the challenges and calamities in this message.

The legitimacy, power and influence of a government do not emanate from its arsenals of tanks, fighter aircrafts, missiles or nuclear weapons. Legitimacy and influence reside in sound logic, quest for justice and compassion and empathy for all humanity. The global position of the United States is in all probability weakened because the administration has continued to resort to force, to conceal the truth, and to mislead the American people about its policies and practices.

Undoubtedly, the American people are not satisfied with this behavior and they showed their discontent in the recent elections. I hope that in the wake of the mid-term elections, the administration of President Bush will have heard and will heed the message of the American people.

My questions are the following:

Is there not a better approach to governance?

Is it not possible to put wealth and power in the service of peace, stability, prosperity and the happiness of all peoples through a commitment to justice and respect for the rights of all nations, instead of aggression and war?

We all condemn terrorism, because its victims are the innocent. But, can terrorism be contained and eradicated through war, destruction and the killing of hundreds of thousands of innocents?

If that were possible, then why has the problem not been resolved?

The sad experience of invading Iraq is before us all.

What has blind support for the Zionists by the US administration brought for the American people?

It is regrettable that for the US administration, the interests of these occupiers supersedes the interests of the American people and of the other nations of the world.

What have the Zionists done for the American people that the US administration considers itself obliged to blindly support these infamous aggressors? Is it not because they have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural and media sectors?

I recommend that in a demonstration of respect for the American people and for humanity, the right of Palestinians to live in their own homeland should be recognized so that millions of Palestinian refugees can return to their homes and the future of all of Palestine and its form of government be determined in a referendum. This will benefit everyone.

Now that Iraq has a Constitution and an independent Assembly and Government, would it not be more beneficial to bring the US officers and soldiers home, and to spend the astronomical US military expenditures in Iraq for the welfare and prosperity of the American people? As you know very well, many victims of Katrina continue to suffer, and countless Americans continue to live in poverty and homelessness.

I'd also like to say a word to the winners of the recent elections in the US:
 
The United States has had many administrations; some who have left a positive legacy, and others that are neither remembered fondly by the American people nor by other nations.

Now that you control an important branch of the US Government, you will also be held to account by the people and by history.

If the US Government meets the current domestic and external challenges with an approach based on truth and Justice, it can remedy some of the past afflictions and alleviate some of the global resentment and hatred of America.

But if the approach remains the same, it would not be unexpected that the American people would similarly reject the new electoral winners, although the recent elections, rather than reflecting a victory, in reality point to the failure of the current administration's policies. These issues had been extensively dealt with in my letter to President Bush earlier this year.

To sum up:

It is possible to govern based on an approach that is distinctly different from one of coercion, force and injustice.

It is possible to sincerely serve and promote common human values, and honesty and compassion.

It is possible to provide welfare and prosperity without tension, threats, imposition or war.

It is possible to lead the world towards the aspired perfection by adhering to unity, monotheism, morality and spirituality and drawing upon the teachings of the Divine Prophets.

Then, the American people, who are God-fearing and followers of Divine religions, will overcome every difficulty.

What I stated represents some of my anxieties and concerns.

I am confident that you, the American people, will play an instrumental role in the establishment of justice and spirituality throughout the world. The promises of the Almighty and His prophets will certainly be realized; Justice and Truth will prevail and all nations will live a true life in a climate replete with love, compassion and fraternity.

The US governing establishment, the authorities and the powerful should not choose irreversible paths. As all prophets have taught us, injustice and transgression will eventually bring about decline and demise. Today, the path of return to faith and spirituality is open and unimpeded.

We should all heed the Divine Word of the Holy Qur'an:

“But those who repent, have faith and do good may receive Salvation. Your Lord, alone, creates and chooses as He will, and others have no part in His choice; Glorified is God and Exalted above any partners they ascribe to Him.” (28:67-68)

I pray to the Almighty to bless the Iranian and American nations and indeed all nations of the world with dignity and success.

Re: Ahmedinejad to the 'noble Americans'

Craig, very interesting speech. Thanks for posting it. Was the original speech in Farsi (I would usually assume so)? Who did the translation?

One always has to remember that speeches like this (whether delivered by Ahmedinejad, Bush, Blair, or whoever), are sometimes intended for a different (though not mutually exclusive) target audience from the one they're nominally addressed to. So you have to read it with that in mind. Who's he talking to? His domestic constituency? The international community? All of the above?

The speech is interesting on several levels:

1) It's addressed directly to the American people and to the incoming Democratic Congress. That's a bit unusual, from the speeches I've seen.

This approach recognises and attempts to exploit some political realities in the US, namely that the electorate is fed up with Bush and the Republicans.

Two disadvantages: 

a) this approach sometimes backfires when targeted at Americans. Witness the UK Guardian newspaper's botched attempt to influence the 2004 US presidential election by having its readers write pro-Kerry letters to voters in an Ohio (a key swing state) district. If anything, the Guardian's meddling helped deliver Ohio to Bush. Even Kerry supporters were turned off.

b) The Executive Branch still makes and carries out foreign policy, not Congress. Congress can influence foreign policy by granting or withholding nominations ( e.g. Bolton), funding, or holding the Administration's feet to the fire in committee hearings.

2) It does come across as more conciliatory than previous speeches from the Iranian president. This may provide an opening for the US to engage Iran. And, related to this point,

3)  it does not specifically mention the Iranian nuclear program. Again this may provide an opening to engage on other issues where Iran and the US may have some common ground (give me some time while I think of some).

4) The wording on Israel is very interesting. In some ways it's the "same old same old" but there's some ambiguity in the language which may provide some opening for engagement. Let's look at some of his wording on Israel (not necessarily in the order he brings it up).  Note that, as often, doesn't actually use the word "Israel" - it's often the "Zionist Regime" or the "Zionist Entity" because using the word "Israel" gives implicit recognition to Israel's existence and Iran doesn't like to do that:

"What has blind support for the Zionists by the US administration brought for the American people?

It is regrettable that for the US administration, the interests of these occupiers supersedes the interests of the American people and of the other nations of the world.

What have the Zionists done for the American people that the US administration considers itself obliged to blindly support these infamous aggressors? Is it not because they have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural and media sectors?"

 

These passages are thinly-veiled allusions to "Zionist" control of the US, and merely re-word old anti-Semitic canards about Jewish control of banking and the media. It's also a "wedge" statement of the type Profs. Mearsheimer and Walt attempted in their "Zionist Lobby" screed. It implies to Americans that "Zionists" have manipulated America's policies against its own interests. It of course ignores the fact that American Jews overwhelmingly oppose the Bush Admin. (~ 87% of them voted Democrat in this latest election), and it is presumably from this group that "Zionism" draws most of its support.

"I recommend that in a demonstration of respect for the American people and for humanity, the right of Palestinians to live in their own homeland should be recognized so that millions of Palestinian refugees can return to their homes and the future of all of Palestine and its form of government be determined in a referendum. This will benefit everyone."

 

This passage is likely a coded statement calling for the unlimited "right of return" of Palestinian refugees to Israel, and the "One-State" solution to the Palestine conflict. However, it's ambiguous enough to provide an opportunity for engagement. More on that later.

 

"For 60 years, the Zionist regime has driven millions of the inhabitants of Palestine out of their homes. Many of these refugees have died in the Diaspora and in refugee camps. Their children have spent their youth in these camps and are aging while still in the hope of returning to homeland."

and

"Persistent aggressions by the Zionists are making life more and more difficult for the rightful owners of the land of Palestine."

The use of the phrase "60 years" is of course a reference to the 1948 founding of Israel. The use of the phrase "right owners of the land of Palestine" has often been used in the past as part of a call for Israel to be eliminated altogether, in which usage it means all of historical Palestine. Again there's ambiguity in the passages: is he saying he doesn't recognise Israel and we should roll back the history tape 60 years? Many "hawks" would indeed interpret the words this way. But I think there's an opening there, and I believe there's an alternative way to approach Ahmadinejad's speech.

How should the US respond?

If I were advising Bush now I would suggest the following:

1) Have only yourself of Sec'y of State Rice respond. Having the US President or our foreign minister-equivalent respond reinforces the message that we have a representative constitutional democracy, in which the elected Executive Branch is authorised to carry out foreign policy. (The implicit message being that "you Iranians could have that too if you'd turf out the authoritarian mad mullahs.")

2) Address yourself not to Ahmadinejad himself, but directly to the Iranian people in response to his direct appeal to the American people.

3) Take a "we take you at your word" approach to Ahmadinejad's rhetoric. Reinforce and echo the "Both our nations..." part of his speech.

4) Keep it positive, at least for the time being. Do not respond to the "many wars and calamities caused by the US administration" statements. Let some hatchet-man in the State Dept. be the "bad cop" and do the "rebuttal." (Bolton would be a good choice; he's on the way out and he's already seen as an asshole anyway).

5) Get Congressional leadership on board for this. It's a good opportunity for both sides to show bipartisanship. And in this case both the outgoing Republicans and incoming Democrats on all the key committees are roughly in tune with the Administration's stance on Iran (even if the Democrats don't like the tone and rhetoric coming out of the White House). In this case, one tactic would be to coordinate the White House response with joint statements from chairmen and ranking minority members of the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees.

6) This is a big opportunity to bring the Iranians in to some constructive engagement on the Israel-Palestine conflict. The message should be something like: "We welcome the Iranian President's remarks on the Middle East peace process. We to would like to see justice and peace for Palestinians and Israelis alike. We too would like to see the Palestinians in their own democratic homeland in peace alongside a secure Israel, with the Palestinian refugees settled in that state as their homeland. In that spirit, we invite the Iranian people to join us, the European Union, the Russian Federation, and the United Nations, in endorsing the Road Map for Peace in Middle East."

This is one of those "fence-buster" statements which forces Iran to either endorse the Road Map, and thus implicitly recognise Israel's right to exist within something like the '67 borders, which would be a big breakthrough. Or it would drive them back into their usual rejectionist rhetoric about "wiping the Zionist regime from the pages of history" etc. etc. In which we'd be no worse off than we are now.

7) Leave the nuclear thing out of it for the moment.

That's my initial take.

Just When You Thought It Could Not Get Worse?

"The US administration's illegal and immoral behavior is not even confined to outside its borders. You are witnessing daily that under the pretext of “the war on terror,” civil liberties in the United States are being increasingly curtailed. Even the privacy of individuals is fast losing its meaning. Judicial due process and fundamental rights are trampled upon. Private phones are tapped, suspects are arbitrarily arrested, sometimes beaten in the streets, or even shot to death."

"Our people have been in contact with you over the past many years and have maintained these contacts despite the unnecessary restrictions of US authorities. "

Meanwhile, back in Iran :

Iran yesterday shut down access to some of the world's most popular websites. Users were unable to open popular sites including Amazon.com and YouTube following instructions to service providers to filter them.

Similar edicts have been issued against Wikipedia, the internet encyclopaedia, IMDB.com, an online film database, and the New York Times site. Attempts to open the sites are met with a page reading: "The requested page is forbidden."

The clampdown was ordered by senior judiciary officials in the latest phase of a campaign that has seen high-speed broadband facilities banned in an attempt to impede "corrupting" foreign films and music. It is in line with a campaign by Iran's Islamist president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to purge the country of western cultural influences.

...

The purge mirrors a rising tide of censorship in Iranian publishing which has resulted in the banning of hundreds of books, including western classics. Illegal satellite dishes have also been seized

So. Just when you thought it could not get any worse, what happens? The brutal lying fascist hypocrite writes a letter.

Will Howard (G'day), I've returned to your questions

Will Howard (G'day), I've returned and can now start to address those questions you put to me a fortnight ago.

As stated earlier I read your understanding of my position as completely incorrect. I do believe there is an issue with Iran's nuclear research program (I’ll return at another time to whether it is fairly defined, as you have put it, as "Iran's nuclear arms ambitions"). And my position is that any hostility shown by the Iranian regime toward Israel should be taken seriously (although again an examination of your assertion of a definite 'hostile intent' is warranted and we can discuss that later).

I am putting up for consideration the reports that the US and/or Israel may exercise the military options they assert ‘must’ remain 'on the table', and your characterisation of this as the "contention that the US and/or Israel are planning an attack on Iran" is correct only in the sense that I do contend plans would likely have been drawn up in 'draft'  (just as the ADF is likely to have drafted plans for operations in our region that can be ‘reviewed’ from time to time).  But I can, as you can, only really know that finalised plans with all the specifics may or may not have been -- or are in the process of being created -- at this stage.

You mention 'belligerent intent' (in the US/Israeli context) and I am, in fact, concerned about those who may hold such intent on all sides of this potential crisis situation.  This also answers your question about my assessment of the threat posed by Iran.  I do believe Iran poses some degree of threat.  My assessment of the degree of threat does, and will continue to, change as information comes to hand.

(I'll share my thoughts on current state threat-assessment another evening - though quickly, the AP article of 14 Nov. you provided is supported by the actual IAEA report, which was released the next day and can be downloaded here).

The thing is Will, I’m not interested in simply echoing, as some others do, the messages already well conveyed by our mainstream media (which I find to be largely just a big mimicking machine that simply relays/repeats reports from a few sources, and sometimes with a distortion, oversimplification and so forth).

The way I see it, a sufficient mass of people in our democracies are already aware of the danger men like Ahmedinejad pose, and sufficient people are already reasonably concerned about the side to this conflict we characterise as 'the other side'.  I don't feel any need to help build the awareness levels.

But there are some people, relying on the kind of speculation you mentioned Will, whom I find already unreasonably alert and alarmed and promoting ridiculous notions (like the pinkoslamic conspiracy theory trotted out by one).  Some even advocate a nuclear attack on Iranian targets and, by implication, places populated by innocent Iranian families.

(And Will, you ask can we agree on your point about speculation. My answer is that we can, of course. I've never stated that any opinion I express, nor opinion of others I highlight here, is more than speculation, so the purpose you had in mind when posing that question puzzles me.  Why did you ask it?)

So my 'position' is that it is important to raise reasonable questions about the degree of belligerent intent being shown at times by some on 'our side'.

I guess I'm taking a kind of devil's advocate role [in contrast to the Great/Little Satan’s advocate :) ]

And I do this because not many people on our side appear to raise such questions, despite it being important to effective citizen participation in our democracies that people do so. Too many people, unthinking people, fail to recognise, let alone reflect on, the whole dynamic.

And it is my view that the best strategies for our side will come about when sufficient people on our side do take pause, consider the part we play and take into account the way our actions can bring about either escalation toward terrible conflicts or progress toward peaceful resolutions. 

Craig's return to my question: pt 1

Craig, thanks for getting back to these issues. First I stand corrected on my understanding of your position.

Second, I'm in vehement agreement with you on much of what you've just written. 

My purpose in asking the question about speculation was simply to make sure we both understand each other. I tend to be a bit literal, and bit on the pedantic side when it comes to defining terms. It's probably my scientific training. 

The question of what it means to "unreasonably alert and alarmed and promoting ridiculous notions" is not an easy one to answer, and I don't have an answer. My overall take on the Iranian nuclear issue is that there's enough evidence (about Iranian belligerent intent and potential nuclear-weapons capabilities) to be seriously concerned, and enough doubt to be sceptical.

If nuclear weapons are involved, the stakes are so high that the consequences of error either way could be catastrophic. Namely there may be two catastrophic errors, IMO:

I) That of overestimating the belligerent intent and nuclear ambitions of Iran. Worst-case-scenario: the US and/or Israel pre-emptively strikes Iranian nuclear (or suspected nuclear) installations. The risk there is of plunging the region into full-blown war which IMO could be catastrophic even if fought with conventional weapons.

 II) That of underestimating the belligerent intent and nuclear ambitions of Iran. Worst-case-scenario: Iran nukes US allies in the region such as Israel, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia; Israel and/or the US nukes Iran, and the risk is we have regional Armageddon.

The use of numbers I and II in naming the errors is deliberate. I use these in parallel with the statistical hypothesis-testing concept of Type I and Type II errors. A Type I error is rejecting the null hypothesis  ("H_0") when it is true. A Type II error is accepting H_0 when the alternative hypothesis ("H_a") is correct. In my example the null hypothesis is "Iran's intentions and capabilities are benign", the alternative hypothesis is "Iran's gonna nuke us!" (These are extreme end-members, and I think the truth lies somewhere in-between.)

My overall view is that historically, the closest parallels we have to the Iranian situation today are:

1) the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 (where, oh where are JFK and Krushchev when we need them?). I draw this parallel because of the uncertainties involved in each side trying to guess the intentions and actions of the other. (E.g. how far have the Soviets really gotten? Have they put warheads in the missiles?) In the event there was a lot the US side did not know, e.g., that there were already Soviet nuclear warheads in Cuba, so that an invasion of the island would likely have escalated into a nuclear exchange. Similarly, there were US actions which were perceived as provocative by the Soviets, namely the installation of US nuclear missiles in Turkey.

 2) Israeli pre-emptive strikes against Egyptian forces in 1967, and

3) The Israeli strike against the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981. (Historical footnote: in an odd irony considering today's situation, Iran had tried, and failed, to destroy the Osirak reactor in a airstrike in 1980, just a week into the Iran-Iraq War.)

I've discussed the 1967 war in great detail elsewhere, so I won't go into it any further here, except to say that any sort of pre-emptive strike will always be subject to counterfactual analysis afterward, much of it unresolvable speculation.  (E.g. what would the Egyptians or the Iraqis have gone on to do, if anything,  if Israel had not attacked?).

In all cases, in considering any such action, one must weigh up the risks of action versus inaction. More importantly one should consider whether there are alternatives to the particular actions one might be considering (e.g. Kennedy's decision to blockade Cuba rather than invade).

I invite discussion of these points. Have I, for example, oversimplified the situation? Or is it simpler than I've made it out to be? 

Next, pt. 2, are there ways we can defuse the tensions now?

vehement agreement

Will I'm pleased to be in 'vehement agreement' with you on certain points.  I think the assessment of the situation you've provided today is reasonable as I see it as neither oversimplified nor overcomplicated. 

I like the way you've used that Type I and Type II error construct, as it reflects the way I've been seeing the situation.  I've been more focused on the risk of 'our side' making a Type 1 error for the reason, previously stated, that on our side there is already more than enough focus on the Type II error risk).

And I'm looking forward to reading your view on the most important question: are there ways we can defuse the tensions now?

Some food for thought on that is presented in this BusinessWeek article:

... Iran has a surprising weakness: Its oil and gas industry, the lifeblood of its economy, is showing serious signs of distress. As domestic energy consumption skyrockets, Iran is struggling to produce enough oil and gas for export. Unless Tehran overhauls its policies, its primary source of revenue and the basis of its geopolitical muscle could start to wane. Within a decade, says Saad Rahim, an analyst at Washington consultancy PFC Energy, "Iran's net crude exports could fall to zero."

Iran's energy/export earnings dilemma is surely part of the problem, so it will be wise to consider whether a solution to it works into the ways we might defuse the tensions, yes?

Tragedy

George Perkovich, Vice President for Studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, shared his thoughts yesterday on how the proxy war between the US and Iran holds the seeds of ‘Tragedy’:

... Iran is stepping up its sense of competition with the United States for dominance in the broader Middle East.

You see this today in the attempt by the Iranian leadership to have the leaders of Syria and Iraq come to Iran just as President Bush is going to the region to meet with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Jordan and try to reestablish U.S. leadership. Iran is stepping up in a very frontal way, in essence saying, “We’re the main player in the region, our side is winning, you guys are on the run.”

... Now seems to be a moment when President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad especially displays real bellicosity and arrogance. It’s provocative in some ways, and it could provoke at some point, in exasperation, military action by the United States that certainly would not serve U.S. interests, but which also would not be good for Iran, and has the makings of tragedy. These interacting tendencies to be arrogant and rub each other’s face in things really can produce tragedy.

Jordan's King Abdullah also sees the seeds of tragedy taking root. He's warned of three emerging civil wars in the Middle East, in Palestine, Lebanon, and Iraq.

In a speech to the Jordanian parliament, King Abdullah described the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as the "core" issue in the Middle East and indicated that in his talks with Bush he would underline the need for the US to push for peace. The king has said publicly that he wants the US to apply diplomatic energy to reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, which has been tragically stalemated since 2000.

Re: Tragedy

Craig, I think Percovich's analysis is a valuable one. I hope members of the the governments involved are reading him.

King Abdullah puts his finger right on a key problem: failed or failing states. Of course Jordan is especially sensitive as it is sandwiched between the West Bank and Iraq. Nearly half its population is of Palestinian background. Also events in Jordan are intimately linked to past instability in Lebanon: King Hussein's bloody ouster of the PLO in the "Black September" conflict of 1970 which sent Arafat's forces to Lebanon.

I respect Abdullah a lot and feel strongly that the US and other Western powers, and regional powers like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel should do all they can to support leaders like him.

With all due respect to Abdullah, I would contend that  the insistence on labelling the Palestine-Israel conflict as "the" core issue in the Middle East only makes that conflict harder to resolve. I have argued, here on Webdiary, that the Palestine-Israel conflict deserves to be resolved for its own sake and not used as a pretext for anything else. The "road-to-[wherever]-goes-through-Jerusalem" mindset does a grave disservice to Palestinians and Israelis alike, in my opinion. Just as the "road-to-Jerusalem-goes-through-Baghdad" mindset of the Bush Administration has been tragic for Iraq.

a new day

G'day WD.

Because "I yam whad'eye yam[3]," I say "G'day," and actually suffer something close to an allergy attack when I hear people say (or worse, write) 'Hi!' (Stand by for a veritable hail of 'Hi's from the trolls; see below.)

I have a few (very good) Danish friends (actually trust my life to 'em, this is a fact - just like one'a Harvie Krumpet's validated fakts[2]), and in DK one often hears "Hi - hi" as a greeting; it may be just a coincidence - but I excuse the Danish anyway (they are just sooo nice!) - they have a huge affection for the US (which may or may not be justified - although nothing moral will ever justify their 'supporting' of the US' illegal invasion of Iraq (aka 'murder for oil'). No further comment is required here, and no correspondence on this point (i.e. the Danish "Hi - hi") will be entered into.)

But the local use of "Hi" comes (always 'only' IMHO, of course), from the rather disgustingly anti-Aussie habit of far too many (in Aus but not only in Aus, of course; there're real twits almost everywhere) who psycophantically copy the detested Ameri-speak (spit, spit!) - such disgusting anti-Aussies probably get it from their 5.1 channel surround-sound components wired up to their flat-panel TV screens (often spewing virtual-lobotomising Hollywood filth; over time portraying all possible perversions).

But while we're talking about language, I've 'made up' some new bits (not to say that my efforts are unique, but I give 'em to the world - not 'for free' (more detested Ameri-speak (spit, spit!)) - but for 'no extra charge.')

First, we start with Zionist. This is a normal word out'a the dictionary, see extract from my online copy here[1].

Add a 'nasty' component and one gets "ZioNasty," plural "ZioNasties."

Because Zionism has to do with Israel and WD takes its place proudly in Orstra-l'ya, we can do another merge and we get "Ausrael," which in adj form becomes "Ausraeli."

Now, troll. The Internet has 'spawned' (related to 'sprog?') a new propaganda opportunity which has been taken up en masse by certain groups; it takes nought more than a 'quantum leap' to see 'right' (haw!) through this process, but a certain group just can't help themselves: Ta ra! Ausraeli trolls. Here's some more on internet trolls, and the associated phenomena of sockpuppets.

Recall the M-W 'controversy,' as to whether (M-W's tip) or not (Ausraeli trolls, say) there exists an "Israel lobby." The reason for writing 'controversy' (i.e. in quotes), is that there is no real controversy at all, since anyone with more than half-a-brain (i.e. non-trolls) can actually see the Israel lobby in action (and its ghastly, murdering effects - see Iraq 2003-now, Lebanon 2006 et al). Claiming that there is a 'controversy' where none actually exists is a typical (and filthy!) propaganda ploy.

Adding all this together now, we get (Ta ra again!) the Ausraeli troll-obby. (It's got a certain 'zing' to it, wha'd'ya reckon?)

Sooo, now you know at least one answer to the question some may be challenged with: "What are ya, matey?"

-=*=-

[1] Zionism n. movement for the re-establishment and development of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel.  Zionist n. & adj. [POD]

[2] "life is like a cigarette and should be smoked right to the butt!"
butt3 n. 1 thicker end, esp. of a tool or weapon. 2 stub of a cigarette etc. 3 esp. US slang buttocks. [Dutch] [ibid.]

My own paraphrase: Enjoy every moment!

[3] Yeah, I know it's Popeye. But it came from a time before I discovered some particularly disgusting truths - like 'murder for oil' for instance.

We have no choice

And here's why we have no choice but to support the Iraqi "resistance"....

"In the worst attack on Baghdad since the war to unseat Saddam Hussein, insurgents killed at least 152 people and wounded 236 in a series of car bombings in the Shi'ite district of Sadr City, security and medical sources said."

"The bloodiest bomb exploded in a crowded market in the Hay neighbourhood, targeting stores selling religious CDs, as well as electronics outlets selling mobile phones."

"In the increasingly bitter sectarian war gripping the capital, crowded markets in Shi'ite neighbourhoods and villages have been popular targets for the bombers of the Sunni-led insurgency."

Shells, sea weed, currency and oil - all a US conspiracy

Phil Kendall: “1) The UN sanctions were coming to an end, that was unavoidable and besides, Saddam had switched to EUROs for his oil. (The US needs oil to be denominated in US$ or its otherwise worthless fiat currency may collapse.) The US stood to lose all access to Iraqi oil except possibly as 'just another in the queue.' In other words, Saddam was not responding to the US threats - and that'd just never do, would it?”

What complete uneducated rot. This theory is so "basic" it is laughable. At least attempt to learn the basics of what you are attempting to state as a fact in a question.

Where the hell does this nonsense about oil must be in US dollars come about anyway? Where does this idiotic theory that the US dollar is worthless come from? The dollar is worth that which another is willing to pay. As of today Australians will pay $1.29 for it.

Why should oil only be denominated in US dollars anyway? Why not every pair of shoes? Why not bottled water, it sells more for a litre than petrol? And on and on it goes.

Commodities are sold in a common market. The US dollar is used for simplicity and accepted through preference. How many times does this ground need to be gone over?

A seller of oil can at any time ask for what ever currency they prefer. Due to the volatile nature of currency fluctuations the safe bet is to ask for the least volatile and the most accepted and convertible currency. That is, of course, the US dollar.

Of course you can then claim the "currency market", which dwarfs the oil market, is equally worthless and rigged. Try telling that to the shopkeeper next time you walk in expecting to trade for shells or sea weed.

What is a energy war?

Michael Coleman Energy war? What absolute unmitigated rot.

Who is the war between? What are they fighting over? I really would be interested in what you definition is.

For example it is said that China with its rapid growth seeks more and more "energy". This in turn continues to feed its rapid growth. However a closer look at the Chinese economy shows by far and away the biggest foriegn investor is indeed the USA. In company terms Wal Mart. Or more precisely the US consumer.

So who is the economy in a globalised world really growing for? Would for example China minus "energy" mean that manufacturing would return to the USA? Or perhaps another nation?

A global economist outlook would run along the lines of why not transport these jobs to China. Why not allow a nation with a comparative advantage (cheap labor) undertake these tasks. With rapid growth and the associated problems coming from it, such as enviromental degradation and pollution it is best in someone else's backyard anyway. Not to mention the freeing of capital (both monetary and human) to concentrate on other more important and value added areas.

 

 

 

Putin Winning The Energy War

For another view on the energy war, see Russia attacks the West's Achilles' heel:

[extract]

Russia has found the Achilles' heel of the US colossus. In concert with its oil-producing partners and the rising powerhouse economies of the East, Russia is altering the foundations of the current US-led liberal global oil-market order, insidiously working to undermine its US-centric nature and slanting it toward serving first and foremost the energy-security needs and the geopolitical aspirations of the rising East.

All this is at the impending incalculable expense of the West. What is increasingly at stake is secure US access to global energy resources - strategic US energy security - because the West's traditional control respecting those global resources is seriously faltering in the face of the compelling strategies undertaken by Russia and its global partners.

If Only They Would Invent A New Flat screen TV

Rudy has been my pick for near four years. I have seen no reason as of yet to change that opinion. The times will maketh the man.

As to the petrol price, I speculated on the Christmas price a few months back. The price I predicted was between 0.95 and 1.00 Aus dollar. I expect oil will continue to trend down for the remainder of the year. I expect OPEC to announce production cutbacks, again. I expect that they will not be fully met, again. The problem with more than one member nation having a one product based, half arsed economy I am afraid.

The sword of Damocles always hanging over the heads of many of these nations is fear of change. When it comes to their only product their fear is well founded. Lifestyle changes or precisely energy lifestyle changes is the elephant in the room. With the growing profitability in alternatives and the known factor of increasing market usage (hence profit) change is advancing and will hit at a rapid pace.

Take note of the nuclear energy debate, LPG and just about anything else one can lay ones mitts on. Even in the US, the last great hold out, even the most unholy of unholiest is being slightly discussed. The smaller, more efficient car.

Never understood some of these Mid East producers love for a high oil price anyhow. The “shit” only comes back to them at five to ten times the original price in all forms of products from chemicals to plastics etc etc etc. And we all know how expensive good weapons are these days. Somebody perhaps forgot to tell them industry diversity is not something you catch from the sea?

I know how you love a good conspiracy theory, so I offer you up this one http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,20867,20806358-601,00.html

Qantas' financial exposure to oil prices is extreme. For example, if fuel prices were to hold at below $US60 a barrel through 2007, then Qantas's EBITA would just about double from last year's $678 million to a very healthy $1.26 billion.

Wonder what would happen if it went under say $55 or even, now whisper it quietly $50?

Given half the touted owner is a private equity group from Texas tea country, it would not be a leap of unbridled faith to assume where they think or at least hope the price is headed. Now how reliable are those spy satellites? Ummmm, I wonder……..????????

 

 

 

The World Still Needs The USA

Angela Ryan I did say the US not George Bush. For he is merely a cusdodian in a line of many. Four of which are still living today.

Perhaps when the next President begins http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudy_Giuliani he will indeed play http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richie_Benaud to well George Bush's, Shane Warne.

Officially he is the chosen one,the leader..but then,those quote

Hi Jay, George to Rudy, from the ridiculous to the sublime. Do you not think a McCain ticket stronger chance?Howard seeeeeems to think so. Quite a bit of fragmentation showing up so a bit tricky to pick.  Lieberman again?  Guess jeb is out for good ,tant pis.Unless George "takes one" for the familyname.

 

And now Jay, for the real question...what is your prediction for fuel prices this Christmas, you were only out by a little last time and I want to make plans. Borrow that Kristol bowl from  Malcolm's writings and let us hear...

I do wonder,don't you, what they chatted about on that Moskva runway a few days ago, and who is flying with him.Only an hour,apparently, not a good sign, maybe not a happy hour.   :)  Quite the jetsetter just now,George is , usually that is just before a big event......hmmm, maybe high price petrol coming.  Will it be hot or cold in Georgia? stay tuned on same batchannel with bowls.

Cheers

The US rules because people NEED it to rule

Angela Ryan you should not dismiss cricket so easily.

It teaches patience, skill, team work and for those really good at it, seeing events unfold before they do.

Wishing for something is fine, just be sure the cure is not worse than the disease. If only somebody would have told Trevor before the under arm bowl.

Shayne is to cricket what George is to the US

Do you know Jay, I missed the title of your post? And it was so curveball. Here is a link in acknowledgement of the leading nation's leader, the leader's leader we have to have because we NEED it...is that right, did I say it Right?

And here is a choice selection, you are welcome to all choose your favourite. This is mine:

9. "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
George W. Bush

 :)

I guess GW is to the US what Shayne is to cricket (at batting).

 I// -

Cheers

It just aint cricket, especially if the fat lady sings

Actually, Jay, I think you misread, or I misread your latest, but I do not dismiss cricket. In fact, I suggested our Indonesian neighbours may build bridges playing it with us. In my baseball days I had the joy of playing with a national bowler fielding at shortstop - and he nearly took my arm off on first, so I reckon most of our players are even flexible enough to give the Yanks a go at their own. Instead of more American reruns for our cultural 50million ghettoisation maybe we could have some sport, PM eleven, cut two, against their Pres nine, either game. This bowler could slog it too.

Frypan and fire metaphors I get, being a kitchen window gazing type at present, and who could ever forget Greg's faux pas. I am surprised you know it. How it shamed us all. Ouchy. Feel like have been told about it since nappy days. Much prefer the art of spin to the blatant underarm. But shall always be a fast ball admirer. The local lads bowling wore head bands and on came the Dennis comments last game.

And yes, I am definitely a limited overs person, too much of a good thing ain’t healthy and gets boring and never did learn patience with unfolding disasters. Bowl 'em out fast and get a better team next time. And always change bowlers if the batter has the length, no matter what their reputation or endorsements. And keep the wicket in perfect nick for the next game – it has to last all season, after all. And always play the ball – not the person – with honour and true sportsmanship.

Cheers

Nuclear bombs only the start of Iran's problems

Angela Ryan: If the old school crowd is now running the show they will not be attacking Iran. Too many X factors is not their style.

Any pragmatic approach would have long ago dictated that if not Iran than another nation (outside of Israel) would eventually gain nuclear weapons in the Middle East. The particular technology is over sixty years old and is spreading at a rate of knots. When Iran does gain this weapon and they will, a weapons race will than proceed. Unfortunately for Iranians, many weapons will be aimed directly at them.

Many of the Bush Snr offsiders are and have always been in favour of star wars and other next generation weapons technology. In a game of life and death it is always advisable to stay ahead of the curve. The goings on with Iran and North Korea are convincing more Americans every day that this is the only realistic option.

I would expect this course to grow more and more in popularity as the aims of Iran and co become clearer. I foresee a big jump in defence research and development irrespective of who controls the White House.

R and D? Runs and Deep off, whitehouse smite house.

Agree, Jay, astute as usual. The new- but-old mob have no intention of attacking a fully-armed Iran, but those five aircraft carriers that allegedly are in the Gulf should still be moved away methinks, out of range of them there Eyeranian antiship sunburners that may "accidentally" do something as some punters point out. Putin is rushing in the antiaircraft, the Chinnis are probably protecting their oil source and rushing in a bit of anti satellite laser tech and Aminwhatsi is still full of bluster and insisting upon the ego of enriching uranium-as he is entitled to under the NPT. Business as usual in the ME.

Bush sen. et al have a "history" already. It is a sad reflection that there are no upcoming clean pates. The Cuban/Miami connection may be their Achilles heel yet, and even noise about JFK/BK/JFKjnr may arise, along with the nefarious plans done in the name of securing oil resources etc for a long time (in their company's name, and military industry in their Carlyle Group). Elephants fighting is a bit frightening, but lots can come out.

I agree with you about an arms race in the region. Which way it will go is anyone’s guess...the planes rushed to Saudi from Fonytony and the Jordanian Badr army group armed to send into Palestine territory is all just more messing around behind the scenes. With the Saudis publicly shaming Blair just now to silence him about the bribery scandal, one wonders if they have another military hardware source in the wings and hence oil contractor changes. Poor Britannica. Britain's Nth Sea oil is apparently dried up and the African sources are looking dodgy, the Basra are screwed by stupid policy, Russia (biggest oil/gas supplier last year apparently, just ask them) is being besmirched by UK "intelligence" groups/expat Russkies so no friendly overtures there, and the Iranians are gone, so....one wonders if they are pinning a lot on the Kurdish sources or a few regime changes. Hmmm. One tends to miss the cunning stunts – reverse the letters – the UK coverts pull off behind the scenes. I think Russian sources may be publishing them a bit more soon. More elephants fighting.

Tony with obey the Saudis for now, methinks, and he will probably play along together with Jordan.

Do you not think that quite a readjustment may occur, depending upon whether Putin and Bush will realign? I think they will, but heck. Getting cold in Downing St. Not nearly as cold as it will get in Georgia this winter. Suspect Saskali will go. Any takers? Depends upon McCain, if he is VP (replace Dick) then George going is huge advantage to some. Hohum, 91ish again and then a hot winter...And France, au revoir Sarkozy’s jester.

Well Jay, I don't know about you but I am definaaateeely sticking to cricket this summer. Me, I prefer the fast bowlers – smash wicket splinter, but bet ya like the Warny spinners, eh? My wee boy took his first wicket last week, fasst. :) .........And aren't the plasma screens getting a bad wrap? I watch it wherever on the laptop anyways, and the home one is about thirty years old I am very proud (in a totally reverse snobbery manner) to say. Got the latest is a game I haven't time for anymore, to the kid's annoyance. And it always breaks anyways.

Peace and goodwill, don't let the terrorists and criminals get ya down, our leaders just can't help themselves, and may the Bluebird of Happiness shat all over all our flags, happy happy without being jailed/gaoled, like ya can in Indonesia, that is "freedom". :/

Cheers

PS. We need to teach them cricket. Then they may respect us for something...Naaaa.

Stovepiping the intel - it's not intelligent

New Yorker journalist Seymour Hersh has reported this week that Bush and Cheney are “stovepiping” intelligence on Iran. The Israelis are telling the White House, according to Hersh’s new article “The Next Act,” that they have a reliable agent inside Iran who reports that the nation is working on a trigger for a bomb.

Here's a transcript of an interview Hersh did on CNN:

HERSH: We can’t find, the new assessment says, we cannot find — the CIA says there’s no evidence that Iran is doing anything that puts them close to a bomb. There’s no secret program of significant bomb making.

BLITZER: The Israelis have a different assessment.

HERSH: Absolutely.

BLITZER: They think the Iranians may be within a year of getting to the threshold of having a point of no return, if you will, from having a bomb. When I was there in July, I had briefings. That’s what they suggested.

HERSH: They’ve been saying for, as you know, for five or ten years. The fact is Israelis have coming up with new human intelligence, sort of the counter CIA assessment, they’ve come up with an agent inside Iran. They have more than one. And this agent is — who’s been reliable so the Israelis claim in the past — who now says the Iranians are secretly working on making an actual trigger for a bomb. Even though they may not — we don’t have any specific evidence of a facility where they’re doing this work, the Israelis say yes they are, they’re getting ready to start detonating a weapon. Once they get the fissile material, the enriched material. Now, that information is being handled pretty much by the white house and various offices in the pentagon. And the CIA isn’t getting a good look at the Israeli intelligence. It’s the old word stovepiping. It’s the President and the Vice President, it’s pretty much being kept in the White House.

BLITZER: They’d like to get more access to this Israeli agent, is that what you’re saying?

HERSH: Of course, the people in the CIA want to know who he is, obviously. They certainly want to know what other evidence he has of actual making a warhead. This is the internecine fight that’s going on — the same fight, by the way, that we had before Iraq.

On the Beach this summer

Hi Craig, thanks for that link to article, very interesting. So the Wurm is in Cheney's office eh? A Clean Break now has it's behind the scene actors revealed. Cheney must go and his warmongering cabal of jabots/kahanes .And how interesting that the Israeli/Kurds/US (and UK from other articles) military are active in Kurdish areas invading Iran, no doub t a "kidnapping" about to occur? Pathetic, Kurds being used again. They will be so smashed when the New/Old Bush regime takes over unless the hit on Iran happens.

And once again this Moqdta al Sadr being an agent of Iran story line from an Unnamed but rather neocon outlook Pentagon analyst. I thought we nutted this out sufficiently before on this same thread. Badr and sciri were the Iranian tools( Katarmi et al whom al sadr does not have happy relations with apparently) and that Al Sadr wants Iraq to remain unified whereas Badr boys are happier for breakup-see Chalabi meetings with Saudis-are they also playing the field.....yep ,most likely.

 

So such a complicated web of intrigue and networking,local and international interests, money and corruption,passions and pride.

 

 What is most poignant about this entire affair is that rational people expect everyone to accept that Iran deserves to be hit by (even nuclear )weapons just because they may dare to hidenly ascribe to having nuclear weapons-see the hypocrisy?  Our use of nukes is ok to stop their plan to even have them. A hah.   The ulltimate imperialism.

In all this the uncomfortable hypocrisy that all know Israel have nukes already. Add to this,the main reason for ambiguity policy is that the US have a fast and sealed law that countries with nuclear weapons not signed up to the NPT cannot receive aid,especially military aid.

 How Pakistan and India fit into this is not known by moi. Imagine if Israel had to pay that aid back. Or the loan guarantees became null and void.Read the fine print.

Iran will never be first to use weapons against Israel, why should it risk retaliation? That is the point of MAD and subs. Yet Israel is talking of using all that is needed against Iran. Thus showing Iran it NEEDs nuclear weapons, as do all in the region with a country that behaves that way and is armed such.No-one in the region can forget the nation that was Lebanon. Hence the agressive policy and rhetoric achieves the worst result,just as the parable about the sun and the wind and the man's cloak.

 Predictions abound and are pretty similar. If political stability lasts then Bush sen will consolidate and Cheney et al will "leave" with the rest of the neocons.  Rumsfeld's fate will give a guide. There would need a purge in the many executive branches of gov,but it seems like the CIA is already clear. The military is the worry, especially these so called "covert " groups that appear to hav no government authorisation. Perhaps that is where Gates will be most useful as Defence Secretary.

Otherwise there will be another event to hasten the Iran attack dogs' plans  and this will remove the threat to Israel (they think..) and leave anarchy(methinks radicalised hatefilled survivors).  The Neocons have always been ruthless racist fools.But will Bush senior regime be any different?

Tender hooks. Bring on the ashes and the plasma screens and the christmas shopping, feasting and family cheer.And if you want a nice summer flick  video to watch try "On the Beach" with Gregory Peck.

 

Cheers


 





Smokin' Phil Kendal and the geometry of evasion

Will Howard: "Phil Kendall, honestly, I wouldn't know how to begin to respond to that post. First, I suppose, I'd have to hack my way through the dense undergrowth of the prose, just to figure out what you're trying to say."

Spamming is the cyber-equivalent of 'putting smoke about'. Roslyn does the same thing.

Every time she's confronted with a  direct question, she responds with a couple of thousands words of bluster going in a right-angled tangent to the point.

 

The evils of exporting / not exporting democracy

Damned if you do;

"(UK Labour Minister) Margaret Hodge was quoted by a north London local paper as having made the outspoken criticisms to guests at a private function last Friday, saying she had been troubled by Blair's attitude in foreign policy since 1998.

"The Islington Gazette weekly said those doubts came from what she said was Blair's "moral imperialism" or the need to impose British values and ideas on foreign countries.

...damned if you don't;

"[Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai] shows an ill-disguised contempt for the fundamentals of democracy when he explains the Afghan way: "Our life is based on … talking with [born-to-rule] tribal elders and [unelected] religious leaders who guide society." Today, much of the south is in the grip of a harsh drought. A four-fold increase in violence in the past year has forced tens of thousands to flee their homes.


Nonon, viva la republic CParsons!

C Parsons,regarding  those two quaint quotes from Uk and Karzai. Surely "born to rule" IS the UK system of government at the top. And it was indeed exported to plenty of fledgling nations such as Jordan,and hoped for in Iraq with the Hashamite plans and even noises about Iran.  Why , I bet there is a festering link from the Csars that somewould want to replace the current Czar with. And when one considers a few media and other corporate dynasties ,there certainly wouldn't be much a job for such if they weren't born where they were.

Born to Rule. Very much a British export. Not good for much else  usually.

 

Cheers,viva la Republic. 

(mais, Charles?  hmmm, d'accord) 


The dancing man

Phil Kendal: "US gangsterism became supremely dominant - that fine, sunny morning at 8:15 AM on August 6, 1945."

That must explain those people dancing in the streets.

Also, Phil. I thought you said you were going to be brief?

Some excellent suggestions

Will: You have come up with some excellent suggestions as an alternative to violence which is what I oppose and why I oppose the 'talking up' of the Iran threat because 'talking up' can so easily become 'talking into.'

However, I do think you need to take human nature into account and practical realities.

Like you I would like to see no nuclear weapons anywhere but the reality is that if some have them then all should have the right to have them. You can't have a nuclear free Middle East or nuclear free any region while other nations have nuclear weapons. You are dealing with all sorts of pride and ego issues beyond the very simple reality: Why should some have them and others not?

As to your other suggestions:

1) All states recognise Israel and renounce their states of belligerency with the Jewish state. (Only two states have done this so far - Egypt and Jordan).

Great idea except that the other States see Israel as the belligerent. Let's not go into the whys and wherefores of this but for it to work all Middle Eastern States including Israel should renounce their states of belligerency.

And, how do you propose to get the Israelis to play along. The Arabs offered a peace deal with Israel some years back if Israel would withdraw to original borders. Israel ignored it. The Arabs brought it up again during the recent Israeli attack on Lebanon. The Israelis ignored it.

A key ingredient in your suggestions is the co-operation of the Israeli State.

And beyond that we get back to human nature. Everyone wants something. The Arab States want something and Israel wants something. In that region there is also a lot of 'face' (read ego and pride) and that goes for Israel as well, so 'face-saving' exercises where each side believes they are getting some sort of 'win' is important.

Would you accept a situation where the Israeli 'win' is that the Arab nations agree to accept the Israeli State as a given and to sign peace accords with it and the Arab 'win' is that Israel ends the occupation and immediately begins negotiations with the Palestinians on final borders?

It seems to me that so many other things can fall into place if a situation can be created where not just the Arab nations but Israel also are prepared to come to the table.

And staying with the gambling theme

C Parsons a) it costs nothing to every day of the week predict an Israeli pre-emptive strike

b) there's got to be some increasing likelihood that an Israeli government will, sooner or later, attack a reactor site or plutonium storage facility or something.

Now don't go giving him any ideas. I think the original story was that the US would surely attack. The Israeli angle would be a bit like jumping off a horse mid race.

Though with Bob and his "linked evidence" anything is possible. No doubt Bob could find "evidence" on how a pair of eights beats a royal flush amidst having his fingers broken by a group of angry players.

WYSIWYG

Apologies in advance; I must necessarily be brief.

-=*=-

How noble (even poetic): "An agreement for Israel, Iran, and all other states in the region ... to agree to be nuclear-weapon free."

But how pathetic (definitely propagandistic): "...like al-Qaeda's stated ambition of creating a nearly-global Islamic caliphate."

Unfortunately, all such apologist/agitators are beaten by reality - for those who want to - and do - look.

-=*=-

Everything was much simpler, back then.

First came the newspapers.

Then we got radio.

People all over the world could 'keep up to date.'

It was easy to control, since both papers and radio were expensive to set-up and could fairly easily be monopolised - which they were, even including 'our' AusBC. (Boo! Hiss!)

Similarly, people all over the world could 'keep in touch' by snail-mail (took forever), or telephone (cost an arm and a leg) and both were essentially one-to-one.

-=*=-

Sooo, what's changed?

Well, the US developed - then deployed - their A-bombs.

Forget '9/11,' the world changed forever - and the US gangsterism became supremely dominant - that fine, sunny morning at 8:15 AM on August 6, 1945.

Blam!

Then again a few days later:

Blam!

100s of 1000s dead.

Suddenly, without warning: grotesquely, murderingly nuked dead.

-=*=-

Since then, the entire world has lived under the US' heel - except for a few psycophantic hangers-on, like the UK and Aus. (There was the 'cold war' - a largely confected 'conflict;' now we've Oh, so conveniently got terrorism.)

As well as fear, there have been the increasing rip-offs, à la Perkins' "Economic Hit Man." Sovereign resource-owners the world over are being 'done-over' by the (mainly) US corporations, all operating under the US' nukular umbrella - aka threat of instant and fiery annihilation.

The latest 'proof of the pudding' - if any extra were needed - was/is the illegal invasion of Iraq, followed by its brutal occupation: murder for oil.

-=*=-

One other thing: we got TV. Peculiarly fascinating (especially colour; Eee-ooow! Isn't it pretty!) - and deadly mind-numbing. Can over time portray all possible perversions - as well as the avalanche of pernicious propaganda. Watch out, sheople! - As well as being marketed to (under the guise of being entertained), you are being fooled - and viciously lied to.

Until recently, only a few might'a known the full and disgustingly dirty story but now, we've got the internet - and the info-monopolies have been well and truly 'busted,' and all the ghastly US crimes (plus the minor-chords from Israel) have been exposed. Only the criminals themselves, plus their ragged bunch of right-whinger proxy-murdering apologist/agitators would have anyone believe otherwise.

But what do you reckon, hmmm?

Re: WYSIWYG

Phil Kendall writes of my nuke-free Mideast proposal: "How noble (even poetic)"

Thanks Phil, glad you like it. Anything to add? Subtract? Any other comment?

Phil also writes of my comment about al-Qaeda's stated intentions:

"But how pathetic (definitely propagandistic)"

and "Unfortunately, all such apologist/agitators are beaten by reality - for those who want to - and do - look."

Yes, I couldn't agree more, Phil. Indeed, al-Qaeda and their apologists in the West look more and more pathetic every day.

 Oh, and I know what an enthusiastic proponent you are of the "WYSIWYG" principle. So for your reading pleasure, here's a bit of "reality" for you: the texts of al Qaeda's 1996 and 1998 Fatwas . What do you reckon Phil? Get back to me when you've read these.

I mean it's the worst-kept secret on the planet that the bin-Ladenistas are preparing for the big apocalyptic battle with the "unbelievers" (as I think they term us). It's hardly a secret that al-Qaeda has bigger ambitions than just Afghanistan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden began a videotaped statement in 2001 with this sentence: "Let the whole world know that we shall never accept that the tragedy of Andalusia would be repeated in Palestine. We cannot accept that Palestine will become Jewish." The "tragedy of Andalusia" refers to the conquest in 1492 of the Muslim Kingdom of Granada by the Spanish Catholic king Ferdinand. Bin Laden and his followers ultimately seek the restoration of the "Ummah," or universal body of Muslims. In this view of Islam a "Caliph," or “successor to the prophet” would head the government over the Ummah. The last Caliphate was the Ottoman Empire, which (nominally) ruled over every Muslim in the world, from 1517 until 1922.

However, it is worth noting that since 2004 they've downplayed the rhetoric about the restoration of the global Caliphate, the return of Andalusia, global conquest by Islam, etc. Indeed bin Laden's 2004 message was more or less a truce offer. He closed by saying "Any nation that does not attack us will not be attacked." Who he means by "us" is not clear, but he seems to be referring to al Qaeda. (In this tape bin Laden, if indeed it is he, reiterates his responsibility for the 9/11 attacks and goes in to some detail on the motivation.)

As you say "now, we've got the internet." So what's your excuse, Phil?

WYSIWYG indeed - but first you have to look.

Respect vs. contempt (excuse for exactly what?)

Subtitle: what one party says vs. what another actually does.

G'day Will Howard.

I see that in your response to my 'WYSIWYG,' you chose to concentrate on some supposed 'Caliphate' which, IMHO, is part-and-parcel with the propaganda being exercised on us, we the sheople. My 'quick and dirty' rough summary of this propaganda is (a) that there exists some group of 'mad mullahs' (mm), possibly in conjunction with some or all of 'al-Qaeda' (assuming that this is itself some organised group: a-Q), (b) that this super-group (mm+a-Q) wishes to force a Caliphate (implied: on us, i.e. specifically Anglos or more generally the West; point is that as many as possible should feel threatened and thus become afraid), and therefore (c) this scares us all so mightily, that it's then OK to target any/all Muslims and specifically, to kill as many as we wish. ('We' being the US M/I complex, plus psycophantic® toadies i.e. the UK, Aus - and starting the attacks on those Muslims sitting on oil.)

Whether this summary is wholly or partly accurate is beside the point; the real point of this propaganda is "Be afraid! (And let us kill.)"

Then, Will, you went on to say:

"In this tape bin Laden, if indeed it is he, reiterates his responsibility for the 9/11 attacks and goes in to some detail on the motivation."

This 'if indeed it is he' lets at least one cat out of the bag, and may conflict with a topic forbidden by the WD Editorial Policy: "3. 'False flag' theories." No matter, but it well-illustrates a problem with any discussion of 'What someone said,' in that a) the reporting may be wholly or partly inaccurate (or even some 'CIA/Hollywood' fake), and b) any/all talk is just that: talk.

As an aside, I would question what Bin Laden or the 9/11 attacks had to do with some supposed 'Caliphate' anyway; it is Pape's theory ("Dying to win") that the great majority of suicide terrorism events are predicated on the wish to eject (illegal) occupiers. If so, and if bin Laden was indeed behind the 9/11 attacks then the attacks were entirely successful: the US withdrew (at least some military) from Saudi Arabia; basta!

So ends the 'what one party says' section.

-=*=-

My main theme (which Will Howard sidesteps, why?) is 'mass-murder for spoil' with two outstanding examples; (1) the US' (plus UK, Aus) illegal invasion and subsequent brutal occupation of Iraq: mass-murder for oil, and (2) the 60-year long invasion (of the lands referred to as pre-40's Palestine) by a group who could conveniently be referred to as 'Zionists[1]:' aka murder for land (and wardah.)

Note: some people claim that the Zionist invasion of Palestine was/is 'legal' under some UN resolution or other; this is odd for two reasons, a) modern Israel ignores most UN resolutions and more often than not is actually in breach, and b) many of those same people (claiming UN legality) do not acknowledge the absolute illegality of the US' invasion of Iraq. Basically, daaarlings, you can't have it both ways.

-=*=-

Sooo, Q: Whadda we got?

A(1): Some group of big-mouth 'mad mullahs' dreaming of a Caliphate. Will Howard's words: "Bin Laden and his followers ultimately seek the restoration of the 'Ummah,' or universal body of Muslims." Surely, Will, you don't seriously expect us to believe a few 'mad mullahs' could set out to conquer the West, let alone the world? Wouldn't it make more sense to interpret this as a call for unity to Muslims (and only Muslims?) In any case, it's mostly talk. If 'motive, means and opportunity' are considered, the idea of a few bedraggled mm+a-Qs conquering the world appears - umm, well, err - a slightly bit silly, really? It's only the nature of most sheople (dozing semi-comatose before their TVs) that such a preposterous proposition could 'fly.'

A(2): Another group (US + UK, Aus) bombing the shit out of selected parts of the world - those parts conveniently sitting on veritable underground-lakes of oil: "The prize." (With not such a minor chord, the Zionists murdering in and around the former Palestine.) In these cases it's a little talk (propaganda) and a lot of action (killing); and a convenient place to begin counting these actions is the A-bombing, then all the US' (& Israel's) dirty deeds up to and including the ghastly slaughter of innocent 'collaterals' in Iraq (counting the US-inspired sanctions, the total could now exceed 2mio dead), this hideous slaughter continuing at this moment.

Both are problems, and can be sorted according to some priorities.

Your choice.

Lakoff wrote "Don't think of an Elephant." The venal MSM, and pro-US apologist/agitators just about everywhere don't like to mention 'the Elephant in the room;' they don't say "Don't mention the war," what they do say is "Don't mention the oil!" But the oil is there and will be stolen - unless somebody stops 'em. This impending oil theft is the most immoral act since - well, since the dirtiest deeds of WW2 - and yes, including the A-bombings as dirty murdering deeds.

Lastly, a comment specifically directed to Will Howard: you might find it amusing to play with what I call the 'current paradigm;' (in this specific case, threatened Caliphate justifies mass-murder) - that's your business, but just as those railing against the US are accused of 'supporting' Saddam (a scurrilous accusation not supported by logic, and therefore in itself another piece of filthy propaganda), so it can be turned around. If you are prepared to argue for the US actions (i.e. murdering for oil), are you must also be prepared to wear the opprobrium: proxy-murderer, hmmm?

-=*end*=-

Ref(s):

[1]Zionism n. movement for the re-establishment and development of a Jewish nation in what is now Israel.  Zionist n. & adj. [POD]

Re: Respect vs. Contempt

Phil Kendall, honestly, I wouldn't know how to begin to respond to that post. First, I suppose, I'd have to hack my way through the dense undergrowth of the prose, just to figure out what you're trying to say. Your rhetoric may not be murdering the English language but it is certainly causing it grievous linguistic harm.

Second, much of what you present as "fact" is simply not. I can't say it any more tactfully than that. Again I wouldn't know where to begin to clean out the veritable Augean stable [1] of misstatements, half-truths, and illogic that unfortunately characterise your last two posts.

Let's examine just a couple of your "points" (for lack of a better word):

"Surely, Will, you don't seriously expect us to believe a few 'mad mullahs' could set out to conquer the West, let alone the world? Wouldn't it make more sense to interpret this as a call for unity to Muslims (and only Muslims?) In any case, it's mostly talk."

Personally I don't think the mad mullahs of al Qaeda are capable of "conquering" the West or much of anything else. Their fatwas definitely are a call for unity to Muslims; you are correct about that. But a "call for unity" to do what exactly? Bin Laden's words again (from his 1998 "fatwa"):

"The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies -- civilians and military -- is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it"

and

"We -- with God's help -- call on every Muslim who believes in God and wishes to be rewarded to comply with God's order to kill the Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find it."

(and again assuming the authenticity and attribution of these statements are correct - but you may be my guest go ahead and prove they're not).

What do you make of these statements, Phil? A fabrication by the CIA and the Learned Elders of Zion? Perhaps it is "just talk" as you claim, but bin Laden's followers seem prepared to act, as they did (apparently) on 9/11 in NY and DC, in Madrid, and in London. So this mob may not be capable of "conquering" the West, but they sure can do a fair bit of damage along the way. Perhaps you'd like to try telling the victims in NY, DC, Madrid, London, Tanzania, etc. that al Qaeda's rhetoric is "just talk"?

Let's move on to another part of your post, shall we? Since you have directed specifically to me, I'll answer you directly. You write:

"a comment specifically directed to Will Howard: you might find it amusing to play with what I call the 'current paradigm;' (in this specific case, threatened Caliphate justifies mass-murder) - that's your business, but just as those railing against the US are accused of 'supporting' Saddam (a scurrilous accusation not supported by logic, and therefore in itself another piece of filthy propaganda), so it can be turned around. If you are prepared to argue for the US actions (i.e. murdering for oil), are you must also be prepared to wear the opprobrium: proxy-murderer, hmmm?"

I'll try to take this one at a time:

I do not find this "amusing" at all; indeed I take it quite seriously. Nor is it my position that the threats of groups like al Qaeda "justify" mass murder.

Nor do I equate opposition to the US as, in and of itself, "support" for Saddam Hussein. Indeed, I opposed the invasion of Iraq, and continue to consider it a major strategic blunder on many levels.

I am prepared to argue for some US actions, though certainly not all them. For example, I think the invasion of Afghanistan and the ouster of the Taliban by NATO and Australia was fully justified. Though talking about what some alternative government would or would not have done is necessarily speculation, I don't think any US president would have done any different in that case (e.g. Clinton, Gore, Kerry, McCain...)

Your characterisation of US action as "murder-for-oil" is a questionable if not completely false premise, on which you have built a rhetorical sand castle. We could have a rational discussion of the rights and wrongs of various US actions, but first you would need to re-think (if you haven't already) this premise.

So in short Phil, no I am not prepared to "wear the opprobrium" [2], nor is there any need for me to do so.

[1] In Greek mythology the Augean stables housed the single greatest number of cattle in Greece and had never been cleaned. The fifth labor of Hercules was to clean out the stables in a single day. Sadly, I'm no Hercules.

[2] opprobrium |əˈprōbrēəm|, noun, harsh criticism or censure; the public disgrace arising from someone's shameful conduct.

onus of proof

From 'Truth vs. lies (benchmarks),' by phil kendall on November 15, 2006 - 9:51am:

"There can be no doubt - now, as well as then, that B, B & H 'went in' to Iraq for the oil. (I defy anyone to contest this statement; AFAIK it is nothing other than a statement of absolute truth [and a 100% self-evident, to boot.]) All that can be argued is the relative importance of the proposed oil theft compared to the neoCon (wet!)dreams of democracy, the Zionist lobby's effect or GWBush's psychopathy and a few other etcs. No honour [could] ever be restored to B, B & H - let alone to America itself - until full control of the oil (as well as full sovereignty) is restored to the rightful owners, the Iraqi nation. As a benchmark, we'll be watching the Dems, now they've been handed (by whatever mechanism) some control."

From 'Respect vs. Contempt' by Will Howard on November 19, 2006 - 9:11am:

"Your characterisation of US action as 'murder-for-oil' is a questionable if not completely false premise..."

Well, pardon me Will Howard, but you can't just negate my premise without proof - that'd be a bit 'unscientific,' eh?

From 'Concoction of chemicals?' by Will Howard on November 17, 2006 - 9:22am:

"I say [xx] but that is merely my assertion. A statement of hope, philosophy, faith, intuition, and probably just stubborn stupidity. I'm a scientist, but science ..."

Here's a quote from another scientist:

"... science as a method of finding things out. This method is based on the principle that observation is the judge of whether something is so or not. ... But 'prove' used in this way really means 'test,' ... The scientist... tries to prove himself wrong as quickly as possible."

[Richard Feynman, The Meaning of It All.]

My paraphrase: the scientific method is not to prove a thesis but to inspect it and if possible disprove it. The longer a thesis withstands testing and the more intense that testing, the more likely it is that the thesis is an accurate reflection of reality. A clear contradiction immediately destroys a thesis, but one of the best tests of a thesis is to see if it can make verifiable predictions.

-=*=-

People such as myself have spent a lot'a time since the first hearing of the foul "Shock and Awe" aka Blitzkrieg proposed by the criminal US for Iraq. We have seen not just the lies - B, B & H to their respective sheople via their parliaments, Colin Powell at the UNSC etc - but how they were concocted (Dodgy Dossier, Yellowcake from Niger, Spinning the Tubes etc) and fixed around the policy (Downing St Memos) or 'just for bureaucratic reasons' (Vanity Fair). We know that the invasion was illegal (Kofi Annan even admitted it), we have watched the hideous slaughter (655,000 'extra' dead.) No, not all 'pink-mist' murdered by pig-higorant® grunts 'playing in Iraq,' but all on the US (plus UK, Aus) account. The CIA has (belatedly) admitted that they knew that there was no al Qaeda - Saddam link. We have watched as the US rammed a 'new economy' (privatise the lot, stupidly low flat taxes, 100% repatriation of profits, protection of US 'entrepreneurs' from any oversight/responsibility) down Iraqi throats via the successive occupation/puppet regimes. We have seen how the US majors are preparing to rip the oil off via PSAs. Sooo, there's evidence aplenty for 'murder for oil.' Note that I don't do Will Howard the discourtesy of suggesting that that he's unaware of all of the above, and all the rest of the evidence of past, present and possible future US malfeasance that one could list - evidence that I'm sure he must have at least some passing familiarity with - but that he apparently disregards. The erection of the grotesque US embassy and massive military bases in Iraq is indicative not of 'liberating' then leaving a country to its own devices, but rather permanently subjugating it - the US boot is to remain on the Iraqi neck, to enforce the criminal rip-offs probably till the oily sands are sucked toadally® dry.

The 'murder for oil' theory will shortly go through its most severe test, i.e. how much, by whom and under what 'price mechanisms' will the oil deals scheduled for Dec'06 at the latest favour the US majors, to what disfavour to the Iraqis and the rest of the world? We are watching, and what the Dems might do in direction of restoring some 'justice.' We do have a fore-taste of what's possible; see the Bolivia 'deals' which gave away over 80% to the 'oil-miners,' we have the mine in our own NT which pays zero royalties (yeah, not oil; but you get the picture: resource-rent rip-offs almost everywhere.)

Will Howard, kindly do not waste my time and WD bandwidth with worse than childishly silly, frivolously unsubstantiated assertions; you add nothing to any debate by doing so. As for the hurling around of scrapings from the bottom of any Augean stables, it may pay you to recall that such s**t sticks to the thrower first.

Re:Onus of Proof

Phil Kendall writes: "There can be no doubt - now, as well as then, that B, B & H 'went in' to Iraq for the oil. (I defy anyone to contest this statement; AFAIK it is nothing other than a statement of absolute truth [and a 100% self-evident, to boot.])"

Unscientific negation of such a "100% self-evident" assertion  "absolute truth" is completely unnecessary.  But let's "inspect" Phil's "murder-for-oil" "thesis" a bit, shall we? (I use the word "thesis" loosely here; in my world "thesis" has particular meaning and connotation. But the blogosphere is apparently a more forgiving place than academia.)

It does raise some interesting questions. Notably, if BB&H were so concerned about oil, why didn't they simply leave Saddam Hussein in power? The West, and the US in particular, was getting all the Iraqi oil it wanted under the OFFP, and certainly at a far better price than they're paying now? And after all, Saddam Hussein did ensure "stability" in Iraq. Indeed, he imposed it - the old-fashioned way.

 
You mention the "Zionist Lobby" and its "effect." (By the way, a quick look around Webdiary would show you quite effectively that the issue of Israel and Zionism is not one that I "side-step." Indeed I like to tackle that one head-on, and would welcome an exchange with you on the topic. Come along anytime, and don't forget your "proof.") If oil is so all-important to BB&H, why do they go to the trouble of embracing Israel as an ally? Why not throw the Israelis to the Arab wolves, and have  the oil sheiks happily man the pumps?

Got any answers to these questions, Phil?

Finally Phil Kendall writes: " Will Howard, kindly do not waste my time and WD bandwidth with worse than childishly silly, frivolously unsubstantiated assertions; you add nothing to any debate by doing so."

Phil, you are not obliged to read or respond to my posts. Any time-wasting is your own responsibility. As for bandwidth, well I think your "output" speaks volumes for itself.
 

"There can be no doubt." I just love that one!

Red-herrings ahoy!

Will Howard was right... well, at least with this: "... you are not obliged to read or respond to my posts". It is true that no one is obliged to read anything he writes, and in fact I'm extremely reluctant, nay toadally® disinclined to do so, especially as he mostly writes in support of a certain illegitimate sprog.

Will, you previously wrote: "... characterisation of US action as 'murder-for-oil' is a questionable if not completely false premise, ... We could have a rational discussion of the rights and wrongs of various US actions, but first you would need to re-think (if you haven't already) this premise."

Let's hear it for rational discussions.

For completeness, my premise was stated here: "My main theme (which Will Howard sidesteps, why?) is 'mass-murder for spoil' with two outstanding examples; (1) the US' (plus UK, Aus) illegal invasion and subsequent brutal occupation of Iraq: mass-murder for oil, and (2) the 60-year long invasion (of the lands referred to as pre-40's Palestine) by a group who could conveniently be referred to as 'Zionists[1]:' aka murder for land (and wardah.)"

In his answer on November 22, 2006 - 1:57pm, Will once again sidesteps justifying his own assertion and tries to roll-out red-herrings on anything but; this begins to look like a deliberate pattern of evasion, another why?

Will, I think it'd only be fair, that if you can demand that I 're-think my premise' then at least you could do me the courtesy of explaining exactly what might possibly be wrong (if indeed anything at all) with my 'murder for oil' premise.

In clear text, 'murder for oil' is hardly a minor point (some many trillions of US$s, not to mention 26mio Iraqi's lives and livelihood, or 655000 'extra' dead, say). Anyone challenging this premise had better know what they are saying - one might'a thunk. Will Howard has so challenged; time to 'put up or shuddup,' hmmm?

Sooo, Will, keeping in mind rational discussions, could you now please be so kind as to justify your assertion?

Smoked herring is more like it

Phil, you still haven't answered my challenge to your "murder-for-oil" mantra. You write "at least you could do me the courtesy of explaining exactly what might possibly be wrong (if indeed anything at all) with my 'murder for oil' premise." In my view, your "murder-for-oil" premise is (potentially ) flawed in that it does not address the following questions. If you missed them the first time here they are again (who's "evading" whom?): I'll number them if that will help:

1) If BB&H were so concerned about oil, why didn't they simply leave Saddam Hussein in power? The West, and the US in particular, was getting all the Iraqi oil it wanted under the OFFP, and certainly at a far better price than they're paying now? And after all, Saddam Hussein did ensure "stability" in Iraq. Indeed, he imposed it - the old-fashioned way.

2) If oil is so all-important to BB&H, why do they go to the trouble of embracing Israel as an ally? Why not throw the Israelis to the Arab wolves, and have the oil sheiks happily man the pumps? Another question concerns the accusation of "murder." Murder has a very specific definition and legal implication. In particular, in most societies it is a charge which requires a very high standard of proof.

So, Phil, what is your proof of "murder?" Name the victims, perpetrators, and present the evidence. No "evasions" now, Phil.

Finally, Phil, you note "It is true that no one is obliged to read anything [Will Howard] writes, and in fact I'm extremely reluctant, nay toadally® disinclined to do so," Yet you continue to do so, and moreover, you continue to reply. Why? "especially as he mostly writes in support of a certain illegitimate sprog." Now here I must ask for some clarification, just to be sure we're all clear exactly what you're talking about. What is the "illegitimate sprog" in support of which you claim I write? And what do you mean by "sprog" anyway? The definitions I've seen are "new military recruit" and "child" or "offspring." Phil, you insist I "justify" my "assertion" but I'm not accusing the US, the UK, and Australia of "murder" for oil or any other motive. (I take it when you right BB&H you are referring to Bush, Blair, & Howard, the current political leaders of their respective countries?). I'll get to this part of your posting later: "

(2) the 60-year long invasion (of the lands referred to as pre-40's Palestine) by a group who could conveniently be referred to as 'Zionists[1]:' aka murder for land (and wardah.)" But let's take one thing at a time shall we?

From 'Bringing up Baby': "I don't want!"

Irrespective of any debating rule that might say one cannot answer a question with another, Will Howard, it really is time to put up or shut up: please justify your assertion, or explain exactly why you will not (or cannot?)

Either you can't answer, or just like a little baby: "You don't want!" - So which is it?

-=*end*=-

PS

1) The UN sanctions were coming to an end, that was unavoidable and besides, Saddam had switched to EUROs for his oil. (The US needs oil to be denominated in US$ or its otherwise worthless fiat currency may collapse.) The US stood to lose all access to Iraqi oil except possibly as 'just another in the queue.' In other words, Saddam was not responding to the US threats - and that'd just never do, would it?

2) As for the US 'embracing' Israel as an ally, the boot is rather on the other foot, I think; see M-W. As for murder (would you prefer the term 'non-legal slaughter'), that's just what the US and Israel do, basta!

Will Howard, are you pretending that you don't know these things (ignorance?) - or are you ignoring them (deceit?)

Q: Why do you always drag Israel in?

A: "Israel ups the stakes in the propaganda war: Following its invasion of Lebanon this summer, Israel was said to have largely lost the PR battle to Hizbullah, but armed with a major web offensive, it's fighting back"
[ICH/guardian]

Is that you, Will Howard? Are you a fully paid-up (or 'just' a volunteer) member of M-W's Israel lobby, aka an 'agent of a foreign power,' (putting the interests of Israel before those of the US, say, let alone Aus - here where you are a guest); an internet agent provocateur?

Baby Has A Tantrum?

Phil Kendall writes: "Will Howard, are you pretending that you don't know these things (ignorance?) - or are you ignoring them (deceit?)"

 
The "things" you claim I don't know, or ignore, are "things" of whose very existence I am sceptical. Phil, I am neither ignorant nor deceitful, and I wonder how Webdiary Ethics would view this type of accusation? Hasn't there been a lot of recent discussion about personal attacks.

You're making a basic error of logic. I didn't make an assertion; I questioned yours. The one needing to "put up or shut up", as you put it, is you.

"Is that you, Will Howard? Are you a fully paid-up (or 'just' a volunteer) member of M-W's Israel lobby, aka an 'agent of a foreign power,' (putting the interests of Israel before those of the US, say, let alone Aus - here where you are a guest); an internet agent provocateur?"

 

Once again, I wonder how Webdiary Ethics would view such a personal attack? Is it necessary? Does it "contribute" to the discussion?

You have now accused me being a member of the "M-W Israel Lobby" (which does not exist anyway), and an 'agent of a foreign power;" the only question being whether I am a volunteer or "fully paid up." Are you serious? If so prove it, if not retract the accusation. In other words, "put up or shut up”.

 
I am a member of no lobby at all, definitely not an "agent" of a foreign power and certainly not an "agent provocateur."

 
And by the way, I am a citizen of Australia.

Richard: Will, I published Phil's attack as I assumed you would like to deal with it yourself.   I agree that now that you have defended such a line of argument is probably off-topic (off any topic for that mattter) 

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