"Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons." Bertrand Russell

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

And of the lies?

SCOTT RITTER's testimony, taken by RAY McGOVERNJan 20 2006 http://www.bushcommission.org/Text/Ritter.htm Extract:

RM: Mr. Ritter, the administration even now repeats one of Mr. Rumsfeld's dictas here, not only trained apes, but all our allies, all intelligence services, everyone in the whole world including Mr. Rumsfeld's trained apes, knew, believed that there were weapons of mass destruction there. Would you comment on how everyone could have been so disastrously wrong?

SR: First of all, we need to differentiate between the concept of knowledge and the concept of belief. I can't vouch for anybody's belief. There are many beliefs out there, some of which are valid, some of which aren't. But the administration has said that the French, the Germans, the Russians, indeed the entire world, felt that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. I can tell you as the person who was responsible for some of the most sensitive intelligence operations run by the United Nations vis a vis Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction program, the person who had total access to every shred of intelligence data provided by the international community of the United Nations regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction that while there may have been uncertainty about the final disposition of the totality of Iraq's WMD programs, the entire world including the CIA acknowledged that the United Nations' weapons inspectors had, by 1998, accounted for 95-98% of Iraq's declared stockpiles. That there was uncertainty regarding the final disposition of this 5-2% that could not be absolutely verified, but there was no nation, and I will say that again, no nation including the United States, that had any hard factual data to sustain the argument that Iraq a) retained weapons of mass destruction, or b) was actively reconstituting weapons of mass destruction.

So I will contradict the Bush administration by stating NO nation supported the Bush administration's contention that Iraq maintained viable massive stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction at any time from 1998 up until the eve of the invasion in March of 2003.

RM: Are you saying, Mr. Ritter, that the president marched us off to war in the subjective mood? Are you saying that his rhetoric was incredibly declarative-- "There can be no doubt." Quote- end quote. And the intelligence analysts themselves were betwixt and between to come up with the proof that he needed.

SR: I will say this, that as early as 1992 the CIA was in possession of enough data to sustain the notion that Iraq had been disarmed in the field of ballistic missiles. By 1993 the CIA had enough data to sustain the notion that Iraq had been disarmed in the field of biological weapons. By 1994, the CIA had enough data to sustain the finding that Iraq was disarmed in the field of chemical weapons. And by 1995, the CIA was in possession enough data to sustain the finding that Iraq was disarmed in the field of biological weapons. This knowledge, this certainty of data, was passed over from the Clinton administration to the Bush administration. Therefore, I would say that the president's rhetoric was not only baseless, but deliberately misleading.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Elephant in the Room?

Francis Fukuyama from Johns Hopkins explains the failure of the neo-con agenda. But suprisingly misses one key point.

Number of mentions:

War - 13 counts
Terror - 3 count
Democracy - 8 counts
Jihadist - 2 counts
Regime change - 2 counts
WMD - 2 counts

"US would use its margin of power to exert a kind of "benevolent hegemony" over the rest of the world, fixing problems such as rogue states with WMD as they came up"

"Although the ominous possibility of undeterrable terrorists armed with WMD did present itself, advocates of the war wrongly conflated this with the threat presented by Iraq and with the rogue state/proliferation problem."

Elephant in the room anyone?

Oil: 0 counts

Want to find out exactly who benefits?

War Profiteers

Full Article... "US needs to rethink its world role after Iraq failure"
The Irish Times


More Selective Moralising

I could post everyday about this hack, so I'll be cutting back from now on. It is quite pointless.

Kevin Myers states in Friday's Irish Times "men do not take arms against an intangible thing like a "regime", but against real people, with real families and real souls." Yet his support for 'Western' pre-emption in Iraq and the subsequent alteration of purpose evidences none of these ideals he now professes. The hypocrisy is deafening.

An Irishman's Diary
Kevin Myers

"And they are central to everything. Because men do not take arms against an intangible thing like a "regime", but against real people, with real families and real souls. And I can apparently repeat this forever, and never get a forthright answer from those who wax so lyrical about the Rising. So here we go again. What made the Volunteers immune to the fifth commandment and allowed them to kill unarmed Irish police and civilians?"

Full Article... The Irish Times


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The lapsed liberal's best friend

Is it just me or is Kevin Myers terminally confused? His latest offering circumnavigates the content of his preceding diary entries in order to argue the withdrawal of European aid from the Palestinian Authority.

As the cartoon saga slowly loses appeal in the mainstream media, Mr. Myers explanation of the issue is evolving. Originally it was just more proof of the war we are embroiled in against the murderous Muslims and had "nothing to do with free speech," with the "peace-loving" Danes caught in the cross fire.

Then money got involved. How can we stand back as "poor little Denmark" pays the price for freedom of speech, he asked. The same poor little Denmark that supplied and continues to supply military force in Iraq as part of the "Coalition of the Willing," partly responsible according to the Lancet medical journal for approximately 100,000 excess deaths in the first months of the war alone.

Today Mr. Myers condemns the imprisonment of David Irving on the grounds of freedom of speech. What is wrong, may be wrong, but we echo the legacy of the Third Reich by criminalising being wrong. It is our right to be wrong. He qualifies this idea though, "What is wrong in a free and civilised society is using one's opinions - right or wrong - to promote racial or religious hatred."

It seems free speech has a definition that can be altered to suit ones religious or racial prejudices. Some people just don't deserve the right to be wrong. That is why we in the 'West' can kill thousands under the guise of defense from an imaginary threat and still be 'peace loving', while the Palestinian's right to return will always be motivated by hatred. You can't have it both ways Kevin.

An Irishman's Diary
Kevin Myers

"And paradoxically, the only countries in Europe which have made "holocaust denial" a crime are those which were once governed by Nazi thought-police. But not Ireland, not Britain. The intellectual legacy of the Third Reich lives on wherever people today are not entitled to be wrong. For being wrong is not wrong. What is wrong in a free and civilised society is using one's opinions - right or wrong - to promote racial or religious hatred. That is what the Palestinian Authority does - and moreover, we in the EU pay it to do so."

The Irish Times


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Best Laid Plans

El Salvador-style 'death squads' to be deployed by US against Iraq militants
From Roland Watson in Washington

THE Pentagon is considering forming hit squads of Kurdish and Shia fighters to target leaders of the Iraqi insurgency in a strategic shift borrowed from the American struggle against left-wing guerrillas in Central America 20 years ago.
Under the so-called �El Salvador option�, Iraqi and American forces would be sent to kill or kidnap insurgency leaders, even in Syria, where some are thought to shelter.

continued... The Times (via D Sketchley at Media Lens Messageboard)


Police Tied to Death Squads

U.S. military officials say they suspect Iraq's highway patrol, staffed largely by Shiites, is deeply involved in torture and killings.
By Solomon Moore
February 21, 2006

BAGHDAD � A 1,500-member Iraqi police force with close ties to Shiite militia groups has emerged as a focus of investigations into suspected death squads working within the country's Interior Ministry.

Iraq's national highway patrol was established largely to stave off insurgent attacks on roadways. But U.S. military officials, interviewed over the last several days, say they suspect the patrol of being deeply involved in illegal detentions, torture and extrajudicial killings.

The officials said that in recent months the U.S. has withdrawn financial and advisory support from the patrol in an effort to distance the American training effort from what they perceived to be a renegade force.

continued... LA Times


Saturday, February 18, 2006

I blame Tescos, Ryanair, etc etc

...and myself. Time for a change.

FOOD 1.6




What is your footprint?


Friday, February 17, 2006

Is Christianity Evil?

David Adams would do well to keep abreast of the news, even a cursory glance at the paper he writes for would explain why his views may be hard to swallow. By filling arguments with useful little facts he will find the journalistic equivalent of a spoonful of sugar.

In my reality, the lowly clay to the media shapers, Islam is not associated with terrorism, brutality and coercion. These are usually traits of terrorists, savages and dictators. Just as I rarely associate mass murder with Christians, Hindus and Atheists. This is more often than not the work of murderers.

It is quite amazing how few journalists accept the rhetoric of 'Western' leaders as fact when it doesn't suit the popular myth. How many mainstream journalists equate the present war in Iraq with Christianity, even when the leader of this unpopular 'crusade' makes no bones about explaining exactly who sent him to free, kill and starve? President Bush is "driven with a mission from God," who allegedly told him to "go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan and end the tyranny in Iraq."

How many Christian church leaders have publicly criticized the people murdering and persecuting in the name of Christianity? They are not few in number, but we rarely hear their din with all the shouts of freedom, democracy and blanket terrorist threat. Does this even raise a question in ones mind as to the obstacles facing their Islamic counterparts, who for that matter have not been silent, but made irrelevant?

Cowardice on cartoon controversy

A slight variation on an old Basil Fawlty line would seem to be the guiding principle of the current debate on cartoons and Islam: "whatever you do, don't mention the suicide bombings", writes David Adams...

For the reality is that most non-Muslims do indeed associate Islam with terrorism, brutality and coercion.

How could it possibly be otherwise? For years now, the wider Islamic community has chosen either to sit mute or, at best, heavily qualify any expression of disapproval whenever acts of mass murder have been carried out in its name.

Full Article... The Irish Times

Bush and God... The Guardian


Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Iran, Israel and WMDs

Tom Wright's theory in Tuesday's Irish Times seems perfectly reasonable, Iran's nuclear ambitions most probably have little to do with Israel's nuclear weapons. Because, as far as we are aware, Iran is not in the process of attempting to acquire any nuclear weapons capability. However, setting out an explanation as to how Israel is limiting nuclear proliferation, not motivating it's neighbours to acquire similar weapons, is not the same as offering proof that Iran is intent on acquiring said weapons. This argument is unusual, in that starting out with a false premise rarely results in an accurate conclusion.

To oppose Iran's stated nuclear ambitions is only fair, just as many across the globe are fair in opposing each and every countries stated nuclear ambitions, peaceful and hostile. And just as the those states with nuclear weapons that signed the NNPT, in apparent hypocrisy, oppose their own nuclear capabilities. But to have any credibility when in opposition to something it is paramount that the critic not exaggerate, over emphasize or misrepresent the facts.

If Israel's proposed position as a peacemaker in the Middle East is proof that Iran has no requirement for the weapons it is not acquiring then what do Israeli threats suggest? "Arabs may have the oil, but we have the matches," Arial Sharon. If the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for Israel to be "wiped off the map" is proof that Iran should never possess the weapons it is not attempting to acquire, then what does it mean if his words actually called for the Israeli regime to suffer said "wiping", not the Israeli people or state? "Our dear Imam ordered that the occupying regime in Jerusalem be wiped off the face of the earth."

The rhetoric may be aggressive and the truth less useful, but fixing the facts around the policy is better left to the big boys.

1. http://www.zmag.org/ZSustainers
2. http://www.iranfocus.com

Israel not to blame for Iran's nuclear blackmail
Tom Wright

"Not even Israel's most ardent critics, and there are plenty of them, can point to a single instance where it has brandished these weapons, as some have done - North Korea springs to mind - to bully, cajole, or blackmail others. Instead, Israel has quietly held a minimal deterrent in reserve as a guarantor of last resort against being completely overrun. This posture has actually had a pacifying effect, convincing most of its adversaries to give up their ambition of driving Israelis into the sea. In fact, one could reasonably claim that no nuclear power has been more restrained or responsible in its doctrine and behaviour.

It is simply fanciful to suggest that if it wasn't for Israel's programme Iran would not be seeking nuclear weapons. To say that we cannot put pressure on Iran unless we also put pressure on Israel - as if Israel is the root cause of the problem - is ignorant of history and circumstance."

(Tom Wright is a research fellow at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and senior researcher for the Princeton Project in National Security)

Full Article...Irish Times and MLMB


Sunday, February 12, 2006


(last post on this topic)

Lenin has a go at explaining what I had found to be a logical brick wall. Not because I didn't think there was a truth in the matter, but because I couldn't put my thoughts into a convincing argument, without going off on tangents.

"Okay, I said I would do this and I'm doing it. This is by no means a rounded case, as I'm too tired for that. I notice that some of the commenters on the Muhammad cartoons business take the position, as anti-racists, that this cannot be a manifestation of racism because Muslims are a religion, not a race. I assume that this involves an implicit purview that there are things called 'races' and that the problem with the racist is that they valorise that, distribute the 'races' in polygenic hierarchies in order to discriminate against and dominate them. Whereas the anti-racists commenting here would presumably say that there is no inherent value in being from one 'race' or another. I want to argue a different case entirely.

Firstly, I want to suggest why these cartoons are racist. The depictions of Muhammed as a glowering, hook-nosed Oriental beardie with untold malice in his eyes is straight out of the lexicon of antisemitism. Jud Suss is the kind of image I'm thinking of here. Second, the depiction of Muhammed as a terrorist in fact suggests that Muslims are terrorists, or at the very least followers of a terrorist. One cartoonist deliberately transcribed a passage from the Quran and embossed it on the bomb that Muhammed supposedly wears in his hat. This is a not-too-subtle message that Islam is essentially about terrorism. In this view, the only acceptable Muslims are those who recant, repent and convert. The other thing to consider is that most Muslims are non-white: from the Middle East, South Asia or Africa.

Some people have suggested that the issue is one of piety and sacredness. If that is the case, how come thousands of images of the Prophet, easily available on Google, have not generated this level of anger?

Some have suggested that the images can't be racist, because Islam is not a race. Nor, for that matter, is Judaism but it did not prevent the old psyklon B from being applied. In fact, there is not a coherent biological entity that corresponds to the notion of 'race'. Human variation does not work in this way: there are not polygenic hierarchies of human families based on originary communities and different biological marks vary in distribution in different ways - tooth length, nose form, haemoglobin S etc. Hence, race is always a fictive discursive practise rather than a real account of human beings. "Muslim" is constructed as a race, just as "Irish" and "Jew" were (and still are by some).

Some people have suggested that those protesting are being manipulated, which reduces Muslims to a passive substrate to be operated on by evildoers. It denies the possibility that Muslims are genuinely offended by racism.

Now, it seems to me that if I am right and these pictures are racist, then we might want to consider what the point of publishing them is. Jyllands-Posten, the number one Danish newspaper and a right-wing rag with a history of supporting fascism to boot, has refused to publish much milder pictures of Jesus Christ in the past. It has just announced it will not be publishing the antisemitic cartoons that are being solicited by some Iranian newspapers. So, what's the difference here? Well, racist imagery and vilification of this sort is used to justify discrimination, and - in the last analysis - violence. It was not accidental that the BNP spread racist lies about Asian gangs prior to the Oldham riots, any more than it was accidental what the European fascists said about the Jews in the 1930s. The very genesis of modern, dominative racism is to be found in the Atlantic slave trade and the development of colonialism, which - because it emerged coterminously with an ideology of free labour - had to be justified on the basis that black people were an inferior 'race' of people. As Chomsky once said, when you've got your boot on someone's neck you don't say you're doing it for profit - you say it's for their own good, they need this treatment, and so on.

If you wanted to bomb Iran, invade Syria, continue to massacres in Iraq, demonise the 'enemy within' in a way that diverts people from their real problems, what better alibi could you have than a popular perception that Muslims are terrorists, that it is essential to their being and so on?

That's it. I'll let those who want to respond do so and come back in the morning."

For counter arguments follow the link: Media Lens Message board

Have a look at Lenin's Blog too: Lenin's Tomb

"Craig Murray's Book Banned By Foreign Office"


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Their profit is our loss

The BBCs Richard Black:

The conclusion of research by the New Economics Foundation (Nef) found that the £10bn-plus profits just reported by Shell and BP are dwarfed by costs of emissions associated with their products.

Nef also suggests UK Treasury revenues from oil and gas may be a disincentive to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Therefore "The huge profits reported by oil and gas companies would turn into losses if the social costs of their greenhouse gas emissions were taken into account."

Reporting previously undisclosed figures, Nef's policy director Andrew Simms writes: "Our new calculations from research in progress with WWF, based on Treasury statistics, show that UK government income from the fossil fuel sector - conservatively estimated at £34.9bn ($61bn) - is greater than revenue from council tax, stamp duty, capital gains and inheritance tax combined.

"Policies aimed at reducing carbon emissions could therefore have a major impact on the government coffers; a serious disincentive to action."

Profits into loss

But, Nef concludes using more government figures, this revenue does not reflect costs associated with climate change resulting from burning oil and gas.

A report prepared for Defra and the Treasury estimates that each tonne of carbon dioxide emitted costs about £20 ($35) in environmental damage.

"Combining the emissions that stem from BP's direct activities and the sale of its products leads to 1,458m tonnes of CO2-equivalent entering the atmosphere, with a damage bill of £29bn ($51bn)," writes Andrew Simms.

"Subtracting that from the £11bn ($19bn) annual profit it has just reported puts it £18bn ($31bn) in the red; effectively bankrupt.

"The same calculation puts Shell £4.5bn ($8bn) in the red, even as it reports an annual profit of £13bn ($23bn)."

Full Story at the BBC


Friday, February 10, 2006

I take it back (sort of)

Someone responds to my letter to the Irish Times about 'the cartoon':

Madam, - "The cartoons are racist," declares David Manning (February 9th). Perhaps he would care to state what "race" he is talking about.

While we can pick and choose and chop and change our religious beliefs, each of us is stuck with his/her race, ethnicity, DNA. That is why lampooning someone's religion is acceptable, but ridiculing his/her race is not. - Yours, etc,

TONY ALLWRIGHT, Killiney, Co Dublin.

My response:

For Tony. I was wrong to use the term racist. But, if it is unacceptable to ridicule someone for their race, why is acceptable to "lampoon" someone for their religion? Should anyone feel they have to change their religion because of others professed notions of them. Perhaps the labeling of 1.2 billion people as terrorists doesn't have an adequate term. Thankfully if they don't get the joke they can always get a new religion?


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Fanning the Flames

The letter in the post below "Freedom and Racism" was printed in the Irish Times today, but the debate and my position on the issue is slightly fluid.

This is a response to someone who disagrees with my view:

I'd like to put this to 'bed' as it were (but the Irish Times printed the letter today so it is back in my mind) because I doubt there can be any agreement, although I think there is much common ground. I would like to exist in an environment where free speech in the media +really+ existed, I think this case identifies the reality.

The reaction from 'extremist Muslims' has been extremely OTT and this issue should be addressed, just as Muslim community representatives have called for. This is a police matter.
This exercise in 'free speech' was a corporate/government manipulation, the very thing this site is meant to identify. Imagine a literal version of the cartoon and apply the propaganda model. We should not have to accept the violent reaction we are witnessing, though through the distorted vision of the media, but the Danish prime minister's call for 'debate on grounds of mutual tolerance and respect' must be satisfying for the instigator and even more enraging for the target.

The corporate media has orchestrated this fiasco for its own ends and has been successful. In the guise of free speech.

As I said to Focus, terrorism is not restricted to Muslims yet we are unlikely to ever see Western medias hold hands in support for a cartoon portraying a 'Western' equivalent to Muhammed (is there one?) in the same manner.

The cartoons message is about as constructive as saying all Catholic Priests are pedos (the similarity for this analogy goes back to the priests accepted role as doing 'the work of god' and how offensive you find terrorism).

The cartoonists right to draw the cartoon - perfectly acceptable.

The newspapers right to print it - perfectly acceptable.

The medias right to fan the flames of racial/religious/foreign hatred (for whos ends?) - unacceptable.


Full debate:

Media Lens Messageboard
Media Lens Messageboard


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Freedom and Racism

The 'cartoon controversy' has been dubbed the fight of the century, freedom of speech versus Islam. While the reaction emanating from some quarters, a handful of the 1.2 billion Muslims, has been unnecessarily violent the purpose has little to do with freedom of expression, just as the publication could not be considered such.

The cartoons are racist. They portray all Muslims as terrorists. In 2003 the same Danish newspaper rejected freedom of expression and turned down cartoons 'lampooning' Jesus on the grounds that they were offensive. What followed recently was not a show of solidarity by fellow newspapers, it was a provocation. If one truly wanted to test the medias solidarity with each other's right to freedom of expression then the same newspapers will presumably print the winning entry from Hamshahri's, Iran's leading daily, Holocaust competition. Something, no doubt, we can all find offensive.

In understanding, to an extent, why the violent outbursts have occurred it is first necessary to put the cartoons publication in context. Since 9/11 war has been waged against a vague entity 'Terror', the targets of which are predominantly Muslim. Now it is deemed by the self styled shapers of opinion, the media, to be acceptable to label all Muslims terrorists, in the interests of free speech. While the predominant views of ordinary Muslims are marginalised by extremist groups gaining support as a result of a 'misunderstanding' of Western intervention.

Whether we consider the violence reprehensible is unimportant, because extremist groups search for provocation, the serious question asked by this experiment is, is racism acceptable?

Without a significant change in attitude towards Islam we are destined to forever explain violent incidents committed by Muslims as proof of barbarity. And our use of torture, carpet bombing and targeted assassinations as accidents, incidents and necessities.


Saturday, February 04, 2006

From the Archive

Feb 05

Arming The World

As mounting suspicion is heaped on to an already unstable Iran, the not so sutble threats being levelled by the US administration makes one wonder is the US forcing governments to develop nuclear weapons as their only means of deterring western military intervention.

As it was quite obvious, "except" to the actual instigators, that Iraq posed no nucleur threat prior to the war, "Now after seven years of work by UNSCOM inspectors, there was no more (WMD) program. It had been eliminated....When I say eliminated I'm talking about facilities destroyed..." (Scott Ritter, Weapons Inspector) (1). There is a relevant question to ask, whether war would have gone ahead if Saddam actually did possess the threat he was said to have.

continued... toirtap