NEWS2U Articles & Comments
Critical Reporting

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Steep decline in oil production brings risk of war and unrest, says new study

· Output peaked in 2006 and will fall by several a year
· Decline in gas, coal and uranium also predicted

Ashley Seager
October 22, 2007
Guardian UK

World oil production has already peaked and will fall by half as soon as 2030, according to a report which also warns that extreme shortages of fossil fuels will lead to wars and social breakdown.

The German-based Energy Watch Group will release its study in London today saying that global oil production peaked in 2006 - much earlier than most experts had expected. The report, which predicts that production will now fall by several percent a year, comes after oil prices set new records almost every day last week, on Friday hitting more than $90 (£44) a barrel.

"The world soon will not be able to produce all the oil it needs as demand is rising while supply is falling. This is a huge problem for the world economy," said Hans-Josef Fell, EWG's founder and the German MP behind the country's successful support system for renewable energy.

The report's author, Joerg Schindler, said its most alarming finding was the steep decline in oil production after its peak, which he says is now behind us.

The results are in contrast to projections from the International Energy Agency, which says there is little reason to worry about oil supplies at the moment.

However, the EWG study relies more on actual oil production data which, it says, are more reliable than estimates of reserves still in the ground. The group says official industry estimates put global reserves at about 1.255 gigabarrels - equivalent to 42 years' supply at current consumption rates. But it thinks the figure is only about two thirds of that.

Global oil production is currently about 81m barrels a day - EWG expects that to fall to 39m by 2030. It also predicts significant falls in gas, coal and uranium production as those energy sources are used up.

Britain's oil production peaked in 1999 and has already dropped by half to about 1.6 million barrels a day.

The report presents a bleak view of the future unless a radically different approach is adopted. It quotes the British energy economist David Fleming as saying: "Anticipated supply shortages could lead easily to disturbing scenes of mass unrest as witnessed in Burma this month. For government, industry and the wider public, just muddling through is not an option any more as this situation could spin out of control and turn into a complete meltdown of society."

Mr Schindler comes to a similar conclusion. "The world is at the beginning of a structural change of its economic system. This change will be triggered by declining fossil fuel supplies and will influence almost all aspects of our daily life."

Jeremy Leggett, one of Britain's leading environmentalists and the author of Half Gone, a book about "peak oil" - defined as the moment when maximum production is reached, said that both the UK government and the energy industry were in "institutionalised denial" and that action should have been taken sooner.

"When I was an adviser to government, I proposed that we set up a taskforce to look at how fast the UK could mobilise alternative energy technologies in extremis, come the peak," he said. "Other industry advisers supported that. But the government prefers to sleep on without even doing a contingency study. For those of us who know that premature peak oil is a clear and present danger, it is impossible to understand such complacency."

Mr Fell said that the world had to move quickly towards the massive deployment of renewable energy and to a dramatic increase in energy efficiency, both as a way to combat climate change and to ensure that the lights stayed on. "If we did all this we may not have an energy crisis."

He accused the British government of hypocrisy. "Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have talked a lot about climate change but have not brought in proper policies to drive up the use of renewables," he said. "This is why they are left talking about nuclear and carbon capture and storage. "

Yesterday, a spokesman for the Department of Business and Enterprise said: "Over the next few years global oil production and refining capacity is expected to increase faster than demand. The world's oil resources are sufficient to sustain economic growth for the foreseeable future. The challenge will be to bring these resources to market in a way that ensures sustainable, timely, reliable and affordable supplies of energy."

The German policy, which guarantees above-market payments to producers of renewable power, is being adopted in many countries - but not Britain, where renewables generate about 4% of the country's electricity and 2% of its overall energy needs.

This article was amended on Tuesday October 30 2007. We said that an Energy Watch Group report found that output peaked in 2006 and would fall 7% a year. The report said several per cent, not 7%. This has been corrected.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

U.S. Ordering Some Diplomats to Iraq

Oct 26, 2007

The State Department said Friday it will begin ordering diplomats to serve in Iraq because of a lack of volunteers to work at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, the first such large-scale call-up since the Vietnam War.

Beginning Monday, 200 to 300 diplomats will be notified that they have been identified as "prime candidates" to fill 40 to 50 vacancies that will open next year at the embassy, said Harry Thomas, director general of the Foreign Service.

Those notified that they have been selected for a one-year posting will have 10 days to accept or reject the position. If not enough say yes, some will be ordered to go to Iraq and face dismissal if they refuse, Thomas said.

"Starting Nov. 12, our assignments panel will assign people to Iraq," he told reporters in a conference call. "Under our system, we have all taken an oath to serve our country, we have all signed (up for) worldwide availability.

"If someone decides ... they do not want to go, we will then consider appropriate action,"
Thomas said. "We have many options, including dismissal from the Foreign Service."

Only those with compelling reasons, such as a medical condition or extreme personal hardship, will be exempt from disciplinary action, Thomas said. He said the process of deciding who will go to Iraq should be complete by Thanksgiving.

Diplomats who are forced into service in Iraq will receive the same extra hardship pay, vacation time and choice of future assignments as those who have volunteered since Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this past summer ordered Baghdad positions to be filled before all others around the world.

There are currently about 200 Foreign Service officers working in Iraq, enough to meet the current staffing requirements, but about 50 more will be needed by next summer.

The decision was announced to the entire U.S. diplomatic corps in a cable sent by Thomas on Friday.

It is certain to be unpopular due to serious security concerns in Iraq and uncertainty over the status of the private contractors who protect U.S. diplomats there, particularly after a deadly Sept. 16 shooting in which guards from Blackwater USA protecting an embassy convoy were accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians.

The union that represents U.S. diplomats, the American Foreign Service Association, has expressed deep concerns in the past about a possible move what are known as "directed assignments." But officials with the union could not be reached for comment late Friday.

The move to directed assignments is rare but not unprecedented.

In 1969, an entire class of entry-level diplomats was sent to Vietnam, and on a smaller scale, diplomats were required to work at various embassies in West Africa in the 1970s and 1980s.

More than 1,200 of the department's 11,500 Foreign Service officers have served in Iraq since 2003, but the generous incentives have not persuaded enough diplomats to volunteer for duty in Baghdad or with the State Department's provincial reconstruction teams.

When she ordered that Baghdad be given staffing priority, Rice had warned that unless more volunteers could be found, the department would have to implement directed assignments.

"It is my fervent hope that we will continue to see sufficient numbers ... volunteering for Iraq service, but we must be prepared to meet our requirements in any eventuality," she said in an unclassified cable sent to all diplomatic missions abroad on June 19.

That directive followed an earlier offer for any diplomats wanting to learn Arabic to leave their current post immediately for two years of language training before being posted to Iraq and an appeal from the U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, for the urgency of the Iraq operation to be made clear to all diplomats.

Crocker has repeatedly appealed to the State Department headquarters for more and better trained personnel to staff the embassy. The embassy operation had been due to move into a vast new compound last month, but the move has been indefinitely delayed due to logistical and construction problems.

Iraq is an extremely dangerous hardship post with near daily insurgent mortar attacks on the fortified Green Zone where the embassy is located.

The U.S. military has quietly but repeatedly complained that its forces and other Defense Department personnel have been pressed into service in jobs that should have been filled by State Department personnel.

In particular, Defense Department employees and service members were forced to fill spots on provincial reconstruction teams for months because the State Department could not get personnel there.

Military officials have complained that other federal agencies - including State, Commerce and Agriculture - aren't moving quickly enough to fill critical needs in Iraq. Those agencies, they argue, have the expertise to help Iraqi business people and farmers get back to their jobs and improve the economy.

Associated Press writer Lolita C. Baldor contributed to this report.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

Did The White House Miss A Chance To Catch OBL Again ?

By: Nicole Belle
October 25th, 2007

Boy, even FOX News analysts are calling the Bush Administration (and the military generals–Watch out!) incompetent.

I have to admit that this story seemed completely buried until I heard it this morning on the Stephanie Miller Show.

I only found one MSM story on it, which I don’t remember seeing at the time, and I get MSNBC news alerts constantly. Maybe the press should try doing their job and ask a few questions at the next presser???

I’d think that it would be in the public’s interest to know how well we are going after known enemies before they create even more in Iran, wouldn’t you?

Col. David Hunt (ret.) on (I’m citing the relevant portion if you don’t want to give them the hits):

Besides, these things are of little consequence when you realize how we missed, squandered, screwed up, made a mess of and were massively risk adverse - again - when we did not kill Usama bin Laden in Afghanistan just two short months ago.

We know, with a 70 percent level of certainty - which is huge in the world of intelligence - that in August of 2007, bin Laden was in a convoy headed south from Tora Bora. We had his butt, on camera, on satellite. We were listening to his conversations. We had the world’s best hunters/killers - Seal Team 6 - nearby. We had the world class Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) coordinating with the CIA and other agencies. We had unmanned drones overhead with missiles on their wings; we had the best Air Force on the planet, begging to drop one on the terrorist. We had him in our sights; we had done it. Nice job again guys - now, pull the damn trigger.

Unbelievably, and in my opinion, criminally, we did not kill Usama bin Laden.

You cannot make this crap up; truth is always stranger and more telling than fiction. Our government, the current administration and yes, our military leaders included, failed to kill bin Laden for no other reason than incompetence.

The current “boneheads” in charge will tell you all day long that we are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan to stop terrorists there so they do not come here. Nice talk, how about - just for a moment - acting like you mean what you say? You know walk the walk. These incidents, where we displayed a total lack of guts, like the one in August, are just too prevalent.

The United States of America’s political and military leadership has, on at least three separate occasions, chosen not capture or kill bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahri. We have allowed Pakistan to become a safe haven for Al Qaeda. We have allowed Al Qaeda to reconstitute, partially because of money they (Al Qaeda in Iraq) have been sending to Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

I’m waiting for Boehner to introduce a resolution censuring Col. Hunt now…


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Dangerous Crossroads:
US Sponsored War Games

By Prof. Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research
October 6, 2007

US Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) has announced the conduct of major war games under Vigilant Shield 2008 (VS-08).

Vigilant Shield 2008 (15 to 20 October, 2007) is designed to deal with a "terrorist" or "natural disaster" scenario in the United States. The operation will be coordinated in a joint endeavor by the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security.

Yet, VS-08, which includes a massive deployment of the US Air Force resembles a war-time air scenario rather than an anti-terrorist drill. The VS-08 war games extend over the entire North American shelf. Canadian territory is also involved through Canada's participation in NORAD. (See Nazemroaya, October 2007)

These war games are being conducted at an important historical crossroads, amidst mounting US pressures and threats to actually declare a "real war" on Iran.

VS-08 is predicated on the doctrine of preemptive warfare, with a vie to protecting the Homeland. The war games are coordinated with anti-terrorist drills directed against presumed Islamic terrorists.

Moreover, the announcement by NORTHCOM of the VS-08 war games-anti-terror drills coincided with a declaration by the Bush administration in early September that military action against Iran is being contemplated at the highest echelons of the US government and Military:

"President George W Bush and his inner circle are taking steps to place America on the path to war with Iran, .. Pentagon planners have developed a list of up to 2,000 bombing targets in Iran, ... Pentagon and CIA officers say they believe that the White House has begun a carefully calibrated programme of escalation that could lead to a military showdown with Iran." (Quoted in The Sunday Telegraph, 16 September 2007).

VS-08 is a large scale military exercise to be conducted over North America and the Northern Pacific Ocean, extending westwards towards the Far East borders of Russia and China:

"USNORTHCOM’s primary exercise venues for VS-08 include locations in Oregon, Arizona and a cooperative venue with USPACOM in the Territory of Guam. NORAD’s aerospace detection and defense events will take place across all the exercise venues, to exercise the ability to mobilize resources for aerospace defense, aerospace control, maritime warning, and coordination of air operations in a disaster area." (PNC, October 2007)

Both the war games under VS-08 as well as the domestic antiterrorist drills involve the participation of Canada, Britain and Australia:

"VS-08 and National Level Exercise 1-08 will provide local, state, tribal, interagency, Department of Defense, and non-governmental organizations and agencies involved in homeland security and homeland defense the opportunity to participate in a full range of exercise scenarios that will better prepare participants to prevent and respond to national crises. The participating organizations will conduct a multi-layered, civilian-led response to a national crisis."( See NORTHCOM Fact Sheet).

Pacific Shield 2007

Vigilant Shield 2008 will be preceded by another set of exercises organized by Japan. The Tokyo government will host a multinational Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) Maritime Interdiction Exercise “Pacific Shield 07”(PS-07) in the eastern sea area off Izu Oshima, and at the Ports of Yokosuka and Yokohama (13-15 October, (See the Japanese government communique). The stated objective of the PS 07 exercises is to "prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)". Australia, France, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, and the US will be participating in 'Pacific Shield 07'.

"Linked Exercises"

The administration is talking about "linked exercises", where war scenarios are conducted simultaneously and in close coordination with civilian anti-terrorist drills. This central concept --which underlies the "Global War on Terrorism"-- has a direct bearing on the conduct of the US led war in the Middle East. At the same time, the process of "domestic security" has become entrenched and integrated into military planning.

The 'linked exercises" provide an environment which favors the militarization of civilian institutions. They also impart the military with a further opportunity to interfere in domestic civilian law enforcement and judicial functions.

The conduct of the anti-terrorist exercise is intended to justify the need to retaliate against an illusive outside enemy (Al Qaeda), even if the US is not attacked.

But there are indications that the administration has envisaged from the standpoint of military planning, for several years now, a scenario of a second major terrorist attack on America . According to Pentagon officials referring to a classified military document:

"Another [second 911] attack could create both a justification and an opportunity that is lacking today to retaliate against some known targets [Iran, Syria], according to current and former defense officials familiar with the plan." (WP 23 April 2006).

The above Pentagon statement suggests that a "Second 911" attack characterised by a "mass casualty producing event" is part of military doctrine and planning. A real "false flag" attack or even the threat of a terrorist attack could be used as a justification to wage war on Iran.

In the month following the 2005 7/7 London bombings, Vice President Dick Cheney is reported to have instructed USSTRATCOM to draw up a contingency plan "to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States". Implied in the contingency plan is the certainty that Iran would be behind a Second 9/11.

Targeting Russia and China

VS-8 is based on a scenario of confrontation with Russia and China. The Bush administration has accused Tehran of supporting Islamic terrorism, while also pointing to the fact that Iran in fact has the support of both China and Russia.

While the contents of VS-08 have not been released, last year's Vigilant Shield exercise (Vigilant Shield 07), which simulated the outbreak of a major war, contemplated four hypothetical enemies: Ruebek (Russia), Churya (China), Irmingham (Iran) and Nemazee (North Korea).

In last year's briefing documents of the Vigilant Shield 07 war games, the following scenario was contemplated by participants:

"•Nemazee continues to develop nuclear and missile capabilities

• Southwest Asian country of Irmingham intent on uranium enrichment program

• Western countries and United States seeking U.N. assistance to halt Irmingham’s enrichment program

• Eurasian country of Ruebek attempts to mediate Irmingham crisis by offering nuclear oversight while secretly supporting enrichment program

• Asian country of Churya will become concerned at increasing level of Ruebek-U.S. hostility"

(quoted by William Arkin, Washington Post, October 2006)

The outcome of VS-07 was a limited attack by Ruebek and Nemazee on the United States.

"Minus 1 Day:

• Ruebek Expels US Mission
• Phase 2 / Execution: 10 – 14 Dec 06

– Pre-Attack I & W
– Imminent Terrorist Attack on Pentagon Suggests Pentagon COOP [continuity of operations plan]
– Nemazee Conducts 2 x ICBM Combat Launches Against United States
– Ruebek Conducts Limited Strategic Attack on United States"

quoted by William Arkin, Washington Post, October 2006)

TOPOFF 4: Selective Propaganda directed at "Top Officials"

This year's VS-08 exercise combines the VS-08 hypothetical war scenario over the North American shelf with the conduct of major domestic anti-terrorist drills under TOPOFF 4.

The latter is a large scale anti-terror exercise for "top officials". It includes the participation of senior decision makers from federal, State and municipal governments, law enforcement, nongovernmental bodies as well as representatives from the business community.

According to Denis Shrader, Deputy DHS Administrator in testimony to the US Congress (October 3):

"The exercise will be executed with the participation of all appropriate Cabinet-level secretaries or their deputies, and will include the activation of all necessary operations centers to accurately simulate a truly national response to these major terrorist incidents. This will include the utilization of all five elements of the National Operations Center and the FEMA Region IX and X Regional Response Coordination Centers. In addition, the FEMA Emergency Response Teams and Federal Incident Response Support Teams as well as DHS Situational Awareness Teams will activate in each of the venues and will simulate the establishment of a Joint Field Office in accordance with the latest National Response Framework guidance."

This year's TOPOFF 4 exercises involves setting off fake radiological dispersal devices (RDD) or "dirty bombs" in Oregon, Arizona and the US Pacific island territory of Guam. According to Northern Command:

"The T4 FSE, based on National Planning Scenario – 11 (NPS-11), begins as terrorists, who have been planning attacks in Oregon, Arizona, and the U.S. Territory of Guam successfully bring radioactive material into the United States. The first of three coordinated attacks occurs in Guam, with the simulated detonation of a Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD), or “dirty bomb,” causing casualties and widespread contamination in a populous area. Similar attacks occur in the hours that follow in Portland and Phoenix. A RDD is not the same as a nuclear attack. It is a conventional explosive that, upon detonation, releases radioactive material into the surrounding area. Although it does not cause the type of catastrophic damage associated with a nuclear detonation, there are severe rescue, health, and long-term decontamination concerns associated with a RDD."

TOPOFF 4 will involve the participation of some 15,000 federal, state, territorial and local officials in what is described as "a full-scale response to a multi-faceted terrorist threat". Canada, Australia and the UK will participate in TOPOFF. Observers from some 30 countries have also been invited.

"It will 'accurately simulate a truly national response to these major terrorist incidents' by emergency response teams, medical units, police forces and top government officials who will have to make difficult decisions to save lives." (quoted by AFP, 4 October 2007)

TOPOFF is a propaganda operation intended for at top decision makers. The objective is to build a consensus among key decision makers that America is threatened by Islamic terrorists, using an improvised nuclear device.

These terrorists are, according to recent statements, supported by Tehran. The presumption is that the Islamic terrorists, rather than the US, UK or Israel, have the required military capabilities and constitute a real nuclear threat.

These various anti-terrorist scenarios are intended to build a consensus among key top officials in the US and its coalition partners that the terrorist threat is not only real but the terrorists would be attacking America in a "Second 911" as part of a broader process of military confrontation, in which a number of enemy countries including Ruebek, Churya and Irmingham would be involved.

We are not, however, dealing with a classical media disinformation campaign. While the TOPOFF exercise has been casually mentioned in press reports, it is not the object of extensive media coverage.

In fact very few people are aware of these exercises.

With regard to TOPOFF, the consensus building process is "internal", it does not pertain to the public at large. The disinformation campaing is intended for key decision-makers within these various governmental and nongovernmental bodies. It includes more than 10,000 participants in important decision-making positions (federal and State officials, law enforcement, fire departments, hospitals, etc), who may be called to act in the case of an emergency situation. These individuals in turn have a mandate to impose the "Global War on Terrorism" consensus within their respective organizations, --i.e. with their co-workers and colleagues, as well as with the people working under their direct supervision.

In other words, this consensus building process reaches out to tens of thousands of people in positions of authority. The antiterrorist agenda and exercises thus become a "talking point" within numerous governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

In turn, the holding of these antiterrorist exercises supports the National Security doctrine of "preemptive war", --i.e. that America has to legitimate right to self defense by intervening in foreign lands including Iran and that America must defend itself against terrorists.

It also sustains the myth of WMD in the hands of terrorists, being used against America, when in fact the US is the largest producer of WMD, with a defense budget of more than 450 billion dollars a year.

The objective is to sustain the war and national security agenda --and of course the possibility of martial law-- within the governmental, nongovernmental and corporate business sectors.

Ultimately, the objective is develop across the land, an unequivocal acceptance by key officials (and of their coworkers and subordinates), from the federal to the local level, for an emergency situation, where civil liberties and the rights of citizens would be suspended.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Myth of War Prosperity

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)
March 6, 2003

There is a longstanding myth that war benefits the economy.

The argument goes that when a country is at war, jobs are created and the economy grows. This is a myth. Many argue that World War II ended the Great Depression, which is another myth.

Unemployment went down because many men were drafted, but national economic output went down during the war.

Economic growth and a true end to the Depression did not occur until after World War II. So it is wrong to think there is an economic benefit arising from war.

There are many economic shortcomings during a war. During wartime it is much more common to experience inflation because the money presses are running to fund military expenses. Also, during wartime there is a bigger challenge to the currency of the warring nation, and already we see that the dollar has dropped 20 percent in the past year. Although there are many other reasons for a weak dollar, the war certainly is contributing to the weakness in the dollar.

Also, during wartime the country can expect that taxes will go up. I know we are talking about cutting taxes, and I am all for cutting taxes; but in real terms taxes will go up during wartime. And it is inevitable that deficits increase. And right now our deficits are exploding. Our national debt is going up nearly $500 billion per year.

The other shortcoming economically of wartime is that funds, once they are borrowed, inflated, or taxed, once the government spends these, so much of this expenditure is overseas, and it takes away from domestic spending. So this is a strong negative for the domestic economy.

Another thing that arises during wartime so often is the sentiment for protectionism- and a weak economy in wartime will really build an incentive for protectionist measures, and we are starting to see that, which I think is a danger.

During wartime, trade is much more difficult; and so if a war comes, we can expect that even our trade balances might get much worse. There are a lot of subjective problems during wartime too. The first thing that goes is confidence. Right now there is less confidence in the stock market and literally hundreds of billions of dollars lost in the stock market in the last year or two, again, due to other reasons; but the possibility of war contributes to this negative sentiment toward the stock market.

It is hard to judge the future. Nobody can know the future because of the unintended consequences of war. We do not know how long the war will last. How much it will spread? So there are a lot of uncertainties about this. There is fear. Fear comes from the potential for war and a lot of confusion. And unfortunately, when wars are not fought for national security reasons, the popularity of the war is questioned- and this may alienate our allies. And I believe we are seeing some of that already.

There is no doubt that during wartime government expands in size and scope.

And this of course is a great danger. And after war, the government rarely shrinks to its original size. It grows. It may shrink a little, but inevitably the size of the government grows because of war.

This is a danger because when government gets bigger, the individual has to get smaller; therefore, it diminishes personal individual liberty.

So these are the costs that we cannot ignore. We have the cost of potential loss of life, but there are also tremendous economic costs that even the best economists cannot calculate closely.

War should always be fought as the very, very last resort. It should never be done casually, but only when absolutely necessary. And when it is, I believe it should be fought to be won. It should be declared. It should not be fought under U.N. resolutions or for U.N. resolutions, but for the sovereignty and the safety and the security of this country. It is explicit in our Constitution that necessary wars be declared by the Congress. And that is something that concerns me a great deal because we have not declared war outright since 1945, and if you look carefully, we have not won very many since then.

We are lingering in Korea. What a mess! We have been there for 58 years, have spent hundreds of billions of dollars, and we still have achieved nothing- because we went there under U.N. resolutions and we did not fight to victory.

The same was true with the first Persian Gulf War. We went into Iraq without a declaration of war. We went there under the U.N., we are still there, and nobody knows how long we will be there. So there are many costs, some hidden and some overt. But the greatest threat, the greatest cost of war is the threat to individual liberty. So I caution my colleagues that we should move much more cautiously and hope and pray for peace.

Ron Paul, M.D., represents the 14th Congressional District of Texas in the United States House of Representatives.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

New Revelations About the Attack on the USS Liberty

So Who's Afraid of the Israel Lobby?

October 6, 2007

Virtually everyone: Republican, Democrat-Conservative, Liberal.

The fear factor is non-partisan, you might say, and palpable. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) brags that it is the most influential foreign policy lobbying organization on Capitol Hill, and has demonstrated that time and again-and not only on Capitol Hill.

Seldom has the Lobby's power been as clearly demonstrated as in its ability to suppress the awful truth that on June 8, 1967, during the Six Day War:

>Israel deliberately attacked the intelligence collection ship USS Liberty, in full awareness it was a U.S. Navy ship, and did its best to sink it and leave no survivors;

> The Israelis would have succeeded had they not broken off the attack upon learning, from an intercepted message, that the commander of the U.S. 6th Fleet had launched carrier fighters to the scene; and

>By that time 34 of the Liberty's crew had been killed and over 170 wounded.
Scores of intelligence analysts and senior officials have known this for years. That virtually all of them have kept a forty-year frightened silence is testament to the widespread fear of touching this live wire. Even more telling is the fact that the National Security Agency apparently has destroyed voice tapes and transcripts heard and seen by many intelligence analysts, material that shows beyond doubt that the Israelis knew exactly what they were doing.

The Ugly Truth

But the truth will out-eventually.

All it took in this case was for a courageous journalist (of the endangered species kind) to listen to the surviving crew and do a little basic research, not shrinking from naming war crimes and not letting senior U.S. officials, from the president on down, off the hook for suppressing-even destroying-damning evidence from intercepted Israeli communications.

The mainstream media have now published an exposé based largely on interviews with those most intimately involved. A lengthy article by Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter John Crewdson appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Baltimore Sun on Oct. 2 titled "New revelations in attack on American spy ship." the subtitle goes the prize for understatement of the year: "Veterans, documents suggest U.S., Israel didn't tell full story of deadly 1967 incident."

Better 40 years late than never, I suppose. Many of us have known of the incident and cover-up for a very long time and have tried to expose and discuss it for the lessons it holds for today. It has proved far easier, though, to get a very pedestrian Dog-Bites-Man article published than an article with the importance and explosiveness of this sensitive story.

A Marine Stands Up

On the evening of Sept. 26, 2006, I gave a talk on Iraq to an overflow crowd of 400 at National Avenue Church in Springfield, Missouri. A questioner asked what I thought of the study by John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt of Harvard titled "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy." The study had originally been commissioned by The Atlantic Monthly. When the draft arrived, however, shouts of "Leper!" were heard at the Atlantic. The monthly wasted no time in saying thanks-but-no-thanks, and the leper-study then wandered in search of a home, finding none among American publishers. Eventually the London Review of Books published it in March 2006.

I had read that piece carefully and found it an unusual act of courage as well as scholarship. That's what I told the questioner, adding that I did have two problems with the study:

>First, it seemed to me the authors erred in attributing virtually all the motivation for the U.S. attack on Iraq to the Israel Lobby and the so-called "neo-conservatives" running our policy and armed forces. Was Israel an important factor? Indeed. But of equal importance, in my view, was the oil factor and what the Pentagon now calls the "enduring" military bases in Iraq, which the White House and Pentagon decided were needed for the U.S. to dominate that part of the Middle East.

>Second, I was intrigued by the fact that Mearsheimer and Walt made no mention of what I believe to be, if not the most telling, then perhaps the most sensational proof of the power the Lobby knows it can exert over our government and Congress.

In sum, in June 1967, after deliberately using fighter-bombers and torpedo boats to attack the USS Liberty for over two hours in an attempt to sink it and kill its entire crew, and then getting the U.S. government, the Navy, and the Congress to cover up what happened, the Israeli government learned that it could-literally-get away with murder.

I found myself looking out at 400 blank stares. The USS Liberty? And so I asked how many in the audience had heard of the attack on the Liberty on June 8, 1967. Three hands went up; I called on the gentleman nearest me.

Ramrod straight he stood:

"Sir, Sergeant Bryce Lockwood, United States Marine Corps, retired. I am a member of the USS Liberty crew, Sir."

Catching my breath, I asked him if he would be willing to tell us what happened.

"Sir, I have not been able to do that. It is hard. But it has been almost 40 years, and I would like to try this evening, Sir."

You could hear a pin drop for the next 15 minutes, as Lockwood gave us his personal account of what happened to him, his colleagues, and his ship on the afternoon of June 8, 1967. He was a linguist assigned to collect communications intelligence from the USS Liberty, which was among the ugliest-and most easily identifiable-ships in the fleet with antennae springing out in all directions.

Lockwood told of the events of that fateful day, beginning with the six-hour naval and air surveillance of the Liberty by the Israeli navy and air force on the morning of June 8. After the air attacks including thousand-pound bombs and napalm, three sixty-ton torpedo boats lined up like a firing squad, pointing their torpedo tubes at the Liberty's starboard hull. Lockwood had been ordered to throw the extremely sensitive cryptological equipment overboard and had just walked beyond the bulwark separating the NSA intelligence unit from the rest of the ship when, he recalled, he sensed a large black object, a tremendous explosion, and sheet of flame.

The torpedo had struck dead center in the NSA space.

The cold, oily water brought Lockwood back to consciousness. Around him were 25 dead colleagues; but he heard moaning. Three were still alive; one of Lockwood's shipmates dragged one survivor up the hatch. Lockwood was able to lift the two others, one-by-one, onto his shoulder and carry them up through the hatch. This meant alternatively banging on the hatch for someone to open it and swimming back to fish his shipmate out of the water lest he float out to sea through the 39-foot hole made by the torpedo.

At that Lockwood stopped speaking. It was enough. Hard, very hard-even after almost 40 years.

What Else We Know

John Crewdson's meticulously documented article, together with the 57 pages that James Bamford devotes to the incident in his book "Body of Secrets" and recent confessions by those who played a role in the cover-up, paint a picture that the surviving crew of the USS Liberty can only find infuriating. The evidence, from intercepted communications as well as testimony, of Israeli deliberate intent is unimpeachable, even though the Israelis continue to portray the incident as merely a terrible mistake.

Crewdson refers to U.S. Navy Captain Ward Boston, who was the Navy lawyer appointed as senior counsel to Admiral Isaac C. Kidd, named by Admiral John S. McCain (Sen. John McCain's father) to "inquire into all the facts and circumstances." The fact that they were given only one week to gather evidence and were forbidden to contact the Israelis screams out "cover-up."

Captain Boston, now 84, signed a formal declaration on Jan. 8, 2004 in which he described himself as "outraged at the efforts of the apologists for Israel in this country to claim that this attack was a case of 'mistaken identity.'"

Boston continued:

"The evidence was clear. Both Admiral Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack...was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew...Not only did the Israelis attack the ship with napalm, gunfire, and missiles, Israeli torpedo boats machine-gunned three lifeboats that had been launched in an attempt by the crew to save the most seriously wounded-a war crime...I know from personal conversations I had with Admiral Kidd that President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered him to conclude that the attack was a case of 'mistaken identity' despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary."

Why the Israelis decided to take the draconian measure of sinking a ship of the U.S. Navy is open to speculation. One view is that the Israelis did not want the U.S. to find out they were massing troops to seize the Golan Heights from Syria, and wanted to deprive the U.S. of the opportunity to argue against such a move.

Another theory: James Bamford, in "Body of Secrets," adduces evidence, including reporting from an Israeli journalist eyewitness and an Israeli military historian, of wholesale killing of Egyptian prisoners of war at the coastal town of El Arish in the Sinai. The Liberty was patrolling directly opposite El Arish in international waters but within easy range to pick up intelligence on what was going on there. And the Israelis were well aware.

As for the why, well, someone could at least approach the Israelis involved and ask, no? The important thing here is not to confuse what is known (the deliberate nature of the Israeli attack) with the purpose behind it, which remains a matter of speculation.

Other Indignities

Bowing to intense pressure from the Navy, the White House agreed to award the Liberty's skipper, Captain William McGonagle, the Medal of Honor....but not at the White House, and not by the president (as is the custom). Rather, the Secretary of the Navy gave the award at the Washington Navy Yard on the banks of the acrid Anacostia River. A naval officer involved in the awards ceremony told one of the Liberty crew, "The government is pretty jumpy about Israel...the State Department even asked the Israeli ambassador if his government had any objections to McGonagle getting the medal."

Adding insult to injury, those of the Liberty crew who survived well enough to call for an independent investigation have been hit with charges of, you guessed it, anti-Semitism.

Now that some of the truth is emerging more and more, others are showing more courage in speaking out. In a recent email, an associate of mine who has followed Middle East affairs for almost 60 years, shared the following:

"The chief of the intelligence analysts studying the Arab/Israeli region at the time told me about the intercepted messages and said very flatly and firmly that the pilots reported seeing the American flag and repeated their requests for confirmation of the attack order. Whole platoons of Americans saw those intercepts. If NSA now says they do not exist, then someone ordered them destroyed."

Leaving the destruction of evidence without investigation is an open invitation to repetition in the future.

As for the larger picture, visiting Israel this past summer I was constantly told that Egypt forced Israel into war in June 1967. This does not square with the unguarded words of Menachem Begin in 1982, when he was Israel's prime minister.

Rather he admitted publicly:

"In June 1967, we had a choice. The Egyptian army concentrations in the Sinai approaches do not prove that [Egyptian President] Nasser was really about to attack us. We must be honest with ourselves. We decided to attack him."

Israel had, in fact, prepared well militarily and mounted provocations against its neighbors, in order to provoke a response that could be used to justify an expansion of its borders. Israel's illegal 40-year control over and confiscation of land in the occupied territories and U.S. enabling support (particularly the one-sided support by the current U.S. administration) go a long way toward explaining why it is that 1.3 billion Muslims "hate us."

Ray McGovern was a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990 and Robert Gates' branch chief in the early 1970s. McGovern now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). He is a contributor to Imperial Crusades, edited by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair.

He can be reached at:

A shorter version of this article appeared originally on



Friday, October 05, 2007

Global Credit Crisis Wrap-Up

By Mike Mish Shedlock
Sept 28, 2007

[When you put it all together it should scare you]

Current Conditions

Public spending is out of control in the US and UK.

Banana Republic charges are being leveled at the US and UK.

Runs on the bank occurred in the US and UK.

The Fed is accepting mortgages as collateral in the US for the first time.

Foreclosures are at all time high in the US.

The US dollar is at all-time lows.

Two failed banks in Germany were bailed out by the ECB.

There are US Congressional threats of tariffs against China.

There is a proposal to freeze short term commercial paper for up to 7 years in Canada.

Housing bubbles in the US, Spain, and Australia are deflating.

Housing bubble in Canada is still inflating.

China refuses to float the RMB and sterilize US dollars flooding in. That in turn is fueling Chinese inflation.

Price controls that can't possibly work were implemented in China in response to Chinese aforementioned Chinese inflation.

Commodity prices are soaring.

Oil is at record high prices.

A massive carry trade in Japan is fueling a plethora of asset bubbles around the globe.

$500 trillion in derivatives are floating around dwarfing the size of the global economy.

The global credit bubble dwarfs by orders of magnitude the credit bubble preceding the Great Depression.

Other than the above, the global economy seem pretty normal and rather well balanced. It's a tribute to just how well central bankers have done their jobs.



By Jim Deeds

America will never be destroyed from outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” – Abraham Lincoln

A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday does not know where it is today.” – Robert E. Lee

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” – George Orwell

When we lose the right to be different, we lose the right to be free.” – Charles Evans Hughes

“Make yourselves sheep and the wolves will eat you.” – Benjamin Franklin


The little boy tending his flock of sheep thought he heard a strange noise in the dark, and so he called “Wolf!” And the townspeople came to his help. The nights became dark and scary with lots of new noises, so the little boy repeated his cry many times in the nights that followed. And always, after they found no wolf in sight, the townspeople went back home to bed.

Then one night the small boy could even see the wolf’s gleaming eyes and the silhouette of his ears in the moonlight. He shouted “Wolf,” but the townspeople had heard this call too many times before as a false alarm.

So no one came – except the wolf!

Today, world events in financial markets are running ahead of our ability to recognize the breathtaking speed in the reevaluation of both assets and debt. All at once, “perception is reality” is a two-edged sword. The days when the word “risk” conjured up visions of new instant riches are gone. Now, when an investment banker or investor hears the word “risk,” it conjures up “fear” in the pit of their stomach. The never-ending “liquidity” and “excess savings” that became the cornerstone of Alan Greenspan and Bernanke’s “new economy” just went poof! – at least in their future availability to American borrowers.

Real money is something you can feel and touch and see. Debt is only a promise to pay back in the future, and is only as good as the man who made the promise. The world has always been overloaded with good intentions and broken promises! And an electron impulse on a computer screen or bank statement representing a trillion dollars in “sub prime” debt, commercial paper, or an unimaginable 400 trillion dollars worth of an imaginary financial safety net called “derivatives” may not survive the very next financial storm. Power off ! Game over!!

But in America, it feels so good (even today) to dream of future riches – and it is better yet to be the world’s “financial engine.” Borrowing one’s way to prosperity is fun, and really, really easy. “Just takes a signature!” So, up until August 2007, “good times never seemed so good,” (Neil Diamond).

Then – something called “sub prime” happened. But most Americans thought, “Just a tiny blip on the radar screen.” And as Southwest Art magazine for October reported, “Coeur d’Alene Art Auction Tops $35 Million! “The Coeur d’Alene Art Auction (held in Reno, NV) brought in an astounding $35,402,640, the highest total ever for an auction of western art. With over 850 bidders present, a 1905 watercolor by Charles M. Russell sold for nearly double the pre-show estimate – for $2,912,000. And a painting by Paul Signac also sold for $2,912,000, while a 1918 painting called “Joshing Moon,” estimated to sell for $300,000, soared to a final bid of $1,680,000.”

Obviously, someone forgot to tell bidders of Western Art in Reno that “times have changed.” But, did August 2007 signal a new deflationary depression arriving in America, or a rapid acceleration in our living costs toward hyperinflation? (A clue: figures don’t lie.)


In 1987, Alfred L. Malabrae, Jr., economics editor and columnist for the Wall Street Journal, wrote a highly readable and urgent book, Beyond Our Means. The subtitle is: “How America’s Long Years of Debt, Deficits, and Reckless Borrowing Now Threaten To Overwhelm Us.”

Al Malabrae was only one of many, many conservative thinkers over the past 30 years that have warned of America’s addiction to “demon debt.” Lots of people have been crying “wolf” for a long, long time! Is the wolf finally at our door?

1. JIM SINCLAIR, maybe one of the best informed and most successful gold traders ever (I met Jim Sinclair at several gold seminars in San Francisco and New Orleans in the late ‘70s), was a well-recognized gold and conservative financial expert even back then with a well-earned financial reputation – and a very sharp mind.

Recently he wrote the following on his web site ( that gives daily and often hourly comments on the gold markets and financial affairs.

My Dear Friends, It is not coming – it is already here. I am convinced that all that has been anticipated since 1968 has now occurred. I see the mountain of interest rate/mortgage related over-the-counter derivatives which, when including all types, exceeds USD $30 trillion. It is shaking quite badly.

The situation now resembles the Weimar Republic in the sense that the Weimar case study is predicated on planned currency destruction to avoid war reparations that got out of control.

The present situation is based on the ultimate sin of greed called over the counter derivatives.

This mountain of unfunded special performance contracts is shaking and will, as a product of declining US business activity and profits, fall.

Before the fall of the unimaginably big mountain of garbage paper, ALL world central banks will in concert prime the pump any way they can figure out how to. Priming for this purpose has no practical way of being drained. What is going to get out of control now is monetary inflation to offset the shaking mountain of over the counter derivatives. The process of the fall is in progress and will be history by 2012 or SOONER

Simply stated this is it, today, now! Think the best, but protect yourself under a worst case scenario.

There is no more “if this happens, that will happen” scenario. It has already happened, and the Formula applied internationally is going to bull all commodities to a level that even the wildest (rational) bull cannot not even verbalize. The dollar is headed below the estimates of the biggest (rational) bear.

I take what is said here very seriously. What I have just said I have never said before!

The over the counter shaking mountain of derivatives can’t be fixed by trying to hide it. The problems cannot be fixed by any interest rate action. The problem will not even be fixed by a monetary inflation of unprecedented amounts. The problem is coming home by 2012 or much SOONER.

Keep in mind that over the counter derivatives generally have the following characteristics:

Without regulation.

Without listing on public exchanges.

Without standards.

Therefore not in the least bit transparent.

Therefore without an open market of the bid/ask type.

Dealt in by private treaty negotiations.

Without a clearinghouse.

Unfunded without financial guarantee of any kind.

Functioning as contracts of specific performance.

Financial character or ability to perform is totally dependent on the balance sheet of the loser in the arrangement.

Evaluated by computer assumptions made by geek, non-market experienced mathematicians who assume religiously that all markets return to their normal relationships regardless of disruptions.

Now in the credit and default category alone considered by accepted authorities as totaling more than USD $30 trillion in notional value.

Notional value becomes real value when the agreement is forced to find a real market for ending the obligation which is how one says sell it.

Interestingly, some of us who have lived through the past 40 years of America’s financial dominance came to the same conclusion at about the same moment – it’s finally over.

The last week in August it became apparent that America finally crossed a line of no return.

The odds today must be 50 to 1 or better that defaulted debt, a rapidly declining dollar, a new flood of both Fed credit and foreign central bank money overwhelming all physical markets worldwide, and a future hyperinflationary run and then collapse seem certain in our immediate future.


In August 2007, it became obvious to all who cared to look, that American financial leaders have destroyed our country’s small remaining credibility and honest reputation with the concluding lies and deception climaxing the greatest dollar Ponzi scheme ever! Alfred Malabre’s Beyond Our Means finally caught up with us. Living the lie of borrowing ourselves to everlasting prosperity is over.

1. THE LAST “BIG TRICK” – Like Pinocchio’s nose, the fanciful schemes of America’s investment banking industry just grew and grew as our increasing demands for more debt grew. With lots of “leverage” and a little imagination, everything is possible. The final scheme in American finance required a move from reality to illusion that involved five players:

a) INVESTMENT BANKERS – Greenspan’s “Fed” had to give up its previous control of money and credit “standards and creation” to a gang of thieves. Wall Street’s investment bankers have always cut corners when under pressure – to make an extra buck. The only love greater than “the game” for most Wall Streeters is the love of money. So, with Greenspan’s blessings, converting debt into instant cash became easy – every Wall Streeter’s greatest challenge. And unbelievable leverage built into our financial system became every investment banker’s sure road to success. So, we needed Wall Street (and London) investment bankers to “fabricate the new money game” of debt.

b) DERIVATIVES/”QUANTS” – “Old fashioned” balance sheets had to be modernized. Leaving the real world of 1+1 = 2 was required for open-ended leveraged success. Today’s balance sheets for leading investment bankers, like the leader Goldman Sachs, quickly reflect the “new math.” The asset side of Goldman’s balance sheet, to a trained eye, reflects three categories of “hard assets”:

1) ASSETS “MARKED TO THE MARKET” – meaning the last recent trade on a market of that particular asset sets its balance sheet price.

– which means the assigned value of that asset is derived by a mathematical formula dreamed up by a former Princeton, Harvard, or MIT math teacher (now employed on Wall Street as a highly paid “quant” by leading brokers).

3) ASSETS “MARKED TO MAKE BELIEVE” – you know the value of this one?

The most amazing part of this is that it is delusional.

Americans, from Wall Street’s brightest analysts to the SEC to John Q. Public all buy this baloney. Why? Everyone just wants one more day to make 10 million more (worthless) dollars!

c) FANNIE MAE & FREDDIE MAC – THE TWO GSE’S (GOVERNMENT SPONSORED ENTERPRISES) – that have dominated the mortgage creation and underwriting market for the past decade, added total credibility (the trillions of dollars of “paper” they issued were implicitly believed to be backed by the credit of the U.S. government). This all remains “believable” up to this day, in spite of the fact that Congressional sub-committees have found “cooked books” at Fannie and Freddie where imaginary derivative bets protected illusionary profits each of the past four years. Fannie Mae (FNM) is allowed to break New York Stock Exchange rules that require up-to-date audits and annual reports – and is still two years behind in its fiscal reporting. In the meantime, Congressional sub-committee investigators talk on.

d) DEBT INSURERS – By “rating” a new bond offering, Standard and Poors and Moody’s can change a package of “hodge-podge” lowest quality mortgage loans into AAA paper! Then, investment banking industry “quants” create new interest rate derivatives that are packaged with these junk mortgage bonds “to insure” buyers against any future negative interest rate swings in the market. Hence, Moody’s and S&P create a prince out of a frog. The only problem? “Make believe” or “mark-to-the-model” derivatives, a $30 trillion block of debt insurance, have no market, are not traded, and are only as good as “the word” of the issuer of the derivative.

QUESTION: What issuer can back up the $30 trillion derivative guarantee on future interest rates if they’re wrong?

e) INSURERS – Junk mortgage bonds and the lowest rated mortgage-backed commercial paper (short-term business loans) become triple A “paper” when rating agencies Moody’s and Standard and Poors earn a fee from their customers (the investment banking industry) in rating a pile of junk (junk bonds theoretically protected by make-believe derivatives) as AAA – the best!

QUESTION: Can bond ratings be compromised when the rating agency earns all its income from the bond underwriter paying for the bond rating? Is this an unconscionable conflict of interest?

2. ANALYSIS/CONCLUSION OF THE LAST BIG TRICK – The discrediting or failure of any one of the five lines above in the daisy-chain of the issuance of supposedly triple A rated bonds will destroy the credibility and the secondary market for many trillions of dollars of “supposed” U.S. triple “A” paper. Most of these bonds are held by retirement funds or foreign central banks outside of the United States. This is what the sub-prime debt mess is all about.


The “lender of last resort” has to be the only solution to this worldwide freeze-up in secondary debt markets. Overnight, when it was discovered that a $440 trillion derivative “market” wasn’t really a market at all – but was only the theoretical “insurance scheme” dreamed up by mathematical genius “quants” who had no “real market” experience at all – all mortgage backed securities markets and theoretical valuation of insuring interest rate derivatives came to a screeching halt.

Overnight, European central banks created over $300 billion in newly created credit (money) to try and liquefy near bankrupt hedge funds and banks. Ditto Japan! And Bernanke and the U.S.’s newly minted credit that “lenders of last resort” admitted to creating may only be a small part of what they really did in “combined secrecy” – under the table.


On September 18, the reduction of the discount rate by one-half of one percent by the “Bernanke Fed” told three separate stories:

1) The response indicates the worldwide liquidity crisis (and loss of faith in dollar-denominated debt) is serious. (It is gigantic and out of control!)

2) Today’s “fragility” of the worldwide money game is the greatest ever – with a dollar-debt debacle now a very real threat to American dominance in a fast-changing world.

3) Everyone still wants to play! As soon as central banks and the “fed” create hundreds of billions of dollars in credit to bail out the greed and mistakes of banks, investment bankers, and highly-leveraged hedge funds, the “new money” (credit) is channeled into new more highly leveraged “plays” by the maestros of Wall Street.


If you give your three-year old another stick of candy every time he cries, you may someday see a 21-year old adult (with no teeth) still sucking on a candy. The same goes for ever-expanding supplies of monetary credit provided by “papa.” Net result? Hyperinflation soon!

[ED. NOTE: As time passes between the time this written and when it is published, more huge “disconnects” in the world’s financial network will occur. We have not only cried “wolf” for many years – but “hyperinflation” for the past decade. Odds of American hyperinflation are now at least 10 to 1. The handwriting is on the wall! ]

As this goes to press, gold is skyrocketing along with oil and global commodities; the dollar is plunging; the public is still in the dark and sleeping – due to history’s most effective-ever Wall Street propaganda machine; and the seeds of a U.S. hyperinflation are being sown by the financial powers that be.

The global financial crisis which MIA has written about for decades is no longer coming! It is here! Prepare your personal finances accordingly!

Must see charts concerning effects of massive debt upon stocks:

L.A. County calling for lights-out hour

September 29, 2007
Los Angeles Times

San Francisco and Los Angeles County residents plan to switch off the lights for 60 minutes on October 20, between 8 and 9 p.m.

In the following weeks Los Angeles officials will publicize the event, which might drop energy use by 10 percent, according to a city councilwoman.

“The idea is to show people that a simple action can affect climate change and global warming,” said the director of operations for the Lights Out effort in San Francisco and nationwide.

The event also highlights the importance of using energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs, an alternative the county embraced when it spent $30 million for energy efficient lightning in its official buildings.

A nationwide blackout is scheduled for March 29.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Ron Paul's Candidacy is Provoking a Revival of Libertarian Conservatism

By Jose Antonio Vargas
Washington PostOctober 4, 2007

Is Ron Paul the Howard Dean of 2008?

Among the Texas congressman's loyal, passionate, Web-savvy supporters, that's not a question.

It's a statement -- and a semi-accurate one.

Here's a very important similarity: Like Dean, Paul has been against the war on Iraq from the beginning, setting him apart from the rest of the GOP field.

And just as Dean's insurgent campaign effectively used the Web to raise money, rally its supporters and create buzz the year before the 2004 elections, Paul's campaign throughout the year has singularly relied on the Internet to fuel his engine.

All that popularity has translated to online money: $5.1 million in the third quarter, with at least 70 percent of it coming from online donors, according to Paul spokesman Jesse Benton. He raised about $3.1 million in the first and second quarters -- 80 percent of it from online donations.

For months now, the noted Libertarian -- he's for dismantling the Department of Education and thinks the USA Patriot Act, which allows the government to search personal data, including Internet use, is unconstitutional -- has dominated the Republican field on the social-networking sites that serve as a barometer in online enthusiasm.

He has more Facebook supporters than former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who leads the Republican candidates in national polls.

He has more MySpace friends than former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who's topping the Republican polls in the early primary voting states of New Hampshire and Iowa.

His YouTube videos have been viewed more than Romney, Giuliani and Sen. John McCain -- combined.

"What we're seeing here is less about Paul being the Dean of this campaign but about the resurgence of libertarianism on the Internet. In the early '90s, the predominant philosophy on the Net was libertarian. Ross Perot had a lot of support from that group, which kind of faded in the background once the Republicans took control," said Jerome Armstrong, founder of the progressive blog MyDD and former Internet adviser for Dean.

"Now that group has Ron Paul. And they're more about being independent than about identifying with either parties. It's a small voice within the Republican party, libertarians, but they're creating a lot of noise."

Added Joshua Levy of TechPresident, the bipartisan group blog that monitors how the candidates are campaigning online: "Ron Paul's online popularity is really bigger than Ron Paul the candidate. There's a void in the Republican party because there are no candidates speaking to the more libertarian financial conservatism that's been the bedrock of the party. There's a sense that what passes for the GOP right now isn't Republican and it isn't conservative. Ron Paul is filling that void."

And since Paul isn't getting the mainstream media attention that the top-tier candidates are -- Levy calls him "Jerry Brown of the Republican debates" -- his frustrated supporters are goingonline.

In June, The Post reported that "Ron Paul" was one of the most frequently searched terms on Technorati, which offers a real-time snapshot of the blogosphere.

Nearly four months later, that still holds true.

Ron Paul


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Four Myths Government and Media Use to Scare Us About 'Dictators'

By Larry Beinhart
October 2, 2007

We have a basic mythology: Appeasement of dictators leads to war.

The historical basis for this narrative is the "appeasement" of Hitler at Munich. It encouraged him to believe the democracies -- and the Soviets -- were weak and would not oppose him. That led him to attempt more conquests and engulfed us all in the Second World War.

If the other countries had stood up to him right away, the theory goes, he would have backed down. If he hadn't, they would have gone to war and nipped him in the bud, thereby preventing WWII, the Holocaust, the deaths of 60 million and all the rest of the horrors.

Now we are floating the story that Mahmoud Ahmenajad is a dictator (the new, new Hitler, after Saddam Hussein). If we "appease" him, it will only encourage him and that will engulf us in World War Three.

If we accept the myth as a gospel truth that should guide our political and military lives, and accept that description as true, it makes good sense -- it is even necessary -- to start another preventive war, like the one in Iraq, to stop him now! Let us examine the facts.

Fog Fact No. 1: The president of Iran is not a dictator.

He is not even the most powerful person in Iran.

The position of president used to be a figurehead, but recently it was combined with that of prime minister and now has much real power. However, he does not control the army and the intelligence and security services. He does not have the power to go to war.

The president is elected by direct popular vote. There have been five so far. None has served more than two terms. Ahmenajad is in his first term. His previous office was as mayor of Tehran. He is a loud mouth, jingoistic conservative, rather like -- dare we say it? -- the current incarnation of Rudolph Giuliani in his run for U.S. president.

The best way to grasp how Iran is governed is to take its name quite literally: The Islamic Republic of Iran. It is a theocracy, but within the bounds of that -- which are fairly strict bounds -- it is run by elected officials.

The man at the top is called the supreme leader. His constitutional title is "Leader of the Revolution."

The supreme leader is commander-in-chief, with control of the army and the intelligence and security services. He can make the decision to go to war. He has a great many additional powers, including control of the state radio and television networks.

The supreme leader is elected -- and can be dismissed -- by the Assembly of Experts. This is an 86-member congress. They, in turn, are directly elected by popular vote, but must be Mujtahids, Islamic scholars qualified to practice Islamic law.

The way all this is kept under proper Islamic Revolutionary control is that all candidates for everything have to be approved before they can get on the ballot by the Council of Guardians.

There are 12 members. Half are appointed by the supreme leader. The other half are elected by the Iranian parliament from a list supplied by the head of judiciary (who is named by the supreme leader). They are all clerics and scholars of Islamic law. In sum, it is a republic, with many checks and balances, and real elections within theocratic limits. Everybody in government has to be a respectably devout Muslim, with the exception that of the 290 members of parliament there are five representatives from the recognized minority religions (two Armenian Christian, one Chaldean/Assyrian Catholic, one Jewish, one Zoroastrian).

An Iranian, or some other opponent of the United States, might claim that the cost of running for office here creates a de facto council of the wealthy that vets all candidates, excluding anyone who would work against their interests. They might also note that the elected members of the U.S. federal government are 93 percent Christian (including Catholics and Mormons), 7 percent Jewish, with a single Muslim, no pantheists and no atheists, almost a religious mirror image, of the makeup of the Iranian political class.

Fog Fact No. 2: The "appeasement" in the myth is very specific and rather narrow.

It refers to one country taking over the territory -- or the whole -- of another country. Then the world allowing that to stand. In 1938, Germany under Hitler annexed Austria. Hitler had already remilitarized the Rhineland -- which was supposed to be a demilitarized zone protecting France -- and taken over the Saar, a small area rich with coal and iron. Then he took over the Sudetenland, a part of Czechoslovakia. Its population, which was over 80 percent ethnically German, desired the annexation. However, it contained most of Czechoslovakia's defenses against Germany, which meant that if Germany wanted to take the rest, it would be able to so at will.

England, France and the Soviet Union had treaties with Czechoslovakia that obligated them to come to its defense. But they all wanted to avoid, or at least delay, war. So they came to an agreement -- the Munich Agreement -- which allowed Hitler to keep the Sudetenland. In 1939 Hitler took the rest of Czechoslovakia.

It does not refer to "allowing" one country to posture, threaten, arm or rearm.

Generally, since WWII, when one country has invaded another country, they've either fought to a stalemate (Iraq -- Iran, China -- India, China -- Vietnam, India -- Pakistan), or the invaders put in a friendly regime and then left (Vietnam -- Cambodia, United States -- Panama, Grenada, Dominican Republic) or, with international approval, the invader was kicked out (Iraq -- Kuwait, North Korea -- South Korea.)

But there are some very significant exceptions:

Fog Fact No. 3: Sometimes "appeasement" works well; it was American policy for 50 years.

After the Second World War the Soviet Union annexed the Baltic states, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, part of East Prussia and part of Slovakia. Then, mostly through rigged elections, it turned Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria into puppet states and used military force, when necessary, to maintain that status.

Neither the United States -- nor anyone else -- seriously challenged any of that.

Basically, we accepted that anything that happened inside the Iron Curtain -- formed by the positions where the Red Army stopped at the end of the war -- was inside its sphere of influence.

What Truman did do was adopt an active policy of containment. It opposed any attempt of the Soviets to go beyond those lines.

The Soviets did more or less the same. They accepted American hegemony where the American armies had stopped. They vigorously contested any efforts to go beyond that, especially anything that encroached on their sphere of influence. Anything outside those lines -- the Third World and the colonies that the Europeans had reoccupied -- was up for grabs, and all sorts of proxy wars were fought. But the Big One, a Third World War, was averted.

Under Nixon this had the formal name of "détente." There is no doubt that Iran is a "revolutionary" state, as it declares itself to be, and has "revolutionary" dreams, as the Communists used to. It believes that the whole world should eagerly throw off its secular chains and embrace the higher, holier order of Islam.

It wants things that we would prefer not to see happen.

It is also aware of its own physical and military limitations and don't appear to be suicidal.

So while it is prepared to use influence, money and propaganda, and to support violent people who believe as it does, or close to what it does, a reasonable prediction is that there are limits. It proceeds with caution.

It also has multiple interests and are flexible. At one point it offered to trade Al Qaeda terrorists that it was holding to the United States in return for anti-Iranian terrorists that America was holding in Iraq. The Bush administration never got around to replying.

Fog Fact No. 4: Nobody is speaking of what happens after a war with Iran.

The ultimate goal of the strategy of war is the shape of the peace that follows.

This is especially true of a war of choice. If someone attacks you, you fight back, and the goal is to stop them and be safe. But if it's a preemptive or preventive war, then a great deal of thought must be given to what happens after the attack. Will it make us safer? Stronger? More prosperous? How? And for how long?

It is clear that this administration did not give enough thought to that before the invasion of Iraq. There were plenty of dreams about the best-case scenario, but no plans for the worst, and the worst is what happened.

Now we are creating a new fog of mythologies -- about a "dictator" who isn't one, about "appeasement" that is completely inapplicable, about nuclear weapons that don't exist, about a country that is "evil" -- that make it seem like we must do something.

But what will the consequences of military action be? If we've learned but one single thing from the current war in Iraq it's that after we panic ourselves with descriptions of the worst that will happen if we don't act, we had better consider the worst that will happen if we do. And be ready for it.

That's a fact.

Larry Beinhart is the author of "Wag the Dog," "The Librarian," and "Fog Facts: Searching for Truth in the Land of Spin." All available at