You mean the Director of National Intelligence lied? I'm shocked -- shocked! -- to find gambling going on in this establishment!
29 September 2007
Yeah, it's a campaign press release, but still, it's accurate. Lovely, lovely Democrats: how I love them so.
Is Saint Obama still beatific? Is Hillary still just terrific? Or Edwards, the "left-wing" candidate according to the presstitutes and sheeple?
My "liberal" friends will tell me, no doubt, that Kucinich hasn't a chance, and that anyone's better than any Republican in 2008. That excuse is wearing very thin. Sure, there will be differences, but I can hardly see any in the truly important issues: more like disaster or total, complete disaster. Meanwhile, and against the public's desire when the Hitler-of-the- month-club propaganda machine isn't in full swing, all possible presidential candidates drift ever rightward. Funny how you don't see a leftward drift up there among the immortals, ain't it?
What to do? Give as much money as possible to Kucinich and tell everyone you know about him. A strong challenge at the polls might force some policy changes in the front-runner(s). It's too much to hope for Kucinich grabbing the nomination -- or is it?
As I've said over and over again, if every person who says, "I love Kucinich, but he has no chance" gave $50 and their vote to Kucinich, guess what?
28 September 2007
Exactly right: farce. I guess I now have to say:
- No, I'm not a Nazi holocaust-denier. I'd have a few more relatives if not for that event.
- No, I'm not a fan of Ahmadinejad. He's about as much of an ignorant fool as Bush, but he hasn't killed a million people over the past four years.
- No, I don't hate America.
You all know goddamn well that if Ahmadinejad was "our kind of guy," like the Shah was, he could act identically and no one would give a tenth of a shit about nuclear energy, bombs, civil liberties, or anything else.
Here's the whole farce:
Note the propaganda on Fox if you don't like al-Jazeera English. No, I don't think AJE should have cut into Bollinger's speech.
Nice pause by Bollinger on the "weakness" -- is there anyone with any real fucking balls left in this country?
Sigh. Here's Nat Parry on Bush, Ahmadinejad, and -- crucially -- authoritarianism. Here, not in Iran. -Gasp!- Here's a recent book by the psychologist cited in Parry's parry: Robert Altemeyer.
There simply is no opposition party in this country, not on the Middle East, or in foreign affairs, generally. Hasn't been since 1941, really. If you read about the end of the Roman Republic, especially Cicero's letters, you can see a similar phenomenon occur, as different sectors of the elite play "Constitutional Chicken" with each other, at the plebs expense. Always at the plebs expense. Them and the "barbarians."
From various reports over the last few days, in chronological order:
Tuesday, September 25th, 2007
Burmese Protesters Defy Military Warning to Continue Marches Against Ruling Junta
Thursday, September 27th, 2007
Burma Military Junta Cracks Down on Protesters; 8 People Killed, Hundreds of Monks Rounded Up
Friday, September 28th, 2007
More Dead in Burma as Troops Fire on Defiant Anti-Government
And one from IPS: RIGHTS-BURMA: Soldiers Fire Into Crowds, Regain Rangoon Streets
It's particularly rich to see Bush, and many others, clucking their tongues over Burma. Yes, obviously, what is going on there is hideous. That's not the point I'm making. The point is the hypocrisy required by people who are slaughtering thousands upon thousands in Iraq, and who are planning on bombing Iran. That doesn't get much notice, does it?
As Chomsky and Herman pointed out long ago (and followed up with much more detail here and here), some bloodbaths are more worthy than others. Guess what the distinctive criterion is?
From Juan Cole's Informed Comment [I had originally written "Informed Consent," and only now just noticed that no doubt wish-fulfillment parapraxis!]. More here, here, here, and here.
I made two claims about the transcript published by El Pais of Bush's conversations with Spanish leader Jose Maria Aznar on 22 February, 2003, at Crawford, Texas.
The first is that the transcript shows that Bush intended to disregard a negative outcome in his quest for a UN Security Council resolution authorizing a war against Iraq. Bush wanted such a resolution. He expressed a willingness to use threats and economic coercion to secure it. But he makes it perfectly clear that he will not wait for the UNSC to act beyond mid-March. He also explicitly says that if any of the permanent members of the UNSC uses its veto, "we will go." That is, failure to secure the resolution would trigger the war.
Uh, that is the opposite of the way it is supposed to work. If you can't get a UNSC resolution, and you haven't been attacked by the state against whom you want to go to war, then you are supposed to stand down.
Both because he set a deadline beyond which his "patience" would not stretch (the poor thing had already waited four months; I mean, is he a toddler that he lacks elementary patience?), and because he specified a UNSC veto as a signal for his launching of the war, Bush made it very clear that he was willing to trash the charter of the United Nations and to take the world back to the 1930s,to an era of mass politics when powerful states launched wars of choice at will on the basis of fevered rhetoric and fits of pique.
The second claim that I made was that Bush was aware of, and rejected, an offer by Saddam Hussein to flee Iraq, probably for Saudi Arabia, presuming he could take out with him a billion dollars and some documents on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs. Both provisions were intended by Saddam to protect him from later retaliation. The money would buy him protection from extradition, and the documents presumably showed that the Reagan and Bush senior administrations
Aznar asked Bush if he would grant Saddam these guarantees, and Bush roared back that he would not.
By refusing to allow Saddam to flee with guarantees, Bush ensured that a land war would have to be fought. This is one of the greatest crimes any US president ever committed, and it is all the more contemptible for being rooted in mere pride and petulance.
Note that even General Pervez Musharraf allowed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to go to Saudi Arabia with similar guarantees, even though Sharif was alleged to have attempted to cause Musharraf's death. A tinpot Pakistani general had more devotion to the good of his country, and more good sense, than did George W. Bush.
The passage in which Bush agrees with Aznar that it would be better if Baghdad fell without a fight refers to the possibility that the Iraqi officer corps would assassinate Saddam and decline to put up a fight. Bush would very much have liked such a fantasy to come true.
But he did not need to fantasize. He had a real offer in the hand, of Saddam's flight. He rejected it. By rejecting it, he will have killed at least a million persons and became one of the more monstrous figures in recent world history.
I have done a translation of the transcript, with some dictionary work. I would be glad of any corrections, but I think it is good enough for government work. No one can read it without recognizing that Bush was champing at the bit to go to war; that he only wanted the UNSC as a fig leaf and was determined to ignore it if it did not authorize the war; and that he had a deal on the table from Saddam but absolutely refused to pursue it, preferring instead either a sanguinary conflict or his adolescent fantasy of Baghdad falling without a shot.
Transcript of Bush-Aznar Consultation in Crawford, February 22, 2003
President Bush. We are in favor of getting a second resolution in the Security Council and would want to do it quickly. We would want to announce it Monday or Tuesday [24 or 25 of February of 2003].
President Aznar: Better Tuesday, after the meeting of the Council of General Affairs of the European Union. It is important to maintain the momentum gained by the resolution at the summit of the European Union [in Brussels, Monday 17 of February]. We would prefer to wait until Tuesday.
Bush. It could be in the evening Monday, considering the time difference. In any case, the next week. We will see that the resolution is written so that it does not contain obligatory steps [for Iraq], that it does not mention the use of force, and that it states that Saddam Hussein has been unable to fulfill his obligations. That type of resolution can be voted for by many people. It would be something similar to the one passed regarding Kosovo [the 10th of June of 1999].
Aznar: Would it be presented to the Security Council before, and independently of, a parallel declaration?
Condoleezza Rice. In fact there would not be parallel declaration. We are thinking about as simple a resolution as possible, without many details regarding [Iraq’s] obligations--su
Bush. Saddam Hussein will not change and will continue playing games. The moment has come to be rid of him. That’s the way it is. As for me, from now on I will try to tone down the rhetoric as much as possible, while we seek approval of the resolution. If somebody uses a veto, we will go. [Russia, China and France have, along with the U.S.A. and the United Kingdom the right to a veto in the Security Council by virtue of being permanent members]
Saddam Hussein is not disarming. We have to take him right now. We have shown an incredible degree of patience so far. There are two weeks left. In two weeks we will be militarily ready. I believe that we will get the second resolution. In the Security Council we have the three African members [Cameroun, Angola and Guinea], the Chileans, and the Mexicans. I will speak with all of them, also with Putin, naturally. We will be in Baghdad at the end of March. There is a 15% possibility that Saddam Hussein will die or flee. But that possibility will not exist until we have demonstrated our resolve. The Egyptians are talking to Saddam Hussein. It seems that he has indicated that he is willing to go into exile if he can take a billion dollars with him and all the information that he wants on weapons of mass destruction. [Muammar] Gaddafi told Berlusconi that Saddam Hussein wants to go away. Mubarak tells us that in these circumstances it is entirely possible that he will be assassinated.
We would like to act with the mandate of the United Nations. If we act militarily we will do it with great precision, tightly focusing on our objectives. We will decimate the troops loyal to him, and the regular army quickly will recognize what is going on. We have sent a very clear message to Saddam’s generals: we will treat them like war criminals. We know that they have accumulated an enormous amount of dynamite to demolish bridges and other infrastructure and to blow up the oil wells. We foresee occupying those wells very quickly. Also, the Saudis will help us by putting on the market all the petroleum that is necessary. We are developing a package of very extensive humanitarian aid. We can win without destruction. We are already planning for a post-Saddam Iraq, and I believe that there are good bases for a better future. Iraq has a relatively good bureaucracy and a civil society. It can be organized as a federal system. Meanwhile, we are doing everything possible to take care of the political needs of our friends and allies.
Aznar: It is very important to have a resolution. It is not the same to act with it as without it. It would be very advisable to have a majority in the Security Council that supported that resolution. In fact, it is important to have it passed by a majority, even if someone exercises a veto. Let us consider that the text of the resolution would have among other things to state that Saddam Hussein has lost his opportunity.
Bush. Yes, by all means. It would be better to have a reference to “necessary means” [a reference to the type of UN resolution that authorizes the use of “all necessary means”].
Aznar: Saddam Hussein has not cooperated, has not been disarmed; we would have to summarize his breaches and to send a more detailed message. That would allow, for example, Mexico to move [a reference to a change in its negative position on the second resolution, the extent of which Aznar could have known about from the lips of president Vicente Fox on Friday, February 21, in Mexico City].
Bush. The resolution will be custom-made in such a way that it will help you. The content gives me a little of the same [sense].
Aznar: We will send you some language.
Bush. We do not have any text. Only a criterion: that Saddam Hussein disarm. We cannot allow Saddam Hussein to drag things out until the summer. After all, this last stage has already lasted four months, and this is more than enough time to disarm.
Aznar: Having a text would allow us to sponsor it and to be its coauthors, and to arrange for many others to sponsor it.
Aznar: The next Wednesday [(2)6 of February] I envision being with Chirac. The resolution will already have begun to circulate.
Bush. It seems to me all very good. Chirac knows the reality perfectly. Their intelligence services have explained it to him. The Arabs are transmitting a very clear message to Chirac: Saddam Hussein must go. The problem is that Chirac thinks he is Mister Arab, but in fact he is making their lives impossible. But I do not want to have any rivalry with Chirac. We have different points of view, but I would like that to be all. Give him my best regards. Really! The less rivalry he feels exists between us, the better it will be for everyone.
Aznar: How to combine the resolution with the report of the inspectors?
Condoleezza Rice. Actually there will not be a report on February 28, but the inspectors will present a report written on March 1. We don’t have high hopes for that report. As with the previous ones, it will be a mixed picture. I have the impression that Blix will now be more negative than he was before, with regard to the Iraqis’ intentions. After the appearance of the inspectors before the Council, we must anticipate a vote on the resolution one week later. The Iraqis, meanwhile, will try to explain that they are fulfilling their obligations. It isn’t true, and it won’t be sufficient, though they may announce the destruction of some missiles.
Bush. This is like Chinese water torture. We must put an end to it.
Aznar. I agree, but it would be good to have the maximum possible number of people. Have a little patience.
Bush: My patience is exhausted. I don’t intend to wait longer than the middle of March.
Aznar. I do not request that you have infinite patience. Simply that you do everything possible so that it all works out.
Bush: Countries like Mexico, Chile, Angola, and Cameroon must realize that what’s at stake is the security of the United States, and they should act with a sense of friendship toward us. [Chilean President Ricardo] Lagos should know that the Free Trade Accord with Chile is awaiting Senate confirmation and a negative attitude about this could put ratification in danger. Angola is receiving Millennium Account funds [to help alleviate poverty] and that could be jeopardized also if he’s not supportive. And Putin must know that his attitude is putting in danger the relations of Russia with the United States.
Aznar. Tony [Blair] would like to wait until the 14th of March.
Bush: I prefer the 10th. This is like a game of bad cop, good cop. I don’t mind being the bad cop, and Blair can be the good one.
Aznar. Is it certain that any possibility exists that Saddam Hussein will go into exile?
Bush: The possibility exists, including that he will be assassinated.
Aznar. Exile with a guarantee?
Bush: No guarantee. He is a thief, a terrorist, a war criminal. Compared with Saddam, Milosevic would be a Mother Teresa. When we go in, we are going to discover many more crimes and we will take him to the Court the International Justice. Saddam Hussein thinks that he has already escaped. He thinks that France and Germany have ceased fulfilling their responsibilitie
Aznar. In fact the biggest success would be to win the game without firing a single shot and entering Baghdad.
Bush: For me it would be the perfect solution. I do not want war. I know what wars are. I know the destruction and the death that they bring with them. I am the one who has to console the mothers and the widows of the dead. By all means, for us that would be the best solution. In addition, it would save $50 billion.
Aznar. We need you to help us with our public opinion.
Bush: We will do everything we can. Wednesday I am going to speak on the situation in the Middle East, proposing the new peace plan with which you are familiar, and on weapons of mass destruction, on the benefits of a free society, and I will locate the history of Iraq in a wider context. Perhaps it will serve you.
Aznar. What we are doing is a very deep change for Spain and the Spaniards. We are changing the policy that the country had followed for the past two hundred years.
Bush: A historical sense of the responsibility guides me just as it does you. When within a few years History judges us, I do not want people to ask themselves why Bush, or Aznar, or Blair did not face their responsibilitie
Aznar. All to the good.
Bush: I made the decision to go to the Security Council. In spite of the disagreements in my Administration,
Aznar. The only thing that worries me about you is your optimism.
Bush: I am optimistic because I believe that I am in the right. I am at peace with myself. It has been up to us to face a serious threat to the peace. It irritates me a great deal to consider the indifference of the Europeans to the sufferings that Saddam Hussein inflicts on Iraqis. Perhaps because he is brown-skinned, far away, and Muslim, many Europeans think that everything is all right in his regard. I will not forget what Solana once said to me: why do we Americans think that the Europeans are anti-Semitic and unable to confront their responsibilitie
Aznar. He shares your ethical preoccupations.
Bush: The more the Europeans attack me, the stronger I am in the United States.
Aznar. We would like to make your strength compatible with the esteem of the Europeans.
26 September 2007
From S.A. Hanford's translation (linked in title above), pp. 221-225. Cataline has been found guilty of conspiracy against the Roman state; Cato is responding to Caesar's plea against the death penalty and for life imprisonment, both of which are punishments that departed from precedent. The date is December 5, 63 BC.
I record the speech here for obvious echoes it has for our own context; there is a lot of debate about just who was guilty of what in the Cataline Affair.
When I turn, gentlemen, from contemplating the dangerous situation in which we stand to reflect upon the opinions of some of the previous speakers, the impression made on my mind is very different. If I understood them rightly, they were discussing the punishment to be meted out to these men who have planned to make war on their country, parents, altars, and hearths. But the situation warns us rather to take precautions against them than to deliberate what sentence we shall pass on them. Other crimes can be punished when they have been committed; but with a crime like this, unless you take measures to prevent its being committed, it is too late: once it has been done, it is useless to invoke the law. When a city is captured, its defeated inhabitants lose everything.
I will address myself for a moment to those of you who have always been more concerned for your houses, villas, statues, and pictures, than you have for your country. In heaven's name, men, if you want to keep those cherished possessions, whatever they may be, if you want to have peace and quiet for the enjoyment of your pleasures, wake up while there is still time and lend a hand to defend the Republic. It is not a matter of misappropriated taxes, or wrongs done to subject peoples; it is our liberty and lives that are at stake.
Many a time, gentlemen, have I spoken at length in this House; many a time have I reproached our fellow citizens for their self-indulgence and greed -- and by so doing have made many enemies; for as I had never, in my own conscience, excused myself for any wrongdoing, I found it hard to pardon the sins which other men's passions led them to commit. You took little notice of my remonstrances; but the stability of the state was not impaired by your indifference, because of its great prosperity. Now, however, it is not the question whether our morals are good or bad, nor is it the size and grandeur of the Roman empire that we have to consider. The issue is whether that empire, whatever we may think of it, is going to remain ours, or whether we and it together are to fall in to the hands of enemies. In such a crisis does anyone talk to me of clemency and compassion? For a long time now we have ceased to call things by their proper names. To give away other people's property is called generosity; criminal daring goes by the name of courage. That is why our affairs have come to such a pass. However, since such is our standard of morality, let Romans be liberal, if they want to, at the expense of our subjects, let them be merciful to plunderers of the exchequer. But let them not make a present of our life-blood, and by sparing a handful of criminals go the way to destroy all honest men.
It was an eloquent and polished lecture that Gaius Caesar delivered to you a few minutes ago on the subject of life and death. Evidently he disbelieves the account men give of the next world -- how the wicked go a different way from the good, and inhabit a place of horror, fear, and noisome desolation. Therefore he recommended that the property of the accused should be confiscated and that they should be imprisoned in various towns. No doubt he feared that if they remained in Rome, either the adherents of the conspiracy or a hired mob might rescue them by force. What does he think? Are there bad characters and criminals only at Rome, and not all over Italy? Is reckless violence not more likely to succeed where there is less strength to resist it? His proposals are useless if he apprehends danger from the conspirators; and if amid such universal fear he alone is not afraid, I have the more reason to be afraid for myself and for you. In making your decision about Publius Lentulus and the other prisoners, you must realize that you will also be determining the fate of Cataline's army and of the whole body of conspirators. The more energetically you act, the more will their courage be shaken. Show the slightest weakness, and you will soon have the whole pack of them here barking defiance at you.
Do not imagine that it was by force of arms that our ancestors transformed a petty state into this great Republic. If it were so, it would now be at the height of its glory, since we have more subjects and citizens, more arms and horses, than they had. It was something quite different that made them great -- something that we are entirely lacking in. They were hard workers at home, just rulers abroad; and to the council-chamber they brought untrammelled minds, neither racked by consciousness of guilt nor enslaved by passion. We have lost these virtues. We pile up riches for ourselves while the state is bankrupt. We sing the praises of prosperity -- and idle away our lives. Good men or bad -- it is all one: all the prizes that merit ought to win are carried off by ambitious intriguers. And no wonder, when each one of you schemes only for himself, when in your private lives you are slaves to pleasure, and here in the Senate House the tools of money or influence. The results is that when an assault is made upon the Republic, there is no one there to defend it.
I will say no more on that subject. A plot has been hatched by citizens of the highest rank to set fire to their native city. Gauls, the deadliest foes of everything Roman, have been called to arms. The hostile army and its leader are ready to descend upon us. And are you still hesitating and unable to decide how to treat public enemies taken within your walls? I suggest you take pity on them -- they are young men led astray by ambition; armed though they are, let them go. But mind what you are doing with clemency and compassion: if they unsheathe the sword, you may have reason to regret your attitude. Oh yes, you say, the situation is certainly ugly, but you are not afraid of it. On the contrary, you are shaking in your shoes; but you are so indolent and weak that you stand irresolute, each waiting for someone else to act -- trusting, doubtless, to the gods, who have often preserved our Republic in times of deadly peril. I tell you that vows and womanish supplications will not secure divine aid; it is by vigilance, action, and wise counsel, that all success is achieved. If you give way to sloth and cowardice, the gods turn a deaf ear to your entreaties: their wrath makes them your enemies.
In bygone days, during a war with the Gauls, Aulus Manilus Torquatus had his son put to death for fighting the enemy against orders. That noble youth paid with his life for an excess of valour; and do you, who are trying a set of ruthless traitors to their country, hesitate about the appropriate sentence to pass? If their past lives are urged in extenuation of their crime, by their past lives let them be judged. Spare Lentulus for his high rank -- if he ever spared his own chastity and good name, or showed any respect for god or man. Pardon the youth Cethegus -- if this is not already the second time he has made war on his country. As for Gabinius, Statilius, and Caseparius, if they had not been utterly unscrupulous, they would never plotted as they did against the state.
To conclude, gentlemen: if we could afford to risk the consequences of making a mistake, I should be quite willing to let experience convince you of your folly, since you scorn advice. But we are completely encircled. Cataline and his army are ready to grip us by the throat, and there are other foes within the walls, in the very heart of our city. We can make no plans or preparations without its being known -- an additional reason for acting quickly. This therefore is my recommendation. Whereas by the criminal designs of wicked citizens the Republic has been subjected to serious danger; and whereas, by the testimony of Titus Volturcius and the envoys of the Allobroges, confirmed by the prisoners' own confession, they stand convicted of having planned massacre, arson, and other foul atrocities against their fellow citizens and their country: that, having admitted their criminal intention, they should be put to death as if they had been caught in the actual commission of capital offences, in accordance with ancient custom.
25 September 2007
De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Section 4: "Influence of Democratic Ideas and Feelings on Political Society"
- That the Opinions of Democratic Nations about Government are Naturally Favorable to the Concentration of Power.
- That the Sentiments of Democratic Nations Accord with their Opinions in Leading them to Concentrate Political Power.
- Of Certain Peculiar and Accidental Causes which either Lead a People to Complete the Centralization of Government or Divert them from it.
- That Among the European Nations of our Time the Sovereign Power is Increasing, Although the Sovereigns are Less Stable.
24 September 2007
Another documentary on A Clockwork Orange:
And here's another one: