Sunday, December 2. 2007
Dahr Jamail: How to Control the Story, Pentagon-style. Not exactly news, but worth reading amidst all the fluff propaganda coming out of the White House on how good things are going in Iraq, especially the bit about the "enduring" deal that Bush and Maliki are reported as nearing (maybe in mid-2008) to permanently base US troops in Iraq. Bush will forever be remembered as a war criminal: the Decider who insisted in launching an aggressive war that has caused the deaths of a million or more Iraqis, that has turned millions more into refugees, and that shows no end in sight.
Catherine Collins/Douglas Frantz: The Proliferation Game. An excerpt from the authors' book on AQ Khan and the Pakistani nuclear bomb racket. The authors argue first of all that the roots of the Pakistani atom bomb program lie in "Eisenhower's 1953 Atoms for Peace program, billed as a humanitarian gesture aimed at sharing the peaceful potential of atomic energy with the world." Moreover, the execution of the program was achieved primarily through the multinational business community that built up around so-called peaceful nuclear power. Khan was adept at exploiting this network, and went further in organizing the whole business. Thanks to global warming, nuclear power seems to be creeping back onto the agenda again. (Gwyneth Cravens' book, Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy [2007, Knopf], looks to be a relatively articulate pro-nuclear argument, although a lot of the comparisons strike me as suspect; e.g., "A person living within 50 miles of a nuclear plant receives less radiation from it in a year than you get from eating one banana.") No matter how good an idea nuclear power seems, unless you can provide a clean way to separate it from nuclear weapons it remains fraught with danger. It remains unclear whether that can be done, but the example of Pakistan shows us two things: one is that the dichotomy between the haves and the have-nots is always ripe for levelling; the other is that the have-nots can and will find a way. I think Collins and Frantz are probably wrong in calling Khan a Jihadist, although what he's done certainly makes nuclear armament much more accessible to Jihadists. But he's also shown that the nuclear powers will be increasingly unable to keep their nuclear monopoly.
Paul Woodward: The Annapolis Peace Train - destination unknown. Quotes David Ignatius saying that the very words "peace process" have a narcotic effect. Quotes Olmert on how the suffering of Palestinians has "formented the ethos of hatred toward us," then notes how Olmert plans to cut off the electricity in Gaza, increasing that suffering and hatred -- Woodward adds, "This is honey-sweetened sadism."
Kaveh L Afrasiabi: Iran: The uninvited guest at peace summit. One reason why Annapolis will fail:
Actually, the weakness is not intrinsic in the positions of Bush, Olmert, and Abbas. It's in their positions, which aim to divide the forces and dismiss the universal appeal to justice. Inviting Iran wouldn't solve anything in terms of the political pressure Iran might apply to Hamas, Hezbollah, etc., but it would signify a step toward including all sides in the settlement. Inviting Hamas and Hezbollah would go even further. But Bush, Olmert, and Abbas all seek nothing more than leverage against their enemies.
Michael Schwartz: Why Bush Won't Leave Iraq. Midway through, this asks one of the fundamental questions of our age: "What does the Bush Administration want in Iraq?" Schwartz returns to the question of oil, which continues to be an intrisic part of Bush's demands for Iraqi reform. "American ambitions -- far more than sectarian tensions -- constitute the irresolvable core of Iraq's political problems. The overwhelming majority of Iraqis oppose the occupation. They wish the Americans gone and a regime in place in Baghdad that is not an American ally. . . . For four years, Iraqis of all sectarian and political persuasions have (successfully) resisted American attempts to activate the plan first developed by Cheney's Energy Task Force."
Tom Engelhardt: A Basis for Enduring Relationships in Iraq. This continues from Schwartz's essay, attempting to decipher the "Declaration of Principles for a Long-Term Relationship of Cooperation and Friendship Between the Republic of Iraq and the United States of America" -- the recently touted agreement-to-agree meant to pepetuate Bush's occupation of Iraq for future administrations. This, again, has much to do with oil, as well as the military's endless expansion of "enduring camps" that provide the matrix for a long-term garrisoning of the region. What's missing from the reporting is Iraqis like Maliki are thinking in playing along with this game. Maybe the agreement-to-agree isn't much of a concession. Iraq has a weak government, which despite its elections doesn't seem to have much popular support. What really backs the government is massive American military firepower, but that has to be a source of embarrassment for any Iraqi politician who hopes to survive the eventual withdrawal. We all know that's not going to happen on Bush's watch, so the game continues, with the Iraqis not forcing what they certainly know has to happen, and Bush making like it never will -- that in the end his war will be redeemed, unless of course the cowardly Democrats pull the plug.