A blogger friend of mine wrote this in one of the comment sections.
It's been to the point for some time to say(and if it pisses people off tough fucking shit because it's the truth)they died for nothing.
It's been to the point for some time to say(and if it pisses people off tough fucking shit because it's the truth)they died for nothing.
On the eve of President Obama's speech to the nation on Iraq, some of the people who dreamed up this foolish war or helped persuade the nation that it was a good idea are getting out their paintbrushes and whitewash. I refer, of course, to the twin op-eds in today's New York Times by former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and neoconservative columnist David Brooks.
Wolfowitz, you will recall, was one of the main architects of the war, having pushed the invasion during the 1990s and as soon as he became Deputy Secretary of Defense in the Bush adminstration. He was the guy who recommended invading Iraq four days after 9/11, even though Osama bin Laden was nowhere near Iraq and there was no evidence that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with it. For his part, Brooks was an enthusiastic cheerleader for the war in the months prior to the invasion, and he continued to defend it long after the original rationale had been exposed as a sham.
The main thrust of Wolfowitz's column is that the United States should remain in Iraq for as long as it takes to yield a "stable country." His analogy is to Korea, where the United States has stationed troops for nearly sixty years. Of course, Wolfowitz ignores the fact that our role in Korea was defensive: we entered the Korean War after North Korea invaded the South (with Soviet help), and we did so with the full authorization of the U.N. Security Council. In Iraq, by contrast, the United States went to war on the basis of bogus evidence, as part of a grand scheme to "transform" the entire Middle East.
Staying in Korea was also part of the broader strategy of containment, which made good sense in that historical epoch. The Soviet Union was a serious great power adversary and North Korea was a close Soviet ally, and there was every reason to think the North might try again if South Korea were left on its own. By contrast, maintaining a semi-permanent military presence in Iraq isn't going to contain anyone, and it is precisely that sort of on-the-ground interference that fuels jihadi narratives about nefarious Western plans to dominate Muslim lands. It is perhaps also worth remembering that our prolonged military presence in South Korea isn't very popular there anymore, and that most Iraqis want us out of their country too.
Notice also that Wolfowitz says very little about the costs of this adventure in the past, or how much more blood and treasure the United States should be expected to spend in the future. There are boilerplate references to the "brave men and women" of the U.S. military, and to Iraq's people "who have borne a heavy burden." All true, but he doesn't offer any numbers (either dollars spent or lives lost), because he might have to take his share of responsibility for the hundreds of thousands of people who would be alive today if the United States had not followed his advice. It would also remind us that he once predicted that the war would cost less than $100 billion and that Iraq's oil revenues would pay for reconstruction and so it wouldn't cost the American taxpayer a dime. Given that track record, in fact, one wonders why theTimes editors thought he was a reliable source of useful advice on Iraq today.
As for Brooks, his column is a transparent attempt to retroactively justify an unnecessary war. He marshals an array of statistics showing how much things have improved in Iraq, but all his various numbers show is that after you've flattened a country and dismantled its entire political order, you can generate some positive growth rates if you pour billions of dollars back in. He claims this "nation-building" effort cost only $53 billion (hardly a trivial sum), but that figure omits all the other costs of the war (which economist Joseph Stiglitz and budget expert Linda Bilmes estimate to be in excess of $3 trillion). And like Wolfowitz, Brooks is mostly silent about the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis and thousands of dead and wounded Americans who paid the price for their naïve experiment in social engineering.
Of course, what Wolfowitz and Brooks are up to is not hard to discern. They want Americans to keep pouring resources into Iraq for as long as it takes to make their ill-fated scheme look like a success. Equally important, they want to portray Iraq in a somewhat positive light now, so that Obama and the Democrats get blamed when things go south.
All countries make mistakes, because leaders are fallible and no political system is immune from folly. But countries compound their errors when they cannot learn from them, and when they don't hold the people responsible for them accountable. Sadly, these two pieces suggest that the campaign to lobotomize our collective memory is now underway. If it succeeds, we can look forward to more "success stories" like this in the future. FROM HERE
There will be plenty spirits of Iraq policy past, present and future crowding the dais tonight as the President announces a “successful” transition and “a promise kept” for the drawdown of American troops from Iraq.
There’s George W. and Dick Cheney and their ghoulish courtiers – Donald Rumsfeld and his number two Paul Wolfowitz, not to mention coalition provisional authority viceroy L. Paul Bremer and Douglas Feith, all who dragged the country into Iraq and then botched it irreparably.
Hovering close by are our military demigods, Gens. David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno, gently plucking and pulling the strings of the president who is trying to convince the American people that Iraq is all but over, despite leaving 50,000 soldiers and a civilian force of at least 10,000 staff and heavily armed security contractors behind.
But the real phantasm casting a pall over the proceedings is an Iraqi one and he represents it all – the past, present and more importantly, the future of Iraq. Muqtada al Sadr, once dismissed by Washington neoconservatives as a desperate, washed-up five-cent firebrand, is now an Iranian-supported kingmakerwho will not only help determine the next government and prime minister, but has threatened to activate the armed wing of his low-lying Mahdi Army, the Promised Day Brigade, if the American “occupier” doesn’t pack up and leave entirely.
The “Promised Day Brigade” will “prepare quietly to launch qualitative attacks against the occupiers (U.S. forces) if they stay beyond 2011,” said Sadr spokesman Salah al-Obeidi, to the Associated Press, in May. “It will have a big role to play to drive them out of Iraq.”
Sadr is of course, an awkward subject for an administration attempting to project the best, most optimistic image in the rear-view. This was Bush’s war, and Obama seems eager to keep it that way, more so, to move on and to focus on his mess in Afghanistan. But he is having a hard time fully extricating – Odierno has already suggested scenarios in which the U.S combat mission might have to resume – and the fact that there is no government, and may not be any government without Sadr’s say-so, must be very difficult to stomach back in Washington.
Says writer Babak Dehghanpisheh, in his August Foreign Policy piece, “The King of Iraq“:
“The Sadrists … aren’t going anywhere – which puts Washington, among others, in a bind. Sadr’s supporters are more than just a political party. The cleric is clearly following the Hezbollah model, creating populist political movement backed by a battle-hardened militia. The language Sadr uses when discussing the U.S. presence in Iraq – resistance, occupation, martyrdom – could easily have been taken from a speech by Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah. All this has discouraged U.S. officials from holding talks with Sadr – something they’ve never done since 2003. It’s not exactly like Sadr has gone out of his way to open up a dialogue, either. In fact, Sadr and many of his top aides have made it clear that the Mahdi Army won’t disarm as long as there are American troops on Iraqi soil.”
From the start, the 37-year-old cleric, politician and militia leader has openly denounced the security agreement allowing for the gradual drawdown of troops by 2011. When the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) was signed in 2008 by Bush and Sadr’s political rival, Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, Sadr promised blood in the streets unless the U.S left sooner.
“I repeat my call on the occupier to get out from the land of our beloved Iraq, without retaining bases or signing agreements,” said Sadr, who has been in religious training, and managing his political affairs from a safe perch in Iran for the last three years. “If they do stay, I urge the honorable resistance fighters … to direct their weapons exclusively against the occupier.” His words came a month after tens of thousands of his supporters took to the streets in Baghdad against the SOFA.
In a piece called “The Bad Boy of Iraqi Politics Returns,” Mohamad Bazzi points out how “Sadr’s political ascendance threatens to stoke sectarian tensions in Iraq,” which are particularly acute as a wave of violence, reportedly sparked by remaining al Qaeda factions in Iraq, have killed hundreds in the country over the last several weeks. While American leaders appear to downplay it, the fact that an anti-American Shia who once tested U.S military resolve in Najaf, Karbala, Basra and Baghdad, is gathering himself up for a big political victory and possibly, a future Shia revival, seems to be the silent ugly truth of Obama’s “successful” troop drawdown.
“Under the circumstances, (Sadr’s) power and influence inside Iraq’s Shia community is both permanent and growing,” noted retired Army Col. Douglas Macgregor. “He is unlikely to lead the country, but he and his supporters will wield decisive influence.”
But We Thought He Was Dead!
Maybe not dead, but certainly defeated. A number of times – or at least it always seemed so. But he always comes back. Sadr is the son-in-law of a Shia martyr and the fourth son of the beloved Grand AyatollahMohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, who was murdered in 1989 along with two of Sadr’s brothers, allegedly by Ba’athists working for dictator Saddam Hussein. Because Sadr’s father had sacrificed his life by remaining in Iraq rather than fleeing to Iran during Saddam’s dictatorship, his family name invokes great respect and authority among the Iraqi Shia to this day. Baghdad’s Sadr City was later named for his martyrdom.
Muqtada al Sadr has only enhanced this influence and legitimacy among Sadrist Shia followers during the U.S war, for rebelling against and not consorting with “the occupier,” nor bending to the wills of Maliki or even Iran. Just last week, Sadr told his hosts in Iran that he will leave them and set up shop in Lebanon if they continue to exert pressure on him to join Maliki in a coalition government. The political situation has been in a stalemate since March when parties backed by Sadr and former prime minister Iyad Allawi won enough seats to break Maliki’s grip over the formation of the future government.
Sadr does not support, nor trust Maliki, after the Iraqi prime minister took up common cause with the Americans and helped lead a series of crackdowns on Sadrist strongholds, particularly Sadr City, in 2007 and 2008 as part of the infamous “Surge.” At the time, throughout several wobbly ceasefires and Sadr’s exile to Iran, his movement appeared doomed to the dustbin. Since then, Maliki’s forces have fully penetrated Sadr City, the remaining loyalist fighters seemingly melted away.
According to the Washington Post, Sadr froze the Mahdi Army’s activities in 2008 and “has since divided most of his men into two unarmed civic organizations called Mumahidoon, ‘those who pave the way,’ and Munasiroon, ‘the supporters,’ to provide services to the poor, protect mosques and study religion. The aforementioned Promised Day Brigade is the Mahdi’s only armed wing. Offshoots of the old army, referred to by the U.S military as “special groups,” operate independently, and often contrary, to Sadr’s leadership and goals.
But Muqtada’s influence among the Shia has always been second-guessed by American analysts. During a wave of Mahdi Army uprisings in 2004 in which Sadr’s forces briefly gained control of key Shia cities over American forces, neoconservative Michael Rubin at the American Enterprise Institute called Sadr “a desperate man,” who wanted to “cash in on his family’s name,” and whose “support has hemorrhaged over the past several months.” A month later, Charles Krauthammer declared that Sadr’s militia, was “systematically taken down by the U.S military.”
Not quite – it turned out they had a few good fights left in them. Sadr, meanwhile, was not so disregarded by the Shia that he wasn’t able to influence the 2006 elections. Sadr-backed candidates won an impressive 30 seats in the election and helped to propel Maliki to the head of the government. Sadr’s political sway was only matched – and surpassed – in this way in March, when his candidates won 40 seats and a coveted place at the bargaining table.
“Sadr has once again shown greater political skill than the United States and his Iraqi rivals usually give him credit for,” wrote Mohamed Bazzi in July. Patrick Cockburn, author of Muqtada, told Antiwar Radio’s Scott Horton recently that Sadr represented “the only grassroots movement in Iraq.”
As Cockburn explained in his book, while U.S media and government “demonizes and belittles” Sadr, his political – and physical – survival belies a strength that Americans may not be fully prepared to understand or ultimately overcome. “Muqtada and his followers are intensely religious and see themselves as following in the tradition of martyrdom in opposition to the tyranny established when Hussein and Abbas were killed by the Umayyads on the plains of Karbala fourteen hundred years ago,” writes Cockburn.
In other words, while the American lens might see Sadr as just another ambitious man seeking political control of Iraq, it may be missing the bigger picture, that Sadr is studying in Iran to become an ayatollah in the tradition of his family, perhaps seeking to become an authoritative, supreme religious leader who commands the politics and steers Iraq into a more purist Shia vision – one that has no place for the America’s own strategic vision for the Middle East.
The prospect for this should be what tickles the back of Obama’s neck as he takes to the podium this evening.
“The key point,” says Macgregor, “is we spent a trillion dollars, sacrificed and destroyed thousands of US lives and millions of Arab lives with the result that we changed nothing of significance inside Iraq.”
A series of bomb attacks have badly hit US troops in eastern and southern Afghanistan in the past 48 hours.
The death toll among in the Nato-led coalition has reached 484 this year and is predicted to far surpass 2009’s total of 521.
Deaths have risen consistently each year since 2001. Afghan police and civilians have suffered far higher casualties.
The coalition blames the rise in troop deaths partly on the influx of reinforcements, which is allowing commanders to target previously untouched insurgent safe havens where rebels are mounting stiff resistance.
Gen David Petraeus, senior US and Nato commander in the country, warned last week fighting would “get harder before it gets easier”.
In two of the most deadly recent incidents, three Americans died in eastern Afghanistan on one bomb attack on Tuesday. Five died in a single bomb attack in the south on Monday.
Military spokesmen would not say if the bombs hit vehicles or foot patrols.
Homemade bombs using old shells or homemade explosives and hidden in roads, tracks, walls, streams and buildings have become the Taliban’s favoured weapon.
Their use has sparked an arms race with foreign troops evolving tactics, or relying on more heavily armed vehicles and mine detectors to try and avoid them.
How can any democrat or any human being approve of President Obama is beyond me. Will he go to these families homes and explain to them for what purpose they have died?
Will he go the the innocent Afghan peoples homes and share their sorrow and grief of their dead from our drones. Obama is a War President of Choice. No two ways about it.
Once again, what we don't know about the erosion of rights in this country can be as bad as what we do.
While Americans debate and litigate the Arizona law authorizing search and seizure of anyone police "reasonably suspect" to be an illegal immigrant, U.S. immigration officials on trains and buses up to 100 miles south of the Canadian border are confronting and sometimes strip-searching dark-skinned passengers whose only "crime" may be that they bought a public-transportation ticket to travel within the United States, The New York Times reports.
It's part of what some consider the new and improved border patrols to protect "the homeland" from potential terrorists. No matter that the kind of people being stopped, The Times reports, include an 60-year-old Ecuadoran-born U.S. citizen who carries a passport while visiting her sister in the Midwest because she's been stopped before and hassled without it. No matter that it includes a Taiwanese-born PhD student who, two days after delivering a paper at a Chicago conference, was taken from a train -- one that had never crossed any borders -- in Batavia, N.Y., strip-searched in a detention center and held, facing detention, because his visa had expired. No matter that a 21-year-old Long Island high school graduate was taken from the Lake Shore Limited in Rochester, N.Y., held for three weeks while her mother frantically tried to reach her and released at night at a rural Texas gas station.
These are not rumors. They are true stories, reported and told by The New York Times. They smack of overt racial profiling: How many blue-eyed Swedes and fair-skinned Russians do you think have been stopped on the trains and buses, whether they are gangsters, terrorists or simply PhD students? And they raise chilling reminders of World War II movies in which Nazi soldiers would walk down the aisles of trains looking for Jews.
"It's turned into a police state on the northern border," Cary M. Jensen, director of international services for the University of Rochester told The Times. He said foreign students, scholars and parents all have been questioned and, in some cases, jailed because the patrol did not recognize their legal status, the paper reports.
As I said, some Americans, frightened by our decade of war and fearful of anyone "different," will applaud the newfound vigilance of immigration officials. Some, no doubt, were among the tens of thousands who flocked to the Lincoln Memorial this weekend to hear calls that America return to a more honorable time when we didn't have to worry about foreigners (read non-white foreigners) crossing our borders. Just when that was I'm not sure since we are a nation founded by the poor and persecuted.
What the Tea Party folks may not be thinking is that this is how police states start. I wonder how they'd feel as white Americans (and the Tea Party is white) if police in Mexico pulled them off a train and threw them in jail because they'd forgotten to carry identity papers?
As for the rest of us, perhaps it's time to do more than yawn and turn on that new flat screen TV to catch pre-season football. My father fled Hitler's Germany on foot in 1935, walking through the mountains into what was then Czechoslovakia. If he taught me one thing it was this: What happened there can happen anywhere. That is why even as an American Army vet and longtime U.S. citizen, he never let his passport expire. He was always prepared to move on.
War and fear erode a country's moral compass and distort its sense of just action. Subtly for most, we've lived in a state of both for nearly a decade. And in the process -- a little domestic wire-tapping here, a few false arrests of foreign-born there -- we've begun to accept the significant erosion of the very principles on which this country was founded: its openness, its acceptance of difference, and its welcoming of those with little in their wallets, but with an ethic of hard work and a can-doism that's always allowed this country to be inventive and thrive.
These were captured in the Emma Lazarus poem taught to all school children and mounted at the Statue of Liberty:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Be sure to tell those huddled masses not to ride the buses or the Lake Shore Limited routes from Chicago to New York. In the Buffalo sector alone, the border patrol reports arresting 1,050 on trains, buses and the stations of both in the six months between October 2007 and April 2008, The New York Times reports. That's roughly six people a day.
The Buffalo sector didn't say how many people were questioned and let go. Or how many of those arrests proved false.
You may shrug. Not your issue. I hope not. Me? I'll keep my passport current.
Jerry Lanson is an associate professor of journalism at Emerson College in Boston.
I always keep my passport up to date and handy. I can be packed and ready to go in 5 minutes.
Prominent progressive economists are warning liberals and senior citizens not to take Social Security for granted simply because Republicans are out of power, arguing that structural incentives are propelling Democratic leaders to support scaling back the cherished program.
"Social Security faced its greatest danger when Bill Clinton was in the White House," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in an e-mail. "The reason is that the Wall Street Democrats can be counted on to oppose cuts coming from Republicans for partisan purposes. When they are in power, they have no reason to oppose these cuts."
Baker, a respected economist and strong opponent of Social Security cuts, has long challenged lawmakers of both parties who advocate reductions in the program, and regularly criticizes the mainstream media for what he views as cowering to elite misinformation on the issue.
"The immediate threat to Social Security is plans to cut benefits by either changing the benefit formula and/or raising the retirement age," Baker argued last week in the Huffington Post. "This threat comes not just from the Republican Party, but from the top levels of the Democratic Party as well."
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman wrote this month in the New York Times that "the program is under attack, with some Democrats as well as nearly all Republicans joining the assault." He argues that Democrats, including Obama, are are bowing to pressure from Washington insiders, "for whom a declared willingness to cut Social Security has long served as a badge of fiscal seriousness."
Story continues below...
Economist Robert Kuttner, co-founder and co-editor of the liberal magazine The American Prospect, posited Sunday in the Huffington Post that "too many legislators make Delphic comments about whether Social Security should be 'on the table,'" including, he declared, "many Democratic as well as Republican congressmen, and some in the Obama administration."
Social Security, which enjoyed its 75th anniversary this month, is running a $2.5 trillion surplus,according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, and its Trust Fund is not projected to depletebefore 2037.
Democrats are hammering their Republican rivals in this year's midterm election campaigns for supporting major cuts to -- if not fully privatizing, as they attempted and failed to do during the Bush administration -- the popular program. But while a number of Democrats have unequivocally said they oppose any cuts to Social Security, several key Democrats have endorsed some changes of their own.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Jim Clyburn (D-SC), a leadership member, haveendorsed incrementally raising the retirement age in accordance with average life span, which they say will diminish the need to cut future benefits. A DNC spokesman last week told Raw Story that Social Security needs to be "tweaked" but not "torn apart from its very foundations."
President Barack Obama's deficit commission is also considering scaling back Social Security. Its co-chair, Alan Simpson, recently ignited a firestorm when it was revealed that he privately called Social Security "a milk cow with 310 million tits." He apologized, and the White House accepted.
To liberals, the safety net for seniors created by Social Security, which enjoyed its 75th anniversary this month, is a crowning example of government being used to improve peoples' lives. For the same reason, it is disliked by conservatives, whose core philosophy states that government activism is implicitly harmful to society.
"Our best hope," Baker quipped, "could be to rely on right-wingers who don't want the government messing with their Social Security."
By Amitabh Pal, August 27, 2010
The United States is ending its combat mission in Iraq, leaving it in a complete mess. On virtually every count, the country is in the doldrums.
Back in March, some commentators crowed about the parliamentary elections there, and how this vindicated the Bush Administration’s “nation-building” afterthought of a project. Wall Street Journal alum (and, I’m embarrassed to admit, a schoolmate of mine) Tunku Varadarajan claimed at the Daily Beast website that “what Iraq has achieved in five years is a political wonder, and those who would deny that are being very, very dishonest.” Resident New York Times Middle East expert Thomas Friedman declared, “Former President George W. Bush’s gut instinct that this region craved and needed democracy was always right.”
Really, Tunku and Tom? Five months after these words, the country is at political paralysis, with yet another round of failed talks producing again no government. “The political crisis has shown no sign of easing as the U.S. moves forward with its target of reducing its troop numbers in the fragile nation to 50,000 and ending all combat missions by the end of August,” the Financial Times reports.
On other fronts, too, the situation is dismal. Dozens of lives were claimed in a wave of attacks in cities across the country on Wednesday.
“For weeks, there had been a sense of inevitability to the assaults, and American military officials had warned that the insurgents would seek to show their prowess during the holy month of Ramadan,” the New York Times reports. “But the anticipation seemed to do little to prepare security forces for the breadth of the strikes, which followed what has become a daily campaign of bombings, hit-and-run attacks and assassinations against security forces and officials in Baghdad and elsewhere.”
The recent toll has been grim. The Hindu newspaper of India tallies that in August so far 535 Iraqi lives have been lost to violence, exceeding the appalling total of 500 in July.
So much for the surge success story.
And then there’s the harshness of daily life, which doesn’t seem to have improved much in seven years of strenuous exertions by U.S. occupation forces.
“Many residents still don’t have access to basic services,” states the Economist. “Although American taxpayers have spent more than $700 billion, drinking water is scarce, health care and education are inadequate, electricity is available only for a few hours a day and petrol often runs out. Many say life is harder than ever.”
It was all essentially for nought.
Of course, some are using the worsening of conditions to argue that U.S. troops should not leave. But Professor Juan Cole, one of the most perceptive observers of the region, says that this argument is wrongheaded. He asserts that the Obama Administration’s picking sides in the political game in Iraq is actually contributing to the instability. Besides, U.S. forces were not able to prevent the worst of the violence a few years ago.
“Washington should stop trying to shoehorn its favorite into office, should stop showing favoritism to some ethnic groups over others, and should show some understanding of the necessity for good relations between Iraq and Iran (which are becoming major trading partners),” he writes in a commentary for CNN. “When it comes to the military and political balance, the U.S. has done enough damage, and can best help Iraqis by allowing them to return to being an independent country.”
Besides, the United States is not actually leaving the country. As Chris Toensing, editor of the Middle East Report (a must-read for understanding the area), points out, there will still be 50,000 troops left behind in an “advisory” capacity.
“The essential realities of the Iraq War remain the same: Iraq is oil-rich and strategically located at the head of the Persian Gulf. Its ruling elites are fractious and weak,” Toensing writes. “Our continued troop presence is an insurance policy against disaster for the U.S.-sponsored Iraqi politicians, who would otherwise fear violent overthrow, and the White House, which would otherwise fear Iraq’s takeover by unfriendly elements.”
A lot of people will be paying for George Bush’s folly for a long time to come.
If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of The Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "Mosque Controversy Reveals a Lot About the Republican Party."
Former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) staffer M.J. Rosenberg told the Israel lobby to “pull the plug” on activities fanning the “anti-Muslim explosion that has seized this country over the past month.” The former insider charges organizations such as AIPAC, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, and assorted neocon outfits with having “set the stage” for hysteria bydemonizing Muslims in the name of “advancing their Middle East Agenda.” This strategy has been decades in the making.
Many in the mainstream media play roles assigned by the lobby long ago. Glenn Beck consulted missile-defense-advocate-turned-expert-on-Islam Frank Gaffney to answer key questions about the planned Islamic center. “Who are the people behind this?” “Where are they getting the funding?” These are valid questions that can also be asked of AIPAC. Files from a newly declassified investigation into pro-Israel lobbying in the U.S. released by the National Archives and Records Administration on July 23, 2010, reveal some very unsettling answers.
Does the “Ground Zero Mosque” have a budding “father of the atomic bomb” backing it, or an aspiring proliferator such as A.Q. Khan? AIPAC certainly does. According to Israel and the Bomb author Avner Cohen, in 1958 Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion secretly designated Democratic Party fundraiser Abraham Feinberg to be the key “benedictor” for organizing and raising private American donor funding for the clandestine Israeli nuclear weapons program – in direct opposition to the sitting U.S. president’s nuclear non-proliferation drive. In 1960 Feinberg began a series of payments [.pdfs] to AIPAC, then only recently renamed [.pdf] from the American Zionist Council for Public Affairs, the lobbying division of the American Zionist Council (AZC). In return, the AZC helpfully ran U.S. publicity [.pdf] promoting Dimona as a peaceful research facility rather than a nuclear weapons production site.
AIPAC founder Isaiah L. Kenen penned an article called “No Bombs Possible” in his AZC-subsidized [.pdf] Nov. 2, 1961, Near East Report newsletter to Congress and activists. Kenen wrote, “Meanwhile, many asked whether the Israel reactor could really produce sufficient plutonium, a nuclear weapon component, to construct a bomb. Science editor William L. Laurence of the New York Times deflated these reports, on Dec. 25, when he wrote that ‘the plutonium produced in a small nuclear reactor of 24,000 thermal kilowatts is very minute indeed … and ‘completely useless for bomb material.’ The basic facts, if fully understood, would make it clear why only great industrial nations, particularly the United States and Soviet Russia, can be full-fledged members of the ‘atomic club.’”
AIPAC and Feinberg’s well-financed Dimona PR deception, boosted by overseas funding, was a complete success in fooling the American public. Today mainstream news pundits advance theories that the “Ground Zero” mosque could be all “mobbed up” with crime family or wise guy funding through unknown and murky international hawalas. It’s an effective strategy, because such ties are usually hard to verify.
Thanks to the passage of time, AIPAC’s own ties are not.
Mob accountant Meyer Lansky’s associate Aaron Weisberg was a Las Vegas investor who testified reluctantly in the tax-evasion case of notorious mobster Joseph “Doc” Stacher. Beginning in 1955, Weisberg provided many rounds of AIPAC startup funding at $500 a throw straight [.pdfs] from the Sands Casino, which he partially owned. According to E. Parry Thomas, who helped clean up Las Vegas by forcing all shadowy backers to stand before casino licensing boards, “Aaron Weisberg had 20 [percent] and he probably owned only half of it [the Sands] because he was Meyer Lansky’s man. This went on everyplace.”
But Weisberg was small potatoes next to John Factor (a.k.a. Iakov Faktorowicz) known to friends and enemies alike as “Jake the Barber.” Factor shaved English investors of an estimated $8 million through stock frauds. In the U.S. he colluded with Al Capone to fake his own kidnapping in order to frame and take down a rival. Like Weisberg, Jake the Barber became a “straw buyer” for a Chicago criminal ring’s purchase of the Stardust Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Factor’s infamy was well known by the timeAIPAC eagerly swept up [.pdf] the Barber’s $1,000 investment late in 1959. It may have been a winning bet. Just before his immanent extradition from the U.S., Factor received a rushed, mysterious presidential pardon on Dec. 24, 1962, from John F. Kennedy.
Today, pundit Lanny Davis demands “transparency” from the “Ground Zero” mosque’s leader, Imam Rauf. Davis noted that he “has refused to repudiate Hamas as a terrorist organization.” But what of the AIPAC’s shadowy arms-smuggling donor and the ties of its founder?
When three trucks containing 80 tons of highly explosive WWII surplus cyclonite blocks along with a cache of 5,200 U.S. Navy combat knives were seized in New York by police in 1948, it quickly became apparent it was a clandestine illegal shipment bound for Jewish fighters in Palestine. The size, scale, and front companies of the Haganah smuggling network [.pdf], organized in direct violation of U.S. arms embargoes and the War Assets Administration, are only slowly emerging into the history books. Zimel Resnick bailed his captured business associate out of jail after this key front company operative running 199 tons of explosives was caught. Running with arms smugglers apparently paid off. By 1956, AIPAC began locking and loading [.pdf] Resnick contributions twice the size of Weisberg’s quarterly contributions from the Sands.
And what of AIPAC’s founder?
A recently declassified 1970 file [.pdf] held by the Department of Justice’s National Security Division and reluctantly released under Freedom of Information Act appeals about the foreign agent activities Isaiah L. Kenen reveals he may have been an “insider source” for information about the Jewish Defense League. This intel was stove-piped directly to National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Secret Service, and the attorney general. The redacted documents are unclear about whether the JDL’s activities targeting the Soviet Union were considered at the time to be those of an ally, target, or dangerous nuisance. The value of AIPAC’s role as an FBI source on the JDL seems to have been short-lived, even during the Cold War. By the mid-1980s, as the Jonathan Pollard spy affair was breaking, AIPAC itself was moved back from the “asset” to “liability” column as a domestic espionage target, while a Department of Energy study concluded, “For more than a decade, the Jewish Defense League (JDL) has been one of the most active terrorist groups in the United States. … Since 1968, JDL operations have killed 7 persons and wounded at least 22.”
There is no record that Isaiah Kenen ever repudiated the JDL.
Thanks to the long-term PR efforts of AIPAC, its executive committee organizations, and captureddepartments of U.S. government agencies, Muslims are fast becoming one of the most reviled, targeted, and disenfranchised groups in America. Hard-liners in the Israel lobby want to replace the Soviet Union with another fearsome enemy the U.S. and Israel can appear to “ally against.” That’s why all Americans should review the Israel lobby’s own troubling past before clambering aboard its freshly painted anti-Islamic bandwagons.
Many important questions about AIPAC remain to be answered.
The U.S. Department of Justice still has no response to public concerns about why the lobbying division of an organization it secretly ordered to register [.pdf] as a foreign agent in 1962 has been allowed to continue engaging in illegal activities in concert with a foreign government. The IRS is at long lastbeginning to question the false claims of Israeli “charity” fronts principally set up (like their Haganah network forebears) to launder tax-deductible donations into West Bank settlement building and other illegal endeavors. The IRS would do well to review the tax status of the core enabling organization stillengaging in precisely the kinds of activities one might expect from such mezzanine-level funding.
US military dogma and war propaganda under the Bush administration, was predicated on combating Islamic fundamentalism rather than targeting Muslims. "This is not a war between the West and Islam, but .. a war against terrorism." So-called "Good Muslims" are to be distinguished from "Bad Muslims":
In the wake of 9/11, the Muslim community in most Western countries was markedly on the defensive. The "Good Muslim" "Bad Muslim" divide was broadly accepted. The 9/11 terrorist attacks allegedly perpetrated by Muslims were not only condemned, Muslim communities also supported the US-NATO invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, as part of a campaign directed against Islamic fundamentalism.
The fact that the 9/11 attacks were not instigated by Muslims has rarely been acknowledged by the Muslim community. Al Qaeda's ongoing relationship to the CIA, its role as a US sponsored "intelligence asset" going back to to the Soviet-Afghan war is not mentioned. (Michel Chossudovsky, America's "War on Terrorism" Global Research, Montreal, 2005)
Since the early 1980s, Washington has covertly supported the most conservative and fundamentalist factions of Islam, largely with a view to weakening secular, nationalist and progressive movements in the Middle East and Central Asia. Known and documented, the fundamentalist Wahhabi and Salafi missions from Saudi Arabia, dispatched not only to Afghanistan but also to the Balkans and to the Muslim republics of the former Soviet republics were covertly supported by US intelligence. (Ibid) What is often referred to as "Political Islam" is in large part a creation of the US intelligence apparatus (with the support of Britain's MI6 and Israel's Mossad).
The Ground Zero Mosque
Recent developments suggest a breaking point, a transition from "the war on terrorism" to the outright demonization of Muslims. While underscoring the freedom of religion, the Obama administration is "beating the drums" of a broader war against Islam:
Beneath the political smokescreen, the distinction between "Good Muslims" and "Bad Muslims" is being scrapped. The proposed Ground Zero mosque is allegedly being funding by "the radical rogue Islamic state of Iran ... as the United States is stepping up sanctions on the regime in retaliation for its support of terrorism and what is feared to be an illegal nuclear-weapons development program." ( Ground Zero mosque developers refuse to outright reject funding from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - NYPOST.com, August 19, 2010)
The objective is to instil fear, rouse and harness citizens' unbending support for the next stage of America's "long war", which consists in waging "humanitarian" aerial attacks on the Islamic Republic of Iran, portrayed by the media as endorsing the terrorists.
While "all Muslim are not terrorists", all terrorist attacks (planned or realized) are reported by the media as being perpetrated by Muslims.
The arrests on trumped up charges, as well as the show trials of alleged "homegrown" Islamic terrorists, perform an important function. They sustain the illusion, in the inner consciousness of Americans, that "Islamic terrorists" not only constitute a real threat but that the Muslim community to which they belong is broadly supportive of their actions:
From a process of selective targeting of Muslims with radical tendencies (or allegedly associated with "terrorist organizations"), what is now unfolding is a generalized process of demonization of an entire population group.
In turn, Al Qaeda is described as a powerful multinational terrorist organization (possessing WMDs) with subsidiaries in a number of Muslim countries: Al Qaeda is present (with corresponding acronyms) in various geopolitical hotspots and war theaters:
At no moment is the issue of atrocities committed against several million Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan considered a terrorist act by the occupation forces.
The American Inquisition
A "war of religion" is unfolding, with a view to justifying a global military crusade. In the inner consciousness of many Americans, the "holy crusade" against Muslims is justified. While President Obama may uphold freedom of religion, the US inquisitorial social order has institutionalized patterns of discrimination, prejudice and xenophobia directed against Muslims. Ethnic profiling applies to travel, the job market, access to social services and more generally to socila mobility.
The American Inquisition as an ideological construct, which is, in many regards, is similar to the inquisitorial social order prevailing in France and Spain during the Middle Ages. The inquisition, which started in France in the 12th century, was used as a justification for conquest and military intervention. (See Michel Chossudovsky, 9/11 and the "American Inquisition", Global Research, September 11, 2008).
The arrests, trials and sentences of so-called "homegrown" terrorists" (from within America's Muslim community) on trumped up charges sustain the legitimacy of the Homeland Security State and its inquisitorial legal and law enforcement apparatus.
An inquisitorial doctrine turns realities upside down. It is a social order based on lies and fabrications. But because these lies emanate from the highest political authority and are part of a widely held "consensus", they invariably remain unchallenged. And those who challenge the inquisitorial order or in any way oppose America's military or national security agenda are themselves branded as "conspiracy theorists" or outright terrorists.
Beyond the process of inquisitorial arrests and prosecution, which outdwarfs the Spanish inquisition, an expedient extrajudicial assassination program sanctioned by the White House has been launched. This program allows US special forces to kill American citizens and suspected homegrown terrorists:: "A shortlist of U.S. citizens specifically targeted for killing"? (See Chuck Norris, Obama's US Assassination Program? "A Shortlist of U.S. Citizens specifically Targeted for Killing"?,. Global Research, August 26, 2010)
The objective is to sustain the illusion that "America is under attack" and that Muslims across the land are complicit and supportive of "Islamic terrorism".
The demonization of Muslims sustains a global military agenda. Under the American inquisition, Washington has a self-proclaimed holy mandate to extirpate Islam and "spread democracy" throughout the world.
Global Research Articles by Michel Chossudovsky