Inter Press Network

Monday, June 27, 2005

That's democracy Iranian style, whether Washington likes it or not

By Yushi Furuhashi

Monday, June 27, 2005

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received 61.69% of the roughly twenty-eight million
votes cast in the Iranian presidential election run-off. The turnout was
about 59.6%. That's a landslide victory by any standard. What does it
mean politically?

Such adjectives as "reformist" and "conservative," "soft-line" and "hard-line," "moderate" and "fundamentalist," and so on -- all too frequently employed by the corporate controlled media -- do not shed light on what happened at all. Take a good look at what Ahmadinejad said to the Iranian public, and you'll see that his election is, first and foremost,the result of the Iranian working class's rejection of both
neoelitism,neoliberalism and concessions to imperialism, represented by former President Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and so-called "reformists" who see themselves as "the elite."

His [Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's] views on the policies he would follow if
elected president, as expressed by him during his election campaign, are
given in the following sub-paragraphs:

Domestic policy:
"If elected, I would implement development projects on
the basis of justice and the wishes of the people. Political, cultural
and economic developments are not isolated from each other and at the
very core of all of them is justice and public consensus. Among my
priorities are removing the problems of the youth related to employment,
housing and marriage. My idea of political development is different from
its foreign interpretation. We must expand freedoms quantitatively and
qualitatively, and determine ways in which freedoms could be used. The
way we have been dealing with the youth on the streets does not solve

Foreign policy:
"The foreign policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran is
in principle based on the establishment of peace and justice worldwide.
For this reason, the expansion of relations with all countries is on the
agenda of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I mean balanced relationships,
based on mutual respect and observance of each other's rights. There are
very few countries that fall outside this scope. If they do, it is due
to their blind approach to the Islamic republic. Of course, there are
hierarchies in the diplomacy. In these echelons, we give priority to the
establishment of relations with our immediate neighbors, then with
countries that once fell within the zone of Iran's civilization, then
with Muslim states and finally, with all countries that are not hostile
towards the Islamic Republic of Iran. We desire an expansion of
relations with regional states and the establishment of extensive public
contacts. We believe that visa quotas should be lifted and people should
visit anywhere they wish freely. People should have freedom in their
pilgrimages and tours."

Relations with the US:
"I meet ambassadors from European, African and
Asian countries once a week. Iran does not need imposed ties with the
United States. When the world formed a united front to fight Iran, our
oil could not sell on the international markets and our economy was
paralyzed [due to the 1980-88 war imposed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq], the
nation did not extend its hand [to outsiders] for help. Now that we have
managed to build the infrastructure [for development] and the country
has progressed, we do not need to accept any imposed relationship with
America. The US severed its ties with the Islamic Republic to harm the
Iranian nation and so do those who favor resumption of ties with the

UN reforms:
"Global equations undergo changes, this is their nature.
Today, the Muslim world is the poorest of the global powers. The UN
structure is one-sided, stacked against the world of Islam. The Muslim
world should be allowed a chance in the UN Security Council, where
certain groups now possesses the right to veto. We consider this
privilege essentially wrong. It is not just for a few states to sit and
veto global approvals. Should such a privilege continue to exist, the
Muslim world with a population of nearly 1.5 billion should be extended
the same privilege."

Nuclear energy:
"This subject has been given a tremendous amount of
publicity. It is a critical subject. Nuclear energy is the scientific
achievement of the Iranian nation. Our youth have crowned themselves
with this achievement, via domestic technology and by reliance on their
own knowledge. The energy belongs to the Iranian nation. Definitely, the
progress of a nation cannot be obstructed. Scientific, medical and
technical development of our nation is necessary. I believe there are
certain individuals that create a false mood. They want to portray the
situation as critical, while there is no crisis here. The technology is
at the disposal of the Iranian nation. Certain powers do not want to
believe this. They resist against accepting such a right, such an
achievement of the Iranian nation. Their scientists and experts have
admitted that the Iranian nation is entitled to this right. I believe
the problem can be solved with prudence and wisdom, by utilizing
opportunity and relying on the endless power of the Iranian nation,
through our self-confidence. The ongoing artificial mood is political
sleight of hand. The mood aims to influence the Islamic Republic's
domestic developments.

"One cannot impede scientific progress. You can see scientific progress
everywhere in the world. One cannot obstruct this movement. This is not
something that can be prevented with an order. No one can deprive the
Iranian nation of this right. They are vainly trying to stir conditions
worldwide. They want to fan tension, create crisis to meet their
transitory objectives. That's a kind of psychological war. This is as if
you want to deprive someone of industrial progress. This is something
impossible. Industry is intertwined with the nature of an individual.
Technical knowledge has now become an integral aspect of the Iranian
psyche. You cannot say that the Iranian nation should not use math,
should not have physicians, should not build large dams, or should not
be able to build a refinery or a plane. This is an illogical claim; no
one accepts it. Fortunately, the world has seen this. God willing, these
few arrogant powers will accept it as well. We have relations with
governments and nations. The basis of those engagements is guaranteeing
and respecting each other's national identities. Iran's present status
in the field of nuclear energy is indigenous and it has been gained
without reliance upon foreigners."

Threats to Iran:

"The system of domination is founded on depriving nations of their
true identity. It seeks to deprive nations of their culture,
identity, self-confidence and in this way dominate them. Our
dear country, Iran, throughout history has been subject to threats.
These were due to its advantages and geopolitical conditions as well as
the capacity of the great Iranian nation. The Iranian nation for a long
period of time has been the architect of civilization and the standard
bearer for science, technology, culture, literature, arts, math,
medicine, philosophy, astronomy, and the like. It still holds these
standards. It continues to hold the banner of independence and freedom.
These threats, however, are not of recent origin. These threats have
been with us for a long time. Our enemies can deal a blow to us any time
they wish. They do not wait for permission to do this. They do not deal
a blow with prior notice. They did not take action because they can't.
Our nation is today a powerful nation. Fortunately, Iranians are
politically active worldwide. For hundreds of years Iranians have been
migrating to many parts of the world. They took Islamic culture to other
parts of the world and established it there. Now too, Iranians have a
wide-scale influence in the world. They have strong cultural,
scientific, political and economic influence. The presence of an Iranian
elite, outstanding figures in many parts of the world is a precious
asset for the Iranian nation. Iranians defend and present their Islamic
and Iranian identity to other people worldwide." (B Raman, "Bush's
Imprint," Asia Times, 21 Jun. 2005)

In his speeches as a candidate, Mr. Ahmadinejad, the mayor of Tehran,
has attracted a following not with his talk of strict Islamic values but
by presenting himself as a sort of Islamic Robin Hood, promising to
strip away the power and privileges that have enriched a small segment
of society and to distribute the nation's wealth to the poor.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ..............................

While Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the former two-term president,
promotes his many years of experience in Iran's government as his
credential for election, Mr. Ahmadinejad essentially casts himself as
the anti-Rafsanjani: a simple, religious man, the son of an ironworker,
who refused to accept his pay as mayor and who, if elected president,
will fight for the poor.

He has promised to deliver pensions, health insurance and unemployment
insurance to women. He has promised to shift state money away from
more-developed cities to less-developed communities. He has promised
zero-interest loans to farmers. He has promised to stabilize prices and
give teachers a raise. (Michael Slackman, "Upstart in Iran Election Campaigns as Champion of Poor," New York Times, 23 Jun. 2005)

Iran will flush out corruption from the country's oil industry and
favour domestic investors in the underdeveloped hydrocarbons sector,
Iranian president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed on Sunday.

He has previously promised to cut the hands off the "mafias" he says run
the oil business in OPEC's number two producer and has made a pledge to
distribute Iran's oil wealth more fairly.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ...............................

"Fighting bureaucratic corruption in all sectors, including oil, is part
of a definite policy for our government," he told reporters at a news

"In all fields, including oil, priority will be given to local
investors," he added. (Reuters, "Ahmadinejad Vows to Favour Locals in
Iran Oil Deals," 26 Jun. 2005
As for questions of personal freedom, this is what Ahmadinejad has to
say: "'People think a return to revolutionary values is only a matter of
wearing the head scarf,' Reuters quoted him as saying. 'The country's
true problem is employment and housing, not what to wear'" (Nazila
Fathi, Blacksmith's Son Emphasized His Modest Roots," New York Times, 26
Jun. 2005

Whether Iran's new president can deliver on his promises of populist
economic and foreign policies, while practising pragmatic tolerance on
cultural questions, remains to be seen. But there is no question that
not only his platform but also his working-class family background, his
modest manners, and even his simple appearance stood in stark contrast
to all other candidates', so working-class Iranian voters, fed up with
"an official unemployment rate of 16 percent, and unofficial estimates
of 30 percent" ("In Iran, It's Jobs, Not Bombs," Christian Science
Monitor, 27 Jun. 2005
), cast their lot with him. That's democracy
Iranian style, whether Washington likes it or not.

DRESDEN- A Real Holocaust


Sixty years ago, on the evening of February 13, 1945, an orgy of genocide and barbarism began against a defenceless German city, one of the greatest cultural centres of Northern Europe. Within less than 14 hours, not only was it reduced to flaming ruins, but an estimated one-third of its inhabitants? ­­ possibly as many as half a million ­­? had perished in what was the worst massacre of all time.

As Jewish propaganda again reaches a crescendo in celebrating the Soviet "liberation" of the famous Auschwitz internment centre, it is fitting that we consider what an actual holocaust is? one which is not a Hollywood trademark, but rather one in which millions died in the most horrific and excruciating manner: not only in the genocidal rampages of America's Communist ally in Eastern Europe, but also in the systematic, targeted mass murder of German civilians in deliberately created Anglo-American fire storms.

In such places as Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich, Kassel, Würzburg, Darmstadt and Pforzheim, among many others? but especially in DRESDEN, victims were roasted alive in an orgy of Allied sadism and fiendishness without equal, which now stands as a symbol of genocide and evil for all time. The following account, taken from the Feb. 1985 issue of the NS Bulletin, tells us what a REAL holocaust is like.

Toward the end of World War II, as Allied planes rained death and destruction over Germany, the old Saxon city of Dresden lay like an island of tranquillity amid desolation. Famous as a cultural centre and possessing no military value, Dresden had been spared the terror that descended from the skies over the rest of the country.

In fact, little had been done to provide the ancient city of artists and craftsmen with anti-aircraft defences. One squadron of planes had been stationed in Dresden for awhile, but the Luftwaffe decided to move the aircraft to another area where they would be of use. A gentlemen's agreement seemed to prevail, designating Dresden an "open city."

On Shrove Tuesday, February 13, 1945, a flood of refugees fleeing the Red Army 60 miles away had swollen the city's population to well over a million. Each new refugee brought fearful accounts of Soviet atrocities. Little did those refugees retreating from the Red terror imagine that they were about to die in a horror worse than anything Stalin could devise.

Normally, a carnival atmosphere prevailed in Dresden on Shrove Tuesday. In 1945, however, the outlook was rather dismal. Houses everywhere overflowed with refugees, and thousands were forced to camp out in the streets shivering in the bitter cold.

However, the people felt relatively safe; and although the mood was grim, the circus played to a full house that night as thousands came to forget for a moment the horrors of war. Bands of little girls paraded about in carnival dress in an effort to bolster waning spirits. Half-sad smiles greeted the laughing girls, but spirits were lifted.

No one realized that in less than 24 hours those same innocent children would die screaming in Churchill's firestorms. But, of course, no one could know that then. The Russians, to be sure, were "savages", but at least the Americans and British were "honourable".

So when those first alarms signalled the start of 14 hours of hell, Dresden's people streamed dutifully into their shelters. But they did so without much enthusiasm, believing the alarms to be false, since their city had never been threatened from the air. Many would never come out alive, for that "great democratic statesman", Winston Churchill, ­­ in collusion with that other "great democratic statesman", Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had decided that the city of Dresden was to be obliterated by saturation bombing.

What where Churchill's motives? They appear to have been political, rather than military. Historians unanimously agree that Dresden had no military value. What industry it did have produced only cigarettes and china.

But the Yalta Conference was coming up, in which the Soviets and their Western allies would sit down like ghouls to carve up the shattered corpse of Europe. Churchill wanted a trump card ­­ a devastating "thunderclap of Anglo-American annihilation"­­ with which to "impress" Stalin.

That card, however, was never played at Yalta, because bad weather delayed the originally scheduled raid. Yet Churchill insisted that the raid be carried out ­­ to "disrupt and confuse" the German civilian population behind the lines.

Dresden's citizens barely had time to reach their shelters. The first bomb fell at 10:09 p.m. The attack lasted 24 minutes, leaving the inner city a raging sea of fire. "Precision saturation bombing" had created the desired firestorm.

A firestorm is caused when hundreds of smaller fires join in one vast conflagration. Huge masses of air are sucked in to feed the inferno, causing an artificial tornado. Those persons unlucky enough to be caught in the rush of wind are hurled down entire streets into the flames. Those who seek refuge underground often suffocate as oxygen is pulled from the air to feed the blaze, or they perish in a blast of white heat­­, heat intense enough to melt human flesh.


One eyewitness who survived told of seeing "young women carrying babies running up and down the streets, their dresses and hair on fire, screaming until they fell down, or the collapsing buildings fell on top of them".

There was a three-hour pause between the first and second raids. The lull had been calculated to lure civilians from their shelters into the open again. To escape the flames, tens of thousands of civilians had crowded into the Grosser Garten, a magnificent park nearly one and a half miles square.

The second raid came at 1:22 a.m. with no warning. Twice as many bombers returned with a massive load of incendiary bombs. The second wave was designed to spread the raging firestorm into the Grosser Garten.

It was a complete "success" Within a few minutes a sheet of flame ripped across the grass, uprooting trees and littering the branches of others with everything from bicycles to human limbs. For days afterward, they remained bizarrely strewn about as grim reminders of Allied sadism.

At the start of the second air assault, many were still huddled in tunnels and cellars, waiting for the fires of the first attack to die down. At 1:30 a.m. an ominous rumble reached the ears of the commander of a Labour Service convoy sent into the city on a rescue mission. He described it this way: "The detonation shook the cellar walls. The sound of the explosions mingled with a new, stranger sound which seemed to come closer and closer, the sound of a thundering waterfall; it was the sound of the mighty tornado howling in the inner city."


Others hiding below ground died. But they died painlessly­? they simply glowed bright orange and blue in the darkness. As the heat intensified, they either disintegrated into cinders or melted into a thick liquid­­, often three or four feet deep in spots.

Shortly after 10:30 on the morning of February 14, the last raid swept over the city. American bombers pounded the rubble that had been Dresden for a steady 38 minutes. But this attack was not nearly as heavy as the first two.

However, what distinguished this raid was the cold-blooded ruthlessness with which it was carried out. U.S. Mustangs appeared low over the city, strafing anything that moved,

including a column of rescue vehicles rushing to the city to evacuate survivors. One assault was aimed at the banks of the Elbe River, where refugees had huddled during the horrible night.

In the last year of the war, Dresden had become a hospital town. During the previous night's massacre, heroic nurses had dragged thousands of crippled patients to the Elbe. The low-flying Mustangs machine-gunned those helpless patients, as well as thousands of old men, women and children who had escaped the city.

When the last plane left the sky, Dresden was a scorched ruin, its blackened streets filled with corpses. The city was spared no horror. A flock of vultures escaped from the zoo and fattened on the carnage. Rats swarmed over the piles of corpses.

A Swiss citizen described his visit to Dresden two weeks after the raid: "I could see torn-off arms and legs, mutilated torsos and heads which had been wrenched from their bodies and rolled away. In places the corpses were still lying so densely that I had to clear a path through them in order not to tread on arms and legs".

The death toll was staggering. The full extent of the Dresden Holocaust can be more readily grasped if one considers that well over 250,000? ­­possibly as many as a half a million? persons died within a 14-hour period, whereas estimates of those who died at Hiroshima range from 90,000 to 140,000*

Allied apologists for the massacre have often "twinned" Dresden with the English city of Coventry. But the 380 killed in Coventry during the entire war cannot begin to compare with over 1,000 times that number who was slaughtered in 14 hours at Dresden. Moreover, Coventry was a munitions centre, a legitimate military target. Dresden, on the other hand, produced only china­­ and cups and saucers can hardly be considered military hardware!

It is interesting to further compare the respective damage to London and Dresden, especially when we recall all the Hollywood schmaltz about the "London blitz." In one night, 1,600 acres of land were destroyed in the Dresden massacre. London escaped with damage to only 600 acres during the entire war.

In one ironic note, Dresden's only conceivable military target ­­ its railroad yards ­­ was ignored by Allied bombers. They were too busy concentrating on helpless old men, women and children.

If ever there was a war crime, then certainly the Dresden Holocaust ranks as the most sordid one of all time. Yet, there are no movies made today condemning this fiendish slaughter; nor did any Allied airman ­­ or Sir Winston ­­ sit in the dock at Nuremberg. In fact, the Dresden airmen were actually awarded medals for their role in this mass murder. But, of course, they could not have been tried, because there were "only following orders".

This is not to say that the mountains of corpses left in Dresden were ignored by the Nuremberg Tribunal. In one final irony, the prosecution presented photographs of the Dresden dead as "evidence" of alleged National Socialist atrocities against Jewish concentration camp inmates!

Churchill, the monster who ordered the Dresden slaughter, was knighted, and the rest is history. The cold-blooded sadism of the massacre, however, is brushed aside by his biographers, who still cannot bring themselves to tell how the desire of one madman to "impress" another one let to the mass murder of up to a half million men, women and children.


Homily to the Arabs on democracy has the makings of a great excuse

By Patrick J. Buchanan

From the Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal to the Financial Times, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is being hailed for her latest public scolding of America's Arab allies.

In what columnist David Ignatius calls the ``signature line'' of her speech at the American University in Cairo, Rice declared: ``For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East, and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course.''

What is it about Rice's speech that makes it so off-putting and irritating?

Hypocrisy and arrogance

First, in treating friends, common decency and diplomacy teach us that private admonition is preferable to the public declamation, which is often the mark of the hypocrite.

Second, Rice's public scolding fairly reeks of moral arrogance. Unlike my purblind predecessors, Rice is telling us, my president and I are moved by a higher, nobler cause. While we fight for democracy for Arabs and Muslims, my predecessors, going back to World War II, were only interested in ``stability.'' Thus, they all failed.

The claim is absurd. For Rice's predecessors had to conduct foreign policy during a Cold War in which freedom was at stake and under siege from the greatest enemy the West had known since the Islamic armies invaded France in the eighth century.

Thirty years ago, during Watergate, Richard Nixon ordered a huge arms airlift to save Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, for which Golda Meir was eternally grateful. Then, with Henry Kissinger, he brokered an armistice and effected a severance of Anwar Sadat's Egypt from the Soviet bloc -- to the West. Jimmy Carter took it from there, brokering the Camp David peace accords between Egypt and Israel that still hold.

Does Rice believe that because Nixon, Kissinger and Carter did not insist that Sadat hold elections they were on some lesser moral plane than her own virtuous self?

There is another problem with this schoolmarmish scolding of Arab nations that aided this country in the Cold War but have failed to live up to Rice's standards.

Has she or President Bush thought through the consequences, should their hectoring succeed in destabilizing and bringing down Saudi Arabia or Egypt? Have they observed how the elections they have been demanding have been going of late?

In southern Lebanon, Hezbollah and the Amal militia took every parliamentary seat. In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, is so strong the Palestinian Authority postponed the July elections. If the Saudi monarchy should hold elections, Osama bin Laden might not win, but my guess is he makes the runoff.

Nobler than security?

President Bush is riding for a fall. He sold the war in Iraq to the country on the hard security ground that Saddam Hussein had ties to Al-Qaida, that he may have had a role in Sept. 11, that he was hellbent on getting atom bombs, and that, when he did, he would give them to fanatics to use on Washington. The lady who stapled together that false and perhaps falsified case for George Bush was Condi Rice.

Now they tell us the war was about democracy in Iraq and the Middle East -- i.e., a nobler cause than any such mundane concerns as American national security.

This is baby boomers working up noble-sounding excuses and preparing high-minded defenses in the event they wind up as failures.

When the Great Society programs of President Johnson led to riots, inflation, campus upheaval, crime waves, polarization and a quarter-century of almost unbroken Republican rule, liberals exonerated themselves by saying that, even though they had lost the country, they were still blameless, since their motives were so superior to those of their adversaries.

The liberals' defense of the Great Society debacles will be the neoconservatives' defense if we lose the Middle East. But Rice's homilies about how high-minded she was will carry little weight. Americans won't buy it. Just ask Robert McNamara.

PATRICK J. BUCHANAN is a syndicated columnist.

Democracy, U.S.-style


LONDON -- U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice went to Cairo last week to tell her Egyptian hosts and the Saudis, America's two most important Arab allies: No more stalling, you have to hold honest elections now.

Rice's tough talk was certainly long overdue. She admitted America's policy of supporting Mideast despots and oligarchs for the past 30 years had been wrong. (Actually, Condi, it's 60 years, but never mind.)

So will Washington really push its Arab client states into genuine democracy? Don't bank on it.

The Bush administration has correctly concluded the kings, sheiks and generals who run the Mideast under American tutelage are a spent force. They have lost all legitimacy and are increasingly unable to repress the wave of Islamic militancy fuelled by Osama bin Laden that is sweeping the strategic region.

So Washington decided its loyal Mideast satraps are due for regime change. As Henry Kissinger once quipped about South Vietnam, it's more dangerous being an ally of the U.S. than an enemy.

Bush's Mideast policy team and its Israeli mentors concluded the best way to defuse Islamic militancy is to bring in new "moderate" civilian regimes elected in what appears, at least from afar, to be a democratic process.

The new model of Mideast rulers Washington has in mind can be seen in Afghanistan and Iraq. Turbans and general's hats are out. The Mideast's new look will be "moderates" -- low-key, non-flamboyant, fluent English-speakers in sober business suits who are "Muslims lite" and owe their total financial and political support, as well as personal protection, to Washington.

They will continue to sell oil cheap, open their markets to U.S. business, buy arms they can't use, allow U.S. military bases, reconfigure their military forces for internal security control, suppress political Islam, and make nice with Israel. In other words, just what the former kings and generals did, but with far less flash and much more subtlety.

The new breed of Mideast rulers will be elected in nominally "democratic" elections pre-determined to produce pro-U.S. winners and exclude all but token voices from radicals or troublesome Islamists. The U.S. media will sanctify them with glowing reports and fulsome praise.

This week's parliamentary elections in Lebanon are a good example of ersatz democracy at work. Former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri was murdered last February. The killing seemed to implicate Syria, which had long occupied Lebanon. National outrage over the murder drove Syria's troops out of Lebanon. New elections were held. An anti-Syrian won.

The White House ballyhooed the vote as the dawn of Mideast democracy and vindication of its policies -- notably invading Iraq.

But from up close the situation is not too heroic. Lebanon's politics remain deeply corrupt. Some voters in northern Lebanon were reportedly bribed $500 US apiece to cast their ballots for the U.S.-backed anti-Syrian faction. Around $35 billion borrowed by the former Hariri government to rebuild civil-war-shattered Lebanon is still unaccounted for. Since Hariri co-operated with Syria, his unsolved murder may have been committed by those seeking to drive Syria from Lebanon, or in revenge for the missing billions.

Finding pliable "moderates" in other Arab nations will be hard. Their ruthless, U.S.-supported regimes long ago crushed any legitimate opposition, leaving only underground extremist groups. They -- notably the Muslim Brotherhood -- with whom the U.S. should be talking, were branded "terrorists" by Bush.

The United States is hated across the Muslim world. If truly free elections were held tomorrow in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, their U.S.-backed regimes would be swept away by anti-U.S. Islamists.

Control of the Arab world and its oil is a pillar of U.S. power. It's unlikely Washington will ever countenance genuinely free Mideast elections. After Jimmy Carter called for democracy in Iran in 1979, and began withdrawing U.S. support from its grotesque Shah, a key U.S. ally, popular revolution erupted that brought in a violently anti-U.S. Islamic government.

The Arab world's only fully honest election was held in Algeria in 1992. It produced a landslide for Islamic parties. Algeria's U.S.- and French-backed military immediately staged a coup and annulled the election.

*First published on Sunday, June 26, 2005 in The Toronto Sun,Canada


Bush’s War Against Iraq Ruining America

by Paul Craig Roberts

Last Friday the price of light sweet crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange for August delivery closed 16 cents short of $60/barrel – the highest price ever and an ironic outcome for the millions of Americans who believe that cheap oil was the reason for Bush’s invasion of Iraq.

Equally shocking to Americans was the announcement that China has outbid US oil giant Chevron for the American oil company, Unocal.

Polls showing that a majority of Europeans have a higher opinion of China than of the US were another blow to the pumped-up self-esteem of Americans, deluded as they are by Bush administration hubris and claims of American "exceptionalism."

The decline in economic and diplomatic standing that Americans have suffered under Bush is exceptional. How much longer will Americans support the incompetent Bush administration that is driving them and their country’s reputation into the ground?

The world press sees Bush as an arrogant hypocrite who justifies his invasion of Iraq in the name of democracy, while protecting Uzbek’s murderous dictator Islam Karimov, described by Craig Murray, former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan as "very much George Bush’s man in Central Asia." On May 13, Karimov had 500 protesters shot down in the streets of Andijan and 200 massacred in Pakhtabad. Still more civilians were massacred by Karimov while attempting to flee into neighboring Kyrgyzstan.

It was the Bush administration that blocked a call by NATO for an international investigation of the Uzbek massacre. According to news reports, Karimov has agreed, for a suitable payment from US taxpayers, for Bush to attack Iran from bases in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan also serves as one of the Bush administration’s offshore torture centers to which suspected terrorists are sent.

Deceived American patriots dismiss such reports as leftwing fabrications. However, human rights groups have documented these abuses. Moreover, on June 24 an Italian judge ordered the arrests of 13 CIA agents, who kidnapped a Muslim in Italy and secreted him to Egypt, another offshore US torture center. The 13 CIA agents managed to stick the US taxpayers with a $144,984 hotel bill in the process.

It would be interesting to have a comparison of the hourly Uzbek and Egyptian torture rates. US taxpayers have a right to know how many of their hard-earned tax dollars, given up on pain of prison sentences, are flowing to offshore torture centers.

During his June 25 Saturday radio message to Americans, Bush gave an upbeat report on victory in Iraq and said: "Americans can be proud of all that we and our coalition partners [he means his poodle, Tony Blair, but likes the plural sound] have accomplished in Iraq."

Gentle reader, are you proud that American troops are torturing Iraqis? Are you proud that tens of thousands of Iraqi women and children have been killed and maimed with their deaths and terrible wounds dismissed as "collateral damage"? Are you proud that you elected and reelected a president who lied you into an illegal war that has killed 1,755 American troops, maimed thousands more, and destroyed your country’s reputation?

If you are proud of this, what kind of person are you?

While Bush schmoozed trusting Americans over the air waves on June 25, Brian Brady of The Scotsman (June 26) reported that Bush warned UK PM Tony Blair earlier this month "that war-torn Iraq remains on the brink of disaster."

Moreover, the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating. The British, who are even shorter on troops than the US, cannot maintain their troop strength in Iraq and also contribute forces to stem the resurgence of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The US and Britain, it seems, are trapped in two quagmires.

Vice President Cheney claims, erroneously, that the Iraqi insurgency is in its "last throes." But it appears that it is the US that is on its last legs. Lt. Gen. James R. Helmly has warned that the Army Reserve is "rapidly degenerating into a broken force." Everyone except the deceived American people know that the US lacks the combat troops to continue the war it is losing in Iraq.

As Zbigniew Brzezinski, a hawkish US National Security Advisor during the cold war conflict with the Soviet Union, said in response to Bush’s Saturday radio address: "Patriotism and love of country do not demand endless sacrifice on the part of our troops in a war justified by slogans."

June 27, 2005

Dr. Roberts is John M. Olin Fellow at the Institute for Political Economy and Research Fellow at the Independent Institute. He is a former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, former contributing editor for National Review, and a former assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury. He is the co-author of
The Tyranny of Good Intentions.



by Butler Shaffer

Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of Jackals by Jackasses.

~ H.L. Mencken

Readers of my writings know that I embrace no religious doctrines, which helps account for the enjoyment I derive from assailing all who choose to forcibly impose their belief systems upon others. I find great amusement in the secular statists who sanctimoniously condemn what has come to be known as the "religious ‘Right’" for holding various social/political views on the basis of "faith." As one who opposes every manifestation of the state, I have no more defense to make of the religious "Right," "Left," or Center," than I do the secular "Right," "Left," or "Center." I believe that people have a need for spiritual expression, and that such need can only be fulfilled within each individual, not by trying to reform the thinking or behavior of others.

That said, I must concede to members of the religious "Right" a quality that is absent among most secularists: a willingness to acknowledge that those with whom they disagree may nonetheless be intelligent, well-educated men and women. Indeed, they are prone to stigmatize their opponents as "intellectuals," often resorting to such adjectives as "ivory-towered" or "pointy-headed" for emphasis. The secularists may be considered wrong, sinful, or downright evil, but they are recognized for having thought-out opinions that must be challenged.

Most secularists, however, have a glaring blind-spot when it comes to their basic articles of faith. Few are prepared to admit that one can contravene any of their core principles and still be regarded as intelligent. Egalitarianism, the need for central state planning, feminism, "affirmative action," the welfare state, gun control, and the need to redistribute wealth, are just a few of the canons comprising the religion of secularism. Those who shriek at any mention of the "Ten Commandments" will as vociferously attack those who transgress the tenets of "political correctness." The questioning of any of these maxims can, as the president of Harvard University recently discovered, lead to charges of "heresy" and dismissal from a college appointment. What is just as remarkable – particularly on a university campus – is the inability of most of the secular faithful to defend their positions through either rational or empirical means. They fall back upon the same non-intellectual line often ascribed to religious adherents: "to those who understand, no explanation is necessary; to those who do not, no explanation is possible."

Having spent most of my adult life on university campuses, I can testify to the insular nature of such secularized thinking. My opposition to "affirmative action" admission of students, for example, is well-established, but when I have cause to restate my views on the matter to my colleagues, my words are still met with dumbfounded stares. They look at me with utter amazement, as if to wonder how anyone can go all the way through college and law school and not think as they do. After all, is it not the purpose of formal education to mold adults into a common mindset? What is to be done with those who manage to fall through cracks in the net of collectivist thinking?

My undergraduate education was at a state university. Across town was a Methodist university, whose campus was well-known – even at the time – as a setting in which questions regarding the existence of God were openly and intelligently discussed. To my knowledge, however, the basic premises of statism were never directly confronted amongst the state university’s faculty. I did have a political philosophy professor with a decidedly conservative bent who was a great fan of John Locke, but apart from this man, the campus was as devoid of even a whisper of individualistic, anti-collectivist opinion as most remain today.

A political imperative whose questioning will not be tolerated by most secularists is a belief in "democracy." I still recall the look on the face of one faculty member who, years ago, thought he had cornered me in an intellectual debate. "You do believe in democracy, though, don’t you?" When I told him I did not, he had that same look on his face that Galileo must have seen in his inquisitors.

In a post-Renaissance world of enlightenment thinking, the "divine right of kings" explanation could no longer be counted upon by the political class to justify its rule. A new sales gimmick was required. On the surface, the democratic principle had an air of plausibility to it: if government was inevitable, better to have its policies and practices determined by the general public than by an elite of rulers. In such a way, it was imagined, bloody warfare could be reduced and individual liberty preserved, as people would be disinclined to foster their own destruction and enslavement.

Only the foolish would accept this newfound rationale for state power as a virtue in itself. But, as Mencken also advised: "No one in this world, so far as I know . . . has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people." To the statists – ancient or modern – "democracy" became but another useful concept with which to condition weak minds to accept political rule. Like the earlier proposition that obedience to medieval tyrannies was divinely inspired, the replacement god, Demos, was pressed into service for politically pragmatic purposes. It was never intended to be taken as a universal principle.

That Americans could be stampeded into that abattoir known as World War I – allegedly in furtherance of this doctrine – while their modern counterparts continue to sanction the lies and deceit underlying President Bush’s worldwide campaign for "democracy," shows how deeply this idea has infected people’s minds. Democracy has become no more the expression of a popular will than theocracies were of a divine one. Like its predecessor, representative government simply became a new set of bromides with which the power-hungry could rationalize their appetites for control of the lives of their neighbors. In each instance, all the statists had to do was convince their victims of [1] the legitimacy of their system of rule, and [2] their capacity to serve either divine or popular will. The costumes, rituals, and rhetoric of Henry VIII and George W. Bush may differ, but the underlying logic and dynamics of their rule are identical. These men could exchange seats of power with nary a break in the meter of their edicts: only new speechwriters and court historians with new slogans would be called into play. Thomas More would now be charged with "terrorism" instead of "treason," and imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay instead of the Tower of London; and repression of dissent would remain the order of the day.

You will have a hard time discerning any true respect for the democratic principle among today’s ruling class. French voters overwhelmingly rejected the constitution of the European Union, but President Chirac quickly embraced his German co-conspirator, Chancellor Schroeder, to circumvent this expression of popular will. The British and Norwegian governments, meanwhile, are considering whether it is now wise to allow for a public referendum on the EU! When, in 2001, Irish voters rejected the Treaty of Nice by a 54-46% majority, government officials demanded another vote on the question!

If one pays close attention to details, an interesting pattern emerges: European political rulers tend to favor the EU – even in countries where the public rejected it – and, following the French and Dutch voters’ disapproval of same, began campaigning for new referenda on the question. They will allow the voters to express themselves on this matter, but only until they eventually vote the way their masters demand. You will note that in the countries in which voters approved of the EU constitution (e.g., Spain) no talk of another vote will be entertained!

In differing ways, the people of Iraq and Europe are discovering that democracy is just one more scam by which a power elite organizes the systematic machinery of violence to dominate and despoil their lives. Were there any minds in the establishment media or academia with the intellectual courage to ask the question, the obvious inquiry could be made: how is the slaughter of over 100,000 innocent Iraqis at all consistent with the stated purpose of bringing democracy to that nation?

"Democracy" is but one of the many lies we keep repeating to ourselves in an effort to believe, in the words of Voltaire’s Dr. Pangloss, that our self-destructive society represents "the best of all possible worlds." Democracy is the illusion that you and I, combined, have twice the political influence of David Rockefeller, and Americans cling to this illusion as fiercely as Linus does to his blanket. Despite their insistence upon this principle, the will of voters is no more a central feature of American politics than it is in any other regime. If the electorate was permitted to exercise a truly effective control over the state, voting would be declared unlawful. Statists share the sentiment expressed by a pro-EU French politician who, after the voters rejection of that constitution, declared that this issue was too important and complex to be left to the electorate – who could not understand the intricacies of the constitution – and should be left to the professionals who knew what was best!

This same thinking permeates the American political system, although it has become institutionalized in the hands of the courts. If the voters should approve a referendum that is contrary to the interests of their political overlords, the courts may simply declare the outcome violative of some arcane interpretation of an abstract constitutional principle. This was seen, the other day, in the United States Supreme Court ruling that the use of marijuana for treating medical maladies was still illegal under federal law – despite having received widespread voter approval in various state referenda. That most voters never bother to question whether they – or a politically-appointed panel of jurists – should have final judgment on the legal policies of the state in an allegedly democratic system, attests to how well they have internalized their expected subservience to the ruling class.

The practice of "judicial review" – a power nowhere provided for in the United States Constitution – offers yet another clue. When, in Marbury v. Madison, an unelected Supreme Court usurped the authority to determine the constitutionality of legislation, the non-democratic nature of the American state was laid out for all to see. We should have learned then what Europeans are now experiencing: resort to popular voting is important only if the electorate do what their leaders want them to do!

Mencken understood what he called this "carnival of buncombe" as well as anyone has. Were he around today, I suspect he would still be trying to awaken the "boobeoisie" to the one-party nature of our ostensible two-party political system. While it is considered impolite (indeed, "impolitic") to look behind the curtains by which magicians carry out their illusions over us, we might nonetheless find it useful to ask this question: from what source arise the candidates for major offices from which we are to make our selection? Have you and your friends sat around dinner tables or your workplace and offered up to the political parties the names of people you would like to have run for the presidency? Or were these handed down to you by a well-scripted media offering the four or five fungible candidates from which you would be permitted to make choices in primary elections?

Did it never interest you that George W. Bush and John Kerry – both Yale grads, both members of Skull-and-Bones (a society that has produced presidents, cabinet members, supreme court justices, and numerous industrialists) – just happened to be the two candidates between whom you could barely fit a piece of thinly-sliced ham? Did you ever have occasion to wonder how – and by whom – this amazing coincidence was brought about?

In pondering this question, you might also inquire into the recent trial balloon fueled by George Bush I when he declared that Jeb Bush might also make a good president. Responding to their well-rehearsed cue, some cable news networks began discussing such a possibility, . . . perhaps in time to start another establishment avalanche in New Hampshire for the next member of the imperial family.

In the background of such a future debate stands the ubiquitous Richard Cheney, a man of whom it is now being said that, should he run for and be elected to the presidency in 2008, he would become the first three-term president since FDR. The point of such humor will be lost on those who partake of the electronic autolobotomizing services of the Fox Snooze Channel, who will tell you that Cheney was only a vice-president! How faithfully do conditioned minds come to the defense of the creed.

The impending collapse of our politically-structured world just might take with it the structured mindset upon which it has been built. And within its rubble may be found the remains of the secular religion "democracy," whose catechisms are today preached from academic cathedrals and the media. In that day, perhaps, our archeological descendants may search the debris for an answer to the question our generation is too terrified to ask: by what justification do men and women organize to inflict violence upon their fellow humans?

June 9, 2005

Butler Shaffer teaches at the Southwestern University School of Law.

Democracy is the illusion

"Democracy is the illusion that you and I, combined,
have twice the political influence of David
Rockefeller, and Americans cling to this illusion as
fiercely as Linus does to his blanket. Despite their
insistence upon this principle, the will of voters
is no more a central feature of American politics
than it is in any other regime. If the electorate
was permitted to exercise a truly effective control
over the state, voting would be declared unlawful.
Statists share the sentiment expressed by a pro-EU
French politician who, after the voters rejection of
that constitution, declared that this issue was too
important and complex to be left to the electorate –
who could not understand the intricacies of the
constitution – and should be left to the
professionals who knew what was best!"

Left, Right, What Difference Does it Make?

by Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers

I think there's a good reason why so-called Liberals are easy targets for derision. I believe it has a lot to do with a serious problem in the analytical thought process department. I mean, it seems they have a problem in thinking seemingly simple things through logically. The Neo-cons, on the other hand, are just out-and-out crooks and masters of deceit. Being skilled in dishonesty – and getting away with it – requires years of practice as well as a very gullible audience. Here's where American Joe-Average – who is always readily taken advantage of – steps in along with his very dim Liberal friends. The combination of the two makes for, literally, an entire carnival of little kids to steal candy from.

In a recent article, Liberal writer Joe Conason counter-attacked Karl Rove because of Rove's attempts to divert American public attention away from the Downing Street meo, George Bush's lies, and the disastrous Iraq War. Up to his tried and true trickery, Karl Rove started pointing fingers at events of 9/11 and using them as justification for questioning the patriotism of Liberals in America. Mr. Conason writes:

In attacking liberals' reaction to Sept. 11, Bush's senior advisor once again resorts to McCarthy-style tactics. Karl Rove is a liar and a scoundrel. He is not a patriot but a pure partisan, as his own record proved long before now.

Well, I don’t have too many problems with this so far. Of course Rove is a liar and a scoundrel. He's involved with American politics isn't he? Of course he's not a patriot but a pure partisan – did you Liberals just figure that one out? If so, no wonder we're in the mess we're in. What planet have you guys been living on?

Here's where the problem for you, dear reader, and yours truly comes in; we have the liars and scoundrels on the one side; and the liars, scoundrels, and simpletons on the other. Take your pick.

Then Mr. Conason really drops my jaw when he writes:

The truth is that liberal New York – and the vast majority of American liberals and progressives – stood with the president in his decision to invade Afghanistan and overthrow the Taliban. On the day of the attacks, I wrote a column that endorsed "hunting down and punishing" those responsible because the dead deserved justice – and noted that when the culpability of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban was established, the United States "is fully capable of dealing with them."

You can't be serious here. On the day of the attacks?! You, Mr. Liberal, supposedly the guys who are to be sticking up for the little guys – you actually wrote a column condoning the bombing of innocent people in Afghanistan on the day of the attacks – before any proof was presented?! And you are boasting about it? You are bragging about being suckered? Astounding! Maybe I missed something here, but I seem to remember that Colin Powell promised proof that Osama bin Laden was responsible for Sept. 11, within 72 hours after the event. I don't ever remember when any proof was given yet to this day. Do you?

No wonder the so-called Liberals in America are so gutless and worthless. I can't believe that Liberals cannot see the crass hypocrisy and brainlessness of all this. How was bombing and murdering 20,000 innocent Afghani old men, women, and children to make up for – or compensate – 3,000 people who were murdered in a crime? That's right a crime – not an "act of war," Mr. Conason? I do not believe that there could be a single logically thinking person in the entire world who could come up with a suitable answer to that question.

Then he goes on to write:

Six weeks after 9/11 and two weeks after the United States started bombing the terrorist camps in Afghanistan, I appeared on CBS's "Early Show" to support the Bush administration's actions. Correspondent Lisa Birnbach made the point that liberals and Democrats who had once opposed the war in Vietnam were standing shoulder to shoulder with a president they didn't much like (and, although she didn't mention it, whose legitimacy they continued to doubt).

Noting the ubiquitous presence of American flags as we walked around the very liberal neighborhood where I live, Birnbach said, "This old lefty [Conason] is suddenly siding with the White House."

Pathetic. Simply pathetic. I do not wish to seem rude, but what is written here seems the apex of hypocrisy. What was it, Mr. Conason and the rest of you Liberals, that made you so blind to what was obviously going on? Was it a group "victim" complex? Or was it a savage primordial urge for revenge – an urge to show someone your powers of domination? No wonder right-wing drug addicts can go on the radio and make you guys look like flip-flopping idiots. We, the people, have the liars, cheaters, thieves, and war-criminals on the one side; and we have their flip-flopping enablers on the other. America, pick a card, any card.

If folks like Mr. Conason represent the typical Liberal view (which I suspect he does) – then they are accessory to Bush Administration mass-murder and war-crimes. Crying "foul" now seems a bit too late. You guys made your bed, sleep in it. Politics does make strange bedfellows, doesn’t it?

There can never be any excuse for starting a war, Mr. Lefty or Mr. Righty. The people cannot possibly be that stupid not to see through your games sooner or later. Perhaps this is one big reason for the explosive rise of Libertarianism: True Libertarians have a policy and they stick to it. And that policy is: Anti-state, anti-war, and pro-market. It's the only policy that consistently holds up under scrutiny and analysis rather than inflection. Whoever first said there's no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans should have patented that phrase – they could have been rich by now.

June 27, 2005

Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has the distinction of being fired from every FM radio station in Tokyo – one of them three times. His first book, Schizophrenic in Japan, is now on sale.