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2/22/2003

Blood money

      3:58 pm

    Sold to the highest bidder. Looks like Turkey’s reluctance to hosting the U.S. Iraq invasion troops has been taken care of. According to AP:

    “A Turkish official said the deal involved $5 billion in grants and $10 billion in loan guarantees from the United States”
    Maybe France was simply asking for too much.

    Accidents happen

        5:33 am

      The strange thing is this, the nightclub fires, the oil depot explosions, the space shuttle, the exploding Iranian airliner - all these events look like you would expect terrorist attacks to look, yet appearantly, none of them are. Even the huge forest fires last summer seem suspicious, but a former U.S. forest service worker has just been sentenced to 6 years for starting the largest wildfire in Colorado history.

      Could the human mind, now preoccupied with imagining terror, be inadvertantly influencing external events?

      Probably not. But still it seems a bit odd.

      2/21/2003

      Lowering the threshold

          5:22 am

        The new world disorder emerges. The right wing maniacs in the white house are now threatening to use their own weapons of mass destruction in this aggressive campaign to protect the world from weapons of mass destruction.

        “The United States will continue to make clear that it reserves the right to respond with overwhelming force”

        This policy shift clearly demonstrates that the war against Iraq is not due to an objection in principle to weapons of mass destruction. The entire concern is to shift their potentially devastating impact away from the U.S. - regardless of the consequences elsewhere. Displays of this type of self-concerned disregard for the suffering of others can only encourage anti-U.S. resentment and increase the threat of terroristm. The only real defense of a free society is its legitimacy, and first use threats undermine that credibility.

        The United States military is considering using mini-nukes as bunker busters. This represents a dangerous lowering of the nuclear threshold. On what grounds will the United States be able to restrain India or Pakistan next time the Kashmir dispute heats up? Is a radioactive legacy for future generations being prepared?

        Another dangerous lowering of the nuclear threshold: the threat of nuclear retaliation for Iraqi use of weapons of mass destruction, unspecified, which means not necessarily nuclear, i.e., chemical or biological.

        End result: A massive pre-emptive invasion could escalate to first strike nuclear war if Iraq resists with chemical or biological weapons. This scenario is within the realm of what is possible should the invasion phase of the war begin.

        Wild threats like this will give the major terrorists of the world the one thing they lack now - confirmation that their extreme methods are within the bounds of globally accepted behavior.

        If the leadership in the Bush administration were to hold up a mirror and see their own terrifying reflection they probably would prepare a plan to attack it - to preserve the peace of course.

        2/20/2003

        Heavy Metal

            3:13 pm

          Another environmental disaster in the making. These uranium bullets the military has been so excited about have a few unpleasant side effects, along with a half-life of 4.5 billion years. I wonder if the U.S. and Iraq will be friends by then?

          Rokke says 320 tons were used in the Gulf War.

          “If you?re going to be sent into a toxic wasteland, and you know you?re going to wear gas masks and chemical protective suits that leak, and you?re not going to get any medical care after you?re exposed to all of these things, would you go?”
          An interview with Major Doug Rokke

          Byrd and Rumsfeld

              3:06 pm

            This Iraq invasion is another attempt to clean up a failed containment policy. US, France, Germany, all sold whatever they could without much forethought. US gave anthrax in 1986, also the 46 helicopters that were used in the gas attacks. But our main man knows nothing:

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Senator, I think it would be a shame to leave this committee and the people listening with the impression that the United States assisted Iraq with chemical or biological weapons in the 1980s. I just do not believe that’s the case.
            Read the transcript for all the fine points.

            2/18/2003

            Numbers

                9:58 am

              From the CSM

              General crowd estimates

              Rome: 1 million
              London: 750,000
              Madrid: 660,000
              Berlin: 300,000-500,000
              Paris: 100,000
              Dublin, Ireland: 80,000
              Amsterdam: 70,000
              Oslo: 60,000
              Seville, Spain: 60,000
              Brussels: 50,000
              Bern, Switzerland: 40,000
              Stockholm: 35,000
              Glasgow, Scotland: 30,000
              Copenhagen, Denmark: 25,000
              Montreal: 20,000
              Toronto: 15,000
              Vienna: 15,000
              Toulouse, France: 10,000
              Cape Town, South Africa: 5,000
              Tokyo: 5,000
              Johannesburg, South Africa: 4,000
              Dhaka, Bangladesh: 2,000
              Kiev, Ukraine: 2,000
              Tel Aviv: 2,000

              SOURCE: Associated Press

              Let’s also add San Francisco at over 200,000. I had heard Toulouse was 70,000, obviously these estimates are all over the place. Barcelona was also over 500,000, some say 1,000,000. This is very impressive.

              2/16/2003

              Copenhagen

                  7:48 am

                Slideshow of the February 15 peace demonstration in Copenhagen, Denmark.

                Keep hope alive!

                    5:36 am

                  Unbelievable! Has there ever been a larger global demonstration? So many people in so many countries. What a tremendous success for human conscience. It isn’t right to bomb civilians to resolve our collective problem: how to manage the containment of weapons of mass destruction. Widen the dialogue beyond Iraq to include the United States as well. Disarmament is a worthy goal, and a good place to start is in your own backyard.

                  The media coverage is varied and revealing too. How disapointing is CNN in particular, rather than the headline “Worlds Largest Peace Demonstrations", they proclaim “Anti-War Rallies Delight Iraq“. Certainly the Iraqis, facing invasion and aerial bombardment from the worlds most powerful superpower and allies should be delighted, but the shift of media focus away from the monumental peace statement by millions of demonstrators to the reaction of the demonized Iraqi leadership is shameful and manipulative reporting. It is an attempt to embed a commentary about the validity of these demonstrations within the coverage, as if the demonstrators are simply naive peacenicks misled by Iraqi controlled media. But whose media is really controlled? A friend looking for coverage on CNN in Europe last night reported that these huge demonstrations were not even mentioned in a 2 hour viewing!

                  These demonstrations are historic in size and impact - especially considering that this is before the war has officially started. Tony Blairs voice wavered as he tried to justify an invasion and assisination of Saddam as “humanitarian". Today it almost seems as the peace movements could prevent the war, and will certainy at least postphone it. As always, creativity abounds in the peace movement. This statement stands out:

                  “Regime change begins at home”

                  2/8/2003

                  Power or Principle?

                      6:02 am

                    The current efforts by the United States to protect the interests of western civilization center entirely on the application of power to the detriment of principle. This is a flawed stategy, for it undermines that which makes Western civilization valuable in the first place: principle.

                    I was surprised to hear Powell mentioning the Yemen assasination as if he felt it to be morally apprehensible. The Bush administration is preparing to kill plenty of people in this war, many of whom will certainly be innocent civilians. Even the use of nuclear weapons has been threatened. How can someone play such a significant role in these types of pre-emptive attacks and still be concerned over the life of one person? Is this merely propoganda or is there still a human being in there? Perhaps there is hope.

                    What is needed is a commitment to principle.

                    1) No first use, no second use. Nuclear weapons are wrong in principle and must never be used, not even in “retaliation". It is not helpful or right to slaughter hundreds of thousands or even millions of people to punish their authoritarian leaders. Though the threat may have some deterent value, carrying out such a threat after the fact would be nothing but madness and useless cruelty.

                    2) Global civilian movement for the prohibition of weapons of mass destruction.

                    There is no safety in these weapons, even in the arsenal of democratic nations, witness even now how recklessly the Bush administration is considering using these awful weapons, believing one can “win” such a war. Leaders can change, power can be stolen bought or corrupted, military hierachies can be infiltrated, computerized systems can fail, secrets can and will be shared; in other words, containment in the long term is impossible, and the current crisis bears this out. Yet we see no abandonment of this failed attempt to gain security through relying on these weapons, rather quite the opposite. The Iraq war in part is about the effort to selectively enforce containment. The war may or may not succeed, but either way, containment has already failed. And the further erosion of principles weakens the psycological barrier against the use of these weapons, which in the final analysis is our only hope.

                    2/7/2003

                    Questions remain

                        7:52 am

                      The question of containing the weapons of mass destruction is going to have to go beyond how to control and contain Iraq. This is a global problem and requires a global solution with concessions from all sides for the sake of peace. It’s easy to be afraid of Iraq and condemn Saddam. It’s much harder to imagine how afraid the people of Iraq must feel right now. The road to peace begins with respect, not demonization and a bombing campaign.

                      “We still have a choice today: non-violent coexistence or violent coannihilation.” Martin Luther King Jr. April 4, 1967

                      2/6/2003

                      Pre-emptive fallout

                          9:01 am

                        The destabilizing effects of the war rhetoric are already manifesting. According to AP, Ri Pyong Gap, a spokesman and deputy director at North Korea’s Foreign Ministry, reportedly told the London based Guardian:

                        “The United States says that after Iraq, we are next, but we have our own countermeasures. Pre-emptive attacks are not the exclusive right of the U.S.”

                        Warning: The Bush administration may be quick to dish it out but can they take it? Rhetoric like this could ultimately provoke an attack by the U.S, to prevent the pre-emptive attack by North Korea, who in turn is trying to prevent a pre-emptive attack by the U.S., essentially creating the intriguing possibility of a pre-emptive pre-emptive pre-emptive attack.

                        This simple(?) example demonstrates the danger that begins when the defining military power becomes overly aggressive about “defense” in the ongoing wake of the World Trade Center attack. Others countries inevitably follow the lead of the U.S., and will consider the pre-emptive defense policy acceptable in principle and not just the privilege of power. The end result is that all nations will become more aggressive and compelled to attack sooner to gain tactical advantage when tensions between nations arise.

                        For whatever reason, the United States is “forced to” (by whom?) attack Iraq and is willing to sacrifice tremendously to do so. Unfortunatly, we cannot know for certain whether it stems from a genuine concern over weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, or whether it is part of a long range plan to alter the balance of power in the Middle East in the favor of the United States, or a combination of these two objectives. We can reasonably conclude that whatever the true motivation, the result in human terms could quickly become catastrophic, as Iraq is liable to reply to an invasion with the chemical and biological weapons that they are accused of possessing, perhaps even targeting Israel, a nation with approximately 400 nuclear weapons. The United States has also threatened to respond with nuclear weapons should Iraq attempt to defend itself with weapons of mass destruction.

                        So why the rush to force the issue? As the policy of containment has failed globally, the logical strategy would be to reduce the hatred and tensions and quickly try to build up some good will.

                        Unfortunately the mighty warriors haven’t learned how to compromise even for the sake of their own survival. Insisting that the Genie can be put back into the lamp, Powell argues for a pre-emptive war - with all the unforseen consequences that could follow - in an attempt to contain the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. His concerns make sense if you trust his words, his examples, his evidence. But foolishly, not so many months ago, Rumsfeld was pubicly known to be discussing whether or not to carry out “disinformation” campaigns to influence public opinion, both in America and abroad. Having publically discredited themselves in this way, they now present evidence which could easily have been fabricated. And though the evidence may be real, (and it certainly seems that way when Powell presents it), the antics cited above by the Bush administration has foolishly ruined whatever good name they once may have had, and now they are greatly hampered in their attempts to convince their enemies.

                        The end result is that a war against Iraq will bring anti-American resentment abroad to a boiling point. Nothing could be more dangerous for the West. The fact that they press on despite the obvious dangers is actually the most credible evidence that they sincerely believe the threat to be very real.

                        This will become an increasingly expensive war - expensive in terms beyond the economic cost or even the cost in terms of soldiers lives to be lost in battle. The destabilizing policy implications are extremely problematic. The North Korean statement asserting equal “pre-emptive” rights is but one example. But the administration knows this. They must know this.

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