When The Good Goes Bad It Gets Ugly
No sentient human being can deny that Bu$hCo has had its best days, and the reason this is so lies at the feet of King George and his cronies.
Through cocky ignorance and blind ambition, Bu$hCo did to the legacy of 1945 what Katrina did to New Orleans:
Good-bye Bush era
Something has changed in America and it doesn't augur well for Bush and his buddies, writes Mohamed Hakki
It could be a coincidence that in the week that world leaders gathered in New York to attend the United Nations' annual General Assembly meetings, the American people displayed a degree of fed-up-ness with the Bush administration never shown before. The number of negative articles and commentaries has been too numerous to list. Aspects of failure on almost every front are becoming obvious everyday.
Even before Katrina, Bush would have been a "lame duck president" but with Katrina, his whole administration's ineptitude makes his whole era look pathetic. Richard Cohen says in the Washington Post:
"if Bush were the CEO of a major corporation, his board of directors would have fired him. It would want to know what the hell he's been doing for the past four years and what he's done with the untold billions given to the Department of Homeland Security. After seeing how the Feds stood by while sick people died in New Orleans hospitals, the board might want to fire itself -- but that is not practical. The board, in this case, is the American people."
Mr. Cohen is being harsh on the American people - but not by much. If the American people were doing their jobs in this society, such an event as Cohen just described would have happened last year - and by a clear margin. But that didn't happen, and maybe it's because the American people have forgotten how the rest of the world once saw us.
To their credit, Americans care what other people around the world think of them, and are always anxious to limit or reverse the erosion of trust in their country by the international community. To that extent, they are unique. Big powers in history, from imperial Rome to colonial Britain, didn’t give two-pence what their colonized communities, the so-called “subjugated peoples,” thought of them. Military and economic might alone, they argued, would shape world opinion.
The problem here is not American popular culture — beloved and emulated everywhere — or even American political culture, imbued with the richest ideas about freedom, democracy, and individual rights, ideas embraced by a people who, since 1776, had valued diversity and openness in their lives, and continue to expect candor and accountability from their elected officials.
Thus, Americans refuse to believe, say, Saudi Arabians, Egyptians and Indonesians when these folks explain that they are not advancing the notion that the American system is bad, just that it is bad for, or incompatible with, their culture and traditions.
I for one see no contradiction between people around the world listening to John Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix, watching Martin Scorcese’s Taxi Driver and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now on the big screen, attending a production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman, reading Philip Roth and Norman Mailer, and heck, yes, wearing Levis and eating Big Macs, and slamming President Bush for his foreign policies.
Let’s face it, a lot of Americans do just that everyday of the week.
The source of anti-American attitudes in the Middle East, and elsewhere in the Muslim world and in Western Europe, is clearly not American culture or American values, but, as Edward P. Djereijan, a retired diplomat who had served as ambassador in Damascus, said in an interview last week, “It’s the policies, stupid.”
Alas, America’s strategy for global primacy, not to mention its penchant for wanting to transform other societies in its image, has not worked out well. The United States’ great power has been humbled by a relentless insurgency in an ancient land whose culture Americans only vaguely understand; its allies are weary of its unilateralist posture; its potential friends in the Middle East — and trust me on this one, there are a lot of these floating around — are alienated by hypocritical policies it adamantly pursues in Palestine; its enemies around the world have grown bolder; and when it talks about exporting “reform, human rights, democracy and open markets,” those people in the region who are meant to be their beneficiaries turn away in nauseated disbelief.
Case In Point
Karen Hughes’ visit to the Middle East would not have merited a column here were it not for the egregious remarks she kept making, especially in Saudi Arabia, about how Hamas militants are essentially a bunch of terrorists and how when Israel hits at them, it is hitting back in retaliation. She said that right there, as a guest, in the heartland of our world.
Thanks, Karen, message master, communications guru and undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. You came to our part of the world to aim at the public’s heart, and you ended up hitting it in the stomach.
[T]he painfully clueless Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes was an improbable ambassador. She has little foreign policy experience and her pedestrian, at times vapid, responses to questions raised by people in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey showed she knew precious little about the region’s social concerns and political preoccupations.
Charged with burnishing the US image in the Muslim world, she only succeeded in projecting a syrupy sweet demeanor, using hokey lines like “I am a mom and I love kids,” or banal observations, about what goals Palestinians should pursue, like “they should have children and families.”
In Egypt, asked a question about the Muslim Brotherhood, she turned quizzically to an aide to help her out, since she presumably had not heard of the group, which has been active and vocal in Egyptian politics since the 1920s.
In Turkey, she gushed: “I love all kids, and I understand that is something I have in common with the Turkish people — that they love children.”
In Cairo, when she asked a group of college students how many of them had voted in the recent presidential election, only one hand shot up. The next day, she worked into her standard speech a heartwarming story about meeting someone who had participated in the first multiparty election in Egypt’s history.
She also repeatedly claimed, in an interview on Al-Jazeera, that President Bush was the first American leader to call for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, ignorant as she was of the fact that President Bill Clinton worked tirelessly to achieve that goal in the last few months of his tenure in the White House. (Come to think of it, President Carter had called for a “Palestinian homeland” while in office.)
Let the record show that no one has identified the gushy Hughes as an “ugly American,” just an inane one.
Bu$hCo foreign policy, even that not personified by Karen Hughes, isn't the only major diplomatic arena conducted by faux pas:
The U.N. Must be Free of ‘American Subjugation’
By M'Hamed Ben Youssef
The U.N. was to be reformed to better manage the world, fifteen years after the end of the Cold War, but the divisions between member states [of] the North and the South (that is to say between rich and poor) and George W. Bush’s determination to “domesticate” it in order to avoid a kick for the unfair war in Iraq (waged in violation of all the principles of the U.N. charter) made it so that this big world summit, the first of the third millennium, failed to keep all of its promises.
In today’s world, things being the way they are, the U.N. needs to be free of the blemish of American subjugation. It is necessary then, to demand that it be moved, as Hugo Chavez, the courageous president of Venezuela, has suggested. But who will listen?
Somehow, I suspect the Saudis are listening! They seem intent on preventing the US from having a reason to go to war against yet another Arab state, which has to be making the lunatics even crazier:
How to save Syrian president Bashar Assad and his regime from toppling – or rather how to save him from himself? This was the main topic exercising Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Saudi King Abdullah when they put their heads together in Riyadh Monday Oct. 3. The Saudi monarch is bidding for President George W. Bush to give the Syrian president another chance. He is offering a Saudi-Egyptian guarantee for Assad to live up to any obligations he may be persuaded to undertake.
The quid pro quo proposed by Riyadh and Cairo is a halt on US and international pressure on the Syrian regime to mend its ways, the suspension of American economic sanctions and the resumption of economic assistance in the framework of a generous US-Saudi aid package to build a modern economy.
Washington would have to lean hard on Ariel Sharon, or whoever succeeds him as Israeli prime minister, for peace talks culminating in the [Israeli] withdrawal from the Golan - on the same lines as the pull-back from Gaza and prospective evacuations of the West Bank. US officials had been testing Jerusalem’s preference for Assad’s successor. Israeli officials are reported to have said that Assad could stay - as long as he was “weakened.”
Sometimes, even puppets have no strings. Despite the efforts the Saudis and Egyptians have exerted on his behalf, Assad may have other plans:
Assad has developed more than one lifeline. In addition to the Saudi-Egyptian rescue plan, he is cozying up to Moscow and to Tehran for an escape or counter-gambit against the US-French drive to bring him down and the UN investigator’s findings. Some of the ideas floated between Damascus, Tehran and Moscow, might be of concern to Washington, US forces in Iraq, and Israel.
Even Malta - one of the smallest nations in the world - is telling Uncle Sugar what to do:
Malta and the US enjoy what both sides regard as a strong and healthy relationship. Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi's meeting last Monday with the US President was aimed to give more impetus to growth in American investment, to a greater cooperation in security, to their commitment to work together against terror in favour of peace and stability.
But Malta wanted the meeting to face up to other issues that directly affected its relationship with the US, specifically a revision of America's decision to cancel the double taxation agreement and the removal of visa requirements for Maltese travelling to the US. Previous US Ambassadors to Malta did their fair share for this to happen, and there is no doubt the new incumbent, Molly Bordonaro, will strive to make her country's commercial presence better felt.
So far, none of these foreign situations I've presented involves military operations - yet. But the diplomatic problems illustrated above can also be found where military operations are underway - and the one complicates the other:
There is no doubt the U.S. and British blind occupation of the country is the main reason for the catastrophe unfolding in Iraq. Since Washington has drastically failed to achieve any of its objectives through military force and incursions into Iraqi cities, towns and villages, why not try the diplomatic and political option?
Have a close look at the Iraqi scene and you only come up with two alternatives. They are not even the worst of two evils. Both are the worst one could imagine.
* The presence of U.S. troops is a problem and it will certainly not lead to stability.
* The withdrawal of U.S. troops will certainly turn the country into a scapegoat of regional rivalries in which countries with strategic interests will openly try to spread their hegemony.
Warnings of further violence and more attacks are perhaps the only diet both the White House and Downing Street have as part of their options for the new Iraq. If Washington keeps listening to Iraqi government officials whose authority does not go beyond the U.S.-fortified Green Zone in Baghdad, the country will certainly keep sinking. The country’s situation is precarious, and if Bush and Blair have ever been right about their Iraq projections, their forecast of worst to come is perhaps the only thing they got right. There are simply no options left.
In Britain, such a scenario isn't playing very well with the British - civilian or military:
BRITAIN’S top soldier, General Sir Michael Walker, chief of the defence staff, says the army’s morale and its ability to attract new recruits have been suffering because people see the armed forces as “guilty by association” with Tony Blair’s decision to go to war in Iraq.
If anything, the war helped recruitment and morale at the start, Walker said. “There was an understanding by members of the armed services that this war was not an all-hands- up, popular event across the country.
“But I think at that stage they were able to decouple in their own minds, as I was, the fact that the country was not necessarily behind the strategic decision to go to war, but once our boys and girls were out there, doing their various things, they would support them in that role.
“Now I think that’s shifted a bit, if I’m absolutely honest. Some of the opprobrium attached to the war is also attached to the fact that the armed services are taking part in it. We are, if you like, guilty by association with a decision to go to war that not the whole of this country enjoined.”
Next year, as many as 4,000 British troops will go to Afghanistan to allow American forces to be redeployed. This is likely to put yet more pressure on British servicemen.
Walker admitted it may be a long war. “The future of Afghanistan seems to me to be fundamentally tied up with the narcotics and it’s partly a military problem in the sense that security is affected by narcotics,” he said.
“There’s a lot of work to be done, of which the military is only a very small part. Ten years, 15 years, long-term. This is not going to be solved in a short term.”
I'm not sure that Sir Michael is any less clueless - if clearly more well-intentioned - than was Karen Hughes, for the actions of US and British soldiers against their detainees have repercussions that reverberate far beyond the barbed-wire compounds:
The clear systematic policy of torture pursued within the U.S. military against those it considers ‘enemy combatants’ in its ‘War on Terror’ not only damages the cause the Americans say they uphold, but, according to this editorial from France’s Le Monde newspaper, it generates a tremendous number of new 'enemy combatants.' - Original Article (French)
The American administration has failed to issue a satisfactory response to the fact that its army violates the laws of war. It has suggested successfully, according to American public opinion, ... that the units of military police that were photographed humiliating prisoners at Abu Ghraib were not obeying any order of the army or the intelligence services.
This report is significant for two reasons: it cuts to pieces the myth that the tortures perpetrated at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, revealed in April 2004, could have been the acts of an isolated unit, which would have brought an end to the matter with the revelation of the scandal; and it allows us to hear testimony, not of ex-prisoners - always to be listened to with caution - but of American soldiers.
The torture techniques and maltreatment described by a captain and two sergeants who confided in HRW are not new: they were used in the American-run prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq, such as the camp at Guantanamo Bay. Investigations by non-governmental organizations and Western media prove, since the April, 2004 revelations, that these were systematic practices. These investigations also revealed cases of the [non-judicial] execution of prisoners.
While authorizing its army to perpetrate what international law describes as "serious violations of the laws of the war," such as "torture" or "inhumane treatment" of prisoners and "war crimes" in the case of executions - the United States placed itself in a position of illegality in the service of the cause that they allege to defend: freedom, justice and democracy faced with the "the madness of Allah." But every time an Afghan or Iraqi is killed wrongly or tortured, and precisely because the United States is a democratic country, it is a defeat for America and all who defend the values and morals for which it claims to embody.
More pragmatically, the use of torture is one less chance for Washington to win its wars, because for each martyred prisoner, for each image of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo, ten fighters rise against the United States.
Leave it to a nation whose history includes some of the most horrifying acts of inhumanity to expose this connection between action and reaction in detail:
The Prank Of The Yank
It was April 28, 2004. Insurgents were still launching the occasional rocket-propelled grenade at their base near Baghdad, and CNN was broadcasting images from home: basketball, the White House, Wall Street. It was a normal day at Victory Base. But then the room suddenly went still.
There was a man on the screen, his arms spread out and attached to electrical wires, his head covered with a sandbag.
Former Abu Ghraib prisoner Hajj Ali believes he is the one pictured in this world infamous photo.
The headline read: Scandal at Abu Ghraib. Other images followed, images of prisoners on dog leashes, of piles of naked, intertwining bodies.
Someone turned up the volume, and Javal Davis heard the reporter mention his name. A photo from his high-school yearbook flashed across the screen, a picture of a tall black boy with a friendly face and a big smile. Then the Secretary of Defense appeared, talking about seven degenerate soldiers who had brought shame upon the USA.
Davis says that his country punished him for crimes over which he had no control. Instead, he says, the people who were responsible for creating the system of torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib should be brought to justice.
The judges sentenced Davis to six months in a military prison for inflicting bodily injury and gave him a dishonorable discharge from the army -- a mild sentence. But now Davis's attorney wants to file an appeal against the military court's ruling. He wants Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to testify in court. He says he wants justice for Javal Davis. Davis feels betrayed by this army, the army that he loved and that was his life. Now, he says, his life is destroyed.
He is silent, locked in his memories. Someday, says Javal Davis, he will write a book about it. He will write about what really happened in Iraq. And he will ask the Iraqis for their forgiveness.
The Passion Of The Prophet's Proselyte
Hajj Ali sits on the sofa in a hotel room in Amman, Jordan. He was released from Abu Ghraib 16 months ago. It's a beautiful summer day, but he keeps the curtains drawn -- girls are lounging in bikinis at the pool below.
Hajj Ali reaches for a pack of cigarettes with his right hand and uses his lips to extract a Marlboro. Then he starts up his laptop and calls up an Iraqi Web site, albasrah.net, that shows the pictures from Abu Ghraib. He scrolls through the site, pausing occasionally: "Here," says Hajj Ali, "this is Abu Hudheifa, the imam, lying in the hallway with his gunshot wounds. Or here, Sabrina Harman, bending over the dead from the shower room."
Hajj Ali speaks slowly and quietly. His voice sounds a little hoarse. "Graner," he says, "that pig."
He scrolls down to a picture of a man standing on a box wearing nothing but a black blanket, his upper body bent forward slightly, his arms attached to wires and a hood over his head. Hajj Ali swallows and zooms in on one of the hands. "Look," he says, "something isn't right about the hand; it seems injured."
Hajj Ali says he is convinced that he is the man in this picture.
It's an image one sees all over Iraq today. It hangs on building walls and in mosques. The hooded man is an icon. His image is a symbol of all the abuses America has committed against his people.
Hajj Ali says that it's a good thing these images exist. Without them, the world would never have learned about Abu Ghraib. No one would have believed us, he says.
When the Americans came, he says, he knew they would pick him up sooner or later -- just like the many who had already been taken away in the preceding weeks. Hajj Ali heard the sound of heavy engines behind him and he turned around to see a group of Humvees bearing down on him. He was quickly encircled, and 20 soldiers jumped onto the sidewalk, pulled out their weapons, handcuffs and a hood, and pushed him to the ground. "Are you Hajj Ali?" they demanded.
Then everything went black.
Ali al-Shalal Abbas, nicknamed Hajj ever since he completed the pilgrimage to Mecca a few years earlier, lay in the truck bed, trying to remain calm. Don't be afraid, he said to himself, you haven't done anything wrong. At some point they pushed him out of the truck and chained him to a fence, and he heard Iraqis in the dark. Hajj Ali asked: "Where are we?"
"I think this is Abu Ghraib," another man whispered.
All This For Nothing
Hajj Ali sits on a truck bed, a hood covering his head, surrounded by other prisoners. It's late December, three weeks after the electroshocks, and he has been in Abu Ghraib prison for two and a half months. They repeated the procedure two more times, but it was unsuccessful.
After a few days, Sergeant Joyner came to his cell door, carrying a notebook and accompanied by an investigator. They stood there a while and offered him a cigarette. Then Abu Omar, Hajj Ali's ad hoc interpreter, heard the investigator say that 151716 is an innocent man, telling Joyner to make a note of that.
A little later they put Hajj Ali in orange overalls and took him back to the camp. He vomited when he saw the sun. The truck speeds up. They must be out of the camp by now, he thinks. Forty people are packed tightly on the truck bed and he feels the man next to him touch his hand. "Hey," the man whispers, "are you Hajj Ali?" "Yes, I am. Where are they taking us?" "Home," says the stranger. "I heard they are taking us home."
No Other Cheek To Turn
In the past, he says, he believed that forgiveness is always better than revenge, but now he is filled with a hatred that he cannot shake off. The worst thing about it, says Hajj Ali, is that he hates himself for hating others. "How can it be," he asks, "that the victims are not being called as witnesses, that no one wants to hear their version of the story? How can it be that someone like Davis gets only half a year in prison?"
"Davis and the others," he says, "killed our souls."
Hajj Ali hasn't joined up with Al Qaeda - yet - but others who suffered abuse at the hands of King George's Oil Rustlers certainly have. Allegations have been made that the Western military occupation of Arab nations, whether under wartime conditions like Iraq and Afghanistan or not, are the main reason that Al Qaeda exists at all. There are reasons to believe this to be true.
But even if it isn't completely factual, one should certainly know and understand what one's enemies are thinking. One should also certainly know if one's defense strategies are doing what they are intended:
Explaining al-Qaeda's Struggle Against America
A collection of original texts stemming from the al-Qaeda movement and published by French researchers presents the jihadi-terrorists' motivations and goals. The issue is not, as is so often asserted in America, a clash of civilizations, but, according to this book review from Germany's Neue Zürcher Zeitung, a jihad to defend Islamic territory and drive out the American/Israeli occupiers and their allies. - Original Article (German)
[T]his eye-catching effort to explain al-Qaeda's jargon to Western readers shows how away far these people are from the Western thought; nevertheless, they have shaken Western thinking to its very foundation with their terrorist attacks.
In contrast to the insane teachings commonly imagined in the West, al-Qaeda texts and commentaries illuminate its leadership's great and methodical care in deriving from the Koran and Sunna (religious tradition) every Muslim's personal religious duty (fard ain) to perform jihad. The most militant Koranic verses are chosen as the basis of al-Qaeda thought. They are interpreted to show that the American military presence in the Near East and Washington's far-reaching influence on Arabic regimes are in contradiction to God's rules, which permit governance only in accordance with Islamic law.
This particular statement is constantly misunderestimated by Bu$hCo, and is twisted into a concept that Red State America can understand. Much of that which is against Islamic law is central to the American popular culture, and the right of Americans to partake of such things [like drinking alcohol] are clearly known to be proscribed when one visits their nations.
Somehow, in the twisted logic of an insane cabal, this becomes 'they are against our freedom'.
Has anyone yet made the connection that Al Qaeda has ceased attacking Americans and is now focusing on Britain? There is a reason for that - Britain is about the only significant ally King George has. This indicates a level of sophistication above and beyond that of most Red State supporters of George W. Bu$h. Now read this next section and try to tell me that we are winning this so-called 'War on Terrah':
Osama bin Laden first came to the forefront with his February 1988 Declaration of an Islamic Front against the Jews and the Crusaders, in which he built a bridge connecting Egyptian jihad groups with Pakistani and Bangladeshi extremists. His Declaration to the American People of October 30, 2004 - two days before the presidential election - is also worth reading.
Here, bin Laden, an experienced entrepreneur and businessman, develops his strategy of attrition and speaks to Americans using terms they are familiar with: "Because you are destroying our freedom, we do the same with yours."
Bin Laden comments on the effects of the attacks against New York: "Al-Qaeda spent $500,000 on the September 11 operation, while America lost $500 billion as a consequence thereof, a million dollars for each al-Qaeda dollar."
He also points out that President Bush had to seek a number of supplemental appropriations from Congress for his War on Terrorism. And since it has become apparent that in addition to the $5 billion per month required to pay for the war in Iraq, hurricane damage will require over $100 billion, questions about the country's ability to persevere in the face of such huge financial burdens are being raised in America itself.
What Hath God's pRedzident Wrought?
If we look at the pattern of the terrorist attacks since September 11, 2001 we get the impression that the al-Qaeda leadership has been successful in creating a new consciousness amongst young Muslims. According to the new ideology, the Muslim community (Umma) was being threatened by Western domination and Near East policies in a manner that demands that the young faithful offer their lives in its defense. Defense against infidels is conducted by means of murderous attacks directed at the heart of the American superpower and in the capitals of its Western allies.
Al Qaeda doesn't even have to be the active attacker to benefit from damage suffered by America, as this post from MSNBC points out:
The Saudi daily Okaz quoted the minister, Prince Nayef, saying the cell — which was linked directly to Al Qaeda — had planned major attacks on some of Saudi Arabia's key oil and gas facilities. "There isn't a place that they could reach that they didn't think about," said Nayef. And their ultimate target was the global economy. Saudi Arabia is the greatest source of oil on earth, with a quarter of known reserves and a proven policy of trying to stabilize prices even in today's volatile markets.
If the incident made few headlines at the time, it's because it ended on Sept. 6, when the United States — and oil traders — were focused on the impact of Hurricane Katrina. Yet precisely because of the shortages brought on by that storm and the damage still being counted from Hurricane Rita, Saudi Arabia is more important than ever to world oil supplies. What's worse, according to several analysts, Al Qaeda knows it.
"They're watching Katrina. They're watching Rita. They're watching what it's doing to the United States," says former CIA agent Robert Baer, who has written extensively on Saudi Arabia's vulnerabilities.
Since Al Qaeda's campaign of terror inside Saudi Arabia began in 2003, the Saudis have dramatically stepped up protection of their oil installations. Officials have sought to reassure the world that the terrorists are on the run. Yet the cells seem to be replaced almost as quickly as they're taken down.
A few ruptured pipes could be repaired quickly, says Baer, but a concerted attack at several points could bring on the kind of nightmare scenario that U.S. officials have been dreading since the Reagan years: pushing oil prices up from their current prices in the range of $60 to $70 a barrel to well over $100 for weeks or even months.
A successful hit against a major offshore loading facility at either Ras Tanura or Juaymah would knock millions of barrels off the market. Baer wrote in 2003 that "a single jumbo jet with a suicide bomber at the controls ... crashed into the heart of Ras Tanura, would be enough to bring the world's oil-addicted economies to their knees."
After the one-two punch from Katrina and Rita, it might not take that much.
While I have no attribution to support me, I'm sure that someone in Bu$hCo is an avid fight fan. They would understand what I mean when I say that it's time to toss in the towel.
Either that, or some palooka named George is going to get knocked out.
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