Friday, August 25, 2006

THE PERSIAN AVERSION! (to non-proliferation)

Iran's recent refusal to suspend its uranium enrichment program before the mandated August 31st deadline has renewed fears that the Bush Administration may be forced into using the military option; sending missiles and fighter jets into Iran hoping to target their nuclear facilities. War must be avoided unless absolutely necessary and after some consideration I have come up with several peaceful solutions that may avert the crisis.

We could go to the United Nations and get a resolution passed that declares the entire Middle East will be a nuclear-free zone. Hell we can go a step further and even try to get one passed that says it will be a zone free of all weapons of mass destruction, that would solve a whole host of problems. If it's the case that Iran is really just scared that the US is going to go nuts and nuke them, we could pass a resolution against saying nuclear armed states cannot use their atomic bombs on non-nuclear states.

I think those are some really good ideas; but once Iran is solved what if this happens again, with another non-nuclear country starting up a nuclear program and claiming its not fair that some countries can have nuclear energy plants but they can't. Here is my best idea yet. We'll set up an international committee, like the IAEA, that controls fissionable material necessary for nuclear energy. Individual states could apply to the committee for use of the material for a nuclear energy program, but must agree to subject themselves to unrestricted monitoring to verify their peaceful intent. Skeptics might say Iran would not agree to those resolutions; but here is the kicker, Iran has no choice. Only the United States and four other countries have a veto power!

That veto power has been used, or threatened to be used and thus effectively blocked, every single one of the resolutions I stated above, in 2005 alone1. All of them were proposed in the United Nations, all of them were strongly supported by Iran and all of them won an overwhelming vote for passage. All of them were blocked by the United States and though widely reported around the world, the highly discipled US press ignored all of them. Just like with Iraq, there is a lot of information about the dispute with Iran that Americans need to know, but the American media refuses to tell them.

American's might want to know that some of Iran's nuclear facilities were built by the United States, complete with American supplied weapons-grade uranium. The American people also might want to know the US solidified their support for the Iranian nuclear program in 1975 under a directive entitled "US-Iran Nuclear Cooperation" and it had the full support of Ford's Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

But here is where it gets dangerous: The American people don't know that the Iranian believes that the United States wants to attack and there is nothing Iran can do to stop it. That is why Iran has reiterated over and over again that they will completely give up their program if they receive security assurances from the US government. That is also why Iran actually did suspend uranium enrichment in 2004 in agreement with the EU-3, when the Europeans promised to get those security assurances from the US. But the Bush Administration refused and kept making threats at Iran; resulting in the resumption of their program, undoubtedly to the delight of Bush Admin hardliners.

Now there is a race against the clock as Iran speeds up its nuclear program while continuing to ask for negotiations with the West, while hardliners in the Bush Administration seek to map out targets, manipulate intelligence and convince the President to attack, against the advice of, if the reports are true, Secretary of State Rice and the entire US military establishment.

We are certainly in a dickens of a good time, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld. Unlike Iraq, Iran currently has the backing of 2/3 of UN member states; and even the United States had to concede that Iran has the " inalienable right" to a nuclear energy program; to quote Iranian President Ahmendinejihad who was in turn quoting Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Probliferation Treaty to which both Iran and the US are signatories. If the United States were truly interested in a peaceful solution the ends without a nuclear Iran, they have ample opportunities before them. If the Bush Administration chooses war, it is because they were looking for a war with Iran for a long time and are seizing the opportunity, and it will be a disaster. Iran's nuclear facilities are scattered about the country and the US only knows the locations of a handful. The attack, successful or not, will radicalized the Islamic world to a degree we have never seen before and will probably end the 1,000 year old fued between Sunnis and Shiites. And it will give the entire non-nuclear world three pieces of advice;

The Axis of Evil Lessons:

1. Iraq Lesson: If you are a non-nuclear country and anticipating a US attack; do not assume that you are safe because attacking you would be a serious breach of International Law, the UN Charter and even the Nurember Principles. Even overwhelming opposition to the attack from nearly the whole world will mean nothing. Naked aggression is back in style.
2. Iran Lesson: If you are a non-nuclear country and anticipating a US attack; do not publically announce you have a nuclear program but will give it up if the US promises not to attack you. In fact this only helps speed up the attack because the US press will ignore your peace offers and instead be filled with propaganda about how it is the United States who is being threatend by your country.
3. North Korea: If you are a non-nuclear country, then try to develop a nuclear weapon as soon as possible. Do it secretively without anyone knowing and act very low key the whole time so no one suspects a thing. You may not be on the US hit list now; but you could randomly pop up on a list.


Sunday, August 13, 2006


I Hope?

Word of a UN mandated cease-fire in the Israeli/Lebanese conflict is a great welcome. Apparently the cease-fire will go into effect 7am Monday morning (Israeli time) although UN Sec Gen Kofi Annan did the logical thing and told both parties they might as well stop fighting now. There are some good things and bad things in this.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701 (UNSCR 1701) was passed unanimously, the text of which can be found here .

The most welcoming part of the resolution is that it calls for a ceasefire and has Israel withdrawing from southern Lebanon gradually being replaced by a 15,000 Lebanese soldiers, companied by an increase in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) from the current 2,000 to 15,000; with increased authority and abilities.

I'm extremely happy the resolution passed and satisfied with it. Both Israel and Lebanon accept the resolution, and Hizbullah leader Nasrallah made a statement saying he will abide by it. However there are some concerns that I have with it; which Im sure were discussed at the UN but UNSCR 1701 was the result of much debate and comprimise. Here are three concerns:

-The Sheba Farms issue is not solved. The Sheba Farms is an area next to the Golan Heights, captured by Israel from Syria in 1967. However, for a variety of reasons, Syria claims that the Sheba Farms is Lebanese territory; something the Lebanese government first claimed in 2000 when addressing Israeli withdrawal from their 18 year occupation of Southern Lebanon. Hizbullah uses the Sheba Farms issue as a justification for attacks on Israel, including the cross border raid in July that initiated this entire conflict. According to the Israeli paper Ha'aretz, George W. Bush has assured Israeli PM Olmert that he wont have to give up the Sheba Farms. The issue of who owns it has been put to a non-binding study to be led by Kofi Annan. Good Luck!

-Giving the Lebanese Govt more Authority.The resolution has a lot of diplomatic language which basically keeps reiterating that the Lebanese govt has full authority, and no groups can have arms without the consent of the Lebanese govt, that no militias can exist without the consent of the Lebanese govt, etc. etc. The point is to delegitimize Hizbullah and recognize the full authority of the government of Lebanon, and of course assuming (and likely given assurances) the Lebanese government will exercise this authority to take power away from Hizbullah. This is all well and good but Hizbullah is a widely popular political party in Lebanon, it even has 3 cabinent ministers in the Lebanese govt. And if the stories are true that Hizbullah's popularity skyrocketed in Lebanon (across ethnic lines, including an 80% strong approval rating from the large Lebanese Christian population) as a result of the current conflict, wouldnt it be safe to assume that in the next elections, Hizbullah will make huge gains? And what if Hizbullah becomes the majority party, like Hamas in Palestine? Will the US seek to punish the Lebanese people with sanctions and economic strangulation like we are doing to the Palestinian people?

-The Interim is the hardest part. Israel will continue to occupy southern Lebanon until the Lebanese army is deployed, which they are hoping will be in 7-10 days according to Israeli cabinent secretary Yisrael Maimon. Will the ceasefire hold? Hizbullah has said it will abide by the agreement but who knows what can happen. An Israeli minister, Eli Yishai told the Israeli press "I do not trust Hezbollah to abide by the resolution. It must be made clear to Hezbollah that if a single rock is hurled at Israel, we will have to turn the village from which it was hurled into a heap of rubble." Destroying a village if a rock is throw at you? Sounds like they want to adopt their West Bank policies here. Anyway Im hopeful that Eli Yishai is just trying to sound tough and in any event he is the Industry, Labor and Trade Minister, so Im not sure what authority he speaks from.

Hopeful Signs and Final Thoughts

What I hope is that this fragile ceasefire will hold, that Israel will withdraw and the Lebanese government can extend its authority over southern Lebanon. And one of the most important things is the disarmament of Hizbullah, which I truly believe the Lebanese government wants to work towards. It will be difficult because Hizbullah is so popular, but it can be done. I also hope that Hizbullah will make the transition from terrorist organization/political party to just a political party, and I hope that Israel and the USA will accept a Hizbullah led government should it ever occur. In Ireland, the IRA was a terrorist organization that made a transition to political party (Sinn Fein) which now has seats in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Hopefully Hizbullah can make the full transition, because its not going to disappear as a movement (for many reasons) so peaceful transition is the best hope.

The whole point of the war was stupid and unnecessary. The Israeli's claim it was launched in response to IDF soldiers being kidnapped, and Israel would not negotiate with Hizbullah it would just launch attacks until the soldiers were returned. Well the conflict is ending and Ehud Olmert has decided to negotiate with Hizbullah on the soldiers release, which is what he told the soldiers parents on Sunday.

The war was not about these soldiers, that was for PR. The war was a US/Israeli attempt to destroy Hizbullah because it is an independent and powerful Shi'ite militia that is an obstacle to US domination of the Middle East. I never believed it was about the security of Israel, as any terrorism expert, or anyone who reads anything, will tell you that Israel devastating Lebanon and killing almost 1,000 civilians is going (and already has) resulted in 1. A massive new wave of US/Israeli hatred across the middle east, 2. Hizbullah's popularity vastly skyrocketing and 3. Nasarallah becoming the most popular figure in the Arab world in 50 years. Those are all facts, and my opinion is those facts dont make Israel more secure.

Lastly, there is an article in the new issue of the New Yorker by Syemour Hersh, who claims what everyone has already suspected, that the US and Israel had been planning the attacks on Hizbullah for quite some time. He quotes mostly unnamed officials, but they say things like the White House
“has been agitating for some time to find a reason for a preĆ«mptive blow against Hezbollah.” According to his sources, the US wanted to attack Hizbullah as a way of decreasing Iran's leverage and strength in the region as a prelude to a possible US attack on Iran (which is exactly what I said was the motivation when it all started.) Hersh quotes Israeli officials as saying they were also legitimately concerned about Israeli security and according to a former head of Mossad “We do what we think is best for us, and if it happens to meet America’s requirements, that’s just part of a relationship between two friends." I think the operative phrase there is "meet America's requirements." It goes along with what I have been writing a lot about, which is the US uses Israel to do its dirty work in the Middle East, and I strongly believe that is a serious detriment to Israel's overall security, and to a lesser but still important extent, American security.

There may be short term gains in the US/Israeli assault on Lebanon, and the US and Israeli governments may feel good about victory. But it was at the cost of hundreds of unnecessary deaths of the Israeli and Lebanese people. And the long term consequences will likely fall on Israel and the United States, terrorists have been embolded, moderates weakened, and anti-Western sentiment skyrocketing. The US and Israeli governments are victors, but the other victors are Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders throughout the Middle East, all of whom likely just got their second wind.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I was listening to NPR today and heard that the number of children without health insurance has declined nationally. "What!" I thought to myself "That doesnt make sense, poverty has been rising steadly for the past six years." I heard the report was done by a group at the University of Minnesota, so I decided to just go read the report myself.

According to the report the number of children without health insurance HAS declined, but there is a catch. Between 1998 and 2004, the number of children with private health insurance has declined 3.5%. That means the increase in the number of kids with health insurance is because more children are on public health insurance programs, a form of welfare.

Thus while it is pleasing to see the number of kids with any insurance is going up, it actually does correlate with increasing poverty because what happened is more kids now qualify for welfare then before. In fact, further in the report they state that the number of children on public health insurance programs (welfare) has increased 6.4% with 34 states experiencing a "significant increase in public coverage among children." Im suspecting if the media talks about this report at all, it will just say "More kids have health care now, aint that grand!" But its because more children are living in poverty now and receiving government funded health care. Keep this in mind if you hear any Republicans touting this report as a success of the Bush Administration. And if you hear a republican tout this report and say its a good thing, you should say "I'm so glad you agree! Because the increase is entirely centered on kids on public health insurance and since you support that, why not put everyone on public health insurance and join the rest of the advanced world in a national health-care sytstem!"

On a side note there is a state-by-state breakdown of most insured children (of any type of insurance), Minnesota is #1 but Massachusetts is #2 (hopefully will soon move to #1.) 7 out of 10 of the top states are Blue states, 9 out of 10 of the bottom states (with least amount of insured kids) are Red states. Stupid anti-american liberal elitist blue states with all their insured children!

Holy Joe



Woke up this morning in a grog, turned on the tv then forced myself to put it on CNN where they were rerunning one of their idiot shows (ANDERSON COOPER 360!); but there I saw it on their stupid scroll on the bottom of the screen "...Lieberman conceded defeat..."

"Ah ha!" I screamed. Victory. I caught a bit of Joe's concession speech where at the end, apparently paraphrasing the beloved Mercutio, he cried "You have made worms meat out of me! A pox upon both your parties. I'm running as an independent in the general [election]!"

I then caught a glimpse of him on three different live morning shows; thus allowing me to identify talking points. Apparently his PR strategists have decided that having lost the party primary and now running as an independent, he should attempt to discredit victor Ned Lamont as a champion for "partisan party politics" (because as an independent, he has no party backing.) This is a hilarious departure from Lieberman's primary strategy, in which he and his operatives routinely tried to portray Joe as a partisan democrat, reiterating daily that Joe votes with Democrats 90% of the time.

And adding to the irony; Joe declared in his concession speech that he is upset not because he lost, but because he lost to "the old politics of partisan polarization" (again this is an attempt to frame the general election with Lamont characterized as a partisan Democrat.) But as I said before, this is a quick about face from the primary campaign strategy. Here was Lieberman representative Lanny Davis on Meet the Press this Sunday:

"Another fact is that Ned Lamont, when he served on the Board of Selectmen, bragged, bragged to The Greenwich Time, the same newspaper that endorsed Joe Lieberman, 'I support 80 percent of the time what my Republicans on the Board of Selectmen.'"

Yikes what a partisan democrat!

And how is Joe going to fund his campaign now that Lamont will have the backing of the Democratic Party machine? Apparently he has had a flood of corporate and lobbist donations in the last few days, giving him double the war chest that Lamont had. And for all of Joe's bitching that Lamont is some rich millionare, it was Lamont who made the offer at the very beginning of the primary campaign to stick to only public financing, and Joe that turned it down. Do us a favor Joe, back out. You lost, quit bitching, go home. Im sure Bush will have a job for you somewhere in his administration.

Go Lamont.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Guess Who's B

Guess Who's Back?
A lot has happened since my brief and unintended hiatus from the blogosphere. Most importantly I discovered something useful on
That, my friends, is the trailer for season six of 24. I also discovered the prequel to season six (what happened between 5 and 6).
So here is what I found based on clips of the first several episodes. 18 months (the trailer says) after the season 5 finale, Sec of Defense James Heller is now President (with Fmr President Logan in jail). How the hell did this happen, you ask? I dont know, here is the presidential line of succession: (1) Vice President, (2) Speaker of the House, (3) President pro tempore of the Senate, (4) Secretary of State, (5) Secretary of Treasury, (6) Secretary of Defense. So unless all those people died/resigned, Im assuming Logan's Vice President was sworn in as president, then put Sec of Def James Heller in as VP, then died/resigned and Heller became President. Who knows.
Also the biggest suprise, since most of the main characters are dead they brought back an old one, Chase Edmunds. How this will play out I dont know, but from what I saw in the brief clip, his right hand looks natural and apparently not robotic. The wonders of science/scriptwriting!
As an American who recognizes what everyone outside the USA sees, that this is a US/Israeli action, not just Israeli, I am particular concerned about the obvious; that the campaign is a serious detriment to the security of the US and Israel. As the NYT pointed out today, Nasrallah (head of Hizbullah) has become a huge hero in the Arab world, rising to the likes of Abdul Nasser (famed Egyptian dictator who led the cause of Arab nationalism until humiliating 1967 defeat, see "History of Middle East" in archives.) The attacks have succeeded in what the invasion of Iraq didnt even do, which was unite Sunni and Shiites against the US/Israel and apparently the vast majority of Lebanonese Christians are now in steadfast support of Hizbullah. Thats quite an accomplishment. So what we've accomplished is destroying about 1/3 of Hizbullah's rocket capabilities (which Im sure will be replenished) in exchange for giving Hizbullah massive and unprecedented support across the Arab world, gave Hizbullah's leader celebrity/legend status, and created a new motivation and recruitment pool for terrorist attacks against Israel and the USA. Thats quite an accomplishment!!!
So I still suspect the war has more to do with the egos of Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz on the Israeli side, and the idiocy of George W. Bush and his neocon fanatics on the American side. And according to the Israeli press, not only is the Bush Admin strongly pushing Israel to go all out on this, but they are also pushing Israel to attack Syria as well. The good people at Gush Shalom sent out word of anti-war protests in Tel Aviv where one man held a sign saying "We are not Bush's puppets." Amen to that, at least some Israeli's recognize the Bush Admin is trying to use Israel to do their dirty work.
Speaking of Bush I read an article in newsweek recently ( that quotes an unnamed senior official as saying that if Iraq does fall into civil war (it isnt already?) then Bush will pull all American troops out so they they are not "caught in the crossfire." Aside from the obvious irony of contingency planning for a situation already occuring, I wondered if this was an intentional leak or not. Because Bush has said repeatedly he doesnt want a time table for withdrawal because then insurgents would then wait for American troops to withdraw...and then, Im not sure because the whole point of the insurgency is to remove American troops so saying you wont withdraw until they stop fighting is kind of pointless. But anyway, if you now say that the American troops wont leave unless there is a civil war, doesnt this give Iraqi's incentive to increase sectarian violence? Especially Iraqi's who are both for civil war and against American occupation, the signal here is start killing more Sunnis/Shiites (depending on who you are) and then the Americans will leave.
Also there was much hubaloo about Hillary Clinton and her SCATHING rebuke of Donald Rumsfeld last week, afterwhich she called for his resignation. As always Hillary Clinton is rather transparent and I was dismayed to see liberal anti-war blogger celebrate her actions. She is still very pro-war and never backed down from that; I think she just tried to be testy with Rumsfeld because its A. An easy target, everyone, even pro-war people, recognize he is incompetent, and B. A way to shore up the liberal base (perhaps in lieu of '08) especially calculated timing since Joe Lieberman is facing an uphill primary battle tomorrow against anti-war challenger Ned Lamont.
And heres to hoping Lamont defeats Lieberman tomorrow! If so I will celebrate by getting really drunk this weekend