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Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Decline and Fall of the American Empire

By Alfred W. McCoy

December 11, 2010 "The Nation" - - A soft landing for America 40 years from now? Don’t bet on it. The demise of the United States as the global superpower could come far more quickly than anyone imagines. If Washington is dreaming of 2040 or 2050 as the end of the American Century, a more realistic assessment of domestic and global trends suggests that in 2025, just 15 years from now, it could all be over except for the shouting.

Despite the aura of omnipotence most empires project, a look at their history should remind us that they are fragile organisms. So delicate is their ecology of power that, when things start to go truly bad, empires regularly unravel with unholy speed: just a year for Portugal, two years for the Soviet Union, eight years for France, 11 years for the Ottomans, 17 years for Great Britain, and, in all likelihood, 22 years for the United States, counting from the crucial year 2003.

Future historians are likely to identify the Bush administration’s rash invasion of Iraq in that year as the start of America's downfall. However, instead of the bloodshed that marked the end of so many past empires, with cities burning and civilians slaughtered, this twenty-first century imperial collapse could come relatively quietly through the invisible tendrils of economic collapse or cyberwarfare.

But have no doubt: when Washington's global dominion finally ends, there will be painful daily reminders of what such a loss of power means for Americans in every walk of life. As a half-dozen European nations have discovered, imperial decline tends to have a remarkably demoralizing impact on a society, regularly bringing at least a generation of economic privation. As the economy cools, political temperatures rise, often sparking serious domestic unrest.

Available economic, educational, and military data indicate that, when it comes to US global power, negative trends will aggregate rapidly by 2020 and are likely to reach a critical mass no later than 2030. The American Century, proclaimed so triumphantly at the start of World War II, will be tattered and fading by 2025, its eighth decade, and could be history by 2030.

Significantly, in 2008, the US National Intelligence Council admitted for the first time that America's global power was indeed on a declining trajectory. In one of its periodic futuristic reports, Global Trends 2025, the Council cited “the transfer of global wealth and economic power now under way, roughly from West to East" and "without precedent in modern history,” as the primary factor in the decline of the “United States' relative strength—even in the military realm.” Like many in Washington, however, the Council’s analysts anticipated a very long, very soft landing for American global preeminence, and harbored the hope that somehow the US would long “retain unique military capabilities… to project military power globally” for decades to come.

No such luck. Under current projections, the United States will find itself in second place behind China (already the world's second largest economy) in economic output around 2026, and behind India by 2050. Similarly, Chinese innovation is on a trajectory toward world leadership in applied science and military technology sometime between 2020 and 2030, just as America's current supply of brilliant scientists and engineers retires, without adequate replacement by an ill-educated younger generation.

By 2020, according to current plans, the Pentagon will throw a military Hail Mary pass for a dying empire. It will launch a lethal triple canopy of advanced aerospace robotics that represents Washington's last best hope of retaining global power despite its waning economic influence. By that year, however, China's global network of communications satellites, backed by the world's most powerful supercomputers, will also be fully operational, providing Beijing with an independent platform for the weaponization of space and a powerful communications system for missile- or cyber-strikes into every quadrant of the globe.

Wrapped in imperial hubris, like Whitehall or Quai d'Orsay before it, the White House still seems to imagine that American decline will be gradual, gentle, and partial. In his State of the Union address last January, President Obama offered the reassurance that “I do not accept second place for the United States of America.” A few days later, Vice President Biden ridiculed the very idea that “we are destined to fulfill [historian Paul] Kennedy's prophecy that we are going to be a great nation that has failed because we lost control of our economy and overextended.” Similarly, writing in the November issue of the establishment journal Foreign Affairs, neo-liberal foreign policy guru Joseph Nye waved away talk of China's economic and military rise, dismissing “misleading metaphors of organic decline” and denying that any deterioration in US global power was underway.

Ordinary Americans, watching their jobs head overseas, have a more realistic view than their cosseted leaders. An opinion poll in August 2010 found that 65% of Americans believed the country was now “in a state of decline.” Already, Australia and Turkey, traditional US military allies, are using their American-manufactured weapons for joint air and naval maneuvers with China. Already, America's closest economic partners are backing away from Washington's opposition to China's rigged currency rates. As the president flew back from his Asian tour last month, a gloomy New York Times headline summed the moment up this way: “Obama's Economic View Is Rejected on World Stage, China, Britain and Germany Challenge US, Trade Talks With Seoul Fail, Too.”

Viewed historically, the question is not whether the United States will lose its unchallenged global power, but just how precipitous and wrenching the decline will be. In place of Washington's wishful thinking, let’s use the National Intelligence Council's own futuristic methodology to suggest four realistic scenarios for how, whether with a bang or a whimper, US global power could reach its end in the 2020s (along with four accompanying assessments of just where we are today). The future scenarios include: economic decline, oil shock, military misadventure, and World War III. While these are hardly the only possibilities when it comes to American decline or even collapse, they offer a window into an onrushing future.

Economic Decline: Present Situation

Today, three main threats exist to America’s dominant position in the global economy: loss of economic clout thanks to a shrinking share of world trade, the decline of American technological innovation, and the end of the dollar's privileged status as the global reserve currency.

By 2008, the United States had already fallen to number three in global merchandise exports, with just 11% of them compared to 12% for China and 16% for the European Union. There is no reason to believe that this trend will reverse itself.

Similarly, American leadership in technological innovation is on the wane. In 2008, the US was still number two behind Japan in worldwide patent applications with 232,000, but China was closing fast at 195,000, thanks to a blistering 400% increase since 2000. A harbinger of further decline: in 2009 the US hit rock bottom in ranking among the 40 nations surveyed by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation when it came to “change” in “global innovation-based competitiveness” during the previous decade. Adding substance to these statistics, in October China's Defense Ministry unveiled the world's fastest supercomputer, the Tianhe-1A, so powerful, said one US expert, that it “blows away the existing No. 1 machine” in America.

Add to this clear evidence that the US education system, that source of future scientists and innovators, has been falling behind its competitors. After leading the world for decades in 25- to 34-year-olds with university degrees, the country sank to 12th place in 2010. The World Economic Forum ranked the United States at a mediocre 52nd among 139 nations in the quality of its university math and science instruction in 2010. Nearly half of all graduate students in the sciences in the US are now foreigners, most of whom will be heading home, not staying here as once would have happened. By 2025, in other words, the United States is likely to face a critical shortage of talented scientists.

Such negative trends are encouraging increasingly sharp criticism of the dollar's role as the world’s reserve currency. “Other countries are no longer willing to buy into the idea that the US knows best on economic policy,” observed Kenneth S. Rogoff, a former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. In mid-2009, with the world's central banks holding an astronomical $4 trillion in US Treasury notes, Russian president Dimitri Medvedev insisted that it was time to end “the artificially maintained unipolar system” based on “one formerly strong reserve currency.”

Simultaneously, China's central bank governor suggested that the future might lie with a global reserve currency “disconnected from individual nations” (that is, the US dollar). Take these as signposts of a world to come, and of a possible attempt, as economist Michael Hudson has argued, “to hasten the bankruptcy of the US financial-military world order.”

Economic Decline: Scenario 2020

After years of swelling deficits fed by incessant warfare in distant lands, in 2020, as long expected, the US dollar finally loses its special status as the world's reserve currency. Suddenly, the cost of imports soars. Unable to pay for swelling deficits by selling now-devalued Treasury notes abroad, Washington is finally forced to slash its bloated military budget. Under pressure at home and abroad, Washington slowly pulls US forces back from hundreds of overseas bases to a continental perimeter. By now, however, it is far too late.

Faced with a fading superpower incapable of paying the bills, China, India, Iran, Russia, and other powers, great and regional, provocatively challenge US dominion over the oceans, space, and cyberspace. Meanwhile, amid soaring prices, ever-rising unemployment, and a continuing decline in real wages, domestic divisions widen into violent clashes and divisive debates, often over remarkably irrelevant issues. Riding a political tide of disillusionment and despair, a far-right patriot captures the presidency with thundering rhetoric, demanding respect for American authority and threatening military retaliation or economic reprisal. The world pays next to no attention as the American Century ends in silence.

Oil Shock: Present Situation

One casualty of America's waning economic power has been its lock on global oil supplies. Speeding by America's gas-guzzling economy in the passing lane, China became the world's number one energy consumer this summer, a position the US had held for over a century. Energy specialist Michael Klare has argued that this change means China will “set the pace in shaping our global future.”

By 2025, Iran and Russia will control almost half of the world's natural gas supply, which will potentially give them enormous leverage over energy-starved Europe. Add petroleum reserves to the mix and, as the National Intelligence Council has warned, in just 15 years two countries, Russia and Iran, could “emerge as energy kingpins.”

Despite remarkable ingenuity, the major oil powers are now draining the big basins of petroleum reserves that are amenable to easy, cheap extraction. The real lesson of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico was not BP's sloppy safety standards, but the simple fact everyone saw on “spillcam”: one of the corporate energy giants had little choice but to search for what Klare calls “tough oil” miles beneath the surface of the ocean to keep its profits up.

Compounding the problem, the Chinese and Indians have suddenly become far heavier energy consumers. Even if fossil fuel supplies were to remain constant (which they won’t), demand, and so costs, are almost certain to rise—and sharply at that. Other developed nations are meeting this threat aggressively by plunging into experimental programs to develop alternative energy sources. The United States has taken a different path, doing far too little to develop alternative sources while, in the last three decades, doubling its dependence on foreign oil imports. Between 1973 and 2007, oil imports have risen from 36% of energy consumed in the US to 66%.

Oil Shock: Scenario 2025

The United States remains so dependent upon foreign oil that a few adverse developments in the global energy market in 2025 spark an oil shock. By comparison, it makes the 1973 oil shock (when prices quadrupled in just months) look like the proverbial molehill. Angered at the dollar's plummeting value, OPEC oil ministers, meeting in Riyadh, demand future energy payments in a “basket” of Yen, Yuan, and Euros. That only hikes the cost of US oil imports further. At the same moment, while signing a new series of long-term delivery contracts with China, the Saudis stabilize their own foreign exchange reserves by switching to the Yuan. Meanwhile, China pours countless billions into building a massive trans-Asia pipeline and funding Iran's exploitation of the world largest natural gas field at South Pars in the Persian Gulf.

Concerned that the US Navy might no longer be able to protect the oil tankers traveling from the Persian Gulf to fuel East Asia, a coalition of Tehran, Riyadh, and Abu Dhabi form an unexpected new Gulf alliance and affirm that China's new fleet of swift aircraft carriers will henceforth patrol the Persian Gulf from a base on the Gulf of Oman. Under heavy economic pressure, London agrees to cancel the US lease on its Indian Ocean island base of Diego Garcia, while Canberra, pressured by the Chinese, informs Washington that the Seventh Fleet is no longer welcome to use Fremantle as a homeport, effectively evicting the US Navy from the Indian Ocean.

With just a few strokes of the pen and some terse announcements, the “Carter Doctrine,” by which US military power was to eternally protect the Persian Gulf, is laid to rest in 2025. All the elements that long assured the United States limitless supplies of low-cost oil from that region—logistics, exchange rates, and naval power—evaporate. At this point, the US can still cover only an insignificant 12% of its energy needs from its nascent alternative energy industry, and remains dependent on imported oil for half of its energy consumption.

The oil shock that follows hits the country like a hurricane, sending prices to startling heights, making travel a staggeringly expensive proposition, putting real wages (which had long been declining) into freefall, and rendering non-competitive whatever American exports remained. With thermostats dropping, gas prices climbing through the roof, and dollars flowing overseas in return for costly oil, the American economy is paralyzed. With long-fraying alliances at an end and fiscal pressures mounting, US military forces finally begin a staged withdrawal from their overseas bases.

Within a few years, the US is functionally bankrupt and the clock is ticking toward midnight on the American Century.

Military Misadventure: Present Situation

Counterintuitively, as their power wanes, empires often plunge into ill-advised military misadventures. This phenomenon is known among historians of empire as “micro-militarism” and seems to involve psychologically compensatory efforts to salve the sting of retreat or defeat by occupying new territories, however briefly and catastrophically. These operations, irrational even from an imperial point of view, often yield hemorrhaging expenditures or humiliating defeats that only accelerate the loss of power.

Embattled empires through the ages suffer an arrogance that drives them to plunge ever deeper into military misadventures until defeat becomes debacle. In 413 BCE, a weakened Athens sent 200 ships to be slaughtered in Sicily. In 1921, a dying imperial Spain dispatched 20,000 soldiers to be massacred by Berber guerrillas in Morocco. In 1956, a fading British Empire destroyed its prestige by attacking Suez. And in 2001 and 2003, the US occupied Afghanistan and invaded Iraq. With the hubris that marks empires over the millennia, Washington has increased its troops in Afghanistan to 100,000, expanded the war into Pakistan, and extended its commitment to 2014 and beyond, courting disasters large and small in this guerilla-infested, nuclear-armed graveyard of empires.

Military Misadventure: Scenario 2014

So irrational, so unpredictable is “micro-militarism” that seemingly fanciful scenarios are soon outdone by actual events. With the US military stretched thin from Somalia to the Philippines and tensions rising in Israel, Iran, and Korea, possible combinations for a disastrous military crisis abroad are multifold.

It’s mid-summer 2014 and a drawn-down US garrison in embattled Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is suddenly, unexpectedly overrun by Taliban guerrillas, while US aircraft are grounded by a blinding sandstorm. Heavy loses are taken and in retaliation, an embarrassed American war commander looses B-1 bombers and F-16 fighters to demolish whole neighborhoods of the city that are believed to be under Taliban control, while AC-130U “Spooky” gunships rake the rubble with devastating cannon fire.

Soon, mullahs are preaching jihad from mosques throughout the region, and Afghan Army units, long trained by American forces to turn the tide of the war, begin to desert en masse. Taliban fighters then launch a series of remarkably sophisticated strikes aimed at US garrisons across the country, sending American casualties soaring. In scenes reminiscent of Saigon in 1975, US helicopters rescue American soldiers and civilians from rooftops in Kabul and Kandahar.

Meanwhile, angry at the endless, decades-long stalemate over Palestine, OPEC’s leaders impose a new oil embargo on the US to protest its backing of Israel as well as the killing of untold numbers of Muslim civilians in its ongoing wars across the Greater Middle East. With gas prices soaring and refineries running dry, Washington makes its move, sending in Special Operations forces to seize oil ports in the Persian Gulf. This, in turn, sparks a rash of suicide attacks and the sabotage of pipelines and oil wells. As black clouds billow skyward and diplomats rise at the UN to bitterly denounce American actions, commentators worldwide reach back into history to brand this “America's Suez,” a telling reference to the 1956 debacle that marked the end of the British Empire.

World War III: Present Situation

In the summer of 2010, military tensions between the US and China began to rise in the western Pacific, once considered an American “lake.” Even a year earlier no one would have predicted such a development. As Washington played upon its alliance with London to appropriate much of Britain's global power after World War II, so China is now using the profits from its export trade with the US to fund what is likely to become a military challenge to American dominion over the waterways of Asia and the Pacific.

With its growing resources, Beijing is claiming a vast maritime arc from Korea to Indonesia long dominated by the US Navy. In August, after Washington expressed a “national interest” in the South China Sea and conducted naval exercises there to reinforce that claim, Beijing's official Global Times responded angrily, saying, “The US-China wrestling match over the South China Sea issue has raised the stakes in deciding who the real future ruler of the planet will be.”

Amid growing tensions, the Pentagon reported that Beijing now holds “the capability to attack… [US] aircraft carriers in the western Pacific Ocean” and target “nuclear forces throughout… the continental United States.” By developing “offensive nuclear, space, and cyberwarfare capabilities,” China seems determined to vie for dominance of what the Pentagon calls “the information spectrum in all dimensions of the modern battlespace.” With ongoing development of the powerful Long March V booster rocket, as well as the launch of two satellites in January 2010 and another in July, for a total of five, Beijing signaled that the country was making rapid strides toward an “independent” network of 35 satellites for global positioning, communications, and reconnaissance capabilities by 2020.

To check China and extend its military position globally, Washington is intent on building a new digital network of air and space robotics, advanced cyberwarfare capabilities, and electronic surveillance. Military planners expect this integrated system to envelop the Earth in a cyber-grid capable of blinding entire armies on the battlefield or taking out a single terrorist in field or favela. By 2020, if all goes according to plan, the Pentagon will launch a three-tiered shield of space drones—reaching from stratosphere to exosphere, armed with agile missiles, linked by a resilient modular satellite system, and operated through total telescopic surveillance.

Last April, the Pentagon made history. It extended drone operations into the exosphere by quietly launching the X-37B unmanned space shuttle into a low orbit 255 miles above the planet. The X-37B is the first in a new generation of unmanned vehicles that will mark the full weaponization of space, creating an arena for future warfare unlike anything that has gone before.

World War III: Scenario 2025

The technology of space and cyberwarfare is so new and untested that even the most outlandish scenarios may soon be superseded by a reality still hard to conceive. If we simply employ the sort of scenarios that the Air Force itself used in its 2009 Future Capabilities Game, however, we can gain “a better understanding of how air, space and cyberspace overlap in warfare,” and so begin to imagine how the next world war might actually be fought.

It’s 11:59 p.m. on Thanksgiving Thursday in 2025. While cyber-shoppers pound the portals of Best Buy for deep discounts on the latest home electronics from China, US Air Force technicians at the Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) on Maui choke on their coffee as their panoramic screens suddenly blip to black. Thousands of miles away at the US CyberCommand's operations center in Texas, cyberwarriors soon detect malicious binaries that, though fired anonymously, show the distinctive digital fingerprints of China's People's Liberation Army.

The first overt strike is one nobody predicted. Chinese “malware” seizes control of the robotics aboard an unmanned solar-powered US “Vulture” drone as it flies at 70,000 feet over the Tsushima Strait between Korea and Japan. It suddenly fires all the rocket pods beneath its enormous 400-foot wingspan, sending dozens of lethal missiles plunging harmlessly into the Yellow Sea, effectively disarming this formidable weapon.

Determined to fight fire with fire, the White House authorizes a retaliatory strike. Confident that its F-6 “Fractionated, Free-Flying” satellite system is impenetrable, Air Force commanders in California transmit robotic codes to the flotilla of X-37B space drones orbiting 250 miles above the Earth, ordering them to launch their “Triple Terminator” missiles at China's 35 satellites. Zero response. In near panic, the Air Force launches its Falcon Hypersonic Cruise Vehicle into an arc 100 miles above the Pacific Ocean and then, just 20 minutes later, sends the computer codes to fire missiles at seven Chinese satellites in nearby orbits. The launch codes are suddenly inoperative.

As the Chinese virus spreads uncontrollably through the F-6 satellite architecture, while those second-rate US supercomputers fail to crack the malware's devilishly complex code, GPS signals crucial to the navigation of US ships and aircraft worldwide are compromised. Carrier fleets begin steaming in circles in the mid-Pacific. Fighter squadrons are grounded. Reaper drones fly aimlessly toward the horizon, crashing when their fuel is exhausted. Suddenly, the United States loses what the US Air Force has long called “the ultimate high ground”: space. Within hours, the military power that had dominated the globe for nearly a century has been defeated in World War III without a single human casualty.

A New World Order?

Even if future events prove duller than these four scenarios suggest, every significant trend points toward a far more striking decline in American global power by 2025 than anything Washington now seems to be envisioning.

As allies worldwide begin to realign their policies to take cognizance of rising Asian powers, the cost of maintaining 800 or more overseas military bases will simply become unsustainable, finally forcing a staged withdrawal on a still-unwilling Washington. With both the US and China in a race to weaponize space and cyberspace, tensions between the two powers are bound to rise, making military conflict by 2025 at least feasible, if hardly guaranteed.

Complicating matters even more, the economic, military, and technological trends outlined above will not operate in tidy isolation. As happened to European empires after World War II, such negative forces will undoubtedly prove synergistic. They will combine in thoroughly unexpected ways, create crises for which Americans are remarkably unprepared, and threaten to spin the economy into a sudden downward spiral, consigning this country to a generation or more of economic misery.

As US power recedes, the past offers a spectrum of possibilities for a future world order. At one end of this spectrum, the rise of a new global superpower, however unlikely, cannot be ruled out. Yet both China and Russia evince self-referential cultures, recondite non-roman scripts, regional defense strategies, and underdeveloped legal systems, denying them key instruments for global dominion. At the moment then, no single superpower seems to be on the horizon likely to succeed the US.

In a dark, dystopian version of our global future, a coalition of transnational corporations, multilateral forces like NATO, and an international financial elite could conceivably forge a single, possibly unstable, supra-national nexus that would make it no longer meaningful to speak of national empires at all. While denationalized corporations and multinational elites would assumedly rule such a world from secure urban enclaves, the multitudes would be relegated to urban and rural wastelands.

In Planet of Slums, Mike Davis offers at least a partial vision of such a world from the bottom up. He argues that the billion people already packed into fetid favela-style slums worldwide (rising to two billion by 2030) will make “the 'feral, failed cities' of the Third World… the distinctive battlespace of the twenty-first century.” As darkness settles over some future super-favela, “the empire can deploy Orwellian technologies of repression” as “hornet-like helicopter gun-ships stalk enigmatic enemies in the narrow streets of the slum districts… Every morning the slums reply with suicide bombers and eloquent explosions.”

At a midpoint on the spectrum of possible futures, a new global oligopoly might emerge between 2020 and 2040, with rising powers China, Russia, India, and Brazil collaborating with receding powers like Britain, Germany, Japan, and the United States to enforce an ad hoc global dominion, akin to the loose alliance of European empires that ruled half of humanity circa 1900.

Another possibility: the rise of regional hegemons in a return to something reminiscent of the international system that operated before modern empires took shape. In this neo-Westphalian world order, with its endless vistas of micro-violence and unchecked exploitation, each hegemon would dominate its immediate region—Brasilia in South America, Washington in North America, Pretoria in southern Africa, and so on. Space, cyberspace, and the maritime deeps, removed from the control of the former planetary “policeman,” the United States, might even become a new global commons, controlled through an expanded UN Security Council or some ad hoc body.

All of these scenarios extrapolate existing trends into the future on the assumption that Americans, blinded by the arrogance of decades of historically unparalleled power, cannot or will not take steps to manage the unchecked erosion of their global position.

If America's decline is in fact on a 22-year trajectory from 2003 to 2025, then we have already frittered away most of the first decade of that decline with wars that distracted us from long-term problems and, like water tossed onto desert sands, wasted trillions of desperately needed dollars.

If only 15 years remain, the odds of frittering them all away still remain high. Congress and the president are now in gridlock; the American system is flooded with corporate money meant to jam up the works; and there is little suggestion that any issues of significance, including our wars, our bloated national security state, our starved education system, and our antiquated energy supplies, will be addressed with sufficient seriousness to assure the sort of soft landing that might maximize our country's role and prosperity in a changing world.

Europe's empires are gone and America's imperium is going. It seems increasingly doubtful that the United States will have anything like Britain's success in shaping a succeeding world order that protects its interests, preserves its prosperity, and bears the imprint of its best values.

Copyright © 2010 The Nation

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Wikileaks Mirrors

Wikileaks is currently under heavy attack.

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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Pentagon: Decrease Spending on Troops

Pentagon: Decrease Spending on Troops

Defense officials fear money will go to people at the expense of weapons

By Craig Whitlock

May 07, 2010 "Washington Post" -- WASHINGTON - The Pentagon, not usually known for its frugality, is pleading with Congress to stop spending so much money on the troops.

Through nine years of war, service members have seen a healthy rise in pay and benefits, leaving most of them better compensated than their peers in the private sector.

Congress has been so determined to take care of troops and their families that for several years running it has overruled the Pentagon and mandated more generous pay raises than requested by the Bush and Obama administrations. It has also rejected attempts by the Pentagon to slow soaring health-care costs — which Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has said are "eating us alive" — by hiking co-pays or raising premiums.

Now, Pentagon officials see fiscal calamity.

In the midst of two long-running wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, defense officials are increasingly worried that the government's generosity is unsustainable and that it will leave them with less money to buy weapons and take care of equipment.

Clifford L. Stanley, the undersecretary of defense for personnel, told a Senate committee in March that rising personnel costs could "dramatically affect the readiness of the department" by leaving less money to pay for operations and maintenance. Overall, personnel expenses constitute about one-quarter of defense spending.

With Washington confronting record deficits, the Pentagon is bracing for an end to the huge increases in defense spending over the past decade. On Saturday, Gates is scheduled to give a "hard-hitting" speech in Kansas on fiscal discipline, in which he will warn military leaders that "we'll have to take some dramatic measures ourselves to sustain the force we have," his press secretary, Geoff Morrell, told reporters.

Fund weapons or people?
Health care alone is projected to cost the military $51 billion next year, nearly one-tenth of the Pentagon's budget, excluding the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2002, wages have risen 42 percent, compared with about 32 percent for the private sector. Housing and subsistence allowances, which troops receive tax free, have gone up even more.

But Congress — including members opposed to the wars — has made clear that it considers military pay and benefits sacrosanct, especially when service members and their families are struggling to cope with repeated deployments to faraway conflicts.

"Both sides of the aisle are trying to send a very clear message to our military that we appreciate their service," said Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee and chairman of its military personnel subcommittee. She said the Pentagon needed to do a better job of setting priorities. "We end up with a false choice — are we going to fund weapons or are we going to fund people? The reality is, we need both."

The Pentagon's attempts to rein in personnel costs have also run into opposition from powerful lobby groups. "Any attempt to link rising military personnel costs with shrinking military readiness is total nonsense," Thomas J. Tradewell Sr., leader of Veterans of Foreign Wars, said in response to Stanley's comments in March.

Advocates for troops and retirees say the main reason for the increase in wages is that they were way too low to begin with. In the late 1990s, after the military had been whittled down in size from its Cold War peak, studies found that service members earned about 13 percent less than workers in the private sector with similar experience and education levels.

"We've been recovering from that ever since, plus we've had a decade of war, which has created a tremendous national sympathy," said Steven P. Strobridge, a retired Air Force colonel who serves as director of government relations for the Military Officers Association of America. "We're extracting sacrifices from today's forces that are just unprecedented."

Military officials said generous compensation packages were a primary reason why they were able to meet all of their annual recruiting goals last year for the first time since the all-volunteer force was established in 1973. Although the recession also played a major role, military leaders said surveys show service members are generally happy with their pay scales.

Vice Adm. Mark E. Ferguson III, the chief of naval personnel, said improvements in pay and benefits have made it more likely that sailors will stick around longer. Last year, a Navy survey found that about 60 percent of spouses wanted their sailors to make a career of Navy life, meaning a stint of at least 20 years. In 2005, he said, only about 20 percent of spouses felt the same way.

"I think pay was previously a concern, but it's started to change," Ferguson said. He added that Congress had been "extremely generous" but that rising personnel costs were already influencing what the Navy spends to operate, maintain and modernize its fleet.

'Huge burden'
The Pentagon wants a pay raise of 1.4 percent for service members next year, an increase based on the Employment Cost Index, which the Labor Department uses to measure private sector salary increases. Congress, as it has for the past several years, has indicated it favors a slightly bigger bump, of 1.9 percent.

Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis, said the extra half percent may not sound like much, but it would accrue annually and cost about $3.5 billion over the next decade. "If you continue doing it, it becomes a huge burden on the defense budget in the long term," he said.

Other well-meaning programs to support service members and their families have turned into budgetary Frankensteins.

In February, the Pentagon abruptly shut down a new tuition-assistance program for military spouses after it was overwhelmed with applicants. Defense officials had set aside $61 million for the program, which reimburses tuition costs of up to $6,000 per person, but discovered they might need as much as $2 billion to satisfy unexpected demand.

Congress chastised the Pentagon for mismanaging the program, which has since resumed, though defense officials aren't sure how they'll pay for it.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company

Sunday, December 27, 2009

No! The first Gilgamesh didn't die nor the last one died!

By Ali Al Sarraf

Albasrah.net



Another year is passing by ! Another Hajj and a martyr knocking on the door!

Woe them of this date, of this History and woe them of its realities and truths!

A great hero is still standing behind alive, a greatest hero of modern times ! A man the world has never seen before, a hero with such heroism, resolve, and ready for sacrifice.. He himself, went willingly to its shores, and gave proof with his soul proper, to al those who asked for proofs.




Saddam Hussein !




Here he is !

He is still petrifying those who murdered him with their shaky hands.. Those who are still looking even today for excuses for murdering him..

They pretty know that they committed a crime.. But the crime is not by itself, the problem which gives them sleepless nights, for they commit every day every kind of crimes on this earth..They know too, that this crime was one of the biggest crimes in History.. But they are such debased and immoral thugs that they are unable to distinguish in between one crime and another.. Only they understand that this crime is hunting them, realising seriously that they tried to murder a man, and discovered later, that this man in fact can't die.




They used every single pretext to denigrate Saddam Hussein. They used every kind of accusation to run him down. and they were dead right for doing so.. For they were searching for excuses for a crime not against a patriot leader or against a president of a State, but against the History itself.




And this will hunt them for ever and ever.



This is a Man-History who can't be wiped out !




If it was possible for Gilgamesh to be wiped out, we would have "excused" them as far as Saddam Hussein is concerned. But for their bad luck no one was able to wipe out neither Gilgames, Hammurabi, Nabuchodonosor or any one who made glories in the last seven thousands years of Iraq glorious past.



Saddam Hussein was born for a people which gives birth to legends and heroes. And every one of them is a legendary hero .




And come on let's bet ! Indeed ! Behind every child, every toddler, every young man and woman from the young of this Iraq, its men, its persevering and resisting women, there is a legend.. In every one there is something of Gilgames and something of Saddam Hussein.




This is the undeniable true blend of Iraq. It is a blend of legendary heroes that you can track in a multitude of legends which speak about perseverance, combat, heroism and intrepidity engraved and written every single day by the Iraqi combatants against the Occupiers.




This is the Iraqi blend ! No blend in history is greater nor more immortal.. This is the blend of heroes, who every one of them, is seven thousands years old. And these are the bombs, the IEDs and explosives which are ruining the Occupation's tanks, its militias and its gangs.




The Iraqi resisters appear from behind every stone, from above and from underneath the soil of Iraq. Not because they are defending a homeland like any other homeland, but because there is a History which incites them to do so.



And this is Iraq !




They came in with their tanks, they bombed with their war jets, they looted whatever they could and they pillaged and destroyed whatever fell under their hands. But they were incapable and unable to bomb History.. They were impotent to loot what this History means for the Iraqis ! Even if they would have slaughtered ten million Iraqis over the one million and a half they already murdered, Iraq shall come back to be born from its History.. Gilgamesh shall come back and Hammurabi and Nabuchodonosor and .. Saddam Hussein shall appear from behind every stone, from above the earth and from underneath.. once to re invent the writing and its alphabet, to establish the first urban centers and a state based on law, or to explore and invent sciences and be abundant with literature.. It is for this very reason that Iraq was the first place on earth where God chose to proof that He exists.... Iraq shall return again to wipe out illiteracy, nationalise the oil and give free education for all, to distribute the lands to farmers, and to issue a law of civil equality for every one.. to change Iraq into an industrial base proud with scientists and sciences.. to make out of its wars a stadium competition for sacrifices for the honor of Iraq, for its pride, and for its dignity.




Yes ! They murdered Iraq, but they were unable to murder Gilgamesh which lives in every Iraqi soul.. And there he is, living.. He ridiculized them (see the proof in front of the gallows), the rope was too long. He cheeted them with his death.. and he is still living.



This is their greatest disaster. They murdered a man, and discovered that this man couldn't be possibly murdered. They realized also that using a handful of thugs and gangsters, the likes you can find almost every where, and failed to comprehend the matter, the fabric, the metal, the Iraqi History and the Iraqis were made of.




Saddam Hussein is you ! Yes you! If you were proud and honourable !

Saddam Hussein is you ! Yes you ! If you were a patriot and if you considered yourself and your life, nothing for your homeland !

Saddam Hussein is you ! Yes you ! If you were a man of an immense generosity, righteousness, and bounty.

Saddam Hussein is you ! Yes you indeed ! If you were harsh on the stooges and on the debased collaborators.




Another year passes by. God preserves us from what is coming and woe them from our ire !




We shall appear from the abyss of the earth to attack them, and shall appear from behind every stone.. For Saddam Hussein the Glorious has given birth to 25 million glorious sons born from proud and dignified mothers.




These are the men who make History! These are the women of this History.. fathers .. mothers.. These people have changed even clay into a legend and it became books, documented History, epics, encyclopedias for sciences and literature and a climbing ladder towards God.




If you are an enemy, say whatever you like. Get down your mask ! Leak down what you contain !




For we have two Iraqs. You may be able to destroy one, but you shall never escape the other true Iraq. You shall never escape the roots of its date palm trees, its dates. You shall never escape its Gilgamesh, its Saddam Hussein, nor any toddler whose parents were murdered by the occupiers, and whose school was destroyed and who was starved, prevented from food and shelter by the invaders,




Saddam Hussein was a maker of events and writer and a maker of History.

He succeeded and he sometimes he failed. But he casted Iraq into a mould of creation and production.. He wanted through this endeavour to make out of Iraq a great country.




Gilgamesh didn't succeed, Saddam neither.. This is our destiny. But if these seven thousands years mean something, they mean a History of many attempts.. through which Iraqis held the sceptres of many great empires. They made what no nation did in the very beginning of History.. Even though being a victim of many evil forces and debased mad dogs, Iraqis went on trying and repeating their attempts.. and establishing a glory from earlier glories' roots.




Iraqis tired are never. Iraqis never knew what the word desperation means all along their thousands and thousands years.. of History.



This is the History where our destiny is written. We shall build and we shall return to build..

These are the Iraqis and this is their vocation !

They succeed and they fail ! They fail and succeed, and on their search for immortality they make out of creativity a values something no one can equal, for the Lord blows His spirit in their images and they become stronger than they were.




Yes! A civilisation of clay, say some historians ! Not a civilisation of stones. But if you only looked at the creation from the angle of the re creation, you would understand where lays the unbelievable mystery and vocation of this civilisation of clay.




All these are attempts.. The civilisation of stones is static ! It is only one, single attempt.

Sure! The vocation of the Iraqis is a harsh destiny. But we Iraqis are like that. We build and re build

It is a harsh destiny, but this is Iraq,




Our first Gilgames never died, and neither died the last one.

And he will continue to be born from that same clay to make beyond glory a greater glory.

This what Saddam the Glorious wished and had in mind !

The turning points, the ordeals told by this History are not just details. Every single phase was a part of this tempestuous destiny which made the past and the present of Iraq.




Crowned with achievements, bathed in wonders, but filled with tragic facts too.

There is no travail, no battle front, no attempts which are not cruel.. They are an impulsion for greater glory, pride and dignity.




The glorious women of today's Iraq are bringing up heroes and shall give birth to heroes too... And there shall be in amongst them another Gilgamesh, who will suckle the milk of heroism, courage, and resolve against debased stooges, despicable and abject collaborators.




Our written destiny.. is to always try and never stop trying.. until seizing the plant of eternity.

Every human deserves to live in happiness and prosperity.. But this plant is the lot and the right of Iraqis only.. For there, on this blessed land, on the soil of Iraq God gave humanity the first proof of His existence.

God never spoke to a people before He did with us. He told Noah : build the arch and Noah did !




Thus redeemed were the Iraqis for thousands of years .




Noah tried and we are trying .



On the soil of Iraq there is a plethora of proofs of what Saddam Hussein the Glorious undertook or attempted to achieve.

If God wanted to die.. this day there will be no Iraq.. For Iraq is His first birth place. Some thought that Iraq is dead.. But Iraq didn't.. for Iraq is born from its History.. He will return to be born again.

This is our fate, our vocation! This our destiny !




Woe us from this History..

And also woe them ! Here we are ready for it, and we stand at the level of the confrontation.. Woe them from our wrath..



Translated by Abu Assur

Almoharer

The Iraqi resistance uses a Russian software programme to intercept U.S. drone feeds

Russian software programme to intercept U.S. drone feeds


According to the Wall Street Journal, the Iraqi resistance has acquired a Russian software programme, available for $25.99 on the internet, through which they can intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones [1].

This situation once again illustrates that it is possible to counter sophisticated U.S. military technologies with asymmetrical means, comments the WSJ.

The U.S. military discovered the leak when they arrested a Shiite militant whose laptop contained the U.S. drone video feeds. A software programme, SkyGrabber, from Russian company SkySoftware had been used to intercept the feeds.

Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who oversees the Air Force’s unmanned aviation programe, acknowledged the problem and promised to solve it by upgrading the encryption system.

Meanwhile, SkyGrabber developer Andrei Solonikov told the newspaper that the software had been designed for civilian, and not military, use. He said he was unaware of how it was being exploited by the Iraqi resistance. With SkyGrabber, any internet user with a satellite dish can intercept civilian communications satellite contents (music, videos, etc.), hack them and dowload them on his PC.

This situation gave rise to a discussion among Joint Chiefs of Staff about the danger that Russia and China could also intercept and manipulate the drone feeds. As it turns out, not only the drone feeds are not secured, but neither is the live video footage transmitted by helicopters and planes, even in a combat situation. In conclusion, it is possible to intercept all the contents (telephone lines, internet, etc.) transiting through civilian communications satellites without resorting to sophisticated NSA technology.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Photo of Dying Marine Draws Fire from Pentagon

Sanitizing War and Occupation

Photo of Dying Marine Draws Fire from Pentagon

By Matthew Shaer

Click on the link to read the story

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article23430.htm

Thursday, August 20, 2009

America's Most Wanted The Top 50 US War Criminals

By David Swanson

August 19, 2009 "After Downing Street" -- Compiled below, in hopes that it may be of some assistance to Eric Holder, John Conyers, Patrick Leahy, active citizens, foreign courts, the International Criminal Court, law firms preparing civil suits, and local or state prosecutors with decency and nerve is a list of 50 top living U.S. war criminals. These are men and women who helped to launch wars of aggression or who have been complicit in lesser war crimes. These are not the lowest-ranking employees or troops who managed to stray from official criminal policies. These are the makers of those policies.

The occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have seen the United States target civilians, journalists, hospitals, and ambulances, use antipersonnel weapons including cluster bombs in densely settled urban areas, use white phosphorous as a weapon, use depleted uranium weapons, employ a new version of napalm found in Mark 77 firebombs, engage in collective punishment of Iraqi civilian populations -- including by blocking roads, cutting electricity and water, destroying fuel stations, planting bombs in farm fields, demolishing houses, and plowing down orchards -- detain people without charge or legal process without the rights of prisoners of war, imprison children, torture, and murder.

The list below does not include those responsible for war crimes prior to 2001. Nor does it include those currently in power who are making themselves complicit by failing to prosecute or cease commission of these crimes. The list could be greatly expanded. It could also be narrowed. I would argue, however, that it presents a more reasonable starting place than Holder's reported proposal to investigate only CIA employees who failed to comply with criminal torture policies, of whom there are no doubt more than 50.

Because each of the people on this list should be nonviolently protested everywhere they go (more on that below), I have organized them by location. Please post updates on where they are as comments at http://afterdowningstreet.org/warcriminals

CALIFORNIA

1. John Yoo: Professor of Law at Boalt Hall School of Law in Berkeley, California, with house at 1241 Grizzly Peak Blvd., Berkeley, (but a lawyer with the Pennsylvania bar from which he should be disbarred and would be if enough people demanded it ) counseled the White House on how to get away with war crimes, wrote this memo promoting presidential power to launch aggressive war, and claimed the power to decree that the federal statutes against torture, assault, maiming, and stalking do not apply to the military in the conduct of the war, and to announce a new definition of torture limiting it to acts causing intense pain or suffering equivalent to pain associated with serious physical injury so severe that death, organ failure or permanent damage resulting in loss of significant body functions will likely result. Yoo claimed in 2005 that a president has the right to enhance an interrogation by crushing the testicles of someone's child . Yoo has been confronted in his classroom: video , and defended by the Washington Post , and again confronted in the classroom .

Additional collaborators:
2. Robert J. Delahunty , Yoo colleague, NY Bar, 1983
3. Patrick F. Philbin , OLC Yoo colleague, Deputy , D.C., MA

4. Jay Bybee: federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, headquartered in San Francisco, California (but Bybee based in Las Vegas), counseled the White House on how to get away with war crimes, including by helping Yoo draft the memo linked above. He signed not only torture memos but also a memo purporting to legalize illegal and unconstitutional wars. BYBEE SHOULD BE IMPEACHED . He works, among other places, at the James R. Browning Courthouse, 95 7th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, -- This is a giant marble building in the center of the city represented in Congress by the Speaker of the House.

5. William J. "Jim" Haynes, II: was General Counsel to the Department of War ("Defense"). He is now Chief Corporate Counsel at the Chevron Corporate Office in San Ramon, California. He counseled the White House on how to get away with war crimes, including by drafting memos for Yoo. Works at Chevron Headquarters, 6001 Bollinger Canyon Road, San Ramon, CA 94583. Member of bar in GA, NC, DC.

More collaborators:
6. Major General (Ret.) Michael E. Dunlavey , (now Judge, Erie County Court, Common Pleas, Erie, PA
7. Diane Beaver , top military lawyer at Gitmo
8. Jack Landman Goldsmith, III , [the illegal transfer memo in March 2004], DoD General Counsel's Office at Pentagon
9. Ms. Eliana Davidson , International Law Division, Office of the General Counsel, Office of the Secretary of "Defense"

10. Colin Powell: strategic limited partner with Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, appears as a speaker in a series of motivational events called Get Motivated, board member of Revolution Health and of the Council on Foreign Relations, took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, lied to the United Nations about the grounds for war in a failed attempt to legalize a war of aggression, and was in fact a leading liar in making the false case for an illegal war of aggression.

Remember: Not every man in a dark suit is a war criminal. Check for blood under their fingernails to confirm identification.


NEW YORK

11. Henry Kissinger: lives in Kent, Connecticut, and works at Kissinger Associates, 350 Park Avenue, New York, N.Y., had a resume envied by other war criminals long before he advised George W. Bush to commit war crimes. Here's a partial list of his crimes.

12. Nicholas E. Calio: Citigroup's Executive Vice-President for Global Government Affairs served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies.


13. Michael Mukasey: works in New York, N.Y. Some of his crimes are detailed at DisbarTortureLawyers.com .

TEXAS

14. George W. Bush: lives at 10141 Daria Place, Dallas, Texas . His crimes are described at http://afterdowningstreet.org/bush and at War Criminals Watch and at The 13 people who made torture possible .

15. Karen Hughes: lives in Austin, Texas, served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies.

16. Paul Bremmer lives in Chester, Vermont, and also works in Austin, Texas. His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch .

Yes, a woman can be a war criminal. What? Did you think any of the men above ever risked personally breaking a fingernail?


WASHINGTON, D.C.

17. Dick Cheney: The former vice president lives nextdoor to CIA headquarters at 1126 Chain Bridge Road, McLean, Va . His crimes are documented at http://impeachcheney.org and at The 13 people who made torture possible and at War Criminals Watch .

18. John Rizzo: The General Counsel for the CIA (then and now) works nextdoor to Dick Cheney's house at the headquarters of the CIA in McLean, Va. His crimes are described in The 13 people who made torture possible .

More collaborators:
19. Robert Eatinger , CIA lawyer
20. Steven Hermes , CIA's National Clandestine Service (NCS)
21. Paul Kelbaugh , Deputy Legal Counsel, CTC, CIA

22. Steven Bradbury: also of McLean, Va., is described along with his crimes at SourceWatch , DisbarTortureLawyers.com , and The 13 people who made torture possible .

23. David Addington: was chief of staff to Dick Cheney in Washington, D.C., counseled the White House on how to get away with war crimes, including by helping Yoo draft the memo linked above, and drafted signing statements for Bush declaring the right to violate laws redundantly banning war crimes including torture and the construction of permanent bases in Iraq and efforts to control Iraq's oil. Lives at 103 W Maple Street, Alexandria, VA 22301-2605 -- This is a few blocks from the King Street Metro Stop.

24. Condoleezza Rice: served as Secretary of State in Washington, D.C., and can be found frequenting shoe stores, served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies, took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, lied about mushroom clouds , and was in fact a leading liar in making the false case for an illegal war of aggression.

25. Donald Rumsfeld: lives in Washington, D.C., and at former slave-beating plantation "Mount Misery" on Maryland's Eastern Shore near St. Michael's and a home belonging to Dick Cheney, as well as at an estate outside Taos, New Mexico. He took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, and was in fact a leading liar in making the false case for an illegal war of aggression, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for a New American Century .

26. George Tenet: Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, oversaw the Central Intelligence Agency as it engaged in illegal renditions, detentions, torture, murder, and coverups of crimes, as well as helping to build a false case for an illegal war of aggression.

27. John Ashcroft: has his own lobbying company through which to profit from his government connections: The Ashcroft Group, LLC, 1399 New York Avenue, N.W., Suite 950, Washington, DC 20005, Phone: 202.942.0202, Fax: 202.942.0216, info@ashcroftgroupllc.com took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people.

28. Alberto Gonzales: has hired a criminal-defense lawyer George Terwilliger, partner at White & Case, to defend him, while others have created a trust fund to help pay for his legal expenses, meanwhile Gonzales has been unable to find work as a lawyer himself, so his income comes from speaking engagements, then White House counsel, wrote a memo on January 25, 2002. It explained that under the 1996 War Crimes Act, U.S. officials might be prosecuted for violating the Geneva Conventions for actions in Afghanistan (and future parts of the "war on terror"), with penalties up to and including death. He suggested that Bush declare that the Taliban and Al Qaeda weren't covered by Geneva, to be on the safe side. Bush did so. Gonzo now has a job at Texas Tech , but not teaching law. Help this effort to boot him! Remember that we drove him out of office by almost impeaching him .

29. Paul Wolfowitz: lives in Chevey Chase, Maryland, and is a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C., advocated illegal war of aggression, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for a New American Century .

30. Doug Feith: serves on the faculty of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., as a Professor and Distinguished Practitioner in National Security Policy, manufactured, cherry picked, and distorted information , and pressured others to do the same, to help build a false case for an illegal war of aggression, and advocated early and openly for an illegal war of aggression against a "non-al qaeda target." Also works at Hudson Institute, 1015 15th Street, N.W., 6th Floor, Washington, DC 20005, three blocks from the White House.

31. Elliot Abrams: served as Deputy National Security Advisor for Global Democracy Strategy in Washington, D.C., and wherever he can do the most damage around the world, was a well-established war criminal even before he pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for a New American Century , helped to build a false case for attacking Iraq, and supported a failed coup attempt in Venezuela.

32. Karl Rove: owns million dollar houses in Washington, D.C., and Florida, and works for Fox News, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal when not testifying to congressional committees or federal prosecutors about his numerous unindicted non-war crimes. He served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies, and took part in exposing an undercover agent as retribution for exposing one of WHIG's lies.

(According to Star80 at DemocraticUnderground, Rove "can be found stuffing his fat pasty little face with crab meat at Cafe 30A in Santa Rosa Beach FL: http://www.cafethirtya.com - 3899 East County Highway 30A Santa Rosa Beach FL 32459.")

( Citizens arrest of Rove attempted in Iowa , and in California , and in New York .)

33. I. Lewis Libby: lives in McLean, Virginia, and has been disbarred in Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies, took part in exposing an undercover agent as retribution for exposing one of WHIG's lies, has already been convicted of obstruction of justice for interfering with investigation, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for a New American Century .

34. Mary Matalin: married to James Carville, both of them addicted to Washington, D.C., served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies.

35. Stephen Hadley: served as National Security Advisor to the President in Washington, D.C., served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies, and took part in exposing an undercover agent as retribution for exposing one of WHIG's lies.

36. James R. Wilkinson: worked for Bush as Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications in Washington, D.C., served as a member of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) which planned the marketing of an illegal war of aggression on the basis of lies.

37. John Bolton: lives in Bethesda, Maryland, is a member of a Lutheran Church, works for the law firm Kirkland and Ellis LLP, 655 Fifteenth Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20005-5793, T: +1 202-879-5000, F: +1 202-879-5200, is associated with the American Enterprise Institute, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, Institute of East-West Dynamics, National Rifle Association, US Commission on International Religious Freedom, and the Council for National Policy, helped to launch an illegal war of aggression by disseminating false claims through the State Department while he was under-secretary of state for arms control, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for a New American Century .

38. Michael Chertoff: works in Washington, D.C. Some of his crimes are detailed at DisbarTortureLawyers.com .

39. Timothy Flanigan: works in Washington, D.C. Some of his crimes are detailed at DisbarTortureLawyers.com .

40. Alice Fisher: works in Washington, D.C. Some of her crimes are detailed at DisbarTortureLawyers.com .

41. John Bellinger works in Washington, D.C. His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch .

42. John Negroponte works in Washington, D.C. His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch .

43. Jonathan Fredman was a top torture lawyer under John Rizzo at the CIA: details .

44. Scott Muller was general counsel at the CIA: details .

45. Kyle D. "Dusty" Foggo was instrumental in setting up illegal secret prisons.


NEBRASKA:

46. Andrew Card works in Omaha, NE. His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch .

AFGHANISTAN:

47. Stanley McChrystal has been promoted as reward for his war crimes .

UNKNOWN LOCATION:

48. James Mitchell:
>From The 13 people who made torture possible :
Even while Addington, Gonzales and the lawyers were beginning to build the legal framework for torture, a couple of military psychologists were laying out the techniques the military would use. James Mitchell, a retired military psychologist, had been a leading expert in the military's SERE program. In December 2001, with his partner, Bruce Jessen , Mitchell reverse-engineered SERE techniques to be used to interrogate detainees. Then, in the spring of 2002, before OLC gave official legal approval to torture, Mitchell oversaw Abu Zubaydah's interrogation. An FBI agent on the scene describes Mitchell overseeing the use of "borderline torture." And after OLC approved waterboarding, Mitchell oversaw its use in ways that exceeded the guidelines in the OLC memo. Under Mitchell's guidance, interrogators used the waterboard with "far greater frequency than initially indicated" -- a total of 183 times in a month for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 83 times in a month for Abu Zubaydah.

More on Mitchell and Jessen .

49. Tommy Franks: His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch .

50. Michael Hayden: His crimes are listed at War Criminals Watch .

***

No Justice, No Peace

Judge's comment on Rove's citizen arrest in Iowa: "It's about time."

We encourage you to nonviolently protest these people and insist that they be given what so many of them have denied others: a fair trial. We encourage you to attempt to make citizen's arrests, after consulting lawyers and learning how to avoid any unnecessary criminal risk to yourselves. It is possible to confront a war criminal at a public event and announce a "citizen's arrest!" without actually touching (or handcuffing) the criminal.

You may want to avoid announcing that you're coming , because the war criminal may choose to escape .

Your team should include one or more people who can produce an excellent video and be extremely fast in editing and posting it online. Your team should ideally include a lawyer. And, of course, people who can read the charges and question the suspect. Everyone on your team should be able to keep a secret while you're planning your arrest or protest.

Read the war criminal their rights, rights they have denied others:
"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you."

Read the war criminal the charges against them.

Ask the war criminal if they would like to say anything.

Once you have good video footage, your top priority becomes immediately getting it edited (if necessary) and online.

If possible, turn the war criminal over to the police.

Pass out flyers to passersby.

Send statement to the media and/or have the media present.

Consult a lawyer to avoid unnecessary risks of violating laws while enforcing the law. According to Wikipedia , "A citizen's arrest is an arrest made by a person who is not a sworn law enforcement official. In common law jurisdictions, the practice dates back to medieval England and the English common law, when sheriffs encouraged ordinary citizens to help apprehend law breakers. Despite the title, the arresting person does not usually have to be a citizen of the country where he is acting, as they are usually designated as any person with arrest powers.... Each state with the exception of North Carolina permits citizen arrests if the commission of felony is witnessed by the arresting citizen... The application of state laws varies widely with respect to ... felonies not witnessed by the arresting party. American citizens do not carry the authority or enjoy the legal protections of police, and are held to the principle of strict liability before the courts of civil- and criminal law including but not limited to any infringement of another's rights. Though North Carolina General Statutes have no provision for citizen's arrests, detention by private persons is permitted and apply to both civilians and police officers outside their jurisdiction. Detention, being different from an arrest in the fact that a detainee may not be transported without consent, is permitted where probable cause exists that one has committed a felony, breach of peace, physical injury to another person, or theft or destruction of property ... A person who makes a citizen's arrest could risk exposing himself to possible lawsuits or criminal charges (such as charges of impersonating police, false imprisonment, kidnapping, or wrongful arrest) if the wrong person is apprehended or a suspect's civil rights are violated." In the case of the war criminals we propose detaining, they are most if not all public figures and we have all witnessed their felonies, as detailed above.

Be prepared to post your video online in multiple places: Youtube, Google, and After Downing Street.

Known upcoming public appearances of war criminals who should be protested and citizen arrested: List . Map . See also: War Criminals Watch .

For more on holding the biggest criminals accountable, see http://prosecutebushcheney.org

See also: "Crimes and Misdemeanors: Slate's interactive guide: Who in the Bush administration broke the law, and who could be prosecuted?" by Emily Bazelon, Kara Hadge, Dahlia Lithwick, and Chris Wilson. This guide includes some of those complicit in crimes other than war crimes, such as DOJ hirings and firings, destruction of CIA tapes, and illegal spying. (Of course, Karl Rove shows up in every part of every list.)

David Swanson is the author of the new book "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union" by Seven Stories Press. You can pre-order it and find out when tour will be in your town: http://davidswanson.org/book

Thursday, July 09, 2009

So This Is What Victory Looks Like?

So This Is What Victory Looks Like?

By Scott Ritter

July 08, 2009 "Truthdig" -- JULY 07, 2009 --- Fireworks lit up the Baghdad sky on the evening of June 30th, signaling the advent of “National Sovereignty Day.” Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki declared the new holiday to commemorate the withdrawal of American combat troops from the Iraqi capital and all other major urban centers, although thousands of “advisers” would remain in the cities, embedded with Iraqi forces. The celebration transpired inside a city that has been radically transformed over the past six years. Even with American combat forces ostensibly withdrawn, Baghdad remains one of the most militarized urban areas in the world. It wasn’t always so. When I was in Baghdad during the 1990s, I was struck by the lack of an overt military presence for a nation purported to be governed by one of the world’s worst militaristic dictatorships.

Of course, in the city areas housing Saddam Hussein, his family and inner circle, and the seat of government, one would see green-clad soldiers of the Special Republican Guard standing watch over the gates controlling access into and out of these islands of power and privilege. But in the rest of the city—the vast majority of the city—there was no military presence. Traffic police stood on little islands in the middle of busy intersections, keeping the bustle of a modern city moving along at a brisk pace. There were soldiers in uniform around, but they carried no weapons, being on leave from their duties in Iraq’s conscript military. Just like their fellow servicemen in other cities around the world, they would enjoy a day or two walking the streets and markets of Baghdad, taking in the sights and sounds, grabbing a glass of tea, a quick meal and the sight of pretty girls neatly attired in Western-style dress.

Let there be no doubt, Iraq was a police state, and the streets of the city were also filled with agents and informers of the regime, quick to detect any hint of rebellion or insurrection. Telephone calls were listened in on and conversations illicitly recorded in the hope of finding evidence of dissent. And when dissent was found, the forces of repression would mobilize quickly to crush it—secret police and paramilitary forces for small incidents, and the battalions of Special Republican Guard for larger threats. But Baghdad, like Mosul and other major cities, was also a place where someone—whether resident, visitor or even U.N. weapons inspector—could leave his or her home or workplace in the evening and travel freely without fear of endless roadblocks, checkpoints, car bombs and firefights.

One could take in a street market in what was then known as Saddam City (today we call it Sadr City), the Shiite-dominated neighborhood in the northeast corner of Baghdad. Or grab a kebab in Karrada, a Sunni-dominated neighborhood in the center of town. Or visit the shopping districts of Monsouriyah, or tour the gold-domed mosques in Khadamiyah (Shiite) or across the Tigris River in Adamiyah (Sunni). The quality of the Baghdad-Iraq experience fluctuated given the state of the economy (U.N. sanctions crippled Iraq from 1991 until 1996, when the controversial oil-for-food program breathed new life into what had become a stagnant existence). But whether the shelves in a given shop were full or empty, one thing remained constant—Baghdad and the other major cities of Iraq functioned in a manner more in keeping with the open societies of Europe, and less like the municipality under siege that exists today.

Baghdad survives now as a city defined not by its thousands of years of history, but rather segregation brought on by policies of deliberate ethnic cleansing. The city is now a checkerboard of neighborhoods walled off from one another by giant concrete-block dividers installed by American troops in an effort to keep Iraqis from killing one another, a phenomenon born from ethnic and religious differences which have violently come to a head in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Once we get beyond the pageantry and spectacle of the deception that is taking place in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities “formerly” occupied by U.S. troops, the pretense of progress is difficult to sustain.

Iraqi soldiers, primarily Shiite troops loyal to the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister al-Maliki, are everywhere. They man checkpoints and mini-garrisons throughout the city and constantly patrol streets and neighborhoods which function less as communities and more like tiny feudal fiefdoms. Militias, like street gangs in Western ghettos, lurk inside every walled-off zone, sometimes working with the Iraqi military, sometimes working against it. To attempt to move from zone to zone today is an exercise in futility and frustration, as well as a flagrant temptation of fate. Sunni and Shiite, Arabs and Kurds, Christians and Muslims—all used to be able to mingle freely in the streets of Baghdad. Today these diverse elements are segregated from one another, their daily existence dictated by a kill-or-be-killed mentality that manifests itself in violence and a growing diaspora of Iraqi refugees no longer able to sustain life in a city they once called home.

Many in the West continue to delude themselves into seeing progress—and therefore “victory”—when in fact the situation in Iraq has only regressed. It is in vogue for Western journalists, pundits and government officials to compare and contrast conditions in Baghdad today with those that existed in 2007, when the U.S. began its “surge” of military forces into the urban areas of Iraq in an effort to quell violence that had reached epidemic proportions. There is no debate over the fact that the level of violence in Baghdad and elsewhere throughout Iraq has dropped dramatically since the surge was instituted. But the cost paid by Iraqi society, shredded by ethnic cleansing and segregation, raises the question of whether or not the alleged “cure” is any better than the “disease” it purports to address. One thing is certain: Iraq remains a very sick patient. The U.S., in designing a surge that addressed only the most visible symptoms of the problems which ravage Iraq in the post-Saddam era, has created a false sense of accomplishment when in fact the underlying conditions that caused the violence prior to the surge still exist. It’s like a cancer temporarily stunned into remission by a drug that weakened the body and now is being withdrawn without actually curing anything. The Shiite-Sunni schism has only worsened, and there is increasing risk that the Arab-Kurd disagreement over oil rights will escalate from a war of words into something more violent.

The absolute failure of the surge is even more evident when one considers conditions inside Iraq before the U.S. invasion in 2003. There is simply no serious benchmark by which one can make a viable argument for improvement. Even the Bush administration stopped the pretense that we had brought democracy to the country. Stability is now the term of choice, and when one compares the situation in Iraq circa February 2003 to today, the facts scream out loud and clear that Iraq is far more unstable in its present condition than when governed by Saddam Hussein.

Take oil, the commodity that was going to pay for the invasion and guarantee the political and economic future of Iraq. Not only is the Iraqi government divided on how to move forward with a new legal framework designed to encourage foreign investment in Iraq’s oil sector, but the billions of dollars already spent on Iraq’s oil industry since the U.S. invasion have actually produced less oil per day than when Saddam was in power—and one must keep in mind that Saddam’s Iraq suffered under crushing economic sanctions.

The number of Iraqi refugees has more than quadrupled since the invasion. Some 500,000 Iraqis had fled the abuses of the Saddam regime, while today more than 2 million Iraqis have been compelled to leave the country as a direct result of the U.S.-led invasion and subsequent occupation. Another 2 million have been forced from their homes and are internally displaced.

Unemployment is rampant. Iraq’s health care system is in tatters, as is its education system. But apparently these figures are meaningless in the face of the one major statistic the Twitter-crazed Western media seems to have fallen in love with: There are nearly 18 million cell phones in use in Iraq today, up from a mere 80,000 when Saddam Hussein governed. The fact that most of these phones operate with intermittent or nonexistent service is irrelevant. Iraq has cell phone coverage. God Bless America.

It is wishful thinking to believe that the Iraqi military and paramilitary forces under the government of Prime Minister al-Maliki will be able to hold the ruins of Iraqi society together without major U.S. intervention. The sad reality is not only that Baghdad is a far more militarized city today than at any time under Saddam Hussein, but the United States has assumed the role of Saddam’s Special Republican Guard. American soldiers are now an iron fist lurking on the edges of the city, waiting to be called in to crush any sign of rebellion or insurrection. That our role has so readily transformed from liberator to occupier should come as a surprise to no one.

In 1999 I warned Americans that a war between Iraq and the United States would appear on the surface to be deceptively easy. I predicted that a force of no more than 250,000 troops (we actually did it with less—about 200,000 troops deployed either in Iraq or in theater) would require less than a month (the U.S.-led attack began on March 19, and Baghdad was occupied on April 9), and would result in relatively few casualties (139 American military personnel died in action from March 20 through May 1, 2003). The easy part, I noted, would be getting rid of Saddam Hussein. The hard part would be securing victory in the aftermath of Saddam’s demise. And this task, I warned, would be made even harder, indeed virtually impossible, by the fact that the U.S.-led invasion would lack any justification under international law, especially if a case for war were to be cobbled together using U.N. weapons inspections and Iraqi WMD as an excuse. The U.S. did invade, and the rest is history.

The incompetence, corruption and futility of the U.S. occupation of Iraq are matters of record. America has failed in Iraq, a fact many Americans recognized when they voted for change in 2008 by electing Barack Obama over John McCain. And yet today these same Americans appear to be as self-deceiving as those who supported George W. Bush’s attempts to spin the tragedy of the American experience in Iraq as something noble and worthy of support. To date, the war in Iraq has cost more than 4,300 American service members their lives. Tens of thousands more have been physically wounded or permanently scarred by the psychological horror of participating in the Iraqi conflict. We’ve stopped seriously trying to count the number of Iraqi dead, with estimates ranging from 100,000 to more than a million.

Even before the U.S. “withdrawal” from Baghdad, acts of violence in that city and elsewhere were on the rise. There is little doubt that the many Iraqi enemies of the government of al-Maliki will soon try to flex their muscle. Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence is all but assured. Some Iraqi military units will, at least initially, perform well; others will not. Neighborhoods once secured by U.S. occupiers will fall out of the control of central Iraqi authority. The more the Iraqi military tries to suppress this dissent, the more the dissent will grow. Though major U.S. combat forces are currently out of Baghdad, there is little doubt that there will soon be a call for their return, in force, either to respond to an ambush of a U.S. convoy supplying the American Embassy enclave in central Baghdad or to bail out the Iraqi military when it fumbles its effort to suppress the opponents of the government.

Iraq, for President Obama and his military leaders, is a lose-lose situation. There is no path toward military victory there today. With American forces out of the major urban areas of Iraq, the next step for Obama is to complete the planned withdrawal on schedule, with most U.S. forces leaving Iraq in 2010. This will be impossible to accomplish if America finds itself sucked back into the urban centers of the country to maintain the false perception of stability created through the surge.

The biggest challenge in Iraq facing the Obama administration is not to fall victim to the need to be seen as victorious. Victory today can be measured only in terms of mitigating the consequences of failure. There will be no “Battleship Missouri moment,” with the forces of a defeated Iraqi insurgency lined up to formally surrender. Instead, America will have to deal with the reality that, no matter how we spin facts, President Bush’s ill-advised Iraqi adventure has ended in defeat. Whether this defeat is memorialized with imagery reminiscent of the U.S. retreat from Saigon, with helicopters pulling the last occupiers from the roofs of the American Embassy in Baghdad (unlikely), or repeats the pathos of the Russian retreat from Afghanistan, with a convoy of American troops crossing over into Kuwait in orderly fashion (more likely), there is no victory to be had in the classic sense.

In one of the last patrols conducted by U.S. forces before the formal withdrawal from Baghdad, four American soldiers lost their lives. The patrol itself was wholly symbolic—a show of force and will at a time when every military reason for the patrol had ceased to exist—a tragic yet fitting analogy for the entire U.S. military presence in Iraq. No more American troops need to die, or be physically or psychologically maimed, participating in futile “last patrols” designed to salvage the reputations of politicians. There are those who will argue for sustaining the failed military misadventure in Iraq out of a misplaced sense of national pride and honor. President Obama must confront his own ego and hubris and accept the fact that in order to secure a lasting legacy as a peacemaker he will need to ride out the short-term criticism.