Bishop Desmond Tutu once said "a person is a person because he recognises others as persons." The implication of that recognition is an integral part of my definition for what I believe is an important concept: Respect.
For an individual to be treated with respect, they must exhibit respect. There are concepts I believe that a morally guided person must have respect for. The very idea that we are capable of contemplating such concepts is unique to the human species, as we are the only ones capable of rational thought; that is what differentiates us from every other species of organism on this planet. Without the higher level of thought that is the basis for the particularly human system of intellectual organisation, we are no better than or different from slugs or bacteria.
Today, as in many other dark times in human history, there are individuals who for one reason or another have lost sight of the important notion of respect. For the greater good of our species, we must all maintain a level of respect for our fellow man, for the fragile ecosystem that sustains all life on this planet, for the sanctity of human life, for Morality, for the equality of all persons, for the freedom to pursue individual thought, for reason, for true freedom, for human rights, for love, and for knowledge.
An american race car driver by the name of Richard Petty once said "if guys don't respect themselves, they don't respect other people." Perhaps powerful people in our world today have no respect for themselves. Perhaps that's how they are able to justify taking away the freedom and the dignity of their fellow human beings, taking their lives, and doing so without any respect for basic humanity.
Aristotle once said "At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst." There is no justice for those who have been tortured in Nazi-style prison camps. There is no law controlling the actions of perverted individuals operating illegally in an occupied country. This can only bring out the worst in people, at both the giving and receiving end of these policies.
Certain powerful individuals in the world today exhibit a total lack of respect for knowledge. The current prevailing mentality of certain regimes to move towards a military attack as the first option for a course of action is to ignore the lessons history has taught us as to the consequences of such a doctrine. Empires have crumbled under the weight of their own military ambitions. Such a contempt for knowledge, and for learning history's lessons, is contrary to the teachings of one of the most influential writings on military strategy, The Art of War by Sun Tzu. One of the main points of this writing is that knowledge is the most essential element for victory. The attack as a first response doctrine is also contrary to the teachings of the oldest recorded philosophical teachings, the Tao Te Ching. The Tao's book of Leadership and Strategy tells a story of a master thief who was caught stealing from the army of an ancient chinese king. The leader of that army, knowledgeable in the art of successful conflict resolution, decided that he would put the thief to use rather than put him to death for his crime. The theif was sent to the enemy camp where he stole the pillow from the bed of the sleeping enemy leader. The next day that pillow was returned with apologies. The enemy leader, fearing that if it were so easy for the pillow to be stolen from under his head as he slept it must be also possible for him to be killed in the same fashion, offered a truce and withdrew. The end result was the most preferable one: victory without any bloodshed.
This concept is an important one to note. I have mentioned previously my views on the fact that violence only brings more violence, as evidenced by the continuing "resistance" in Iraq, the ongoing bloody conflict between Palestine and Israel, murderous attacks by and against the Marxist rebels in Columbia, and so on. If a doctrine or mentality or virtuous intent is genuinely so strong, there is no need for continuing violence as to do so only sparks more angry resistance. If the virtuous intent of America is to be believed, they must stop their constant resort to violence, as it is the least desirable method towards an attempt at conflict resolution.
For some time now many powers have shown a contemptuous lack of respect for the fragile ecosystem that supports life on this planet. Our species must learn to enact the concepts of respect not only towards each other but towards our environment. Without the environment, there will be no human species for it to support. While the trend of Global Warming is well documented in recent years, startling knowledge has come to light recently that leads many experts to believe that the process of global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions is to increase exponentially in speed. This is due to the fact that ice shelfs that have covered a peat bog the size of France and Germany combined (peat produces Methane gas, a potent greenhouse gas) are melting rapidly so as to expose the Greenhouse gas producing substance. This will accellerate the warming process, which has already drastically increased in recent years as a result of industrial pollution. Not only is there a high probablity that such accelerated warming will leave large parts of this planet uninhabitable, but there is also research that suggests that it could lead to an abrupt non-linear climate change event. It is important to note that the end of the last ice age came abruptly, with the world temperature shifting from ice to temperate in only 20 years. Such a climate shift today would likely wipe out a large percentage of the worlds population, in addition to much animal and plant life. The continuing lack of respect for the environment in which we live will eventually, if it continues as it is going now, lead to there being no environment left for us to respect, and in turn we won't be around to try to fix the issue. Voluntary reduction of the level of increase of emissions from the worlds most dangerous pollutor are not enough. If changes are not made soon, and those in power realise that respecting the environment is vital to our survival, the consequences could be catastrophic.
Treat a person like an animal and they will behave like an animal. Treat a person with dignity and they will act with respect. To torture and detain our fellow man, to murder, to destroy: such actions by the worlds most powerful can only bring out the worst in people. I believe that we, as a people, have the capability to be so much better, and when leading with such an example others can be sure to follow. By leading with the example of kill first ask questions later (question 1: where are those WMDs?), we only encourage others to do the same. If we treat our environment with no respect, the environment will be incapable of showing us respect (allowing our continued existance). Changes must be made soon, because by all accounts later might be too late.
I shall leave you today with the inspired words of a U.S. Senator/ Basketball star by the name of Bill Bradley:
"Respect your fellow human being, treat them fairly, disagree with them honestly, enjoy their friendship, explore your thoughts about one another candidly, work together for a common goal and help one another achieve it. No destructive lies. No ridiculous fears. No debilitating anger."
Bishop Desmond Tutu once said "a person is a person because he recognises others as persons." The implication of that recognition is an integral part of my definition for what I believe is an important concept: Respect.
In the News today:
US top court rejects Guantanamo military tribunals
WASHINGTON - In a major blow for President George W. Bush’s war on terrorism, the US Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the military tribunal system set up to try Guantanamo prisoners violates the Geneva Conventions and US military rules.
“We conclude that the military commission convened to try (Salim Ahmed) Hamdan lacks power to proceed because its structure and procedures violate” the international agreement that covers treatment of prisoners of war, as well as US military rules, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the court majority in the 5-3 decision
... it continues.
From The Khaleej Times.
So, now we must just wait for the Indictments to start coming down for actively pursuing unlawful policies... that's a law, you know. (It's called "command responsibility") But then again, how often do those in charge actually have to take responsibility?
In other news, the U.S. Propaganda Push is failing miserably in Europe and most of the rest of the world. I guess the IIP isn't doing its job.
From the Blog Understanding Europe: Support for the USA has totally collapsed.
The Blog Story
The PEW Global Poll results that were the basis for the blog report.
This is merely a re-post of an article I wrote weeks ago, but I think it's important to reiterate my view on the subject.
It has been recently brought to my attention (by people who actually concentrate on my comments or posts rather than my profile) that some of my statements come across as sympathetic to what is colloquially defined as "terror."
I am not, nor ever have been, supportive of terror, terrorism, or any other related actions; I feel that they fly in the face of basic morality.
As far as the question of "do the ends justify the means" (as in, if a positive goal is achieved does that justify the negative way it was brought about), I believe that they most certainly do not.
Call me a dreamer, but I believe that human beings have within their nature the capability to accomplish their goals without sacrificing basic human morality.
Regarding morality, I agree with conclusions reached by Plato and Aristotle that not only is morality the most effective means to achieve one's objectives, it is also it's own reward.
That having been said, there is an important aspect of this dialogue that is not being covered. It is important to contemplate the difference (?) between a "freedom fighter" and a "terrorist," especially as it relates to one's self image.
If I may, I would like to leave you with a question. Or a few, perhaps. Of the following, whom would you consider to be a "freedom fighter" and whom a "terrorist." Or are they neither? Or both? (What exactly constitutes "terrorism" these days anyway?) Furthermore, does their view of themself hold true to your characterisation, and does the historical record agree with your point of view, or theirs? Does that historical record change with the times? So what are they, really, then?
Nelson Mandela? Gerry Adams? Osama Bin Ladin? Yassir Arafat? Shimon Peres? Emmanuel Constant? Bobby Sands? James Connolly? George Washington? Robert E. Lee? William Wallace? Che Guevera? Fidel Castro? Ronald Reagan? George Bush? Abu Abbas? George Shultz? Leon Klinghoffer? Kemal Zugheyer? Bill Clinton? Margaret Thatcher? Bobby Seale? Ali Akbar Mohtashemi? Wolfe Tone? Txabi Etxebarrieta?
And, perhaps most importantly, why?
This is the kind of response you get from neo-con-supporting Americans when you assert that American policies are engendering the kind of anger and resentment that leads to people turning to "extremism" as an avenue for the release of their anger.
(By the way, I made these assertions because I feel betrayed by the American government, and I feel that all people of the world who value human life, and were heartbroken by the events of 9/11, have been betrayed by them as well.)
The response (the one I liked the most):
If you will kindly provide your GPS coordinates, the United States government will be happy to respond to your concerns. Trust us, you will have no worries after we do so.Thank you for your attention to this matter, and do not hesitate to contact us again if you have any further questions. (Just post to this blog. We have your IP address and will take it from there.)
CIA Email Homepage 06.17.06 - 10:58 am #
People are funny.
could Iraqis be angry about American policies, rather than "thankful for liberation"? Is the "wave of good feeling" that CNN has been talking about actually a figment of some Propagandist's Imagination?
|See For Yourself|
Iraq with sarcasm
c/o Truth About Iraqis.
Sarcasm: Anger's Ugly Cousin.
|Cross Posted from Misneach360 Yahoo Blog regarding the following news story.|
There is no source listed for this news story. Based on its complete and utter lack of any basis in Reality, I can only assume that it was authored by the U.S. State Department's Bureau of International Information Programs (quote from their site: "IIP informs, engages, and influences international audiences about U.S. policy and society to advance America's interests").
I have discussed in great detail in a recent post on Misneach Stories (WARNING: THE POST CONTAINS EXTREMELY GRAPHIC IMAGERY) how American policies are increasing the threat of terrorism. A news story such as this one is another blatant attempt to try to make things look much more positive than they are.
Another example of this phenomenon, just to give a recent example, is CNN's recent coverage of the state of Marial Law in Baghdad. * The Iraqi security forces have set up checkpoints at close intervals on every major street in and into/out of Baghdad, in addition to instituting a dusk curfew, and engaging in house to house raids that are supposedly aimed at "insurgents" or "suspected insurgents" or "finding insurgents" or "those who might become insurgents." CNN was able to find one man in Baghdad who was willing to say something along the lines of "maybe it will bring hope for peace and security" and then they used that statement as evidence that "things are looking up in Iraq" and that there is some (fictional) increase in morale among Iraqis. That, I must say, is the most illogical conclusion that could possibly have been drawn from the evidence.
The American Media is NOT doing their job when it comes to sharing factual information with the world. Based on the story at the top of this post, neither is European sources for news (this was yahoo.co.uk). An ignorant population is easily controlled by those in power: is America to become the new Nazi Germany? The indications that its heading that direction are disturbing at best.
* Regarding these security checkpoints, there was a recent news story that a car with a pregnant woman being driven to the hospital to give birth was fired upon by U.S. soldiers manning one of these checkpoints. According to reports, the checkpoint was not easily visible to drivers, but an American sniper opened fire on the vehicle anyhow for not stopping. The pregnant woman and the driver were pronounced dead at the scene.
Misneach Stories blog new post today:
The Next 9/11: coming soon.
"I can still remember the morning of September 11, 2001, as if it were yesterday..."
WARNING: the post contains graphic imagery.
The main topic is why American foreign policy is creating an atmosphere in the world that will ensure that they will face additional terrorist attacks. This subject greatly upsets me, because I feel that it should be the job of the government to protect its citizens as part of serving them and doing what is best for the nation as a whole. I also feel the the current U.S. regime has disrespected the memories of the innocent civilians lost on September 11 by a) using their deaths as an excuse to invade Iraq, b) responding to their deaths by bringing about more bloodshed, and c) ensuring that such an atrocity will happen again by pursuing policies that engender rage and resentment towards America and towards the west in general. This includes Europe as well, in addition to other America-friendly countries that haven't had the courage to stand up and say that Americas policies are wrong, and work to bring an end to them and see that the perpetrators of War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity are brought to justice.
Also, this week (as I discussed previously about the SCO and Iran) the Iranian President was welcomed in China. This is in line with the closer ties between Iran and China (and Russia) I have discussed on numerous occasions in this blog.
On that subject, another intelligent take on the issue:
Awakening of a Giant
from Bottle Message™ blog at Yahoo 360.
Playing Chess with Iran
from TomDispatch blog.
Something mentioned as a side-note in an article in the Tehran Times is an important aspect of this discussion that's not being covered.
Iran should try to balance nuclear offer
Tehran Times Political Desk
We support Iran's position on the peaceful use of atomic energy because this right is enshrined in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa said.
"This right exists for all Arab and non-Arab countries which have signed the NPT and wish to achieve progress," Mussa added.
But he stressed the region was not in need of a military nuclear program. "This applies to Iran and Israel and others," Mussa said.
Everyone involved, from East to West, seems to be in agreement on one key issue: Iran should not have Nuclear Weapons. China, Russia, France, Germany, the U.S., and even Iran herself all agree that Nuclear Weapons are not something that it would be in the best interests of the world for Iran to possess.
This is understandable, and rational, and legal based on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is also in line with UN Security Council Resolution 687, Article 14, which outlines "the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missles for their delivery."
Based on current intelligence data, the only country in the area of the Middle East, West Asia (up to Afghanistan) and North Africa that possesses Nuclear Weapons is Israel. While they are non-signatories to the NPT, and as such their actions (at least in this one specific instance, we can revisit the ICJ wall ruling or UN General Assembly resolutions, or the Geneva Accords, or the Nuremberg Tribunal's precedents another time) are in line with their international obligations. However, the aim of resolution 687 was a very understandable one: due to the constant state of conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Israel being armed with 200 Nuclear Weapons is a far more dangerous issue than Iran enriching a very small percentage of the amount of nuclear material required to build one bomb.
If we are going to hold Iran to the understandable standard of maintaining their abstinence from Nuclear Weapons, why must we not demand the same from their regional comrade Israel?
CNS: Middle East WMDs: Israel
Russian Intelligence Estimate on Nuclear Weapons 1995
Ha'aretz July 2000 article on Israel's Nuclear Weapons Program
Loads more news sources than you're used to at Misneach Homepage News
On September 3, 1939, the nations of Britain, France, Australia, and New Zealand, recognising an imminent and immense danger, declared war against Hitler's Nazi Germany.
On September 10, 1939, Canada, recognising an imminent and immense danger, declared war against Nazi germany.
On September 16, 1940, the United States, recognising an imminent and immense danger, passed a conscription bill in preparation for involvement to remove the threat of Nazi Germany.
What does it take for leaders and countries to recognise an imminent and immense danger? What does it take for people to recognise an imminent and immense danger? What is required before action is taken to ameliorate that danger?
If the history of the second world war teaches us anything, its that it takes quite a bit before an imminent and immense danger is recognised.
Adolf Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. One of the first acts he was responsible for was to instruct his subordinates to burn the German Reichstag (congress/parliament), and, after blaming it on Communists, proceeded to enact the following emergency decree:
"For the Protection of the people and the State"
"Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed."
He proceeded to use the newspaper he controlled, called Völkischer Beobachter, to spread propaganda that would lead the German people to believe that his actions were just and understandable. Within a short period of time, all newspapers in Germany were controlled by the Nazi party, and only illustrated stories that would help solidify power for Hitler and the Nazi Party.
Using Communism as a tool to frighten the people into obedience, he proceeded to cement his hold over power in Germany. Instilling a fear of Jews in the population, he proceeded to utilise that fear as an excuse for a genocide against Jewish people in Germany.
On February 10, 1936, a law is passed by the Nazi party that makes the Gestapo not restricted to the confines of obeying existing laws, or having any accountability for their actions.
On November 5, 1937, Hitler unveiled a plan at the chancellory to acquire additional "living space" for the German people, that entailing the invasion and occupation of foreign countries for the purpose of advancing his view of Germany's national goals.
It wasn't until the end of August, 1939, that "The Allies" finally began to make preparations to deal with the immense and immediate threat that was Germany. During that time, the Germans had already cemented their position as an indesputable world power whose ambitions were only surpassed by their ruthlessness. What followed is well known in the public record.
It did not take much time for Hitlers Nazi Party to thoroughly indoctrinate the people of Germany with his warped ideas and ideals. He was then able to use that power to wreak havoc upon the world for nearly a decade, bringing about the deaths of countless millions of people. Although it took a very long time to be recognised, the danger he posed was very real.
I go out of my way, on this blog, to point out dangerous trends in world affairs. Some people say that this is unimportant; some people come to this site, take one look at the subject content, then go away again; some people would rather be unaware of the dangers posed to the world today, and as such have no interest in hearing what individuals such as myself have to say. That is unfortunate.
The reason that is so unfortunate is the fact that there are very real dangers facing the world today. These dangers are increasing, due in large part to ignorance of them or apathy towards them. It was ignorance and apathy that paved the way for Germany to invade country after country, suspend human rights, slaughter countless civilians, and move very quickly from being in immenent danger to being an immediate danger, all without much, if any, resistance.
When dealing with dangers, you must always face the largest and most pressing threat first. The reason why, on this blog, I go out of my way to constantly point out dangerous policies that are being carried out by, or on behalf of, the American Government, is that they pose the most immediate and dangerous threat to the world today. There are plenty of other threats, loads in fact, and a great deal of other perpetrators of heinous crimes that also need to be dealt with. However, as the most powerful and most dangerous regime in the world, those in power in America are the threat that needs to be ameliorated first.
Theoretically, in a democracy the government should serve the will of the people. In their hearts, the people of America could not, would not, and do not support the atrocious policies of their government. However, much the same as the German population was controlled in their mentality in the 1930s and 1940s, so is a large percentage of the American population. That is a dangerous trend.
The people of other countries, by a very large margin, do not support the policies of the U.S. government either. However, their views are either ignored, or they are encouraged to remain distracted from these threats to our very survival as a civilised species by those who have the most to gain in the short term from these dangerous policies.
Unfortunately, these policies continue. While many people would like to remain distracted from the problems that we face in the world today, that does not mean that those problems don't exist. The sooner we face these dangers, and take steps to see that these problems are solved, the better off we will be as a species.
The people of the world have power. Our governments exist for the purpose of serving our wishes. It is not in the wishes of the people of the World or the people of America to continue along the path we are going down. Now is the time to make your voice heard, now is the time for changes to be made. We must do what we can, while we still have the ability to do it.
Truth About Iraqis: More children killed in Iraq after US raids
This is the effect America is having on Iraq.
Yes, you are seeing it correctly, the child's skull is split open.
Is human life worth nothing anymore?
"The United States is Terrified"
- Noam Chomsky on Latin America's Move Towards "Independence and Integration"
From Democracy Now
NOAM CHOMSKY: Now remember, the U.S. is a global power, so you can't just look at one region. You have to look at what's going on everywhere. So if we go back, say, to the last intelligence projection of the Clinton administration, National Intelligence Council, year 2000, their projection for the next 15 years, they -- just keeping to energy, but there's a lot more. They took it as a matter of course that the United States would control Middle East oil. They don't discuss that much. And then they say the United States, though it will control Middle East oil, because that’s a lever of world control, nevertheless it, itself, will rely on what were called more stable Atlantic Basin resources, meaning West African dictatorships and the western hemisphere. That's what the U.S. will rely on.
Well, what's been going on in Latin America since then significantly threatens that. For the first time in its history, first time since the Spanish colonization, Latin America is moving towards a degree of independence and also a degree of integration
Special Thanks to The Brent Report for the heads up.
These people are sick. Absolutely sick.
"A top US official has described the suicides of three detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a "good PR move to draw attention"."
from Guantanamo Suicides a 'PR Move' at BBC News
The fact that human life is so trivial to these people that they could describe the fact that "combatants" (more than half of whom were not actually, according to the Red Cross and Human Rights Watch, "combating" against america in any way shape or form) who have been interned for 5 years without charge or trial and subjected to FIVE YEARS OF TORTURE give in and kill themselves as a "PR move" is absolutely repulsive. And this American regime are the same people that Tony Blair describes as engaging in a "fight for values" (he said that in his recent press conference with Bush).
Lets recap: they've been held without trial for five years, they've been tortured for five years, and they cannot take it anymore so they commit suicide, and this is dismissed as "a tactic to further the jihadi cause"?!?!?! Those in charge of these atrocious American policies are either completely brain-dead or pure evil. I genuinely hope it's the former (what a fucking characterisation choice to have to make).
All of this brings to mind an old Irish song.
From the song Joe McDonnell
And you dare to call me a terrorist
while you looked down your gun
When I think of all the deeds that you had done
You had plundered many nations divided many lands
You had terrorised their peoples you ruled with an iron hand.
And you brought this reign of terror to my land
O me name is Joe McDonnell
from Belfast town I came
That city I will never see again
For in the town of Belfast
I spent many happy days
I love that town in oh so many ways
For it's there I spent my childhood
and found for me a wife
I then set out to make for her a life
But all my young ambitions
met with bitterness and hate
I soon found myself inside a prison gate
Through those many months internment
In the Maidstone and the Maze
I thought about my land throughout those days
Why my country was divided,
why I was now in jail
Imprisoned without crime or without trial
And though I love my country
I am not a bitter man
I've seen cruelty and injustice at first hand
So then one fateful morning
I shook bold freedom's hand
For right or wrong I'd try to free my land
Then one cold October morning
trapped in a lion's den
I found myself in prison once again
I was committed to the H-blocks
for fourteen years or more
On the Blanket the conditions they were poor
Then a hunger strike we did commence
for the dignity of man
But it seemed to me that no one gave a damn
But now, I'm a saddened man
I've watched my comrades die
If only people cared or wondered why
May God shine on you Bobby Sands
for the courage you have shown
May your glory and your fame be widely known
And brave Francis Hughes and Ray McCreesh
who died unselfishly
And Patsy O Hara and the next in line is me
And those who lie behind me
may your courage be the same
And I pray to God our lifes were not in vain
Ah but sad and bitter
was the year of 1981
For everything I've lost and nothing's won.
What a state this world is in...
In the late 1970s and into the 1980s in Northern Ireland, Irish men and women were taken from their homes and thrown in jail without being charged with a crime or taken to trial. These people were held for years. The end result of this internment was the the bloody fighting in the North intensified: the bombings increased, the sectarian murders, assasinations, and general lawlessness only got worse due to these policies. The situation remained desparate straight through until the 1990s.
Fast forward to 2006. Again, young men are being taken from their homes, but this time the situation is even more grave. These men are being held (again) without trial, without charge, and without any evidence at all being presented to warrant their internment. What makes the situation worse is that these men are being brutally tortured: beaten, molested, deprived of sleep, humiliated; the very definitions of Cruel and Inhumane treatment. Excuses are given for this treatment: an Orwellian "War" on terror, which has "changed the rules" for the way things are to be done in this new century. But if history has taught us anything, it's that policies like this only make the situation more grave, more bloody, and more desparate.
If the U.S. actually intends to try to put an end to terror, engendering resentment and rage by torturing people is the polar opposite to policies that might achieve their goals. For their own sake, they must stop these policies now, apologize to the international community, and see that those responsible are brought to justice.
If people suspected of helping terrorists are being taken away and tortured today, who's to say who might be taken away tomorrow? If we donate money to a group that the U.S. adds to their "terror supporters" list, then we are by definition terrorists, and we could as well be taken away to be tortured. Such groups have included in the past Nelson Mandela's freedom party; many groups that do nothing more than try to feed starving palestinian children are on that list today. Will you be next?
There are basic human rights that should be observed, for the greater good of society. If we allow these rights to be usurped for one person, then two, then ten, tomorrow it could be for thousands, tens of thousands, or millions. The policies of torture need to stop, and those responsible need to be brought to justice. This needs to happen now.
Amnesty International Torture Awareness Month
Together, we can do something.
Bloggers Against Torture
Some opposing perspectives.
The posts from Regime Change Iran are copied here in bold face type.
Time reported that an IAEA report on Iran's activities is expected next week will include "potentially incriminating" details about traces of highly enriched uranium recently found by inspectors.
The head of the IAEA stated that the highly enriched uranium (in trace quantities) was most likely residue on the equipment from its previous owner, China (or India, depending on which equipment they were inspecting).
The Chicago Tribune reported the debate inside of Iran over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his nuclear ambitions.
The fact that there is a debate in Iran on the nuclear program is merely an indication that free thought and free speech is more prevalent in Iran than America, where there is no possible debate on major issues.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Japan is considering imposing sanctions on Iran if it continues to reject international calls to scrap its nuclear program.
Japan would like to make the symbolic gesture of imposing sanctions on Iran based on the fact that Iran is such a huge trading partner with their largest competitor, China. They don't trade much with Iran to begin with.
Hindu Times reported that the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries have backed global efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the standoff between Tehran and Western countries over its controversial nuclear program.
After the Iraq Attack, I don't believe that the populations of any Gulf nations would support anything but a diplomatic solution to this the latest round of American bullying.
The Washington Post reported that a senior Iranian official said: "What we need is an American president who will follow the example of Richard Nixon going to China."
The washington Post story discusses the democracy or lack therof in Iran.
America abandoned democracy decades ago, and have proven that fact time and time again in Latin America and the Middle East, most recently with the "democratic" elections in Iraq that were by definition un-democratic. The US chose who could run in the elections, and as such the Iraqis did not actually have the power to choose whomever they wanted to lead them, which is what democracy actually is.
Reuters uses US Department of Defence Handouts as news stories, (the same as the German media did in the 1930s) and as such cannot be trusted as an actual news source.
China is the largest trading partner of Iran, and as such if they're not on board, nothing will happen in the international community. See also recent news on Iran being invited to become full members of the SCO.
Reuters reported that the incentives to be offered on to Iran include a proposal to allow Tehran to purchase aircraft parts from Boeing Co. and Airbus.
The U.S. has no case for moving to Chapter 7 sanctions against Iran in the UN, nor do they have the clout (anymore) in the international community to take uni-or-multi-lateral action without the danger of military opposition. As such they're backing down, yet trying to do so in a way that makes it seem as though they're being altruistic in making such offers, or doing things for the greater good rather than out of necessity.
Bloomberg reported that President George W. Bush said Iran's response to a U.S.-backed initiative aimed a resolving a standoff over the Islamic Republic's nuclear program is a "positive" first step.
New York Post reported that while the Bush administration offered to join the negotiations with Iran, Ahmadinejad quickly rejected any cessation of enrichment. But the U.S. government is refusing to take no for an answer.
Cessation of Uranium Enrichment was, if you look at the actual presidential statment from the Security Council and the IAEA report that started this mess, not actually the main issue. The actual goals of the nuclear program were. The Pres statement made it clear that enriching uranium for the purpose of providing civilian nuclear energy is well within international law and treaties.
We should also note, based on the bloomberg story, that (due to the aforementioned main issue of the intentions of the Iranian Government's nuclear program) the Iranian Government offered in April for the IAEA to have full reign at all Iranian nuclear and suspected-nuclear sites, which is what the IAEA wanted from the beginning, but the U.S. flatly refused.
Reuters reported that oil dipped, then steadied below 73 dollars a barrel after Iran said world powers had made positive proposals to end a crisis over its nuclear program.
73 dollars a barrel is still higher than the February-of-this-year record high price of 72 dollars a barrel.
Yahoo News reported that a package of incentives presented Tuesday to Iran includes a provision for the United States to supply Tehran with some nuclear technology.
The U.S. took that suggestion (of supplying nuclear technology) from the E.U. in the proposal they were putting together for the past month. It's nothing new.
Khaleej Times Online reported that the United States and other world powers have offered possible guarantees for Iran’s ”terroritorial integrity” as part of its nuclear proposal.
(BTW, the Khaleej times is one of my news favorites) The EU, China, and Russia have all already made similar proposals to protect Iran in exchange for some concessions on the Nuclear stance. Again, the U.S. is playing the role of follower.
Ok, that's enough story-by-story counterpoint. I agree wholeheartedly with the most important thrust of this post (as I see it), wherein the fact that the U.S. is acting more civily towards the Iranian government has brought about a more civil response from them. This is what has been missing over the past few months: enough of the rhetoric, enough of the posturing, enough of the veiled threats; this issue needs to be dealt with in a mature and rational manner.
[A Daily Briefing on Iran: Week in Review Trackback]
Call to Non-sensationalist Campaign for Jahanbegloo's Release
From Free Thoughts Blog (Iran)
"It is at least twelve years that I have known Ramin Jahanbegloo as a friend and a mentor. Dr. Ramin Jahanbegloo was arrested at the airport by the Iranian intelligence agents and was taken to Evin Prison about a week ago.
...Dr. Jahanbegloo's arrest is a cause of concern and his release should become the goal of all who are concerned with the promotion of civil society, open public space for free political debate, and last but not least a space safe enough to conduct such debates in a non-violent manner. Dr. Jahanbegloo has taught, lived, and acted in a non-violent manner, and those who would like to rally for his release should remember one fact: He did all this without Media-Mongering and without recourse to Sensationalism."
Its upsetting to hear about restriction of freedom of speech and denial of basic human rights, no matter where it happens. Its a terrible sign when people who have a positive influence are silenced in one way or another.
In this day and age of constant retaliatory attacks, "preventive" "just" war, torture, internment, destruction of the basic institutions of Human Rights and the Sanctity of Human Life, we need all the positive voices we can get. This man deserves to be able to have his voice heard.
Keep your eyes open for more on this at Misneach Letters and at the original post on Free Thoughts.
"The armed wing of Hamas, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, has said it will end its 16-month ceasefire following an Israeli artillery attack on a beach in Gaza.
Seven Palestinian civilians, including three children, were killed when artillery shells were fired from Israeli naval ships towards the Sudania area of the narrow coastal territory.
At least 35 others were wounded in the attack."
From RTE News Ireland
This is EXACTLY what I've been talking about when it comes to this cycle of violence. Seven civilians are killed, and Israel is blaming Hamas for violence. Do they not see that it's a neverending cycle of revenge? When will people decide that human life is worth more than this?
The news over the past couple of days has been monopolised by the story of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi being killed in a coalition airstrike in Baquba, Iraq. Some seem to believe that this is to be the turning point that will bring about the end to the voilence in Iraq. I wish I could believe that, but I can't see how that could possibly be true.
A figurhead has been killed. Indeed, a very sick man has been killed. A man who would relegate women to second-class citizens, a man who would kill someone because they pray differently from the way he feels people should. However, he is not the Iraqi Resistance. Killing him will not kill the resistance, it will not kill extremism, it will not kill terrorism.
When dealing with a disease, you must treat the disease itself, not just the symptoms. Al-Zarqawi was the visual representation of the symptoms of a disease, killing him is by no means a cure. The American destruction of all systems of Law and Order in Iraq, coupled with their wholesale slaughter of tens-of-thousands of Iraqi civilians, internment of Iraqi youths without crime and without trial, theft of Iraqi natural resources, removal of basic freedoms while professing a desire to spread freedom, creating a de-facto puppet-dictatorship while professing that it is a democracy (even going so far as to stage a show election in which the people could choose between those whom america had provided for them to choose between, and no-one else, in violation of the very definitions of freedom and democracy), and creating a situation where people must live their lives in fear for their safety and for the future for their children has created a vacuum in which men like Zarqawi thrive. While he is gone, there are countless others more than willing to take his place.
The only way to truly put an end to the sectarian violence, to the murder, to the desparate situation that is Iraq today is for the "coalition" (American Government) to take responsibility for their actions, to bring to justice those who have commited crimes (murder, rape, war crimes, crimes against humanity, Haditha, Ramadi, Abu-Ghraib), to respect Human Rights, and to work to create TRUE Democracy and Freedom in Iraq, and to create an Iraq for Iraqis, not an Iraq for American Corporations.
From a young age, children in America are told that the President of the United States is The Leader of The Free World. How much freedom has actually been brought to (or taken from) the world by the holder of that position in recent years is debatable. However, the implication that the U.S. Presidency is a position of much responsibility and power, for good or for bad, is understandably accepted.
It is no surprise then that when this "Leader" holds a live press conference with that position's historical predecessor, the leader of Britain, that statements made therein would be paid attention to quite closely by news organisations and the international community in general.
Conspicuously lacking in this discussion, however, is an attention to facts rather than an uncritical acceptance of the statements made. I have noticed that, while their assertions are still being continually referenced, their blatant inaccuracies are being wholeheartedly ignored. Here are just a few of the lies I took most exception to.
The Invasion of Iraq was a Mistake
The "main idea" that most news agencies in the west took away from the news conference was a concession made by both leaders that "mistakes were made" in the handling of Iraq (for expediency's sake, henceforth when referring to the situation I'll do so with that one word, as has been done by the media and governments involved since the beginning). Such a statement has been heralded in the western (primarily American based or American centered) media as a grand and somber and heartfelt concession to those affected by the tragedy that has become Iraq. Some have even gone so far as to proclaim that "the anti-war movement" (such as it is) has indeed been noticed by these leaders, as evidenced by this "somber concession."
This grand and somber concession that has been so heralded in the media was really nothing more than a rare truthful statement from the President and or the prime minister. It is not the heartfelt display of humanity that some are attempting to portray it as. It was not made for any reason more altruistic than a basic acknowledgement of the threats they perceive to their own personally important idea of political self--preservation. It was not a signal that policies would be changing in the future. It was a rare truthful statement. Nothing more.
What's well understood, yet seldom discussed, is that the only impotus that has led to Bush and Blair finally admitting that "mistakes were made" is the fact that both currently have absolutely dismal approval ratings. This is due primarily to the Iraq war. If it is understood that the aim of a politician is to maintain power, then having a vast majority of those who theoreticially control your fate not having faith in your ability, you are failing at your job. If one believes in the concept that the job of a democratically elected official is to actually serve the will of their population (rather than create that will, alter that will, or ignore that will altogether), then an approval rating is an indicication that they are failing when it is so drastically abysmal as that of Bush and Blair at the moment. This failure finally has the effect of eliciting the concession that "mistakes were made" but the reaction to this is to hail the statement as some huge concession, rather than pointing to the concept of "too little too late." I genuinely don't understand how the acknowledgement of a blatantly obvious fact could possibly be construed as some huge concession.
Blame the Victim
Far from being the "heartfelt display of humanity" (towards those "liberated" souls who fear for their lives on a daily basis in Iraq) that some have tried to portray it as, the points reiterated throughout the statements by these two leaders were more akin to a phenomenon common in the perpetrators of crimes: blame the victim. Quite often the perpetrators of heinus crimes such as thieves, rapists, and murderers blame the victims for the crimes, as a way for the criminal to justify their actions to themselves and to the (stunned) public.
The first phase of blaming the victim is to manufacture excuses to justify one's actions. To put aside the WMD claim, or the claim that Saddam presented an imminent danger to the U.S. (laughable to the informed publics of nearly every nation in the world, save America), or the "freedom and democracy" thing they've latched on to in recent years (I'll get back to that later), or even the atrocities and oppression brought about by Saddam (with the help of the then-and-now incumbents in the U.S. government), lets just have a look at the proportions of the duo in this major news conference. GW himself grabbed the ball for this particular play, making one baseless claim after another.
One such claim was that Saddam was abusing the U.N. Oil for Food program, usurping the supplies that were meant to be feeding the Iraqi Population. When G.W. made this statement I was quite curious as to what his basis for such a remark was. I wondered this because the chief U.N. Humanitarian Coordinators who were in charge of providing that food for oil would beg to differ with his characterisation. Dennis Halliday, Hans von Sponeck, and Tun Myat all have asserted that the food was distributed in the best manner possible under the circumstances, given the "genocidal" nature (Halliday's word, not mine) of the sanctions regime. The Iraqi end of the oil for food program, in the words of Tun Myat, was "the best distribution system that [he] had ever seen in [his] life, as a World Food Program official." The WFP conducted over ONE MILLION inspections of the system, and "uncovered no significant evidence of fraud or favoritism." But somehow this was offered as an excuse.
Some of the other excuses given for the invasion, well known in the public record, were re-iterated in the press conference. An "unabashed desire to spread freedom," and a supposed "altruistic quest" (CNN reporter) to "rid the world of tyranny" in the words of Bush. If memory serves me, these excuses were only first produced once it became apparent that the originial pretext for the invasion, flimsy from the beginning, would completely fall through: "We did not find the WMDs we all thought were there." (Bush) I guess that "we all" must refer to Bush and Blair, as most viewers (outside of the controlled information structure that stifles independent thought in the U.S.) were not convinced of the existence of any WMDs in Iraq at all.
But what of this supposed freedom-spreading and tyranny-crushing altruism that Bush and Blair are claiming now, upon the collapse of their original fabricated pretext. Even American opponents of the war (Sen Murtha, for one) genuinely believe the propaganda that the war is spreading freedom and democracy. But what is freedom? Webster.com defines freedom as "the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action" or "liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another." The absence of constraint in choice of action is almost nonexistent in Iraq, a direct result of the decamation of all systems that maintained any semblence of order (by the coalition forces). The security situation has deteriorated to such an extent that Iraqi citizens are afraid of leaving their houses, afraid of having the sanctity of their homes violated by armed gangs or U.S. soldiers invading private residences and executing the inhabitants. The Haditha massacre is just one of countless examples, but living in fear for your safety is not freedom.
In the most disturbing example of the phenomenon of "blame the victim" in use by the western regimes responsible for the carnage in Iraq, this supposed "somber concession" was accompanied by a virtual torrent of laying blame everywhere except upon those responsible for the invasion.
The most stark example of this was Mr. Blair's assertions that there were "no excuses" for the continued resistence in Iraq. His excuses for their being "no excuses" for resisting the occupation included the second half of the much-repeated assertion of "freedom and democracy" being brought to the Iraqi people. This also brings us back to the definition of freedom.
Part of freedom is "liberation from the power of another" according to Merriam-Webster. Democracy is, by definition, a government chosen by the people to represent their wishes. Mr. Blair asserted that Iraq had one of the most modern constitutions on the planet, and had a "democratically elected" government; they have democracy, and as such have a voice, thus their is no reason for them to take up arms against the occupying forces. This, however, is wholly inaccurate. While there were elections in Iraq, the part of the elections that made them un-democratic has been completely ignored in the west. The individuals that the Iraqi people had to choose between in their elections were all hand picked by the coalition. They could not choose who they would like to vote for, their only choice was between individuals who had already been picked for them by the occupying power, or the "power of another." That is, by definition, un-democratic and un-free.
They also ignore the concept that Iraqi people are being interned without crime and without trial by the Coalition forces, that Coalition forces are slaughtering (and have been slaughtering) civilians on a major scale since the beginning (carpet-bombing entire cities wipes out populations, not just military installations). The Iraqis have no freedom, no true democracy, and they are living under the thumb of a murderous occupation force that has no respect for basic human rights. Is Mr. Blair completely ignorant of these facts, or has he taken to the Bush line of Lie Until They Believe It. I wonder.
Some other disturbing topics they covered included Bush trying to assert that he was willing to compromise on anything; his example was that to drive down spiraling health care costs in the U.S. they should do away with "frivolous" malpractice lawsuits. Basically that means that doctors would get Carte Blanche to do as they pleased, without having to worry about getting sued for accidentally chopping someone's arm off, or injecting a child with a high dose of adrenaline instead of a sedatative. Does he not realise that the cost of the Iraq War could have paid for EVERY CHILD IN AMERICA UNDER THE AGE OF FIFTEEN TO HAVE HAD FULL HEALTH COVERAGE FOR THE ENTIRE DURATION OF THE WAR (to this date) FOR NO COST TO THEM. Instead he's suggesting taking away a doctors liability for medical malpractice (ex. practicing medicine without a licence). Smart.
They also discussed making major changes to the U.N., such as to "make it legal to act pre-emptively." The sad thing is that it is legal by international law to act pre-emptively, to take action when there is a direct and credible threat to the safety or soverignty of any given nation. That right is enshrined in Article 51 of the U.N. charter. However, it is not legal to act "preventively," wherein you take action against a country that you perceive could become a threat sometime in the future. The U.S. invasion of Iraq was (in the words of Bush himself, but then not now) a "preventive" attack, which is against international law. Nearly any nation in the world could perceive that there could be a future possibility of a threat from nearly any other nation, hence the reason "pre-emptive" attacks are legal (direct, credible, immediate threat, as in their army is on the way here as we speak) and "preventive" attacks (maybe someday they'll figure out how to throw a grenade from a helicopter across our border, so we should go take them out before that could ever possibly happen) are not.
Bush also asserted that, with Iran, "the issue at hand is wether they're going to continue to press for a nuclear weapon." That is, again, not true. As I have mentioned on countless occasions in this blog, the IAEA and the UN Security Council have, ON COUNTLESS OCCASIONS, stated that there is no evidence that Iran is pressing for a nuclear weapon. They have also stated that, in opposition to Bush's statement in this press conference that " the issue is will the Iranians suspend" uranium enrichment, the issue is actually greater transparency from Iran about their program; such transparency (Iran offering the IAEA inspectors un-inhibited access to Iranian sites) was flatly rejected by Condi Rice just last month. Again, I must re-iterate: Suspention is not the main issue.
I find it distressing, to say the least, when these men string together alot of sentences, because in doing so they paint a very bleak portrait of what our future might be like. It seems to be a future of danger, despair, and deception. Are these the men who are meant to shape our future?