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 Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Three Great IRAQI Myths That Won't Go Away


Scott Ritter
(Scott Ritter served as chief U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 until his resignation in 1998. He is the author of, most recently, "Iraq Confidential: The Untold Story of the Intelligence Conspiracy to Undermine the U.N. and Overthrow Saddam Hussein" .

Read here original article

It is hard sometimes to know what is real and what is fiction when it comes to the news out of Iraq.

I thought I would pen a short primer on three myths on Iraq to keep an eye out for as we "debate" the various issues pertaining to our third year of war in that country.

The Myth of Sovereignty

Imagine the president of the United States flying to Russia, China, England, France or just about any other nation on the planet, landing at an airport on supposedly sovereign territory, being driven under heavy U.S. military protection to the U.S. Embassy, and then with some five minutes notification, summoning the highest elected official of that nation to the U.S. Embassy for a meeting.

It would never happen, unless of course the nation in question is Iraq, where Iraqi sovereignty continues to be hyped as a reality when in fact it is as fictitious as any fairy tale ever penned by the Brothers Grimm.

For all of the talk of a free Iraq, the fact is Iraq remains very much an occupied nation where the United States (and its ever decreasing "coalition of the willing") gets to call all the shots.

Iraqi military policy is made by the United States.

Its borders are controlled by the United States. Its economy is controlled largely by the United States. In fact, there simply isn't a single major indicator of actual sovereignty in Iraq today that can be said to be free of overwhelming American control.

Iraqi ministers continue to be shot at by coalition forces, and Iraqi police are powerless to investigate criminal activities carried out by American troops (or their mercenary counterparts, the so-called "Private Military Contractors").

The reality of this myth is that the timeline for the departure of American troops from Iraq is being debated (and decided) in Washington, D.C., not Baghdad.

Of course, as with everything in Iraq, the final vote will be made by the people of Iraq. But these votes will be cast in bullets, not ballots, and will bring with them not only the departure of American troops from Iraq, but also the demise of any Iraqi government foolish enough to align itself with a nation that violates international law by planning and waging an illegal war of aggression, and continues to conduct an increasingly brutal (and equally illegitimate) occupation.

The Myth of Zarqawi

I have said all along that the poll figures showing Americans to be overwhelmingly against the war in Iraq were illusory. Only 28 percent of Americans were against the war when we invaded Iraq.

The ranks have swelled to over 60 percent not because there has been an awakening of social conscience and responsibility, but rather because things aren't going well in Iraq, and there is increasing angst in the American heartland because we seem to be losing the war in Iraq, and no one likes a loser.

So when the word came that the notorious terrorist, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, was killed by American military action, the president suddenly had a "good week," and poll numbers adjusted slightly in his favor.

However, the facts cannot be re-written, even by a slavish American mainstream media.

Zarqawi was never anything more than a minor player in Iraq, a third-rate Jordanian criminal whose exploits were hyped up by a Bush administration anxious to prove that the insurgency that was getting the best of America in Iraq was foreign-grown and linked to the perpetrators of the 9/11 terror attacks nonetheless.

The reality of just how wrong such an assessment is (and was) has been pounded home in blood. Since Zarqawi's death, the violence has continued to spiral out of control in Iraq, with Americans continuing to die, Iraqis still being slaughtered, and Zarqawi and his organization, successor and all, still as irrelevant to reality as ever.

The war against the American occupation in Iraq is being fought overwhelmingly by Iraqis. The insurgency is growing and becoming stronger and more organized by the day.

This, of course, is a reality that the Bush administration cannot afford to have the American people know about in an election year, as a compliant media, having sold its soul to the devil in hyping of the virtues of an invasion of Iraq back in 2002-2003, continues to dance with the party that brought them by supporting the Republican position, by and large, that the conflict in Iraq is a winnable one for America.

Good ratings, more dead Americans (and Iraqis, but who is counting?) and a war that will never end until the United States finally slinks out, defeated, its tail tucked firmly between its legs.

The Myth of WMD

Regardless of what Sen. Rick Santorum and the lunatic neoconservative fringe want to think, no weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq.

Citing a classified Department of Defense report that claims some 500 artillery shells have been found in Iraq by U.S. forces since the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq in March 2003, Santorum and his cronies in the right-wing media have been spouting nonsense about how Bush got it right all along, that there were WMD in Iraq after all.

He conveniently fails to report that there is nothing "secret" about this data, it has all been reported before (by the Bush administration, nonetheless), and that the shells in question constitute old artillery munitions manufactured well prior to 1991 (the year of the first Gulf War, and a time after which the government of Saddam Hussein stated -- correctly, it turned out -- that no WMD were produced in Iraq).

The degraded sarin nerve agent and mustard blister agent contained in the discovered munitions had long since lost their viability, and as such represented no threat whatsoever.

Furthermore, the haphazard way in which they were "discovered" (lying about the ground, as opposed to carefully stored away) only reinforces the Iraqi government's past claims that many chemical munitions were scattered about the desert countryside in remote areas following U.S. bombing attacks on the ammunition storage depots during the first Gulf War.

Having personally inspected scores of these bombed-out depots, I can vouch for the veracity of the past Iraqi claims, as well as the absurdity of the claims made today by Santorum and others, who continue to hold personal political gain as being worth more than the blood of over 2,500 dead Americans.

These three myths -- WMD, Zarqawi and Iraqi sovereignty -- are what members of Congress should be debating in their halls of power, the American media should be discussing either in print or across the airwaves, and that discussion should constitute the foundation of a movement towards accountability, where the citizens of the United States finally point an accusatory finger at those whom they elected to represent them in higher office, and who have failed in almost every regard when it comes to Iraq.

But then again, silly me for thinking this way, believing that there was an engaged constituency within America that knows and understands the Constitution of the United States and seeks to live each day as a true citizen empowered by the ideal and values set forth by that document.

I had overlooked the Fourth Myth -- that American citizens are engaged in our national debate.

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 Thursday, June 15, 2006

US-Trained Expert Debunks Israeli Military Finding on Killing of Innocent Palestinians on Gaza Beach: Israel is Guilty


Other Breaking News
  • Israel blames Hamas for beach deaths :An Israeli military investigation has blamed the killing of seven members of a Palestinian family including five children on a Gaza beach, on a landmine planted by Hamas or other buried explosive, not shelling by the army.But Palestinian leaders described the army's conclusions as a cover-up and a former Pentagon analyst, sent by a US human rights group to investigate the deaths, said the military had ignored evidence that left little doubt the family and an eighth casualty were killed by a stray Israeli shell.The Palestinians accused the army of rushing to clear itself to save Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, embarrassment as he tours Britain and other European countries to win support for his plan to draw the Jewish state's final borders by annexing part of the West Bank. Read here for more

  • Read here for full article and HERE

    The Israeli military investigation team insisted the Israel is not responsible for the beachfront explosion which killed seven members of a Palestinian family in Gaza last Friday.

    Calls are made for an independent international inquiry into the beachfront explosion after Israeli internal military investigation decided it was not responsible for the blast.

    But the official interpretation was strongly challenged by a former Pentagon battle damage expert who has surveyed the scene of the beach explosion.

    A U.S.-trained military expert, Marc Garlasco, disputed on Wednesday an Israeli claim that it had nothing to do with an explosion that killed eight Palestinian beachgoers in the Gaza Strip last Friday, an incident that has turned a critical spotlight on military practices.

    He said yesterday that "all the evidence points" to a 155mm Israeli land-based artillery shell as its cause.

    Marc Garlasco, who worked in war zones including Iraq and Kosovo during his seven-year stint in the US Department of Defence, called for an independent investigation into the killings after concluding that shell fragments and shrapnel from the site, the size and distribution of the craters on the beach, and the type of injuries sustained by the victims made Israeli shelling easily the likeliest cause.

    His assessment came as at least another seven civilians, including two children, as well as two Islamic Jihad militants, were killed in a double Israeli missile strike on a VW van in the densely populated Zeitoun district of Gaza City yesterday. The two children were hit at a nearby house by flying shrapnel and the civilian dead included three medical workers from a nearby children's hospital who rushed to help after hearing the first explosion.

    The debate over the beach explosion is unlikely to die down however.

    Mr Garlasco who is now the senior military analyst for Human Rights Watch, said yesterday: "Of course I can't be completely conclusive but all the evidence points to its being a 155mm Israeli shell which killed the Palestinians on the beach."

    Mr Garlasco said that most of the serious injuries of the victims in the Gaza hospitals that he had visited were to the torsos and heads, which were inconsistent with a land mine or of a bomb embedded in the sand.

    "If this had been a landmine I would have expected to see serious leg injuries," he said. Mr Garlasco said that while he could not rule out the theoretical possibility that Palestinian militants had rigged up an unexploded 155mm shell to make an explosive device of their own, that too would have normally produced many more severe leg injuries.

    Mr Garlasco produced a four to five-inch, mainly blackened shell fragment which he collected about 100 yards from the scene of the explosion and in which the figures 55 and the letters "mm" are clearly discernible.

    While acknowledging that this was not itself definite proof that the shell had killed the Palestinians he said some fragments and shrapnel which the Palestinian police explosives department say they took from the scene where the victims were killed were definitely from a 155mm shell.

    Mr Garlasco who accompanied a small group of journalists to the Beit Lahia beach, pointed to three separate craters, each covered in a whitish powder, which he said were fresh, one of which was at the spot where witnesses agree the fatal blast occurred, and the two others separated it from it by about 120 and 250 yards.

    Mr Garlasco added: "It would be a really ridiculous coincidence if there is active shelling and then suddenly an IED [improvised explosive device] goes off."

    The military have admitted firing earlier in the area but now say that the explosion occurred between 4.47 and 5.10pm, when it says firing had stopped. An ambulance driver from the nearby al-Awda hospital, Khaled Abu Sada, said that he first took a call about the emergency at 4.50pm.

    The military did not explicitly repeat claims in earlier leaks that Hamas had planted the device or say whether it was a dud shell. It says that shrapnel taken from the bodies of victims being treated in Israeli hospitals was not from a 150mm shell.

    But Mr Garlasco said that copper-lined shrapnel taken from two injured girls who had been in a car at the time of the blast and from the car itself were consistent with such a shell fired by a M109 howitzer.

    Mr Garlasco ruled out the possibility that the shells were naval, as originally thought, on the grounds that they were too large to be fired from Israeli navy coastal vessels.

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     Monday, June 12, 2006

    Where is the Outrage of US and Western Powers on the Killing of Innocent Palestinians on North Gaza Beach by Israel ?

      US Administration's disgraceful response to this dastardly act by the Israeli army on the killing of innocent Palestinians on the North Gaza Beach is a good reflection of the White House's hypocrisy in handling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    Read here original article

    After two days of Israeli attacks, at least 17 Palestinians were killed.

    Among the dead were six members of the Ghalia family, including a father, mother and three children, two of them infants.

    Houda and her 11 brothers and sisters were enjoying a day in the sun with their father, who had promised them a picnic if they passed their end-of-year exams.

    Hearing Israeli warning fire, the family quickly packed up.

    They were waiting for a taxi when the explosive landed, she said.

    Houda's father, Ali, was killed with five of her brothers and sisters — one an 18-month-old — her father's second wife and one other person who was not related to them.

    Her mother and five other children from the family were wounded. Three of the children are being treated in Israeli hospitals.

    Israel expressed regret Saturday for the killing of eight civilians, but stopped short of taking responsibility.

    Pounding on the sand, Houda Ghalia shrieked for her father after he was killed with five of her siblings at a seaside picnic by what Palestinians said was an Israeli shell.

    Footage of the 10-year-old screaming "Father! Father!" has played over and over again on television, driving home the devastating impact of what Palestinian leaders are calling "genocidal" and "a war crime."

    One of the only members of her family to emerge unscathed, Houda was left questioning her fate.

    "What have I done wrong that I should have to live without my parents?" the girl asked AP Television News, surrounded by teary-eyed female relatives dressed in black.

    Hadeel, Ali Ghalia's daughter from his second wife, is hospitalized in Gaza with shrapnel wounds. She still has not been told that she lost both her parents and her six-month-old brother.

    "Hadeel is now an orphan," said Nasreen Ghalia, the girl's aunt. "We want nothing from (the Israelis.) We just want them to leave us alone."

    Moderate President Mahmoud Abbas opened a speech on Saturday by paying tribute to Houda's ordeal.

    Abbas asked:

    "What is the crime that she committed while she was watching her family being killed on the beach and screaming?

    Who is responsible for such acts and why are such acts being committed against innocent people?"
    Later, Abbas met Houda in his office in Gaza, shedding a tear as he stroked her hair.

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     Sunday, June 11, 2006

    Hypocrisy of American Politics and Justice for Crimes by American Soldiers : Case Study of My Lai (Vietnam) Massacre

      Read here original article by William F. Buckley, Jr


    "It remains a basic truth of human nature that a uniform is all that many men need to dissociate themselves from the evil they commit."
    - Christopher Levenick
    We hope day by day that the facts will become plain as to what occurred at Haditha in November.

    But this isn't happening.

    We read that 24 Iraqi civilians were killed by U.S. Marines in blood lust, the Marines reacting to the killing of a beloved member of their unit by a roadside bomb.

    There is this confusion having to do with the facts. Somebody killed those Iraqi civilians, including women and children.

    We turn to April 7, 1971.

    It is the aftermath of the court-martial of Lt. William L. Calley Jr., who was in command of the platoon in Vietnam that slaughtered dozens, perhaps hundreds, of civilians in the little village of My Lai,Vietnam.

    The court-martial began two years AFTER Richard Nixon had been elected president.

    The news of what seemed to be cold-blooded murder was arresting, gripping the American conscience, demanding to know how to square the American deed in Vietnam with the American ideals that sent us to Vietnam.

    There was immediate dismay over the court-martial verdict that the Pentagon sent out a "white paper" explaining what had been done.

    The United States' subscription to the Geneva Convention required courts-martial against the 13 defendants, i.e., soldiers concerning whom there was evidence that they had engaged in knowingly firing at civilians, or had ordered others to do so.

  • Charges were dismissed against 10 of the 13 on the grounds that there was not enough direct evidence.

  • Three went to trial, and two of them were acquitted.

  • Only Lt. Calley was convicted. "In the case of Lt. Calley," the report said, "we had an overwhelming body of evidence."
  • What then happened has NO parallel in U.S. history.

    Calley was sentenced to life imprisonment, dismissal from the Army, and forfeiture of pay and privileges.

    That set off pandemonium.

    1. Vice President Spiro Agnew criticized the entire proceeding on the grounds that military operations "are not subject to Monday morning quarterback judgments."

    2. Attorney General John Mitchell said, "Personally, I have a great deal of concern about the total picture as it relates not only to (Calley) but to others."

    3. Indiana Gov. Edgar D. Whitcomb, a decorated World War II veteran, ordered all state flags flown at half-staff to protest the verdict.

    4. Gov. Jimmy Carter of Georgia proclaimed April 5 "American Fighting Man's Day," and urged Georgia motorists to drive all week with their headlights on.

    5. Gov. Calvin L. Rampton of Utah regarded the verdict as "inappropriate and the sentence as excessive."

    6. Gov. George Wallace actually went to Fort Benning to converse with Calley. Wallace believed that Nixon should grant Calley a full pardon.
    Which ... Nixon just about did.

    He asserted authority over the proceedings, on the grounds that as commander in chief, he had ultimate responsibility for convening courts-martial. He then said that he would review the court's findings, and meanwhile Lt. Calley could stay at Fort Benning and return to his base apartment, with a single guard.

    President Nixon wanted a good long time to "weigh" the Calley case.

    The Army prosecutor, Capt. Aubrey M. Daniel III, was feverishly resentful. He had presented evidence of the premeditated murder of those South Vietnamese civilians ...

    Coming back to Haditha, Iraq, 2006.

    Is the American public refusing to believe the story of what allegedly happened at Haditha? On the grounds that Americans simply could not be guilty of such acts? Surely what happened reflected not base instincts, but chaos and anarchy?

    In a brilliant essay in National Review, Christopher Levenick of the American Enterprise Institute reviews "My Battle of Algiers," by Ted Morgan, recalling the bestiality of that wretched war. And yet French soldiers who committed torture routinely went on to successful careers.

    Levenick wrote:

    "Indeed, it is not uncommon to learn that such men are capable of living out the rest of their lives without any sense of guilt for their actions.

    It remains a basic truth of human nature that a uniform is all that many men need to dissociate themselves from the evil they commit."

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     Saturday, June 10, 2006

    Israel Stoked the Fires of Palestinian-Israeli Conflict.... Again!


    Other Breaking News
  • The ruling Hamas group fired a barrage of homemade rockets at Israel on Saturday, hours after calling off a truce with Israel in anger over an artillery attack that killed seven civilians at a beachside picnic in the Gaza.The end of the truce raised the prospect of a new wave of bloodshed and the resumption of suicide attacks that Hamas had suspended since reaching the cease-fire in February 2005.

    The Islamic militant group claimed responsibility for at least 15 of the rockets fired after midnight, as well as a barrage of mortar bombs. The attacks caused no casualties, and the Israeli army said nearly all of them appeared to land inside Gaza. Read >here for more

  • Read here full article and HERE

    Israeli naval boats gunship fired three shells at the beach of the town of Beit Lahia in northern Gaza Strip, killing at least 12 Palestinians and wounding fifty others, many of them are in serious conditions.

    Eyewitnesses said that they saw the bodies of the dead people on the sands of Beit Lahia beach, adding that dozens of people were wounded while children were crying and screaming.

    The witnesses said that seven people of the 12 killed are from the same family, including the mother and an 18-month-old baby boy.

    At least 15 Palestinians were killed and dozens of others wounded on Friday afternoon in fresh Israeli army air and sea military offensives on northern Gaza Strip, paramedics, witnesses and security sources said.

    Dozens of ambulances arrived at the beach and carried the bodies of the dead and the other wounded to northern Gaza Strip hospitals, most of them are men and children, they said.

    Meanwhile, Israeli reconnaissance drones carried out three different airstrikes at two cars and at a group of militants, killing three Palestinians and wounding five others, Palestinian security sources and witnesses reported.

    The sources said that an Israeli drone had first fired one rocket at a group of militant, members of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and critically wounded two militants.

    The rest of the militants escaped in a car that drove in northern Gaza Strip, but the drone kept following the car and attacked it by two rockets, killing at least three militants, added the sources.

    A third fresh airstrike carried out also by an Israeli drone against a Palestinian car that also drove in northern Gaza Strip, where initial reports said that two militants at least were injured in the airstrike.

    Hamas's armed wing vowed on Friday to renew attacks on Israel hours after Israeli attacks were reported to have killed 10 Palestinian civilians, in a move that would end a truce the militant group declared last year.

    "The Israeli massacres represent a direct opening battle and that means the earthquake in the Zionist cities will resume and the herds of occupiers have no choice but to prepare the coffins or the departing luggage," the group said in a statement.

    There was no immediate comment from Hamas's political leadership

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    Are Americans Dying for Peace and Freedom ?


    Charley Reese
    (Charley Reese has been a journalist for 49 years, reporting on everything from sports to politics. From 1969-71, he worked as a campaign staffer for gubernatorial, senatorial and congressional races in several states. He was an editor, assistant to the publisher, and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel from 1971 to 2001. Reese served two years active duty in the U.S. Army as a tank gunner. )

    Read here full article


    "I'm getting tired of hearing politicians and generals talk about Americans dying for peace and freedom.

    The main breaker of the peace in recent years has been the United States. "
    -Charley Reese

    Since 1945, no nation on Earth has either declared war against us or attacked us. We intervened in a Korean civil war, a Vietnamese civil war and a Lebanese civil war, and we have gotten men killed to remove political leaders our political leaders didn't like (Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan, Iraq).

    I can't think of a logical reason why we bombed Serbia, the only Balkan country that fought on our side in two world wars, unless it was because the Bosnians hired a better public-relations firm.

    A Muslim fanatic, Osama bin Laden, has declared war on us, but he does not have a nation, a government or an army. He sent 19 young men against us. They penetrated our multibillion-dollar intelligence and defense apparatus and hijacked and crashed four airplanes, killing themselves in the process.

    That was five years, two American invasions and a quarter of a trillion dollars ago, and we still have not found bin Laden, who is a very tall man hiding among short people.

    For five years, we've offered a $25 million reward for bin Laden, and in areas where poverty is unbelievable by our standards, there has not been one single taker.

    What does that tell you?

    It tells you that to the Afghans and the tribal people in the border area, bin Laden is a hero. They like him. They don't like us.

    The blood of this nation's sons and daughters is the most precious treasure it has. It is dishonorable to spend that treasure for any reason but the defense of the United States and its people.

    It is unconstitutional to send them to war without a formal declaration of war by Congress.

    The last time that happened was in 1941. It is despicable to send them to war based on lies.

    President Bush let the cat out of the bag in his recent speech at West Point. He didn't talk about world terrorism. He talked about reshaping the Middle East, a fool's errand if ever there were one.

    Our precious people are not dying for peace and freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    They are dying for corporate profits and to make the Middle East a safer place for Israel.

    The only people who are dying for freedom are the Iraqis and the Afghans who want to free their countries of our presence.

    It is perhaps that cynical attitude on the part of the politicians that is responsible for turning the Memorial Day concert in Washington into a patriotic rally and booster night for the military services.

    That is inappropriate.

    To honor survivors of the wars, we have Veterans Day. For patriotic rallies, we have the Fourth of July. To celebrate the military services, we have Armed Forces Day.

    Memorial Day is for the dead, for those men and women whose military service put them in the ground or under the sea.

    It is a day to remember the dead and to honor their sacrifice, because regardless of the war in which they died, they all died believing they were serving their country.

    Ceremonies for Memorial Day should be solemn and reverential.

    It seems to me that we the living have an obligation to those dead.

    One is to make sure the country they died for remains worth dying for.
    Two, make sure the civilian leaders are worthy of the young men and women they might put in harm's way
    To allow a bunch of corrupt liars and incompetents to feed our youth into the meat grinder of war for hidden and frivolous reasons dishonors both the dead and the living.

    It's been said that a patriot loves the land and the people, and a nationalist loves the government. That is something to think about. The government is not our country; it is only one aspect of it.

    Plenty of American heroes don't wear uniforms or carry guns. The work of America is not done in Washington, and every politician in the Senate, the House and the White House is a temporary worker whom the people can fire if they so choose.

    A lot of those "temps" deserve to be fired, and the people can start this November by dumping incumbents wholesale.

    Now that would be a fitting Memorial Day tribute.

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    UN Deputy Sec.Gen. Mark Malloch Brown Hits Back at US: " STOP SNIPING AT THE UN"


    Other Breaking News
  • Mr Malloch Brown told a conference in New York that " the prevailing [US] practice of seeking to use the UN almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics is simply not sustainable. You will lose the UN one way or another." Washington, he said, was too happy to tolerate "too much unchecked UN-bashing and stereotyping". Mr Malloch Brown told reporters after his speech. "You [the US] have to engage to help make this institution a better institution. And you need to engage, if I dare say so, with your own public opinion to explain better why the UN matters to American interests." He argued that good news about the UN rarely reached the US. "Much of the public discourse that reaches the US heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. The UN's role is in effect a secret in middle America even as it is highlighted in the Middle East and other parts of the world," he said. Read here for more


    Question: This speech that you gave, you probably knew that it would provoke a confrontation. Why now, when the United Nations is in the throes of such a big crisis, financial crisis? Why are you provoking this confrontation?

    The Deputy Secretary-General: Well I think that is exactly why. You’re right, the speech was very, very carefully worked. I struggled with every word of it, and some of you know that I normally only speak spontaneously from notes. But I felt this was something very important to say and to say now, because we are in crisis. And I don’t need to tell any of you that I’ve been deeply criticized by the G-77 (“Group of 77” developing countries) over the recent months for telling them that they, too, need to get their house in order, and engage around this reform agenda. But you know it takes two sides to make a bargain, and to me it was enormously important to deliver that call to my American friends. But to do it in a way -- and this is where, I’m sure you all have, but I really do urge you to read the speech -- to do it in a way which is not, I don’t think can possibly be characterized as anti-US, but which is intended as a very pro-US speech in that its central point is an appeal for more consistent public leadership by the United States in the United States in the United Nations.

    And it is a critique not just of this Administration, but of Administrations going all the way back to [Harry] Truman, although, in my delivery of it, Ted Sorensen sort of made a pitch [that] maybe [John] Kennedy should be exempted from this. It has been very hard for Administrations to stand up and publicly avow the extraordinary use they make of the United Nations. And so that was the appeal which was, engage here, engage consistently, and go out and engage with the American public to say the UN matters. And, you know, for the life of me I can’t understand how that can be construed as an anti-American speech.

    Question: Maybe it is not anti-American, but it is definitely not pro-American. It is also confrontational because you are picking up issues where you know it would have provoked such a reaction from the United States. The question is, why at this juncture?

    The Deputy Secretary-General: I don’t need to tell you, the men and women of the press here, that this Organization is slipping towards a very serious crisis. We have a budget gap which expires at the end of June. We have two sides to the debate talking past each other, not engaging in finding solutions. And as someone who has devoted most of his working life to the UN and to international organizations in different ways, I feel very, very strongly that we have to stand up and appeal for engagement, sanity, by both sides. And this was part of that strategy. And, as I say, it is a balanced strategy because, as you know, the G-77 thinks that I’ve been a little bit of a pain in the neck for demanding the same of them too.

    Question: Mr. Deputy Secretary-General, do you believe that the statements and ideas that you spelled out in the speech are notions that are commonly shared by diplomats, ambassadors, people who study the UN, but no one else has really had the courage, or forthrightness, to speak about it openly for fear of exactly the type of response you got from Ambassador Bolton?

    The Deputy Secretary-General: Well, you know, you move in the same diplomatic circles that I do. I think it has been a dynamic of the UN for a very long time -- this desire to see America lead, and yet at the same time frustration when the leadership is not always felt to be there. So you know, I certainly think I was speaking to views which are much more widely held than by me alone.

    Question: As a freelancer in this Building for 16 years for both American and British papers, I’ve had a hard time getting American editors interested in stories from here. Aren’t you giving the press a pass there? Because it is not the Government. The Government does set the agenda to an extent making speeches, but should we be blaming the Administration for not trumpeting their involvement with the UN and middle America? But American papers are not interested in running stories, and there is some independence from the Government supposedly.

    The Deputy Secretary-General: Well, look, I think you have a fair point and you know after all we have lots of press officers here and in the Funds and Programmes like UNDP, who are also trying to push those stories. But, you know, I used in the Q&A after the speech the example of the Marshall Plan. When the Marshall Plan was launched, it was not popular with American popular opinion. American soldiers had just come back from the exhausting war with many losses, and the Americans, less than others, but still significantly, had borne the cost of a huge war and suddenly America’s leaders turned around and said we need to invest significantly abroad. And the way that happened was, you know, General Marshall himself, President Truman, but also people like Averell Harriman, barnstorming America to build support.

    And I think the UN is always going to be a difficult sell in America. And that is why I say it is a bipartisan issue. I was not signalling out Republicans. I think, for any Administration, it is always a bit of a hot potato, kind of easier to not deal with, because it does provoke a lot of negativism in certain parts of the country. But, you know, my point is, now more than ever with the emerging new global security order of global warming, of illegal immigration, of drugs and crime, of terrorism, America needs a global foreign policy. And the UN is a critical part of that.

    And, you know, this was not a speech addressed to America at large. Your attention today shows that it has become that, but it was a speech addressed to foreign policy makers and political leaders to say, look, both parties, you’re going to need us more than ever. Therefore, you have to engage to help make this institution a better institution. And you need to engage, if I dare say so, with your own public opinion to explain better why the UN matters to American interests. And, you know, that was the message and it was not intended to be either partisan or provocative in the way it seemed.

    Question: Aren’t you picking on Fox because the rest of the media ignores the UN?

    The Deputy Secretary-General: We’ll let Fox News ask their own question.

    Question: Why did you, Mr. Malloch Brown, why did you single out Fox News for criticism? And also, after you answer that question, what sort of response are you giving to Ambassador Bolton who is obviously outraged by your speech?

    The Deputy Secretary-General: Well, on the first -- flattery. I praised you last year for the strength of your investigative reporting and I stand by that, and you know probably, like everyone else here, I’m a heavy user of Fox News. I proudly appeared on Chris Wallace’s show and I’ve had more calls on that appearance than almost anything else that I’ve done. I have many, like any one else, many favourite commentators, and some less so, in the Fox stable.

    But, you know, Fox, in addition to being a very strong reporting enterprise, is one with a strong editorial line. And, you know, I actually think there are alternative points of views. So actually if you read, it was not criticism of Fox, it was just saying, get alternative points of view out there. Why is the rest of the media, and those who talk to the rest of the media, not doing a better job of engaging the debate with an alternative editorial point of view on how we do?

    And so, I suppose I’m going to pay you a further tribute, which, no doubt, I will live to regret, Jonathan. You know, for better or worse, Fox has become one of those terms, like you have a Sony, not a walkman, you send a FedEx not a package, and, for better or worse, to a sophisticated policy audience, it’s a symbol of things beyond just Fox and what it does. But if you somehow think it is inappropriate, was improper to say it, and you’ve read what I said, and somehow do feel it was an attack on Fox, my apologies. Because it certainly wasn’t intended as that.

    Question: The interpretation, having read it several times, and among colleagues, and what not, is that, yes indeed, Fox was singled out for criticism, and takes the brunt of criticism for having criticized problems at the United Nations that certainly the American public and taxpayers want to get corrected.

    The Deputy Secretary-General: Let me just be clear. And again to the point that Fox has, as I have acknowledged much more openly I expect than any other UN official, Fox has broken stories, and very good stories in a news sense. They haven’t always made my life easier, but they’ve been fair stories, fair scoops. But that doesn’t mean that I should be happy with your editorial line being the only one heard. It is a reflection of my respect for its power that I am encouraging others to get out there and have stories about the UN, as well.

    Question: Taking your point that it was not an anti-US speech, it is being seen that way certainly in Washington, certainly by Ambassador Bolton this morning, who went further and said he thought it was illegitimate of you to be criticizing the American public. You were patronizing them, etcetera, etcetera. My question is, will you have, have you had, any direct communication with Mr. Bolton or another member of the US Government? And if you haven’t, will you?

    The Deputy Secretary-General: Oh, I have no doubt. As I said in the speech, my job requires me to be in contact with the American Government, both through the Mission here and the State Department. But on this, we have talked to a member of the Mission about it. I have not talked to John Bolton. He has talked to the Secretary-General about it, as I think he said this morning. So it is evident we haven’t heard the last on this. But, you know, again, Warren if you will forgive me, you did a good job of reporting my speech, but my impression was that, perhaps, at least when he first spoke to this, he had read your article and not the speech. And, as I say, I think the speech speaks very well for itself in a balanced position which does not deserve the characterizations it was given this morning.

    Question: I think that Ambassador Bolton, in a curious way, has done you a favour here by elevating your speech to a level that it may not have reached otherwise, which then allows you to have an ear in Washington that you might not otherwise have had.

    The Deputy Secretary-General: I think, as I argued in the speech, we have tremendously good relations with the State Department and Secretary [Condoleezza] Rice. I don’t argue in the speech, but it is the case, we have lots of open doors on Capitol Hill and I think all those open doors will be as open as ever. The worry for me is that the reaction to the speech will polarize things in Washington, and this was not meant to be a polarizing speech.

    Let’s step back here, this is the senior official who is routinely described, in fact, was described as I was introduced to speak yesterday, as the most pro-American senior UN official, one who has taken other stakeholders here to task. So I think it is incumbent on everybody to step back and say, why would such an individual give a speech like this? And I hope that that is what will remain from this speech, which was a call from a friend to think hard about how the US could handle the UN better.

    Question: Ambassador Bolton said this morning that the UN could be the victim if the Secretary-General doesn’t repudiate your remarks, and I’m wondering what you would take that to mean, and if that worries you?

    The Deputy Secretary-General: This is a time where it is important that truth be spoken, and that everybody understands each other, and you know, I think this speech -- I hope -- will contribute to that. And, you know, the Secretary-General is not going to repudiate me. As Steph said in his comments at noon, these are issues for those trying to steer this ship -- the UN -- towards safe harbour.

    We have to speak to these very threatening storms that surround this Organization, and I don’t want to look back in a few months’ time to have some kind of shipwreck over this budget issue, and to be accused of not having spoken up and warned people that we face a very difficult moment in this Organization’s life.

    Question: Would you say that you wanted to encourage a certain editorial position as opposed to that of Fox News, and you also mentioned Rush Limbaugh? The editorials are affiliated with political ideas. Don’t you think that, in a way, you are? You said you don’t want to polarize, but don’t you think that you are playing American politics by doing that and that it is actually violating the UN staff rules, I would say?

    The Deputy Secretary-General: I was just trying to get the [ New York] Sun to go national.

    Let me just say that I don’t think so. My point is about choice, and in terms of ideas about the UN, and obviously trying to promote better stories about, better support for the UN in that discussion across the country, and I think there is plenty of bipartisan support for that. I do not think the UN has to be a partisan issue, and my greatest regret would be, if the speech contributed to that, because this was an appeal to the Republicans, and in fact the closing oration of the speech came back to the name Vandenberg, and John Foster Dulles, precisely because this mustn’t be partisan.

    This must be about what always is American foreign policy at its best -- a bipartisan understanding that the UN matters to the US, and that the UN, without a strong US involvement, is a completely handicapped institution. But to secure that investment of US leadership, you have to speak up for it, that it’s not an institution whose capital can be sustained without a strong political investment in talking up the case for the Organization.

    Question: Isn’t the problem that you are too closely identified, as the UN Deputy Secretary-General, with the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Party establishment? You were chosen for the Chief of Staff originally in the meeting that was held in the house of former [ US] Ambassador Dick Holbrooke. You live in a house of George Soros, who is a major Democratic donor. You were speaking yesterday to a group that was basically former Clinton administration officials. Isn’t it you who is polarizing the debate, and making the UN aligned with one political faction in the United States? Not only one political faction, but the faction that happens not to be in power at the moment. Isn’t that undermining the UN?

    The Deputy Secretary-General: They happen to be the people who had asked me to this speech, but if you were to look at the speeches I have in the past given to AEI [the American Enterprise Institute], or to others, you will show that I am a genuinely bipartisan animal who will go wherever I have to go to make the case for the UN.

    I don’t consider myself aligned with any American political establishment. I am British. I have worked in the UN and in international jobs all of my life. I just don’t accept that characterization. But as I have said before, the one area where I would feel that this speech had failed was if, indeed, it was characterized as partisan, because that was not the purpose of it.

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     Friday, June 09, 2006

    Must Read !! The UN Speech that Really Angered the Bush Administration


    Other Breaking News
  • AMERICA’S bitter dispute with the United Nations escalated last night when John Bolton, the US envoy to the UN, threatened to withhold funding to the organisation unless it apologised for the remarks of a senior British official. Speaking at the Centre for Policy Studies in London, Mr Bolton assailed Mark Malloch Brown, the British Deputy UN Secretary-General, for the disparaging remarks he made about the American public this week. “Mark Malloch Brown has a sentence in his speech where he says the role of the UN is a mystery in Middle America,” he said. Read here for more

  • Bolton's threatening response are the words of a bully. He's like those kids in junior high who would steal your lunch money--and still beat you up. At least where I went to junior high (in Farmington, New Mexico) the shocking behavior got old, the fear got tiresome and underneath the smiles and cafeteria banter, everyone loathed the bullies, suspected every motive and tried hard not to be assigned to their homework team. Brown was just pointing out the obvious political angle (something that very few of the SPI conference speakers did, unfortunately) That our self-centeredness over the past five years has cost us lots of political capital with our friends and handed us years of damage control with our challengers. Read here for more

  • John R. Bolton, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called on Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Wednesday to repudiate "personally and publicly" the critical remarks a senior official made about the United States. Annan turned aside the challenge. Calling the matter "very, very grave," Bolton said he had made the demand in a morning phone call in which he had told the secretary-general, "I've known you since 1989, and I'm telling you this is the worst mistake by a senior U.N. official that I have seen in that entire time." The official, Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown, took the United States to task in a speech in New York on Tuesday, saying Washington had failed to stand up for the United Nations and had let its harshest detractors go unanswered. Responding to Bolton on Wednesday, Annan's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said: "The secretary-general stands by the deputy secretary-general and agrees with the thrust of the speech. This is not a criticism of the United States; it is a call for greater U.S. involvement in the U.N." Read here for more

  • “Power and Super-Power: Global Leadership in the Twenty-First Century”


    United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown
    (Read here profile of Mark Malloch Brown)

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    Mark Malloch Brown has served as Chef de Cabinet to the Secretary-General since January 2005. In that position, he has worked closely with the Secretary-General and the Deputy-Secretary General on all aspects of UN work, including helping to set out an ambitious reform agenda for the United Nations, much of which was endorsed by world leaders at the World Summit in New York last September.

    Prior to becoming Chef de Cabinet, Mr. Malloch Brown served as Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UN's global development network, from July 1999 to August 2005. During that time, he was also the Chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of the heads of all UN funds, programmes and departments working on development.

    A British citizen, Mr. Malloch Brown received a First Class Honour’s Degree in History from Magdalene College, Cambridge University, and a Master's Degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan, and is the recipient of a number of honorary degrees and awards. Aged 52, he is married with four children.

    Speech delivered at the Century Foundation and Center for American Progress -- Security and Peace Initiative, in New York, on 6 June 2006

    Click here to read speech on UN Website

    Thank you for allowing me to speak to you today on Power and Global Leadership. I often get asked to talk about leadership, but rarely about power. I wonder why.

    With that thought as my starting point, I am going to give what might be regarded as a rather un-UN speech. Some of the themes -- that the United Nations is misunderstood and does much more than its critics allow -- are probably not surprising. But my underlying message, which is a warning about the serious consequences of a decades-long tendency by US Administrations of both parties to engage only fitfully with the UN, is not one a sitting United Nations official would normally make to an audience like this.

    But I feel it is a message that urgently needs to be aired. And as someone who has spent most of his adult life in this country, only a part of it at the UN, I hope you will take it in the spirit in which it is meant: as a sincere and constructive critique of US policy towards the UN by a friend and admirer. Because the fact is that the prevailing practice of seeking to use the UN almost by stealth as a diplomatic tool while failing to stand up for it against its domestic critics is simply not sustainable. You will lose the UN one way or another.

    Founders’ Vision

    Multilateral compromise has always been difficult to justify in the American political debate: too many speeches, too many constraints, too few results. Yet it was not meant to be so.

    The all-moral-idealism-no-power institution was the League of Nations. The UN was explicitly designed through US leadership and the ultimate coalition of the willing, its World War II allies, as a very different creature, an antidote to the League’s failure. At the UN’s core was to be an enforceable concept of collective security protected by the victors of that war, combined with much more practical efforts to promote global values such as human rights and democracy.

    Underpinning this new approach was a judgement that no President since Truman has felt able to repeat: that for the world’s one super-Power -- arguably more super in 1946 than 2006 -- managing global security and development issues through the network of a United Nations was worth the effort. Yes it meant the give and take of multilateral bargaining, but any dilution of American positions was more than made up for by the added clout of action that enjoyed global support.

    Today, we are coming to the end of the 10-year term of arguably the UN’s best-ever Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. But some of his very successes -- promoting human rights and a responsibility to protect people from abuse by their own Governments; creating a new status for civil society and business at the UN -- are either not recognized or have come under steady attacks from anti-UN groups.

    To take just one example, 10 years ago UN peacekeeping seemed almost moribund in the aftermath of tragic mistakes in Rwanda, Somalia and Yugoslavia. Today, the UN fields 18 peacekeeping operations around the world, from the Congo to Haiti, Sudan to Sierra Leone, Southern Lebanon to Liberia, with an annual cost that is at a bargain bin price compared to other US-led operations. And the US pays roughly one quarter of those UN peacekeeping costs -- just over $1 billion this year.

    That figure should be seen in the context of estimates by both the GAO and RAND Corporation that UN peacekeeping, while lacking heavy armament enforcement capacity, helps to maintain peace -- when there is a peace to keep -- more effectively for a lot less than comparable US operations. Multilateral peacekeeping is effective cost-sharing on a much lower cost business model and it works.

    That is as it should be and is true for many other areas the UN system works in, too, from humanitarian relief to health to education. Yet for many policymakers and opinion leaders in Washington, let alone the general public, the roles I have described are hardly believed or, where they are, remain discreetly underplayed. To acknowledge an America reliant on international institutions is not perceived to be good politics at home.

    However, inevitably a moment of truth is coming. Because even as the world’s challenges are growing, the UN’s ability to respond is being weakened without US leadership.

    Take the issue of human rights.

    When Eleanor Roosevelt took the podium at the UN to argue passionately for the elaboration of a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the world responded. Today, when the human rights machinery was renewed with the formation of a Human Rights Council to replace the discredited Commission on Human Rights, and the US chose to stay on the sidelines, the loss was everybody’s.

    I hope and believe the new Council will prove itself to be a stronger and more effective body than its predecessor. But there is no question that the US decision to call for a vote in order to oppose it in the General Assembly, and then to not run for a seat after it was approved by 170 votes to 4, makes the challenge more difficult.

    More broadly, Americans complain about the UN’s bureaucracy, weak decision-making, the lack of accountable modern management structures and the political divisions of the General Assembly here in New York. And my response is, “guilty on all counts”.

    But why?

    In significant part because the US has not stuck with its project -- its professed wish to have a strong, effective United Nations -- in a systematic way. Secretary Albright and others here today have played extraordinary leadership roles in US-UN relations, for which I salute them. But in the eyes of the rest of the world, US commitment tends to ebb much more than it flows. And in recent years, the enormously divisive issue of Iraq and the big stick of financial withholding have come to define an unhappy marriage.

    As someone who deals with Washington almost daily, I know this is unfair to the very real effort all three Secretaries of State I have worked with –- Secretary Albright, Secretary Powell and Secretary Rice -– put into UN issues. And today, on a very wide number of areas, from Lebanon and Afghanistan to Syria, Iran and the Palestinian issue, the US is constructively engaged with the UN. But that is not well known or understood, in part because much of the public discourse that reaches the US heartland has been largely abandoned to its loudest detractors such as Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. That is what I mean by “stealth” diplomacy: the UN’s role is in effect a secret in Middle America even as it is highlighted in the Middle East and other parts of the world.

    Exacerbating matters is the widely held perception, even among many US allies, that the US tends to hold on to maximalist positions when it could be finding middle ground.

    We can see this even on apparently non-controversial issues such as renovating the dilapidated UN Headquarters in New York. While an architectural landmark, the building falls dangerously short of city codes, lacks sprinklers, is filled with asbestos and is in most respects the most hazardous workplace in town. But the only Government not fully supporting the project is the US. Too much unchecked UN-bashing and stereotyping over too many years -- manifest in a fear by politicians to be seen to be supporting better premises for overpaid, corrupt UN bureaucrats -- makes even refurbishing a building a political hot potato.

    Making Reform Work

    One consequence is that, like the building itself, the vital renewal of the Organization, the updating of its mission, its governance and its management tools, is addressed only intermittently. And when the US does champion the right issues like management reform, as it is currently doing, it provokes more suspicion than support.

    Last December, for example, largely at US insistence, instead of a normal two-year budget, Member States approved only six months’ worth of expenditure -- a period which ends on June 30. Developing and developed countries, the latter with the US at the fore, are now at loggerheads over whether sufficient reform has taken place to lift that cap, or indeed whether there should be any links between reform and the budget. Without agreement, we could face a fiscal crisis very soon.

    There has been a significant amount of reform over the last 18 months, from the creation of a new Ethics Office and whistle-blower policy, to the establishment of a new Peacebuilding Commission and Human Rights Council. But not enough.

    The unfinished management reform agenda, which the US sensibly supports, is in many ways a statement of the obvious. It argues that systems and processes designed 60 years ago for an organization largely devoted to running conferences and writing reports simply don’t work for today’s operational UN, which conducts multibillion-dollar peacekeeping missions, humanitarian relief operations and other complex operations all over the world. The report sets out concrete proposals for how this can be fixed while also seeking to address the broader management, oversight and accountability weaknesses highlighted by the “oil-for-food” programme.

    One day soon we must address the massive gap between the scale of world issues and the limits of the institutions we have built to address them. However, today even relatively modest proposals that in any other organization would be seen as uncontroversial, such as providing more authority and flexibility for the Secretary-General to shift posts and resources to organizational priorities without having to get direct approval from Member States, have been fiercely resisted by the G-77, the main group of developing countries, on the grounds that this weakens accountability. Hence the current deadlock.

    What lies behind this?

    It is not because most developing countries don’t want reform. To be sure, a few spoilers do seem to be opposed to reform for its own sake, and there is no question that some countries are seeking to manipulate the process for their own ends with very damaging consequences. But in practice, the vast majority is fully supportive of the principle of a better run, more effective UN; indeed they know they would be the primary beneficiaries, through more peace, and more development.

    So why has it not so far been possible to isolate the radicals and build a strong alliance of reform-minded nations to push through this agenda?

    I would argue that the answer lies in questions about motives and power.

    Motives, in that, very unfortunately, there is currently a perception among many otherwise quite moderate countries that anything the US supports must have a secret agenda aimed at either subordinating multilateral processes to Washington’s ends or weakening the institutions, and therefore, put crudely, should be opposed without any real discussion of whether they make sense or not.

    And power, that in two different ways revolves around perceptions of the role and representativeness of the Security Council.

    First, in that there has been a real, understandable hostility by the wider membership to the perception that the Security Council, in particular the five permanent members, is seeking a role in areas not formally within its remit, such as management issues or human rights.

    Second, an equally understandable conviction that those five, veto-wielding permanent members who happen to be the victors in a war fought 60 years ago, cannot be seen as representative of today’s world -- even when looking through the lens of financial contributions. Indeed, the so-called G-4 of Security Council aspirants -- Japan, India, Brazil and Germany -- contribute twice as much as the P-4, the four permanent members excluding the U.S.

    Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged exactly this point on his trip to Washington last month, and it is something which does need to be addressed. More broadly, the very reasonable concerns of the full UN membership that the fundamental multilateral principle that each Member State’s vote counts equally in the wider work of the UN needs to be acknowledged and accommodated within a broader framework of reform. If the multilateral system is to work effectively, all States need to feel they have a real stake.

    New Global Challenges

    But a stake in what system?

    The US -- like every nation, strong and weak alike -- is today beset by problems that defy national, inside-the-border solutions: climate change, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, migration, the management of the global economy, the internationalization of drugs and crime, the spread of diseases such as HIV and avian flu. Today’s new national security challenges basically thumb their noses at old notions of national sovereignty. Security has gone global, and no country can afford to neglect the global institutions needed to manage it.

    Kofi Annan has proposed a restructuring of the UN to respond to these new challenges with three legs: development, security and human rights supported, like any good chair, by a fourth leg, reformed management. That is the UN we want to place our bet on. But for it to work, we need the US to support this agenda -- and support it not just in a whisper but in a coast to coast shout that pushes back the critics domestically and wins over the sceptics internationally. America’s leaders must again say the UN matters.

    When you talk better national education scores, you don’t start with “I support the Department of Education”. Similarly for the UN it starts with politicians who will assert the US is going to engage with the world to tackle climate change, poverty, immigration and terrorism. Stand up for that agenda consistently and allow the UN to ride on its coat-tails as a vital means of getting it done. It also means a sustained inside-the-tent diplomacy at the UN. No more “take it or leave it”, red-line demands thrown in without debate and engagement.

    Let me close with a few words on Darfur to make my point.

    A few weeks ago, my kids were on the Mall in Washington, demanding President Bush to do more to end the genocide in Darfur and President Bush wants to do more. I’d bet some of your kids were there as well. Perhaps you were, too. And yet what can the US do alone in the heart of Africa, in a region the size of France? A place where the Government in Khartoum is convinced the US wants to extend the hegemony it is thought to have asserted in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    In essence, the US is stymied before it even passes “Go”. It needs the UN as a multilateral means to address Sudan’s concerns. It needs the UN to secure a wide multicultural array of troop and humanitarian partners. It needs the UN to provide the international legitimacy that Iraq has again proved is an indispensable component to success on the ground. Yet, the UN needs its first parent, the US, every bit as much if it is to deploy credibly in one of the world’s nastiest neighbourhoods.

    Back in Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt’s day, building a strong, effective UN that could play this kind of role was a bipartisan enterprise, with the likes of Arthur Vandenberg and John Foster Dulles joining Democrats to support the new body. Who are their successors in American politics? Who will campaign in 2008 for a new multilateral national security?

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     Thursday, June 08, 2006

    IRAQ: Photos Showed US Marines Guilty Like Hell for Haditha Massacre


    Jamie McIntyre

    Read here full article

    The most incriminating evidence against Marines under investigation in the deaths of civilians at Haditha is a set of photographs taken by another group of Marines who came along afterward and helped clean up the scene.

    Pentagon sources say the 30 images of men, women and children are some of the strongest evidence that, in some cases, the victims were shot inside their homes and at close range -- not killed by shrapnel from a roadside bomb or by stray bullets from a distant firefight, as Marines had claimed.

    The Marines originally reported that Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed by a roadside bomb in Haditha, a town on the Euphrates River in northwestern Iraq that was the scene of heavy fighting in 2005. They later added that eight insurgents were killed in an ensuing gun battle.

    Senior Pentagon officials have said a probe into the November deaths tends to support allegations that Marines carried out an unprovoked massacre after one of their comrades was killed by a roadside bomb. The military is investigating both the deaths and a possible cover-up.

    The Marine photographs are evidence in a criminal probe, and only investigators and a few very senior officials have access to them.

    A source allowed CNN to examine copies of the photographs, which a military official said match in both number and description the pictures in the possession of investigators.

    The source would not allow CNN to have copies of the images out of concern over personal repercussions.

    There are images of 24 bodies, each marked with red numbers. Some of numbers are written on foreheads, others on the victim's backs. A senior military official told CNN that in some cases the numbers may denote the location of bullet wounds.

    Among the images:

  • A woman and child leaning against the wall, heads slumped forward.

  • Another woman and child shot in bed.

  • A man sprawled face down with his legs behind him.

  • An elderly woman slumped over, her neck possibly snapped by the force of gunfire.

  • All of the victims were wearing casual attire. Some had been shot in the head. Some were face down, others face up.
  • The pictures appear to show the locations of the bodies in the houses before a Marine unit loaded them into a truck and brought them to a morgue.

    Pentagon officials said there are no plans to release the gruesome images, even after the criminal investigation is complete.

    The Haditha photos, like the images of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, would incite anti-American fervor and therefore constitute a threat to national security, they said.

    In a separate incident, seven Marines and a Navy medical corpsman are being held in a brig at Camp Pendleton, California, to face possible murder charges in connection with the April killing of an Iraqi man in Hamandiya, a military officer with direct knowledge of the investigation said.

    Briefing reporters Wednesday, Hagee was tight-lipped about the investigations but said Marines "absolutely know right from wrong."

    Hagee flew to Iraq two weeks ago on a trip the Marine Corps said was already scheduled. But he used the time to lecture his Marines on what he called "the American way of war" amid the two probes.

    Hagee said he is "gravely concerned" by the allegations and promised that the investigations now under way will be thorough and complete.

    The U.S. command in Baghdad ordered an investigation into the Haditha killings in February, after Time magazine reporters presented video of the scene to American commanders.

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     Monday, June 05, 2006

    IRAQ: US Marine's Blatant Lies about Haditha Massacre of Innocents Lasted For SIX Months !


    Thomas E. Ricks

    Who lied and who knew the truth about the massacre of innocents in Haditha ?
    Read here original article in Washington Post

    At 5 p.m. Nov. 19, near the end of one of the most violent days the Marine Corps had experienced in the Upper Euphrates Valley, a call went out for trucks to collect the bodies of 24 Iraqi civilians.

    The unit that arrived in Haditha found babies, women and children, shot in the head and chest.

    An old man in a wheelchair had been shot nine times.

    A group of girls, ages 1 to 14, lay dead.

    Everyone had been killed by gunfire, according to death certificates issued later.

    The next day, Capt. Jeffrey Pool, a Marine spokesman, released a terse statement:

    Fifteen Iraqis "were killed yesterday from the blast of a roadside bomb in Haditha.

    Immediately after the bombing, gunmen attacked the convoy with small-arms fire.

    Iraqi army soldiers and Marines returned fire, killing eight insurgents and wounding another."

    Despite what Marine witnesses saw when they arrived, that official version has been allowed to stand for six months.

    Who lied about the killings, who knew the truth and what, if anything, they did about it is at the core of one of the potentially most damaging events of the Iraq war, one that some say may surpass the abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison.

    The Marine Corps is saying only that it would be inappropriate to comment while investigations are under way.

    But since that Saturday afternoon in November, evidence has been accumulating that the official version was wrong , and several top officials suspect what happened in Haditha went beyond the usual daily violence in Iraq.

    On Nov. 29, Kilo Company of the 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment had a memorial service at a Marine base for Lance Cpl. Miguel Terrazas, a well-liked 20-year-old from El Paso, Texas.

    He was killed in a roadside bomb explosion that appears to have been the trigger for what looks to investigators like revenge shootings.

    In January, a top military official arrived in Iraq who would play a key role in the case: Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the new No. 2 military officer in the country.

    Student provides video

    Not long after Chiarelli arrived in Baghdad, an Iraqi journalism student gave an Iraqi human rights group a video he had taken in Haditha the day after the incident.

    It showed the scene at the local morgue and the damage in the houses where the killings took place.

    The video reached Time magazine, whose reporters began questioning U.S. officials.

    Pool sent the reporters an e-mail saying that they were falling for al-Qaida propaganda, the magazine said recently.

    Pool declined last week to comment.

    But Army Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a more senior spokesman in Baghdad, notified Chiarelli of the questions.

    The general's response to his public affairs office was short: Just brief the Time reporter on the military investigation into the incident that Chiarelli assumed had been conducted.

    The word came back: There had been NO investigation.

    Chiarelli told subordinates in early February he was amazed by that response, according to an Army officer in Iraq.

    He directed that an inquiry commence as soon as possible. He wanted to know what had happened in Haditha.

    Two conclusions reached

    Army Col. Gregory Watt was tapped to start an investigation and by March 9, he told Chiarelli that he had reached two conclusions, according to an Army officer in Iraq:

    •One was that death certificates showed that the 24 Iraqis who died that day — the 15 the Marines said had died in the bomb blast and others they said were insurgents — had been killed by gunshot rather than a bomb, as the official statement had said.

    •The other was that the Marine Corps had NOT investigated the deaths, as is the U.S. military's typical procedure in Iraq.

    On March 10, the findings were given to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

    Rumsfeld told aides that the case promised to be a major problem.

    He called it "really, really bad — as bad or worse than Abu Ghraib," recalled one Pentagon official.

    On March 11, President Bush was informed.

    Key leaders informed

    That weekend, almost four months after the killings, "we went to general quarters," recalled one Marine general.

    The following Monday, March 13, Marine officers began briefing key members of Congress on defense-related committees. Their message was brief:
    Something highly disturbing had happened in Haditha.

    The alacrity of the Marine response surprised some of Rumsfeld's aides in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. OSD, as it is called at the Pentagon, who told the Marine Corps a few days later not to say anything to anyone about the investigation, recalled the general.

    Too late, the Marines responded, we've already briefed Capitol Hill.

    The Marines began their own investigation almost immediately, following up on Watt's inquiry, but quickly realized that to credibly examine the acts of their top commanders in Iraq, they would need someone outside their service.

    The Army offered Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell, a career Special Operations officer, to look into the matter. The Marines, who are part of the Navy Department, also turned over the question of criminal acts to agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service.

    Notified on March 12, the NCIS immediately sent a team of three Iraq-based investigators to Haditha, one of the most violent areas in Iraq.

    A few days later, as the scope of the case sank in, it dispatched a team of reinforcements from the United States.

    But even then, nothing had been made public about the November event that might have distinguished it from Iraq's daily bloodshed.

    Then, on March 19, the Time magazine article appeared. "I watched them shoot my grandfather, first in the chest and then in the head," the magazine quoted Eman Waleed, 9, as saying.

    Most of the victims were shot at close range, the director of the local hospital told Time.

    Commanders relieved

    The first public indication that the military was taking those allegations seriously came on April 7, when Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani was relieved of command of the 3rd Battalion of the 1st Marines, Kilo Company's parent unit.

    Also removed were Kilo's commander, Capt. Luke McConnell, and the commander of another company. Even then, the Marine Corps didn't specify why the actions were taken, beyond saying that the officers had lost the confidence of their superiors.

    Then, on May 17, Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., let the news slip out.

    In the middle of a rambling statement at the outset of a news conference on Capitol Hill, he said — almost as an aside — that what happened in Haditha was "much worse than reported in Time magazine."

    He asserted that the investigations would reveal that "our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."
    The facts of the shooting incident seem now to be largely known, with military insiders saying that recent news articles are similar to the internal reports they have received from investigators.

    But considerable mystery remains about how Marine commanders handled the incident and contributed to what some officials suspect was a cover-up.

    "The real issue is how far up the chain of command it goes," said one senior Marine familiar with the case.

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     Sunday, June 04, 2006

    IRAN's Retaliatory Options If Cornered by US in the Nuclear Crisis


    Katherine Shrader

    Read here full article by Katherine Shrader in Associated Press

    Iran could direct Hezbollah to enlist its widespread international support network to aid in terrorist attacks, if cornered by the West over its nuclear program, intelligence officials say.

    Several Western intelligence officials said they have seen signs that Hezbollah's fundraisers, recruiters and criminal elements could be adapted to provide logistical help to terrorist operatives.

    Such help could include obtaining forged travel documents or off-the-shelf technology — global positioning equipment and night goggles, for example — that could be used for military purposes.

    Leadership in Hezbollah is exercised by Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, a Shiite Muslim cleric who took over after Sheik Abbas Musawi was killed in southern Lebanon in an Israeli helicopter strike in 1992.

    Hezbollah gets significant support from Iran, Shiite communities and particularly the Lebanese diaspora. One official said the group has access to several hundred million dollars a year, much of it going to the social service network in southern Lebanon.

    So far there are no signs the Iranian-backed group is planning an imminent attack on U.S. interests. But that possibility has counterterrorism agencies keeping close watch as the friction with Iran grows.

    U.S. analysts believe the potential is greater for Iran to use terrorism to retaliate, rather than to strike first. But they have considered scenarios under which Iran may view its own pre-emptive attack as a deterrent.

    One senior official said that if Iran was backed into a corner and considered U.S.-led military action as inevitable, the Iranians might calculate that terrorism could break international unity, increase pressure on the U.S. or shift American public opinion.

    U.S. analysts, however, are cautious in their judgments about what might lead Iran to order strikes.

    Iran insists its aims are peaceful; leading U.S. officials say they are convinced the Iranians intend to develop a nuclear weapon within the next decade.

    John Negroponte suggested that an Iranian bomb could be a fact in as little as four years away, although he admitted, "We don't have clear-cut knowledge."

    Iran's president pledged Friday that the West would not deprive his country of nuclear technology.

    The Bush administration and U.S. allies know Iran could order attacks. Some officials believe that threat is a bargaining chip worth more to Iran if kept in reserve.

    U.S. intelligence agencies are studying Iran's options to retaliate: using oil as a weapon, attacking Americans in Iraq and elsewhere, unleashing Hezbollah or deploying other tactics.

    In many countries, Hezbollah is praised for providing education, medical care and housing, particularly in Lebanon's south, and raising money for it is legal.

    Hezbollah, which means Party of God, was founded in 1982 to respond to Israel's invasion of Lebanon. The radical Shiite organization advocates for Israel's elimination and the establishment of an Islamic government in Lebanon modeled after the religious theocracy in Iran.

    With some exceptions, Hezbollah has not targeted the United States in recent years — a strategic decision that gives the group more freedom to operate, according to one U.S. counterterrorism official.

    Steven Monblatt, the head of the Organization of American States' Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism, said tensions with Iran could lead Hezbollah to take steps to prepare attacks on Western interests in Latin America and elsewhere.

    "I think it is legitimate to be concerned about situations where terrorist groups will not have an operational base, but will have made the preparations to establish one," said Monblatt, a former State Department official. "I don't know anyone alleging an operational cell right now. Now, how do you distinguish an operational cell from a sleeper operation — a more kind of logistical base?"

    Kevin Brock, a career FBI agent who is now deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center, recently told reporters that the U.S. has active investigations into Hezbollah around the world.

    "The prioritization obviously has been al-Qaida, but that doesn't mean Hezbollah has dropped off the screen by any stretch of the imagination," Brock said.

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    Iraq: HADITHA Killings Recall VIETNAM'S My Lai Massacre

    Richard Pyle of Associated Press
    (Richard Pyle covered the Vietnam War for five years and was AP's Saigon bureau chief 1970-73)

    Read here original article

    On a March morning in 1968, American troops swept into a village on South Vietnam's central coast in search of communist guerrillas.

    Instead, they found unarmed civilians — and gunned them down, leaving bodies huddled in ditches.

    Nearly four decades later, the notorious name of that hamlet — My Lai — has been summoned from memory again, as the U.S. military investigates allegations of mass civilian killings by a group of Marines in the western Iraqi town of Haditha.

    While the numbers differ — upward of 300 at My Lai, compared to 24 at Haditha — some of the circumstances are eerily similar.

    Haditha, a deceptively quiet town in the Euphrates valley, is known as a center of insurgent activity, just as My Lai was 38 years ago.

    The killings at My Lai were attributed by some to U.S. troops seeking vengeance for booby traps and mines —the "improvised explosive devices" of that time.

    Just two days earlier, the same infantry unit had suffered casualties from a booby trap.

    Flash forward to another war, in another time.

    Last Nov. 19, a Marine was killed when an IED struck a four-vehicle convoy at Haditha.

    The Marines reported that 15 Iraqi civilians also died in the blast, and eight insurgents were killed in an ensuing firefight.

    But that story didn't stick.

    Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), D-Pa., a leading critic of the Iraq war, said after being briefed by military officials that the Marines actually had killed unarmed civilians at the scene, and others in nearby homes.

    Lance Cpl. James Crossan of North Bend, Wash., who was wounded by the roadside bomb, told a Seattle TV interviewer the incident might have caused others to be "blinded by hate ... and they just lost control."

    Investigators want to know not only what happened, but whether officers of the 3rd Marine Regiment covered up the truth — as did senior officers of the Army's Americal Division, to which the My Lai unit belonged.

    While the two incidents appear to have similarities, there are key distinctions between the Vietnam era's military and today's — an all-volunteer armed force that officials consider more professional and better motivated.

    Perhaps most important is that all U.S. service members now undergo training in the "law of armed conflict," which spells out rules for dealing with civilians in a combat situation, said Scott Silliman, a law professor and executive director of the Center on Law, Ethics and National Security at Duke University.

    Scott Silliman said:

    "That didn't kick in until the 1970s, and My Lai was the watershed case. But this (Haditha) is not My Lai, and those that try to make a direct comparison are not well informed.

    It may be a gut reaction, but today's troops are much better educated, trained and disciplined than those at My Lai."

    My Lai occurred on March 16, 1968, as troops launched Task Force Barker, a "search and destroy" operation in one of South Vietnam's most dangerous areas.
    It was the turf of a seasoned Viet Cong guerrilla battalion, where locals displayed sullen hostility toward U.S. troops and an estimated 80 percent of casualties were from booby traps and mines.

    In what was later depicted as a combination of systematic killing and uncontrolled rampage, the GIs forced men, women and babies from their homes, herded them into groups and shot them.

    The incident was noted in the next day's war communique by MACV, the U.S. command headquarters in Saigon. It said U.S. forces had killed 128 "enemy" in a sweep in Quang Ngai province. The name My Lai was not mentioned.

    In a particularly chilling moment at his 1970 court-martial, Lt. William Calley, a platoon leader, testified that the "order of the day" from his company commander, Capt. Ernest Medina, had been to move the villagers, and if they refused, to "waste them."

    The body count ranged between 250 and 300 by Calley's estimate, and more than 400 by some others. A later U.S. inquiry would settle on 347.

    The first inkling of such incidents came months after My Lai, in a letter from a former soldier to the division commander. It was referred to the operations officer, Lt. Col. Colin Powell — the eventual Secretary of State — who investigated and reported that the claims were groundless.

    It was not until November, 1969, that the truth finally surfaced, after Ron Ridenhour, another ex-GI who had learned of My Lai from participants, wrote letters to President Nixon, the Pentagon, State Department and members of Congress.
    The My Lai affair had several outcomes, and few were satisfied.

    Acquitted of murdering 102 Vietnamese after a skillful defense by attorney F. Lee Bailey, Medina later admitted he had suppressed evidence and lied to superiors about the death toll.

    Fourteen Americal Division officers were accused of taking part in a cover-up, but none was convicted. Lt. Col. Frank Barker, for whom the operation was named, died a few weeks later in a helicopter crash.

    Calley, the lowest-ranking officer charged, was convicted of premeditated murder in 1971 and faced life at hard labor.

    But Nixon ordered him moved from the stockade to house arrest. In 1974 he was paroled and returned to a civilian life of obscurity in Columbus, Ga.

    My Lai did have its heroes, however.

    Chief Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson and two helicopter crew mates landed their reconnaissance chopper in the middle of the killing spree, threatened to shoot any soldiers who continued firing, and directed the evacuation of 12 wounded villagers.

    All three eventually were awarded the Soldier's Medal for bravery.

    Thompson died of cancer in January 2006 and was buried with military honors.

    In a 2004 television interview, he had said he wanted to forgive what had been done at My Lai, but "I swear to God, I can't."

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    US Marines: Good at Killing. Nothing Else and They Like It .


    Oliver Poole

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    In January, shortly before the first published reports emerged about US marines methodically gunning down men, women and children in the Iraqi town of Haditha,

    The Daily Telegraph spent time at the main camp of the battalion under investigation.

    Rumours had spread that what happened on Nov 19 diverged from the official line that locals were killed by a roadside bomb.

    None of the troops wanted to talk, but even a short stay with the men of the 3rd Bn 1st Marine Division in their camp located in Haditha Dam on the town's outskirts, made clear it was a place where institutional discipline had frayed and was even approaching breakdown.

    Normally, American camps in Iraq are almost suburban, with their coffee shops and polite soldiers who idle away their rest hours playing computer games and discussing girls back home.

    Haditha was shockingly different - a feral place where the marines hardly washed; a number had abandoned the official living quarters to set up separate encampments with signs ordering outsiders to keep out; and a daily routine punctured by the emergency alarm of the dam itself with its antiquated and crumbling machinery.

    The day before my arrival one soldier had shot himself in the head with his M16. No one would discuss why.

    A skull and crossbones symbol had been etched on the entrance to the shack.

    It is not yet known where exactly the men responsible for the killing of the 24 civilians in Haditha were based.

    There was a handful of small, forward-operating bases in the town and surrounding area, with two dozen or so in each. If they were in these, it is highly unlikely their conditions were any better.

    They would certainly also have shared the recent history of the battalion. It had undergone three tours in Iraq in two and a half years.

    More than 30 of its members had died in the previous one, the majority when the unit led the major attack on Fallujah, then at the heart of the insurgency. Now they were in Haditha, one of the most dangerous settlements in Iraq, after only seven months away.

    It is a place where six marines died in three days during the previous August and where in nearby Parwana 14 died shortly afterwards in the most deadly roadside bomb attack of the war.

    At the dam there was one American civilian, an engineer sent out by the US government with instructions to keep the facility operational.
    It was a difficult task.

    The American's job was not helped by the marines viewing his Iraqi workers as potential saboteurs.

    The troops he was quartered with terrified him, so much so that he would not let his name be quoted for fear of reprisal.

    He was keeping a secret dossier of breaches he said he had witnessed, or learned of.

    He planned to present it to the authorities when he returned to the US.

    "Marines are good at killing," he said. "Nothing else. They like it."

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