Things changed for me in 2008, and I switched to writing at or

Monday, March 31, 2008

John McCain

Updated, April 5, 2008
Invading Iraq was the biggest mistake our c0untry has ever made. Facts did not matter to them as it was not the issue, the trigger happy Bush, Cheney and by extension McCain were simply hell bent on destruction. Chaos must be their life style as they are jumpping from place to place with their blazing guns, they just cannot sit down and enjoy the peace. We the Americans in return are getting punished with their ugly decisions; 4000 American deaths, Million plus Iraqi deaths, half a million Iraqi women on the streets, a trillion dollar debt, $3.50 Gallon Gas and other ills that were born out of the ugliness. Guess who benefited from it all?

1. Top ten craziest things McCain has said
2. Leauge of democracies
3. John McCain’s Foreign Policy Vision
4. Hot Head McCain
5. John McCain, NeoCons, the Israel Lobby
6. McCain's senior moment
7. 10 things to know about McCain (April 5, 2008)
Senator McCain is too eager to pull the trigger, he was going to bomb Iran without verifying the information, then all of them had to shut up after the facts. McCain, tells it with a bold face that Iran is training Al-Qaeda, Leiberman had to correct him on camera. Is this the kind of commander in chief we want? Do we trust him to pick up that phone at 3:00 Am ? Do we trust him to ponder before pushing the button?


The Top Ten Craziest Things John McCain Has Said While You Weren't Watching
By Cliff Schecter

John McCain has been saying a lot of downright nutty things lately. You've probably come across some of them, such as his admitted lack of knowledge about economics or his excitement at the prospect of remaining in Greater Mesopotamia for the next ten decades. Yet, alas, much of his craziness has been lost in the fog of the ongoing battle between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. So here's a recap of some nuggets of wisdom you may have missed -- from McCain's mouth to Bellevue's Ears.

10. Responding to a student who criticized his remark about our staying in Iraq for 100 years, McCain quipped, "No American argues against our military presence in Korea or Japan or Germany or Kuwait or other places, or Turkey, because America is not receiving casualties."
I guess Ron Paul isn't American. Or Dennis Kucinich. Or many others who have questioned the mindset behind keeping our troops abroad forever, which is what an empire does, not a republic. Although, perhaps more people don't argue "against our military presence" in the other spots he named, because, you know, those wars weren't based on 100 percent fabricated evidence and didn't make us less safe after they were done. Just a thought.

9. John McCain is "very proud to have Pastor John Hagee's support."
Just FYI, John Hagee makes Jeremiah Wright seem like Richard Simmons. Hagee has called the Catholic Church the "Great Whore," an "apostate church," the "Antichrist," and a "false cult system." And let's not even get into what he has said about Jews.

8. "In the shorter term," said McCain, "if you somehow told American businesses and families, 'Look, you're not going to experience a tax increase in 2010,' I think that's a pretty good short-term measure."

This is McCain's statement in suport of making permanent the tax cuts he voted and railed against in 2001 and 2003. Back then they were only a giveaway to the rich and "budget-busters." Now that we are much further along in borrowing our economy from the Chinese, and the rich have become even richer, they are a way to stimulate the economy by putting money in the hands of working Americans.

7. "This is a Catholic Voter Alert. Governor George Bush has campaigned against Senator John McCain by seeking the support of Southern fundamentalists who have expressed anti-Catholic views. Several weeks ago, Governor Bush spoke at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Bob Jones has made strong anti-Catholic statements, including calling the Pope the anti-Christ, the Catholic Church a satanic cult! John McCain, a pro-life senator, has strongly criticized this anti-Catholic bigotry, while Governor Bush has stayed silent while seeking the support of Bob Jones University. Because of this, one Catholic pro-life congressman has switched his support from Bush to McCain, and many Michigan Catholics support John McCain for president."
This was a John McCain for president campaign robo-call in 2000. Today, as we pointed out, he hangs with the Rev. Hagee who thinks Catholicism is a "cult" and the "Antichrist." How romantic.

6. "Everybody says that they're against the special interests. I'm the only one the special interests don't give any money to."
Here are some examples of Sen. McCain's epic battle with special-interest money: According to the Center for Responsive Politics, McCain has taken nearly $1.2 million in campaign contributions from the telephone utility and telecom service industries, more than any other senator. McCain sides with the telecom companies on retroactive immunity.
McCain is also the single largest recipient of campaign contributions from Ion Media Networks -- formerly Paxson Communication -- receiving $36,000 from the company and employees from 1997 to mid-year 2006.

5. McCain listened intently, pausing a second before delivering what could be a defining answer. "The other one will do just fine."
For what important reason was Sen. McCain interrupting an explanation to the press of his positions on Iraq and national security to take a cell phone from an aide? Why his wife needed to buy them a new barbecue grill.

4. During a Nov. 28, 2007, Republican debate Sen. McCain angrily denounced torture and offered unmitigated support of the Army field manual's restrictions, saying they "are working, and working effectively."
So naturally and quite logically, he voted against applying these same standards to the CIA. Apparently these rules won't work effectively for spooks, just the men and women on the front lines.

3. McCain, while speaking at a town hall meeting in a suburb of Philadelphia, was asked if he had concerns that anti-American insurgents in Iraq might commit increased acts of violence in September or October with a plan in mind to tip the November election to the Democrats. "Yes, I worry about it," McCain said.

How did he figure out what the insurgents -- which his policies in Iraq have helped create -- are up to? When they attacked us on 9/11, and the warning signs were all ignored by President Bush and his then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, he was punished with winning a second term. So, of course, militants, who follow john McCain's campaign like Republicans do the signs of the Rapture, are closely planning their events because they know the exact opposite will be the result this time.

2. Let's go back to the videotape: "I'm the only one the special interests don't give any money to."
Not only have we proven this false, but perhaps many can't give money because they all work on his campaign. His campaign manager, Rick Davis, lobbyist. Top advisor, Charlie Black, lobbyist. The operative currently running his Senate office, Mark Buse, former lobbyist. And so it goes. Here is what one observer had to say. "It's an interesting dichotomy. On the one hand, he's presenting himself as the crusader against special interests and yet, on the other hand, he's surrounded himself with senior advisers that are lobbyists," said Sheila Krumholz of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan, non-profit research group focused on money in politics.
1. And finally, McCain's craziest, coolest, most unstoppable McCain Moment: The senator said, while in Jordan, that it was "common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that's well known. And it's unfortunate." A few moments later, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, admiringly gazing at McCain until that moment, stepped up and whispered something in the presidential candidate's ear. McCain then blurted out: "I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda."

Phew. Glad trusty Joe Lieberman was there to explain to the man of "experience," a man who wants to lead the free world, that Sunnis (Al Qaeda) and Shia (Iran) not only don't work together but are in direct conflict. We have only been at war there for five years, so I wouldn't expect Sen. McCain to concern himself with such trivial matters.

Cliff Schecter is the author of The Real McCain: Why Conservatives Don't Trust Him And Why Independents Shouldn't.


A Century in Iraq, Replacing UN with “League of Democracies,” Rogue State Rollback?
A Look at John McCain’s Foreign Policy Vision

We speak with investigative reporter Robert Dreyfuss about Senator John McCain’s vision for foreign policy. “McCain is drawing up plans for a new set of global institutions,” Dreyfuss writes, “from a potent covert operations unit to a ‘League of Democracies’ that can bypass the balky United Nations, from an expanded NATO that will bump up against Russian interests in Central Asia and the Caucasus to a revived US unilateralism that will engage in ‘rogue state rollback’ against his version of the ‘axis of evil.’ In all, it’s a new apparatus designed to carry the ‘war on terror’ deep into the twenty-first century.” [includes rush transcript]

Robert Dreyfuss, investigative reporter and contributing editor at The Nation magazine. He is author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam.

AMY GOODMAN: Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain might have attracted some ridicule last week when he falsely insisted Iran is training and supplying al-Qaeda in Iraq. McCain corrected himself after independent Senator Joseph Lieberman stepped in and whispered in his ear.

SEN. JOHN McCAIN: Well, it’s common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That’s well known. And it’s unfortunate. So I believe that we are succeeding in Iraq. The situation is dramatically improved. But I also want to emphasize time and again al-Qaeda is on the run, but they are not defeated.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN: [whispering] You said that the Iranians were training al-Qaeda. I think you meant they’re training in extremist terrorism.
SEN. JOHN McCAIN: I’m sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda, not al-Qaeda. I’m sorry.

AMY GOODMAN: Senator McCain made the comment in Jordan, while on a trip to the Middle East last week. While the media focused on the gaffe, there has been little serious analysis of McCain’s foreign policy. In fact, when it comes to the Middle East and establishing US power in the world, McCain might even be more in line with neoconservative thinking than President Bush. That’s the argument in investigative reporter Robert Dreyfuss’s latest article in The Nation magazine. It’s called “Hothead McCain.” It outlines the Republican presidential candidate’s foreign policy vision.

Robert Dreyfuss joins us now from Washington, D.C. Welcome to Democracy Now!
ROBERT DREYFUSS: Thank you so much, Amy. It’s really great to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. You cite Brookings Institution analyst Ivo Daalder as saying, quote, “If you thought George Bush was bad when it comes to the use of military force, wait ’til you see John McCain.” Can you explain?

ROBERT DREYFUSS: Well, what I did in putting this piece together was look at McCain’s own writing and speeches, his article in Foreign Affairs, and I spoke to a number of his advisers, including Randy Scheunemann, who is his chief foreign policy strategist. I spoke to John Bolton. I spoke to Jim Woolsey. I spoke to a number of people who are neoconservative in thought who have now clustered around the McCain campaign and see his effort to become president as a way for them—that is, for the neoconservatives—to return to the position of power they had in the first Bush administration from 2001 to 2005.

McCain has an instinctive preference for using military power to solve problems overseas. And when you couple that with a kind of hotheaded temperament, with a kind of arrogance and really a tendency to fly off the handle, I think we have a lot to fear, if he were ever to have his finger on the button, because he’s a man who I think would try to solve a lot of the very delicate foreign policy problems that we have around the world by a show of force. And, of course, you start with Iran in that context, but I think you could include many other problems, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: You talk about—or John McCain talks about “rogue state rollback.” Explain.
ROBERT DREYFUSS: Well, this is a theory that he developed way back in the 1990s, and he began speaking about it probably around ’96 or ’97, but it crystallized in 1999 in a famous speech that he gave, where he talked about the need to look around the world and figure out these states, and you can make up the list as easily as I. At that time, it would have been Iraq, Iran, Syria, Cuba, various countries in Asia and Africa that were under various kinds of rebellion, whether it was Somalia or perhaps Burma, perhaps Zimbabwe. I mean, a lot of countries were being put in the category of rogue states. Some of them were on the State Department list of countries that supported terrorism.

McCain looked around the world, and he said, OK, our job is basically to force regime change in all of these countries. And he signed on early to the issue of going into Iraq and forcing a regime change there, long before anybody really had any kind of concerns about al-Qaeda, long before Iraq’s connection to terrorism seemed important. It was simply a principle that any state that didn’t conform to an American view of democracy was liable to be rolled over or rolled back, in McCain’s view.

Many of his advisers, including Randy Scheunemann, who’s now running his foreign policy task force, were engaged in that. Randy was then a chief staffer for Trent Lott. He wrote the Iraq Liberation Act that the neoconservatives and Ahmed Chalabi championed and pushed through Congress. He, Scheunemann, founded the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq in 2002 with White House support. He was also a founder of the Project for a New American Century, which was the sort of ad hoc think tank that the neocons put together. All of this is a sign of—and the fact that McCain would name him as his chief adviser—that McCain, in a way that Bush never did, is a true neocon.

He is someone who in his soul believes in the use of American military power, and as he said in his rollback speech, not just to deal with emergent threats to the United States, but even to enforce the prevalence of what he called American values—that’s a codeword for democracy—so that countries whose internal functioning—let’s say Russia today, under Putin and Medvedev—that countries like Russia that don’t seem as democratic as we like would then become ostracized or sanctioned or subject to various kinds of hostile, both political and military, sanctions. So this is what I find extremely troubling about McCain.

And if you look at his broad policies that he’s outlined, he has suggested point blank that we’re in a long-term, almost unending struggle with al-Qaeda and various other forms of Islamism. And as a result, he wants to create a whole new set of institutions to deal with those. One of those institutions would be what he calls the League of Democracies, which is basically a way of short-circuiting the UN, where Russia and China, in particular, but also various non-aligned countries often stand up to the United States.

Also, he wants to create a new much more aggressive covert operations team. He says he wants to model it on the old Office of Strategic Services, the World War II era OSS, and to create this out of the CIA but include into it psychological warfare specialists, covert operations people, people who specialize in advertising and propaganda, and a whole bunch of other kind of—a wide range of these kind of covert operators, who would then form a new agency that would be designed to fight the war on terrorism overseas and to deal with rogue states and other troubling actors that we—or McCain decides he happens not to like at that moment.

AMY GOODMAN: And kick Russia out of the G8?
ROBERT DREYFUSS: Yeah. And that’s a really important issue. I mean, his attitude toward Russia seems not to be based on any explicit Russian threat to the United States, but simply the fact that he doesn’t like the way Russia operates internally. So he’s said we’re going to expand NATO to include a number of former states in the Russian space—that is, former Soviet republics, notably including Georgia—and he wants to include not only Georgia in NATO, but some of Georgia’s rebellious provinces, which is a direct affront to Russia. He’s a hardliner on Kosovo. He says he doesn’t care what Putin thinks about us putting air defense system missiles in Eastern Europe. He wants to kick Russia out of the G8. And all of this would obviously create much more hostile relations between Washington and Moscow, and that makes it impossible to solve the biggest problem that we face: namely, how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program.
If we’re ever going to get a deal with Iran, if we’re ever going to have some sort of diplomatic solution to Iran, which McCain says he wants, it’s literally impossible if you don’t get the Russians on board. If you can’t get a deal with Russia to approach Iran and try to negotiate a peaceful resolution to their nuclear program, then the Russians will simply stand back and say, OK, it’s your problem. And that would almost guarantee that McCain would face the choice of having to either attack Iran or to accept Iran having a nuclear bomb at some point in the period in his eight-year term as president. So the idea that you can isolate Russia in that way and take this aggressive anti-Moscow strategy means that you’re not going to get Russian cooperation on key problems like Iran and like other problems in the Middle East and Afghanistan that we’re going to need their help on.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Robert Dreyfuss, investigative reporter, contributing editor to The Nation magazine. His latest piece is called “Hothead McCain.” I want to talk more about McCain’s advisers in a minute.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Robert Dreyfuss, investigative reporter, contributing editor at The Nation magazine. His latest piece is called "Hothead McCain.” McCain famously said that US forces might end up staying in Iraq for 100 years. What role did John McCain play in the surge and in shaping, if he did, any part of President Bush’s policy in Iraq, the war?
ROBERT DREYFUSS: Oh, I would say that of all the politicians in the United States, McCain was number one in a crucial moment, when the President, President Bush, had to decide whether to accept the Baker-Hamilton report, which called for phasing out US combat forces over a period of sixteen months or alternatively escalating the war. And at that time, McCain was the number one voice in calling for an escalation. He had traveled to Iraq. He had said we need more troops. I believe he was calling for at least 50,000 troops. He worked closely along with Senator Lieberman, who’s now his traveling companion. McCain and Lieberman spoke at the American Enterprise Institute and worked closely with Robert and Frederick Kagan, who—Frederick Kagan, in particular, who is at AEI and was the author of the report that led to the surge and was brought into the administration by Vice President Cheney, who went over to AEI and consulted with them. It was that team—Kagan, McCain, Lieberman and Cheney—who convinced the President to go with the escalation a year ago in January.

And McCain was not only advocating the surge, but really pushing, and is today pushing, for a long-term presence by the United States in Iraq, using Iraq as an aircraft carrier to support American power throughout the Persian Gulf and the Middle East and Central Asia. And his advisers told me so. When I spoke to Randy Scheunemann at length, he said, in fact, yes, we want to stay in Iraq for a long time, not just to stabilize Iraq, but because we may have to deal with many threats from the region. And of course you have to include Iran as among the possible threats that we’d have to deal with, according to McCain.

So I would say that McCain and the surge are almost identical, and it’s McCain who we have to thank for the fact that two years ago we didn’t start withdrawing from Iraq, but in fact escalated to the point where the next president will have probably 130,000 troops on the ground when he or she takes office.

AMY GOODMAN: And the others in the neocon circle, the advisers, like, for example, Bill Kristol, like Max Boot, tell us about their involvement.

ROBERT DREYFUSS: You know, it’s very interesting, Amy. If you look at the list of people who say they’re advising the McCain camp, you find a broad range of people. You find people like Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, Larry Eagleburger. These are the traditional kind of Nixon-era realists, many of whom certainly wouldn’t be considered liberals, but who certainly are realists. But when you look at McCain’s positions, his views on things, you don’t find any of the influence of people like Eagleburger and Scowcroft.

What you see instead is that the rest of McCain’s advisers, and you named several of them—James Woolsey, the former CIA director, who has been traveling and campaigning with McCain and who I interviewed for this piece; Bill Kristol, who’s very close to McCain for probably a decade and has been kind of an angel sitting on his shoulder and whispering in his ear all that time; people like Scheunemann; people like Max Boot; Ralph Peters; there’s a long list of people who have joined the McCain advisory team—and it’s these people whom McCain listens to when it comes to foreign policy. He certainly hasn’t expressed anything in any foreign policy area that you would identify with the Republican realist camp. He’s much closer to the neocons.
And he seems to be, as I said earlier, the true neocon himself, someone who, after early in his career in the ’80s being kind of suspicious about some foreign interventions that happened at that time, at the end of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union collapsed, McCain seemed to have felt unburdened, like now American power can express itself. And that’s when he attached himself to the neoconservative vision that America, as the sole superpower, could throw its weight around, could remake the world in its own image and that there would be no effective opposition to it.

When I look at McCain, though, I have to say, I go back to Vietnam. This is a man whose father and grandfather were extremely conservative, even rightwing admirals, who served in Vietnam until he was shot down and held as a POW, conducting air raid missions, dropping napalm on Hanoi and other cities in North Vietnam, who learned from that and became convinced that American military power, if it’s constrained by politics, was unable to win that war. And so, he took out of Vietnam not the lesson that we shouldn’t get into land wars in Asia or that fighting guerrilla counterinsurgency efforts might not be the task that America’s military is most suited for; what he learned in Vietnam is that we need to take the gloves off, that the politicians need to get out of the way and let the military do its job.

And that’s precisely the message that he’s adopted in approaching Iraq. I think to this day, McCain thinks that the Vietnam War could have been won if we had just stayed another five or ten or fifteen years, and he seems exactly prepared to do that in Iraq, despite all evidence to the contrary that we can’t do anything in Iraq other than sit on a very ugly stalemate that, you know, continues to blow up and flare into violence.

AMY GOODMAN: Robert Dreyfuss, you got your title, “Hothead McCain,” from a Republican senator. You’re quoting Republican Senator Thad Cochran, who said, “The thought of his being President sends a cold chill down my spine. He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper, and he worries me.”
ROBERT DREYFUSS: Yes, I use that quote, and it says immediately after that that shortly after saying that, Thad Cochran endorsed McCain. So it’s clear that the Republicans are gathering around their leader, despite the fact that many senators, not just Cochran, but many Republican senators view McCain with alarm and not because he’s some sort of closet liberal—it’s true that on some domestic issues he lined up with some Senate liberals—but on foreign policy, they’re are scared of him. And on a personal level, McCain has had a tendency over the years—this is so well known on Capitol Hill—to erupt, to explode, to scream and yell at his colleagues in the Republican caucus, in closed-door meetings behind the scenes, and sometimes even in public. So he has scared a lot of his colleagues, who I’m sure are supporting him, like Cochran did, out of party loyalty, but who’ve said, as Cochran did, that they’re extremely concerned about his temper and his apparent willingness to explode.

And I’ve met McCain up close. I rode around the bus with him nine years ago when he was campaigning in New Hampshire. I found him scary up close. I think when you see him two feet away, he looks like somebody whose head could explode. He’s got a very barely controlled anger underneath his sort of calm demeanor that he seems to almost grit his teeth to keep inside. And I found him very scary personally. And I’m always shocked, I’m always stunned, when media who cover McCain don’t bring that across. He’s not a jolly fellow. He’s not somebody who you want to sit down and have beers with, where I could see people think that about President Bush—he’s kind of an amiable dunce, as someone said about an earlier president. McCain is not somebody I want to have a beer with. I think he’s a really scary guy.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll leave it there, Robert Dreyfuss, investigative reporter, contributing editor at The Nation magazine. His book is called Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam.


Hothead McCain

[from the March 24, 2008 issue]
If you've followed Senator John McCain at all, you've heard about his tendency to, well, explode. He's erupted at numerous Senate colleagues, including many Republicans, at the slightest provocation. "The thought of his being President sends a cold chill down my spine. He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper, and he worries me," wrote Republican Senator Thad Cochran, shortly before endorsing McCain.
You've heard about his penchant for bellicose rhetoric, whether appropriating a Beach Boys song in threatening to bomb Iran or telling Russian President Vladimir Putin that he doesn't care what he thinks about American plans to install missiles in Eastern Europe.
And you've heard, no doubt, about McCain's stubbornness. "No dissent, no opinion to the contrary, however reasonable, will be entertained," says Larry Wilkerson, a retired army colonel who was former Secretary of State Colin Powell's top aide. "Hardheaded is another way to say it. Arrogant is another way to say it. Hubristic is another way to say it. Too proud for his own good is another way to say it. It's a quality about him that disturbs me."

But what you may not have heard is an extended critique of the kind of Commander in Chief that Captain McCain might be. To combat what he likes to call "the transcendent challenge [of] radical Islamic extremism," McCain is drawing up plans for a new set of global institutions, from a potent covert operations unit to a "League of Democracies" that can bypass the balky United Nations, from an expanded NATO that will bump up against Russian interests in Central Asia and the Caucasus to a revived US unilateralism that will engage in "rogue state rollback" against his version of the "axis of evil." In all, it's a new apparatus designed to carry the "war on terror" deep into the twenty-first century.

"We created a number of institutions in the wake of World War II to deal with the situation," says Randy Scheunemann, McCain's top adviser on foreign policy. "And what Senator McCain wants to begin a dialogue about is, Do we need new structures and new institutions, both internally, in the US government, and externally, to recognize that the situation we face now is very, very different than the one we faced during the cold war?" Joining Scheunemann, a veteran neoconservative strategist and one of the chief architects of the Iraq War, are a panoply of like-minded neocons who've gathered to advise McCain, including Bill Kristol, James Woolsey, Robert Kagan, Max Boot, Gary Schmitt and Maj. Ralph Peters. "There are some who've moved into his camp who scare me," Wilkerson says. "Scare me."

If McCain intends to be a shoot first, ask questions later President, consider a couple of the new institutions he's outlined, which seem designed to facilitate an unencumbered, interventionist foreign policy.

First is an unnamed "new agency patterned after the...Office of Strategic Services," the rambunctious, often out-of-control World War II-era covert-ops team. "A modern day OSS could draw together specialists in unconventional warfare; covert action operators; and experts in anthropology, advertising, and other relevant disciplines," wrote McCain in Foreign Affairs. "Like the original OSS, this would be a small, nimble, can-do organization" that would "fight terrorist subversion [and] take risks." It's clear that McCain wants to set up an agency to conduct paramilitary operations, covert action and psy-ops.

This idea is McCain's response to a longstanding critique of the CIA by neoconservatives such as Richard Perle, who have accused the agency of being "risk averse." Since 2001 the CIA has engaged in a bitter battle with the White House and the Pentagon on issues that include the Iraq War and Iran's nuclear weapons program. The agency lost a major skirmish with the creation of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which put the White House more directly in charge of the intelligence community. And now McCain wants to put the final nail in the CIA's coffin by creating a gung-ho operations force. Scheunemann, who credits Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations with the idea, says the new agency is urgently needed to "meet the threats of the twenty-first century in a time of war, much as the OSS was created in a time of war." And he disparages the CIA as a bunch of has-beens. The new agency would eclipse "an organization created to meet the needs of the cold war and hang out in embassies and try to recruit a major or two or deal with walk-in defectors," Scheunemann told The Nation.

But John McLaughlin, a former deputy director of the CIA who retired in 2004, is more than skeptical, and he worries that McCain doesn't understand the need for Congressional controls over spy agencies. "You need to have Congressional oversight and transparency," he says. "I would not recommend a new agency that is set up parallel to the CIA.... All of those things can be done within the boundaries of the CIA." Told about McLaughlin's comments, Scheunemann says, "Anyone who thinks that the agency today is a nimble, can-do organization has a different view than Senator McCain does."

The UN, too, would be shunted aside to make room for McCain's new League of Democracies. Though the concept is couched in soothing rhetoric, the "league" would provide an alternate way of legitimizing foreign interventions by the United States when the UN Security Council won't authorize force. Five years ago, on the eve of the Iraq War, McCain said bluntly before the European Parliament that if Security Council members resisted the use of force, or if China opposed US action against North Korea, "the United States will do whatever it must to guarantee the security of the American people." Among the targets McCain cites for his plan to short-circuit the UN are Darfur, Burma, Zimbabwe, Serbia, Ukraine and, of course, Iran--and he has already referred to "wackos" in Venezuela. According to Scheunemann, it's an idea that bubbled up from some of McCain's advisers, including Peters and Kagan, but it alarms analysts from the realist-Republican school of foreign policy. "They're talking about a body that essentially would circumvent the UN and would take authority to act in the name of the international community, sometimes using force," says a veteran GOP strategist who knows McCain well and who insisted on anonymity. "Well, it's very easy to predict that the Russians and Chinese would view this as a threat."

McCain seems almost gleeful about provoking Russia. At first blush, you'd think he'd be more nuanced, since many of the foreign policy gurus he says he talks to emanate from the old-school Nixon-Kissinger circle of détente-niks, including Henry Kissinger himself, Lawrence Eagleburger and Brent Scowcroft. Their collective attitude is that as long as Moscow doesn't threaten US interests, we can do business with it. But there is little evidence of their views in McCain's policy toward Putin's Russia. "I think it's fair to assume that he's most influenced by his neoconservative advisers," says the GOP strategist.

"We need a new Western approach to...revanchist Russia," wrote McCain in Foreign Affairs. He says he will expel Russia from the Group of Eight leading industrial states, a flagrant and dangerous insult, one likely to draw stiff opposition from other members of the G-8. He refuses to ease Russian concerns about the deployment of a missile defense system in Eastern Europe, saying, "The first thing I would do is make sure we have a missile defense system in place in Czechoslovakia [sic] and Poland, and I don't care what [Putin's] objections are to it." And he's all for rapid expansion of NATO, to include even the former Soviet republic of Georgia--and not just Georgia but also the rebellious Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Since Kosovo's declaration of independence on February 17, which was opposed by Russia, Moscow has said it intends to support independence of the two Georgian regions, making McCain's goal of expanding NATO provocative, to say the least. "McCain says [NATO] ought to include Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are not under the control of the current Georgian government," says a conservative critic of the Arizona senator. "Which, if not a prescription for war with Russia, is at least a prescription for conflict with Russia."

Earlier in his Congressional career, McCain was reluctant to engage in overseas adventures unless American interests were directly threatened. He opposed US involvement in Lebanon in the early 1980s, and in Haiti and the Balkan conflicts in the early 1990s. But as the post-cold war environment seemed increasingly to promise unchallenged American hegemony, McCain took up the neocons' call for interventionism. His views crystallized in a 1999 speech, when he called for the United States to use tough sanctions and other pressure to roll back "rogue states" like Iraq and North Korea, adding, "We must be prepared to back up these measures with American military force if the existence of such rogue states threatens America's interests and values." In referring to "values," McCain indicates his support for the notion that a selective crusade allegedly on behalf of freedom and democracy can provide a rationale for an aggressive new foreign policy outlook.

"He's the true neocon," says the Brookings Institution's Ivo Daalder, a liberal interventionist who conceived the idea of a League of Democracies with Robert Kagan. "He does believe, in a way that George W. Bush never really did, in the use of power, military power above all, to change the world in America's image. If you thought George Bush was bad when it comes to the use of military force, wait till you see John McCain.... He believes this. His advisers believe this. He's surrounded himself with people who believe it. And I'll take him at his word."

Not surprisingly, the center of McCain's foreign policy is the Middle East. "He's bought into the completely fallacious notion that we're in a global struggle of us-versus-them. He calls it the 'transcendental threat...of extreme Islam," says Daalder. "But it's a silly argument to think that this is either an ideological or a material struggle on a par with [the ones against] Nazi Germany or Soviet Communism." For McCain, the Iraq War, the conflict with Iran, the Arab-Israeli dispute, the war in Afghanistan, the Pakistani crisis and the lack of democracy in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are all rolled up into one "transcendent" ball of wax.

More than any other politician, McCain is identified with the Iraq War. From the mid-1990s on, he and his advisers were staunch supporters of "regime change." Scheunemann helped write the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998, which funded Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress; joined Bill Kristol's Project for the New American Century; and helped create the neoconservative Committee for the Liberation of Iraq in 2002, with White House support. Together with Joe Lieberman, Sam Brownback and a handful of other senators, McCain emerged as a major cheerleader for the war. Like his fellow neocons, McCain touted what proved to be faked intelligence on the threat posed by Iraq. Echoing Vice President Cheney, McCain said on the eve of the war, "There's no doubt in my mind, once [Saddam] is gone, that we will be welcomed as liberators." He pooh-poohed critics who argued that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's war plan was too reliant on technology and too light on troops, saying, "I don't think you're going to have to see the scale of numbers of troops that we saw...back in 1991." When Gen. Eric Shinseki warned, a month before the war started, that occupying Iraq would require far more troops, McCain was mute.

Today McCain portrays himself as a critic of how the war was fought, but his criticism did not emerge until long after it was clear that the United States faced a grueling insurgency. From the fall of 2003 onward, against a growing chorus of critics who called for US forces to withdraw, McCain repeatedly called for more troops to secure "victory." By late 2006, when the bipartisan Iraq Study Group called for pulling out all combat brigades within fifteen months, McCain, Lieberman and a hardy band of neocons, led by Frederick Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute and joined by Cheney, persuaded Bush to escalate the war instead. Asked if McCain directly lobbied Bush to reject the ISG's recommendations, a McCain aide says, "There were many encounters with the President's senior advisers and with the President on this issue." Fred Kagan, the surge's author and Robert Kagan's brother, told McClatchy Newspapers, "It was a very lonely time. He went out there for us."

In January McCain famously said US forces might end up staying in Iraq for a hundred years. It's clear that for McCain the occupation is not just about winning the war but about turning Iraq into a regional base for extending US influence throughout the region. According to the original neocon conception of the war, as promoted by people like Perle and Michael Ledeen, Iraq was only a first step in redrawing the Middle East map. Gen. Wesley Clark said recently that on the eve of the war he was shown a Pentagon document that portrayed Iraq as the first in a series of operations to change regimes in Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Lebanon.

When The Nation asked Scheunemann why US forces would have to stay in Iraq so long, he explicitly linked their presence to the entire Middle East. "Iraq might be stable, but what about the region?" he responded. "Other countries could be in turmoil; other countries could be threatening Iraq. It could be an external threat that we need to have troops there for, à la South Korea, à la Japan." He added, "I understand your readers may think it's some sort of malevolent imperialist conspiracy." Conspiracy or not, it's clear that McCain sees our presence in Iraq as a permanent extension of US power in the oil-rich Persian Gulf.

McCain has made no secret of his belief that using force against Iran is the only way to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. "There is only one thing worse than a military solution, and that, my friends, is a nuclear-armed Iran," McCain said. "The regime must understand that they cannot win a showdown with the world." He supports tougher sanctions against Tehran, but critics note that implementing them would require Russia's consent. McCain's provocative anti-Russia stand, though, makes such a deal less than likely. And he rejects direct US-Iran talks.
In the end, McCain seems almost reflexively to favor the use of America's armed might. "He would employ military force to the exclusion of other options," says Larry Korb, a former Reagan Administration defense official. Scion of admirals (his father and grandfather), a combat pilot in Vietnam who continued to believe long after that war that it might have been won if the US military had been allowed free rein, McCain presents the image of a warrior itching for battle. He is the candidate of those Americans whose chief goal is an endless war against radical Islam and who'd like nothing more than for the Arizona senator to clamber figuratively into the cockpit once more. Like his former aide Marshall Wittman, currently a top aide to Senator Lieberman, McCain sees Theodore Roosevelt, the Bull Moose interventionist President of the early twentieth century, as his role model. And that attracts neoconservatives.

"I'm an old-fashioned, Scoop Jackson--I guess you'd now say Joe Lieberman--Democrat, and he's a Teddy Roosevelt Republican, and they're pretty close in their views, so substantively there's a lot of overlap between us," says James Woolsey, a former CIA director who's endorsed McCain and has campaigned with him this year. "I think John's style is very TR-like. It's very much about speaking softly but carrying a big stick."

We're still waiting for the "speaking softly" part. "There's going to be other wars," McCain warns. "I'm sorry to tell you, there's going to be other wars. We will never surrender, but there will be other wars."


John McCain, NeoCons, the Israel Lobby

and Weekly Standard (USS Liberty and Ron Paul mentioned): Here is a tiny URL of the above one: Here is the direct link for the youtube of it: Be sure to also access both pages of (click on the pictures).

6 Signs the U.S. May Be Headed for War in Iran Here is a tiny URL of the above one:


Ellen Goodman: McCain's senior moment
If airline pilots are subject to cognitive tests, why not presidential candidates?
10:48 AM CDT on Saturday, March 29, 2008

It was probably not wise for the 64-year-old Brit Hume to describe the 71-year-old John McCain as having a "senior moment." A blip would have been better. Or a gaffe. But when the traveling senator confused Shiites and Sunnis, when he conflated al-Qaeda with all extremists, the "senior moment" phrase uttered by the Fox newsman got Velcroed to the story of The Man Who Would Be the Oldest President in American History.

Age? Ageism? Or realism? We've been holding a heated conversation about race and gender all season. But age has been relegated to a late-night laugh line by the likes of David Letterman, 60, who described Mr. McCain as "the kind of guy who picks up his TV remote when the phone rings."

The candidate, no slouch in the self-deprecation business, refers to himself as "old as dirt," although he travels with his 96-year-old mother as a genetic ambassador. And when a New Hampshire high schooler asked Mr. McCain whether he might die in office or get Alzheimer's, he answered, "Thank you for the question, you little jerk."

Nevertheless, it's worth assessing this senior's moment in politics. The polls suggest that Americans are more reluctant to vote for a 70-year-old than for an African-American or a woman. Before you attribute this to prejudice, remember that only 24 percent of Americans under 35 think Mr. McCain is too old, while 40 percent of those over 65 believe it. Do they know something we should know about a man who would be 72 on Inauguration Day and 80 at the end of two terms?

The cheery cliché of the moment is that 70 is the new 60. In fact, mental fitness has increased along with physical fitness. But at the same time, a new study shows that one of every three Americans over 70 has some cognitive decline.

I'm willing to bet that Mr. McCain is in the lucky two-thirds of this population. And senior moments are not just for seniors. Did Hillary have a middle-aged moment about the sniper attack in Bosnia that never was? Did Barack have a junior moment when he wrote about reading a Life magazine article on a man who tried to lighten his black skin – an article that never ran?
We know about Mr. McCain's war injuries and his melanoma, his cholesterol and his allergies. We expect full assessments from every doctor except, well, neurologists. If airline pilots, some judges and people in other occupations are subject to cognitive tests, why not presidential candidates?

The subject is as uncomfortable as talking to an aging parent about giving up the car keys. Even the feelings among the experts on the elderly are mixed.

On one hand, Laura Carstensen, who heads Stanford's Center on Longevity, offers the good news that as people get older, their knowledge generally increases, as does their ability to regulate emotions. Yet as a voter, she says, "I see better reason to know about someone's cognitive health than medical health."

Even the author of that study on the high rate of cognitive impairment talks about a "gray area." Duke University's Brenda Plassman warns that we can diagnose cancer or diabetes with great certainty, but "there's no real biomarker for cognitive decline." Nevertheless, isn't there information citizens want to have as politicians get their senior moment in the sun? At 60? 70? 80?

I can name many wise elder statesmen, from Winston Churchill, prime minister at 80, to Nelson Mandela, who retired at 81. Yet my memory is still good enough to conjure up Ronald Reagan, whose Alzheimer's disease may well have begun while in office.

I sincerely hope that 70 will be the new 50 before I get there. But for the moment, my favorite line belongs to former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meier. "Being 70 is not a sin," said this septuagenarian. "It's not a joke either."

Ellen Goodman is a Boston Globe columnist. Her e-mail address is
10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't):

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved," yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws.
2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain "will make Cheney look like Gandhi."
3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.
4. McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned."

5. The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill.

6. He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations
7. Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic. He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."
8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult."

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.10John McCain is not who the Washington press corps make him out to be. Please help get the word out—forward this email to your personal network. And if you want us to keep you posted on MoveOn's work to get the truth out about John McCain, sign up here:
Thank you for all you do.
–Eli, Justin, Noah, Laura, and the Political Action Team Saturday, April 5th, 2008
1. "The Complicated History of John McCain and MLK Day," ABC News, April 3, 2008
"McCain Facts,", April 4, 2008

2. "McCain More Hawkish Than Bush on Russia, China, Iraq," Bloomberg News, March 12, 2008
"Buchanan: John McCain 'Will Make Cheney Look Like Gandhi,'" ThinkProgress, February 6, 2008

3. "McCain Sides With Bush On Torture Again, Supports Veto Of Anti-Waterboarding Bill," ThinkProgress, February 20, 2008

4. "McCain says Roe v. Wade should be overturned," MSNBC, February 18, 2007

5. "2007 Children's Defense Fund Action Council® Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard," February 2008
"McCain: Bush right to veto kids health insurance expansion," CNN, October 3, 2007

6. "Beer Executive Could Be Next First Lady," Associated Press, April 3, 2008
"McCain Says Bank Bailout Should End `Systemic Risk,'" Bloomberg News, March 25, 2008

7. "Will McCain's Temper Be a Liability?," Associated Press, February 16, 2008
"Famed McCain temper is tamed," Boston Globe, January 27, 2008

8. "Black Claims McCain's Campaign Is Above Lobbyist Influence: 'I Don't Know What The Criticism Is,'" ThinkProgress, April 2, 2008
"McCain's Lobbyist Friends Rally 'Round Their Man," ABC News, January 29, 2008

9. "McCain's Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam," Mother Jones Magazine, March 12, 2008
"Will McCain Specifically 'Repudiate' Hagee's Anti-Gay Comments?," ThinkProgress, March 12, 2008
"McCain 'Very Honored' By Support Of Pastor Preaching 'End-Time Confrontation With Iran,'" ThinkProgress, February 28, 2008
10. "John McCain Gets a Zero Rating for His Environmental Record," Sierra Club, February 28, 2008
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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Pope Benedict

Pope Benedict, is he Peace maker or a Provocateur?

I have been writing and re-writing the definition of a peace maker. "A peace maker constantly seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. His or Her words and actions do not make things worse, but bring some sense and understanding to the situation. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; indeed that is the purpose religion." Indeed, peace making is the duty of a religious person.

Did Pope's conversion event on Easter, mitigate or aggravate the conflict? With all due respect to his holiness, his words have not been that of a peace maker. There have been three incidents where his non-action or silence would have been better. The revival of comments made by the Emperor Constantine he delivered in Germany irritated his counterparts in Muslim world, then revising the prayer that was not kosher and now this. What was the need to make the conversion on Easter? Provoke?

His holiness Pope Benedict knew darn well, that Muslims will jump up and down and scream to his reactions. As a holy man, was that necessary? What is the gain? What is the need to ruffle the feathers? It is a shame that those Muslims react so wildly towards his words, they need to get in control of themselves and not let the Pope make them dance. If the Pope had not said the things he said, not done the things he did, would there have been a crisis?


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Fitna, Wilders & Quraan

By Mike Ghouse & Imam Zia-ul-Haq Shaikh
It is a Muslim response to Geert Wilders documentary called "Fitna".

There are 14 mis-translated verses of Qur'aan in the movie that are listed along with the correct translation.

“Geert Wilders, Dutch conservative lawmaker, has made a sixteen minute film called "Fitna" (trouble) exposing the horrific passages of the Koran. Wilders refers to theses selected verses as “fascist.’”

First of all, as a Muslim, I want to thank Geert Wilders for making this documentary, the verses, as he has quoted certainly sound fascist.

Continued at:

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Honoring Cesar Chavez

Dinner Program
Monday, March 31
5:30 to 7:00 PM
Cuquita's Restaurant
Farmers Branch

I am pleased to invite you to a dinner event, If you can make it, please let me know. It is $35/person. Funds will go to Dallas Peace Center.

The Dallas Peace Center will be honoring Cesar Chavez, this Monday, March 31 at Cuquita's Restaurant in Farmers Branch.

Dinner will be from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. followed by a short program. State Representatives Rafael Anchia and Roberto Alonzo are scheduled to attend. Rebeca Aguilar, former Fox News reporter is scheduled to speak as well.

Mariachi Los Reyes de Dallas will be performing from 6:00 to 7:00 during the dinner hour.

Please contact the Dallas Peace Center directly to purchase your tickets. You may call them at 214-823-7793 or link onto their website.

Don't miss out on this wonderful evening that will surely be fun for all.

The message is ready to be sent with the following file or link attachments:
Shortcut to:

Mike Ghouse, Director
Dallas Peace Center.

Democracy a natural state?

The Article " Democracy a natural state?" follows my comments;

It is an interesting difference between the Jefforsonian and Hamiltonian idea of democracy. We have to study how George Bush and his likes made it? How did our nation went from a great democracy to almost a fascist system, thank God, November 2006 elections changed it.

The rise of fascism in democracies was a simaltaneous happening; Did Bush (really Cheney) gave the virus to Blair, Sharon and Vajpayee (Really Advani)? The fall has been in the reverse order and we have the last one to go this fall. I pray to dear God, McCain does not make it, even if he were, he may not have the partners around the globe to buy his destructive ideas.

How can President Bush and McCain not get it? The President keeps parrotting Al-Qaeda and Iraq, 9/11 and Iraq, WMD... he just does not get in his head, but keeps repeating it, the journalist don't stop him either. McCain had to be corrected on AlQaeda to Extremists, he wants to bomb when Iran had stopped the nuclear program several years ago. Is there a way to clean their heads? Both of them get elected only by frightening us, and the solutions they offer are even more frightening.

Mike Ghouse

Is democracy a natural state of mankind?
Maybe Alexander Hamilton, not Thomas Jefferson, was right after all.
By Tim Hackler, Fayetteville, Ark.

Sixteen years ago in this newspaper, I tried to answer a perennial question about American politics. Does the United States look more like the country predicted by Thomas Jefferson, or by his rival, Alexander Hamilton?

Jefferson asserted that ordinary people with sufficient education and virtue can govern themselves wisely, that liberty is the natural desire of all mankind, and that the world's monarchs and dictators will ultimately be overthrown. Hamilton, on the other hand, claimed Jefferson's view was folly, based on wishful thinking, because human nature itself precludes the kind of wisdom necessary for self-government.

In short, Jefferson speaks to our hopes; Hamilton speaks to our fears.
Back in 1992, I concluded that America, and the world, reflected features of both men's views – their great philosophical fight lay unresolved. Today, Hamilton clearly has the upper hand.

Before the Constitutional Convention met in 1787, Hamilton observed the activities of a few state legislatures and concluded: "The inquiry [of legislators] constantly is what will please, not what will benefit the people." But he went a step further: It's the people themselves, not the legislators, who are to blame. The people, he said, "murmur at taxes, clamor at their rulers" but then elect demagogues who appeal to our worst instincts.

Over the years, Jefferson became less optimistic about the wisdom of the people, but in the last letter of his long life, he summed up his life's vision: "All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man." He hoped America's experiment with democracy would be "the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition has persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government."

In 1992, it was still possible to believe Jefferson's prediction could one day come true. Many among us thought that the "blessings of freedom and democracy" might ultimately reach all areas of the globe.

But 16 years later, can we still believe this? I think most of us have moved at least slightly toward Hamilton's darker view of human nature. Can we still believe, for example, that Jeffersonian democracy will one day arrive and then survive throughout Africa and the Middle East? The painful failures of the Iraq war have sowed substantial doubts: "Looking back, I felt secure in the knowledge that all who yearn for freedom, once free, would use it well," wrote Danielle Pletka in The New York Times recently. "I was wrong. There is no freedom gene...."

History suggests that culture, not genetics, determines fitness for democracy. And history suggests we can pinpoint what kind of culture is required – a culture of the Enlightenment.

We in the West take the Enlightenment for granted. But it took centuries of brave, stubborn people, beginning in the 16th century, to push back against the ignorance and superstition in which all mankind had lived, to bring forth in isolated centers of learning a world based on reason and logic.

Here is a thought experiment to put things in perspective. Imagine a map of the world in 1800. Color in all the countries that took part in or were directly influenced by the Enlightenment (let us say, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Slovenia, Belgium,
Luxembourg, Switzerland, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, the US, Canada, and the Scandinavian countries).

Now jump forward two centuries and color in all the countries with working democracies (as defined by the Economist Intelligence Unit). It is virtually the same map. Every one of those 22 nations (or their derivatives) today has a working democracy. And how many countries have a fully functional democracy but were not among, or did not spring from, those 22 countries? Just one – Japan.

What does this tell us about the Jefferson versus Hamilton question? In a Hamiltonian world, democracy will always be a precious commodity – sustained, and even desired, only by people whose cultural history includes an enlightened viewpoint, or something close to it. The Enlightenment was a kind of miracle, and not one we should take for granted.

Indeed, if Jefferson returned today, he would be shocked by the reemergence of self-styled Christians hacking away at the wall between church and state. Hamilton and Jefferson were both deeply affected by the Enlightenment's emphasis on reason, but Hamilton believed reason would always be under attack by demagogues who know hate and fear are stronger motivators than reason and rationality.

Why do I take a darker view than I did 16 years ago? Today, we have a coarser public discourse and lower standards, and we have suffered the consequences of a political party that quite openly set about to divide Americans into hostile camps because it believed that strategy would give them a narrow electoral advantage. The result is an atmosphere in which it is almost impossible to have a mature, adult, logical national debate about important issues.

Maybe Hamilton was on to something. Is democracy a natural state of mankind? Is the survival of democracy assured even in the United States? It is a sign of our times that we cannot be sure the answer to these questions is "yes."

• Tim Hackler, a freelance writer, served as press secretary for two Democratic senators in the 1980s and was a resident fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies in Charlottesville, Va.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Israel & India: New Allies

Article follows my comments

Israel has so much to gain if they can listen to their majority. Just like a few extremists have hijacked Islam from the Muslims, Israel has been hijacked by the extremists from the overwhelming moderate, but silent majority of Jews from around the world.

The few who run the nation are hurting Israel from the peace and prosperity it is capable of achieving. Those few have the ability to silence the good Jews who speak up, as those few know it all. What have they delivered in 60 years? Still they keep beating the same drum, time for the majority to prevail.

Injusice, oppression and occupation is anathema to peaceful co-existence. If Israelis can really think long term stability and justice, they will not only attain, but sustain peace for generations to come and it hinges on justice to her neighbor and her people. The leadership owes security to her people, the regimes in the past 60 years have not done so.

Of course, the first change is living in acceptance of another point of view.

Let's hope Obama gets elected, he has the potential to facilitate peace and security for Israel and hope for Palestinians resulting in peace and prosperity for both the people.

Mike Ghouse
# # #
Israel & India: New Allies

By Bruce Riedel, Senior Fellow, Saban Center, the Brookings Institution. Prior to his retirement in 2006 he was a senior adviser on Middle East issues for the last three presidents. Original Commentary for Middle East Bulletin.
posted on 03/21/08

Indian PM Manmohan Singh and Israeli PM Ehud Olmert (AP)

The cooperation between Israel and India, with U.S. blessing, provides important security to two democratic countries in a very unstable part of the world.
On January 21, 2008 an Indian space launch vehicle lifted off from the Sriharikota spaceport on the Indian Ocean to put into space Israel’s most sophisticated spy satellite ever launched, the Polaris. The commercial launch of Polaris by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) underscored the growing military and intelligence connections between Israel and India. The United States helped inspire this relationship and has a strong interest in its success. Though unique in the military cooperation realm, this is but one of several evolving relationships between Israel and great or emerging powers that deserves attention.

Israel and India only established formal diplomatic relations in 1991 with the Madrid Arab-Israeli peace process creating a favorable diplomatic context for New Delhi to move beyond informal contacts that existed before 1990. Then President Bush’s National Security Council staff worked closely behind the scenes with Prime Minister Rao’s embassy in Washington to make this happen. Military-to-military contacts and defense interaction followed.

In the 1990s, China was Israel’s most important arms export market. The signature weapons system in the relationship was the Phalcon airborne warning and control system (AWACs). This system used U.S. technology in its development and was thus subject to U.S. export oversight. As the 1990s developed and tensions rose in the Taiwan Strait, Washington pressed the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv to cut back on its ties to Beijing. The Phalcon became a bone of contention. Of course, this had serious economic costs for Israel.

In 2000, Prime Minister Ehud Barak pressed President Clinton for relief. Clinton came back with an idea — if the United States did not like Israeli-Chinese arms deals, it had no objection to Israeli-Indian arms sales since they did not raise the potential issues Taiwan raised. More explicitly, selling the Phalcon to India would not meet objections in Washington. Clinton made clear the United States would not raise concerns about the arms balance with Pakistan since it has no commitment to the defense of Pakistan and the conventional balance of forces was already tipped in India’s favor in 2000. The two leaders talked the issues through on the margins of the Israeli-Palestinian summit at Camp David in mid-2000. They reached agreement and Israel got a green light from Washington to court India.

Now, almost eight years later, India is Israel’s largest arms export market in the world. Sales in 2006 were $1.5 billion, roughly the same as in each of the preceding three years as well. This from Israel’s total arms sales of $4.2 billion in 2006; the India market comprised more than one-third. Sales included upgrades for MIG 21 aircraft and T72 tanks originally purchased from Russia, the Barak anti-missile ship defense system, communications equipment, laser-guided munitions and the Phalcon. The first of five Phalcon AWACs were delivered in 2007. Co-partnerships are now developing between Indian and Israeli firms.

Israeli arms experts are also seeking to sell the Arrow II anti-tactical ballistic missile system to India, which would require U.S. approval due to shared technology in the ATBM system. This would give India a significant missile defense system. The Green Pine radar system has already been sold to India which is a critical component of the overall ATBM system.

The Polaris satellite is Israel’s first equipped with synthetic aperture radar that allows it to take high resolution imagery in all weather conditions. The radar looks through clouds or fog to see objects on the ground. Launched from south India into a polar orbit it offers new coverage of sites in Iran for Israeli defense planners. According to Indian press sources, two more such satellites will be launched by ISRO for Israel in the next few years. The Iranian nuclear program will probably be the principal collection target for these systems. Israel retains full operational control of the Polaris system including what targets are imaged. It is unknown if any intelligence derived from the imagery is shared with third parties.

Critics of the Indian-U.S. civilian nuclear deal negotiated by President Bush and Prime Minister Singh have complained about India’s ties to Iran. India does have important equities with Iran, not the least because India has the second largest population of Shia Muslims in the world after Iran. But there is no comparison between the sophisticated military relationship between India and Israel and the weak connections between India and Iran on security issues.

According to ISRO officials I talked to in Bangalore in February the launch of the Polaris produced a serious protest from Iran to India. But they were clear ISRO would stick with its Israeli commercial connection. They also said India will launch its own first radar-imaging satellite later this year. The Indian Army Chief of Staff, General Depak Kapoor, has said publicly that India’s imagery satellite capability is now critical to the nation’s early warning capability with regards to both Pakistan and China.

The Israeli-Indian connection in commercial military and space intelligence fields is good for both countries and for the United States. In less than two decades since diplomatic ties were upgraded, New Delhi and Jerusalem have come a long way. Camp David was a pivotal moment on the way. The cooperation between Israel and India, with U.S. blessing, provides important security to two democratic countries in a very unstable part of the world.

Bush world is round

India, The Bush World Is Round

The article follows my comments.

MJ Akbar is the founder of the Asianage Magazine in India and has acheived spectacular success in fulfilling the obligations of the press in a democarcy. I enjoy his logic and analysis. This article intriuged me, particularly the essence of one senentece; George Bush has Globalized defeat, indeed, he has.

I do hope the Manmohan Sing administration watches itself and maintains justice for every one as its core value, the economic boom has to reach the downtrodden, and the poor, if not, it has the potential to choke the system.

Mike Ghouse

The World Is Round
M.J. Akbar,§ion=0&article=108142&d=23&m=3&y=2008

If Dr. Manmohan Singh loses the next general election — predicted for October by the knowledgeable — he will know whom to blame: His best new friend George Bush. Bush has achieved something unique. He has globalized defeat.

The reasons and means vary. In Britain Tony Blair may be eased out and in Australia John Howard may be driven out, but the word in common is “out”. Bush crippled himself long before time made him a lame duck. He began to cripple his friends at the height of his power, and the curse continues in the twilight of his term.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh escaped the swamps of Iraq but he could become the victim of one bilateral Bush initiative, the potential nuclear deal with India, and the huge, chaotic mismanagement of the economy that has compounded the gushing fiscal wounds of the Iraq-Afghanistan war. Bush has financed this colossal misadventure with IOUs on history and debt from the world economy, setting off a sinful (as opposed to virtuous) cycle.

Debt and war have destroyed perpetrator and victim alike in the past. They are doing so again. Bush’s wars cost $33.8 billion in 2002; they have ballooned to $171 billion by 2007. Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel for Economics, has estimated that the cost of the Bush wars could cross $3 trillion by 2017, that is, in another 10 years. Go figure, as they say in America. Where has the money come from? Debt.

Debt has helped weaken the dollar. Producers who sell oil in dollars, seeking to keep their income constant in real terms, and oil companies who profit in whichever direction the wheel spins, have kept raising the price of oil. A spiral effect has driven prices into the stratosphere. Oil was $23 a barrel when the Iraq war began; it is over $110 now. The pressure of prices has induced an impassioned chorus for alternative energy. Bush decided to subsidize the production of ethanol to produce this alternative energy. American farmers switched from food-for-the-stomach to crops-for-cash. There is now a critical shortage of wheat and rice around the world. The temptation of cash and higher prices impact on the pattern of agriculture. Cash crops replace staple crops. The prices of basic edibles join the spiral. India is now on the cusp of inflationary pressures that could go ballistic, even as the government has no solution in mind except a series of sops that will be throwing a bucket of water into a desert. Prices of basic food and oil in the Indian bazaar are rising at a dramatic pace. For the poor, this is a kick where it hurts most, in the stomach. Their pain will be reflected in the vote in the next general elections.

This too is globalization, a chain of sequence and consequence that is linked across the world.

The managers of “globalization,” a vast and varied array of vested interests that my not necessarily be in harmony on some issues but always closes rank to protect its core interest, take care to cohere globalization to good news. It is a brand that needs protection in order to get promotion. Bad news, even when it becomes a worldwide epidemic from a single virus, is never called globalization. No one uses the term when the New York Stock Exchange sneezes and Mumbai catches a cold. This would tarnish the image of globalization as the panacea in a post-Marxist age, a libertarian answer to socialism’s impenetrable dogma. Very few — although Stiglitz is famously among the few — wonder about the tipping point, when the liberty of this philosophy morphs into license into virtually printing money.

One reason — of course, not the only one — why share markets today are as flat as the globalized world is because the meaning of capital has changed, shifting in the process the original goalposts of capitalism. Capital was the means necessary for the production of goods and services that could be sold for a profit, creating jobs and higher-standard lifestyles. Profit, of course, has always been an elastic word, stretching as far as the market will bear. Hence, marketing became a tool by which a need was enhanced into an illusion in order to raise prices and maximize profits. Thus soap, a need for the elimination of dirt, was elevated into a magic wand that would make you into a film star. Perfume is no longer a discreet veil over body odor, but a sex accessory. A handbag is no longer a convenience; it is a photograph of your bank statement. A watch no longer merely tells the time; it is a status symbol. But all this is acceptable because, at the core, there is a product, created out of capital.

But we have now moved into share markets and a world economy where there is illusion without a base, and value is attached to a fiction; and when the principal purpose of money is not to add to the quantum of goods and services but merely to make more paper or plastic money. The Sensex keeps rising in increasingly thin air, crossing peaks that are not made of rock but are arbitrary niches in the financial ozone layer. Even in the best of times, turbulence in the American economy, by far the most powerful, would have sent shudders. But connectivity now honed to marginal shifts in value, a subprime crisis in America wipes out bank profits in India. There is little insulation.

The Congress theory of political success in the next election consists of simple arithmetic. Rural sops will bring the rural vote. The nuclear deal will bring in the urban vote. The massage of promises and words will retain the Muslim vote. Hallelujah! We are all in power for five more years. The arithmetic could get disjointed by algebra. Prices cross the rural-urban divide, leaving anger in their wake. The minorities have heard the talk, and got nothing substantive; while Muslims are angry at the alliance with Bush which makes India a possible ally in Bush’s wars against Muslim nations.

The most consistent fact of democracy is its ability to surprise governments who think they have won elections before the votes have been counted. This happened with the last national government in Delhi. The BJP has still not psychologically recovered from the shock that told the party that India was not shining as luminously as it thought. If the Congress does not watch out, it could face some shock therapy soon.

Women in Hijab

Western Female Politicians in Hijab
For years it has been the tradition of any dignitary to wear the costumes of the host country.

Princess Diana in hijab.
Hilary Clinton, when she was still wife of the U.S. president in 1997, traveled to Eritrea and put on a headscarf. Interestingly, her daughter Chelsea, seen in the background, did not.


Hillary Rodham Clinton traveling in Eritrea in 1997 with a headscarf on.
But on another occasion, Chelsea joined her in wearing a hijab.

Mother and daughter, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, wearing hijabs.
Prince Charles' wife, Camilla Parker Bowles, got into complete Egyptian Muslim garb, including hijab, on a visit to Al-Azhar.

Camilla Parker Bowles with Prince Charles in Egypt.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visiting a mosque in Dushanbe, Tajikistan in October 2005, wearing a black cover on her hair.
Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, donned a headscarf when she visited Damascus on April 3, 2007.


Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, in Damascus.
On June 27, 2007, three senior Bush administration staffers wore makeshift hijabs as they listened to the president address an audience at Washington's Islamic Center.


Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Fran Townsend (far left), NSC Senior Director for European Affairs Judy Ansley (left), and Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes (right) listen to President Bush wearing makeshift hijabs.

On a trip to Saudi Arabia in October 2007, George W. Bush's wife Laura wore a particularly severe-looking hijab.

Laura Bush in Saudi Arabia.
Switzerland's Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey met with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran, on March 17, wearing a hijab as she signed a natural gas deal with him. (March 19, 2008)

Switzerland's Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey meets with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bloodbath in Jerusalem

Bloodbath in Jerusalem

"I Came, I Saw, I Destroyed"

by Uri Avnery
March 15, 2008

Mike Ghouse: Until the silent majority of Jews in America and Israel speak up against injustices, and until the majority of the Palestinians speak up, Peace is difficult to come by. The extremists on both sides will keep killing the people, while shamelessly blaming the other. It is not the other, it is the extremists who are a blockade to peace. Their ideas have not worked in 60 years, why should they work now? They are destructive! People, take over the leadership and let peace makers bring real peace.

Uri Avnery:

What happened this week is so infuriating, so impertinent, that it stands out even in our familiar landscape of governmental irresponsibility.

On the near horizon, a de facto suspension of hostilities was taking shape. The Egyptians had made great efforts to turn it into an official cease-fire. The flame was already burning visibly lower. The launching of Qassams and Grads from the Gaza Strip into Israel had fallen from dozens a day to two or three.

And then something happened that turned the flame up high again: undercover soldiers of the Israeli army killed four Palestinians militants in Bethlehem. A fifth was killed in a village near Tulkarm.

THE MODUS OPERANDI left no doubt about the intention.

As usual, the official version was mendacious. (When the army spokesman speaks the truth, he is ashamed and immediately hurries on to the next lie.) The four, it was said, drew their weapons and endangered the life of the soldiers, who only wanted to arrest them, so they were compelled to open fire.

Anyone with half a brain knows that this is a lie. The four were in a small car on the main street of Bethlehem, the road that has joined Jerusalem and Hebron since British (or Turkish) times. They were indeed armed, but they had no chance at all of drawing their weapons. The car was simply sprayed with dozens of bullets.

That was not an attempt to make an arrest. That was an execution, pure and simple, one of those summary executions in which the Shin Bet fulfils the roles of prosecutor, judge and executioner.

This time no effort was even made to pretend that the four were about to carry out a murderous attack. It was not claimed, for example, that they had anything to do with last week's attack on the Mercaz Harav seminary, the flagship of the settlers' fleet. Actually, no such pretense could be put forward, because the most important of the four had recently given interviews to the Israeli media and announced that he was availing himself of the Israeli "pardon scheme" - a Shin Bet program under which "wanted" militants give up their arms and undertake to cease resistance to the occupation. He was also a candidate in the last Palestinian elections.

If so, why where they killed? The Shin Bet did not hide the reason: two of the four had participated in attacks in 2001 in which Israelis were killed.

"Our long arm will get them even years later," Ehud Barak boasted on TV, "we shall get everyone with Jewish blood on his hands."

SIMPLY PUT: The Defense Minister and his men endangered today's cease-fire in order to avenge something that happened seven years ago.

It was obvious to all that the killing of Islamic Jihad militants in Bethlehem would cause the renewal of the Qassam launchings on Sderot. And so it happened.

The effect of a Qassam rocket is completely unpredictable. For the residents of Sderot, this is a kind of Israeli Roulette - the rocket may fall in an empty field, it may fall on a building, sometimes it kills people.

In other words, according to Barak himself, he was ready to risk Jewish lives today in order to take revenge on persons who may perhaps have shed blood years ago and have since given up their armed activity.

The emphasis is on the word "Jewish". In his statement, Barak took care not to speak about persons "with blood on their hands", but about those "with Jewish blood on their hands". Jewish blood, of course, is quite different from any other blood. And indeed, there is no person in the Israeli leadership with so much blood on his hands as him. Not abstract blood, not metaphorical blood, but very real red blood. In the course of his military service, Barak has personally killed quite a number of Arabs. Whoever shakes his hand - from Condoleezza Rice to this week's honored guest, Angela Merkel - is shaking a hand with blood on it.

THE BETHLEHEM killing raises a number of hard questions, but with very few exceptions, the media did not voice them. They shirk their duty, as usual when it concerns "security" problems.

Real journalists in a real democratic state would have asked the following questions:

Who was it who decided on the executions in Bethlehem - Ehud Olmert? Ehud Barak? The Shin Bet? All of them? None of them?
Did the decision-makers understand that by condemning the militants in Bethlehem to death, they were also condemning to death any residents of Sderot or Ashkelon who might be killed by the rockets launched in revenge?
Did they understand that they were also boxing the ears of Mahmoud Abbas, whose security forces, which in theory are in charge of Bethlehem, would be accused of collaborating with the Israeli death-squad?
Was the real aim of the action to undermine the cease-fire that had come about in practice in the Gaza Strip (and the reality of which was official denied both by Olmert and Barak, even while the number of rockets launched fell from dozens a day to just two or three?)
Does the Israeli government generally object to a cease-fire that would free Sderot and Ashkelon from the threat of the rockets?
If so, why?
The media did not demand that Olmert and Barak expose to the public the considerations that led them to adopt this decision, which concerns every person in Israel. And no wonder. These are, after all, the same media that danced for joy when the same government started an ill-considered and superfluous war in Lebanon. They are also the same media that kept silent, this week, when the government decided to hit the freedom of the press and to boycott the Aljazeera TV network, as punishment for showing babies killed during the Israeli army's recent incursion in Gaza.

But for two or three courageous journalists with an independent mind, all our written and broadcast media march in lockstep, like a Prussian regiment on parade, when the word "security" is mentioned.

(This phenomenon was exposed this week in CounterPunch by a journalist named Yonatan Mendel, a former employee of the popular Israeli web-site Walla. He pointed out that all the media, from the Channel 1 news program to the Haaretz news pages, as if by order, voluntarily use exactly the same slanted terminology: the Israeli army confirms and the Palestinians claim, Jews are murdered while Palestinians are killed or find their death, Jews are abducted while Arabs are arrested, the Israeli army always responds while the Palestinians always attack, the Jews are soldiers while Arabs are terrorists or just murderers, the Israeli army always hits high-ranking terrorists and never low-ranking terrorists, men and women suffering from shock are always Jews, never Arabs. And, as we said, people with blood on their hands are always Arabs, never-ever Jews. This, by the way, also goes for much of the foreign coverage of events here.)

WHEN THE GOVERNMENT does not disclose its intentions, we have no choice but to deduce its intentions from its actions. That is a judicial rule: when a person does something with a foreseeable result, it is assumed that he did it in order to obtain this result.

The government which decided on the killing in Bethlehem undoubtedly intended to torpedo the cease-fire.

Why does it want to do so?

There are several possible kinds of cease-fire. The most simple is the cessation of hostilities on the Gaza Strip border. No Qassams, Grads and mortar shells on the one side, no targeted assassinations, bombardments, shelling and incursion on the other side.

It is known that the army objects to that. They want to be free to "liquidate" from the air and raid on the ground. They want a one-sided cease-fire.

A limited cease-fire is impossible. Hamas cannot agree to it, as long as the blockade cuts the Strip off on all sides and turn life there into hell - not enough medicines, not enough food, the seriously ill cannot reach appropriate hospitals, the movement of cars has come to an almost complete standstill, no imports or exports, no production or commercial activity. The opening of all border crossings for the movement of goods is, therefore, an essential component of a cease-fire.

Our government is not willing to do that, because it would mean the consolidation of the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip. Government sources hint that Abbas and his people in Ramallah also object to the lifting of the blockade - a malicious rumor, because it would mean that Abbas is conducting a war against his own people. President Bush also rejects a cease-fire, even while his people pretend the opposite. Europe, as usual, is trailing along behind the US.

Can Hamas agree to a cease-fire that would apply only to the Gaza Strip but not to the West Bank? That is doubtful. This week it was proven that the Islamic Jihad organization in Gaza cannot stand idly by while its members are killed in Bethlehem. Hamas could not stand by in Gaza and enjoy the fruits of government if the Israeli army were to kill Hamas militants in Nablus or Jenin. And, of course, no Palestinian would agree that the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are two separate entities.

A Gaza-only cease-fire would allow Barak to blow it to pieces at any moment by a Bethlehem-style provocation. This is how it could go: Hamas agrees to a Gaza-only cease-fire, the Israeli army kills a dozen Hamas members in Hebron, Hamas responds by launching Grad missiles at Ashkelon, Olmert tells the world: You see? The terrorist Hamas is violating the cease-fire, which proves that we have no partner!

This means that a real and durable cease-fire, which would create the necessary atmosphere for real peace negotiations, must include the West Bank, too. Olmert-Barak would not dream of agreeing to that. And as long as George Bush is around, there will be no effective pressure on our government.

APROPOS: who is really in charge in Israel at this time?

This week's events point to the answer: the man who makes the decisions is Ehud Barak, the most dangerous person in Israel, the very same Barak who blew up the Camp David conference and persuaded the entire Israeli public that "we have no partner for peace".

2052 years ago today, on the Ides of March, Julius Caesar was assassinated. Ehud Barak sees himself as a latter-day local replica of the Roman general. He, too, would dearly want to report: "I came, I saw, I conquered."

But the reality is rather different: He came, he saw, he destroyed.

Uri Avneri, is a German-born Israeli journalist, peace activist, and former three-term Knesset member, who was originally a member of the right-wing Revisionist Zionist movement. He is a founding member, Israeli Council for Israeli-Palestinian Peace and a founding member, "Gush Shalom" (Peace Bloc), Independent Peace Mevement.

This column can be found online at:

Posted by Profile of Mike Ghouse at 9:48 AM 0 comments
Labels: injustice, Israel, Jerusalem, Neocons, Palestine, zionists