The War in Context  
  Iraq + war on terrorism + Middle East conflict + critical perspectives     

COMMENT -- If America is leading the world by example, God bless America and God help the world. First comes the hubris, then the humiliation, but can the superpower now swallow its pride and show some humility? Probably not.

The price of American leadership is on the slide
Anatole Kaletsky, The Times, June 28, 2002

America has spent most of the past decade lecturing the rest of the world on how to run its affairs: telling the Arabs to replace their leaders, the Japanese to restructure their industries and the Europeans to reorganise their societies and ways of life. Now this hubris is making way for nemesis.

For most people around the world, the most important event in America this week was President Bush’s speech on the Middle East. There was a chillingly Orwellian quality to his proposal that Palestinians should vote for leaders approved in advance by Israel and Washington. For Mr Bush, however, this week’s Middle East challenges paled into insignificance beside the challenges from Wall Street. To judge from his brief appearance on TV from the G8 summit in Canada, the accounting scandal at WorldCom aroused much deeper emotions in Mr Bush than any event in the Middle East — and, in a way, this order of priorities was understandable.

The adage that “the business of America is business” has never been truer than it is today. Washington is run by an Administration that looks, behaves and thinks exactly like the board of a Fortune 500 company.

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Can Israel be Jewish and democratic?
Lily Galili, Ha'aretz, June 28, 2002

The new interest in demography touches the core of the state's being - its definition as a Jewish state. For the first time in the history of public discourse here, even the most devout leftists are being required to confront their inner truth. It is no longer possible to seek refuge in banal statements like "there is no contradiction between a Jewish and a democratic state," or hollow slogans about coexistence. Anyone who clings to the concept of a Jewish state cannot ignore the demographic figures laid out in black and white in dozens of publications on the subject. The character of the state, its identity card, now depends on the definitions derived from these figures. The fact that the vast majority of Jewish citizens cling to the definition of Israel as a "Jewish state" leaves no way out.

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Bush's plan is simply unrealistic
Gareth Evans and Robert Malley, International Herald Tribune, June 28, 2002

A call for regime change, but with no serious carrots to accompany the sticks, won't provide the Palestinians with any genuine incentive to implement the necessary security steps or structural reforms. And it will undermine, rather than strengthen, growing voices within Palestinian society itself that are calling for domestic changes and an end to terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.

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European Union peace move amid fears of West Bank breakdown
Ian Black and Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, June 29, 2002

The EU is to launch a Middle East peace initiative next week amid fears that George Bush's policy switch has left a dangerous vacuum in the region.

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The first fireball
The US nuclear attack on Hiroshima paved the way for September 11 and its aftermath

John Berger, The Guardian, June 29, 2002

Concerning President Bush's riposte to September 11 - his so-called war against terrorism, which was first baptised Infinite Justice, and then renamed Enduring Freedom - the most trenchant and anguished comments and analyses I have come across, during the last six months, have been made and written by US citizens. The accusation of "anti-Americanism" against those of us who adamantly oppose the present decision-makers in Washington is as short-sighted as the policies in question. There are countless "anti-American" US citizens, with whom we are in solidarity.

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Afghanistan: American troops rounded up men and munitions in the middle of the night, reminding some of Soviet occupiers
Alissa J. Rubin, Los Angeles Times, June 28, 2002

An American military raid last weekend on this village near the eastern town of Gardez has left area residents shaken, confused and, above all, angry. For locals, the incident seems reminiscent of the tactics used by the Russian troops who occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s: forced entrance into homes, detentions and the seizure of property. Their assessment explains some of the difficulties that the United States faces in its military mission in Afghanistan. "It is harmful to the Americans when they do these things. People will begin to hate them the way they hated other governments that tried to dominate them," said Abdullah Mujahed, the commander responsible for security for Gardez.

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Perpetual war poses a risk to U.S. power
Daniel Warner, International Herald Tribune, June 28, 2002

The United States is at war. This has been repeated by President George W. Bush and members of his administration on several occasions. What has not been made clear is the nature of the war. There has been no formal declaration that clearly sets out goals and objectives. Why is this so worrying? In 1987, the Yale University historian Paul Kennedy described the rise and fall of empires. He analyzed how all imperial powers arrived at a point of overreach that eventually destroyed the empire. Too much concern for security and disproportionate spending on defense were endemic to the fall of all previous empires he studied. The United States appears at this time to be marching into a situation that fits Kennedy's description of imperial decline.

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COMMENT -- Until 1954 no one in America was obliged to utter the words "one nation under God." Apparently it took Americans 178 years to figure out how to articulate the spirit of the nation. Now, according to the Senate chaplain, this isn't just one nation under God, but there is "no separation between God and state." This trumps having God on your side. America and God are One!

Justice Dept. seeks pledge hearing
Christopher Newton, Associated Press, June 27, 2002

"We acknowledge the separation of sectarianism and state, but affirm the belief that there is no separation between God and state," Senate Chaplain Lloyd Ogilvie said in Thursday's morning prayer.

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COMMENT -- Sensing that the confidence of the nation is at a new low, National Review columnist, Larry Kudlow, suggests that war against Iraq would "revive the American spirit." It's the usual psychology: if you feel weak, act tough. Or to be more precise, if you feel weak, talk tough and try and fool the real tough guys (in the military services) into risking their lives so you can feel strong.

Taking back the market — by force
Larry Kudlow, National Review, June 26, 2002

Decisive shock therapy to revive the American spirit would surely come with a U.S. invasion of Iraq. Why not begin with a large-scale special-forces commando raid on the Iraqi oil fields? This will send a shot across Saddam's bow; an electrifying signal to all terrorist nations. The message will be that the game is up. Surrender now or you will be crushed in a short while.

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Arabs under autocratic rule question Bush speech
Calls for democracy seen as selective

Howard Schneider, Washington Post, June 28, 2002

Listening to President Bush demand democratic elections and transparent government for the Palestinians, Egyptian engineer Mady Abu Elela said, he wondered where those all-American values were two years ago when he tried to form a new political party here. His idea, for an Islamic-based party with a moderate approach, was quickly discarded by the government of President Hosni Mubarak. But as far as Elela can remember, neither the United States nor any other Western nation challenged the fairness of a system in which those who hold power dictate who can compete against them.

President Bush may have discovered a need to upset the ruling order in the Palestinian Authority in hopes of quelling what he views as terrorism, Elela noted. But American leaders have been much more hesitant to apply the same standards in such allied countries as Egypt, where U.S. interests have been protected by a former air force officer, and Saudi Arabia, whose monarchs rule beyond the reach of any electorate. "The democratic situation in most of our area is not right," Elela said. "We need reform in most of the countries of the Arab world. So why the Palestinians only? This is not for reform. This is to pressure the Palestinians for Israel."

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Jerusalem under attack
Neve Gordon, Counterpunch, June 27, 2002

While the media spends much time covering the attacks in West Jerusalem, most commentators have often blurred the difference between the personal and national dimension of the threat. The very real personal threat every Israeli feels when he or she enters a mall, takes a bus, or walks into a crowded pub, should not be mistaken for a national threat. The random killings of civilians in no way jeopardize Israel's existence.

Moreover, the media has consistently failed to expose what is happening on the city's occupied east side, where Palestinians live. Like West Jerusalem, the East is also under attack. Not by suicide bombers, of course, but rather by Israeli authorities.

The Jerusalem municipality -- headed by Likud mayor Ehud Olmert -- together with the military and police have been exploiting the ongoing conflict in order to accelerate Israel's geographic and demographic conquest of East Jerusalem. The strategy is clear -- to strangle and intimidate the Palestinian population.

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European Union gives more aid to Arafat in defiance of Bush
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, June 28, 2002

A threat by President George Bush to topple Yasser Arafat by starving the Palestinian Authority of cash made little immediate headway yesterday when the European Union released new funds to repair the damage caused by Israel's military invasions. Speaking from the G8 summit in Calgary late on Wednesday, Mr Bush said: "We won't be putting money into a society which is not transparent and [is] corrupt, and I suspect other countries won't either." The EU, which together with the Arab League has been keeping Mr Arafat's government afloat, will continue to provide €10m (£6.5m) a month to his administration, a spokesman for the external affairs commissioner, Chris Patten, said. The Arab League provides some $55m (£36m) a month.

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Marooned on his fantasy island, Bush stands firm
Martin Woollacott, The Guardian, June 28, 2002

Anybody who has done some foreign reporting knows that the views of correspondents on the nature of the crisis or war which has brought them to a particular place tend to be similar. Day-to-day experience, constant discussion, and the weight of numbers produce a consensus which only a few resist. Thus most of the correspondents who covered Vietnam felt that the war was in some way wrong, a feeling reflected in their stories, and thus today most of the correspondents who cover the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians would agree that Sharon is more of an obstacle to peace than Arafat. The point here is that the consensus is multinational and, especially, that there is not that much divergence between Americans and non-Americans.

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Black hole in Brooklyn
A prison where detainees disappear

Chisun Lee, Village Voice, June 26, 2002

Baloch spent 23 and a half hours a day alone in his cell under bright lights that were always on, without television or, often, even reading material. He was shackled hand and foot when outside. He had only hints that dozens of others—perhaps 50 or more, according to lawyers—were similarly confined. "Through the small window, I saw the guards taking others," he said. And he heard rumors that other detainees were attempting suicide.

His wife eventually tracked him down, and Baloch got a lawyer who, outraged at the imprisonment without cause, filed a habeas corpus petition. As previously reported by the Voice, Baloch was charged promptly thereafter with illegally crossing the U.S.-Canada border—before September 11, a rarely prosecuted offense. He ultimately pled guilty to that and using a fake social security card and was sentenced to time served.

He was deported in April without his identification documents or belongings. In Canada, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and severe depression. Not long ago considered too dangerous to mingle with other inmates, Baloch was approved by a doctor to collect public assistance. He said he had been told to take it easy and not seek work for six months.

Worse than the confinement itself was the injustice of it, said Baloch. The day he was arrested, he said, "They told me, 'You will be going to Canada tomorrow. You have your flight at six o'clock in the morning.' " So he thought nothing of signing a piece of paper waiving his right to seek the Canadian consulate's help.

"I didn't know they were going to keep me for seven months," he said.

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The sons and daughters of liberty
Nat Hentoff, Village Voice, June 21, 2002

In the spirit of the Sons of Liberty, on February 4 of this year, some 300 citizens of Northampton, Massachusetts, held a town meeting to organize ways to—as they put it—protect the residents of the town from the Bush-Ashcroft USA Patriot Act. On that night, the Northampton Bill of Rights Defense Committee began a new American Revolution. Similar committees are organizing around the country.

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Principle gives way to prerogative
Editorial, The War in Context, June 27, 2002

As the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11th, some observers drew comfort from the thought that what had also been destroyed was any rational argument for the United States to continue spending billions of dollars on the development of national missile defense.

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Euphemisms for Israeli settlements confuse coverage
FAIR, June 26, 2002

The Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz reported last month (5/31/02) that at the behest of a Likud party minister, the Israel Broadcasting Authority has banned its editorial departments from using the terms "settlers" or "settlements" on radio and TV. According to Ha'aretz, "it is not clear if the editors will obey the order," which was seen as an attempt by the new IBA director to curry favor with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. What does seem clear is that settlements-- housing built on land illegally seized by Israel after the 1967 war-- are such a contentious issue within Israel that the Israeli government would like to stop reporters from even saying the word.

Nonetheless, the opinion pages of an Israeli paper like Ha'aretz often show a franker debate over Israel's aggressive settlement policy than one can generally find in mainstream U.S. media. Direct government interference doesn't seem to have been necessary to convince some major U.S. news outlets to avoid honest investigation of settlements, and sometimes even to avoid the word itself.

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Red, white and ever more blue
As icon after icon falls, America's psyche slips into a deepening funk

Mark Leibovich, Washington Post, June 27, 2002

These are rough times for American icons. Every day brings a fresh shame, pick your category: corporate icons (Arthur Andersen, Merrill Lynch), cultural icons (Martha Stewart), spiritual icons (the Catholic Church), altruistic icons (the Red Cross). This week's revelations that WorldCom, the nation's second-largest long-distance carrier, had overstated its cash flow by $3.8 billion was yet another body blow to our national faith in capitalism triumphant. All of which follows too closely on the destruction of the World Trade Center, the icon of capitalist architecture, and the attendant fear that has settled over Full Alert Nation since Sept. 11.

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The time of the terrorist
Patrick Buchanan, WorldNetDaily, June 24, 2002

Whenever Palestinians or Israelis seem to be moving toward the peace table, Hamas snaps that red cape of bloody terror in the face of Ariel Sharon, and Sharon dutifully imitates the raging bull. "We will never negotiate with terrorists and never reward terror," Israelis respond to the latest atrocities. Understandably so. But what Israelis fail to understand is that they are rewarding terror every time they respond in the way Hamas intends them to.

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Bush speech seen spurring Mid-East radicals
Alistair Lyon, Reuters, June 26, 2002

If President Bush had aimed to crank the motor of Islamic militancy, his Middle East policy speech was just the job, analysts said. "This is God's gift to Osama bin Laden," said Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based Arab newspaper al-Quds, who has interviewed the Saudi-born militant in the past. "Bush pleased two people -- the ultra-rightwing Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and the ultra-rightwing fundamentalist bin Laden. He confirmed bin Laden's argument that America is Israel and Israel is America," Atwan said.

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Martina Navratilova: U.S. can be as oppressive as a communist state
Kate Connolly, The Guardian, June 27, 2002

The tennis legend Martina Navratilova has hit out at her adoptive homeland, the United States, saying that in some ways it is as manipulative and oppressive as the Czechoslovak communist regime from which she fled 27 years ago.

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US threat to Balkans peace force

Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian, June 27, 2002

The US is threatening to scupper a Nato-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia from next Monday, as part of its campaign against the International Criminal Court (ICC).

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Kevin Phillips, The Nation, July 8, 2002

Politically, we already have a dynasty at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: the first son ever to take the presidency just eight years after it was held by his father, with the same party label. This dynasticism also has its economic side: both Bushes, père et fils, having been closely involved with the rise of Enron, another first for a presidential family, more on which shortly.

If we lack an official House of Lords, there are Bushes, Tafts, Simons, Rockefellers, Gores, Kennedys and Bayhs out to create a kindred phenomenon. Laura Bush is the only wife of a 1996 or 2000 major-party presidential nominee who has not yet entertained seeking a US Senate seat in her own right. The duchesses of Clinton, Dole and Gore have already considered (or acted).

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Bush's faux peace plan for the Middle East
David Corn, The Nation, June 25, 2002

Here's a question for George W. Bush. Do you believe your June 24 speech on the Middle East crisis would give a Palestinian living in a refugee camp--perhaps in a town where Israeli forces shelled a market, killing women and children, and destroyed parts of a hospital--any solace, any hope?

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You are sitting on the key
Hanoch Marmari, Ha'aretz, June 26, 2002

Dear Settlers of Judea and Samaria,

The time has come for us to turn to you with a most painful request: to give up the dream you have cultivated for years and come home. Come home of your own free will, not because you are forced to. Come home, recognizing and accepting that this is what must be done. You will be welcomed with open arms.

In the 35 years since the occupation of the territories, you have known times of hope and prosperity, and times of trouble and affliction, but you have always set yourselves apart from the rest of the community. The act of settlement has been the source of bitter controversy since the day you pitched your first tent. You have never enjoyed the blessing of the general public. Convinced of your righteousness, you chose to shut your ears to any rumblings of discontent.

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Bush is irrelevant and must go
Ira Chernus, Common Dreams, June 26, 2002

In a major policy shift, I have decided that George W. Bush is irrelevant and must be replaced as leader of the United States. Every week, an American somewhere murders, rapes, or brutalizes a foreigner. I hold the president personally responsible for every such attack.

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I wonder why Bush doesn't let Sharon run his press office
Robert Fisk, The Independent, June 26, 2002

Put your flak jackets on, President George Bush has spoken. He wants a regime change in Palestine, just as he wants a regime change in Iraq. He reads the Israeli government press handouts and accurately quotes them to his American people.

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News outlets pressed on bias in Mideast coverage
Mark Jurkowitz, Boston Globe, June 26, 2002

From CNN to National Public Radio, from The Washington Post to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, news organizations are coming under intense pressure, primarily from pro-Israeli advocates who are issuing press releases, withholding advertising, and organizing reader boycotts.

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Pakistan's president could confront axis of extremists
Tyler Marshall, Los Angeles Times, June 25, 2002

President Pervez Musharraf faces an ominous new challenge to his rule from three Islamic militant groupings that now stand against him, each clearly capable of using violence to bring him down, diplomats and others following developments in Pakistan believe. The presence of an undetermined number of fighters from Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terrorist network who fled to Pakistan last winter after the Taliban regime's collapse in neighboring Afghanistan merely adds to the volatile brew.

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Our girl was killed by a suicide bomber.. but it is the terror of Israel's occupation that 's to blame for her death
Alexandra Williams, The Mirror, June 25, 2002

A big red "Free Palestine" sticker has a prominent place on the Elhanan family's front door. But this is not a Palestinian house in the occupied territories. Remarkably, this home is in an affluent Jewish area in Jerusalem and belongs to a couple whose daughter Smadar, 14, was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber.

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Bush strategy aimed at bringing Palestine into house of compliant Arab states
David Hirst, The Guardian, June 26, 2002

To whatever camp they belong - be they "moderates" or "radicals", as the US classifies them - the whole Arab world cannot but regard Bush's policy pronouncement as perhaps the most dramatic display so far of his administration's incorrigible partisanship. "Blind support for Israel", trumpeted one Beirut newspaper; "Sharonian in letter and spirit," said another, "amounting to a US green light for Israel to upgrade its aggression against the Palestinians to include Lebanon and Syria too."

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COMMENT -- European leaders are dismayed that President Bush claims the right to tell the Palestinian people who they can or cannot have as their leader, but as we all know, the ballot box only has a minor role in George Bush's vision of democracy.

UK rift with Bush over Middle East
Patrick Wintour, Ian Black and Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian, June 26, 2002

Britain, in a rare breach with Washington, aligned itself yesterday with the rest of Europe in expressing dismay over George Bush's Middle East peace plan. It is the first serious rift on foreign policy between Tony Blair and Mr Bush since the Palestinian uprising began 21 months ago. Ahead of a difficult meeting with Mr Bush today at the G8 in Canada, Mr Blair and the foreign secretary, Jack Straw, openly rejected US demands that the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, stand down. Mr Blair insisted: "It is up to the Palestinians to choose their own leaders."

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Another step toward nowhere
Gideon Samet, Ha'aretz, June 26, 2002

There are worthy political plans that are difficult to implement, like the Oslo agreements and the Clinton plan. Then there is the Bush speech, which is talk without suggesting what to do with it. It was an unimplementable menu, full of hopeless conditions, posed not to solve a difficulty but to circumvent it.

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Both sides are wrong
Amira Hass, Ha'aretz, June 26, 2002

Today, reports on "Palestinian suffering" are perceived as national treason. Israelis conclude that the suicide attacks are the result of a murderous tendency inherent to the Palestinians, their religion, their mentality. In other words, people turn to bio-religious explanations, not social or historical ones. This is a grave mistake. If one wants to put an end to the terror attacks in general, and to the suicide attacks in particular, one must ask why the majority of the Palestinian population supports them.

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George W's bloody folly
Jonathan Freedland, The Guardian, June 26, 2002

That was a fantastic speech. Quite literally, fantastic. George Bush's address on the Middle East, delivered outside the White House on Monday evening, consisted, from beginning to end, of fantasy. It bore so little relation to reality that diplomats around the world spent yesterday shaking their heads in disbelief, before sinking into gloom and despair. Our own Foreign Office tried gamely to spot the odd nugget of sense in the Bush text - but, they admitted, it was an uphill struggle. Israelis committed to a political resolution of the conflict were heartbroken. Even Shimon Peres, foreign minister in Ariel Sharon's coalition, reportedly called the speech "a fatal mistake", warning: "A bloodbath can be expected."

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FBI checks out library records of terrorist suspects
Associated Press, USA Today, June 25, 2002

Across the nation, FBI investigators are visiting libraries and checking the reading records of people they suspect of being in league with terrorists, library officials say.

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When is a state not a state? When it's Palestinian
William Saletan, Slate, June 24, 2002

The White House keeps asserting that all parties in the conflict support Bush's "vision" of a Palestinian state. It's just that they don't quite agree on how to get there. To maintain this veneer of agreement, the administration avoids specificity. When will the "provisional" state give way to a permanent one? "At some point in the future," says Powell. Who will decide at what point Palestinian reforms are sufficient to merit statehood? "The President will wait … to see if the Palestinian institutions are going to form in a way that gives faith to the President and to the neighborhood that a viable government can be formed," says Fleischer. What is the U.S. agenda for upcoming talks with the parties? "We have remained committed to the concept of moving forward with the concept," says Powell. What immediate results does the United States expect? "The short-term goal is to figure out the way to get to the long-term goal," says Fleischer.
[The complete article]

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The reality thing
Paul Krigman, New York Times, June 25, 2002

President George H. W. Bush once confessed that he was somewhat lacking in the "vision thing." His son's advisers don't have that problem: they have a powerful vision for America's future. In that future, we have recently learned, the occupant of the White House will have the right to imprison indefinitely anyone he chooses, including U.S. citizens, without any judicial process or review. But they are rather less interested in the reality thing.
[The complete article - registration required]

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US hawks deliver victory to Sharon in battle over Arafat
Phil Reeves, The Independent, June 25, 2002

George Bush finally gave his long-awaited speech on the Israel-Palestinian conflict last night. The document had created acrimonious divisions between the administration's hawks and the State Department. The hawks won.
[The complete article]

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Will the war on terrorism follow the path of the Cold War?
Jo Freeman, Counterpunch, June 24, 2002

Since September 11 our government has mobilized for another undeclared war of uncertain duration against an unseen enemy -- this time on terrorism. Like its predecessor, the War on Terrorism aims at a powerful and pernicious enemy who could wreak enormous havoc at any minute. Like the Cold War, the War on Terrorism is being used to justify a variety of security measures which can potentially cause more harm to Americans than anything the enemy can do.
[The complete article]

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Sharon, the failed kingmaker
Charles Glass, The Guardian, June 25, 2002

Voices in Israel, including within Ariel Sharon's cabinet, are calling on their prime minister to crown his reconquista of the West Bank by naming a new Palestinian leader. If he does so, it will be his second exercise in Arab kingmaking. The first was 20 years ago in Lebanon. Eighteen years and thousands of dead later, Israelis were as happy to leave as the Lebanese were to see them go.
[The complete article]

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One-sided offer that will change nothing
Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, June 25, 2002

Hours before President Bush delivered his vision for Middle East peace yesterday, Israeli tanks roared up to the headquarters of Yasser Arafat and a sixth Palestinian town fell under Israeli military occupation. Mr Bush made no mention of either fact. Instead, his promise of a Palestinian state was contingent on a call to Palestinians to overthrow their elected leader, Yasser Arafat, and to create a western-style democracy that exists nowhere else in the Arab world.
[The complete article]

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Getting others involved
Mohamed Sid-Ahmed, Al-Ahram, June 20, 2002

The term "provisional state" turns the very notion of statehood on its head. The word state, with all its rich meanings and connotations, is deprived of all content when linked with the word provisional. Moreover, this bizarre appellation indefinitely postpones any content. It refuses the Palestinian Authority's request that a timeline be specified for an end to the occupation and, therefore, for the intermediary stage, and has replaced a fixed timetable for concluding a final status agreement by a performance benchmark system. Though Bush insisted that the Americans rather than the Israelis will determine whether the benchmarks have been met, given Bush's reluctance to inconvenience Sharon in any manner the interim stage could stretch on indefinitely.
[The complete article]

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America keeps doing Israel's bidding
Salim Hoss, International Herald Tribune, June 21, 2002

Arabs are dismayed by the fact that American positions concerning the Middle East have in effect been subordinated to Israel's will. The injunction comes from Ariel Sharon, prime minister of Israel, and the accommodation from the American president, George W. Bush. Sharon who suggested a conference on the Middle East. Now this has become an American proposition. It was Sharon who declared that an overhaul of the Palestinian Authority should precede any attempt at resuming peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel. Now this has become an American demand.
[The complete article]

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Critics say Bush doctrine might provoke 1st strike
Storer H. Rowley, Chicago Tribune, June 24, 2002

President Bush's emerging doctrine advocating pre-emptive military strikes against America's adversaries or terrorists possessing weapons of mass destruction could lead to unintended, and in some cases disastrous, consequences, defense analysts warn.
[The complete article - registration required]

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The white van
Were Israelis detained on Sept. 11 spies?

20/20, ABC News, June 21, 2002

Millions saw the horrific images of the World Trade Center attacks, and those who saw them won't forget them. But a New Jersey homemaker saw something that morning that prompted an investigation into five young Israelis and their possible connection to Israeli intelligence.
[The complete article]

Israeli spies cheer as WTC burns – not that there's anything wrong with that, says Barbara Walters
Justin Raimondo,, June 24, 2002

The stories the American media hopes you forget

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Build moral pressure to end the occupation
Desmond Tutu, International Herald Tribune, June 14, 2002

The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the last century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure. There is no greater testament to the basic dignity of ordinary people everywhere than the divestment movement of the 1980s.

A similar movement has taken shape recently, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. We should hope that average citizens again rise to the occasion, since the obstacles to a renewed movement are surpassed only by its moral urgency.
[The complete article]

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Al-Qaeda regroups in Pakistan's no-man's land
Jack Kelley, USA Today, June 24, 2002

Ghulam Khan, Pakistan — For $100, the two barbers in this border village will trim a traveler's hair, shave his beard, give him a set of clothes and help him slip pass checkpoints manned by Pakistani police. Since March, all of their customers — an average of 14 a week —have been al-Qaeda fighters, they say. Despite U.S.-led raids to capture them, up to 1,000 al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters have crossed from Afghanistan into Pakistan's tribal areas since the Taliban regime was ousted in November. Here, in a mountainous no-man's land where Pakistan wields little authority, al-Qaeda fighters have reassembled and are planning new attacks against the West, U.S. officials say.
[The complete article]

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Senator Feinstein demands answers from FBI
Report on University of California activities generates 'deep concern'

Seth Rosenfeld, San Francisco Chronicle, June 23, 2002

Documents, obtained during the course of three lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act, show that [in the 1950's and '60's] the FBI campaigned to fire UC President Clark Kerr, conspired with the head of the CIA to pressure the Board of Regents to "eliminate" liberal professors, mounted a covert operation to manipulate public opinion about campus events and to embarrass university officials, and secretly gave Gov. Ronald Reagan's administration intelligence reports it could use against groups engaged in dissent.
[The complete article]

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Welcome to the world
Gary Kamiya, Salon, June 22, 2002

One of these days, we're going to win the World Cup. When that day arrives, the rest of the world will no doubt be outraged. Too bad. We will have paid our dues. We will have earned the right to hold that trophy aloft and exult like everyone else. And as our athletes hold that trophy up, if we have learned anything from the World Cup we will celebrate not our God-given superiority as Americans who have now extended our sports hegemony into the last enemy redoubt, but something very different: our ordinariness. We will celebrate the way the sport cut us down to size. We will celebrate the way it took away our advantages -- our money, our facilities, our college gladiator-training factories -- leaving us face to face with our competitors. We will celebrate the sheer dazzling equality of this sport, and our membership in the community of nations, and our humanity.
[The complete article]

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War on Iraq is wrong
Editorial, The Nation, July 8, 2002

If the Bush Administration has its way, Iraq will be the first test of its new doctrine of pre-emption, which calls for early unilateral action against enemies suspected of posing a threat to America. For the United States, the world's military and economic superpower, to abandon a defensive, international-law stance and adopt such a destabilizing strategy is profoundly contrary to our interests and endangers our security. What was once the frothing of right-wing ideologues is now on the verge of becoming national policy. Yet we hear no opposition from leading Democrats either regarding the new doctrine--which will alienate allies and makes us even more hated around the world, and will be used by other nations as a pretext for settling their own scores--or regarding its specific application in Iraq. Instead, the Administration gained several influential supporters for an Iraqi regime change, including House minority leader Richard Gephardt and Senate majority leader Tom Daschle.
[The complete article]

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The West is walking away from Afghanistan - again
Jonathan Steele, The Guardian, June 24, 2002

When it came to sharing jobs in President Hamid Karzai's new government a balance was struck between the country's main ethnic groups, the Tajiks and the Pashtun. But on the major issue of whether Afghanistan will be run by educated people with a vision of democratic development, the loya jirga was a disaster. The struggle between the modernisers and the old mojahedin leaders was won decisively by the latter. Men responsible for the mayhem of the early 1990s hogged the microphones to boast of their role in resisting Soviet occupation but ignored the more recent destruction they caused and the fact that ordinary Afghans despise them as reactionary warlords. They forced their fundamentalist views of Islam on to the assembly, demanding - and getting from Karzai - the right to call the government "Islamic". A chief justice was appointed who believes in a strict interpretation of sharia law. The minister for women's affairs was denounced as "Afghanistan's Salman Rushdie"
[The complete article]

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COMMENT -- When George Bush launched his war on terrorism, he made it clear that this war would have a scope of his choosing when he included the clause, "...and those who harbor them." This would be a war not just against terrorists but also those who share their company. Bush's supporters described this as simply a pragmatic, practical approach to dealing with terrorism. What they refused to acknowledge was that they were implicitly sanctioning vengeance. The Israeli government is now attempting to institute a policy of expelling the families of terrorists. (It has had a long-standing practice of bulldozing their homes.) Who can argue that wittingly or not, these families have harbored terrorists and that Israel is yet again putting into practice the Bush Doctrine. But if this really is a doctrine, why should its province be exclusive to terrorism? Why should the spouse of a murderer not also face trial?

It's called "guilt by association" and it's a cornerstone of the Bush Doctrine. If it is morally and legally indefensible, isn't it time that it be treated as such?

IDF set to expel bombers' families
Aluf Benn, Amos Harel and Gideon Alon, Ha'aretz, June 23, 2002

The cabinet decided in principle in favor both of the expulsion of families of suicide strikers from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip, and of the expulsion of terror operatives from the territories. The implementation of this expulsion policy depends upon the outcome of a legal review.
[The complete article]

Israel to deport the families of suicide bombers
Peter Beaumont, The Guardian, June 24, 2002

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US cartoonists under pressure to follow the patriotic line
Andrew Buncombe, The Independent, June 23, 2002

Nine months after the attacks of 11 September, leading American political cartoonists say they are under intense pressure to conform to a patriotic stereotype and not criticise the actions of Mr Bush and his "war on terror". Those who refuse to bend to such pressure face having their work rejected, being fired or even publicly humiliated by the President's press secretary. Last month the veteran TV anchor Dan Rather sparked controversy when he said the patriotism engulfing the country had stopped the media asking difficult questions of America's leaders, and admitted he personally was guilty of such self-censorship. Now cartoonists, often the most biting political commentators of all, say they are feeling the same pressures. Excessive patriotic zeal exerted by editors and publishers means that many "progressive" cartoonists are having their work dropped. Some, especially those who work for smaller newspapers or who are freelance, are engaging in self-censorship to ensure their work gets used.
[The complete article]

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In Jenin, hospital officials recount a costly operation

John Ward Anderson and Molly Moore, Washington Post, June 21, 2002

Hospital workers said the Israeli troops threw a grenade into the building's foyer and sprayed it with automatic-rifle fire, blew up the safe and the door to the electrical wiring closet in the basement, and demolished the laundry room with heavy machine-gun fire that ripped through the wall from a tank outside. The rounds destroyed a $13,600 washer, dryer and iron from Denmark that were so new they were still in their shipping containers.

"A soldier pounded the [laundry] machine and said, 'This is not more important than 20 persons killed in Jerusalem,' " referring to a suicide bus attack Tuesday, according to Ali Jabarin, vice chairman of the hospital.

"He was a terrorist, but you are not a terrorist," Jabarin said he replied, pleading with troops not to damage the building and its contents. "You are a soldier . . . and this is a hospital."
[The complete article]

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Head of Sept. 11 probe allegedly obstructed Danforth's Waco inquiry
Richard Leiby and Dana Priest, Washington Post, June 22, 2002

The official in charge of ferreting out information about the FBI for a joint congressional intelligence panel allegedly obstructed a Justice Department probe of the bureau two years ago. As the FBI's deputy general counsel, Thomas A. Kelley was the bureau's point of contact for special counsel John C. Danforth's inquiry into the 1993 Waco debacle in which 75 Branch Davidians died in a fire after a 51-day standoff. Kelley, who has since retired from the FBI, heads the intelligence panel's probe of the bureau's role in tracking terrorists before the Sept. 11 attacks. According to a December 2000 internal FBI memo, Kelley "continued to thwart and obstruct" the Waco investigation to the point that Danforth was forced to send a team to search FBI headquarters for documents Kelley refused to turn over. "This non-cooperative spirit was at the specific direction of [deputy general counsel] Kelley," the memo states. The memo, written by an agent in the bureau's Office of Professional Responsibility, is cited in a letter sent to the intelligence committee leadership by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). The letter was obtained yesterday by The Washington Post. "I am concerned that Mr. Kelley is part of this review," Grassley wrote.
[The complete article]

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Fatal vision: how Bush has given up on peace
Robert Fisk, The Independent, June 23, 2002

Just a week ago, as we all know, Mr Bush had another of his famous "visions". They started in the autumn of last year when he had a vision of a Palestinian state living side by side with Israel. This particular vision coincided quite by chance, of course, with his efforts to keep the Arab states quiescent while America bombed the poorest and most ruined Muslim country in the world. Then this dream was forgotten for a few months until, earlier this year, Vice President Dick Cheney toured the Middle East to drum up Arab support for another war on Iraq. The Arabs tried to tell Cheney that there was already a rather dramatic little war going on in the region. And what happened? George Bush suddenly had his vision thing again.

Now, however, after six visits to the United States by Ariel Sharon – and after Bush was totally ignored by the Israelis when he demanded an immediate end to the West Bank invasion and an end to the siege of Palestinian towns – the President has had yet another vision, a rather scaled-down version of the earlier one. Now he dreams of an interim Palestinian state. It is a sign of how obedient American journalists have become that not one US newspaper has seen this for the preposterous notion it really is. The great American newspapers – I'm talking about their physical bulk not their contents – tiresomely pontificate on the divisions within the American administration on the Middle East. Or they ask whether there's a Middle East policy at all: there is not, of course. But the ideas of this US administration, however vacuous or simply laughable, continue to be treated with an almost sacred quality in the American press and on television.
[The complete article]

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They come here to live... and, if God wills it, to die
Peter Beaumont, The Observer, June 23, 2002

Jewish settlers have borne the brunt of recent terror attacks. Yet still they cling on to occupied Palestinian land, blocking moves towards peace. Peter Beaumont finds out why they are so determined to stay.
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Bush at bay
Ed Vulliamy, The Observer, June 23, 2002

The invitation arrived at the White House a few days before last week's historic World Cup victory by the United States over Mexico. It was from the Mexican President Vincente Fox, suggesting that President George Bush and he watch the game together, as a gesture of friendship between neighbouring nations. The reply came, from a member of Bush's staff: the President would be asleep at that hour of the night. It mattered little, since most of his nation was likewise in slumber - but the rebuff spoke volumes to columnists and Washington DC observers about the clueless, crassly selfish quality of a President and a presidency which are suddenly lurching, rather than governing, at the apex of American power.
[The complete article]

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