"Ain't Gonna Study War No More"

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Monday, October 18, 2004

Soldiers Fear That They Are 'Sleeping with the Enemy'

Adrian Blomfield discovers deep mistrust between American troops and Iraqi soldiers they are training.
If the US marines and Iraqi national guardsmen living at the Karmah military barracks near Fallujah talk at all, they speak through the bars of a small window.

The Americans peer out from the ammunition room, filled with weapons confiscated from suspected insurgents, trading banter with the Iraqis who stand on tiptoes in a huddle outside, their eyes squinting against the glare of the late summer sun.

Though there is laughter, things are not as they should be at Karmah barracks. "This is camp poison," whispers a marine. "Watch your back."

The sinister atmosphere at Karmah barracks is not difficult to understand. The marines are convinced that many, perhaps most, of the 140 members of the Iraqi National Guard (ING) they share the camp with are double agents working on behalf of the insurgents holding Fallujah.

In the past week alone the marines have arrested five of the guardsmen, including their commanding officer, Capt Ali Mohammed Jasim.

It is just one example that a Vietnam-era experiment Washington resurrected to form the backbone of an offensive planned by the end of the year to retake Fallujah, the crucible of Iraq's insurgency, is going disastrously wrong. Under the Combined Action Platoon (CAP) scheme, US soldiers train Iraqi guardsmen, live with them in the same barracks and venture out on joint patrols, all steps towards a longer-term objective of the withdrawal of American troops.

The plan was first developed in Vietnam, where US marines cohabited with local militias to defend villages from Vietcong raids. At the same time the marines trained the militiamen with the intention of turning them into an effective fighting force, but they were too ill-equipped and underpaid for the plan to have much success.

Mark II of the CAP programme seems to be running into even greater problems. Across the country American troops work with their poorly equipped Iraqi colleagues in an atmosphere soured by distrust - especially in provinces where the insurgency is at its most intense.

With Fallujah under insurgent control, US marines such as those at Karmah are trying to secure the surrounding al-Anbar province.

Their efforts have been blighted by remotely detonated mines, known as improvised explosive devices (IEDs), targeting the patrols that nervously venture out on to the lawless streets of towns that have become insurgent havens. Since June, some platoons have seen up to half their men wounded in action. Eighty marines have been killed in the province.

The marines are convinced that the ING knows where many of the IEDs are planted, and even say they have caught guardsmen in the act of laying mines. When joint patrols come under attack, they say, the ING simply refuses to fight. As the relationship worsens, more and more ING are simply refusing to turn up at work. Of the 140 guardsmen based at Karmah an average of between 40 and 60 turn up on any given day. At other CAP barracks, that number is sometimes as low as two. Since the arrest of the Karmah ING captain, the rapport has become even more sullen. The marines sit under canvas shelters, convinced that the guardsmen lurking in their dormitories are traitors and murderers.

"We know when this place is about to come under mortar attack because the ING suddenly disappear," one marine said, staring across the dusty compound at two guardsmen smoking on a wooden bench. "We are supposed to be fighting together, instead we are sleeping with the enemy."

In their bare dormitory angry guardsmen queue up to tell their side of the story, accusing the marines of arrogance, bullying and a cavalier disregard for civilian life. Twelve guardsmen spoke to The Daily Telegraph, but all refused to identify themselves, saying they feared reprisals from the marines.

"The first mistake they make is that when they are attacked they don't just fire at the terrorists, they shoot everywhere," one said.

Other guardsmen alleged that the marines publicly humiliated and even physically assaulted them for minor misdemeanours. Another said he, like many others, had been arrested on suspicion of involvement in planting an IED. He said he was held for 14 days in a tiny "cooler" and then tortured during interrogation.

"They would make me drink water and drink water and then kick me in the stomach till I vomited," he said.

Adrian Blomfeld
The Telegraph U.K.

An Old Sailor Bucks the Tide

He won't join those who think that patriotism demands conformity.

As an old sailor in the middle of my eighth decade, I figure I'll be piped over the side for the final time before too many years. When it happens, I hope they do it up royally with all the trimmings of a military funeral. After the bugler has finished and the sailors have shot their blanks toward the heavens, another sailor is supposed to give my widow an American flag on behalf of a grateful nation.

I just hope it gets that far. Nowadays gratitude seems to depend more on politics than service. I'm one of those who, after shucking his uniform, no longer feels like staying in step. I worry that Bertha might not even be offered a flag.

Not long ago I was following a huge pickup, which was plowing through traffic as if to say, "Look at me." The driver was flying a huge American flag on his truck. The big flag annoyed me. Annoying me might just have been the idea. As I drew nearer I could make out the message on his bumper sticker. It said, minus a vulgarity: "If you don't like this flag, tough. Go to leavethecountry.com." (There is such a site, but it appears unrelated to the bumper sticker's sentiment.)

I was a little embarrassed at resenting a display of the flag I had followed so proudly for so many years. But, more often than not these days, Old Glory is used as a symbol of exclusion; its very meaning is distorted. The American flag is supposed to stand for all of us.

Today we're vilified if all of us don't speak as one. Otherwise, they tell us, we'll lose those freedoms we cherish so much. How's that for a paradox? Still, the rhetoric is spawned by politicians, bellowed by jingoistic talk-show hosts and repeated endlessly in Internet chat rooms.

And it started at the top. Shortly after 9/11, the president told us: "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror." Not much room for dissent there.

Sure, he was talking to other nations, but one month later his attorney general, John Ashcroft, made certain the official version of patriotism applied to all of us. He said to a Senate committee: "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of goodwill to remain silent in the face of evil."

And some members of the House abandoned reason. French fries became "freedom fries" in the House cafeteria in protest of France's opposition to the invasion of Iraq.

In the presidential campaign, some Swift boat veterans of the Vietnam War have been giving their own curious definition of patriotism by questioning the patriotism of John Kerry, who fought in Vietnam but later spoke out against the war. Somehow they forgot to mention the other candidate, who stayed as far away from that war as possible.

So where does that leave a creaking 74-year-old veteran with 22 years, nine months and 11 days of service? If I disagree with the government on anything, will I still have the right to be honored by a flag.

Maybe when I check out, that sailor could just give my widow a little flag. That would be all right with me because I don't want to be mistaken for one of those who needs big ones and loud bombast to prove something. And whoever does my eulogy could tell my grandkids I was indeed patriotic but I got out of step with conformity now and then.

Keith Taylor is a retired Navy officer living in Chula Vista, Calif. His e-mail address is KRTaylorxyz@aol.com.

'Chain of Command': What Geneva Conventions?

"CHAIN OF COMMAND'' is the best book we are likely to have, this close to events, about why the United States went from leading an international coalition, united in horror at the attacks of 9/11, to fighting alone in Iraq and, in Abu Ghraib, to violating the very human rights it said it had come to restore.

According to Seymour M. Hersh, whose revelations this spring about the Abu Ghraib scandal have matched in impact his breaking of the My Lai story in 1969, this fatal declension was a direct consequence of presidential decisions taken long before combat in Iraq. The war on terror began as a defense of international law, giving America allies and friends. It soon became a war in defiance of law. In a secret order dated Feb. 7, 2002, President Bush declared, as Hersh puts it, that ''when it came to Al Qaeda the Geneva Conventions were applicable only at his discretion.'' Based on memorandums from the Defense and Justice Departments and the White House legal office that, in Anthony Lewis's apt words, ''read like the advice of a mob lawyer to a mafia don on how to . . . stay out of prison,'' Bush unilaterally withdrew the war on terror from the international legal regime that sets the standards for treatment and interrogation of prisoners. Abu Ghraib was not the work of a few bad apples, but the direct consequence, Hersh says, of ''the reliance of George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld on secret operations and the use of coercion -- and eye-for-an-eye retribution -- in fighting terrorism.''

The resort to torture also flowed from the administration's fantasies of liberating Iraq and its failure to anticipate Iraqi resistance. Once this resistance began to claim American lives in the summer and autumn of 2003, the administration believed it had to let the dogs loose -- literally -- at the prison at Abu Ghraib. Torture and humiliation became the fallback response to the failure to plan for occupation. Bush may have neglected to anticipate Iraqi resistance, but Saddam Hussein did not. According to Ahmad Sadik, an Iraqi Air Force brigadier general in signals intelligence Hersh interviewed in Damascus in December 2003, Hussein had ''drawn up plans for a widespread insurgency in 2001, soon after George Bush's election brought into office many of the officials who had directed the 1991 gulf war,'' stockpiling small arms around the country. Insurgency divisions were set up under the command of Izzat al-Douri and Taha Yassin Ramadan, Hussein's lieutenants. If this is true, and if, as Sadik told Hersh, he was interviewed by American intelligence after the fall of Baghdad, it is genuinely astonishing that the administration did not see the insurgency coming.

We now have two major accounts of the road to war in Iraq, Hersh's ''Chain of Command'' and Bob Woodward's ''Plan of Attack.'' Hersh is the anti-Woodward. Woodward is official scribe to the inner sanctum, and his access -- to Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Powell -- gives his account real authority, but at a price. In Woodward's world, everything is what the principals say it is. In Hersh's world, by contrast, nothing the policy elites say is true actually is. Sy Hersh would be persona non grata in that inner sanctum, because unlike Woodward, he is not inclined to take dictation from presidents. What Hersh lacks in privileged access, he makes up for in unparalleled sources throughout the Washington bureaucracy, among the secret army of spooks, bureaucrats and bag carriers in the F.B.I., State and Defense. ''Chain of Command'' is a whispering gallery peopled by phantoms: a ''former U.S. ambassador in the Middle East told me,'' ''one recently retired senior military officer . . . said at the time,'' ''a high-ranking intelligence official similarly noted.'' Hersh has sources not just in Washington, but also in Syria, Turkey, Pakistan and Israel. In his introduction, David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, where Hersh has been writing steadily about national security and intelligence issues and Afghanistan and Iraq, assures readers that Hersh's tips are verified by the magazine's editors. The problem is not accuracy, I think, so much as whose agenda Hersh may be furthering without meaning to. Are C.I.A. operatives talking to him to cover the agency's lamentable failures? Are State Department people spinning him because State is so obviously out of the loop on key decisions?

Hersh has vacuumed up all their doubts and anger at the policy they were charged to execute. Put Woodward together with Hersh and an abyss opens up, dividing the decision elite's view of the road to war -- ideological, pristine, hard-edged and clear -- and the foot soldiers' view -- messy, incompetent, confused and sometimes downright immoral.

Hersh's reporting is not faultless -- he never really established, at the time, just how flawed the weapons of mass destruction intelligence truly was, and he allowed himself to accept the conventional wisdom of the early days of the invasion, that the United States would get bogged down because it lacked sufficient troops. The problem turned out not to be the execution of the combat phase, but the lack of preparation for the occupation phase.

At a few points, a reader is left wondering: so how would Hersh control the abuses he so tellingly illuminates? Take the case of the Hellfire missile strike on a Qaeda leader named Qaed Salim Sinan al-Harethi, while he was driving in a car in Yemen. Hersh equivocates, admiring the precision of the strike but not addressing the hard question: if the technology exists to eliminate a genuine and correctly identified terrorist cadre, how do you keep the practice under legal and political control so that targeted killing does not degenerate into a Vietnam-style Operation Phoenix program?

At the end of the book, Hersh confesses that he still hasn't got the whole story. ''There is so much about this presidency that we don't know, and may never learn,'' he writes. ''How did they do it? How did eight or nine neoconservatives who believed that war in Iraq was the answer to international terrorism get their way? How did they redirect the government and rearrange longstanding American priorities and policies with so much ease? How did they overcome the bureaucracy, intimidate the press, mislead the Congress and dominate the military? Is our democracy that fragile?''

Yes, our democracy is that fragile. Checks and balances in the American constitutional system are functioning poorly. With some creditable exceptions -- Senators Byrd, Kennedy, Biden come to mind -- Congress did not subject the case for war to critical scrutiny. The courts deferred for too long to presidential authority, and only now with the recent Supreme Court decision, on the rights of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, that ''a state of war is not a blank check for the president,'' have they begun to claw back some of their prerogatives of judicial review. Nor, in the lead-up to war, did the press, Hersh included, subject the administration case on weapons of mass destruction to the critical scrutiny it cried out for. They were taken for a ride, and so were we.

What we have learned since, however, about the secret war fought in our name and to our discredit, we owe to reporters, chief among them Sy Hersh. This book reminds us why tough, skeptical journalism matters so much: it helps to keep us free.

Michael Ignatieff is the Carr professor of human rights at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government and the author of ''The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror.''

Anglicans Criticize U.S. Church on Gays

LONDON -- An Anglican church commission on Monday urged the U.S. Episcopal Church not to elect any more gay bishops and called on conservative African bishops to stop meddling in the affairs of other dioceses.

The commission, created last year after the consecration of V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, called for apologies from both sides, and for reconciliation among the world's Anglican churches.

The immediate reaction, however, suggested no move toward reconciliation. The head of the Episcopal Church pointedly did not express regret for Robinson's elevation, drawing fresh denunciations from conservative opponents who believe the U.S. church has strayed from biblical truth.

The report also urged the Canadian and American churches to refrain from blessing same-sex unions, arguing that North American liberals had breached "the proper restraints of the bonds of affection" among Anglicans.

"Should the call to halt and find ways of continuing in our present communion not be heeded, then we shall have to begin to learn to walk apart," said the unanimous report of a 17-member commission headed by Irish Archbishop Robin Eames.

The report, which didn't criticize Robinson personally and didn't call for anyone to be punished, "represents the highest degree of consensus that was attainable," said Drexel Gomez, archbishop of the West Indies, a commission member and a leading conservative critic of the U.S. church.

Eames told a news conference the report didn't offer any easy solutions to the church's crisis, and sought reconciliation rather than punishment.

"You cannot impose reconciliation," Eames said, citing his own experience of Northern Ireland's peace process after three decades of violence.

But Eames rejected a reporter's suggestion that the world Anglican church was "helter-skeltering toward meltdown."

"I like to think we are learning the realities of a pluralist, sad and divided world," Eames said.

The Anglican church traces its roots to the Church of England, whose archbishop of Canterbury is the communion's spiritual leader. But both the Church of England and the Episcopal Church are now among the smaller members of the communion, which has grown strong in Africa.

African bishops spearheaded a resolution overwhelmingly adopted in 1998 by Anglican bishops which declared homosexuality "incompatible with Scripture" and opposed gay ordinations and the blessing of same-sex unions.

In consecrating Robinson, the report said, the Episcopal bishops "acted in the full knowledge that very many people in the Anglican Communion could neither recognize nor receive the ministry as a bishop in the church of God of a person in an openly acknowledged same-gender union."

The report urged the Episcopal Church "to express its regret." Until there is an apology, the report said, those who participated in consecrating Robinson, including Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold, should consider whether to withdraw from functions of the Anglican Communion.

The commission also called on the Episcopal Church to place a moratorium on promoting any other person living in a same-gender union to the bishopric "until some new consensus" emerges.

Griswold has previously expressed regret for the turmoil and has withdrawn as co-chairman of an Anglican ecumenical body.

"We regret how difficult and painful actions of our church have been in many provinces of our communion, and the negative repercussions that have been felt by brother and sister Anglicans," he said Monday.

But Griswold said his church was seeking to live the Gospel "in a society where homosexuality is openly discussed and increasingly acknowledged."

"Other provinces are also blessed by the lives and ministry of homosexual persons. I regret that there are places within our communion where it is unsafe for them to speak out of the truth of who they are," Griswold said.

A U.S. bishop, Robert Duncan of Pittsburgh, accused Griswold of "regrettable arrogance."

"How can he go on leading a church which has been asked to turn back?" asked Duncan, leader of the American Anglican Council, a conservative grouping opposed to Robinson's elevation.

The Rev. Johnson Ebong, provincial mission and evangelism coordinator in the Church of Uganda, said an apology from the Episcopal Church wouldn't be enough.

"Apology is not the word used in the Bible. We use repentance, meaning turning away from sin and sinning no more," Ebong said.

The Anglican Communion Network, a grouping of dissenting Episcopal congregations, expressed disappointment the commission failed to recommend discipline for the Episcopal Church, saying unity should not be maintained at the expense of biblical teachings.

"We must not allow a desire to hold the church family together to allow us to maintain the fatal disease that grips (the Episcopal Church) and by association, the Anglican Communion," the network leaders said.

In its report, the commission urged bishops not to intrude into other dioceses. In Los Angeles, for instance, some congregations have aligned with Ugandan Archbishop Henry Luke Orombi, provoking a lawsuit contesting ownership of church properties.

"The Anglican Communion cannot again afford, in every sense, the crippling prospect of repeated worldwide inter-Anglican conflict," the commission said.

Its report recommended that the churches draft and sign an "Anglican Covenant" that would deal with relationships among the national churches. The report envisioned this as a long-term process, concluded with a formal signing. No date was suggested.

Associated Press Writer
Posted October 18 2004, 7:35 PM EDT

Faith Increasingly Part of Kerry's Campaign

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 17 -- John F. Kerry is evolving from a reserved Catholic reluctant to discuss faith in the public square into a Democratic preacher of sorts who speaks freely and sometimes forcefully about religion on the hustings.

From the pulpit to the pastures, Kerry is increasingly spreading a more spiritual message and visiting local churches, as he did the past two days in Ohio, to expound on the political lessons of the Bible's James and Saint Paul.

"Through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come," Kerry intoned Sunday morning at Mt. Olivet Baptist Church. " 'Tis grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home." He told the crowd of 1,500 he wasn't there to preach but went on to, well, preach about the Good Samaritan, the emptiness of a faith devoid of deeds and God's high calling to love one another -- before criticizing from the pulpit President Bush over Social Security and jobs.

A few hours later, Kerry borrowed from the Book of James to condemn the president for failing to help the suffering people of Darfur, Sudan. "Words without deeds are meaningless -- especially when people are dying every day," Kerry said in a statement issued by his campaign.

Tens of millions of Americans were introduced to the candidate's spirituality during the final debate, in which Kerry talked at some length about the Catholicism he says guides his ideology and life.

"My faith affects everything that I do, in truth," Kerry said during the debate last week in Tempe, Ariz. The candidate is planning to further elaborate on faith, family and values in a speech this week, aides said.

It wasn't always this way. For much of the campaign, Kerry resisted pressure from some Democrats, including aides, to discuss his faith more widely and mostly touched on the topic only before African American audiences on Sundays.

In an interview with The Washington Post during the Democratic primaries, Kerry appeared hesitant to discuss religion. He steered the conversation toward his belief that Bush was blurring the lines between church and state in dangerous ways.

In July, Tad Devine, a longtime Kerry friend and strategist, said the candidate clings to a tradition of keeping religion a "private matter."

So what prompted the change? A top aide said Kerry has simply grown more comfortable publicly "opening up" about God and faith, as the campaign has progressed and opportunities have arisen (such as the third and final debate, when several questions about faith were posed). It is part of a broader effort by an introverted Kerry to share more about his life and experiences, the aide said. One of Kerry's new lines is how there are three great teachers in life: parents, schoolteachers and God.

But some friends say that Kerry also has gained a deeper appreciation of how voters in many of the battleground states -- from Hispanic Catholics in New Mexico to evangelical Christians in rural Ohio -- seek candidates of faith, or at least desire reassurance that their president shares most of their values.

In some ways, it is unavoidable. In Ohio last week, Kerry was greeted by a large billboard screaming "Vote the Bible" and by signs reading "Christians for Kerry." At a town-hall meeting in Xenia, a Democrat in the audience pulled Kerry into the debate over faith in politics with a pointed faith-based question. A few hours later, a Roman Catholic priest in nearby Chillicothe praised his religious beliefs at a Saturday afternoon service arranged for the traveling candidate.

"If dare we say by the grace of God the brother should be the one chosen to lead, it is our hope he will one day come back to us and celebrate with us as president of the United States, not in this small room, but in the church where we will do it openly, publicly, proudly," the Rev. Lawrence L. Hummer of St. Mary's said on Saturday.

A few hours later at a family-owned farm, Kerry talked about "God's blessing" of the mountains, sky and lands around him. "You get a sense of how blessed we are," he said at an event, where he also was given a rifle and told supporters he would be hunting in these parts next week.

Stanley Greenberg, Kerry's pollster, said a higher percentage of voters has to come to view Kerry as a man of character and truth -- attributes some Democrats say are strengthened by the candidate's public embrace of God and by his display of moral values such as personal opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.

To be sure, Bush speaks more frequently and often with more passion about religion, and enjoys a huge advantage among white evangelical Christians. In 2000, Bush won more than two of every three votes from people who said they attended church at least once a week, according to a post-election study by the University of Akron.

Some call this the "God gap": The less frequently people attended church, the more likely they are to vote Democratic. Greenberg said that, if anything, Bush is doing even better with evangelicals this time.

But political scientists say a large number of more casual Christians and Roman Catholics are considered important swing voters. Catholics, in particular, are being targeted by both candidates in the final days of this campaign.

As he expounds on faith and politics, Kerry draws a sharp contrast with Bush on how the Bible instructs government leaders, as well as with many Catholics over fealty to church doctrine.

The religious divide, not unlike the political one, comes down to siding with liberals in the church over the more orthodox conservatives. Kerry, for example, has broken with some Catholic leaders who say it is a sin for a politician to support abortion rights. In the final debate, the Democratic candidate made it clear he opposes abortion as an "article of his faith," but would never appoint a Supreme Court justice who favors overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision establishing a woman's right to an abortion.

Kerry instead seeks to broaden the discussion to the Catholic Church's teachings against war and the death penalty and for helping the poor, hungry and homeless. That is why the candidate frequently quotes from the New Testament's James, who wrote about how faith without works is dead.

"I see deeds and I see a whole lot of things that when you add them up, make you wonder about the public words about values versus the public deeds and works that show values," Kerry said at the Baptist church here.

This, aides say, is Kerry's way of calling into question Bush's commitment to the teachings of the New Testament. In what has become a familiar refrain of Kerry's sermons, he told the story of the Good Samaritan to illustrate God's calling to help the least of America's people.

"This," he said, "is how you reach the kingdom of Heaven."

Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, October 18, 2004; Page A01

Storm-Battered Haiti's Endless Crises Deepen

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Oct. 12 - Marguerite Dorima, seven months pregnant in a faded yellow sundress, sloshed through the muddy, fetid waters that still occupied the heart of Gonaïves last weekend, three weeks after Tropical Storm Jeanne provoked flash floods that killed some 1,900 people and left 900 missing and presumed dead.

With one hand on her white lace head scarf and the other on her bulging belly, Ms. Dorima maneuvered the slippery muck with the aid of makeshift bridges made of splintery boards and discarded plastic jugs. She was determined to make it to a food distribution center to get rice and beans to last her family of eight through another week.

But there would be no handouts that day. In an act of supreme political miscalculation, the daily distribution of food had been suspended because Haiti's provisional president and prime minister were coming to town to mourn the victims of the tropical storm.

On learning this, Ms. Dorima sighed and peered at the white tanks encircling the city's imposing cathedral, where a "symbolic Mass" was to about to take place for the dead who had been unceremoniously buried, together with some goats and cows, in a mass grave at the edge of town. Ms. Dorima was grieving for her 7-year-old niece, Jean-Claudine, but she had not known about the memorial service and, exhausted, did not attend.

Few did. Instead, a large, ragtag group gathered outside to shout its frustration with the caretaker government's response to the disaster. Their chants of "Liars! Thieves!" drowned out the worshipers singing "Take pity on me, Lord, take pity on your people." And as the politicians flew back to the capital after failing to audibly address the crowd, the angry men vented their rage by burning tires and shooting.

The storm's devastation of Gonaïves, Haiti's third-largest city, has exposed the continuing fragility of Haiti seven months after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, facing a mounting revolt by former military officers and rebels, resigned under international pressure.

In the wake of the storm, a surge of bloody unrest in the slums of Port-au-Prince, the capital, has laid bare the country's continuing volatility, too. The violence grew out of demonstrations by Mr. Aristide's supporters to mark the Sept. 30 anniversary of a military coup that toppled him during his first term in office, and some of it has been especially grisly. A former military official's headless, castrated body was left to decompose near the capital's port last week.

This week, tensions escalated even further, when former military officials, who now control several provincial towns despite the fact that their army was disbanded in 1995, pledged to gather in the capital to confront the violence. With new pro-Aristide demonstrations scheduled for Saturday, Port-au-Prince was bracing for a fresh round of bloodshed over the weekend.

These twin crises, natural and political, underscore the immensity of the underlying challenges that the country faces. Haiti's ravaged environment would require decades of sustained effort to repair, and reforming the culture of impunity in which the ruthless armed gangs thrive would require a long-term international commitment to lifting Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere, out of its despair.

But, as is often the case, Haiti's emergencies take precedence, and the emergencies now are in Gonaïves, where international aid efforts have been hampered by widespread looting, and in Port-au-Prince, where the specter of a direct battle between former military officers and militant supporters of Mr. Aristide looms.

Haiti has effectively been in international receivership since Feb. 29, when Mr. Aristide, the country's first democratically elected president, was placed on a Pentagon jet into exile. But its transitional government, even with the bolstering of a United Nations peacekeeping force and more than $1 billion in pledged international aid, is inherently weak just as the destructive forces here are strong. International officials here fear that the current unrest could profoundly undermine the world's fledgling - and some here say halfhearted - effort to steer Haiti toward reconstruction, reconciliation and elections in 2005.

Of primary concern, there are still large numbers of weapons on the streets. The American marines who, with French legionnaires, took over Haiti's security after Mr. Aristide's ouster did restore order, but they did not undertake a serious disarmament effort before turning security control over to United Nations peacekeepers in June. So far the United Nations troops have not done so either.

Gérard Latortue, a Florida resident who was chosen as Haiti's interim prime minister by an American-backed council of prominent Haitians in March, recently described how he begged Secretary of State Colin L. Powell not to withdraw the marines all at once. "Unfortunately, the Americans preferred to send their troops elsewhere, forgetting their neighborhood," Mr. Latortue said in a speech in Miami.

Many other countries dragged their heels on committing the forces that they pledged to the United Nations. The peacekeeping force will be outnumbered by armed thugs even at its promised strength of 8,300 soldiers and civilian police officers. But the force is still not even at half-strength.

This greatly troubles officials in Haiti, since development efforts hinge on security.

"I'm afraid of a continued deterioration in the security situation," said Adama Guindo, resident coordinator for the United Nations in Haiti. "The international community must remain engaged to help stabilize this country. Haiti cannot live on emergency aid alone."

The Rising Waters

In the early evening of Sept. 18, Héber Pélissier, president of the local chamber of commerce, stood on the second-floor balcony of his home and watched in horror as the waters suddenly rose.

"The water took several cars with it, and then the panic started," he said. "It began to get dark, and I heard cries: "Help me, I am going to die, save me, I am drowning.' ''

As water swallowed the first story of his house, bodies began floating by and he felt helpless, he said. He gathered his family around him, and they prayed.

"I had this belief deep inside me that there is a limit to the fury of God," Mr. Pélissier, a broad-shouldered man with salt-and-pepper hair, said last weekend, choking back a single sob. "I said to God, 'Many have died here. This is it. We don't want any more to die.' "

Mr. Pélissier speculated that God was punishing his town for its perpetual leading role in Haiti's violent history. Gonaïves was the birthplace of Haiti's independence 200 years ago, the seat of the uprising against the 30-year Duvalier government and the kickoff zone for the revolt against Mr. Aristide.

Recently, Gonaïves, a city of 250,000 that was once a flourishing cotton center, has been a lawless haven for gangs and rebels, so turbulent that its schools have essentially been shuttered since November 2003. While some places in Haiti have environmental and disaster plans, Gonaïves is not one of them. "Nature decided that it was payback time for the bad management of ecological problems in the Gonaïves area," said Prime Minister Latortue, a native of the city.

Extreme environmental degradation, especially deforestation, has made Haiti extremely susceptible to natural disaster. When rainwater rushes downstream unfettered by trees, catchment areas or drains, it sets off deadly flash floods.

It did not take a hurricane or even a particularly strong tropical storm to wash away or destroy thousands of homes in Gonaïves. Many still standing are surrounded by moats of chocolate-colored water, and many residents are living on their roofs amid crushed bed frames and brightly hued piles of sodden clothing. Tens of thousands are completely homeless, like Ms. Dorima's sister, whose husband left her after their little girl was "lost to the waters."

"All she has left to her name is one pair of panties," Ms. Dorima said.

Pigs roam the muddy streets, nosing around in piles of rotting garbage. Many alleyways have become filthy canals, turning Gonaïves into a putrid version of Venice. On the outskirts, almost all crops were destroyed and livestock drowned.

Noel Madiro Morilus, an agriculture official, traveled to the cathedral on Saturday to "launch an urgent S O S" for Terre-Neuve, his region of some 25,000 north of Gonaïves that had yet to receive any aid or official visits.

"Please get us help," he urged an American journalist, who brought his concerns to a United Nations official's attention. "We have hundreds of homeless, many are running constant fevers, the children have bumps on their skin. Seventeen people have died, and more are dying. We are drinking unpurified water and we have nothing to eat."

A Spike in Violence

Rival armed groups and gangs began flexing their muscles over the summer, as crimes like carjacking increased, a full-dress military parade took place in the capital and pro-Aristide militants staged a brief showdown with international forces in Cité-Soleil, a Port-au-Prince slum.

The spike in violence, however, began precisely on Sept. 30, when supporters of Mr. Aristide marched to demand his return.

Mr. Aristide and his wife just accepted appointments as research fellows at the University of South Africa, indicating they have settled in there. But he has said he was forced to leave Haiti, and his supporters - the slum-based populist movement called Lavalas, which means cleansing flood - want Mr. Aristide, a former priest, to finish out his second term in office, which was supposed to end in 2005.

The Sept. 30 march began peacefully, but gunfire erupted, setting off bloody battles between the Haitian police and Aristide supporters. Each side blamed the other for starting the violence, which has created a worrisome climate of insecurity ever since.

Like Tropical Storm Jeanne, which hit a city where no one was really in charge, the violence has underscored the tenuousness of the interim government's control. Hastily assembled in March under American supervision, the government has no political power base, except in the tiny elite, which considers it professional.

Mr. Latortue, 70, an impeccably dressed man who keeps his nails well buffed, is a self-described technocrat who moved back to Haiti from Boca Raton, Fla., to take up his post. In a fiercely divided society with more than 90 political parties, Mr. Latortue, a former United Nations official, says he is nonpartisan. "We just want a national reconciliation until elections can take place in 2005," he said.

But the government has come to be seen by many here, including some international officials, as partial toward the former military and anti-Lavalas. Mr. Latortue himself saluted a former rebel leader as a "freedom fighter," and, in a hasty, overnight trial, his government exonerated another rebel leader of his notoriously violent past.

Mr. Latortue's government has allowed former military officers and rebels to take charge or remain in charge of several towns, including Petit-Goâve, where, dressed in their old uniforms, former soldiers have installed themselves in the police station. The government also appeased former soldiers by signing an agreement to create a bureau of former military officials, pay pensions, hand out security jobs and study the idea of reviving a Haitian army.

In exchange, the former soldiers agreed to give up their weapons. But they have not been pressed to do so. And this week, ex-soldiers who helped topple Mr. Aristide were issuing increasingly bellicose statements about the violence roiling the capital, boasting of new recruits and plans to march on the capital.

"Someone needs to take control," Guy Philippe, 36, a rebel leader who is considered one of the most influential former military officials, said in an interview last week. But he also said he himself was "not in the mood" to pick up arms again.

Some international officials here believe that Mr. Latortue is handling the former military with kid gloves while others see it as finesse. But many are concerned about what they see as the current Haitian government's tendency to vilify Lavalas, which still has significant popular support. This, they say, is creating antagonism rather than courting compromise.

Among Mr. Aristide's supporters, passions have been inflamed by the recent arrests of several Lavalas leaders. Louis Gérald Gilles, one of them, said in an interview after his release that he saw his arrest as part of a concerted effort to discredit and eliminate Lavalas.

"They interrogated us and suggested we were the intellectual authors of the violence," Dr. Gilles, a surgeon, said. "But we are not. Every sector in our society has its extremists, including Lavalas. Every sector uses guns to destroy democracy in Haiti. Lavalas remains the most popular party. It is unwise to treat us as the root of all evil because it is a way of disdaining the people."

Caught in the middle of these roiling emotions is the risk-adverse, understaffed United Nations peacekeeping force.

Starting last week, United Nations troops and Haitian police officers carried out joint raids aimed at flushing out militants. They arrested more than 120 people. But they seized few weapons, at least partly because some Haitian police officers leaked news of the raids before they took place, Gen. Augusto Heleno Pereira of Brazil, the commander of the United Nations peacekeepers here, said in an interview.

Jean-Claude Bajeux, who served in Mr. Aristide's first cabinet but later turned against him, said the joint operations were not serving any real purpose if they did not take guns off the streets. "You have to block a sector for 24 hours, shut it down, then go from house to house," Mr. Bajeux said. "If there is no will or appetite to do this, then the U.N. should leave."

But General Heleno said that a forceful disarmament operation in a congested shantytown was a delicate task, and that he did not want to increase tensions or cause civilian deaths. He would prefer to persuade people to give up their arms rather than to take them by force, anyway, he said.

A Struggle for Food

In Gonaïves, the distribution of food has created heartrending scenes. Large crowds of women wait shoulder to shoulder for hours under a broiling sun, pushed up against barbed wire and surrounded by peacekeeping troops, some in riot gear. Faint from heat and hunger, the women jostle and tumble, desperate to get their rations before the day's supply runs out.

From the start of the relief effort, supply trucks have struggled over severely damaged roads, fording a three-foot-deep lake at the edge of town. They have been stopped by flaming barricades and have suffered considerable looting. Last week, the violence in Port-au-Prince closed the port for several days, blocking aid shipments.

CARE officials said that their food supplies were dwindling and that, with some peacekeeping troops heading back to Port-au-Prince to deal with the violence there, they were very concerned about security. They were planning to cut their food distribution to two sites from four.

Last weekend, they did not distribute any food at all. On Saturday, the local government decided that it needed to divert security to protect the politicians and on Sunday, local officials said they were "too tired from the president's visit," Joseph Jouthe of CARE said.

During the Mass, the president and the prime minister sat stiffly side by side in black armchairs in front of the pews. Afterward, they tried to address the restive crowd outside. They ascended to a balcony and the figurehead president, Boniface Alexandre, began to speak through a small, tinny loudspeaker. He was inaudible, and the people chanted, "We can't hear you."

The two provisional politicians then descended, ringed by security. After another brief, unsuccessful effort to communicate using the inadequate megaphone, they climbed in their cars and drove off, effectively leaving a former rebel leader in charge. Before long, tires were flaming and gunshots rang through the air.

Through the afternoon, in the tense streets of a city that has sparked so many rebellions, young men drummed on empty water jugs and chanted the songs they used to sing against Mr. Aristide, changing the target to vent their latest fury.

"Whether he wants to or not," they shouted, again and again, "Boniface must go."


Published: October 16, 2004

The Bush Doctrine is Israel's Doctrine

It is not coincident to have American tanks and Armour of terror rolling into Iraqi towns killing innocent Iraqi civilians en masse and destroying their homes and communities at the same time Israeli tanks rolled into Palestinian refugee camps and towns killing Palestinian civilians en masse and destroying their homes and communities. Iraq and Palestine are two centres of identical atrocities committed by two close allies against defenceless populations. These atrocities are only allowed to continue because of the silence and passivity of Western citizens, and media pundits.

The implementation of the “Bush doctrine” U.S. National Security Strategy in Iraq is greeted with fanfares in Israel, and particularly among the fascist element of the Israeli elites. No other country has benefited from the destruction and occupation of Iraq more than Israel. Israel was able to built its illegal “Apartheid Wall” and confiscate more Palestinian land. Israeli soldiers murdering Palestinian school children point blank. Iraq provided the right diversion for Israel to perpetuate its crimes against the Palestinians. Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians have increased by many folds in the last two years.

The “new” Bush doctrine, “repudiates the core idea of the United Nations Charter, which prohibits the use of international force that is not undertaken in self-defence after the occurrence of an armed attack across an international boundary or pursuant to decision by the UN Security Council”, writes Richard Falk, Professor of International Law and Practise at Princeton University.

There is nothing new about the Bush doctrine. On the contrary, this doctrine has been around for a long time. On June 07, 1981, the world was outraged by Israel’s blatant aggression against Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak. The Los Angeles Times called it, “state-sponsored terrorism”. The UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution condemning Israel aggression. The international community, including the US, rejected Israel’s claim of “self-defence”.

In March 1986, US president Roland Reagan ordered an air attack on Libya killing scores of innocent civilians, including the daughter of president Muammar el-Qadaffi. The pretext for Reagan “pre-emptive” strike was “Libya’s association with terrorism”. In 1998, Bill Clinton ordered a cruise missiles attack on Sudan’s al-Shifa Pharmaceutical plant destroying the source of vital medicine, and as a result killed many thousands of innocent people. Both attacks have been condemned by the majority of nations as acts of aggression contrary to Article 51 of the UN Charter.

After the 9/11 attacks on the US, the Bush administration saw an “opportunity” to justify attacking other nations “pre-emptively”. Hence, the tragedy of 9/11 has legitimised the doctrine of pre-emptive strike. Afghanistan and Iraq were the immediate victims of this doctrine. As usual, the pretexts were self-defence.

In the case of Iraq, all pretexts proved to be fabricated lies, and we are now told that the invasion and occupation of Iraq is justified because the US is “bringing-democracy” to Iraq and the Middle East by way of mass killings of Iraqi civilians on daily basis. Today, most Iraqis believe that Saddam was not that bad compared with the new “democracy” brought by the US. The US is more interested in building more bases, controlling regions and resources than caring about “moral principle” and solving humanitarian crises.

The US main goal in Iraq is to find a Vichy-style regime, keeps Iraq dependent and has access to bases. The US is interested in domination, not democracy. If the US is interested in free democracy, the best place for the US to start is at home in the US. The people of Iraq are doomed if they do not resist this new tyranny.

After the UN have been sidelined and international laws and norms have been ignored, the doctrine have been modified to allow the freedom of aggression against nations that have the “intent and ability” to develop weapon of mass destruction. In other words, high schools and universities with teaching laboratories are sufficient pretexts for pre-emptive strike. It should be borne in mind that this doctrine is only applies to the US and Israel. For example, Iran, which is threaten by both the US and Israel, does not have a right of self-defence.

One day after the 9/11 attacks, the Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was commenting on the significance of the 9/11 atrocity on Israel and US relations. “It is very good”, he said. “Well, not very good but it will generate immediate sympathy”, and it would “strengthen the bond between our two people, because we have experienced terror over so many decades, but the United States has now experienced a massive haemorrhaging of terror”.

Two years after the 9/11 attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon couldn’t be much happier. President George Bush called him “a man of peace”, and President Bush is adopting Israel’s own doctrine, the Bush-Israel doctrine to “strengthen the bond” between Israel and the US.

Unfortunately, no one seems to have the courage to remind the world of Ariel Sharon, as the oldest terrorist on the scene today. Mr Sharon impeccable career goes back to 1953. The Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz, recalls Sharon's leading of a massacre in the village of Kibya in 1953. “The soldiers of Major Ariel Sharon killed 70 Palestinians in the reprisal raid, most of them women and children”. Since then, Sharon never looked back. He continued his career of mass murdering Palestinian men, women and children in the refugee camps.

In 1981 invasion of Lebanon, Mr Sharon organised cold-blooded massacre of 2000 Palestinian men, women and children at the Sabre and Chatila camps in Beirut. At least 17,000 civilians were killed in the Israeli invasion and tens of thousands of homes destroyed. Even the Israeli Kahan Commission found Sharon quote “personally responsible” for the massacre.

During the course of the second intifada, the total number of Palestinians killed between September 29, 2000 and May 31, 2004 is 3,023, mostly women and children. In December 2, 2000, Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, wrote: “I am sure we can all agree that Israel has indeed perpetrated the international crime of genocide against the Palestinian People”.

The number of Iraqi civilians killed by US Occupation forces is much higher. It is estimated that between 37,000-55,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed as a result of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. The massacres of innocent civilians continue today in Iraq and Palestine.

The reasons for invading Iraq remain hidden from the public: protecting Israel and secure vital energy resources in the Middle East. The US deputy defence secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, told Vanity Fair Magazine in early 2004: “For bureaucratic reasons we settled on WMD [to invade Iraq] because it was the one reason everyone could agree on”. He went further to tell journalists that, “economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil”. The reason Mr Wolfowitz was saying was a convenient lie – a lie that has been sold to the citizens of the world. Mr Wolfowitz, who is also know as “Israel-centric” for his loyalty to Israel’s violence against the Palestinians, was one of the architects of the invasion of Iraq.

The US is currently playing the role of the “proxy soldier” for Israel. Philip Zelikow, who is now the executive director of the body set up to investigate the 9/11 attacks, told a crowd at the University of Virginia on September 2002: ”Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I'll tell you what I think the real threat [is] and actually has been since 1990 -- it's the threat against Israel,” he continued, ”and this is the threat that dare not speak its name, because the Europeans don't care deeply about that threat, I will tell you frankly. And the American government doesn't want to lean too hard on it rhetorically, because it is not a popular sell [to Americans],” said Mr Zelikow.

Former Wall Street Journal editor Max Boot claims that the Bush doctrine “sounds as if it could have come straight out from the pages of Commentary magazine [the mouthpiece of the American Jewish Committee], the neocon bible.” Of course any one mentioning Israel will be blackmailed by being “anti-Semitism”, which is designed to nullify public discourse by smearing and intimidating foes and censoring and blacklisting them, and any who would publish them. Norman Podhoretz, editor emeritus of Commentary, has for decades branded critics of Israel as anti-Semites. Arabs and Israelis are Semites.

Harvard professor Stanley Hoffman writes of the neocons, “there is a loose collection of friends of Israel, who believe in the identity of interests between the Jewish state and the United States. … These analysts look on foreign policy through the lens of one dominant concern: Is it good or bad for Israel? Since that nation’s founding in 1948, these thinkers have never been in very good odour at the State Department, but now they are well ensconced in the Pentagon, around such strategists as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith”.

Robert Kaiser of the Washington Post quotes a senior U.S. official as saying; “The Likudniks are really in charge now.” Kaiser names Perle, Wolfowitz, and Feith as members of a pro-Israel network inside the administration and adds David Wurmser of the Defence Department and Elliott Abrams, (the son-in-law of Norman Podhoretz) of the National Security Council. Sharon repeatedly claims a “special closeness” to the Bushites, Kaiser writes. “For the first time a U.S. administration and a Likud government are pursuing nearly identical policies”, he noted.

Kathleen and Bill Christison, former CIA analysts for may years, wrote recently, “the suggestion that the war with Iraq is being planned at Israel's behest, or at the instigation of policymakers whose main motivation is trying to create a secure environment for Israel, is strong” They noted that, “many Israeli analysts believe this”. They cited Israeli commentator Akiva Eldar in a Ha'aretz column “that [Richard] Perle, [Douglas] Feith, and their fellow strategists ‘are walking a fine line between their loyalty to American governments and Israeli interests’”.

Furthermore, peace activist Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom, who wrote a biography of Ariel Sharon and knows him well, has written many times that Sharon “has long planned grandiose schemes for restructuring the Middle East and that “the winds blowing now in Washington remind me of Sharon”. The Israeli project is an imperialist project extending from the Caucasus to the Indian Ocean. Iraq is the platform for this “imperialist thrust” eastwards. Israel penetration into Iraq on the back of US tanks is a case in point. Seymour Hersh recently reported in the New Yorker that, Israel is using Kurdish militias in northern Iraq to destabilise Iran.

It is a worrying concern that mainstream media pundits and Western liberals remain silence on this dangerous and violence ideology of few reactionary, self-serving individuals who hijacking the sorrows of the American people in order to serve the interests of Israel.

The Bush doctrine “is an approach fraught with peril and likely to fail. It is not politically unsustainable but diplomatically harmful”, wrote Professor John Ikenberry of George Washington University. “ And if history is a guide, it will trigger antagonism and resistance that will leave America in more hostile and divided world”.

The Bush doctrine, like the Israel doctrine, is doomed to fail. Those who support the US Occupation of Iraq are only opportunists, criminals and thugs. No one welcomes occupation and terror with roses and kisses, let alone US-Israel occupations of Arab lands. Anti-imperialist resentment in Iraq is deeply embedded in the Iraqi national psyche, and no American violence will shake it.

The only peaceful solution for the current tragedy and violence is for American allies and civilised citizens to reject the Bush-Israel doctrine and convince the US and Israel to end their occupations of Iraq and Palestine and live like civilised nations.

Ghali Hassan lives in Perth Western Australia: He can be reached at e-mail: G.Hassan@exchange.curtin.edu.au

Is Iran Next?

Shortly after 9/11, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith began coordinating Pentagon planning for an invasion of Iraq. The challenge facing Feith, the No. 3 civilian in the Defense Department, was to establish a policy rationale for the attack. At the same time, Feith’s ideological cohorts in the Pentagon began planning to take the administration’s "global war on terrorism," not only to Baghdad, but also to Damascus and Tehran.

In August it was revealed that one of Feith’s Middle East policy wonks, Lawrence Franklin, shared classified documents – including a draft National Security Presidential Directive formulated in Feith’s office that outlines a more aggressive U.S. national security strategy regarding Iran – with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and Israeli officials. The FBI is investigating the document transfer as a case of espionage.

This spy scandal raises two concerns for U.S. diplomats and foreign policy experts from across the political spectrum. One, that U.S. Middle East policy is being directed by neoconservative ideologues variously employed, coordinated or sanctioned by Feith’s Pentagon office. And two, that U.S. Middle East policy is too closely aligned with that of Israeli hardliners close to U.S. neoconservatives.

Feith is joined in reshaping a U.S. foreign Middle East policy – one that mirrors or complements the policies of the hardliners in Israel – by a web of neoconservative policy institutes, pressure groups and think tanks. These include the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies (IASPS), Center for Security Policy (CSP) and the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) – all groups with which Feith has been or still is closely associated.

First Iraq, now Iran

In the months after 9/11, rather than relying on the CIA, State Department or the Pentagon’s own Defense Intelligence Agency for intelligence about Iraq’s ties to international terrorists and its development of weapons of mass destruction, neoconservatives in the Pentagon set up a special intelligence shop called the Office of Special Plans (OSP). The founders, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Feith, are fervent advocates of a regional restructuring in the Middle East that includes regime change in Iran, Syria and, ultimately, Saudi Arabia.

Not having its own intelligence-gathering infrastructure, Feith’s office relied on fabricated information supplied by Ahmed Chalabi, an Iraqi expatriate who led the Iraqi National Congress (INC). In 1998, Chalabi’s group was funded by the Iraq Liberation Act, a congressional initiative that was backed by neoconservative institutions such as AIPAC, CSP, Project for the New American Century (PNAC) and the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

At the same time that Chalabi and other INC militants were visiting Feith’s office, so were Israeli officials, including generals, according to Lt. Col Karen Kwiakowski, who formerly worked in the Near East and South Asia office under Feith’s supervision. Like the neoconservatives in the United States, Israeli hardliners believe that Israel’s long-term security can best be ensured by a radical makeover of Middle East politics enforced by the superior military power of the United States and Israel.

It now appears that Feith’s Office of Policy, which was creating dubious intelligence rationales for the Iraq war, was also establishing a covert national security strategy for regime change in Iran – most likely through a combination of preemptive military strikes (either by the United States or Israel) and support for a coalition of Iranian dissidents.

Covert operators

This covert operation is now the subject of an FBI espionage investigation and inquiries by the House Judiciary Committee and Select Senate Intelligence Committee – inquiries that have been postponed until after the election.

Without notifying the State Department or the CIA, Feith’s office has been involved in back channel operations that have included a series of secret meetings in Washington, Rome and Paris over the last three years. These meetings have brought together Office of Policy officials and consultants (Franklin, Harold Rhode and Michael Ledeen), an expatriate Iranian arms dealer (Manichur Ghorbanifar), AIPAC lobbyists, Ahmed Chalabi, and Italian and Israeli intelligence officers, among others.

Franklin, an Iran expert who was pulled into Feith’s policy shop from the Defense Intelligence Agency, met repeatedly with Naor Gilon, the head of the political department at the Israeli embassy in Washington. According to U.S. intelligence officials, during one of those meetings, Franklin offered to hand over the National Security Presidential Directive on Iran. For more than two years, an FBI counterintelligence operation has been monitoring Washington meetings between AIPAC, Franklin and Israeli officials. Investigators suspect that the draft security document was passed to Israel through an intermediary, likely AIPAC.

Franklin, who is known to be close to militant Iranian and Iranian-American dissidents, is the common link to another series of meetings in Rome and Paris involving Ledeen (an American Enterprise Institute scholar who was a special consultant to Feith), Harold Rhode (a cohort of Ledeen’s from the Iran-Contra days, who is currently employed by Feith to prepare regime-change strategy plans for Middle Eastern countries on the neoconservatives’ hit list), and Ghorbanifar (an arms dealer who claims to speak for the Iranian opposition). These meetings addressed, among other things, strategies for organizing Iranians who would be willing to cooperate with a U.S.-spearheaded regime change agenda for Iran.

Echoes of Iran-Contra

This cast of characters indicates that U.S. Middle East policy involves covert and illegal operations that resemble the Iran-Contra operations in the ’80s. Not only are the neoconservatives once again the leading actors, these new covert operations involve at least two Iran-Contra conspirators: Ledeen, who has repeatedly complained that the Bush administration has let its regime-change plans for Iran and Syria "gather mold in the bowels of the bureaucracy"; and Ghorbanifar, who the CIA considers a "serial fabricator" with whom the agency prohibits its agents from having any association

During the Iran-Contra operation, Israel served as a conduit for U.S. arms sales to Iran. The proceeds went largely to fund the Nicaraguan Contras despite a congressional ban on military support to the counterrevolutionaries. This time around, however, the apparent aim of these back channel dealings is to move U.S.-Iran relations beyond the reach of State Department diplomats and into the domain of the Pentagon ideologues. Ledeen, the neoconservative point man in the Iran regime-change campaign, wrote in the National Review Online that too many U.S. government officials "prefer to schmooze with the mullahs" rather than promote "democratic revolution in Iran."

In early 2002, Leeden, along with Morris Amitay, a former AIPAC executive director as well as a CSP adviser, founded the Coalition for Democracy in Iran (CDI) to build congressional and administration support for Iran regime change. AIPAC and CDI helped ensure passage of recent House and Senate resolutions that condemn Iran, call for tighter sanctions and express support for Iranian dissidents.

The CDI includes members of key neoconservative policy institutes and think tanks, including Raymond Tanter of the Washington Institute for Near East Affairs (WINEA) – an off-shoot of AIPAC – and Frank Gaffney, president of CSP. In the ’90s, Feith served as the board chairman of CSP, whose slogan is "peace through strength," and where Woolsey currently serves as co-chairman of the advisory committee. Other neoconservative organizations represented in the coalition by more than one member include AEI and Freedom House.

Rob Sobhani, an Iranian-American, who like Ledeen and other neoconservatives is a friend of the Shah’s son Reza Pahlavi, is also a CDI member. CDI expresses the common neoconservative position that constructive engagement with the Iranian government – even with the democratic reformists – is merely appeasement. Instead, the United States should proceed immediately to a regime change strategy working closely with the "Iranian people." Representatives of the Iranian people that could be the front men for a regime change strategy, according to the neoconservatives, include, the Shah’s son, Reza Pahlavi (who has also cultivated close ties with the Likud Party in Israel), the Iraq-based guerrilla group Mujahadin-E Khalq (MEK), and expatriate arms dealer Ghorbanifar.

The CDI’s Ledeen, Amitay and Sobhani were featured speakers at a May 2003 forum on "the future of Iran," sponsored by AEI, the Hudson Institute and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The forum, chaired by the Hudson Institute’s Meyrav Wurmser, the Israeli-born wife of David Wurmser (he serves as Cheney’s leading expert on Iran and Syria), included a presentation by Uri Lubrani of Israel’s Ministry of Defense. Summarizing the sentiment of neoconservative ideologues and strategists, Meyrav Wurmser said: "Our fight against Iraq was only a battle in a long war. It would be ill-conceived to think we can deal with Iraq alone. We must move on, and faster."

JINSA, a neoconservative organization established in 1976 that fosters closer strategic and military ties between the United States and Israel, also has its sights on Iran. At a JINSA policy forum in April 2003 titled "Time to Focus on Iran – The Mother of Modern Terrorism," Ledeen declared, "The time for diplomacy is at an end; it is time for a free Iran, free Syria and free Lebanon."

JINSA, along with CSP, serves as one of the main institutional links to the military-industrial complex for neoconservatives. Ledeen served as JINSA’s first executive director and was JINSA’s "Godfather," according to Amitay. Amitay is a JINSA vice chair. JINSA board members or advisers also include former CIA director James Woolsey, former Rep. Jack Kemp and the AEI’s Joshua Muravchik. After he joined the administration, Feith resigned from JINSA’s board of advisers, as did Vice President Dick Cheney and Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton.

Like other neoconservatives, Feith sees Israel and the United States sharing common national-security concerns in the Middle East. In 1996, Feith was a member of a study team organized by IASPS and led by Richard Perle that also included representatives from JINSA, the AIPAC-related WINEA, and Meyrav and David Wurmser.

The resulting report, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm , advised Israeli Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu to "work closely with Turkey and Jordan to contain, destabilize and roll back" regional threats, to help overthrow Saddam Hussein, and to strike Syrian military targets in Lebanon and possibly in Syria proper. It recommended that Israel forge a foreign and domestic policy based on a "new intellectual foundation" that "provides the nation the room to engage every possible energy on rebuilding Zionism."

Ideology alone does not explain Feith’s close connections to Israel. His old law firm Feith & Zell, which has an office in Israel, specialized in representing arms dealers and missile defense contractors. The firm has boasted of its role in facilitating technology transfers between U.S. and Israel military contractors.

Zionism runs deep

Feith’s right-wing Zionism typifies neoconservatism. The Pentagon’s advocacy of an invasion of Iraq and, more recently, its hard-line postures with respect to Iran and Syria, must be considered in light of the Zionist convictions and Likud Party connections of those shaping the administration’s Middle East policy.

Through the early ’70s anti-totalitarianism was the core political tenet that united neoconservatives and their forerunners. In this Manichean political worldview, the forces of good and democracy led by the United States were under constant threat by the forces of evil as embodied in communism and fascism. At home, the "present danger" came in the form of appeasers, pro-détente advocates, isolationists and peace activists who shied away from direct and preemptive military confrontation with the totalitarian empire builders.

Although the early neoconservatives were largely Jewish, most were not Zionists. In the ’50s and through most of the ’60s, neocons such as Irving Kristol – widely known as the father of neoconservatism – regarded Israel more as a key Cold War ally than as the biblically ordained homeland of God’s chosen people.

After the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Jewish neoconservatives embraced their Judaic roots and incorporated Zionism into their worldview. Anti-totalitarianism remains a core neoconservative foreign policy principle. Since the end of the Cold War, neoconservatism has focused on the Muslim world and to a lesser extent China – but is now tied to the ideological and political imperatives of right-wing Zionism.

Feith’s own Zionism is rooted in his family. In 1997, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) honored Dalck Feith and his son Douglas at its annual dinner, describing the Feiths as "noted Jewish philanthropists and pro-Israel activists." The father was awarded the group’s special Centennial Award "for his lifetime of service to Israel and the Jewish people," while Douglas received the "prestigious Louis D. Brandeis Award."

Dalck Feith was a militant in Betar, a Zionist youth movement founded in Riga, Lativia in 1923, by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, an admirer of Mussolini. Betar, whose members spouted militaristic slogans modeled after fascistic movements, was associated with the Revisionist Movement, which evolved in Poland to become the Herut Party, the forerunner of the Likud Party.

In 1999, Douglas Feith contributed an essay to a book titled The Dangers of a Palestinian State , published by the ZOA. That same year, Feith spoke to a 150-member ZOA lobbying mission to Congress that called for "U.S. action against Palestinian Arab killers of Americans" and for moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The ZOA lobbying group also criticized the Clinton administration for its "refusal to criticize illegal Palestinian Arab construction in Jerusalem and the territories, which is far more extensive than Israeli construction there."

In addition to his close ties with the right-wing ZOA, before assuming his current position at the Pentagon Feith co-founded One Jerusalem, a group whose objective is "saving a united Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel." Other cofounders of this Jerusalem-based organization are David Steinmann, chairman of JINSA, board member of the CSP and chairman of the executive committee of the Middle East Forum; Dore Gold, a top adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; and Natan Sharansky, Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs and current chairman of One Jerusalem.

One Jerusalem actively courts the involvement of Christian Zionists. In May 2003, One Jerusalem hosted the Interfaith Zionist Summit in Washington, DC, that brought together Christian Zionists such as Gary Bauer of American Values and Roberta Combs of the Christian Coalition with Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum and Mort Klein of the ZOA.

Dual agendas

The Israeli government and AIPAC have denied that they engaged in any criminal operations involving classified Pentagon documents about Iran. Sharansky said, "There are absolutely no attempts to involve any member of the Jewish community and any general American citizens to spy for Israel against the United States." He observed that the investigation of the Pentagon’s Office of Policy staff most likely stemmed from an inter-agency rivalry within the U.S. government.

For his part, Ledeen told Newsweek that the espionage allegations against Franklin, his close friend, were "nonsensical." Ledeen and other neoconservatives see the investigations as instigated by the State Department and the CIA to undermine the credibility of neoconservatives and to obstruct their Middle East restructuring agenda, particularly regime change in Iran.

Given the depth of congressional bipartisan support for Israel and close ties with right-wing Israeli lobbying groups like AIPAC, it’s unlikely that the investigations will provide the much-needed public scrutiny of the dual and complementary agendas that unite U.S. and Israeli hardliners. Feith’s policymaking fiefdom inside and outside of government continues to drive U.S. policy in the Middle East with no evidence that these radical policies are increasing the national security and welfare of either the United States or Israel.

Iran rumbles

Meanwhile tensions with Iran deepen – which suits the Iran war party just fine. "Stability," Michael Ledeen once said, "gives me the heebee jeebies."

On September 21, Iran’s President Mohammed Khatami warned that Iran may withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if Washington and the International Atomic Energy Commission demand that the country desist from plans to enrich uranium. The Iranian government says that it has no plans to develop nuclear weapons, and international inspectors have not determined otherwise. However, if Iran does proceed with its plans to enrich nearly 40 tons of uranium, which it says will be used to generate electricity, it is commonly acknowledged that in a few years it could produce several nuclear bombs.

But it’s not only the possibility that Iran could emerge as the Middle East’s second nuclear power that worries the United States and Israel. At the same time that Washington was demanding that the Iranian case be sent to the Security Council, the Iranian army was test-firing its long-range (810 miles) missile – a demonstration of its commitment to an effective deterrent capacity.

From the point of view of the Middle East restructurers, Iran represents an increasing threat to regional stability. Not only does it already have long-range missiles, and might be developing nuclear weapons, its close ties with the Shiite majority in Iraq do not bode well for the type of political and economic restructuring the Bush administration planned for Iraq. Moreover, neoconservatives and Israelis have long complained that Iran backs the Hezbollah militias in Lebanon and is fueling the Shiite rebels in Iraq.

Effectively, Washington has already declared war on Iran. Being named by President Bush as part of the "Axis of Evil" triad targeted in the global war on terrorism and the new U.S. strategy of preemptive war has made Iran increasingly nervous.

Iran – itself a victim of a 1953 British and U.S.-engineered regime change that installed the Shah – has seen the United States implement regime change in Iraq to its west and Afghanistan to its east. Moreover, the U.S. government has for the first time solidly allied itself with the military hardliners in Israel – the region’s only nation with nuclear warheads and one of the few nations that has refused to sign the nonproliferation treaty.

Back in 1996, Feith was busy representing the armament industries in Israel and the United States while at the same time preparing a policy briefing for the Israeli government. In A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm , Feith et al. recommended "a new vision for the U.S.-Israeli partnership … based on a shared philosophy of peace through strength" – a "clean break" policy that is currently being dually implemented by the Bush and Sharon administrations. The next demonstration of strength may well be with Iran.

Tom Barry is policy director of the Interhemispheric Resource Center and author of numerous books on international relations.

Barak O-Bomb-a?

Democrats Target Iran

John Kerry's antiwar supporters have repeatedly warned that a military attack on Iran is imminent if George Bush is reelected. But Democrats are rattling their sabers at the same target.

On September 24, Barack Obama--the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate from Illinois, and a shoo-in favorite--suggested "surgical missile strikes" on Iran may become necessary. "[L]aunching some missile strikes into Iran is not the optimal position for us to be in" given the ongoing war in Iraq, Obama told the Chicago Tribune.

"On the other hand, having a radical Muslim theocracy in possession of nuclear weapons is worse," he said. Obama went on to argue that military strikes on Pakistan should not be ruled out if "violent Islamic extremists" were to "take over."

A U.S. strike on Iran could well open up a new war front. When the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) conducted a recent series of war games involving an attack on Iran, an Air Force source told Newsweek, "The war games were unsuccessful at preventing the conflict from escalating."

Why would Obama, whose staunch opposition to the Iraq war made him a hero among Democratic Party liberals, consider attacking Iran? Obama--a keynote speaker at the Democratic Party Convention--has a bright future in the Democratic Party. And the Democratic Party is a war party.

Obama opposes immediate withdrawal from Iraq. His positions are entirely consistent with the Democratic Party's platform, which explicitly puts Iran on notice: "[A] nuclear-armed Iran is an unacceptable risk to us and our allies...With John Kerry as commander-in-chief, we will never wait for a green light from abroad when our safety is at stake."

During the first presidential debate, Kerry appeared eager to stress his willingness to "go it alone" when asked his opinion about "pre-emptive war." "The president always has the right and always has had the right for pre-emptive strike," declared Kerry, adding, "That was a great doctrine throughout the Cold War."

This comment will have shocked those who recall the decades-long standoff between the U.S. and former USSR quite differently--as a period when a "first strike" by either side could easily have led to "mutual assured destruction." "Pre-emptive war" is the centerpiece of the Bush Doctrine, announced to the world after September 11.

To be sure, Kerry made no fewer than 27 allusions to allies, the United Nations, summits and treaties during the debate--and continued to insist that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake. But when asked, "Are Americans now dying in Iraq for a mistake?" Kerry's answer was "No." Kerry proceeded to outline his strategy for winning, by "beginning to not back off of Falluja and other places and send the wrong message to terrorists...You've got to show you're serious."

This strategy, right-wing New York Times columnist William Safire eagerly pointed out, "requires us to inflict and accept higher casualties." This also happens to be the strategy Bush is now pursuing in Iraq.

Kerry promises to begin replacing U.S. troops with Iraqi forces next summer, with a complete U.S. pullout by the end of his first term. This strategy, known as "Vietnamization" in 1968, was the campaign slogan of Richard Nixon--denounced by the antiwar movement, John Kerry among them, when it proved to be a colossal failure.

Kerry's argument that the invasion of Iraq was "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" is a sleight of hand. This is not an antiwar statement. On the contrary, it is an argument that the Iraq war was a distraction from the "real" war on terrorism--in Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea and elsewhere.

Kerry's strategy is a recipe for more war--by crushing the resistance in Iraq and taking aim at other targets in the years ahead, a strategy not very different from Bush's. As Safire gloated after the debate, ""His abandoned antiwar supporters...shut their eyes to Kerry's hard-line, right-wing, unilateral, pre-election policy epiphany." The debate is not between pro-war Republicans and antiwar Democrats, but over which war in which place at which time will better advance the global aims of U.S. imperialism.


Why We Cannot Win

"LewRockwell.com" -- Before I begin, let me state that I am a soldier currently deployed in Iraq, I am not an armchair quarterback. Nor am I some politically idealistic and naïve young soldier, I am an old and seasoned Non-Commissioned Officer with nearly 20 years under my belt. Additionally, I am not just a soldier with a muds-eye view of the war, I am in Civil Affairs and as such, it is my job to be aware of all the events occurring in this country and specifically in my region.

I have come to the conclusion that we cannot win here for a number of reasons. Ideology and idealism will never trump history and reality.

When we were preparing to deploy, I told my young soldiers to beware of the "political solution." Just when you think you have the situation on the ground in hand, someone will come along with a political directive that throws you off the tracks.

I believe that we could have won this un-Constitutional invasion of Iraq and possibly pulled off the even more un-Constitutional occupation and subjugation of this sovereign nation. It might have even been possible to foist democracy on these people who seem to have no desire, understanding or respect for such an institution. True the possibility of pulling all this off was a long shot and would have required several hundred billion dollars and even more casualties than we’ve seen to date but again it would have been possible, not realistic or necessary but possible.

Here are the specific reasons why we cannot win in Iraq.

First, we refuse to deal in reality. We are in a guerilla war, but because of politics, we are not allowed to declare it a guerilla war and must label the increasingly effective guerilla forces arrayed against us as "terrorists, criminals and dead-enders."

This implies that there is a zero sum game at work, i.e. we can simply kill X number of the enemy and then the fight is over, mission accomplished, everybody wins. Unfortunately, this is not the case. We have few tools at our disposal and those are proving to be wholly ineffective at fighting the guerillas.

The idea behind fighting a guerilla army is not to destroy its every man (an impossibility since he hides himself by day amongst the populace). Rather the idea in guerilla warfare is to erode or destroy his base of support.

So long as there is support for the guerilla, for every one you kill two more rise up to take his place. More importantly, when your tools for killing him are precision guided munitions, raids and other acts that create casualties among the innocent populace, you raise the support for the guerillas and undermine the support for yourself. (A 500-pound precision bomb has a casualty-producing radius of 400 meters minimum; do the math.)

Second, our assessment of what motivates the average Iraqi was skewed, again by politically motivated "experts." We came here with some fantasy idea that the natives were all ignorant, mud-hut dwelling camel riders who would line the streets and pelt us with rose petals, lay palm fronds in the street and be eternally grateful. While at one time there may have actually been support and respect from the locals, months of occupation by our regular military forces have turned the formerly friendly into the recently hostile.

Attempts to correct the thinking in this regard are in vain; it is not politically correct to point out the fact that the locals are not only disliking us more and more, they are growing increasingly upset and often overtly hostile. Instead of addressing the reasons why the locals are becoming angry and discontented, we allow politicians in Washington DC to give us pat and convenient reasons that are devoid of any semblance of reality.

We are told that the locals are not upset because we have a hostile, aggressive and angry Army occupying their nation. We are told that they are not upset at the police state we have created, or at the manner of picking their representatives for them. Rather we are told, they are upset because of a handful of terrorists, criminals and dead enders in their midst have made them upset, that and of course the ever convenient straw man of "left wing media bias."

Third, the guerillas are filling their losses faster than we can create them. This is almost always the case in guerilla warfare, especially when your tactics for battling the guerillas are aimed at killing guerillas instead of eroding their support. For every guerilla we kill with a "smart bomb" we kill many more innocent civilians and create rage and anger in the Iraqi community. This rage and anger translates into more recruits for the terrorists and less support for us.

We have fallen victim to the body count mentality all over again. We have shown a willingness to inflict civilian casualties as a necessity of war without realizing that these same casualties create waves of hatred against us. These angry Iraqi citizens translate not only into more recruits for the guerilla army but also into more support of the guerilla army.

Fourth, their lines of supply and communication are much shorter than ours and much less vulnerable. We must import everything we need into this place; this costs money and is dangerous. Whether we fly the supplies in or bring them by truck, they are vulnerable to attack, most especially those brought by truck. This not only increases the likelihood of the supplies being interrupted. Every bean, every bullet and every bandage becomes infinitely more expensive.

Conversely, the guerillas live on top of their supplies and are showing every indication of developing a very sophisticated network for obtaining them. Further, they have the advantage of the close support of family and friends and traditional religious networks.

Fifth, we consistently underestimate the enemy and his capabilities. Many military commanders have prepared to fight exactly the wrong war here.

Our tactics have not adjusted to the battlefield and we are falling behind.

Meanwhile the enemy updates his tactics and has shown a remarkable resiliency and adaptability.

Because the current administration is more concerned with its image than it is with reality, it prefers symbolism to substance: soldiers are dying here and being maimed and crippled for life. It is tragic, indeed criminal that our elected public servants would so willingly sacrifice our nation's prestige and honor as well as the blood and treasure to pursue an agenda that is ahistoric and un-Constitutional.

It is all the more ironic that this un-Constitutional mission is being performed by citizen soldiers such as myself who swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, the same oath that the commander in chief himself has sworn.

September 20, 2004

Al Lorentz [alorentz@truevine.net] is former state chairman of the Constitution Party of Texas and is a reservist currently serving with the US Army in Iraq.

Copyright © 2004 LewRockwell.com