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Saturday, February 12, 2005

Al-Zarqawi, An American False Flag Operative

Over the past months, JUS has been watching a frightening trend of “false flag” operations beening waged by US intelligence. The latest in the series is Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, who has been accredited with everything from the Ricin attacks (which later turned out to be fake) to the resistance in Fallujah. An amazing enemy in deed for a man who has the staring role in an American “False Flag” operation.

As America escalates its “war on terrorism” which in fact is a war on Islam, the need to escalate disinformation and propaganda is also prevalent, particularly when the American public is loosing its stomach for the battle, when American lives are being lost each day and when the President continues to be caught red handed in one scandal after another.

To rouse public opinion to support America's colonial war effort, the US intelligence community has created it own terrorist organizations. War propaganda, disinformation and counterterrorism are braided together to achieve the maximum result, for “terrorism” must remain front and center in the minds of American citizens if America is going to reach its foreign policy objectives.

Here’s how it works. The disinformation is circulated to the news media and then the intelligence community creates its own terror warnings concerning the very organizations it has created. In some cases, the disinformation appears in advance, in order to pave the way for an up and coming act of “terror” that roots in a desired political outcome. This problem/solution equation always appears when the war effort is waning and serves to give a face to terror via an expensive advertising campaign.

And this is precisely what we have Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, America’s new “public enemy No 1”is. Zarqawi and his group have been used from the justification for the invasion of Iraq to the latest “barbaric” videotaped beheadings that his group claims to have carried out.

The US State Department has increased the reward for his arrest from $10 million to $25 million, which puts his "market value" at par with that of Osama. Interestingly, Al Zarqawi is not on the FBI most wanted fugitives list. http://www.fbi.gov/mostwant/topten/fugitives/fugitives.htm )

What follows are excerpts from an in-depth report from The Centre for Research on Globalization that has gone to considerable lengths to document this false flag operation. The complete article can be read at http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO405B.html


Al Zarqawi's Links to Al Qaida

Al Zarqawi is often described as an "Osama associate", the bogyman, allegedly responsible for numerous terrorist attacks in several countries. In other reports, often emanating from the same sources, it is stated that he has no links to Al Qaida and operates quite independently. He is often presented as an individual who is challenging the leadership of bin Laden.

His name crops up on numerous occasions in press reports and official statements. Since early 2004, he is in the news almost on a daily basis.

Osama belongs to the powerful bin Laden family, which historically had business ties to the Bushes and prominent members of the Texas oil establishment. Bin Laden was recruited by the CIA during the Soviet-Afghan war and fought as a Mujahideen. In other words, there is a longstanding documented history of bin Laden-CIA and bin Laden-Bush family links, which are an obvious source of embarrassment to the US government.

In contrast to bin Laden, Al-Zarqawi has no family history. He comes from an impoverished Palestinian family in Jordan. His parents are dead. He emerges out of the blue.

He is described by CNN as "a lone wolf" who is said to act quite independently of the Al Qaida network. Yet surprisingly, this lone wolf is present in several countries, in Iraq, which is now his base, but also in Western Europe. He is also suspected of preparing a terrorist attack on American soil.

He seems to be in several places at the same time. He is described as "the chief U.S. enemy", "a master of disguise and bogus identification papers". We are led to believe that this "lone wolf" manages to outwit the most astute US intelligence operatives.

According to The Weekly Standard --which is known to have a close relationship to the Neocons in the Bush administration: "Abu Musab al Zarqawi is hot right now. He masterminded not only Berg's murder but also the Madrid carnage on March 11, the bombardment of Shia worshippers in Iraq the same month, and the April 24 suicide attack on the port of Basra. But he is far from a newcomer to slaughter. Well before 9/11, he had already concocted a plot to kill Israeli and American tourists in Jordan. His label is on terrorist groups and attacks on four continents." (Weekly Standard, 24 May 2004)

Al-Zarqawi's profile "is mounting a challenge to bin Laden's leadership of the global jihad."

In Iraq, he is said to be determined to "ignite a civil war between Sunnis and Shiites". But is that not precisely what US intelligence is aiming at ( "divide and rule") as confirmed by several analysts of the US led war? Pitting one group against the other with a view to weakening the resistance movement. (See Michel Collon, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/COL312A.html , See also http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/RAD308A.html )

The CIA, with its $30 billion plus budget, pleads ignorance: they say they know nothing about him, they have a photograph, but, according to the Weekly Standard (24 May 2004), they apparently do not know his weight or height.

There is an aura of mystery surrounding this individual which is part of the propaganda ploy. Zarqawi is described as "so secretive even some operatives who work with him do not know his identity."

Consistent Pattern

What is the role of this new mastermind in the Pentagon's disinformation campaign, in which CNN seems to be playing a central role?

In previous propaganda ploys, the CIA hired PR firms to organize core disinformation campaigns, including the Rendon Group. The latter worked closely with its British partner Hill and Knowlton, which was responsible for the 1990 Kuwaiti incubator media scam, where Kuwaiti babies were allegedly removed from incubators in a totally fabricated news story, which was then used to get Congressional approval for the 1991 Gulf War.

What is the pattern?

Almost immediately in the wake of a terrorist event or warning, CNN announces (in substance): we think this mysterious individual Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi is behind it, invariably without supporting evidence and prior to the conduct of an investigation by the relevant police and intelligence authorities.

In some cases, upon the immediate occurrence of the terrorist event, there is an initial report which mentions Al-Zarqawi as the possible mastermind. The report will often say (in substance): yes we think he did it, but it is not yet confirmed and there is some doubt on the identity of those behind the attack. One or two days later, CNN may come up with a definitive statement, quoting official police, military and/or intelligence sources.

Often the CNN report is based on information published on an Islamic website or a mysterious Video or Audio tape. The authenticity of the website and/or the tapes is not the object of Discussion Or Detailed Investigation.

History Of Al Zarqawi

The first time Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi's name is mentioned was in relation to the thwarted attack on the Radisson SAS Hotel in Amman, Jordan, during the millennium celebrations (December 1999). According to press reports, he had previously gone under another name: Ahmed Fadil Al-Khalayleh, (apparently among other aliases).

According to the New York Times, Al Zarqawi fled Afghanistan to Iran in late 2001, following the entry of US troops. Official US reports suggest that he was protected at the highest levels of the Tehran government.

"United States intelligence officials say they are increasingly concerned by the mounting evidence of Tehran's renewed interest in terrorism [and support to Al Zarqawi], including covert surveillance by Iranian agents of possible American targets abroad. American officials said Iran appeared to view terrorism as deterrent against possible attack by the United States.

Now, Iranian actions to destabilize the new interim government in Afghanistan, its willingness to assist Al Qaida members and its fueling of the Palestinian uprising are prompting a reassessment in Washington, officials say." (NYT, 24 March 2002)

In 2002, his presence in Tehran, allegedly "collaborating with hardliners" in the Iranian military and intelligence apparatus, is part of an evolving disinformation campaign which consists in presenting Iran as a sponsor of the "Islamic terror network". In February 2002, he was allegedly involved in planning terror attacks inside Israel.

Colin Powell's Address to the UN Security Council

In the months leading up to the war on Iraq, Al Zarqawi's name re-emerges, this time almost on daily basis, with reports focusing on his sinister relationship to Saddam Hussein.

A major turning point in the propaganda campaign occurs on February 5, 2003. Al-Zarqawi was in the spot light following Colin Powell's flopped WMD report to the UN Security Council. Powell's speech presented "documentation" on the ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaida, while focusing on the central role of Al-Zarqawi:

“Our concern is not just about these illicit weapons; it's the way that these illicit weapons can be connected to terrorists and terrorist organizations...

But what I want to bring to your attention today is the potentially much more sinister nexus between Iraq and the Al Qaida terrorist network, a nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder. Iraq today harbors a deadly terrorist network, headed by Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi, an associate and collaborator of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaida lieutenants...

When our coalition ousted the Taliban, the Zarqawi network helped establish another poison and explosive training center camp, and this camp is located in Northeastern Iraq. [there were no WMDS at this camp according to ABC report]

Those helping to run this camp are Zarqawi lieutenants operating in northern Kurdish areas outside Saddam Hussein's controlled Iraq, but Baghdad has an agent in the most senior levels of the radical organization Ansar al-Islam, that controls this corner of Iraq. In 2000, this agent offered Al Qaida safe haven in the region. After we swept Al Qaida from Afghanistan, some of its members accepted this safe haven. They remain there today.

We know these affiliates are connected to Zarqawi because they remain, even today, in regular contact with his direct subordinates, including the poison cell plotters….
From his terrorist network in Iraq, Zarqawi can direct his network in the Middle East and beyond. [Note he is present in several countries at the same time]

We are not surprised that Iraq is harboring Zarqawi and his subordinates. This understanding builds on decades-long experience with respect to ties between Iraq and al Qaida." (US Secretary of State Colin Powell to the UN Security Council, Excerpts, 5 February 2003)

The statement of Secretary Powell regarding Al-Zarqawi consisted in linking the secular Baathist regime to the "Islamic terror network," with a view to justifying the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Meanwhile, network TV had warned that "American hotels, shopping malls or apartment buildings could be al Qaida's targets as soon as next week…". Following the announcement, tens of thousands of Americans rushed to purchase duct tape, plastic sheets and gas-masks.

It later transpired that the terrorist alert was fabricated by the CIA, in all likelihood in consultation with the State Department (ABC News, 13 Feb. 2003). The FBI, for the first time had pointed its finger at the CIA. While tacitly acknowledging that the alert was a fake, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge decided to maintain the ‘Orange Code’ alert:

"Despite the fabricated report, there are no plans to change the threat level. Officials said other intelligence has been validated and that the high level of precautions is fully warranted." ( ABC News, 13 Feb. 2003 ).

A few days later, in another failed propaganda initiative, a mysterious Osama bin Laden audio tape was presented by Sec. Colin Powell to the US Congress as ‘evidence’ that the Islamic terrorists "are making common cause with a brutal dictator". (US official quoted in The Toronto Star, 12 Feb. 2003). Curiously, the audio tape was in Colin Powell's possession prior to its broadcast by the Al Jazeera TV Network. (Ibid.)

Meanwhile, Al Zarqawi had been identified as the mastermind behind the (thwarted) ricin attacks in several European countries including Britain and Spain.

In London, in January 2003, there was a ricin terror alert, which had apparently also been ordered by Al Zarqawi. The ricin had allegedly been discovered in a London apartment. It was to be used in a terror attack in the London subway.

British press reports, quoting official statements claimed that the terrorists had learnt to produce the ricin at the camp in Northern Iraq. Yet when US Special Forces in March 2003 raided the camp in Northern Iraq, nothing resembling biological or chemical weapons was found (see ABC report quoted above).

It is worth mentioning, in this regard, that news stories on the chemical weapons plant in Northern Iraq have continued to be churned out, despite the fact that US Forces said that it did not exist. In a recent story in the Washington Times:

“Zarqawi stands as stark evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein's autocratic regime and bin Laden's al Qaida terror network. Zarqawi, 38, operated a terrorist camp in northern Iraq that specialized in developing poisons and chemical weapons”.(Washington Times, 8 June 2004)

The Link To Ansar Al-Islam

Following Powell's February 2003 presentation to the UNSC, Al-Zarqawi immediately gained in public notoriety.

Since early 2004, his name appears almost daily in CNN reports. All in all, his name is linked to some 25 "terrorist attacks" in Iraq, not to mention numerous terrorist warnings, threats or alerts. Already before the war in Iraq, he was presented in media reports as an ally of Saddam Hussein.

The press reports, which quoted Colin Powell's UNSC 5 Feb 2003 speech, confirmed that Al Zarqawi was back in Iraq, working hand in glove with Ansar Al-Islam, which was held responsible for the attack on the UN in Baghdad. In August 2003, Zarqawi was identified, without supporting evidence, as having played a role in the attack on the UN, which led to the death of the UN head of mission and 24 other people.

Bear in mind Ansar was also said to be behind the alleged ricin plant in Northern Iraq, which was confirmed to be a fake.

It is useful to recall that Ansar al-Islam, which constituted a pre-existing Islamist group, developed into a paramilitary organisation, only after the 9/11 attacks. Ironically, it was allowed to develop in a region of Iraq, which was already under US military control, namely Kurdish held Northern Iraq.

Ansar was largely involved in terrorist attacks directed against the secular institutions of the Kurdish regional governments. It was also involved in assassinations of members of the Kurdish PUK. And the US military and intelligence were present in the region.

In other words, prior to the war, Northern Iraq -which was in "the no fly zone"-- was already a US protectorate. According to one report «Al Qaida affiliates coordinating the movement of people, money and supplies for Ansar al-Islam have been operating freely in the [regional] capital." (Midland Independent, 6 February 2003).

Responding to Colin Powell's February 2003 UN address, an Iraqi foreign ministry spokesman had stated at the time that:

"the Iraqi government helped the [PUK] Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani against the Ansar al-Islam group. He [the spokesman] accused Ansar al-Islam of carrying out acts of sabotage inside Iraq…[and] that the United States had turned down an Iraqi offer to cooperate on the issue of terrorism."

(News Conference by Lieutenant-General Amir al-Sa'di, adviser at the Iraqi Presidency; Dr Sa'id al-Musawi, head of the Organizations' Department at the Iraqi Foreign Ministry; and Major-General Husam Muhammad Amin, head of the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate. BBC Monitoring Service, 6 February 2003).

The Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal

Was it a coincidence? At the very outset of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, there were rumors of an Al Zarqawi terrorist attack on American Soil, in Jordan as well as in Iraq.

Al Zarqawi identified by CNN as "the lone wolf" was, according to these reports, planning terrorist attacks simultaneously in several countries. Then there was the mysterious video on the Nicholas Berg execution.

The Attacks in Jordan

A mysterious tape released by CNN pointed to Al Zarqawi's plan to attack the Jordanian intelligence headquarters in an attack using chemical weapons which could have been more deadly than 9/11. Again the evidence is based on a mysterious tape.

Alleged Al Zarqawi "Attack on America"

Two days later, following the alleged terrorist threat on Jordanian intelligence, the State Department announced that Al Zarqawi was planning an attack on America (29 April 2004, CNN Report). Note that the rumours of an attack on America and the attack in Jordan took place virtually at the same time.

The State Department today said the number of terrorists attacks around the world declined last year, but the government's annual report on terrorism includes a chilling warning about the year ahead.

“The State Department says terrorists are planning an attack on U.S. soil. High on their anxiety list, terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He is representative of a very real and credible threat. His operatives are planning and attempting now to attack American targets, and we are after them with a vengeance.” CNN

Bear in mind that the Attack on America report, focusing on "We are after them with a vengeance", was published one day following the CBS 60 minutes program on torture at the Abu Ghraib prison. (Complete transcript at http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CBS405A.html ).

The Nicholas Berg Video

Barely a couple of weeks later (11 May 2004), Al Zarqawi is reported as being the mastermind behind the execution of Nicholas Berg on May 11, 2004.

Again perfect timing! The report coincided with calls by US Senators for Defense Sec Donald Rumsfeld to resign over the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. It occurs a few days after President Bush's "apology" for the Abu Ghraib prison "abuses" on May 6.

The Nicholas Berg video served to create "a useful wave of indignation" which served to distract and soften up public opinion, following the release of the pictures of torture of Iraqi prisoners.

CNN coverage of the Nicholas Berg execution was based on a mysterious report on an Islamic website, which CNN upholds as providing "evidence" of Al-Zarqawi's involvement:
“The Web site claims that the killing was done by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist whose al Qaida affiliated group is held responsible by U.S. intelligence for a string of bombings in Iraq and for the killing of an American diplomat in Amman. CNN Arab linguists say, however, that the voice on the tape has the wrong accent. They do not believe it is Zarqawi. U.S. officials said the killers tried to take advantage of the prison abuse controversy to gain attention.”

A subsequent more definitive report by CNN was aired 2 days later on 13 May 2004.

“The CIA confirms that Nicholas Berg's killer was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi; The CIA acknowledges sticking to strict rules in tough interrogations of top al Qaida prisoners." (CNN)

“Blitzer: Because originally our own linguists here at CNN suspected that -- they listened to this audiotape and they didn't think it sounded like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. But now definitively, the experts at the CIA say it almost certainly is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? Ensor: They say it almost certainly is. There's just a disagreement between the CNN linguists and the CIA linguists. The U.S. Government now believes that the person speaking on that tape and killing Nick Berg on that tape is the actual man, Abu Musab al- Zarqawi.”

Did the US officials check the mysterious website or was it CNN?

The video footage published on the website was called “Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi shows killing of an American". Then the CIA experts released a statement saying that Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was the man in the mask who beheaded the US citizen Nick Berg in front of a camera." Yet several reports question the authenticity of the video.

Al Zarqawi is Jordanian. Yet the man in the video posing as Jordanian native Zarqawi does not speak the Jordanian dialect. Zarqawi has an artificial leg, but none of these murderers did. The man presented as Zarqawi had a yellow ring, presumably a golden one, which Muslim men are banned from wearing, especially so-called fundamentalists. Another report states that Zarqawi was dead (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4446084/)

Immediately when the issue of his artificial leg was mentioned in relation to the video, US officials revised their story, stating they were not sure whether he actually lost a leg: "U.S. intelligence officials, who used to believe that Zarqawi had lost a leg in Afghanistan, recently revised that assessment, concluding that he still has both legs." (News and World Report, 24 May 2004).

There were a number of other aspects of the video, which suggest that it was a fraud: there was no blood when Nicholas Berg was beheaded. The audio was not in synchrony with the video, indicating that the film might have been manipulated.


In addition to this research, there are several other clues, including the alleged nine page letter that Al-Zarqawi was said to have written to Osama bin Laden that was conveniently found just as the administration was coming under attack for the lack of evidence linking Al-Qaida to Saddam. In that letter, Al-Zarqawi bears not one hallmark of a Mujahideen, the text lacks the phraseology of Islam and there is no way that any Mujahideen would complain of his pending martyrdom as is indicated in this pitiful diatribe.
(see http://www.iraqcoalition.org/transcripts/20040212_zarqawi_full.html)

We now also have the Kim Sun-Il beheading to add to Al-Zarqawi “list”. The video tape strikes a close resemblance to that of Nick Bergs and raises just as many questions about its authenticity, with almost the same individuals appearing, the same orange prison gear and the same bloodless execution. It appeared on a website hosted in California and boasted links to Reuters, to the March of Dimes and the National Wildlife Federation. Both “barbaric” incidents have curiously occurred in quick succession following the Abu Ghraib atrocities.

While the US State Department has increased the reward for Al Zarqawi’s arrest from $10 million to $25 million, which equals that of Bin Laden, he is not on the FBI most wanted fugitives list. http://www.fbi.gov/mostwant/topten/fugitives/fugitives.htm ).

That’s because Al-Zarqawi is a product of American intelligence and the main actor in this covert false flag operation.

America is both creator and defender in this war on terrorism that exists only because of its greed for global dominance. While hatred is now raging against Muslims who are being attributed with the brutal acts the American government is in fact staging, Muslim anger is also growing as is the number of those who are prepared to stand in legitimate resistance against an enemy that respects no lawm no human life or moral code. Rest assured, we will fight this enemy justly, as we are required to do under the laws of the Sunnah of our Prophet (pbuh), not under a false flag of America’s, but under the Black flag of Islam in the Name of Allah.

Bruce Kennedy

Most Americans Don't Know How Many Have Died in Iraq War

Most Americans guess wrong when asked to estimate how many troops have died in the U.S. occupation of Iraq, a sign that many are giving scant attention to the nation's most dangerous military operation since the Vietnam War.

A new survey of 1,001 adults conducted by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University found that fewer than half said they "very closely" follow news coverage of the military occupation. Less than a third named "the war on terror" or "peace in the Mideast" as the most important issue facing America. Most others preferred domestic concerns like the economy, Social Security, education or health care.

So far this year, soldiers and Marines have died at a rate of about three per day in the conflict. More than 1,450 military personnel and several dozen civilian employees of the Defense Department have died since Operation Iraqi Freedom began nearly two years ago.

Forty percent of people in the poll gave the correct answer when asked, to the nearest 500, how many have died in the six-week war and the bloody military occupation that followed. Thirty-two percent guessed that 1,000 or fewer have died, 21 percent said 2,000 or more have died and 7 percent could not make a guess.

People who oppose the war tend to overestimate the number of fatalities in Iraq while those who support it are more likely to underestimate the death toll.

Participants in the poll were asked, "How often would you say you think about America's military occupation of Iraq?" About 5 percent said they think about it "almost every hour," 35 percent said "several times a day," 35 percent said "about once a day," 15 percent said "several times a week" and 10 percent said "about once a week" or "less than once a week."

The survey also asked, "How carefully would you say you follow news media coverage of America's military occupation of Iraq?" Forty-two percent said "very closely," 47 percent said "somewhat closely" and 11 percent said "not closely."

People who said they are following war news closely are much more likely to know how many Americans have died in Iraq than people who don't read or watch war accounts in newspapers and on television. The proportion who correctly identified that "about 1,500" have died in Iraq was 51 percent among people who follow war news "very closely," 34 percent among those who follow news accounts "somewhat closely" and 25 percent who are "not closely" following news from Iraq.

The decision to commit American troops to Iraq has never been especially popular, according to a series of six previous surveys taken during the past two years.

In the latest poll, people were asked, "Despite everything that has happened, do you think the United States has done a good thing or a bad thing by sending our military to occupy Iraq?" Forty-seven percent said the United States has done "a good thing," 44 percent said it's "a bad thing" and 9 percent were undecided.

The recent elections, widely heralded by President Bush and other political leaders as a historic milestone for Iraq, produced only a temporary boost in America's public support for the U.S.-led occupation. Sixty percent of people interviewed during the election and the two days after it said the military occupation was "a good thing." But the support level dropped to about 49 percent in the next two days, then settled to the mid 40s thereafter.

The survey was conducted by telephone from Jan. 30 through Feb. 10 at the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University. It has a margin of error of about 4 percentage points. It was funded through a grant from the Scripps Foundation.

(Thomas Hargrove is a reporter for Scripps Howard News Service. Guido H. Stempel III is director of the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University.)

© Copyright 2004 by Capitol Hill Blue

The Most Powerful Man in Iraq

The Hopes and Fears of a Nation Swirl Around this Ascetic

THE most powerful man in Iraq sits on the floor of a modest room, off a narrow alley in a provincial city south of Baghdad. His gown is dark and threadbare. His face is sandwiched betweeen a long white beard and a black turban. On the rare occasions that he leaves his home, it is to pray at the nearby shrine of Imam Ali, the founder of Shia Islam, in Najaf.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al- Sistani has never met an American official or soldier. He did not vote in Iraq’s elections last month. And yet this religious recluse could wield more influence over Iraq’s destiny than all the foreign troops and Iraqi politicians put together.

The Shia List, which he endorsed, looks certain to be the biggest group in Iraq’s new 275-strong assembly when the election results are announced any day now. It will therefore be the dominant voice in the formation of a new government and the drafting of a new constitution. That means the 74-year-old cleric is likely to play a key role in determining whether Iraq becomes an Islamic state or a secular democracy and whether its rival communities peacefully co-exist or sink into sectarian conflict.

Anyone doubting Ayatollah al-Sistani’s influence should consider the key events of the past year. The huge Shia turnout in January’s election was the result of his simple fatwa instructing the faithful that voting was a religious duty.

That the elections were held at all was largely due to him. When the US-led coalition proposed a transfer of power without letting the people cast their ballots, a single edict from Ayatollah al-Sistani brought hundreds of thousands of Shia protesters on to the streets until the Americans backed down.

Now that the Shias are set to govern Iraq for the first time in more than 500 years the country and the rest of the world want to know what kind of nation he wants to build.

His supporters insist he is dedicated to creating a tolerant, democratic state that respects the rights of all Iraq’s minorities. His critics fear the birth of a new theocracy similar to that in neighbouring Iran, where he was born.

Senior members of the Shia coalition are desperately trying to reassure Iraq’s Sunni minority that it will not be marginalised, the Kurds that their automony will not be threatened and other religious minorities that they will not become second-class citizens.

Ibrahim al-Jaafari, the leader of the Shia al-Dawa Party and a potential prime minister, pointedly refers to the ayatollah as “Mr”, not “Sayyid” — the title given to a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad.

“I think Mr Sistani does not want to go into the details of the political process. He just wanted to be sure that the constitution, for example, was written by elected people,” he told The Times from his office in the Green Zone in Baghdad.

On the issue of Islam’s role in the future Iraqi constitution, he is even more opaque. “Even Americans wrote on the dollar ‘In God we trust’,” he said. “Does that mean that all Americans believe in God? No. It refers to the majority. We are going to explore with a very frank and open mind other constitutions, other countries.”

But many Iraqis have witnessed the rise of the long-oppressed Shia majority with alarm.

In the Shia-dominated south religious militias have waged a campaign of murder and intimidation against alcohol sellers — primarily Christians. They have have shut down cinemas and intimidated musicians and CD sellers.

Many fear that the religious parties within the Shia List will try to impose Sharia law with its draconian Islamic strictures on everything from criminal punishment and family law to inheritance and the rights of women Ayatollah al-Sistani’s views on these matters are unclear. He rarely gives interviews to journalists and most of his public remarks are released through his slick support team — a large, well-funded organisation with branches around the world.

But his website (Sistani.org) is revealing. Women are told that plastic surgery is permitted but that they must cover their bodies in public. Men must have beards. Alcohol, chess and music for entertainment are forbidden. In the Queries of the Day section one petitioner asks: “Can I send e-mails to women?” The question draws a stern reply: “No, it is haraam” (religiously prohibited).

So far Washington has concealed any concern. “I don’t think at this stage that there’s anything like justification for hand-wringing or concern on the part of Americans that somehow they’re going to produce a result we won’t like,” Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, said last week. “The Iraqis have watched the Iranians operate for years and create a religious theocracy that has been a dismal failure, from the standpoint of the rights of individuals.”

Certainly Ayatollah alSistani’s record is encouraging. For nearly two years he has avoided confrontation and acted as a brake on the insurgency that at times threatened to engulf the whole country. He has refused to let his followers retaliate against the atrocities committed on Shias by Sunni insurgents. He has banned them from attacking the US-led coalition that many of his more radical supporters regard as infidel occupiers.

In his public and private behaviour the ayatollah has also sought to distance himself from the mullahs of Iran who openly dominate political life and are rarely shy about speaking out.

He shuns the trappings of wealth and power, living ascetically and working out of an office down a dusty medieval alleyway in Najaf’s Old City. He always wears a black robe, sits on floor cushions and eats frugally.

Once, when sick, he is said to have refused fruit juice, deeming it inappropriate at a time when millions of his fellow Iraqis were living in poverty. When his air conditioner broke down he insisted that a new one bought for him be given to a poor family and the old one repaired. He does not even own the house in which he lives, but does appreciate the benefits of modern technology. He has a high-speed internet link in his office, used by his officials for research.

Adnan Pachachi, a former Iraqi Foreign Minister and Sunni elder statesman, said that he welcomed Shia assurances that the new Iraq would protect all its people, before adding doubtfully: “We will see how they are translated into fact.”


1929:born in Mashhad, Iran

1951: moved to Iraq to study under under Grand Ayatollah Abul-Qassim Khoei

1992: replaced Khoei as Grand Ayatollah when he died

1994: was imprisoned after the Gulf War and his mosque was shut down


On alcohol: “Drinking it is forbidden, but using perfume and medicine mixed with alcohol is permissible”

On talking to one’s fiancée: “If talking is free of provocative words and if there is no fear of falling in sin, there is no objection”

On attacks on Christian churches in Baghdad: “We stress the need to respect the rights of Christians and other religious minorities. Among these rights is their right to live in their country, Iraq, in peace and security”

On marriage to someone of another religion: “It is incumbent, as a measure of obligatory precaution, to avoid permanent marriage with a Christian or Jewish woman. As for temporary marriage, it is permissible and there is no objection to it”

On chess: “Chess is absolutely forbidden”

On music: “Music other than for diversion and play is allowed”

On plastic surgery: “It is permissible”

On Palestine: “The ongoing tragedy of the oppressed Palestinian people leaves all Muslims unable to enjoy any food or drink until they succeed in lifting the aggressors’ brutal hands from their brothers and sisters”

Stephen Farrell in Baghdad and Richard Beeston
Copyright 2005 Times Newspapers Ltd

All Hat and No Cattle

The American Hegemony of the neo-crazies lasted about two years.

Condi Desperate to Stop EU-China-Iran Chain Reaction

Condi Rice's European debut as our second female Secretary of State provoked – at least amongst the media elite in Paris and London – a feeding-frenzy. She has become – and may well remain – a media darling.

[You may recall that our first female Secretary of State – Madeline Albright – was once mistaken for a maid by another visiting diplomat in a European hotel.]

But as far as accomplishing Dubya's objectives, she appears to have been "all hat and no cattle," as they say in Texas.

Her most publicized objective was to sabotage the ongoing European-Iranian negotiations, which, if successful, could lead to Iran being provided firm guarantees of European "nuclear, technological and economic cooperation" as well as firm European "commitments on security issues."

These negotiations will also probably result in a EU-Iranian Trade and Cooperation Agreement and Iranian membership in the World Trade Organization.

The Europeans evidently believe that if they don't soon establish normal cooperative economic relationships with Iran – which the US is currently preventing via the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 – China will, and they'll be shut out.

And that European fear of being shut off from the Persian Gulf by China is related to Condi's less publicized objective.

A European Union embargo on major arms sales to the People's Republic of China was imposed in 1989 in the wake of the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The European decision – which has been made in principle – to lift the arms embargo is viewed in some capitals to be a historic shift in global allegiances, with the EU choosing to cater to the national defense needs of looming superpower China, even at the expense of the US.

And why not? President Bush has – by bungling the invasion and occupation of helpless little Iraq, crippled by a decade of economic sanctions, arms embargoes and more or less continual air attacks – has revealed us to be something of a paper tiger.

Our troops pinned down in Iraq and in South Korea comprise most of those available. If the North Koreans were to move South, or the Iranians to move West, we would have no alternative but to nuke them.

And, of course, if the PRC decides to establish a much closer union with "breakaway province" Taiwan, there is not much we could do to stop them.

Nevertheless, Undersecretary of State John Bolton – who is unaccountably still in office – says we absolutely must maintain arms embargoes and other sanctions on China. And Iran. And North Korea.

You'll never guess why: to send each country a message that its record on human rights is unacceptable.

Speaking at a seminar last week in Japan – while Condi was in Europe expressing similar sentiments – Bolton said arms sales by the European Union and Russia to China are a "very grave concern" and could threaten "strategic stability" in East Asia.

Bolton's biggest concern is that sophisticated computer and communications "battlefield management" technology will end up in the hands of our enemies.

"American technology licensed to European companies might also find its way to China, so that we would, in effect, face our own technology being used against us," Bolton said.

One wonders where – on the Korean Peninsula, in the Straits of Taiwan, or in and around the Persian Gulf?

Because China's record on human rights is so unacceptable, President Bush has already imposed sanctions on Chinese companies 62 times. By comparison, President Clinton – who also held China's record on human rights to be unacceptable – imposed sanctions on Chinese companies on only eight occasions in eight years.

Of course, many Chinese companies are not private sector companies at all. Many are owned or controlled by elements of the People's Liberation Army. Unnamed US officials charge that many of these same companies have re-exported imported technology – that could conceivably be used to make "weapons of mass destruction" – to such nations as Pakistan, Iran, and Libya.

Chinese exports to Iran are certainly understandable. Once a net exporter of oil, China now imports 60 percent of its needs. It's oil imports have more than doubled over the past five years, growing by 7.5 percent per year, seven times faster than the US.

China's increasing reliance on Iranian energy – including a recent zillion-dollar oil and gas co-development deal – has certainly put a hitch in the neo-crazies' plan to destabilize – much less invade and occupy – Iran.

In fact, it's beginning to look like the American Hegemony of the neo-crazies lasted about two years.

Gordon Prather

The Harsh Truth About Government Schools

Bruce Shortt has written what may be this decade’s definitive critique of the government-sponsored school system in this country. Shortt is a member of the South Carolina-based Exodus Mandate network. Along with T.C. Pinckney (who penned the forward) he was one of the co-sponsors of the recent resolution put before the Southern Baptist Convention to remove Christian children from government schools. The resolution was not adopted, but drew nationwide attention to the issue of our rapidly deteriorating government schools. Shortt’s book is aimed primarily at Christian parents, but can be read and appreciated by non-Christians.

Shortt draws on hundreds of sources ranging from newspaper reports to scientific studies. His topics include:

(1) the anti-Christian bias in government schools;

(2) the "mainstreaming" of homosexuality in them;

(3) the longstanding dumbing down of government schools, including manipulated test scores and statistics as well as the long-term growth of an anti-academic mindset;

(4) the breakdown of discipline and the rise of violence, as well as the underreporting of violent crime in government schools;

(5) the war against boys, a chief component of radical feminist incursions;

(6) the use of legal mind-altering drugs such as Ritalin and Prozac;

(7) many others.

Shortt has a look at a number of "school reform" efforts, argues that they are delusions, and concludes by contending that the time has come to speak out against government schools with our feet. He has ready responses for Christian parents who would claim (for example) that they do not have time or the resources to homeschool their children, and for Christian teachers who would maintain that they have an obligation to remain in government schools to ensure a Christian presence in them.

The history of how we got into this mess has been told many times before, so I will be as brief as possible. State-sponsored schools were not part of the original make-up of this country. None of the Founders – all of whom were educated at home or privately – saw providing compulsory, state-sponsored education as a proper function of the central government, which is why education is not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. There were no government schools in any modern sense of that term until the 1840s, when Horace Mann’s Unitarians started them up in Massachusetts as what were then known as common schools. Mann had been to Prussia where he learned of a far different view of the relationship between central government and its citizens than our own tradition which sees the individual as special both morally and economically. Prussian schools considered children property of the state, and educated them accordingly. They were raised to be obedient to the state, their purpose being to advance the interests of the state.

Shortt also cites Robert Owen, one of the Anglo-American world’s first influential socialists, who developed a similar philosophy of education. Owen believed that children should be separated from their parents as early as possible and raised by the state. He believed people were exclusively the products of their social environments, and that if nurtured properly by the state, could be molded into whatever was desired. A key to the thinking that went into forming the official ideology of state-sponsored education was that human beings are innately good, not sinful, and that human nature could be perfected by the right kind of educational system. The ideology that eventually developed would hold that children could be molded into willing consumers of the products of big business and obedient servants of government. In short, the aims of state-sponsored schools were to transform thinking, highly individualistic and very literate citizens into an unthinking, collectivized mass. The slow but steady decline in literacy of all kinds was a by-product.

Why did nineteenth century Christians go along with this scheme? One of the central reasons was that most were Protestants who hoped common schools would slow the spread of Catholicism in the new world. What mattered most about Horace Mann was that he wasn’t sympathetic to Catholicism! It mattered less that he and his Unitarian colleagues were preaching that man could perfect himself through his own efforts, and that compulsory education was a means to this end. So Protestant Christians, including many clergy, supported government schools thinking they could control them.

Very slowly, Pandora’s Box opened. A creeping secularization began. A few theologians (R.L. Dabney is an example) warned of the emerging dangers of state-sponsored education. Dabney, who was no friend of Catholics, was surprisingly prescient. He warned that the danger was not Catholicism but secularism, and that if the common school movement continued unchecked, government schools would end up entirely secular institutions. Christianity – in whatever form – would eventually be driven from them. At the heart of the danger was the transference of responsibility for education from the home to the government, an inherently secular institution.

The official philosophy of state-sponsored education gradually became a materialistic humanism, protected by statism. When the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Everson v. Board of Education (1947), it made the federal courts arbiter of what the states could do regarding religion in government schools. This opened the door to the eventual court-ordered removal of officially-sponsored prayer (even, in some cases, prior to athletic events), by virtue of the Court’s new "wall of separation" doctrine. This misreading of the Constitution holds that Establishment Clause in the First Amendment means the need to remove Christianity from all public institutions.

Various forms of ethical subjectivism, relativism and nihilism become unavoidable. They took forms such as "values clarification," which urged children to talk openly about "their values" but provided no direction. "Everybody has their own morals," teenagers learned to say (complete with grammar mistake). While the dialogue over moral theories may captivate career academics, the absence of definitive moral guidance in young people’s lives has proven catastrophic. During the past half-century, with materialistic humanists more and more in control, we saw the rise of teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, a cavalier and casual attitude toward sex (and at ever-younger ages), the break-up of families – and epidemics of cheating and other forms of academic dishonesty. In the last analysis, what needs to be said about humanist ethics as that they don’t work. Humanism’s message, essentially, is: we are responsible for our own moral lives, and one should never be judgmental (and never mind the contradiction here). Humanistic approaches to morality, combined with opposition to "judgmentalism," leads to the idea that all "lifestyles" are morally equal. Shortt adds to the burgeoning literature on the incursions of radical homosexuals in government schools. Their methods, predictably, have assumed and attempted to inculcate the moral equivalence of gay and straight "lifestyles." Inroads have been made into elementary schools, affecting grade school children who, not long ago, were considered too young to know what sex was.

The plummeting levels of literacy have been even more pronounced. Shortt reiterates how government schools are graduating legions of seniors who cannot construct grammatical English sentences, do arithmetic beyond a rudimentary level, and have little or no knowledge of the history of this country or its Constitutional foundations. These results are hidden by grade inflation, recalculations of GPAs, and the dumbing down of standardized tests, often in accordance with the politically correct need to remove "cultural bias." This ought to concern everyone worried about the status of our liberties in what little is left of our Constitutional republic. Shortt is addressing mainly Evangelicals. But it ought to be clear to anyone that we are in serious trouble when a sufficient number of students graduate from schools not knowing anything about our founding documents or their authors, or what rights the Constitution was written to encode and protect, or how our government is put together and what functions it is supposed to serve.

The situation is even worse. Children are actually in more danger in government schools than they could ever be from terrorists. Back in the 1990s government schools were witness to an epidemic of well-publicized shootings, the most dramatic being the Columbine killings in 1999. One root of the problem of violence in government schools is the collapse of discipline, resulting in a "blackboard jungle" where not just children but teachers must fear being assaulted, robbed, or even raped. Shortt cites two more Supreme Court decisions, Tinker v. Des Moines School District and Goss v. Lopez, as watersheds events leading to the end of discipline in government schools. The former asserted that children have the same Constitutional rights as adults even in elementary schools (including the right to free speech, expression, etc.). The latter asserted that students have the same right to "due process" as do adults prior to disciplinary action to be taken for misbehavior. The federal government had become the final authority on when government schools could administer discipline. Since everything the federal government touches it ruins, we immediately saw a meteoric rise in discipline problems in government schools. Corporal punishment – the administering of "spankings" – became a thing of the past. Teachers could no longer touch misbehaving youngsters. As a result, not only did their misbehavior continue, it worsened until it gave rise to the epidemic of crime, violence and disorder seen more recently. Students who stand out because they are different from the mass are particularly at risk. Shortt describes how a young amputee, a cancer victim, was tormented by her classmates until her parents feared for her safety, and how a boy – presumably a "nerd" – was beaten savagely on a school bus while the bus driver pretended nothing was wrong (pp. 183–84).

Is the situation really this bad, or are we just being paranoid, or relying on skewed statistics based on a few atypical cases? Shortt describes how defenders of "public schools" have played down the violence in them, citing the federal government’s own Indicators of School Crime and Safety, compiled periodically by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the National Center for Education Statistics. Some 87 percent of school police officers, Shortt observes, have complained that crime is underreported in their school district. Moreover, evidence of violence among children at ever younger ages is mounting – having doubled between 1995 and 2001 according to one report from California. National surveys report increases in aggressive behavior by very small children (third grade and below) during just the past five years or so. At least one study suggests a connection between the epidemic of violent behavior among very young children and time spent in day-care centers. This reflects negatively on a society where the percentage of mothers working outside the home has reached two-thirds. Radical feminism is not the culprit here. I have met or known of any number of working moms who never heard the phrase gender feminism. But over the past decade or so the combination of taxes and cost-of-living expenses has escalated while the number of good-paying jobs has diminished, forcing both parents into the workplace and leaving children to flounder in day-care. This suggests an ominous future for America’s children if the trends responsible cannot be reversed.

Radical feminists have, however, launched an aggressive attack on boys. It is common knowledge that boys tend to be more adventurous, more rambunctious, and have a harder time sitting still for long periods of time than do girls. In the name of "gender equity," boys are sometimes put on mind-altering drugs such as Ritalin or Prozac to control their behavior, even though these drugs’ long-term effects is not that well known and may be worse than cocaine. One pretext for prescribing these substances to children include "diseases" such as Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), "discovered" just within the past couple of decades. Another effect of radical feminism in government schools has been the institution of "zero tolerance" sexual harassment policies even in the elementary grades. At one school, this ludicrous policy resulted in that infamous case in which a first-grade boy received a suspension for pecking a first-grade girl on the cheek.

Is "school reform" an option? Government schools, argues Shortt, cannot be reformed. The system is structured to resist what would be necessary, such as ending federal control and ousting the bureaucrats, guidance counselors, and change agents. State-sponsored education has actually been quite effective in producing mindless consumers and loyal, obedient servants of the state. The feds and their minions thus don’t want any non-cosmetic changes. As Shortt puts it, "The truth is harsh, but simple. Those who control government schools want your children and they want your money. They don’t want you sticking your nose into what they consider their business … " (p. 323). His recommendation: speak out with your feet. Shortt has an arsenal of reasons why Christians ought to homeschool their children or place them in private Christians schools. His arguments ought to be listened to by non-Christians. The dysfunction that has fallen over government-sponsored education, after all, affects Christian and non-Christian children alike.

Does homeschooling work? Shortt cites Dr. Brian Ray’s 1997 landmark study showing that homeschooled children are typically four or so years ahead of their government-schooled counterparts in every major academic subject and Richard Rudner’s 1999 study of over 20,000 homeschooled students also demonstrating their superior performance over government-schooled students (pp. 342–43). Homeschooled teenagers have won national spelling bees, been accorded national awards for academic performance, and been admitted to major universities, including Harvard, Yale and Stanford. Shortt cites literature solidly refuting complaints that homeschooled students are not properly "socialized." Now to be sure, homeschooled students aren’t "socialized" in the way the National Education Association types would prefer. Alongside serious academic subjects they are learning the values of their parents and their church. They are not becoming little collectivists, or pawns of mass-consumption popular culture unable to control their spending habits. They are, however, socialized in the proper sense of being involved in their communities. They do volunteer work, get involved in team sports, attend dance classes or chorus, and so on. They are self-directed, focused, and soon exhibit more leadership skills than their government-schooled counterparts. They do not find either government or civic activities too complex to understand as, according to one study, does approximately a third of government-schooled graduates (pp. 350–51). And they do not exhibit the behavioral problems we saw above. As independent minded potential leaders directly involved in their communities, however, growing numbers of homeschooled Americans would represent a potential threat to this country’s ongoing centralization and steady evolution toward socialism. The "socialization" issue is, in the last analysis, a red herring – a cover for educrats’ and change agents’ fears of free and independent minds.

Addressing Christian parents, Shortt contends that they are out of excuses. He cites Nehemiah Institute results on how teenagers raised in Christian homes but graduating from government schools tend to abandon Christianity within a couple of years of starting college, many never to return. He has answers for parents who say they don’t have the time or money or other resources to homeschool, or who believe their children are "the salt of the earth" and need to remain in a government school. Parents can homeschool around work schedules. Shortt cites a case of a working single parent he knows personally from his church who has successfully homeschooled five children. If she can do it, he says, anyone can. No one, of course, says that homeschooling is necessarily easy. It is a major commitment. But there are now countless resources available for the homeschooler to draw upon. Most states have organizations to assist homeschooling parents. Finally, many churches are getting involved. Some are starting up private Christian schools – which makes perfect sense given that church buildings frequently stand empty during all five days of the regular workweek!

Christians – especially evangelical Christians – have taken the lead in working towards a mass exodus from government schools. Clearly, however, nothing is stopping non-Christians from doing the same thing (and lest there be any doubt, there are non-Christians who have looked at what goes on in government schools and chosen to homeschool their children). I believe Christians have taken the lead because they recognize more clearly what the culture war is really all about. It is, at base, more than a conflict between traditionalism and political correctness. It is more than a struggle against creeping (Fabian) socialism and the encroaching New World Order. It is a battle between two worldviews: the God-centered worldview of Christian theism that stands as one of the major pillars of Western civilization, and that of materialism, rooted in the idea that God does not exist and that, ethically, we are on our own. The former tended to produce literate, responsible citizens suited for life in a relatively free society characterized by honest commerce and voluntary community involvement. The latter has unleashed the obsession with power on the part of a few, expanded the central state, diminished literacy levels, and precipitated moral breakdown and behavioral chaos.

The "harsh truth about public schools" is that they are an enemy not just of Christianity but of academics, personal and intellectual independence, and even children’s safety. They cannot educate, which is unsurprising since over the past couple of decades their focus has been on inculcating political correctness and teaching job skills (Outcome-Based Education, School-To-Work, Workforce Investment, and finally No Child Left Behind). Their aim has not been education but the production of desirable forms of mass behavior. The government-sponsored educational system is thus the major contributor to the dumbing down of the country. Its guiding philosophies are materialistic humanism and moral subjectivism, with the full backing of the U.S. Supreme Court. Government schools have thus become not just anti-Christian but anti-academic, anti-male, collectivist, and violent.

The best thing to do, of course, would be to abolish the entire government school system, lock, stock and barrel. Given that this is not a live option at present, Christian parents in particular should remove their children from government schools and either homeschool them or place them in private Christian schools. These same arguments apply to non-Christians who are equally capable of surveying the facts and recognizing that their children might be victims of violence or put on potentially damaging but entirely legal mind-altering drugs such as Ritalin (especially if they are boys). They are equally in danger, moreover, of having their children simply taken away from them by the state on trumped up charges of "neglect" or "child abuse" if they refuse to allow such treatment.

Homeschooling is now the fastest growing educational movement in the country. Its documented results are sufficiently promising to hold out hope that if enough parents homeschool their children, in less than a generation we could halt the dumbing down of the country, win the culture war, restore morality, and possibly even reverse the steady transformation of America into a socialist nation of poorly educated, chronic dependents and mindless spendthrifts. If you are a parent, buy this book and read it even if you are not a Christian. You owe it to your children!

Bruce Shortt, The Harsh Truth About Public Schools (Vallecito, Calif: Chalcedon Foundation, 2004). Pp. 458 + index. $22.00.
February 12, 2005

Steven Yates [send him mail] has a Ph.D. in philosophy and is the author of Civil Wrongs: What Went Wrong With Affirmative Action (1994) and the forthcoming Worldviews: Christian Theism versus Modern Materialism and In Defense of Logic. He directs the Worldviews Project and has joined Stratia Corporation as a part-time consultant. He lives in Columbia, South Carolina.

Copyright © 2005 LewRockwell.com

Oil in the Election

Many have made mistakes in evaluating the ultimate objectives that lie behind the US's insistence on holding elections in Iraq. One of the most common mistakes is the assumption that holding elections will help generate a democratic solution to the problem of who should hold the reins of power in Iraq.

A second hypothesis has it that elections will help deflect an Iraqi civil war, while a third claims that holding elections is the only realistic way that Iraqis will be able to rid themselves of the occupation, as occupation forces will be able to withdraw more easily if requested to do so by a legitimate governing authority.

These are political theories, and they deal with the surface appearance of events in Iraq. However rigorous and well researched they initially appear they are designed to obscure the central issue: the hidden strategic objectives behind America's insistence on holding elections. What is called for here is a considered and objective analysis of events in Iraq that deals with the wider strategic picture and avoids the trite over-simplifications traded by those who have an interest either in maintaining the occupation or in realising Iranian interests.

Why Washington's insistence that elections should have gone ahead despite the appalling security situation?

America's true objectives are no longer as mysterious as they once were. Developments over the course of the last 20 months have provided clear indications that the US is working to secure specific strategic goals in Iraq should it be forced by the fierceness of the armed resistance to leave the country.

One of the most important reasons for insisting on holding elections is to set up an Iraqi government that the US is able to describe as legitimate, which could then be presented to the international community as the product of free elections. It would then have the authority to take decisions and sign treaties that would be enforceable under international law. This is exactly what America needs to make happen in order to achieve two fundamental goals: a speedy withdrawal from Iraq to avoid further human and material losses at the hands of a fierce Iraqi armed resistance, and the signing of long-term strategic and economic agreements.

Among the military treaties planned is one that allows American military bases to be established in the country. There will be 14 main bases to secure American control over Iraq's oil-wells and to allow the American military easy access to other areas in the region. Under the economic treaties the Iraqi government will grant American companies long-term concessions to exploit Iraqi oil and will include, in all probability, the privatisation of the country's oil industry.

The duration of these treaties will almost certainly be no shorter than 25 years, since American oil consumption is set to double in the next 10 years even as its traditional suppliers, like Saudi Arabia, reduce production. America will need new, relatively unexploited sources of oil that can be accessed without having to deal with political obstacles. Iraq is one such source.

Another aspect of the problem is that emerging powers such as China and India will also need more and more oil, creating competition over oil stocks on the market, which -- as a CIA report on the problem of energy in the next 15 years pointed out -- falls short of demand.

By setting up American bases in Iraq and controlling its oil through internationally binding treaties the US will have achieved its two primary goals, both of which lay the foundation for the rise of an American empire and the removal of potential rivals.

The real value of such agreements only becomes clear when one remembers treaties such as that concluded between America and the pre- revolutionary Cuban government over Guantanamo Bay. Under the treaty, the area was rented to the Americans for 99 years. Following the revolution the Cubans demanded that America return the bay area, but relying on the treaty they had signed with the previous government the Americans vehemently refused.

How much more dangerous, then, if an "elected" Iraqi government were to sign such treaties, bearing in mind that despite Soviet and international support Cuba was unable to secure the return of Guantanamo Bay in the face of American legal arguments.

Although the American occupation set out to divide Iraq from the very beginning it has always known that re-centralisation and re-unification would be likely once it left. It has been vital, therefore, to weaken Iraq internally by seeking to establish a federal state with a weak centre and strong autonomous regions such as those proposed in the north and south, in addition to a triangle in the middle. Iraq can play the role of an important regional power only if there is a strong, centralised government that can successfully exploit Iraq's human and economic resources, achieve scientific and technological progress in the manner of other third world countries and establish a resilient infrastructure. Washington's strategy has been to break up the Iraqi state.

Not content with toppling its government the occupation has destroyed its infrastructure, wrecked historical sites (such as the National Iraqi Museum) and places of cultural importance and pillaged places of learning.

A tripartite federal state needs to be approved by a legitimate government and constitution. The occupation knows full well that no occupier has the power to authorise such a radical change in the Iraqi state's basic structure, bound as they are by the Geneva Conventions that forbid any change being made in the laws and economic system of the occupied country.

Elections, then, were vital to creating a weakened or, as they might put it, a federal Iraq. The elections give the federal regime internal support from those in the north and south, and external support from what the international community, especially if the UN, or the Security Council, supports the results of the election.

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