The below was received from someone who wishes to remain anonymous. As I understand it, this essay was part of an ongoing dialog with someone else.
Senior Diplomats Retaking Foreign Policy
Senior career diplomats are retaking control of key elements of U.S. foreign policy and have begun to assert significant influence as the Bush administration enters its waning months eager to salvage a legacy marred by the Iraq war.Since assuming the helm at the State Department in 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has installed veteran foreign service officers with more than 200 years of collective diplomatic experience in seven critical posts from the Middle East to South Asia and the Far East.
By contrast, their immediate predecessors had just 72 years of combined experience and five of them were Republican political operatives with limited or no background in diplomacy, according to an Associated Press survey of senior agency appointees.
What is curious about this article is its implicit criticism of Colin Powell and his top aide, Lawrence Wilkerson. This criticism is implicit because it refers to appointees of Powell’s as having quite limited foreign policy experience as compared to Condoleeza Rice’s appointees. Furthermore, the article implies that Powell’s appointees were more sympathetic to the neocons than Rice’s appointees are. This is damned strange, because Wilkerson has long articulated his opposition to the neocon agenda, while Rice as National Security Advisor implemented the neocons’s agenda. The State Department under Powell has been (for the most part, at least) widely considered to have been recalcitrant towards the neocons’s agenda. Rice, meanwhile, has (again, for the most part) has been seen as Bush II’s agent dispatched to wrest more control over a bureaucracy that is (again, for the most part) seen as hostile (or, at the very least, dubious) to the neocons’s agenda.
Rice, Gates to Discuss Arms Sale Plans with Gulf States, Egypt and Israel
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice formally announced today that the United States intends to provide billions of dollars in arms sales and assistance to six Gulf states, Egypt and Israel to boost security against Iran.
Rice made the announcement hours before she and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates left the United States to travel to the Middle East, where they will meet Arab and Israeli leaders to discuss the arms packages, as well as efforts to stabilize Iraq and possibilities for generating new movement in the Arab-Israeli peace process.
Well, there you have it folks: Shrub plans to promote peace…by rearming everyone to the teeth! Is the Man a hypocrite? Or is he merely delusional? I do know that he is a first class S.O.B.
This just goes to show yet again that you cannot trust the mainstream media to tell the full story if it conflicts or undermines the U.S. elite’s policy goals.
I received the following from Steven L. Robinson via Green Alliance’s Green All Views Listserve.
by Joshua Holland & Raed JarrarAlterNetMay 21, 2007.Iraq’s resistance groups have offered a series of peace plans that might put an end to the country’s sectarian violence, but they’ve been ignored by the U.S.-led coalition because [the resistance groups are] opposed to foreign occupation and privatization of oil.***********************************************************An online search shows that the peace plan was largely ignored by the Western commercial media.That’s par for the course. While every nuance of every spending bill that passes the U.S. Congress is analyzed in minute detail, the Iraqis — remember them? — have proposed a series of comprehensive peace deals that might unite the country’s ethnic and sectarian groups and result in an outcome American officials of all stripes say they want to achieve: a stable, self-governing Iraq that is strong enough to keep groups like al Qaeda from establishing training camps and other infrastructure within its borders.Al Fadhila’s peace plan was not the first one offered by Iraqi actors, nor the first to be ignored by the Anglo-American Coalition.**********************************************************But these plans are unacceptable to the Coalition because they A) affirm the legitimacy of Iraq’s armed resistance groups and acknowledge that the U.S.-led coalition is, in fact, an occupying army, and B) return Iraq to the Iraqis, which means no permanent bases, no oil law that gives foreign firms super-sweet deals and no radical restructuring of the Iraqi economy. U.S. lawmakers have been and continue to be faced with a choice between Iraqi stability and American Empire, and continue to choose the latter, even as the results of those choices are splashed in bloody Technicolor across our TV screens every evening.**********************************************************As early as 2005, the University of Michigan’s Juan Cole reported that the Sadrist movement — named after the father of the nationalist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr — had gathered a million signatures on a petition demanding a timetable for occupation forces to withdraw. More recently, the Arabic press reported that as many as a million Iraqis — a million Shia and Sunni working together — had protested the continuing occupation in Najaf on the fourth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad last month.********************************************************************************
One of the few laws left on the books from the Saddam Hussein era is one that severely limits the rights of Iraqi workers to organize. As journalist
David Bacon reported in the winter of 2003, coalition forces “escalated their efforts to paralyze Iraq’s new labor unions with a series of arrests”
that left one of the few surviving segments of Iraq’s once-vibrant secular civil society toothless.
I must confess that I have something of a love-hate attachment for Steve Pearlstein. Robert Kuttner briefly quotes him in this very interesting American Prospect article…
Last July, at a Hamilton Project public program, The Washington Post’s Steve Pearlstein mischievously asked panelists Rubin, Altman, and Summers why not take a “time out” on further trade deals until Congress passes some of the social buffers that the project keeps endorsing in principle. “To a man, they recoiled at the idea,” Pearlstein reported.
Calling this posture “a perfect example of how the Democrats have lost the instinct for the political jugular and the ability to use policy disputes to political advantage,” Pearlstein added, “The idea here isn’t to kill free trade. It’s to take it hostage.” Lately, many Democrats in Congress have indeed been trying harder to hold the next trade deal hostage to more social protections. If they fail, Rubin’s counsel will have played a key role.
Forests Destroyed in China’s Race to Feed Global Wood-Processing Industry
The Chinese logging boss set his sights on a thickly forested mountain just inside Burma, aiming to harvest one of the last natural stands of teak on Earth.He handed a rice sack stuffed with $8,000 worth of Chinese currency to two agents with connections in the Burmese borderlands, the men said in interviews. They used that stash to bribe everyone standing between the teak and China. In came Chinese logging crews. Out went huge logs, over Chinese-built roads.
About 2,500 miles to the northeast, Chinese and Russian crews hacked into the virgin forests of the Russian Far East and Siberia, hauling away 250-year-old Korean pines in often-illegal deals, according to trading companies and environmentalists. In the highlands of Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and Africa and in the forests of the Amazon, loggers working beyond the bounds of the law have sent a ceaseless flow of timber to China.
Some of the largest swaths of natural forest left on the planet are being dismantled at an alarming pace to feed a global wood-processing industry centered in coastal China.
In the next few days much will be made of the 3,000th U.S. casualty in Iraq. It will be treated as a tragic milestone.
But how much will we hear about the estimated 600,000 Iraqis who have died? Or the million Iraqis that have fled the country? Or the 100,000 Iraqis made homeless in the month of December alone?
Riverbend, a woman blogger in Baghdad expresses the desperation of the Iraqis:
That is Iraq right now. The Americans have done a fine job of working to break it apart. This last year has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. There were too many blunders for them to actually have been, simply, blunders. The ‘mistakes’ were too catastrophic. The people the Bush administration chose to support and promote were openly and publicly terrible- from the conman and embezzler Chalabi, to the terrorist Jaffari, to the militia man Maliki. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.
The question now is, but why? I really have been asking myself that these last few days. What does America possibly gain by damaging Iraq to this extent? I’m certain only raving idiots still believe this war and occupation were about WMD or an actual fear of Saddam.
Former British Army Sergeant James Blunt has put the soldiers’ view into words:
There are children standing here,
Arms outstretched into the sky,
Tears drying on their face.
He has been here.
Brothers lie in shallow graves.
Fathers lost without a trace.
A nation blind to their disgrace,
Since he’s been here. And I see no bravery,
No bravery in your eyes anymore.
End this illegal war!!
October 27, 2006
Allies Dressed in Green
Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Western allies have been asking: What will replace the threat of communism as the cement that holds together the Atlantic alliance? Some have argued terrorism, but I don’t think so. I think my German friends have the best idea: the issue that will and should unite the West is energy and all its challenges.
After all, nothing is a bigger threat today to the Western way of life and quality of life than the combination of climate change, pollution, species loss, and Islamist radicalism and petro-authoritarianism — all fueled by our energy addictions. And no solution is possible to these problems without concerted government actions to reduce emissions, to inspire green innovation and to shift from oil to renewable power.
Therefore, green is not just the new red, white and blue — the next great American national security project — it should also be the color, focus and cement of the Atlantic alliance in the 21st century. As a German official remarked to me, “The whole issue has the potential of becoming a big trans-Atlantic project at a time when we have no other good big project that [embodies] a vision.”
The intertwined environmental and energy challenges we face today are so acute that they can no longer be addressed by “virtuous individuals hopping on a bus instead of taking the car,” argued Jonathan Freedland, a columnist for the British newspaper The Guardian. “This is a job for government.”
Germany’s foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, recently gave a major address on how “energy security will strongly influence the global security agenda in the 21st century.” And Britain’s foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, just delivered a speech declaring that climate change “is not just an environmental problem. It is a defense problem. It is a problem for those who deal with economics and development, conflict prevention, agriculture, finance, housing, transport, innovation, trade and health.”
The fact that the foreign ministers are making this their agendas suggests that energy will soon move to the heart of the alliance’s agenda. As Mr. Freedland put it, “If climate change is a foreign policy problem, foreign policy can surely be part of the climate change solution.”
However, for what I call “geo-greenism” — thinking about green in strategic terms — to become the new core of the alliance, European greens will have to become more “geo” and the U.S. government more “green.”
European Green parties have tended to wrap their environmentalism in a very high-minded tone that was always more moralizing than strategic. For instance, Europe’s Greens led the global campaign against genetically modified crops, which will be critically important if we want to grow more of our fuel — à la corn ethanol or soy biodiesel. The Greens in Germany also forced the previous government to agree to phase out Germany’s nuclear power plants by 2021. That would mean uninstalling 30 percent of Germany’s energy capacity. It would be great if it were all replaced by wind or solar power, but it will most likely be replaced by coal.
Jürgen Hogrefe, who was spokesman for the Green Party in Lower Saxony, Germany, in the 1980s, is today a senior executive with EnBW, a German energy company with nuclear plants.
“The Green Party has been extremely important for German society,” he said, helping to transform the post-Nazi society into a more liberal domain. But an antinuclear stance has been at the core of the party, and now that the German mainstream has embraced a green agenda, the Greens need to rethink nuclear energy. “The Green Party should redefine itself,” added Mr. Hogrefe. “In some fields they are very modern party. … But concerning nuclear energy and ecology they are stubborn, not open enough to see what is happening around the globe.”
One reason President Bush has failed to become the leader of the West is because he has failed to lead on green, which has become so important to all our allies. I doubt that he’ll redefine U.S. policy in his last two years, but the issues around climate change and energy conservation are now rising so fast it’s impossible to imagine that his successor won’t — whoever it is. And once that happens, it is impossible to imagine that living green, instead of fighting reds, won’t become the new glue of the Atlantic alliance.
Or as Hermann Ott, head of the Berlin office of the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, remarked to me, “We don’t need aliens to unite our world, we have a problem right at the center” now — and the solution is green.
September 27, 2006
Fill ’Er Up With Dictators
Are you having fun yet?
What’s a matter? No sense of humor? You didn’t enjoy watching Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez addressing the U.N. General Assembly and saying of President Bush: “The devil came here yesterday, right here. It smells of sulfur still today.” Many U.N. delegates roared with laughter.
Oh well then, you must have enjoyed watching Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad breezing through New York City, lecturing everyone from the U.N. to the Council on Foreign Relations on the evils of American power and how the Holocaust was just a myth.
C’mon then, you had to at least have gotten a chuckle out of China’s U.N. ambassador, Wang Guangya, trying to block a U.N. resolution calling for the deployment of peacekeeping troops to Sudan to halt the genocide in Darfur. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that the China National Petroleum Corporation owns 40 percent of the Sudan consortium that pumps over 300,000 barrels of oil a day from Sudanese wells.
No? You’re not having fun? Well, you’d better start seeing the humor in all this, because what all these stories have in common is today’s most infectious geopolitical disease: petro-authoritarianism.
Yes, we thought that the fall of the Berlin Wall was going to unleash an unstoppable wave of free markets and free people, and it did for about a decade, when oil prices were low. But as oil has moved to $60 to $70 a barrel, it has fostered a counterwave — a wave of authoritarian leaders who are not only able to ensconce themselves in power because of huge oil profits but also to use their oil wealth to poison the global system — to get it to look the other way at genocide, or ignore an Iranian leader who says from one side of his mouth that the Holocaust is a myth and from the other that Iran would never dream of developing nuclear weapons, or to indulge a buffoon like Chávez, who uses Venezuela’s oil riches to try to sway democratic elections in Latin America and promote an economic populism that will eventually lead his country into a ditch.
For a lot of reasons — some cyclical, some technical and some having to do with the emergence of alternative fuels and conservation — the price of crude oil has fallen lately to around $60 a barrel. Yes, in the long run, we want the global price of oil to go down. But we don’t want the price of gasoline to go down in America just when $3 a gallon has started to stimulate large investments in alternative energies. That is exactly what OPEC wants — let the price fall for a while, kill the alternatives, and then bring it up again.
For now, we still need to make sure, either with a gasoline tax or a tariff on imported oil, that we keep the price at the pump at $3 or more — to stimulate various alternative energy programs, more conservation and a structural shift by car buyers and makers to more fuel-efficient vehicles.
“If Bush were the leader he claims to be, he would impose an import fee right now to keep gasoline prices high, and reduce the tax rate on Social Security for low-income workers, so they would get an offsetting increase in income,” argued Philip Verleger Jr., the veteran energy economist.
That is how we can permanently break our oil addiction, and OPEC, and free ourselves from having to listen to these petro-authoritarians, who are all so smug — not because they are educating their people or building competitive modern economies, but because they happen to sit on oil.
According to Bloomberg.com, in 2005 Iran earned $44.6 billion from crude oil exports, its main source of income. In the same year, the mullahs spent $25 billion on subsidies to buy off the population. Bring the price of oil down to $30 and guess what happens: All of Iran’s income goes to subsidies. That would put a terrible strain on Ahmadinejad, who would have to reach out to the world for investment. Trust me, at $30 a barrel, the Holocaust isn’t a myth anymore.
But right now, Chávez, Ahmadinejad and all their petrolist pals think we are weak and will never bite the bullet. They have our number. They know that Mr. Bush is a phony — that he always presents himself as this guy ready to make the “tough” calls, but in reality he has not asked his party, the Congress, the people, or U.S. industry to do one single hard thing to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
Mr. Bush prattles on about spreading democracy and freedom, but history will actually remember the Bush years as the moment when petro-authoritarianism — not freedom and democracy — spread like a wildfire and he did nothing serious to stop it.