Archive for September, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

September 28, 2007

September 28, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist

Hired Gun Fetish

Sometimes it seems that the only way to make sense of the Bush administration is to imagine that it’s a vast experiment concocted by mad political scientists who want to see what happens if a nation systematically ignores everything we’ve learned over the past few centuries about how to make a modern government work.

Thus, the administration has abandoned the principle of a professional, nonpolitical civil service, stuffing agencies from FEMA to the Justice Department with unqualified cronies. Tax farming — giving individuals the right to collect taxes, in return for a share of the take — went out with the French Revolution; now the tax farmers are back.

And so are mercenaries, whom Machiavelli described as “useless and dangerous” more than four centuries ago.

As far as I can tell, America has never fought a war in which mercenaries made up a large part of the armed force. But in Iraq, they are so central to the effort that, as Peter W. Singer of the Brookings Institution points out in a new report, “the private military industry has suffered more losses in Iraq than the rest of the coalition of allied nations combined.”

And, yes, the so-called private security contractors are mercenaries. They’re heavily armed. They carry out military missions, but they’re private employees who don’t answer to military discipline. On the other hand, they don’t seem to be accountable to Iraqi or U.S. law, either. And they behave accordingly.

We may never know what really happened in a crowded Baghdad square two weeks ago. Employees of Blackwater USA claim that they were attacked by gunmen. Iraqi police and witnesses say that the contractors began firing randomly at a car that didn’t get out of their way.

What we do know is that more than 20 civilians were killed, including the couple and child in the car. And the Iraqi version of events is entirely consistent with many other documented incidents involving security contractors.

For example, Mr. Singer reminds us that in 2005 “armed contractors from the Zapata firm were detained by U.S. forces, who claimed they saw the private soldiers indiscriminately firing not only at Iraqi civilians, but also U.S. Marines.” The contractors were not charged. In 2006, employees of Aegis, another security firm, posted a “trophy video” on the Internet that showed them shooting civilians, and employees of Triple Canopy, yet another contractor, were fired after alleging that a supervisor engaged in “joy-ride shooting” of Iraqi civilians.

Yet even among the contractors, Blackwater has the worst reputation. On Christmas Eve 2006, a drunken Blackwater employee reportedly shot and killed a guard of the Iraqi vice president. (The employee was flown out of the country, and has not been charged.) In May 2007, Blackwater employees reportedly shot an employee of Iraq’s Interior Ministry, leading to an armed standoff between the firm and Iraqi police.

Iraqis aren’t the only victims of this behavior. Of the nearly 4,000 American service members who have died in Iraq, scores if not hundreds would surely still be alive if it weren’t for the hatred such incidents engender.

Which raises the question, why are Blackwater and other mercenary outfits still playing such a big role in Iraq?

Don’t tell me that they are irreplaceable. The Iraq war has now gone on for four and a half years — longer than American participation in World War II. There has been plenty of time for the Bush administration to find a way to do without mercenaries, if it wanted to.

And the danger out-of-control military contractors pose to American forces has been obvious at least since March 2004, when four armed Blackwater employees blundered into Fallujah in the middle of a delicate military operation, getting themselves killed and precipitating a crisis that probably ended any chance of an acceptable outcome in Iraq.

Yet Blackwater is still there. In fact, last year the State Department gave Blackwater the lead role in diplomatic security in Iraq.

Mr. Singer argues that reliance on private military contractors has let the administration avoid making hard political choices, such as admitting that it didn’t send enough troops in the first place. Contractors, he writes, “offered the potential backstop of additional forces, but with no one having to lose any political capital.” That’s undoubtedly part of the story.

But it’s also worth noting that the Bush administration has tried to privatize every aspect of the U.S. government it can, using taxpayers’ money to give lucrative contracts to its friends — people like Erik Prince, the owner of Blackwater, who has strong Republican connections. You might think that national security would take precedence over the fetish for privatization — but remember, President Bush tried to keep airport security in private hands, even after 9/11.

So the privatization of war — no matter how badly it works — is just part of the pattern.

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Greenspan’s Oil Claim in Context

September 27, 2007

Greenspan’s Oil Claim in Context
How the Bush Administration’s Iraqi oil grab went awry. Dilip Hiro
September 26 , 2007

Here is the sentence in The Age of Turbulence, the 531-page memoir of former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan, that caused so much turbulence in Washington last week: “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” Honest and accurate, it had the resonance of the Bill Clinton’s election campaign mantra, “It’s the economy, stupid.” But, finding himself the target of a White House attack—an administration spokesman labeled his comment, “Georgetown cocktail party analysis”—Greenspan backtracked under cover of verbose elaboration. None of this, however, made an iota of difference to the facts on the ground.

Here is a prosecutor’s brief for the position that “the Iraq War is largely about oil”:

The primary evidence indicating that the Bush administration coveted Iraqi oil from the start comes from two diverse but impeccably reliable sources: Paul O’Neill, the Treasury Secretary (2001-2003) under President George W. Bush; and Falah Al Jibury, a well-connected Iraqi-American oil consultant, who had acted as President Ronald Reagan’s “back channel” to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during the Iraq-Iran War of 1980-88. The secondary evidence is from the material that can be found in such publications as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

According to O’Neill’s memoirs, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill, written by journalist Ron Suskind and published in 2004, the top item on the agenda of the National Security Council’s first meeting after Bush entered the Oval Office was Iraq. That was January 30, 2001, more than seven months before the 9/11 attacks. The next National Security Council (NSC) meeting on February 1st was devoted exclusively to Iraq.

Advocating “going after Saddam” during the January 30 meeting, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, according to O’Neill, “Imagine what the region would look like without Saddam and with a regime that’s aligned with U.S. interests. It would change everything in the region and beyond. It would demonstrate what U.S. policy is all about.” He then discussed post-Saddam Iraq—the Kurds in the north, the oil fields, and the reconstruction of the country’s economy. (Suskind, p. 85)

Among the relevant documents later sent to NSC members, including O’Neill, was one prepared by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). It had already mapped Iraq’s oil fields and exploration areas, and listed American corporations likely to be interested in participating in Iraq’s petroleum industry.

Another DIA document in the package, entitled “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts,” listed companies from 30 countries—France, Germany, Russia, and Britain, among others—their specialties and bidding histories. The attached maps pinpointed “super-giant oil field,” “other oil field,” and “earmarked for production sharing,” and divided the basically undeveloped but oil-rich southwest of Iraq into nine blocks, indicating promising areas for future exploration. (Suskind., p. 96)

According to high flying, oil insider Falah Al Jibury, the Bush administration began making plans for Iraq’s oil industry “within weeks” of Bush taking office in January 2001. In an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight program, which aired on March 17, 2005, he referred to his participation in secret meetings in California, Washington, and the Middle East, where, among other things, he interviewed possible successors to Saddam Hussein.

By January 2003, a plan for Iraqi oil crafted by the State Department and oil majors emerged under the guidance of Amy Myers Jaffe of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. It recommended maintaining the state-owned Iraq National Oil Company, whose origins dated back to 1961—but open it up to foreign investment after an initial period in which U.S.-approved Iraqi managers would supervise the rehabilitation of the war-damaged oil infrastructure. The existence of this group would come to light in a report by the Wall Street Journal on March 3, 2003.

Unknown to the architects of this scheme, according to the same BBC Newsnight report, the Pentagon’s planners, apparently influenced by powerful neocons in and out of the administration, had devised their own super-secret plan. It involved the sale of all Iraqi oil fields to private companies with a view to increasing output well above the quota set by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) for Iraq in order to weaken, and then destroy, OPEC.

Secondary Evidence

On October 11, 2002 the New York Times reported that the Pentagon already had plans to occupy and control Iraq’s oilfields. The next day the Economist described how Americans in the know had dubbed the waterway demarcating the southern borders of Iraq and Iran “Klondike on the Shatt al Arab,” while Ahmed Chalabi, head of the U.S.-funded Iraqi National Congress and a neocon favorite, had already delivered this message: “American companies will have a big shot at Iraqi oil—if he gets to run the show.”

On October 30, Oil and Gas International revealed that the Bush administration wanted a working group of 12 to 20 people to (a) recommend ways to rehabilitate the Iraqi oil industry “in order to increase oil exports to partially pay for a possible U.S. military occupation government,” (b) consider Iraq’s continued membership of OPEC, and (c) consider whether to honor contracts Saddam Hussein had granted to non-American oil companies.

By late October 2002, columnist Maureen Dowd of the New York Times would later reveal, Halliburton, the energy services company previously headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, had prepared a confidential 500-page document on how to handle Iraq’s oil industry after an invasion and occupation of Iraq. This was, commented Dowd, “a plan [Halliburton] wrote several months before the invasion of Iraq, and before it got a no-bid contract to implement the plan (and overbill the U.S.).” She also pointed out that a Times‘ request for a copy of the plan evinced a distinct lack of response from the Pentagon.

In public, of course, the Bush administration built its case for an invasion of Iraq without referring to that country’s oil or the fact that it had the third largest reserves of petroleum in the world. But what happened out of sight was another matter. At a secret NSC briefing for the President on February 24, 2003, entitled, “Planning for the Iraqi Petroleum Infrastructure,” a State Department economist, Pamela Quanrud, told Bush that it would cost $7-8 billion to rebuild the oil infrastructure, if Saddam decided to blow up his country’s oil wells, according to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in his 2004 book, Plan of Attack (pp. 322-323). Quanrud was evidently a member of the State Department group chaired by Amy Myers Jaffe.

When the Anglo-American troops invaded on March 20, 2003, they expected to see oil wells ablaze. Saddam Hussein proved them wrong. Being a staunch nationalist, he evidently did not want to go down in history as the man who damaged Iraq’s most precious natural resource.

On entering Baghdad on April 9th, the American troops stood by as looters burned and ransacked public buildings, including government ministries—except for the Oil Ministry, which they guarded diligently. Within the next few days, at a secret meeting in London, the Pentagon’s scheme of the sale of all Iraqi oil fields got a go-ahead in principle.

The Bush administration’s assertions that oil was not a prime reason for invading Iraq did not fool Iraqis though. A July 2003 poll of Baghdad residents—who represented a quarter of the Iraqi national population—by the London Spectator showed that while 23% believed the reason for the Anglo-American war on Iraq was “to liberate us from dictatorship,” twice as many responded, “to get oil”. (Cited in Dilip Hiro, Secrets and Lies: Operation “Iraqi Freedom” and After, p. 398.)

As Iraq’s principal occupier, the Bush White House made no secret of its plans to quickly dismantle that country’s strong public sector. When the first American proconsul, retired General Jay Garner, focused on holding local elections rather than privatizing the country’s economic structure, he was promptly sacked.

Hurdles to Oil Privatization Prove Impassable

Garner’s successor, L. Paul Bremer III, found himself dealing with Philip Carroll—former Chief Executive Officer of the American operations of (Anglo-Dutch) Royal Dutch Shell in Houston—appointed by Washington as the Iraqi oil industry’s supreme boss. Carroll decided not to tinker with the industry’s ownership and told Bremer so. “There was to be no privatization of Iraqi oil resources or facilities while I was involved,” Carroll said in an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight program on March 17, 2005.

This was, however, but a partial explanation for why Bremer excluded the oil industry when issuing Order 39 in September 2003 privatizing nearly 200 Iraqi public sector companies and opening them up to 100% foreign ownership. The Bush White House had also realized by then that denationalizing the oil industry would be a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions which bar an occupying power from altering the fundamental structure of the occupied territory’s economy.

There was, as well, the vexatious problem of sorting out the 30 major oil development contracts Saddam’s regime had signed with companies based in Canada, China, France, India, Italy, Russia, Spain, and Vietnam. The key unresolved issue was whether these firms had signed contracts with the government of Saddam Hussein, which no longer existed, or with the Republic of Iraq which remained intact.

Perhaps more important was the stand taken by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the senior Shiite cleric in the country and a figure whom the occupying Americans were keen not to alienate. He made no secret of his disapproval of the wholesale privatization of Iraq’s major companies. As for the minerals—oil being the most precious—Sistani declared that they belonged to the “community,” meaning the state. As a religious decree issued by a grand ayatollah, his statement carried immense weight.

Even more effective was the violent reaction of the industry’s employees to the rumors of privatization. In his Newsnight interview Jibury said, “We saw an increase in the bombing of oil facilities and pipelines built on the premise that privatization is coming.”

In the immediate aftermath of the invasion, much equipment was looted from pipelines, pumping stations, and other oil facilities. By August 2003, four months after American troops entered Baghdad, oil output had only inched up to 1.2 million barrels per day, about two-fifths of the pre-invasion level. The forecasts (or dreams) of American planners’ that oil production would jump to 6 million barrels per day by 2010 and easily fund the occupation and reconstruction of the country, were now seen for what they were—part of the hype disseminated privately by American neocons to sell the idea of invading Iraq to the public.

With the insurgency taking off, attacks on oil pipelines and pumping stations averaged two a week during the second half of 2003. The pipeline connecting a major northern oil field near Kirkuk—with an export capacity of 550,000-700,000 barrels per day—to the Turkish port of Ceyhan became inoperative. Soon, the only oil being exported was from fields in the less disturbed, predominately Shiite south of Iraq.

In September 2003, President Bush approached Congress for $2.1 billion to safeguard and rehabilitate Iraq’s oil facilities. The resulting Task Force Shield project undertook to protect 340 key installations and 4,000 miles (6,400 km) of oil pipeline. It was not until the spring of 2004 that output again reached the pre-war average of 2.5 million barrels per day—and that did not hold. Soon enough, production fell again. Iraqi refineries were, by now, producing only two-fifths of the 24 million liters of gasoline needed by the country daily, and so there were often days-long lines at service stations.

Addressing the 26th Oil and Money conference in London on September 21, 2005, Issam Chalabi, who had been an Iraqi oil minister in the late 1980s, referred to the crippling lack of security and the lack of clear laws to manage the industry, and doubted if Iraq could return to the 1979 peak of 3.5 million barrels per day before 2009, if then.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi government found itself dependent on oil revenues for 90% of its income, a record at a time when corruption in its ministries had become rampant. On January 30, 2005, Stuart W. Bowen, the special inspector general appointed by the U.S. occupation authority, reported that almost $9 billion in Iraqi oil revenue, disbursed to the ministries, had gone missing. A subsequent Congressional inspection team reported in May 2006 that Task Force Shield had failed to meet its goals due to “lack of clear management structure and poor accountability”, and added that there were “indications of potential fraud” which were being reviewed by the Inspector General.

The endorsement of the new Iraqi constitution by referendum in October 2005 finally killed the prospect of full-scale oil privatization. Article 109 of that document stated clearly that hydrocarbons were “national Iraqi property”. That is, oil and gas would remain in the public sector.

In March 2006, three years after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, the country’s petroleum exports were 30% to 40% below pre-invasion levels.

Bush Pushes for Iraq’s Flawed Draft Hydrocarbon Law

In February 2007, in line with the constitution, the draft hydrocarbon law the Iraqi government presented to parliament kept oil and gas in the state sector. It also stipulated recreating a single Iraqi National Oil Company that would be charged with doling out oil income to the provinces on a per-capita basis. The Bush administration latched onto that provision to hype the 43-article Iraqi bill as a key to reconciliation between Sunnis and Shiites—since the Sunni areas of Iraq lack hydrocarbons—and so included it (as did Congress) in its list of “benchmarks” the Iraqi government had to meet.

Overlooked by Washington was the way that particular article, after mentioning revenue-sharing, stated that a separate Federal Revenue Law would be necessary to settle the matter of distribution—the first draft of which was only published four months later in June.

Far more than revenue sharing and reconciliation, though, what really interested the Bush White House were the mouthwatering incentives for foreign firms to invest in Iraq’s hydrocarbon industry contained in the draft law. They promised to provide ample opportunities to America’s Oil Majors to reap handsome profits in an oil-rich Iraq whose vast western desert had yet to be explored fully for hydrocarbons. So Bush pressured the Iraqi government to get the necessary law passed before the parliament’s vacation in August—to no avail.

The Bush administration’s failure to achieve its short-term objectives does not detract from the overarching fact—established by the copious evidence marshaled in this article—that gaining privileged access to Iraqi oil for American companies was a primary objective of the Pentagon’s invasion of Iraq.

Dilip Hiro is the author of Secrets and Lies: Operation “Iraqi Freedom” and After, as well as, most recently, Blood of the Earth: The Battle for the World’s Vanishing Oil Resources, both published by Nation Books.

Pentagon wants more money for war

September 27, 2007

Anti-war activists protesting against more war funding at the senate panel hearing [AFP]
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More money was also needed to improve US facilities in the region and for more training and equipment for the US military and to train and equip Iraqi security forces, he said.

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The amount is a third more than initial projections. The Bush administration had already asked congress to approve $147bn for the war effort in the coming fiscal year.

 

Gates said it was now seeking another $42bn more, bringing the total war funding request for fiscal 2008, beginning on October 1, to $189bn.

 

Hardware over training

 

A sizeable chunk of the latest request will go to hardware – $11bn for new mine resistant personnel carriers alone – in contrast to only $1bn to be spent on training and equipping Iraqi security forces.

 

The Bush administration has repeatedly said it intends to draw down US troops from Iraq as Iraqi forces become ready to take over responsibility for security in the country.

 

In asking for the money, Gates said he was aware of the controversy surrounding the unpopular war.

 

Since September 2001, congress has appropriated $602bn for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

 

“I know that Iraq and other difficult choices America faces in the war on terror will continue to be a source of friction within the congress, between the congress and the president, and in the wider public debate,” Gates said.

 

But he said US troops had done far more than had been asked of them, and “like all of you, I always keep our troops – their safety and their mission – foremost in my mind every day”.

 

Gates also said he had ordered an investigation into whether the Pentagon could properly police the thousands of private contractors in Iraq after the security firm Blackwater USA was accused of killing 11 civilians in Baghdad.

 
 
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Mugabe hits out at ‘hypocrite’ Bush

September 27, 2007

Bush was attacked for calling Mugabe “tyrannical” and some other governments “brutal regimes” [EPA]
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Mugabe, 83, himself accused of extensive human rights abuses since coming to power in 1980, accused Bush of “rank hypocrisy” for lecturing him on human rights.

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His comments came a day after Bush described the governments of Belarus, Syria, Iran and North Korea as “brutal regimes”, and criticised Mugabe’s government as “tyrannical”.

 

“[Bush] kills in Iraq. He kills in Afghanistan. And this is supposed to be our master on human rights?”

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe president

“His hands drip with innocent blood of many nationalities,” Mugabe said in a typically fiery speech in New York. “He kills in Iraq; he kills in Afghanistan. And this is supposed to be our master on human rights?”

 

Mugabe, blamed for causing food shortages, soaring unemployment and hyperinflation in his country of 6,500 per cent, has accused Western countries of sabotaging the economy.

 

He said the US was “primarily responsible for rewriting core tenets of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, adding: “We seem all guilty for 9/11.”

 

Cuba also took exception to Bush’s speech where he called for an end to a “cruel dictatorship” and prompted the country’s delegation to leave the room.

 

Felipe Perez Roque, Cuba’s foreign minister, described Bush’s talk of democracy as a lie, saying he came into office “through fraud and deceit”.

 

“We would have been spared his presence yesterday and would have listened to president Al Gore talking about climate change and the risks to our species,” he said.

 

‘Industry of death’

 

Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, under pressure to show progress on resolving sectarian violence, sought international help by outlining the concerns and hopes of the Iraqi people.

 

But his claims that Iraqi forces “with loyalty to country, not sect nor ethnicity” were “ready to assume full responsibility for our security in order to defend the democratic gains” were met with scepticism.

 

On the same day, the Pentagon told congress it was ready to sell Iraq up to $2.3bn in weapons to help the Iraqi army expand and take over missions now carried out by US and allied forces.

 

The US defence secretary also asked congress to approve nearly $190bn more in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – only $1bn of which was to be spent on training and equipping Iraqi security forces.

 

Denouncing war in his speech, Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, accused some countries of perpetrating death by being in the arms race.

 

“Some countries are in an arms race, I don’t understand that. We are talking about social movement; we are talking about a new constitution in Bolivia that renounces war.

 

“I’m convinced that war is the industry of death, and therefore the arms race is one more industry that goes together with that industry of death.”

 
 
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Refugees? What Refugees?

September 27, 2007

September 27, 2007

Op-Ed Columnist (NYT)

Refugees? What Refugees?

MALMO, Sweden

A 16-day overland odyssey has brought Mokaled Gamil, a former Iraqi Army officer, to this southern Swedish town, and what he fears now more than anything is resettlement north of the Arctic Circle in some snow-bound place that will ice over his Mesopotamian blood.

“Please, not far north,” he says in passable English, addressing Oskar Ekblad, an official from the Swedish Migration Board. “Too cold.”

Even by the fantastic standards of the Iraq war, the scene is bizarre: Gamil, a 45-year-old ex-colonel from an ex-army, stands outside a hostel full of stained mattresses and stunned Iraqis begging a decent Swede not to be dispatched to some remote reindeer-rich refuge.

“Iraqis are destined to begin their lives again at 45,” Gamil, a Sunni who has fled Baghdad’s Shiite militia, says with a gloomy matter-of-factness worthy of Strindberg.

Many are restarting in Sweden. Between January and August this year, Sweden took in 12,259 Iraqis fleeing their decomposing country. It expects 20,000 for all of 2007. By contrast, in the same January-August period, the United States admitted 685 refugees, according to State Department figures.

The numbers bear closer scrutiny. In January, Sweden admitted 1,500 Iraqis, compared to 15 that entered the United States. In April, the respective numbers were 1,421 and 1; in May, 1,367 and 1; and in August 1,469 and 529.

True, the Iraqis in Sweden are asylum-seekers, whereas those reaching these shores have refugee status conferred by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. But the numbers — representing the bulk of the Iraqis getting into a country of nine million and another of 300 million — are no less of an indictment for that.

When Tobias Billstrom, the migration minister, says, “Yes, of course the United States should do more,” you can feel his indignation about to erupt like milk boiling over. He notes that given the huge population difference, Sweden’s intake of Iraqis “is the equivalent of the U.S. taking in about 500,000 refugees.”

Of all the Iraq war scandals, America’s failure to do more for refugees, including thousands who put their lives at risk for the U.S., stands out for its moral bankruptcy. Last time I checked, Sweden did not invade Iraq. Its generosity shames President Bush’s fear-infused nation.

I know, the U.S. is showering aid (more than $122 million in 2007) on Iraq’s neighbors to help more than two million fleeing Iraqis. It set up a refugee task force in February and, when that faltered, appointed two refugee czars this month.

“We want people engaged in this 24/7, breaking down barriers and expeditiously helping the refugees,” Paula Dobriansky, the under secretary of state for democracy and global affairs, told me. “We have a moral obligation, and especially to those who have worked at our embassy.”

A commitment has been made to process 7,000 refugees in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. Visas for 500 Iraqis a year who worked for the U.S. have been promised. But these are velleities. Concern has been unmatched by results. Bush has never addressed the issue, an example of his Green Zone politics: shut out ugly reality and with luck it will vanish.

An aggressive American intake of refugees would suggest that their quick return to Iraq is improbable: that smacks too much of failure for Bush. Moreover, you have to scrutinize refugees from countries “infiltrated by large numbers of terrorists,” Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff opined recently.

The result has been “major bottlenecks,” in the words of a leaked cable from the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker. Instead of the 7,000 Iraqi refugees supposed to get here this fiscal year, perhaps 1,600 will.

“The numbers are totally embarrassing,” says Kirk Johnson, who worked for the United States Agency for International Development in Iraq. “We can’t recognize a moral imperative any more.”

Imperative is right. People who risked their lives for America are dying or being terrorized because of craven U.S. lethargy. Others are in limbo. Bush now says “Saddam Hussein killed all the Mandelas.” That’s too glib; one may be waiting to be saved.

The I-told-you-so phase of the Iraq invasion is thankfully ending. What is needed now is consensus on American responsibility. That starts with a more open door to Iraqis in flight. Mr. President, say something.

Gamil lost his job when the army was disbanded. He worked sporadically as a translator. But when threats came — as a Sunni ex-officer he was an obvious target to Shiite militias — “I had to save my life and my wife’s.”

Sweden will give him a lawyer to argue his asylum case. Ekblad says the “overwhelming majority” are approved. Refugees then get a permanent resident permit leading to possible citizenship in five years. “Our costs are huge, and we’d like to see more burden-sharing,” he says.

Burden sharing! How about guts? Swedes are polite to a fault.

You are invited to comment at my blog: www.iht.com/passages.

Nicholas D. Kristof is on book leave.

Iraq: A Bush Family Jihad? by Felicity Arbuthnot

September 26, 2007

Iraq: A Bush Family Jihad? by Felicity Arbuthnot

Dandelion Salad

by Felicity Arbuthnot
Global Research, September 25, 2007

Ever since the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, there have been two parallel litanies from the invaders. They cannot leave until ‘Iraq can stand on its own feet’ and it’s army and police can maintain order. The other is the mantra of ‘thirty years of neglect’  of Iraq’s infrastructure and Iraqis inability to repair it themselves.

Here is something worth repeating, yet again. Before the invasion Iraq was an efficient, functioning society, whose state institutions and ministries operated with near bribe free and accountable efficiency. The army and the police were loyal to the state and not to factions. The factionalists and militias now absorbed in to both, came in with the invasion (and many seemingly, are not even Iraqis or had abandoned their Iraqi nationality and taken the now increasingly worthless Dollar.)

Until the crippling thirteen year embargo (implemented, under George Bush Sr., 6th August 1990) Iraq had undergone thirty years of extraordinary progress and emerged ‘a near first world country’, according to the U.N., whose US/UK driven embargo, created a quiet holocaust and denied essential parts and replacements for every vital service and industry. Even X-ray and dialysis machines lay idle, for want of imported parts; blood banks no longer functioned due to sporadic electricity denying laboratory tests and refrigeration.

In 1992, the U.N., cited a report by Beth Osborn Daponte which concluded: ‘ … life expectancy has been reduced from (an average of) sixty eight years (pre 1991) to forty seven years by late 1991′. A chilling, shaming and astonishing achievement in under two years in the name of ‘ We the people …’

Medical laboratory tests, in what had been a highly sophisticated sector, dropped sixty percent by 1992 – just two years in to the embargo. Major surgery declined by sixty three percent in the same period. Those who had enough money, or could borrow it, would take desperately ill relatives, children, patients who should have been in intensive care, on the bus to Jordan, in a desperate attempt to save them, a tortuous, often up to twenty seven hour journey. Courtesy the United Nations, the sick, frequently died, on the bus.

However, since the 2003 invasion, in spite of the telephone number $billions squandered, embezzled and disappeared and the $billion contracts awarded to all the usual suspects, the health service and infrastructure is now worse than under the embargo. Seriously sick and injured U.S., and ‘allied’ soldiers are rushed to state of the art hospitals in their bases, which there seemed to have been no trouble in rapidly building from scratch. In the ‘New Iraq’,  sick Iraqis, bombed, ruined, irradiated, abandoned and ruled by quislings, quietly die. ‘ We will reduce Iraq to a pre-industrial age’, said James Baker, in 1991. The forty two day, U.S., led carpet bombing did, but Baker could not have dreamed of the improvement on his vision, the second time round – and rising to new heights each of the invasion’s genocidal, criminal, fifty four months.

Now, courtesy of Uncle Sam, cholera has struck with, according to World Health Organization spokesperson, Fadel Chaib, twenty nine thousand confirmed cases, mostly in the north, but with a seven month old bottle fed baby in Basra now confirmed and two cases seemingly, in Baghdad with others unconfirmed. Since Iraq’s water has long been a biological weapon, this was a disaster waiting to happen. Interestingly, Adel Muhsin, Iraq’s ‘Health Ministry Inspector General’, thus America’s friend, states that ‘cholera is endemic to Iraq.’ As ever, it is far more complicated.

Iraq as all tropical countries is susceptible to water borne diseases. It also has a highly complex water system, with : ‘ The quality of untreated water “generally .. poor;” drinking such water “could result in diarrhea,” Iraq’s rivers “contain biological materials, pollutants, and are laden with bacteria. Unless the water is purified with chlorine, epidemics of such diseases as cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid could occur.” ‘ This comes from an astonishing document, discovered by  Thomas J. Nagy, Associate Professor of Expert Systems, at George Washington University, in 2000, from the U.S., Defense Intelligence Agency.

However, such was the investment and care in Iraq’s water system, water borne diseases plummeted and figures 1989-1990 (the embargo was implemented on 6th August 1990) that the Iraqi Health Ministry statistics show cholera as nil, typhoid fever as just 1,812 (in a population of twenty five million) amoebic dysentery as 19,615 and polio, just ten. In 1992 there were 2,100 reported cholera cases, 19,276 typhoid cases (an increase of 1060 %) 61,939 of amoebic dysentery (increase 320%) and 120 cases of polio (increase 1200%.)

The primary document, Nagy – who also has a Doctorate in Public Health – discovered was entitled: “Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities,” and dated January 22, 1991.(The bombing of Iraq by thirty two nations had started on 17th January.) The document, circulated to all Central Commands spells out the clear intention to bomb all Iraq’s water purification and treatment facilities and how continuing sanctions will prevent Iraq from supplying clean water to its citizens.

‘Iraq depends on importing specialized equipment and some chemicals to purify its water supply, most of which is heavily mineralized and frequently brackish to saline,” the document states. “With no domestic sources of both water treatment replacement parts and some essential chemicals, Iraq will continue attempts to circumvent United Nations Sanctions to import these vital commodities. Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease’, the DIA document states.

Further, food and medicines will also be affected, the document states. “Food processing, electronic, and particularly, pharmaceutical plants require extremely pure water that is free from biological contaminants,” it says. A timetable for the health decimation of the people of Iraq resulting from the loss of clean water, is carefully explained: “Iraq’s overall water treatment capability will suffer a slow decline, rather than a precipitous halt,” it says. “Although Iraq is already experiencing a loss of water treatment capability, it probably will take at least six months (to June 1991) before the system is fully degraded.”

Connected Pentagon documents discovered by Nagy include itemizing  likely outbreaks, including: ‘ “acute diarrhea” brought on by bacteria such as E. coli, shigella, and salmonella, or by protozoa such as giardiasis, which will affect “particularly children,” or by rotavirus, which will also affect “particularly children,” a phrase it puts in parentheses. And it cites the possibilities of typhoid and cholera outbreaks’, he writes. Giardiasis was recorded at 73,416 cases  in 1989-1990 and at 596,356 in 1992 (a rise of 810%.)

The Geneva Convention, of course, is unequivocal, as Nagy points out:: ‘ The 1979 Protocol, Article 54, states: “It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive.” ‘ But what do rogue states care of the Geneva Convention?

For thirteen years all water purification chemicals were vetoed (by the U.S., and U.K., at the UN Sanctions Committee.) After the invasion the situation has worsened even from the woeful previous situation, where up to eighty percent of those who died from diahoreal illnesses were under five. Even potassium and saline, to replace the vital salts lost from sufferers, were vetoed. Saddam Hussein, of course, was blamed, when even chlorin was denied to Iraq. Currently, tankers of chlorine are held up at the Jordan-Iraq border, on the basis they might be used as explosives – and Baghdad, with its six million population has just one week’s supply left. Iraq’s population, again, will die, not with a bang but a whimper, as the greatest army on earth can apparently not guarantee safe passage and delivery of a potential life saver. Saddam would have, it has to be said.

Saddam Hussein placed huge importance on water projects, even denied the purification materials, and continued projects in the hope that any month the embargo would be lifted. In spite of the uprising in the south (again, encouraged by the U.S., and U.K., who then stood aside as it was bloodily quelled) two giant initiatives were implemented to provide reliable water to the parched southern provinces. In Basra and outlying districts, one for unpolluted drinking water, the other for agriculture. Started in 1992, work went on round the clock for twenty two months, involving five thousand engineers, technicians and skilled workers. It was halted due to crippling shortage of vital materials and equipment, but restarted in 1995 and finally inaugurated on 23rd December 1997. Embargoed Iraq, which now, we are asked to believe, is unable ‘to stand on its own feet’, unable to import, with factories bombed, delivered water along a two hundred and thirty eight kilometers pipeline from the Gharraf river, which, in the absence of needed chemicals, was purer than the Tigris and the Euphrates. The two ‘finest armies in the world’, have managed to deliver nothing to the population of Iraq, but heartbreak, exile, disease and death.

Another extraordinary feat was the Saddam River, also know as the ‘Third River’. This was a narrow irrigation channel, about the size of a ship canal, which ran from southern Baghdad to Basra. Unable to import, expansion of agriculture was vital. It was completed in just one hundred and eighty days, from May to December 1992. Its aims were to improve six million Donums of agricultural land and to carry away about sixty million tons of salt a year. (The salination in the region is extraordinary, traveling south, a feature is the vast mounds of salt, blown and piled along the roadsides.) The project also drained the level of pollution from the Tigris and Euphrates. It also encouraged families who had worked on the land, but left for cities due to the lack of irrigation, back to settle by its banks and re-establish farming and agricultural projects.

The West ranted against an ‘environmental catastrophe’ (though numerous western firms had vied for the project since the 1950’s, the first being a British firm, Mott McDonald – all had given up in months, saying it could not be done.) Unconcerned about the ‘environmental catastrophe’ of an entire nation denied near all the basics to sustain life, they were worried about the effect on the unique southern Marshes and destruction of fauna and flora and an ancient way of life of the inhabitants. The Marshes had been drained dry, was the allegation. Well no. A part had, because it prevented insurgents from Iran coming in to ferment trouble, through this vast, historically unpoliceable area. As ever, innocents did suffer, but suffering which pales against what liberation has wrought. After the 2003 invasion, the British re-flooded the drained areas and now the ‘coalition’ threatens Iran, because ‘insurgents’ from there are coming in to Iraq. Senior military decision makers, again, in every aspect, hopelessly out of their depth, in a far away place of which they know absolutely nothing.

Another vital sector in to which resources were poured, by Saddam Hussein’s regime, was education, now near destroyed by the invasion, subsequent attacks by both militia, occupying forces and fear of letting children out of the house. Between 1979 and 1990, kindergarten attendance rose by an average of over twenty percent a year, with commensurate building projects. Nursery enrollment saw an annual increase of over four hundred and sixty eight percent, with buildings flourishing to accommodate the rise. Primary education rose by one hundred and twenty three percent per annum with secondary and vocational schools seeing a rate increase of students over 1247%, with more imaginative construction, as did for teacher training colleges, accommodating a rise of eight hundred and ten percent in teacher training. An additional seven great universities were built.

Huge growth during the same period was seen in road building, rail and air passengers, telecommunications, ship cargoes and building and construction in all sectors. This all, in spite of the (Western driven) eight year Iran-Iraq war which cost an estimated million lives between the two countries.

The people of Iraq are being kept on their knees, their infrastructure unrepaired, they are tortured, disappeared at the hands of and because of the invasion. The blame lies squarely in Washington and Whitehall. Four million displaced and one and a quarter million dead, according to the recent poll, by respected ORB and now a cholera epidemic. Have the ‘liberators’ flown in emergency and essential medicines and medical equipment to counter this, as they would if it were their troops, or their pals cowering in the Green Zone? Of course not.

From the destruction of the water system in 1991, to the ongoing slaughters which came in with the invasion, to troops random killings of Iraqis in their tens and hundreds and now a cholera epidemic, with not a hand lifted by the occupying forces, with all their infinite resources, I am again reminded of a chance conversation in a cafe in Jordan, days before the invasion. What was I doing in Jordan? I had just come back from Iraq, I said. Without preamble he said:   ‘America will never get their hands on Iraq and Iraq’s oil, unless they kill every last one of them’. It seems they are trying to do just that, by any means possible, in the Bush’s family’s personal Jihad. Thomas Nagy is a Member of the Association of Genocide Scholars, who concluded that the deliberate destruction of Iraq’s water system in 1991 was genocide. It seems they have a lot more work ahead. Oh, and the invasion of Iraq was sold to the American public, by their Administration linking Saddam Hussein to 11th September 2001 and Osama bin Laden. It was not Saddam, but the Bush family who were in business with the Bin Ladens.What wickedness.

References:

Medical deprivation under the embargo: The Fire This Times, US War Crimes in the Gulf, Ramsey Clark, Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1994.

Destruction of Iraq’s Water: How the US Deliberately Destroyed Iraq’s Water, Thomas J. Nagy, Global Research, 29th August 2001 (with links to DIA papers.)

Allies Deliberately Poisoned Iraq Public Water Supply, Felicity Arbuthnot, Sunday Herald, 17th September 2000.

The War on Truth, Neil McKay, Sunday Herald Books, 2007.

Iraq Progress and post 1991 Water Projects: Iraq – Thirty Years of Progress, Ministry of Information and Culture, Iraq, 1998 and author’s numerous regional interviews and eyewitness.

Felicity Arbuthnot is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Felicity Arbuthnot

 


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Iranian University Chancellors Ask Bollinger 10 Questions

September 26, 2007

Iranian University Chancellors Ask Bollinger 10 Questions

Global Research, September 25, 2007
Fars News Agency

Seven chancellors and presidents of Iranian universities and research centers, in a letter addressed to their counterpart in the US, Colombia University, denounced Lee Bollinger’s insulting words against the Iranian nation and president and invited him to provide responses to 10 questions by Iranian academics and intellectuals.

The following is the full text of the letter:

Mr. Lee Bollinger
Columbia University President

We, the professors and heads of universities and research institutions in Tehran, hereby announce our displeasure and protest at your impolite remarks prior to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent speech at Columbia University.

We would like to inform you that President Ahmadinejad was elected directly by the Iranian people through an enthusiastic two-round poll in which almost all of the country’s political parties and groups participated. To assess the quality and nature of these elections you may refer to US news reports on the poll dated June 2005.

Your insult, in a scholarly atmosphere, to the president of a country with a population of 72 million and a recorded history of 7,000 years of civilization and culture is deeply shameful.

Your comments, filled with hate and disgust, may well have been influenced by extreme pressure from the media, but it is regrettable that media policy-makers can determine the stance a university president adopts in his speech.

Your remarks about our country included unsubstantiated accusations that were the product of guesswork as well as media propaganda. Some of your claims result from misunderstandings that can be clarified through dialogue and further research.

During his speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad answered a number of your questions and those of students. We are prepared to answer any remaining questions in a scientific, open and direct debate.

You asked the president approximately ten questions. Allow us to ask you ten of our own questions in the hope that your response will help clear the atmosphere of misunderstanding and distrust between our two countries and reveal the truth.

1- Why did the US media put you under so much pressure to prevent Mr. Ahmadinejad from delivering his speech at Columbia University? And why have American TV networks been broadcasting hours of news reports insulting our president while refusing to allow him the opportunity to respond? Is this not against the principle of freedom of speech?

2- Why, in 1953, did the US administration overthrow Iran’s national government under Dr Mohammad Mosaddegh and go on to support the Shah’s dictatorship?

3- Why did the US support the blood-thirsty dictator Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Iraqi-imposed war on Iran, considering his reckless use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers defending their land and even against his own people?

4- Why is the US putting pressure on the government elected by the majority of Palestinians in Gaza instead of officially recognizing it? And why does it oppose Iran’s proposal to resolve the 60-year-old Palestinian issue through a general referendum?

5- Why has the US military failed to find Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden even with all its advanced equipment? How do you justify the old friendship between the Bush and Bin Laden families and their cooperation on oil deals? How can you justify the Bush administration’s efforts to disrupt investigations concerning the September 11 attacks?

6- Why does the US administration support the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) despite the fact that the group has officially and openly accepted the responsibility for numerous deadly bombings and massacres in Iran and Iraq? Why does the US refuse to allow Iran’s current government to act against the MKO’s main base in Iraq?

7- Was the US invasion of Iraq based on international consensus and did international institutions support it? What was the real purpose behind the invasion which has claimed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives? Where are the weapons of mass destruction that the US claimed were being stockpiled in Iraq?

8- Why do America’s closest allies in the Middle East come from extremely undemocratic governments with absolutist monarchical regimes?

9- Why did the US oppose the plan for a Middle East free of unconventional weapons in the recent session of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors despite the fact the move won the support of all members other than Israel?

10- Why is the US displeased with Iran’s agreement with the IAEA and why does it openly oppose any progress in talks between Iran and the agency to resolve the nuclear issue under international law?

Finally, we would like to express our readiness to invite you and other scientific delegations to our country. A trip to Iran would allow you and your colleagues to speak directly with Iranians from all walks of life including intellectuals and university scholars. You could then assess the realities of Iranian society without media censorship before making judgments about the Iranian nation and government.

You can be assured that Iranians are very polite and hospitable toward their guests.

 

see

Columbia President Bollinger Introduces Ahmadinejad (video)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at Columbia University (video link)

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks at the UN (videos)

Turning Ahmadinejad into public enemy No. 1 By Juan Cole

Ahmadinejad Was Great at Columbia, and Bollinger Bashed Him by William Mac (video)

Qatar: Iraq conflict too big for US

September 26, 2007

Addressing the UN, Sheikh Hamad cautioned against bid to drag  the world into a new Cold War [AFP]
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Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the only Arab leader to speak at the General Assembly’s 62nd annual ministerial meeting on Tuesday, said: “It has been proved that Iraq can no longer remain the possession of one country, or of a coalition of countries that share common interests.”

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Sheikh Hamad’s comments are seen as significant as Qatar is a key ally of the US and hosts one of its biggest military bases in the Middle East.

 

He drew attention to the UN Security Council Resolution 1770 on Iraq, adopted on August 10, 2007, which he called “extremely important”.

 

“This resolution has given the UN part of its deserved role in dealing with the tragedy in Iraq,” Sheikh Hamad said.

He said the challenge of critical conflicts around the world had become too big for just a single power.

Plea to UN

Sheikh Hamad said: “The UN must be involved in such conflicts, in its capacity as a political entity that embodies the principles of the international community and its aspirations for a legitimate and peaceful existence.”

He cautioned against what he called attempts to drag the world into a new Cold War, saying that this could only lead to increased tension and the proliferation of covert activities worldwide.

Sheikh Hamad said this would contradict the movement towards enlightenment and cultural dialogue among the world’s peoples.

While underscoring the international community’s obligations in Iraq, he said that the main responsibility lay with the country’s leaders.

He said they were responsible for ensuring national reconciliation and guaranteeing justice, peace and security in addition to preserving Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

 

A Culture of Violence by Stephen Lendman

September 26, 2007

A Culture of Violence by Stephen Lendman

by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, September 26, 2007

A country that glorifies wars and violence in the name of peace

What do you call a country that glorifies wars and violence in the name of peace. One that’s been at war every year in its history against one or more adversaries. It has the highest homicide rate of all western nations and a passion for owning guns, yet the two seem oddly unconnected. Violent films are some of its most popular, and similar video games crowd out the simpler, more innocent street play of generations earlier. Prescription and illicit drug use is out of control as well when tobacco, alcohol and other legal ones are included.

It gets worse. It’s society is called a “rape culture” with data showing:

– one-fourth of its adult women victims of forcible rape sometime in their lives, often by someone they know, including family members;

– one-third of them are victims of sexual abuse by a husband or boyfriend;

– 30% of people in the country say they know a woman who’s been physically abused by her husband or boyfriend in the past year;

– one in four of its women report being sexually molested in childhood, usually repeatedly over extended periods by a family member or other close relative;

– its women overall experience extreme levels of violence; an astonishing 75% of them are victims of some form of it in their lifetimes;

–domestic violence is their leading cause of injury and second leading cause of death;

– statistically, homes are their most dangerous place if men are in them as millions experience battering by husbands, male partners or fathers;

– for most women with children, there’s no escape for lack of means and because male assailants pursue them causing greater harm;

– adding further injury, its society is often unsupportive; it affords women second class status, privileges and redress when they’re abused so many suffer in silence fearing coming forward may cause more harm than help;

– its children are abused as well; millions suffer serious neglect, physical mistreatment and/or sexual abuse; many get relief only through escape to dangerous streets; they end up alone, more vulnerable and at greater danger away than at home where there, too, families act more like strangers or predators forcing young kids to flee in the first place.

What country is it where things like these are normal and commonplace; where peace, tranquility and safety are illusions; where they’re crowded out by foreign wars and violence at home in communities, neighborhoods, schools, throughout the media and in core families. What kind of country glorifies mass killing, assaults and abuse; one that looks down on pacifist non-violence as sissy or unpatriotic, yet claims to be peace loving. It’s not in the third world, under dictatorship or controlled by religious extremists. It’s the “land of the free and home of the brave, America the Beautiful” where human rights, civil liberties, common dignity and personal safety are more illusion than fact. More on this below.

War As “the Ultimate Economic Shock Therapy”

Mahdi Nazemroaya writes in his August 29 “War and the ‘New World Order’ ” article on Global Research.ca that war is “the ultimate (and most effective) economic shock therapy (that can) change societies and reshape nations,” and that America today is embarked on achieving a long-standing vision for “global ascendancy” and supremacy. For the Trilateral Commission of “powerful” US, EU and Japanese “elites,” its operative 1973 founding goal was a “New International Economic Order.” For George HW Bush it became the “New World Order,” and for GW Bush a permanent state of war for global hegemony.

Nazemroaya writes America’s “foreign policy is based on economic interests” with military might used to enforce them. He states various US administrations have pursued “An (unbroken) agenda of perpetual warfare and violence (for) global domination through economic means.” George Bush’s current “war on terrorism” in the Middle East and Central Asia are just “stepping stones” toward that “global order” unipolar Pax Americana vision under which no nation is exempt.

It’s nearly always been this way in a nation addicted to war and a culture of violence that’s as commonplace at home as in foreign conflicts. It’s in our DNA, our schools and reinforced through the media with seductive symbols and slogans glorifying wars for peace, their warriors, and righteousness of waging them. They’re packaged as liberating ones, promoting democracy, and spreading the benefits of western civilization.

We’re taught our essential goodness and what Edward Herman calls our status as an “indispensable state” that lets us do what no other nation may – wage perpetual wars for an elusive peace in the name of freedom and justice for all we preach but don’t practice. We manipulate false notions of exceptionalism and moral superiority giving us the right to spread our ways to others while hiding our darker imperial side delivered through the barrel of a gun. It shames the notion of a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”

Expansionism and Militarism: An American Tradition

Expansionism has always been our way and militarism our method. It’s been since winning the West meant taking it from the millions there thousands of years earlier. No matter. “Manifest Destiny” meant a divine right for settlers only to enjoy the nation’s “spacious skies….amber waves of grain….and purple mountain majesties….from sea to shining sea.” Others already there had to go, and mass slaughter was the method.

Our forefathers loathed Native Indians, and George Washington showed it in his language. He called them “red savages,” compared them to wolves and “beasts of prey,” and aimed to exterminate the Onieda people who aided him in his darkest hours at Valley Forge. He also dispatched General John Sullivan and 5000 troops against the noncombatant Onondaga people with orders to destroy their villages, homes, fields, food supplies, cattle herds, orchards and then annihilate them and seize their land.

Hitler modeled his “Final Solution” on the “American Holocaust.” He targeted Untermenschen (subhumans) and Slavs he called “redskins.” We know what happened. Raphael Lemkin called it “genocide” as he first defined it in 1944 to mean:

“the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group” that corresponds to other terms like “tyrannicide, homocide, infanticide, etc.” Genocide “does not necessarily mean the….destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings….It is intended….to signify a coordinated plan (to destroy the) the essential foundations of the life of national groups” with intent to destroy them. Genocidal plans involve the disintegration of….political and social institutions, culture, language, national feelings, religion….economic existence, personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and” human lives.

Throughout our history, it’s been our way, and since 1990, three US Presidents waged genocidal war in Iraq to erase the “cradle of civilization” and remake it in our own image. Two and a half million are dead and counting from it, the country is plagued by out-of-control violence, one-third of its people need emergency aid, millions go hungry, and a once prosperous nation is now a surreal lawless occupied wasteland with few or no essential services like electricity, clean water, medical care, fuel and most everything else needed for sustenance and survival. That’s the ugly face of “genocide” in real time.

Native peoples were its earlier victim. Puritans saw them as “brutes, devils” and “devil-worshippers” in a godless, howling wilderness filled with evil spirits and “dangerous wild beasts.” They were targeted for removal as settlers moved west. They cleansed the land through violence, bloodletting and 40 Native Indian wars from 1622 – 1900 to win the West, North and South. Wars became our national pastime, and we’ve waged them like sport ever since in an endless unbroken cycle.

We fought four imperial ones as well from 1689 to 1763 with England, France, Spain and Holland. Throughout the period, numerous settler outbreaks and insurrections arose that were also put down along with dozens of riots. Then there were the major wars we know by name. First was the American War of Independence (or Revolutionary War) from 1775 – 83. A minority of colonists supported it, little changed, and the outcome repackaged Crown rule under new management.

The so-called War of 1812 (to early 1815) was more about American expansionism than Brits impressing our seamen. “Manifest Destiny” then became a catch phrase when Jacksonian Democrats proclaimed it in 1845 as the nation’s “destiny” for all the land “from sea to shining sea.” It was packaged as a noble mission, propagated as ruling orthodoxy, and used to justify other acquisitions.

We then headed south of the border from 1846 – 1848 in what Mexicans called “la invasion estadounidense” that easily self-translates as the US invasion. It was our Mexican War that began after the annexation of Texas and ended with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. It forced Mexico to cede half its country to avoid losing it all in what’s now Texas, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, and parts of Wyoming and Utah. The country is still cursed the way former Mexican dictator, Porfirio Diaz, meant when he said: “Poor Mexico, so far from God, and so close to the United States.” Today that holds for all nations with a rogue superpower on the march and liberty and justice nowhere in sight.

Nor was it earlier when wars had similar aims as now with one exception. The Civil War from 1861 – 1865 was sort of a family squabble. Some squabble. Before it ended, it was our bloodiest ever. Three million were in it and over 600,000 died at a time the total population was 31 million, including 4 million slaves. That was double the battle deaths from WW II when 12 million fought from a population of 132 million, and if the same proportionate number had perished it would have been around 2.5 million.

Next came the Spanish-American War against Spain. In 1897, Theodore Roosevelt (as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and later 1906 Nobel Peace Prize laureate) wrote a friend….”I should welcome almost any war, for I think this country needs one,” and the next year it began. We won, they lost and America had its coming out party on a world stage. A half century later, we control much of it, want the rest, and plan, as a birthright, to take it as disdainfully as our forefathers.

The war with Spain was quick and little more than a skirmish for three and a half months. It was our first offshore imperial foray netting us control of Cuba as a de facto colony for starters. Following the war, Congress passed the Platt Amendment in 1901. It granted us jurisdictional right to intervene freely in Cuban affairs and ceded Guantanamo Bay (as a coaling or naval station only) to the US in perpetuity (provided annual rent is paid) unless later terminated by mutual consent of both countries. It was just the beginning.

We also took the Philippines (slaughtering 200,000 of its people), Hawaii, Haiti, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Samoa, assorted other territories later and the Canal Zone from Colombia to fulfill Theodore Roosevelt’s dream to link the Atlantic and Pacific with a canal across its isthmus.

Woodrow Wilson was reelected in 1916 on a campaign promise: “He Kept Us Out of War.” He lied. He wanted war and established the Committee on Public Information under George Creel in 1917 to get it. It turned a pacifist nation into raging German-haters, America declared war in April, 1917 and was in it until it ended in November, 1918. This writer’s dad fought in France and returned unharmed. The US empire was on a roll.

Today, mainstream historians perceive Wilson as a liberal Democrat. He was quite opposite, and his imperial record alone proves it. He occupied Haiti in 1915 beginning 20 hellish years for its people until Franklin Roosevelt withdraw US forces in 1934. He sent US troops to Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, and in 1914 invaded Mexico, occupying its main seaport city of Veracruz. It was a dress rehearsal for WW I and might have become a full-scale war had Wilson not pulled US forces out ahead of the greater conflict he aimed for in Europe.

The defining event of the 20th century was WW II from which the US emerged the only dominant nation left standing. We became the world’s unchallengeable superpower as though we planned it that way, which we did. From it emerged our “imperial grand strategy” under the Truman Doctrine as well as a plan for US global military and economic dominance. The Cold War began with “containment” the policy. The US empire was on a roll and would never look back.

US Imperialism Post-WW II

When the Cold War ended in 1991, George HW Bush’s Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and undersecretary Paul Wolfowitz were tasked to shape a new strategy that emerged in 1992 as the Defense Planning Guidance or Wolfowitz Doctrine. It was so extreme, it was kept under wraps, but not for long. It was leaked to the New York Times causing uproar enough for the elder Bush to shelve it until the neoconservative think tank Project for a New American Century (PNAC) revived it in a document called “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategies, Forces and Resources for a New Century.” It was an imperial plan for global dominance for well into the future to be enforced with unchallengeable military power. It became the blueprint for the “war on terror” and all the hot ones planned to wage it.

WW II was more a beginning than an end to war. The US kept Korea and Vietnam divided and targeted independent-minded leaders. It was part of our imperial designs on East Asia that included containing Soviet Russia as well as China. It led us to incite civil wars in Korea and Vietnam expecting both times to prevail but were stalemated in one and lost the other.

North Korea’s Fatherland Liberation War began June 25, 1950 when the DPRK retaliated in force following months of US influenced Republic of Korean (ROK) provocations. It ended in an uneasy cease-fire July 27, 1953 and is still unresolved to this day. The North and South are technically at war, the US refuses to negotiate an honorable peace, and 57 years later 37,000 American forces are in the South with no intention to leave.

Korea taught us nothing. Vietnam was next, and now we’re embroiled in Iraq and Afghanistan with a potentially disastrous war looming against Iran. It proves Ben Franklin right that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.” Adventurism in Vietnam began under Truman and Eisenhower supporting France. It expanded full-blown under Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon before ending in a humiliating final pullout from the US Saigon Embassy rooftop April 30, 1975.

The 1980s brought more conflict with Ronald Reagan’s war against “international terrorism.” He invaded tiny Grenada in 1983 against a left-leaning regime for a pro-western one we installed. Scorched earth proxy wars then upped the stakes in Central America, Afghanistan, Africa and the Middle East. We tread lightly nowhere, and these conflicts left hundreds of thousands dead and immiserated in the name of democracy, humanitarian intervention, and the benefits of western civilization by our method of choice – gun barrels blazing.

GHW Bush then followed with Panama his prey. He deposed its leader, then targeted Saddam for the only crime that mattered – disobeying the lord and master of the universe and its rules of imperial management, especially Rule No. 1: We’re boss, and what we say goes.

The Gulf war followed with 12 crushing years of sanctions its legacy. They left 1.5 million Iraqis dead and the living devastated. The current cycle of permanent wars began post-9/11 in October, 2001. First came the Taliban with Iraq ahead as the prime target of choice. It’s huge oil reserves made it the most sought after real estate on earth with a plan to seize them simple at its core – a bold new experiment to erase a nation and create a new one by invasion, occupation and reconstruction for pillage. It would transform Iraq into a fully privatized free market paradise with blank check public funding for profit but none for Iraqis for essential needs, a sustainable economy or critical local infrastructure.

It’s been a disaster with the toll on Iraqis horrific – an inferno of uncontrolled violence throughout the country with new British O.R.B. independent polling data estimating 1.2 million Iraqi deaths since March, 2003 on top of the 1.5 million others since 1990. The war is now longer in duration than WWs I or II and will likely exceed the latter one in inflation-adjusted cost before it ends. It’s not in sight thanks to a complicit Democrat-led Congress that’s long on theater but short on action it can take but won’t. Allied with the administration, it flaunts public demands to end the war, bring home the troops, and will shortly accede to another Bush supplemental request for billions more in funding.

Public sentiment might be stronger if Jeff Nygaard’s June, 2007 Z Magazine article titled “The Secret Air Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” got wider play, so here’s hoping this article gives it some. He explained US Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF) posts its daily “airpower summaries” online that makes for horrifying reading “aside (from) the blatant propaganda.” Nygaard explained “relentless” air attacks against Iran and Afghanistan have gone on for years – on average 75 – 100 each day against both countries. It’s a huge unreported story in the dominant media. The death toll is unknown, he says, “but a reasonable estimate” is between 100,000 – 150,000 in Iraq alone, and it’s anyone’s guess in Afghanistan. That’s on top of all other war-related deaths estimated in both countries.

Further, these attacks exclude “guided missiles and unguided rockets fired….cannon rounds (and) munitions used by some Marine Corps and other ‘coalition’ aircraft or any of the Army’s helicopter gunships (plus) munitions used by the armed helicopters of the many ‘private (mercenary hired gun) security contractors’ flying their own missions in Iraq.” If the true human toll were known, it might be shockingly above the most gruesome current estimates and growing daily.

The public has a right to know this, and Congress is obligated to find out, tell them, cut off all funding and end two illegal wars of aggression. Instead, Democrats and Republicans back a further administration aggression against Iran in spite of silenced high level opposition to it. It may come from two large nuclear-armed US carrier strike groups conducting provocative exercises near Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf and Eastern Medditerranean.

Washington makes no secret it wants regime change in Iran, and time is running out for the Bush administration to get it. For months, covert black operations have been ongoing inside the country. It’s aimed to incite internal ethnic and political opposition, and CIA operatives have also been sending Baluchi tribal warriors from neighboring Pakistan on terror raids into neighboring Iranian areas. Now 350 British forces have been provocatively sent from Basra to the volatile Iranian border, and the Pentagon announced it’s building a US base and fortified checkpoints nearby as well. General Petraeus also implied to Congress he’ll act inside Iranian territory to stop its “proxy war” against US Iraqi forces. In the meantime, Iran claims Washington backs Israeli-trained Kurdish Party for Free Life (PJAK) as well as Arab, Azeri and Baluchi incursions inside their territory to undermine its leadership, provoke a response, and provide cover for a US attack.

Without a touch of irony, US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Iranian Ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qumi held four hours of face-to-face talks in Baghdad in May that was the first official bilateral meeting between the countries in almost three decades. It amounted to nothing more than the usual US duplicity that pointed to what’s now happening and likely to escalate. Earlier, George Bush demanded and will soon get harsher US-imposed sanctions through the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007 that’s designed to strangle the country economically. He earlier signed off on a commitment of economic destabilization through media-driven propaganda, now heightened, as well as manipulation of Iran’s currency and international transactions. That, in turn, just prompted Tehran in response to demand foreign energy companies do business in euros and yen.

So far, it’s anyone’s guess what’s ahead with war a real possibility. The Bush administration is pounding Iran with menacing claims of meddling in Iraq and covertly advancing a nuclear weapons program despite having no proof of either. Whatever’s planned could be devastating to the region (and world economy if oil shipments are disrupted), and the kinds of options being considered may cause dire unintended consequences if the worst of them involving nuclear weapons are used.

Bill Clinton’s 1990s Balkan wars took their toll earlier at a time most people shamefully bought the US-led NATO propaganda of a good war against a demonized enemy and a well-intentioned intervention to remove him. It divided and destroyed a country under the guise of humanitarian intervention that provided cover for naked imperialism. Most observers on the left got it wrong and still don’t know NATO (meaning the US) committed illegal aggression to expand into Central and Eastern Europe.

The Balkan wars kept predatory capitalism on a roll for more new markets, resources and cheap exploitable labor by the same ugly methods of choice – wars, subversion or coercion with “uncooperative” leaders like Slobadon Milosevic playing fall guy. He ended up abducted to the Hague and hung out to dry by the ICTY US-run kangaroo court that silenced him (like Saddam in Baghdad) so his secrets went to the grave with him.

So much for democracy in a nation stained by a near-unblemished record of illegal aggression throughout its history and in every post-WW II conflict fought. The only exception was the so-called 1991 Gulf war. It was authorized, as required, by the Security Council but only through bribes and coercion. The US public opposed it until a lot of Kuwaiti government PR massaging turned it around, and the rest is history.

The Harmful Effects of Imperialism at Home

The price at home has been high as well with democracy here just as fake as wherever we leave our imperial footprint. Ordinary Americans are the losers. Repressive laws and crumbling social services are their reward for patriotism. Then there’s the military and what’s diverted to fund it. Annual Pentagon budgets are soaring with the FY 2008 DOD one calling for an astonishing $648.8 billion plus an additional $147.5 billion war supplemental and around $50 billion or more now requested. The final total will likely top out over $850 billion with the usual pork factored in and Congress ready to authorize whatever more is needed.

Then come the 16 US spy agencies and their secret off-the-books budgets. CIA, NSA and the others get tens of billions more without accountability. The CIA is an especially out-of-control, rogue agency accountable only to the President. Post-WW II, it began intervening throughout the world covertly and overtly. No dirty trick is off the table, and CIA invented their fair share of them. It uses them spying, fomenting and supporting wars, deposing foreign heads of state, and now they’re in play on US soil against American citizens. Noted academic and administration critic, Chalmers Johnson, calls the agency “the president’s private army” serving in the same capacity as imperial Rome’s praetorian guard.

The agency is secret and lawless, unaccountable to the public, Congress or the courts with intelligence gathering a sideline operation at most. Since it was created in 1947, but especially now, CIA has an appalling record of toppling democratically elected governments, assassinating foreign heads of state and other key officials, propping up friendly dictators, and now snatching targeted individuals for “extraordinary rendition” to secret torture-prison hellholes from which many won’t emerge or ever get justice.

It takes lots of cover-up and myth-building to create the illusion America wants peace, is “beautiful,” and respects the law and rights of people everywhere. The truth is quite opposite abroad and at home where essential needs go unmet and violence is a way of life.

It recently showed up in the newly launched Global Peace Index’s (GPI) ranking of 121 nations. It was prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, an international panel of peace experts from peace institutes and think tanks, and the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney, Australia. It aims to “highlight the relationship between Global Peace and Sustainability (stressing) unless we can achieve” a peaceful world, humanity’s major challenges won’t be solved. GPI ranked nations by their relative internal and external “peacefulness” using 24 indicators. They include its:

– military expenditures as a percent of GDP and number of armed service personnel per 100,000 population;

– number of external and internal wars including the estimated number of deaths from them externally and internally;

– relations with other countries;

– respect for human rights;

– potential for terrorist acts;

– number of homicides per 100,000 population including infanticide;

– level of violent crime;

– aggregate number of heavy weapons per 100,000 population and ease of access to small arms and light weapons;

– number of jailed population per 100,000 population; and

– number of internal security officers and police per 100,000 population.

The US was a shocking 96th in the overall rankings – to the naive and innocent, that is. Norway, New Zealand and Denmark scored best in that order while Iraq ranked lowest followed by Sudan and Israel, that should be a wake-up call for its supporters.

Violence in America – A Way of Life at Home and Abroad

This article began with a snapshot account of our violent history and culture. So much is in our communities and homes that it’s easy selling foreign wars to people used to settling disputes confrontationally, not calmly. It may start with bloody noses in school yards or playgrounds. It’s then made to seem commonplace in films and on prime time TV where assaults, violent crime, murder and even torture are everyday forms of entertainment. Then there’s sports. The most popular ones involve contact, often brutal, with one played on ice once described as a fight with occasional hockey breaking out.

Television features sports of all kinds, the more violent the better. Studies show nearly every home has at least one TV set, and 54% of children have their own in their bedrooms. They spend 28 hours a week on average watching, double the time spent in school, so they learn more about life through the media than anywhere else. Before age 18, the average American child sees 200,000 acts of violence on TV including 16,000 murders, and studies show homicide rates doubled 10 – 15 years after television was introduced.

They also link the following potential adverse effects to excessive media exposure:

– increased violent behavior;

– impaired school performance;

– increased sexual activity and use of tobacco and alcohol; and

– decreased family communication among other negative influences unrelated to violence.

A National Television Violence Study showed two-thirds of children’s programming had violence, three-fourths of it went unpunished, and most often victims weren’t shown experiencing pain. Even more disturbing, the study identified nearly half the violence children see is in TV cartoons. They’re most often portrayed in humor with victims hardly ever experiencing long-term consequences. There’s more:

– Unsurprisingly, it’s no different on the big screen as film studios produce entertainment for theater viewing and at home.

– There’s a great, but unmeasurable, amount of different types of violence online, including pedophile cyber-seduction on unsuspecting, vulnerable children leading to sexual assaults.

– Studies show violent video games like Doom, Wolfenstein 3D and Mortal Kombat can increase aggressive thoughts, beliefs and behavior both in laboratory settings and real life. They’re even worse than TV or films because they’re interactive and engrossing. They get players to identify with aggressors since they act like them while playing. These games teach violence. Many young people play them often and parents allow it. It’s no wonder they become aggressive and continue the same behavior later as adults for real.

– Music also teaches violence. The Parents Music Resource Center reports teenagers hear an estimated 10,500 hours of rock music between grades 7 and 12 alone or nearly as much time as they spend in school. Entertainment Monitor reported three-fourths of popular CDs sold in 1995 included profanity or lyrics about drugs, violence and sex with some popular rap artists’ music glorifying guns, rape and murder.

With this as backdrop after 500 years of belligerency, it’s no wonder violence in the country and attitudes toward it are out of control. The record includes harsh private and government homeland crackdowns against dissidents, labor, minorities, street protesters, rioters, ethnic or religious groups and others plus all the one-on-one confrontations as well. For centuries, violence was monstrous against our Native peoples and nearly exterminated them all. It was used against black slaves as well with whippings, other beatings, rapes, mutilations, forced family separations and even amputations as punishment for runaways. Post-slavery, the pattern continued, mostly in the South, under forced Jim Crow segregation that enforced white supremacy over blacks that played out violently for those “stepping out of line.”

A snapshot of recent data on violent crimes provides more evidence. It comes from the Department of Justice (DOJ), other sources, and shows the following:

– 960,000 violent acts against a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend and up to three million women physically abused by their husband, male partner or boyfriend annually;

– in 2001, more than half a million American women (588,490) were victims of nonfatal violence committed by an intimate partner;

– intimate violence is mainly a crime against women accounting for 85% of these incidences;

– women are up to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner;

– in 2001, 20% of violent crimes against women were by intimate partners;

– up to 324,000 women experience intimate partner violence during pregnancy;

– women of all races are about equally vulnerable to intimate partner violence;

– women are up to 14 times more likely than men to report suffering severe physical assaults from an intimate partner;

– 20% of female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner and 40% of 14 – 17 year old girls report knowing someone their age struck or beaten by a boyfriend;

– in a national survey of 6000 American families, 50% of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also abused their children;

– studies show up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually;

– over half a million women report being stalked annually by an intimate partner while 80% stalked by former husbands are physically assaulted and 30% sexually assaulted by that partner;

– the FBI divides violent crime into four categories: “murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault.” It uses the International Association of Chiefs of Police Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s definition of violent crime as involving force or threat of force. The annual data show these crimes topped one million in 1975 and from the mid-1980s ranged from around 1.5 – 1.9 million annually;

– since 1975, annual violent crimes of murder and reported rape ranged from around 100,000 – 130,000;

– Every year over the past century, 10% or more of all crimes committed were violent ones; and

– More Americans killed other Americans at home than the total death toll from all foreign wars in our history combined.

Violence, of course, becomes ingrained in the culture. It leads to crackdowns against society’s least “worthy” victims of state-sponsored repression. It made America the incarceration capital of the world with over 2.2 million in our homeland “gulag” prison system today, a greater number than in China with four times our population and a history of governments not known for gentleness toward those breaking its rules. Here 1000 new inmates weekly join others locked in cages, most for non-violent offenses. They’re brutalized by prison guards and other inmates while there and become more likely to exact revenge on release for society’s unjust treatment. Many, in fact, do and end up back in prison for longer sentences.

This kind of information and our national predilection for violence isn’t taught in schools or explained in the media. Instead we accept the illusion of “American exceptionalism,” moral superiority, and innate goodness in a nation chosen by the Almighy to lead the world. That’s provided it’s by rules made in Washington with people everywhere told accept them, or else. Going to war, we’re told, is a last resort choice and one never taken lightly. It’s to liberate the oppressed, bring democracy when we arrive, and target “national security” threats too great to ignore. It takes powerful propaganda persuasion convincing people to accept this, but it’s made easier if they’re already predisposed to violence and receptive to more of it.

Five centuries at home and abroad add up to potent conditioning, but the dangers were less threatening earlier than now. Today’s super-weapons make older ones look like toys. They leave no margin of error, and if we slip up we’ll endanger what Noam Chomsky calls “biology’s only experiment with higher intelligence.” Unless we confront the threat to our survival from foreign wars and a violent culture accustomed to them, we face what Albert Einstein and philosopher Bertrand Russell warned 50 years ago saying: “Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war” and a culture of violence and live in peace because no other way is possible.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

Also, visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on TheMicroEffect.com Saturdays at noon US central time.

Stephen Lendman is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Stephen Lendman

see

War and the “New World Order” by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Transcript of Ahmadinejad’s U.N. Speech; U.S. media reactions

September 26, 2007

No wonder the U.S. delegation left before he started speaking.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6107339

Transcript of Ahmadinejad’s U.N. Speech

NPR.org, September 19, 2006 · The following is a transcript of remarks by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Madam President, Distinguished Heads of State and Government, Distinguished Heads of Delegation, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I praise the Merciful, All-Knowing and Almighty God for blessing me with another opportunity to address this Assembly on behalf of the great nation of Iran and to bring a number of issues to the attention of the international community.

I also praise the Almighty for the increasing vigilance of peoples across the globe, their courageous presence in different international settings, and the brave expression of their views and aspirations regarding global issues.

Today, humanity passionately craves commitment to the Truth, devotion to God, quest for Justice and respect for the dignity of human beings. Rejection of domination and aggression, defense of the oppressed, and longing for peace constitute the legitimate demand of the peoples of the world, particularly the new generations and the spirited youth, who aspire a world free from decadence, aggression and injustice, and replete with love and compassion. The youth have a right to seek justice and the Truth; and they have a right to build their own future on the foundations of love, compassion and tranquility. And, I praise the Almighty for this immense blessing.

Madame President, Excellencies,

What afflicts humanity today is certainly not compatible with human dignity; the Almighty has not created human beings so that they could transgress against others and oppress them.

By causing war and conflict, some are fast expanding their domination, accumulating greater wealth and usurping all the resources, while others endure the resulting poverty, suffering and misery.

Some seek to rule the world relying on weapons and threats, while others live in perpetual insecurity and danger.

Some occupy the homeland of others, thousands of kilometers away from their borders, interfere in their affairs and control their oil and other resources and strategic routes, while others are bombarded daily in their own homes; their children murdered in the streets and alleys of their own country and their homes reduced to rubble.

Such behavior is not worthy of human beings and runs counter to the Truth, to justice and to human dignity. The fundamental question is that under such conditions, where should the oppressed seek justice? Who, or what organization defends the rights of the oppressed, and suppresses acts of aggression and oppression? Where is the seat of global justice?

A brief glance at a few examples of the most pressing global issues can further illustrate the problem.

A. The unbridled expansion of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons

Some powers proudly announce their production of second and third generations of nuclear weapons. What do they need these weapons for? Is the development and stockpiling of these deadly weapons designed to promote peace and democracy? Or, are these weapons, in fact, instruments of coercion and threat against other peoples and governments? How long should the people of the world live with the nightmare of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons? What bounds the powers producing and possessing these weapons? How can they be held accountable before the international community? And, are the inhabitants of these countries content with the waste of their wealth and resources for the production of such destructive arsenals? Is it not possible to rely on justice, ethics and wisdom instead of these instruments of death? Aren’t wisdom and justice more compatible with peace and tranquility than nuclear, chemical and biological weapons? If wisdom, ethics and justice prevail, then oppression and aggression will be uprooted, threats will wither away and no reason will remain for conflict. This is a solid proposition because most global conflicts emanate from injustice, and from the powerful, not being contented with their own rights, striving to devour the rights of others.

People across the globe embrace justice and are willing to sacrifice for its sake.

Would it not be easier for global powers to ensure their longevity and win hearts and minds through the championing of real promotion of justice, compassion and peace, than through continuing the proliferation of nuclear and chemical weapons and the threat of their use?

The experience of the threat and the use of nuclear weapons is before us. Has it achieved anything for the perpetrators other than exacerbation of tension, hatred and animosity among nations?

B. Occupation of countries and exacerbation of hostilities

Occupation of countries, including Iraq, has continued for the last three years. Not a day goes by without hundreds of people getting killed in cold blood. The occupiers are incapable of establishing security in Iraq. Despite the establishment of the lawful Government and National Assembly of Iraq, there are covert and overt efforts to heighten insecurity, magnify and aggravate differences within Iraqi society, and instigate civil strife.

There is no indication that the occupiers have the necessary political will to eliminate the sources of instability. Numerous terrorists were apprehended by the Government of Iraq, only to be let loose under various pretexts by the occupiers.

It seems that intensification of hostilities and terrorism serves as a pretext for the continued presence of foreign forces in Iraq.

Where can the people of Iraq seek refuge, and from whom should the Government of Iraq seek justice?

Who can ensure Iraq’s security? Insecurity in Iraq affects the entire region. Can the Security Council play a role in restoring peace and security in Iraq, while the occupiers are themselves permanent members of the Council? Can the Security Council adopt a fair decision in this regard?

Consider the situation in Palestine:

The roots of the Palestinian problem go back to the Second World War. Under the pretext of protecting some of the survivors of that War, the land of Palestine was occupied through war, aggression and the displacement of millions of its inhabitants; it was placed under the control of some of the War survivors, bringing even larger population groups from elsewhere in the world, who had not been even affected by the Second World War; and a government was established in the territory of others with a population collected from across the world at the expense of driving millions of the rightful inhabitants of the land into a diaspora and homelessness. This is a great tragedy with hardly a precedent in history. Refugees continue to live in temporary refugee camps, and many have died still hoping to one day return to their land. Can any logic, law or legal reasoning justify this tragedy? Can any member of the United Nations accept such a tragedy occurring in their own homeland?

The pretexts for the creation of the regime occupying Al-Qods Al-Sharif are so weak that its proponents want to silence any voice trying to merely speak about them, as they are concerned that shedding light on the facts would undermine the raison d’être of this regime, as it has. The tragedy does not end with the establishment of a regime in the territory of others. Regrettably, from its inception, that regime has been a constant source of threat and insecurity in the Middle East region, waging war and spilling blood and impeding the progress of regional countries, and has also been used by some powers as an instrument of division, coercion, and pressure on the people of the region. Reference to these historical realities may cause some disquiet among supporters of this regime. But these are sheer facts and not myth. History has unfolded before our eyes.

Worst yet, is the blanket and unwarranted support provided to this regime.

Just watch what is happening in the Palestinian land. People are being bombarded in their own homes and their children murdered in their own streets and alleys. But no authority, not even the Security Council, can afford them any support or protection. Why?

At the same time, a Government is formed democratically and through the free choice of the electorate in a part of the Palestinian territory. But instead of receiving the support of the so-called champions of democracy, its Ministers and Members of Parliament are illegally abducted and incarcerated in full view of the international community.

Which council or international organization stands up to protect this brutally besieged Government? And why can’t the Security Council take any steps?

Let me here address Lebanon:

For thirty-three long days, the Lebanese lived under the barrage of fire and bombs and close to 1.5 million of them were displaced; meanwhile some members of the Security Council practically chose a path that provided ample opportunity for the aggressor to achieve its objectives militarily. We witnessed that the Security Council of the United Nations was practically incapacitated by certain powers to even call for a ceasefire. The Security Council sat idly by for so many days, witnessing the cruel scenes of atrocities against the Lebanese while tragedies such as Qana were persistently repeated. Why?

In all these cases, the answer is self-evident. When the power behind the hostilities is itself a permanent member of the Security Council, how then can this Council fulfill its responsibilities?

C. Lack of respect for the rights of members of the international community

Excellencies,

I now wish to refer to some of the grievances of the Iranian people and speak to the injustices against them.

The Islamic Republic of Iran is a member of the IAEA and is committed to the NPT. All our nuclear activities are transparent, peaceful and under the watchful eyes of IAEA inspectors. Why then are there objections to our legally recognized rights? Which governments object to these rights? Governments that themselves benefit from nuclear energy and the fuel cycle. Some of them have abused nuclear technology for non-peaceful ends including the production of nuclear bombs, and some even have a bleak record of using them against humanity.

Which organization or Council should address these injustices? Is the Security Council in a position to address them? Can it stop violations of the inalienable rights of countries? Can it prevent certain powers from impeding scientific progress of other countries?

The abuse of the Security Council, as an instrument of threat and coercion, is indeed a source of grave concern.

Some permanent members of the Security Council, even when they are themselves parties to international disputes, conveniently threaten others with the Security Council and declare, even before any decision by the Council, the condemnation of their opponents by the Council. The question is: what can justify such exploitation of the Security Council, and doesn’t it erode the credibility and effectiveness of the Council? Can such behavior contribute to the ability of the Council to maintain security?

Excellencies,

A review of the preceding historical realities would lead to the conclusion that regrettably, justice has become a victim of force and aggression. Many global arrangements have become unjust, discriminatory and irresponsible as a result of undue pressure from some of the powerful; Threats with nuclear weapons and other instruments of war by some powers have taken the place of respect for the rights of nations and the maintenance and promotion of peace and tranquility;

For some powers, claims of promotion of human rights and democracy can only last as long as they can be used as instruments of pressure and intimidation against other nations. But when it comes to the interests of the claimants, concepts such as democracy, the right of self-determination of nations, respect for the rights and intelligence of peoples, international law and justice have no place or value. This is blatantly manifested in the way the elected Government of the Palestinian people is treated as well as in the support extended to the Zionist regime. It does not matter if people are murdered in Palestine, turned into refugees, captured, imprisoned or besieged; that must not violate human rights.

– Nations are not equal in exercising their rights recognized by international law. Enjoying these rights is dependent on the whim of certain major powers.

– Apparently the Security Council can only be used to ensure the security and the rights of some big powers. But when the oppressed are decimated under bombardment, the Security Council must remain aloof and not even call for a ceasefire. Is this not a tragedy of historic proportions for the Security Council, which is charged with maintaining the security of countries?

– The prevailing order of contemporary global interactions is such that certain powers equate themselves with the international community, and consider their decisions superseding that of over 180 countries. They consider themselves the masters and rulers of the entire world and other nations as only second class in the world order.

Excellencies,

The question needs to be asked: if the Governments of the United States or the United Kingdom who are permanent members of the Security Council, commit aggression, occupation and violation of international law, which of the organs of the UN can take them to account? Can a Council in which they are privileged members address their violations? Has this ever happened? In fact, we have repeatedly seen the reverse. If they have differences with a nation or state, they drag it to the Security Council and as claimants, arrogate to themselves simultaneously the roles of prosecutor, judge and executioner. Is this a just order? Can there be a more vivid case of discrimination and more clear evidence of injustice?

Regrettably, the persistence of some hegemonic powers in imposing their exclusionist policies on international decision making mechanisms, including the Security Council, has resulted in a growing mistrust in global public opinion, undermining the credibility and effectiveness of this most universal system of collective security.

Excellencies,

How long can such a situation last in the world? It is evident that the behavior of some powers constitutes the greatest challenge before the Security Council, the entire organization and its affiliated agencies.

The present structure and working methods of the Security Council, which are legacies of the Second World War, are not responsive to the expectations of the current generation and the contemporary needs of humanity.

Today, it is undeniable that the Security Council, most critically and urgently, needs legitimacy and effectiveness. It must be acknowledged that as long as the Council is unable to act on behalf of the entire international community in a transparent, just and democratic manner, it will neither be legitimate nor effective. Furthermore, the direct relation between the abuse of veto and the erosion of the legitimacy and effectiveness of the Council has now been clearly and undeniably established. We cannot, and should not, expect the eradication, or even containment, of injustice, imposition and oppression without reforming the structure and working methods of the Council.

Is it appropriate to expect this generation to submit to the decisions and arrangements established over half a century ago? Doesn’t this generation or future generations have the right to decide themselves about the world in which they want to live?

Today, serious reform in the structure and working methods of the Security Council is, more than ever before, necessary. Justice and democracy dictate that the role of the General Assembly, as the highest organ of the United Nations, must be respected. The General Assembly can then, through appropriate mechanisms, take on the task of reforming the Organization and particularly rescue the Security Council from its current state. In the interim, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the African continent should each have a representative as a permanent member of the Security Council, with veto privilege. The resulting balance would hopefully prevent further trampling of the rights of nations.

Madame President,

Excellencies,

It is essential that spirituality and ethics find their rightful place in international relations. Without ethics and spirituality, attained in light of the teachings of Divine prophets, justice, freedom and human rights cannot be guaranteed.

Resolution of contemporary human crises lies in observing ethics and spirituality and the governance of righteous people of high competence and piety.

Should respect for the rights of human beings become the predominant objective, then injustice, ill-temperament, aggression and war will fade away.

Human beings are all God’s creatures and are all endowed with dignity and respect.

No one has superiority over others. No individual or states can arrogate to themselves special privileges, nor can they disregard the rights of others and, through influence and pressure, position themselves as the “international community”.

Citizens of Asia, Africa, Europe and America are all equal. Over 6 billion inhabitants of the earth are all equal and worthy of respect. Justice and protection of human dignity are the two pillars in maintaining sustainable peace, security and tranquility in the world.

It is for this reason that we state:

Sustainable peace and tranquility in the world can only be attained through justice, spirituality, ethics, compassion and respect for human dignity.

All nations and states are entitled to peace, progress and security.

We are all members of the international community and we are all entitled to insist on the creation of a climate of compassion, love and justice.

All members of the United Nations are affected by both the bitter and the sweet events and developments in today’s world.

We can adopt firm and logical decisions, thereby improving the prospects of a better life for current and future generations.

Together, we can eradicate the roots of bitter maladies and afflictions, and instead, through the promotion of universal and lasting values such as ethics, spirituality and justice, allow our nations to taste the sweetness of a better future.

Peoples, driven by their divine nature, intrinsically seek Good, Virtue, Perfection and Beauty. Relying on our peoples, we can take giant steps towards reform and pave the road for human perfection. Whether we like it or not, justice, peace and virtue will sooner or later prevail in the world with the will of Almighty God. It is imperative, and also desirable, that we too contribute to the promotion of justice and virtue.

The Almighty and Merciful God, who is the Creator of the Universe, is also its Lord and Ruler. Justice is His command. He commands His creatures to support one another in Good, virtue and piety, and not in decadence and corruption.

He commands His creatures to enjoin one another to righteousness and virtue and not to sin and transgression. All Divine prophets from the Prophet Adam (peace be upon him) to the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Jesus Christ (peace be upon him), to the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), have all called humanity to monotheism, justice, brotherhood, love and compassion. Is it not possible to build a better world based on monotheism, justice, love and respect for the rights of human beings, and thereby transform animosities into friendship?

I emphatically declare that today’s world, more than ever before, longs for just and righteous people with love for all humanity; and above all longs for the perfect righteous human being and the real savior who has been promised to all peoples and who will establish justice, peace and brotherhood on the planet.

0, Almighty God, all men and women are Your creatures and You have ordained their guidance and salvation. Bestow upon humanity that thirsts for justice, the perfect human being promised to all by You, and make us among his followers and among those who strive for his return and his cause.

******

September 26, 2007

Iran’s President Vows to Ignore U.N. Measures

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 25 — Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, said Tuesday that he considered the dispute over his country’s nuclear program “closed” and that Iran would disregard the resolutions of the Security Council, which he said was dominated by “arrogant powers.”

In a rambling and defiant 40-minute speech to the opening session of the General Assembly, he said Iran would from now on consider the nuclear issue not a “political” one for the Security Council, but a “technical” one to be decided by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog.

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s assertion that the matter belonged with the nuclear agency indicated his preference to work with Mohamed ElBaradei, its director.

Dr. ElBaradei has been at odds with Washington, and some European powers, who have accused him of meddling in the diplomacy by seeking separate accords with Iran, and in their eyes undercutting the Security Council resolutions.

“Today because of the resistance of the Iranian nation, the issue is back to the agency, and I officially announce that in our opinion, the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed and has turned into an ordinary agency matter,” Mr. Ahmadinejad said. A senior Bush administration official said after the address that the only person who thought that the issue was closed was Mr. Ahmadinejad.

As the Iranian president moved to speak, the United States delegation left, leaving only a note-taker to listen to the speech, which occurred just hours after President Bush had spoken from the same podium about the need for nations to live up to the rights guaranteed by the United Nations.

In a barely disguised barb, Mr. Ahmadinejad asserted, “Unfortunately human rights are being extensively violated by certain powers, especially by those who pretend to be their exclusive advocates.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad’s declaration that the nuclear issue was closed comes just as the Bush administration is seeking to turn up the pressure on the country, both through the United Nations Security Council and in concert with European powers.

“In the last two years,” the Iranian president said, “abusing the Security Council, the arrogant powers have repeatedly accused Iran and even made military threats and imposed illegal sanctions against it.”

In recent weeks, American and French officials have described an emerging strategy of broadening the number of banks, mostly in Europe, that have refused to lend new capital to Iran, making it difficult for the country to invest in new oil facilities or other infrastructure.

“We want more banks, and now suppliers, to assess the risk” of dealing with Iran, Stephen J. Hadley, President Bush’s national security adviser, said in a meeting on Tuesday with editors and reporters of The New York Times.

The issue now, he said, is “at what point the regime, or elements of the regime, say ‘this policy is taking us into a ditch.’”

Administration officials insist that despite Mr. Ahmadinejad’s high profile in New York this week, he is being marginalized at home. If true, it makes it hard to assess whether he was speaking for the rest of the Iranian leadership with his declaration.

Only last month, Iran’s leaders reached an agreement with Dr. ElBaradei to answer questions that nuclear inspectors have been raising for years about possible connections between Iran’s nuclear program and military projects. Inspectors are in Iran this week, seeking further answers to questions that Iran has refused to discuss.

But even if Iran answers all the outstanding questions, it could still be in violation of the Security Council resolutions. Those resolutions call on the country to cease enriching uranium.

The enrichment has continued, though not yet on a scale large enough to produce a bomb’s worth of material in the near future. Mr. Hadley refused to speculate on how much time the United States and its allies had to stop the program before Iran had enough material to manufacture a weapon.

Mr. Ahmadinejad, as he has in the past, argued that Iran’s nuclear program was solely for civilian purposes and fell within the legal requirements of the atomic energy agency.

The Security Council powers believe that Iran’s real purpose is to build nuclear weapons, and it has backed up that conviction with two resolutions and economic sanctions against the Tehran government.

Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, the permanent members of the Security Council, have been holding meetings in various capitals this fall to see if sterner measures are needed to gain compliance.

France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy, told the General Assembly in a speech earlier Tuesday that allowing Iran to build a bomb would be an “unacceptable risk to stability in the region and in the world.”

He said the Security Council should not relax its guard while it continued to negotiate with Tehran. “Firmness and dialogue go hand in hand,” he said. “And I weigh my words carefully.”

To that, Mr. Ahmadinejad had his own reply. “The decisions by the United States and France are not important,” he said during his address. “What is important is that our nuclear program is within the rules of the I.A.E.A. and our program as such will continue.”

Without mentioning the United States by name, Mr. Ahmadinejad used his speech to carry out a full-scale assault on the country as power-mad and godless. He said its leaders “openly abandon morality” and act with “lewdness, selfishness, enmity and imposition in place of justice, love, affection and honesty.”

“Certain powers,” he said in a thinly veiled reference to Washington, were “setting up secret prisons, abducting persons, trials and secret punishments without any regard to due process, extensive tapping of telephone conversations, intercepting private mail.”

In answer to questions at a news conference about having proposed the extinction of Israel, he said he was instead proposing a referendum of all people living in the Palestinian territories and Israel, which he referred to as the “illegal Zionist regime” to see what their choice of country would be.

He said countries had been eliminated peaceably before, and he cited the case of the Soviet Union.

“What befell the Soviet Union?” he said. “It disappeared, but was it done through war? No. It was through the voice of the people.”

Asked by an Israeli journalist about the possibility that Iran was helping Syria acquire nuclear knowledge, he said, “Next question.”

Mr. Ahmadinejad was not alone in attacking the United States. So did Daniel Ortega, the president of Nicaragua. Saying that Washington’s actions against Iran were like those of “God telling people what is good and bad,” he proposed that the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America join him in a march against the forces of “global capitalist imperialism.”

Late Tuesday, Hugo Chávez, the outspoken Venezuelan president who called Mr. Bush a devil last year from the General Assembly podium, announced in Caracas that he was no longer planning to come to New York to deliver his country’s speech on Wednesday.

He said instead that he planned to travel shortly to Saudi Arabia to defend the price of oil. “To $100,” said Mr. Chávez. “That is where we’re headed.”

David Sanger contributed reporting.

********

At U.N., Iranian Leader Is Defiant on Nuclear Efforts

By Peter Baker and Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, September 26, 2007; A01

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 25 — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed Tuesday not to give in to pressure by “arrogant powers” trying to force him to abandon his nation’s uranium-enrichment program and unilaterally declared that as far as he is concerned, “the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed.”

In a fiery speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Ahmadinejad denounced what he called the “master-servant relationship of the Medieval Age” imposed by the United States and other leading nations through the Security Council. He expressed confidence that God would not allow the Bush administration to launch a military attack against his country and said Iran has “spared no effort to build confidence” that it wants only civilian energy, not nuclear weapons.

His address punctuated a shadow debate with President Bush, who spoke to the assembly earlier in the day and called on world leaders to join him in a global “mission of liberation” against repressive governments such as that in Iran. Although the two men never crossed paths, their competing visions presented here framed the opening of the assembly’s annual session and underscored the diplomatic confrontation between the two nations.

Bush did not mention the nuclear dispute with Iran in his speech, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other advisers used their time here to build support for a new Security Council resolution that would impose more meaningful punishment on Tehran for ignoring a U.N. mandate to suspend its enrichment program. For his public remarks, the president focused instead on tyranny, citing Iran as a prime example.

“Every civilized nation also has a responsibility to stand up for the people suffering under a dictatorship,” Bush said in his address. “In Belarus, North Korea, Syria and Iran, brutal regimes deny their people the fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration” of Human Rights.

The president used the occasion to announce new sanctions against the military government in Burma, where tens of thousands of demonstrators are in the streets protesting what he called “a 19-year reign of fear.” Bush also pointed to Cuba, where he said “the long rule of a cruel dictator is nearing its end”; Zimbabwe, for launching “an assault on its people”; and Sudan, for “repression” and “genocide.”

Ahmadinejad sat 14 rows back as Bush spoke, idly touching his lower lip, whispering to a seatmate and once checking his watch. While the Cuban foreign minister stormed out in protest, Ahmadinejad fired back in his own speech hours later, lacing his remarks with religious references and anti-American rhetoric. Bush skipped the speech, attending another meeting.

While not mentioning the United States explicitly, the Iranian leader denounced nations that establish secret prisons, abduct people, tap private telephone calls and ignore the law. “Some powers do not value any nation or human beings,” he said. In Iraq, “no day passes without people being killed, wounded or displaced,” Ahmadinejad said, adding that the “occupiers,” as he referred to U.S. forces, “do not even have the courage to declare their defeat and exit Iraq.”

He then held a news conference that was typical Ahmadinejad — outspoken, in command and impervious to diplomatic norms. He called any U.N. sanctions against Iran “illegal” and brushed off concern about U.S. military action if he does not comply. “They want to hurt us,” he said, “but with the will of God, they won’t be able to do it.” Asked whether he is concerned that Israel might strike Iran, as it did Syria recently, he snapped, “Next question.” He also ignored a plea shouted by the wife of an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hezbollah last year.

An Iranian reporter asked Ahmadinejad how he could say during an appearance at Columbia University on Monday that there are no homosexuals in Iran, noting that she knows a few herself.

“Seriously?” he replied. “I don’t know of any.” He asked for their addresses so the government could “be aware of what’s going on.”

The U.S.-Iran confrontation played out all day through surrogates and allies. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in his maiden address to the assembly, warned that a nuclear Iran would be an “unacceptable risk” to international stability and said “there will not be peace in the world” if the international community falters in its bid to stop Tehran’s program. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega delivered a fist-pumping condemnation of the United States, saying it had no right to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear program, because it was the only nation ever to use an atomic bomb.

Lawmakers in Washington weighed in on Ahmadinejad’s visit. The House voted 397 to 16 to block foreign investment in Iran, particularly the energy sector, and to bar Bush from waiving U.S. sanctions. The Senate debated a nonbinding resolution urging the State Department to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group, but the vote was delayed amid haggling.

Iran was only part of a broad agenda for Bush during a three-day stay here. He met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to press for more political reconciliation, conducted a democracy roundtable with other heads of state and participated in a Security Council discussion of the crisis in Sudan’s Darfur region.

“Maybe some don’t think it’s genocide,” Bush said of the killing there as he pressed for a peacekeeping force. “But if you’ve been raped, your human rights have been violated, if you’re mercilessly killed by roaming bands, you know it’s genocide. And the fundamental question is: Are we, the free world, willing to do more?”

Several hundred people outside the U.N. building demonstrated against Bush’s policies on Iraq and terrorism. Some wore orange jumpsuits to demonstrate concern over prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. About a dozen were arrested for civil disobedience.

Another protester was Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe P¿rez Roque, who denounced Bush’s “mediocre statement,” calling him “a criminal” with “no moral authority or credibility to judge any other country.” Bush adviser Michael G. Kozak later retorted: “The Cubans know how to dish it out, but they don’t know how to take it.”

Staff writers Colum Lynch at the United Nations and Shailagh Murray in Washington contributed to this report.

****

The American and Israeli delegations were not in chamber to hear Ahmadinejad’s speech [AFP]
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He said: “Human rights are being extensively violated by certain powers, especially by those who pretend to be their exclusive advocates.

 

“Setting up secret prisons, abducting persons, trials and secret punishments without any regard to due process … have become commonplace.”

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‘Rights sacrificed’

 

“The rights and dignity of the American people are also being sacrificed for the selfish desires of those holding power,” he added.

 

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Ahmadinejad also used his speech to say the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme was “closed” and should be handled by the UN nuclear watchdog.

 

Without specifically naming them, he accused Washington and its allies of bullying Iran – which they say is trying to develop nuclear weapons – and putting pressure on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for their own purposes.

 

Ahmadinejad said: “Fortunately, the IAEA has recently tried to regain its legal role as supporter of the rights of its members while supervising nuclear activities.

 

“Today, because of the resistance of the Iranian nation, the issue is back to the agency, and I officially announce that in our opinion the nuclear issue of Iran is now closed and has turned into an ordinary agency matter,” he said, adding Iran was prepared to have “constructive talks with all parties”.

 

US silent

 

Addressing the General Assembly earlier in the session George Bush, the US president, made little reference to Iran.

 

Instead, both Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and Nicholas Sarkozy, the French president, sought to increase pressure on the Islamic republic, saying they would not accept a nuclear-armed Iran.

 

Merkel, said: “if Iran were to acquire the nuclear bomb, the consequences would be disastrous.”

 

Sarkozy told the session: “Iran is entitled to nuclear power for civilian purposes, but to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapon is an unacceptable risk to the stability of the region and the stability of the world.”

 

Iraq invasion criticised

 

Ahmadinejad also used his speech to criticise the US-led invasion of Iraq, which he said was “occupied under the pretext of overthrowing the dictator and the existence of weapons of mass destruction”.

 

He criticised the UN Security Council for being an exclusive club answerable to no one, saying that those in power were in the “sunset of their times”.

 

He also voiced support for the Palestinians, saying: “The Palestinian people have been displaced or are under heavy military pressure, economic siege or are incarcerated under abhorrent conditions.

 

“The occupiers are protected and praised, while the innocent Palestinians are subjected to political, military and propaganda onslaughts.”

 

Neither the US nor the Israeli delegation stayed to listen to the Iranian leader’s speech.